Title: Antonín Dvořák: Requiem, Op. 89
Released: 2014
Genre: Classical
Conductor: Antoni Wit
Artist: Christiane Libor (Soprano), Ewa Wolak (Alto), Daniel Kirch (Tenor), Janusz Monarcha (Bass), Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir

Issued: United States | Naxos
Duration: 1:37:48
Size: 11.44 GB

Antonín Dvořák’s huge popularity in England was built largely on the success of his Stabat Mater, which he had conducted there in 1884 and 1885. It was well suited to the country’s choral traditions and led eventually to a commission for a Requiem, which was premièred in Birmingham in 1891. Written in ten months during tours to Russia, England and Germany, its success was immediate. Sitting closer to the tradition of Cherubini than Verdi, its tone is compassionate and reflective, devoid of unnecessary drama, and movingly crafted with great sophistication.
Recorded: Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw, Poland, from 29th May to 5th June, 2012. (more…)

Name: Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
Released: 2012
Genre: Classical
Conductor: Antoni Wit
Artist: Christiane Libor, Soprano (# 5), Thomas E. Bauer, Baritone (# 3, 6), Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir

Issued: United States | Naxos
Duration: 1:15:16
Size: 8.84 GB

The longest work in Brahms’s entire oeuvre, A German Requiem was almost certainly triggered by the death of his mother, although it also seems likely that the tragic loss of his friend Robert Schumann, some years earlier, added to its depth and eloquence. Taking inspiration from Bach’s contrapuntal genius but avoiding overt religious tradition, Brahms chose the texts himself, placing an emphasis on an affirmation of life with the suggestion that he would gladly have substituted ‘human’ for ‘German’ in the title.

Recorded: Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw, Poland, from 27th to 29th August, 2012.

(more…)

Franz Liszt – Piano Works – Nikolai Lugansky (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2kHz  | Time – 01:05:34 minutes | 868 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Ambroisie/naïve
Recorded: June 2011 at Potton Hall, UK

The great Russian virtuoso Nikolai Lugansky presents his recording to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt (1811-1886) – an album of popular piano pieces including La Campanella, Valse oubliée, his version of Isolde’s Liebestod by Wagner, some of the Douze études d’exécution transcendante, and several gems from Années de pèlerinage, among them Vallée d’Obermann, Sposalizio, Les jeux d’eau de la Villa d’Este and Sonnet de Pétrarque 123.

An acclaimed recording artist, Nikolai Lugansky has recently signed an exclusive contract with the Naïve-Ambroisie label. The Moscow-born pianist put together this disc, his first devoted entirely to Liszt’s music, with a seriousness, freedom and concern for overall unity worthy of the composer himself. His last release – an all-Chopin recital for Onyx – was described by The Guardian as “unquestionably thrilling”, and his recording with violinist Repin of Sonatas by Franck, Grieg and Janáček (Deutsche Grammophon, October 2010) was hailed by Gramophone as “a quite magnificent performance”. It also won the Prize for best Chamber Music recording at the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2011. Nikolai Lugansky won the Diapason d’Or for his recordings of the complete Chopin Études and Preludes, and the Rachmaninov Preludes and Moments musicaux, as well as an Echo Klassik Deutscher Musikpreis for his 2005 recording of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 3. Capable of great refinement and sensitivity in Mozart and Schumann, and breathtaking virtuosity in Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, Lugansky is a pianist of extraordinary depth and versatility. Recent and upcoming engagements include concerto projects with the Leipzig Gewandhaus and Andris Nelsons, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko, Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and NHK Symphony Orchestra all with Charles Dutoit; recitals at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Moscow State Conservatory, London’s Wigmore Hall, Prague’s Rudolfinum and the Wiener Konzerthaus; and chamber music collaborations with Vadim Repin and Leonidas Kavakos.

(more…)

Ketil Bjornstad – A Passion for John Donne (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 1:12:42 minutes | 1,39 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | © ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: March, 2012; Sofienberg Kirke, Oslo at the Oslo International Church Music Festival

Ketil Bjørnstad’s passion for the English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) is a lifelong affair. His settings of Donne’s verse have led to recordings including The Shadow, Grace and the ECM album The Light. “After working with the texts of John Donne for more than twenty years, I still find new approaches to understanding what he wrote and I find music throughout. It is in the language, in the rhythm, in the silence between the sentences – a passionate quest for meaning and reconciliation. Donne’s dramatic life is reflected in the texts and everywhere in them you will find the passion, melodies and sounds”. Bjørnstad wrote A passion for John Donne for the Oslo International Church Festival in the winter of 2011/2012 and the premiere performance – documented here – was at the Sofienberg Kirke in Oslo in March 2012. The Oslo Chamber Choir is sensitively directed by Håkon Daniel Nystedt, and passion is personified in the unique performance of Håkon Kornstad, who makes his ECM debut, as both tenor saxophonist and classical tenor singer.

