Classical music captures the spirit of romance like no other music and this charming collection of perennial favorites includes music from the most romantic of composers - Chopin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Puccini and many more. The set is themed for every romantic mood, with the first two discs devoted to the stirring passion of orchestral music, the second two to the intimacy of solo piano music, and the last two to the wide-ranging emotions of opera. Includes music from three works written for the greatest love story ever told, Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet, with music from Tchaikovskys overture, Prokofievs ballet and the main theme from the soundtrack to Franco Zeffirellis film, by Nino Rota. Recordings from some of the world s greatest artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Radu Lupu, Nigel Kennedy and Bryn Terfel.
This unique collection features a representative selection of early Romantic piano quintets, ranging from the astronomically popular Trout Quintet by Schubert to lesser known works from Hummel, Ries, Cramer, Limmer, Dussek, and Onslow.
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.
Emma Kirkby, doyenne of the Early Music scene, here shows that she's just as comfortable in music of a more recent vintage. Amy Beach was a woman ahead of her time, performing as solo pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra by the age of 18. The same year (1885), she married Henry Beach and, no longer able to perform publicly (it would have gone against her social status), she instead settled down to composing. And delightful stuff it is, too, as Kirkby and friends demonstrate in this charming recital. A number of the songs add violin, cello, or both to the piano and voice combination. "Ecstasy," for instance, has a most effective violin part that is an ideal foil to the purity of Kirkby's voice. Other highlights include the Schumannesque Browning Songs and the amiable Shakespeare Songs (the last of which, "Fairy Lullaby," is irresistible). The final item here, "Elle et moi," is an upbeat little number that suits Kirkby's lithe soprano to perfection. Occasionally, in some of the more lushly textured songs, such as "A Mirage" and "Stella Viatoris," perhaps a fuller voice would have been preferable, but then sample "Chanson d'amour" (written when Beach was only 21 and with a wonderful cello part in addition to the piano) and try to imagine it being better sung. The purely instrumental items are played with unfailing sensitivity and elegance. The Romance is straight out of the salon, while the much later Piano Trio (though actually based on early material) packs plenty of emotion and variety into its 14 minutes. The recording is exemplary, as are the concise notes and texts and translations.
There is, of course, no shortage of Romantic-era violin concertos in the instrument's standard repertoire. None of them found with any regularity on the concert stage, however, hail from Denmark. This DaCapo album demonstrates that there are indeed examples that come to us from the Scandinavian country, and even that some of them are inexplicably excluded from the modern canon.
For while it would be idle to pretend that this 70-year-old virtuoso, struck down at the height of his career with psoriatic arthritis, still commands the velocity and reflex of his earlier years, his later Chopin and Liszt are a tribute to a devotion and commitment gloriously enriched by experience. The First Impromptu is piquantly voiced and phrased while the C sharp minor Etude, Op. 25 No. 7, could hardly be more hauntingly confided, more ‘blue’ or inturned. How you miss the repeat in the C sharp minor Mazurka, Op. 50 No. 3 (not Op. 15, as the jewel-case claims), given such cloudy introspection and if there are moments when you recall how Rubinstein – forever Chopin’s most aristocratic spokesman – can convey a world of feeling in a scarcely perceptible gesture, Janis’s brooding intensity represents a wholly personal, only occasionally overbearing, alternative; an entirely different point of view. Time and again he tells us that there are higher goods than surface polish or slickness and in the valedictory F minor Mazurka, Op. 68 No. 4 he conveys a dark night of the soul indeed, an emotion almost too desolating for public utterance… Janis is no less remarkable in Liszt, whether in the brief but intriguing Sans mesure (a first performance and recording), in a Sonetto 104 del Petrarca as tear-laden as any on record and in a final Liebestod of an exhausting ardour and focus.
The Munich Philharmonic have arguably given more performances of Anton Bruckner’s music than any other orchestra. A great number of Bruckner recordings led by the many legendary conductors that have worked with the Munich Philharmonic are stored in the historical archive of the MPHIL Label including magnificent pieces with Sergiu Celibidache, Christian Thielemann, Rudolf Kempe, Günter Wand and Oswald Kabasta.