NEWSLETTER
 
 

Welcome to the latest Classical Shop newsletter.Two major labels join The Classical Shop family this month. We are delighted to introduce the highly respected Finnish label Ondine and the Grammy-award-winning U.S. label San Francisco Symphony. Ondine launches with Corigliano’s Symphony No. 2, performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony presents Mahler’s symphonies conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.Among other news, we are pleased to announce that the labels Doyen, SP & S, and Egon are now all available in lossless format. If you have not already tried high quality downloads, then please investigate these brass labels and hear them in all their glory!

Other highlights in this month’s array: Jon Lord’s much acclaimed To Notice Such Things which has been flying high in the classical chart, Haitink’s beautiful reading of Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony on LSO Live, and Coro’s sublime recording of Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri starring Carolyn Sampson and James Gilchrist.

Don’t miss our new special offer: inspired by that ballet dancer extraordinaire Vaslav Nijinsky, we have a dazzling assortment of ballet works discounted for a limited period.

Look up www.theclassicalshop.net to listen to extracts from all this month’s new releases.With best wishes,

The Classical Shop team.

 
 


VASLAV NIJINSKY

Vaslav Nijinsky is recognised as one of the most influential ballet dancers and choreographers of all time. He continues to be admired for his skill, rare at the time, at performing ‘en point’, and his spectacular leaps became legendary. To commemorate his talent we now run a special 25% discount offer on recordings which have a special association with Nijinsky.


TCHAIKOVSKY
Highlights from Nutcracker
and Swan Lake



ULTIMATE BALLET ALBUM (THE)



Tchaikovsky
Sleeping Beauty - extended highlights



Tchaikovsky
Ballet Music from Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker



RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.
Scheherazade



MENDELSSOHN
Midsummer Night's Dream


STRAVINSKY, I.
Firebird Suite (The)



STRAVINSKY, I.
Petrushka (excerpts)


RAVEL
Bolero / DEBUSSY
Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune


Debussy
Khamma · Jeux · Ravel
La Valse · Bolero


STRAVINSKY
Sacre de printemps (Le)


 
 

Jon Lord: To Notice Such Things, etc.RLPO, Rundell

‘“He was a man who used to notice such things” is the last line of Thomas Hardy’s poem “Afterwards”, in which the poet tries to imagine what people might say about him after his death. With this poem the barrister and writer John Mortimer would close his travelling one-man show, in which his friend Jon Lord used to perform. In the main work here, a programmatic six-movement suite for solo flute, piano, and string orchestra, Lord evokes the wit of Mortimer and aspects of his life and career. Familiar from Lord’s previous concert-hall works is the fluent, enjoyable re-imagining of later nineteenth- and earlier twentieth-century symphonic writing and the subject matter of “friends pictured within”. Lord outlines the “programme” of “At Court”, the second movement of the Mortimer Suite, to suggest something that Verdi or Elgar might have set: “John in his glory in the late ’60s, ’70s, and early c’80s… one of the great barristers, known for his hugely quick wit and love of debate. He also loved women…” On paper this might sound derivative or even coy, but the result sounds, delightfully, as if Bartók had been enticed to London in the 1930s to work with Eric Coates or Robert Farnon.

‘The central-European atmosphere continues in “The Trick Dance”, an illustration of the dancing-by-proxy which Mortimer, restricted by a stick, still enjoyed in later life. There are also bleaker moments, over which Sibelius and Grieg cast their shadows, as in the movements “The Winter of Dormouse” and “Afterwards”, and in For Example, a development of a piano piece that pays tribute to the difficult life of the composer’s teacher. The album ends with Lord accompanying Jeremy Irons as he reads the poem “Afterwards”. Performance and recording are both first-class.’

Mike Ashman, Gramophone (Editor’s Choice)

Schubert: ‘Trout’ Quintet etc. – Schubert Ensemble

The Schubert Ensemble, led by Simon Blendis, performs a work for which it is justly well known, the ‘Trout’ Quintet by Schubert, coupling it with the same composer’s elegant Piano Trio No. 1 in B flat.

