El Maestro Farinelli – Concerto Koln, Pablo Heras-Casado (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time ~ 01:08:18 minutes | 1.25 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: Probenstudio 7–8/2013 in Cologne, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, 1/2014 (tracks 6, 12)

Pablo Heras-Casado, “one of the most exciting conductors of his generation” (Die Welt), makes his Archiv Produktion debut performing instrumental and vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain.
As one of the label’s Archiv Ambassadors Pablo Heras-Casado enjoys an unusually varied conducting career: He has encompassed the great symphonic and operatic repertoire, historically-informed performance and cutting-edge contemporary scores, and has already developed a special rapport with a number of soloists, orchestras and opera houses. Now he returns to his core repertoire and musical heritage.
This new album with works of Baroque composers like Hasse, Porpora and Jomelli represents a fine selection of pieces, which Farinelli presented during his time as concert master/conductor in Madrid and Aranjuez. El Maestro Farinelli features eight world premier recordings, including some arias sung by Bejun Mehta, “the best countertenor in the world” (Süddeutsche Zeitung).

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Gaetano Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor – Maria Callas, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tullio Serafin (1959/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time ~ 1:51:18 minutes | 2.21 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 16–21.III.1959, Kingsway Hall, London

In the later 1950s EMI remade many items of their LP catalogue for stereo including Maria Callas’s Gioconda, Norma and Lucia. John Ardoin’s personal discography The Callas Legacy (Amadeus: 1995, fourth edition) opines that ‘in each instance, she was competing only against herself; the one bout she loses is Lucia’. This echoes the view of several Callas critics of this set, over-aware of both a few moments of vocal unsteadiness and the supposed after-effects of the singer’s eventful private life.
A more precise assessment is that Callas’s voice was changing again, becoming darker and lower-centred. As producer Walter Legge wrote (in On and Off The Record, Faber: 1982), ‘The centre of the voice was basically darkhued, her most expressive range, where she could pour out her smoothest legato.’ This is certainly audible on the second Lucia. The Mad Scene takes greater risks than her early 1950s recordings, feels more sinister and shows – in her colouring of its text – the influence of many more live performances. Callas appears also to have been in confident personal form at the time. The month before the new recording she attended the dress rehearsal of Joan Sutherland’s much-touted Covent Garden debut as Lucia and commented (to Legge): ‘She will have a great success tomorrow and make a big career if she can keep it up. But only we know how much greater I am.’
For the Lucia ‘remake’ in March 1959 Legge retained Callas and conductor Tullio Serafin but changed everything else from 1953. It was recorded in London (Kingsway Hall) not Florence, with a British orchestra and chorus (Legge’s own Philharmonia forces). Serafin had been working with the orchestra in the studio on a Verdi overtures disc and there is no lack of Italian feeling. Legge also departed from his long-term casting of Italian operas with a new mix of singers. They included the relative newcomer Piero Cappuccilli as Enrico and Ferruccio Tagliavini as Edgardo. –MIKE ASHMAN, 2014

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Gaetano Donizetti – Lucia di Lammermoor – Maria Callas, Orch del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Tullio Serafin (1953/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time ~ 1:50:24 minutes | 1.08 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 29–30.I & 3, 4 & 6.II.1953, Teatro Comunale, Florence