Ketil Bjørnstad’s passion for the writings of English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) is a lifelong affair. The Norwegian pianist-composer’s settings of Donne’s verse have led to recordings including The Shadow, Grace and the ECM album The Light. “After working with the texts of John Donne for more than twenty years”, says Bjørnstad, “I still find new approaches to understanding what he wrote – and I find music throughout. It is in the language, in the rhythm, in the silence between the sentences – a passionate quest for meaning and reconciliation. Donne’s dramatic life is reflected in the texts and everywhere in them you will find the passion, melodies and sounds”.

Ketil Bjørnstad wrote A passion for John Donne for the Oslo International Church Festival in the winter of 2011/2012 and the premiere performance, documented here, was at the Sofienberg Kirke in Oslo in March 2012. The Oslo Chamber Choir is sensitively directed by Håkon Daniel Nystedt, and passion is personified in the unique performance of Håkon Kornstad, who makes his ECM debut, as both tenor saxophonist and classical tenor singer. Kornstad makes the challenging transition from saxophone improviser to operatic vocalist seem natural in this context, and shines in both roles. Bjørnstad’s curriculum vitae has sketched a similar process in reverse: he began his career as a classical piano soloist before forming alliances with the jazz players.
In recent seasons Ketil Bjørnstad seems to have been reviewing the totality of his life’s work; his widely acclaimed trilogy of novels – To Music, The River and The Lady In The Valley – drew on his early classical experience, and both classical and jazz players have rubbed shoulders in projects such as the recent Edvard Munch tribute Sunrise, which also called upon the services of the Oslo Chamber Choir. Bjørnstad’s larger compositions have left areas open for improvised expression, as in the three “Interludes” here, with creative contributions from Kornstad and percussionist Birger Mistereggen, last heard on ECM in the company of the Trio Mediaeval (see Folk Songs), as well as from the composer himself.

Over the years, Bjørnstad has been a highly prolific creator, with more than 50 albums and 40 books to his name. The Oslo-born pianist, composer, improviser, novelist, poet and essayist, described by The Guardian as “a cultural prodigy”, has been an ECM recording artist since 1993, when his Water Stories album was issued. Other ECM recordings include The Sea, The River, The Sea II, Epigraphs, Life In Leipzig, The Light – Songs of Love and Fear, Remembrance, Night Song, Vinding’s Music – Songs From The Alder Thicket, La notte, his tribute to film director Antonioni, and the aforementioned Sunrise, a cantata on texts by Edvard Munch.
The Oslo Chamber Choir was founded in 1984 by Grete Pedersen. The choir is noted for its quality, flexibility and an ability to combine and switch between different genres, such as classical, Nordic contemporary music and folk music. Its innovative exploration of the Norwegian song tradition, in particular, has earned the choir recognition at home and abroad.

(more…)

Reinhard Keiser – Brockes-Passion – Vox Luminis, Les Muffatti, Peter Van Heyghen (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2kHz  | Time – 01:59:40 minutes | 2,03 GB | Genre: Classical, Baroque, Oratorio
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Ramée / Outhere Music
Recorded: July 2012 at the Augustinius Muziekercentrum (AMUZ), Antwerp, Belgium

The Brockes-Passion can be considered the archetype of the German Passion oratorio. As such, it served as a model and source of inspiration for famous later masterpieces, enjoying uninterrupted popularity throughout the 18th century when no less than 11 composers, including Handel and Telemann, set it to music. The superb version by Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739) is not only the first but also adheres most closely to the great rhetorical power and rich changes of affects of the poet’s text. In German literary history, Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) is known above all for his innovative role during the second quarter of the 18th century. In 1712, the year of the Brockes-Passion’s first performance, Keiser, fellow citizen of Brockes in Hamburg, was already recognized as the most important opera composer in Germany – and, in some opinions, even in Europe. When the genius of these two great artists combined in a single work, the result could only be spectacular. The tricentennial of its first performance justified a belated but nonetheless dithyrambic tribute, here presented by the singers of the Vox Luminis ensemble and the instrumentalists of Les Muffatti.

(more…)

Jongen: Violin Concerto; Lazzari: Rapsodie – Philippe Graffin, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Martyn Brabbins (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 1:05:45 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: July 2013 at Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven, Netherlands

The Romantic Violin Concerto series reaches Belgium and the music of Joseph Jongen, a composer more celebrated for his organ music now, but who was equally admired in his day for his orchestral and chamber works. Jongen studied at the Liège Conservatoire where he heard the great violinist Eugène Ysaÿe and composer-conductors Vincent d’Indy and Richard Strauss.

In this new album Philippe Graffin (a welcome and familiar presence in this series) collaborates with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Martyn Brabbins in Jongen’s Violin Concerto, one of the composer’s first substantial works. It was described by his contemporary Florent Schmitt as ‘one of the finest violin concertos’; and he admired the ‘outpouring of warm lyricism’ and ‘lush profusion of themes and rhythms’.

Also included are other works for violin and orchestra, and a Rapsodie for the same forces by Italian Romantic Sylvio Lazzari (1857–1944) who was influenced—as was Jongen—by the music of César Franck.

(more…)