Composed in the Austrian country town of Steyr in 1819, ‘The Trout’, as it is commonly known, is one of Schubert’s most celebrated and enduring works. The apparent simplicity of the structures forms a framework for wonderfully inventive, beautifully contrasted material; the link between the music itself and the spacious, inspiring scenery which surrounded Schubert as he composed it is clear. A sparkling Scherzo, off-set by a rather coy Trio, leads into the Theme and Variations for which the piece is so famous. It is played here with a liveliness and enthusiasm that send us on our way to the jovial Finale, a movement of joyous spirit and untroubled relaxation. Piano Trio No. 1, written eight years after the ‘Trout’, is one of Schubert’s most delectable chamber works, full of long, lyrical melodic lines; one discovers a certain similarity with the ‘Trout’ though no direct thematic resemblance. The Schubert Ensemble delivers another uplifting and first-rate performance.

Geoffrey Burgon: Viola Concerto; Cello Concerto; Merciless Beauty, City of London Sinfonia, Rumon Gamba

This release offers the premiere recording of Geoffrey Burgon’s viola and cello concertos, alongside the song cycle Merciless Beauty.

For a generation and more of television watchers and filmgoers with even a passing interest in music, the name of the British composer Geoffrey Burgon is associated with a string of successful soundtrack scores: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others. His masterful score for Brideshead Revisited, described as ‘the greatest score ever written for television’, earned Burgon an Ivor Novello Award. However, ‘concert music’ has always been the main thrust of his work, which, whilst being sophisticated in structure, speaks powerfully and directly to audiences and musicians alike. His love of the voice has led Burgon to write probably more song cycles than any other living composer and these successes have tended to overshadow his smaller output of purely orchestral music. This new album helps to rectify that imbalance.

Merciless Beauty, originally for counter-tenor, is here, at the invitation of the composer, sung by the mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. The Viola Concerto Ghosts of the Dance was commissioned by our present soloist, Philip Dukes. Burgon writes: ‘Whilst writing it I felt the music being pulled in the direction of thirties American dance music. Then I got a strong image of a dance hall in a small American town, where a dance endurance competition was taking place. These were a feature of the depression era in the US.’ The album is completed by the Cello Concerto, inspired by Alexander Kok, the last surviving founder member of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and completed with advice concerning the solo part from Josephine Knight who here takes the solo part.

Buxtehude: Membra Jesu Nostri – Sampson, Crabtree, Blaze, Gilchrist, Birchall

Buxtehude’s cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri is a unique work. Based on words from a mediaeval Latin hymn, ‘Salve mundi salutare’, the cycle comprises seven cantatas, each dedicated to a different part of Christ’s crucified body. The texts are based on the concept of an observer contemplating Christ’s body on the cross, starting with the feet and moving up to the knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and finally head. Buxtehude plays cleverly with musical colours and textures and changes the mixture of voices and instruments to dramatic effect as the work develops.

R. Strauss: An Alpine Symphony – LSO, Haitink

An Alpine Symphony recounts a day’s climb to the summit of an Alpine mountain and back. Strauss infuses the score with a rich palette of instrumental sounds, evoking the scenes and events experienced along the way. It was to be one of his final large-scale orchestral works and shows the last great German romantic composer at the pinnacle of his art.

CD Reviews:
‘…no one has quite Haitink’s sense of the piece as a rational symphonic argument… Admirers should not hesitate to acquire an archetypal example of Haitink’s unobtrusive podium manner.’

Editor’s Choice, Gramophone

‘Mastery is the word. This depiction of a mountain climb achieves the peak of orchestral expertise… it has immense grandeur.’

The Times

‘The mountain looming through the murk at the beginning, and its splendour as the sun hits the peak, are both peerlessly handled by Haitink.’

BBC Music

Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer

Shchedrin’s ‘concert opera’ The Enchanted Wanderer was premiered in New York in 2002 and did not receive its Russian premiere until 2007. However, it has rapidly entered the repertoire of the Mariinsky Theatre, having been performed in St Petersburg and on tour.

Based on a short story by the nineteenth-century Russian author Nikolai Leskov, the opera is steeped in Russian folklore and beliefs. It tells the tale of Ivan, a young man who, in the course of his travels, flogs a monk to death, is captured and tortured by the Tatars, joins the retinue of a prince as horse trainer, loves and loses (to said prince) a Gypsy woman whom he subsequently kills at her own request, and is ultimately led by her ghost to a monastery, where he takes holy orders to atone for his deeds. The CD release also features four fragments from Shchedrin’s 1955 ballet score The Little Humpbacked Horse and the 1963 Concerto for Orchestra Naughty Limericks.