Maria Callas’s first studio recording of Lucia is often nominated as one of the great sets in the history of recording. It was made in Florence in February 1953 following live performances at that city’s opera house (although with a largely different cast and conductor). It was the soprano’s first recording with Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi – both to become regular and valued colleagues – and with Tullio Serafin (already a regular collaborator). It was also the first of producer Walter Legge’s projected series of major Italian operas under Callas’s recently agreed new contract with Columbia.
Following a successful Turin radio concert of part of the Mad Scene in 1952, Callas sang her first Lucias later that year in Mexico City. As with her Bellini roles (especially Norma, I puritani and La sonnambula) she returned vocal strength, weight and drama to a role that had become recently the preserve of lighter voices more interested in exhibiting mastery of tessitura than of characterisation. Vocal historian John Ardoin has noted that ‘in Callas’s voice and care, Lucia emerged as at once credible and with a previously unsuspected human dimension’. Lucia in the new recording would be much more than a put-upon soubrette with few opportunities to shine vocally until the wedding-night Mad Scene. While the men, notably Lucia’s brother Enrico, indulge their machismo games of instant love or hate, Callas’s Lucia has more layers, a woman fighting the tyranny of dynastic marriage and all-male family dictatorship. She is helped by Serafin’s symphonic, text-aware accompaniment. Her ‘mad’ scene is clearly reasoned – more observant than scared witless at ‘Ohimè, sorge il tremendo fantasma’ and using the coloratura and the instrumental imitation (here still a flute rather than the glass harmonica for which Donizetti scored it) as a sad picture of her longing for Edgardo rather than virtuosic note-spinning. Like Norma, Violetta and Tosca, Donizetti’s heroine became something of a Callas obsession and travelled with her throughout Europe and America. –MIKE ASHMAN, 2014

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Dobrinka Tabakova – String Paths (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time ~ 01:12:18 minutes | 716 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © ECM Records GmbH , ECM Player
Recorded: March / April 2011 at National Philharmonic Hall, Vilnius; Studija Aurea in Vilnius; Such different paths recorded June 2011 at Jesus Christus Kirche Dahlem, Berlin.

ECM New Series presents the first full album devoted to the music of Dobrinka Tabakova, a composer born in Bulgaria in 1980 but raised from a young age in London. In Tabakova’s music – richly melodic, texturally sensuous, often emotionally radiant – there resides the new and the familiar, or rather the familiar within the new, and vice versa; there are the spirits of East and West coursing through the pieces, usually hand in hand; and just as the composer’s technical virtuosity is apparent, she possesses a desire, and a gift, for direct communication that can be heard in virtually every measure. The recording features Tabakova’s Concerto for Cello and Strings and the Rameau-inspired Suite in Old Style for viola and chamber orchestra, as well as three chamber works: the string trio Insight, the string septet Such Different Paths and a trio for violin, accordion and double-bass, Frozen River Flows. The performers include star violinist Janine Jansen and several of Tabakova’s former conservatory colleagues: violinist Roman Mints, violist-conductor Max Rysanov and cellist Kristina Blaumane, principal with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Claude Debussy – La mer / Igor Stravinsky – The Firebird – Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time ~ 1:15:52 minutes | 1.2 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: highresaudio.com | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: Walt Disney Concert Hall February 28, March 1, March 2, March 3, 2013

The Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director Gustavo Dudamel present this vivid take on two masterpieces of orchestral colour: Debussy’s well-known work La Mer and Stravinsky’s breakthrough The Firebird. These performances were recorded live in 2013 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

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Claude Debussy – Etudes Book II, Images Book I, Estampes – Nelson Goerner (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88.2 kHz | Time ~ 01:02:03 minutes | 851 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Zig-Zag Territoires , Outhere Music
Recorded: 13 to 16 April 2013 at Teldex Studio, Berlin

Well known for his interpretations of the works of Frédéric Chopin and Serge Rachmaninov, appearing on concert platforms the world over, the great Argentinian pianist Nelson Goerner is joining the Zig-Zag Territoires label.
‘Obviously, from the performer of these pieces – of all the pieces on this disc -, one will expect mastery and sensitivity. But even more is necessary: gifts of a colourist; an imagination of the settings; a vision of the sound planes and space. And also, for these pieces that are heirs to and the summary of such a glorious tradition, it also calls for broad knowledge and culture of the piano repertoire. The performer of the Etudes stands at the arrival of an itinerary, that of the keyboard “en blanc et noir”. He must know everything and play almost everything. Nelson Goerner is that performer.’

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