"…All three works are superbly played here by the brilliantly nimble Stefan Schilli, and Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian orchestra give him vivid support. I cannot think of a more enticing triptych of modern oboe concertos from any other source." ~Grammophone
The world premieres of Iolanta and The Nutcracker took place on 18 December 1892 at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. “The execution of both,” wrote the composer to his brother Anatoly the next day, “was magnificent, and that of the ballet perhaps too magnificent – its brilliance made one’s eyes tired.” Gustav Mahler conducted the first performance of the one-act opera outside Russia on 3 January 1893 in Hamburg and also directed the Viennese premiere of Iolanta on 22 March 1900.
The 6th Symphony of Anton Bruckner was recorded live for SACD in December 2013 at two concerts in the Hamburg Laeiszhalle. Here, too, critics were unanimous in their enthusiasm, as could be read in the Hamburger Abendblatt of 16 December 2013.
Although known almost exclusively for his instrumental concertos and the spurious Adagio attributed to him, Tomaso Albinoni was mainly a man of the theater; he composed 81 operas and, late in life, made his living as a singing coach. However, the best efforts of posterity to catch up with Albinoni's operatic creations are significantly stymied by the fact that only three of his stage works are fully extant, the rest preserved only in occasional and fugitive fragments in the form of single arias and other bits and pieces. "Il Nascimento dell'Aurora" is a serenata – or more specifically, a "festa pastorale" – a kind of courtly entertainment not really meant to be specifically dramatic or compelling and, in this case, dealing with the birth of Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora ….
…In sum, this is simply a wonderful performance, excellently played, recorded, and sung, and it’s different enough from all of the competition to justify purchase even if you already think you own enough versions of this symphony.
Mahler’s Resurrection has been much recorded in recent years, so much so that new versions prompt one to groan inwardly and mutter: ‘Not another one’. Such ubiquity has its price, for any newcomer has to be something out of the ordinary if it’s to have any impact. Of recent releases David Zinman (Sony-BMG), Jonathan Nott (Tudor) and James Levine (Orfeo) definitely belong in this category; Vladimir Jurowski (LPO) and Markus Stenz (Oehms) manifestly don’t. And now Oehms are taking another bite out of the cherry, with the Hamburg orchestra led by their chief conductor Simone Young. Curiously, this was recorded at around the same time as the Stenz Mahler 2, which seems extravagant in this already overstocked field.
Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich Orchestra Köln have demonstrated a special aptitude for performing large scale post-Romantic works, notably the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, which they recorded for Oehms Classics as a series of hybrid SACDs. They have followed that impressive cycle with what is probably the most Mahlerian work Arnold Schoenberg ever composed, the massive Gurrelieder for solo voices, multiple choruses, and large orchestra. This 2015 Hyperion release is impressive in its crisp details, vibrant tone colors, and startling clarity, all of which are evident in the opening instrumental passages in the Prelude, and which continue through the nearly operatic vocal parts, which have remarkable presence in the face of an orchestra that exceeds Wagnerian proportions. The recording is presented on two CDs that offer extraordinary sound for digital stereo, and the only disappointment is that this wasn't released as a multichannel recording. Listeners who find Schoenberg's modernist music difficult may be more receptive to this cantata, which is his most openly Romantic score and strongly reminiscent of Wagner's music dramas. Highly recommended.
Gluck composed “Ezio” only one year after the success of “Orfeo”. It was premiered in 1763 at the Burgtheatre in Vienna. Although not as successful as “Orfeo” it contains many fine moments and this recording, in which Michael Hofstetter conducts a first rate cast, should introduce more opera listeners to this fine work. “….the representation of his (Gluck’s) early and middle years is patchy. All the more fitting then, to be able to welcome a thoroughly satisfactory issue of Ezio….. It is greatly to the credit of countertenor Franco Fagioli, who sings the part (Ezio, sung by the famous castrato Guadagni in the première) in this recording, that there is no sense of anticlimax: he produces firm, expressive singing, with delicacy where appropriate.” (International Record Review)