Corigliano: Symphony No. 2; The Mannheim Rocket – Helsinki PO, Storgårds

‘The Second Symphony by John Corigliano, commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, draws on his 1996 String Quartet, but the adaptation involved rewriting three of the five movements. The opening “Prelude” combines synchronous threads of sound which oscillate hauntingly, leading to a climax and a serene chordal apotheosis. The scherzo is slashingly aggressive, but the middle section is gentle, being a lyrical passacaglia. The “Nocturne” opens ethereally and creates a richly sustained tapestry to picture a Moroccan night, interrupted by a pattern of muezzin calls from the city’s many mosques. Then comes a complex fugue, which the composer describes as “anti-contrapuntal”. He uses a single theme in separate voices moving at different tempi; the work closes with a postlude in valedictory mood, with a high solo violin “meant to impact a feeling of farewell”. The synchronous sound threads of the “Prelude” return, the symphony ends as it began, fading into silence. It is a remarkably imaginative piece, not nearly as difficult to follow as it sounds.

The Mannheim Rocket is a phantasmagorical orchestral picture of Baron von Münchhausen’s Wedding Cake Rocket taking off, but it is also a pun on the musical term made famous by the Mannheim orchestra of the eighteenth century to describe a rising musical sequence that speeded up and grew louder as it went higher. The performances here are first-class and so is the spectacular recording. This is all real music and well-worth trying.’

The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music

Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10 – San Francisco SO, Thomas

Mahler's immense creation – featuring hundreds of musicians, three choruses, and soloists – is a symphony so epic in scope that it has been dubbed the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’. Mahler’s Eighth – a tale of damnation and salvation – is quintessentially a romantic work, but it owes a great debt to the towering baroque choral works of J.S. Bach.

‘…this promises to be a triumphant capstone to the entire cycle.’

San Francisco Chronicle

Winner of three Grammys:

Best Classical Album

Best Choral Performance

Best Engineered Classical Album

 
 

Listening to The Rite of Spring at the weekend, I was struck again just how modern this music still sounds. It may not incite a riot any more but it continues to startle and to stir one’s emotions in a powerful way. At what point in the future will its effect on listeners be no different to that of, say, a Mozart Serenade on us today?

I tend to feel that the answer is – probably never. If the opening of Haydn’s Creation still sounds otherworldly (another piece of music which could have been written yesterday), then there is probably no chance that The Rite of Spring will ever be ‘comfortable’ listening. And nor should it be. It will be a very sad day when we put on Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin to soothe us, or use Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite to entertain guests at a dinner party. Of course, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Bartók in these cases didn’t set out to write music to soothe, yet it is amazing how much classical music is prostituted in contexts for which it was not intended.

Several of London’s underground stations regularly play the classics as, apparently, it soothes passengers (well, they certainly could do with a bit of soothing). It is a sort of aural soporific – ‘muzak’ with a mission. Oddly, last week, I went to a restaurant in Chelmsford, which had incredibly loud ‘muzak’ playing. When I questioned why the music was being played so loud, I was told it was to drown out the music from the club next door. The effect was anything but relaxing.

But with the amount of music to which we are exposed, there is a danger that we take greatness for granted. Who hasn’t heard the ‘Unfinished’ Symphony a hundred times? But try listening to it – consciously – as though you have never heard it before; are you able to hear it with new ears? Or Beethoven’s Fifth, Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, Brahms’s First – or any of the great warhorses of the musical repertoire? These works are every bit as startling as The Rite of Spring and should create the same sort of frisson and excitement as Stravinsky’s notorious masterpiece.

Mind you, only for those with ears to hear. A friend of mine took his long-standing girlfriend to hear Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius. After an amazingly uplifting performance, she turned to him – an obsessive Elgarian – and said, in unimpressed tones, ‘that was quite nice’. He dumped her on the spot. It is not always easy to come to grips with music and emotions.

Paul Westcott
Press Officer, The Classical Shop
Please note that the views expressed are personal views, and not necessarily the views of Chandos Records If you agree, disagree or have any comments, please contact us at feedback@chandos.net

 
 



£1 OFF ANY PURCHASE OVER £10!
Enter the code TCSAPRLPW in the box provided at the bottom of your shopping basket page, to receive a £1 discount on any purchase over £10 from The Classical Shop.
This Offer is only available 16 April 2010 - 15 MAY 2010.

Note: only one promotional code can be used per transaction. Each promotional code can only be used once per customer.

THIS MONTHS FREE DOWNLOADS


The following are this month's free downloads.

