A new Sony Classical release from Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell showcases two masterpieces from romantic composer Max Bruch. The album features Bell’s first recording of the virtuosic Scottish Fantasy as well as a new recording of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, which he first recorded over thirty years ago with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Sir Neville Marriner. Now, as Music Director of the Academy, Bell both performs and directs the orchestra and offers a fresh take on the Bruch Concerto in addition to a thrilling performance of the Scottish Fantasy. In recent years, the Scottish Fantasy has become a favourite performance piece for Bell and his affection for the piece runs deep and with good reason: “My father’s descendants were from Scotland, and I grew up hearing stories about how my great- grandfather and great-great-grandfather fought in the Black Watch in Scotland. My dad was proud of his Scottish heritage, and this connection makes the melodies in Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy even more meaningful to me.”
One of the most successful pianists of the generation that came of age at the end of the 20th century, Leif Ove Andsnes is particularly known for his attention to the music of his native Norway. "I always played a lot of Grieg from my childhood," he has said. "I always loved Grieg and I don't know if it's only because I'm Norwegian." He entered Bergen Conservatory in 1986 and studied with Jirí Hlinka, a well-known Czech piano professor. Andsnes made his U.S. debut in 1989, appearing in New York and Washington, then traveling to Canada.
The name of Bernd Alois Zimmermann is probably not a very familiar one to the experimental classical music listener. As this top-notch disc shows, Zimmermann's music was (and still is) strikingly original. It begins with his Cello Concerto in the form of a pas de trois, from the mid 1960s, a five-movement work that exploits to the fullest the solo cello as well as the unusual accompanying orchestra, which includes alto saxophone, contrabass tuba, electric guitar, prepared piano, glass harp, and even cimbalom.
Monteverdi was seventy-one when he published his Eighth Book of madrigals. This collection, a monumental work of remarkable beauty, is a synthesis of all Monteverdi's experience in the realm of secular music. It is the culmination of a genre, the Italian madrigal, which here achieves a rare state of perfection. INDISPENSABLE!
This much awaited recording offers keenly idiomatic performances of the most famous works by Grieg, played by the composer’s own orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic, and its Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner. The drama and passion of such favourite pieces as the incidental music to Peer Gynt and the Piano Concerto are superbly captured in surround-sound with exemplary Chandos sound quality. Unlike most existing recordings, offering only the orchestral suites, this disc presents numerous extra excerpts from Peer Gynt, which follow the sequence of Henrik Ibsen‘s dramatic poem, including sections for the unique Norwegian 'Hardanger Fiddle’. Having collaborated with the orchestra on several occasions, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in the Piano Concerto, a piece that stands out as a shining example of a single great thought captured and expressed in music. The power of this conception is evident throughout the concerto in the pianist’s faithful, yet highly romantic interpretation.
If you like Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata’s wonderful way with old music, you’ll love this vibrant romp through some of the most engaging music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Frescobaldi and Handel are the best known of the composers here—the latter’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine” is magically updated. Rolf Lislevand’s lute- and theorbo-playing underpins the music with boundless imagination while some decidedly 21st-century muted brass-playing seems to take us into a Baroque jazz club. But then we are whisked back across the years for a thrillingly toe-tapping Pass’e mezzo e passacalli. Irresistible.
Inspired by the personality, prodigious technique and musicality of the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cello Concerto is a work of imposing scale and demanding virtuosity, but also with a rare beauty and warmth of expression. This live recording documents the first professional performances of the concerto in more than 80 years, and is paired with playful and virtuosic freely composed transcriptions for cello and piano of Mozart, Rossini and Ravel that Castelnuovo-Tedesco made for Piatigorsky and Heifetz.