• Schubert's 'Wanderer Fantasy' and Schumann's 'Fantasie' are two highly remarkable works: whilst musically embodying the romantic spirit of the age in their unconventional structures and lyrically imaginative styles, they also act as self-portraits to their creators through the evocation of the creative process. In these new orchestrations by Joeseph James, the familiar beauty of the works is rekindled in the exciting and fresh interpretations performed by the illustrious English Chamber Orchestra alongside concertante solos from members of the Schubert Ensemble. The performances are directed by the exceptional young conductor, Orlando Jopling. Featured instrumentalists from the Schubert Ensemble include Simon Blendis (violin), Jane Salmon (cello), Peter Buckoke and Stephen Williams (double basses).
    A magnificent work, extremely convincing, which allows the two greatest piano fantasies of the 19th century to be listened to with a different ear - Abeille Musique
  • Red Leaves

    £12.00
    Signum Classics are proud to announce The Brunel Ensemble's first disc on Signum Classics - Red Leaves. No ensemble other ensemble is as committed to the performance of such works from all decades of the twentieth century. Formed in 1992, the group gives thrilling performances under Christopher Austin’s inspired direction. John McCabe’s Red Leaves was commissioned by the European Community Chamber Orchestra and the 1991 Istanbul Festival. Composer Malcom Williamson studied with Elisabeth Lutyens (as did Robert Saxton) and he was Master of the Queen’s Music until his death in 2003. One of Lutyens’ first major success was a setting of Rimbaud, O Saisons, O Chateau encored at the first performance in 1947 - but noteable for having previously been turned down by the BBC as unsingable! The McCabe and Williamson pieces are linked by the common theme of nature, the latter being inspired by Australian landscape and history. It was commissioned for the 150th Anniversary of the State of Victoria. For his anniversary greeting of 1986 on the occasion of his colleague’s half century, Robert Saxton presented his Birthday Piece for Richard Rodney Bennett. In which he chose in time-honoured manner to extract from Bennett’s name the musical notes available as a thematic cipher, and to fashion them after his own manner into a bracing invention for strings. Performance ★★★★ Sound ★★★★ A valuable and distinctive release - BBC Music Magazine
  • Parapraxis

    £12.00
    A seductive and fascinating disc for fans of contemporary music, this collection of works for Bassoon with choir and orchestra feature works by British composer Stephen Frost and Norwegian composer Kjell Mørk Karlsen. The disc’s title work Parapraxis, for solo bassoon and choir, melds together a mix of sacred latin text and secular English poetry, pushing and playing with the illusory ‘boundary’ that seems to exist between the two. The other two works – Frost’s Bassoon Concerto and Karlsen’s Serenata – are beguiling and stimulating pieces that show off the talents of Norwegian bassoonist Sigyn Birkeland and the Belarusian State Chamber Orchestra. In demand as a soloist, Sigyn Birkeland has been Principal Bassoon in the Norwegian Radio Orchestra since 1992. She continues to champion the instrument by commissioning, performing and recording new works for the instrument in a variety of unique ensembles and settings.
  • Signum Records are delighted to present the second recording on SignumClassics of the CBSO, under the direction of Mark Elder. In his youth Shostakovich devoted much time and energy to composing for the theatre and the cinema, writing for an astonishing variety of movies, political plays, satires, the music-hall and the ballet. The music for Nikolai Akimov’s outrageous and scandalous production of Hamlet was composed in the winter of 1931 – 1932. Akimov had decided that tragedy was irrelevant to the modern Soviet audience, and therefore presented the play as a satirical farce in which the play was turned up-side-down, by reversing all the usual assumptions about the plot and how it should be acted. The alterations to Shakespeare’s work are reflected in the titles of several of Shostakovich’s numbers. He was asked to provide music for scenes that Shakespeare only refers to but which Akimov insisted on representing on stage, for example the feast where "funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables". The overall character of Shostakovich’s music is often abrasive and satirical, and flippant just where we would expect the music to be more serious. There are also some funny moments, with particular sharp parodies of various well-known musico-theatrical clichés. In 1954 Kozintsev had also attempted to direct a staged version of Hamlet. For this occasion he decided to reuse music that Shostakovich had already written for him to use in a staged production of King Lear in 1941. All that Kozintsev asked Shostakovich to add for the 1954 Hamlet were a Gigue and a Finale, both of which are included on this recording as an appendix to the music for Akimov’s 1932 production. The music that Shostakovich wrote for Kozintsev’s 1941 King Lear production inhabits a strange and transitional world, halfway between the bright and brilliant sarcasm of the music for Akimov’s Hamlet of ten years earlier and the more soberly functional manner of his post-war theatrical music. Gone is most of the cheekiness, the fondness for the experimental and the grotesque. There is much in this often oppressively dark music that is characteristic of what was by now Shostakovich’s public symphonic manner. Perhaps the most powerful and unusual part of the score is the bizarre cycle of Fool’s songs, with which the Fool mocks the mistakes of his master, the King, in the course of the first three Acts. The music of these songs is as strange and quirky as the words they set. Taken as a whole, these ten songs make up a miniature cycle of sourly absurd, almost expressionistic outbursts for voice and orchestra.
  • Since her American debut in the early nineties, Silvia Tro Santafé has become one of the most sought after coloratura mezzos of her generation. On this disc we hear the proof of her operatic talents, performing some of the greatest and most passionate arias of any operatic mezzo soprano. Though Silvia Tro Santafé is no newcomer in the recording stakes this was my first encounter with her and this recital has definitely whetted the appetite for more - MusicWeb International
  • Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is a masterwork of 19th Century literature; a parable on the struggle for personal freedom against the conventions of a hostile society, played out in a tragic love-story. With a libretto by the distinguished director Colin Graham after the novel by Leo Tolstoy, David Carlson's opera vividly captures the drama and message of the original work. This double-disc set is a world premiere recording of the opera, with commanding performances from members of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stewart Robertson. There is a lot to admire in this dramatic, expressive scoreOpera Now Magazine
  • For You

