On this album by clarinetist Julian Bliss, the titular work refers to gumboot dancing, South African miners' dances that during the apartheid era conveyed coded meanings as well as joy in the face of enormous hardship. A look at YouTube will reveal plenty of examples of a form that has been little known outside South Africa. Composer David Bruce's clarinet quintet falls into two parts, an untitled slow "Part One" (track 1) that presumably sets the dark scene of the mine, followed by a second part consisting of five dances.
Pianists Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire are stupendous virtuosos, and there's nothing in this recording of their 2009 Salzburg recital of staggeringly difficult works they cannot play. They know each other so well as old duo piano partners that their playing is stunning in its unity, but their distinctive individuality also comes across. What's most impressive about this recital is how completely Argerich and Freire have made this music their own. Brahms' Haydn Variations sound freer and fresher, more playful, and more profound than ever. Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances are thrillingly rhapsodic, rapturous, and dramatic. Schubert's Grand Rondeau is more lyrical, intimate, and graceful than usual, and Ravel's La Valse more ecstatic and apocalyptically over-the-top frightening than in any comparable recordings, including Argerich's own earlier releases. Captured in wonderfully clear yet wholly present digital sound, the performances on this disc will be compulsory listening for anyone who loves music, any music.
Barry Douglas’s decision in his Brahms series to mix and match pieces intuitively, rather than employing a strict sequence of genre or chronology, has given this series a pleasing personal slant, and Vol. 5 is no exception. Building the programme around three very different sets of variations, Douglas intersperses the more substantial works with palate-cleansing intermezzos, two little-known early Sarabandes – apparent fugitives from an unfinished Baroque-inspired suite or two – and one of Brahms’s not-so-jokey scherzos, the rugged Op. 4. Indeed, if you like your Brahms super-rugged, this CD will not disappoint. Douglas’s powerful tone and serious demeanour captures the composer’s uncompromising side; yet there’s a sense of flow that makes the intermezzos generous and warm without veering towards the emotionally indulgent. The Variations on a Hungarian Song and the Hungarian Dances are served on the bone with sour cream aplenty.
Baroque conductor Johannes Somary directs a distinguished cast led by John Aler, Julianne Baird, countertenor Drew Minter, D’Anna Fortunata, Jennifer Lane, Nathaniel Watson, Raymond Pellerin and the Armor Artis Orchestra. A tale of violent court intrigue civil strife, frustrated love, ambition and suicide.
GRAMOPHONE Magazine Editor's Choice - October 2015.The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense first quartet with his lighter-spirited third quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.