In terms of genre, Allan Pettersson was uniquely single-minded: during his entire career as a composer (1953–80) he produced only a dozen or so works that were not symphonies. By name, Violin Concerto No. 2 is one of these, but it is fair to say that it straddles the divide. Pettersson himself remarked: ‘In reality my work was a Symphony for violin and orchestra. From this results the fact that the solo violin is incorporated into the orchestra like any other instrument.’ It should therefore not come as a surprise that Christian Lindberg has chosen to include this massive 53-minute work in his acclaimed and award-winning series of Pettersson’s symphonies, realised in collaboration with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. The concerto was written in 1977, 28 years after its predecessor, the Concerto for Violin and String Quartet (1949).
Julian Bream is, without a doubt, one of the premiere classical guitarists of the modern recording era. Comparisons between great guitarists is often unfair and misleading as they each have their own styles - and each musician and his/her style tends to be particularly well suited to certain types of music. For example, Andres Segovia's style, cultivated by self-teaching throughout his now ended life, concentrated on flowing legatto smoothness and flowing melodies. Bream's, on the other hand, while equally masterful, is better characterized as emphasizing the precision and crispness of each and every individual note. What better composer to focus on to show this particular proclivity that J. S. Bach, whose work, having been written largely for the keyboards (harpsichord) but also for the lute and triple harp, tends to emphasize the kinds of music Bream excels at. Stacatto phrasings, each written to be played with crystalline exactness, are the types of pieces wherein Bream's magnificence is conspicuous and best showcased. Thus, the special relevance of this particular compilation of some of his best Bach work on this CD.
Hausmusik’s performance of the Mendelssohn Octet comes with the advantage of a sensibly steady tempo for the famous scherzo, allowing for maximum transparency and lightness; and a dazzling finale in which for once the cello’s first scurrying fugal entry sounds crystal clear. The First String Quintet, and the Op. 13 Quartet – Mendelssohn’s homage to the late quartets of the recently deceased Beethoven – are also miraculous products of the composer’s teenage years. The Quintet is quite beautifully done here, but the Quartet, like the late Quintet, Op. 87, is rather lacking in tension and urgency. Woldemar Bargiel was Schumann’s brother-in-law. For all its obvious weaknesses, his Octet contains some attractive ideas, and Divertimenti’s performance makes a strong case for it. Divertimenti is impressive in the Mendelssohn, too – though its finale is not quite as exhilarating as Hausmusik’s; and in the last resort neither group can quite match the élan of the ASMF Chamber Ensemble.
I have often wondered whether Brahms was being somewhat disingenuous in claiming that the slow first movement of Bruch's Second Violin Concerto was 'intolerable for normal people'. With its radiant lyricism and powerful melodic ideas, this is surely one of Bruch's loveliest conceptions, on a par with the much better- known First Concerto. Yet performers certainly need to be aware of Bruch's specific tempo marking of Adagio non troppo if the movement isn't to drag unduly. Lydia Mordkovitch, taking over three minutes longer than the excellent rival version from Nai-Yuan Hu on Delos, just about avoids falling into this trap through the sheer intensity and wonderful range of colours in her playing, though the turgid contribution from Hickox and the LSO does little favour for Bruch's full-blooded orchestration.
Warner Classics and Askonas Holt are proud to announce the signing of 20-year old American pianist, Eric Lu, winner and Dame Fanny Waterman Gold Medallist at the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition 2018. As part of this year’s coveted prize the winner receives worldwide management with Askonas Holt – one of the world's leading arts management agencies, and an international album release on Warner Classics – one of the foremost global classical music recording companies. This is the first time a record label and a management agency partner with ‘The Leeds’ to create a ground-breaking portfolio prize designed with long-term career development in mind. The recording deal is a corner-stone of its new prize package, designed to redefine what a music competition can offer young performers. Both, Warner Classics and Askonas Holt, aim to ensure that the winner has the opportunities, support and advice to develop a significant long-term international career.
This is quite simply magnificent violin-playing, the sort that while you’re listening to it convinces you that the music couldn’t possibly be played any other way. You soon realize just how far she’s come since her teenage years, the tempo marginally more mobile and the variety of nuance and tone on offer so much wider than it had been.
An unusual pairing of two of Brahms’ most popular scores by uncontested Russian masters and the resurrection of Svjatoslav Richter’s only too rare encounters with that most Russian conductor of the 20th century, Yevgeny Mravinsky. An indispensable reference left by two legendary artists.