    £18.00
    For You is a new opera that brings together the music of composer and BBC Radio 3 presenter Michael Berkeley and Booker-prize winning author Ian McEwan. This gripping tale of love, lust and obsession centers on the composer and prodigious womanizer Charles Frieth (Alan Opie), and the tragic consequences that his selfish actions cause him and those around. Although essentially dark, there are moments of irony, wit, and humour throughout the opera. Soaring vocal lines, intricate ensemble pieces, and imaginative instrumental writing make this an electrifying work. Masterly performed by Music Theatre Wales, directed by Michael Rafferty.
    The music, conducted here by Michael Rafferty, is energetic, deftly coloured and carefully balanced, allowing the excellent voices, including Alan Opie’s Frieth, to make their due markThe Sunday Times It bristles with wit and lyricism, while giving other composers and librettists a lesson in how to drape operativ tradition in modern clothesThe Financial Times Berkeley’s score is lively, abrasive and strongly crafted … the performance (recorded live) is focused, with excellent orchestral playing and a strong central performance by Alan Opie -  The Daily Telegraph
  • Christina Rossetti’s 19th Century poem Goblin Market has long divided and bemused readers as to its meaning and intent. The story of two sisters and their encounters with the sinister Goblin men and their ‘forbidden’ fruit, has been variously interpreted as an allegory of proto-feminism, a critique on the rise of advertising in pre-capitalist England, and an exploration of feminine sexuality in relation to the Victorian world. This multitude of interpretations only adds to the poems mystique and imagery, captured here by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Performed by London-based ensemble The New Professionals under Rebecca Miller, the work is a unique concoction of music, mime and masks that delves into the overripe and at times grotesque and shocking imagery of Christina Rossetti’s poem. Goblin Market explores both the Victorian repression coded into its text as well as its parallels with contemporary social issues. An inventive treatment of music theatre - The Guardian This should be heard … not a moment that's not ear-catching - International Record Review It is no exaggeration to say that Goblin Market is one of the great musical works of art for theatre of the 20th century - MusicWeb International Well-balanced sound as well as detailed annotations add to the attractions of this worthwhile release - Gramophone
  • This new disc from the Philharmonia completes the collection of Brahms symphonies conducted by Christoph Von Dohnányi. These live performances are about subtle shading and unexaggerated, probing thoughtfulness, bringing out the Classical rather than the Romantic side of Brahms - Classic FM Magazine A very sensitive interpreter… the slow movement [of the First Symphony] is very lyrical with some effective instrumental dovetailing and plenty of light and shade, and the finale generates an impressive sense of joyous release - Gramophone
    Both performances are well played by the Philharmonia from whom the conductor obtains a sound that is lean and muscular - MusicWeb International
  • Lorin Maazel leads the Philharmonia Orchestra and a star-studded ensemble of performers in Mahler’s first three Symphonies. This is the first 5-CD Set in a series that will encompass Mahler’s Nine Symphonies, featuring live orchestral recordings from London’s Royal Festival Hall of Maazel and the Philharmonia’s much-lauded Mahler Cycle.

