In the 1990s, the Finnish soprano Karita Mattila established herself as one of the world's leading operatic sopranos. Coming to early attention as a prize-winning singer adept at the more lyric roles in the repertory, she developed the qualities of a dramatic soprano as well, with an especially warm and grand voice. She is a tall, blond, and striking woman with excellent stage presence and acting skills.
The most popular and successful lineup of Return to Forever – Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola – was coming off the Grammy-winning No Mystery when it recorded its third and final album, Romantic Warrior. It has been suggested that in employing a medieval album cover (drawn by Wilson McLean), using titles like "Medieval Overture" and "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant," and occasionally playing in a baroque style, particularly in Clarke's "The Magician," Corea was responding to Rick Wakeman's successful string of albums on similar themes. Certainly, the music suggests that the musicians have been listening to Wakeman's band, Yes, among other progressive rock groups.
This is a fine compilation of Jackie Gleason's output for Columbia. Gleason's objective was to make "musical wallpaper" that should never be intrusive, but rather conducive. He was not musically literate, but never had a problem articulating what he wanted to hear from his orchestra. The music here is quiet, melancholy, and often somber, played at mostly moderate to slow tempos. Each selection seems to flow into the next, achieving Gleason's goal of unobtrusiveness. Collectors may be more interested in seeking out the original LPs that comprise the material here, but for those looking for two CDs worth of some of the most relaxing music ever recorded, this is the place to start.
Antonin Dvorák's Piano Quartet No. 2 is one of the greatest chamber works of the 19th century (as are many of Dvorák's chamber compositions). Written in 1889 at the request of his publisher Simrock, it is a big, bold work filled with the Czech master's trademark melodic fecundity, harmonic richness, and rhythmic vitality. The first movement is a soaring, outdoor allegro with an assertively optimistic main theme accented by Czech contours and Dvorák's love of mixing major and minor modes. The Lento movement's wistful main theme is played with a perfect mixture of passion and poise by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The music alternates between passages of drama and delicacy in this, one of Dvorák's finest slow movements in any medium. The Scherzo's stately waltz is contrasted by a lively, up-tempo Czech country dance. The finale is a high-stepping, high-spirited allegro with a strong rhythmic pulse that relaxes for the beautifully lyrical second subject.
As one of the most innovative of Nuevo Flamenco guitarists, Armik has lifted the music genre to new heights with his repertoire of chart-topping hits. His exciting guitar virtuosity reveals much about Armik- the artist - and also demonstrates his great skills as a thematic writer of love songs which were included in his two previous volumes titled Romantic Spanish Guitar. Now, in the same concise shades of love that made his first two volumes mega hits with his devoted fans, Romantic Spanish Guitar, Volume 3, is the consummation of a trilogy of great love songs. It is also a wealth of romantic experiences straight from Armik’s heartstrings. His exemplary performances on these songs are not only showcases that expand on the stories he told in Romantic Spanish Guitar, Volumes One and Two, but are based upon the very essence of his Nuevo flamenco guitar virtuosity.
Great classical repertoire, discoveries, chamber music, concert literature at the very highest level: violinist Renaud Capuçon inspires as a soloist in all areas. He celebrated the power of world harmony with Bach's concertos and the modern counterpart by Peteris Vasks, allowed styles to communicate with each other with the concertos by Beethoven and Korngold as well as Brahms and Berg, and ensured one of the most high-profile large-scale chamber music projects of recent years with a complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas. He is now continuing on this path - alongside the young, multi-award-winning Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili.
Hyperion’s Record of the Month for April is the fourth volume in the burgeoning ‘Romantic Violin Concerto’ series. The central work on the disc is Moritz Moszkowski’s C major Violin Concerto, a full-blooded Romantic work which demands exceptional virtuosity. An increasing number of recordings, many on the Hyperion label, of this composer’s music have done much to lift his reputation beyond that of the ‘trifling miniaturist’, and the Ballade in G minor amply demonstrates how even a small canvas can aspire to advanced heights of pyrotechnic wizardry.
Ferdinand David is principally known today as the dedicatee of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto; he gave the premiere of the work in 1845. But in his time he was also celebrated as a composer, and Hyperion is delighted to present this disc of world premiere recordings as Volume 9 in the Romantic Violin Concerto series.