    Wonderfully stylish: that hesitant Viennese-style playing-around and a lovely warm string sound ...You get that audience perspective as if you were sitting in the hall, and its got all the energy and focus of a live or concert recording - BBC Radio 3 Record Review The most successful reading is Symphony No.1, in which the mystery of the hushed opening, the gutsy resonance of the second movement and the frenzied launch of the finale are comparable with some of the best versions - BBC Music Magazine I love these performances, truly and deeply, and just a little madly - Classical Ear
  • "The B minor". That phrase alone resonates with gravity in the hearts and minds of those who love as no other the music of J.S. Bach. This disc sees the Rodolfus Choir at their best, as renowned Bach interpreters, having played his works across the UK to great acclaim. Following a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performance at Holy Trinity Guildford at the end of 2009, this disc, recorded in the chapel of Charterhouse School continues their evergrowing catalogue of extraordinary recordings. Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ The soloists are a fine team. In 'Domine Deus', Sophie Bevan and Ben Johnson match perfectly in imitation... Highly recommended- BBC Music Magazine There is uncanny vocal empathy between Sophie Bevan and Clint van der Linde, which, in 'Et in unum Dominum', results in the most extraordinary complementing of vocal lines... both stimulating and refreshing - International Record Review If some forty young singers can produce a recorded account of the B Minor Mass of this quality then the future for British choral music is bright indeed - MusicWeb International
  • Serge Diaghilev’s choice of composers for his Ballet Russes productions (often acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s most influential ballet companies) has led to the creation of some of the most engaging and exhilarating music in the classical world. This new 3 CD set of live orchestral recordings by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales – made in their home venue of BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff – captures Stravinsky’s three great ballet scores (The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring) as well as works by fellow Ballet Russes composers Poulenc (Les Biches) and Liadov (Baba-Yaga, The Enchanted Lake and Kikimora).

    This fresh sounding live recording from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer, the first made in the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, certainly has a sense of occasion about it, with the audience erupting as the finale chorale [Firebird] reaches its exultant conclusionBBC Music Magazine

    [Thierry Fischer’s] Petrushka, notably beautiful, is graciously touching rather than violent or eruptive, the clean-textured, superbly detailed playing from the BBC National Orchestra Wales reminds us just how startlingly original Stravinsky's sonoritiesThe Guardian

    You should buy this for the generous, unusual coupling with Francis Poulenc’s rowdy, witty 1924 ballet Les biches …. As with the Rite, the performance is immaculateThe Arts Desk

  • An exciting start to a new orchestral collaboration for Signum Records, this disc is the first of a new series with the London Sinfonietta – one of the world’s elite contemporary music ensembles with a reputation built on the virtuosity of its performances and ambitious programming. This live recording brings together the UK premiere of Anaïs Nin, a new work for soprano and small ensemble, alongside his famed work De Staat.

    Anaïs Nin is a monodrama based on the diaries of the same famed author, as well as those of her lovers (Antonin Artaud, René Allendy, Henry Miller and her own Father). A sometimes disturbing tale of desire and passion, Andriessen felt that the music should "closely track the irony, despair and passion of this brilliant, many-sided woman."

    De Staat remains one of Andriessen's supreme achievements, an epic rechannelling of Stravinskyan rhythmic energy into his own raw-edged minimalismThe Guardian Don’t get too bogged down in trying to comprehend Andriessen’s long-winded attempts to explain what the piece is about – just enjoy the noise. It’s fantasticThe Arts Desk
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