Please 'Left click' on the download button below the tracks list, and then save the file to your computer. The tracks are contained in a single standard zip file which you will need to unpack before you can play the tracks.


Please Note: as these tracks are provided free, no customer/technical support can be given or correspondence entered into. The downloads have been tested on most of the popular operating systems and web/email clients.



ROBERT SCHUMANN
Fantasie in C, Op.17
1 Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich Vorzutragen - Im Legenden-Ton - Tempo primo 13:20
2 Mäßig - Durchaus energisch - Etwas langsamer - Viel bewegter 7:44
3 Langsam getragen - Durchweg leise zu halten - Etwas bewegter 12:57
JOHANNES BRAHMS
3 Intermezzi, Op.117
4 Andante moderato 4:42
5 Andante ma non troppo 4:32
6 Andante con molto 5:31
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by G F Handel, Op.24
7 Aira 1:00
8 Variation I 0:48
9 Variation II 0:41
10 Variation III 0:41
11 Variation IV 0:49
12 Variation V 0:56
13 Variation VI 1:02
14 Variation VII 0:38
15 Variation VIII 0:38
16 Variation IX 1:32
17 Variation X 0:39
18 Variation XI 0:55
19 Variation XII 0:57
20 Variation XIII 1:40
21 Variation XIV 0:40
22 Variation XV 0:42
23 Variation XVI 0:31
24 Variation XVII 0:36
25 Variation XVIII 0:51
26 Variation XIX 0:54
27 Variation XX 1:44
28 Variation XXI 0:49
29 Variation XXII 0:53
30 Variation XXIII 0:39
31 Variation XXIV 0:38
32 Variation XXV 0:44
33 Fuga 5:32
    Download Complete Zipped Album

Please Note: the free downloads on this newsletter are no longer available.

 
 
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Radio 3 chart show

Radio 3 will broadcast the results of the Top 20 Official Classical Chart on Mondays at 5 pm as part of its In Tune programme. It is compiled by the Official Charts Company and is based on the weekly physical and digital sales of repertoire that is 100% classical and has been released within the last two years. No compilations or soundtracks are included.

YouTube Chopin competition

Kemble Pianos have launched an online competition open to anyone who submits a video of him- or herself playing a piece of Chopin. It is open for entries until 1 August, after which the public vote will take place online. The prize is a Kemble piano and lesson with the Chopin specialist Kevin Kenner.

King James composition awards

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Authorised Version of the Bible, The 2011 Trust has a competition for young composers. There are two categories, one for technically approachable music for a non-professional choir and one much more ambitious. Works in both categories must be suitable for worship, with texts to come from the Authorised Version. The judges will be James MacMillan and Bob Chilcott.

Curtailed concert in the Pantheon

For fun, do a YouTube search to see a concert held in Rome’s Pantheon, which the attendants, soon to finish work, brought to an abrupt end when they thought it had gone on too long. The clip has clocked-up nearly 200 million hits! The performers have since received an apology from the Italian Minister of Culture.

Lady Susana Walton 1926 – 2010

A charismatic figure in the world of gardening and music, Lady Walton died peacefully at her home on the Island of Ischia, where she and her husband (the composer Sir William Walton who died in 1983) had created a most wonderful garden. She may be heard on Chandos’ recording of Walton’s Façade (CHAN 8869).

Francis Wilson (1942 – 2010)

Francis Wilson, the founder of the Olympia label which sought out much rare Russian and East European repertoire, has died.

Kenneth McKellar (1927 – 2010)

Kenneth McKellar, the Scottish tenor and popular singer, has died. Although he cut his teeth in the world of opera he was unhappy with the ‘goldfish’ existence and signed for Decca for twenty-five years, specialising in song. His album Songs of Robert Burns is regarded in Scotland as the definitive Burns collection.

EMI troubles

EMI needs to raise £120m before 12 June to avoid foreclosure on its loans scheduled by Citibank. If it fails to do this the bank could seize EMI and sell it off whole or in pieces. This would be catastrophic for the music industry in so many ways. EMI has just failed in a deal with its rival Universal to sell its distribution rights in North America for around £200m. This failure may mean asking the investors to find the needed money.

The amount of revenue generated by online music sales in the UK outstripped the decline in revenue from traditional CD and DVD formats for the first time last year. Figures published by PRS Music indicate that online sales were up by £12.8m to £30.4m, more than offsetting drops in sales of CD and DVD, which fell £8.7m. It marks the first time that online sales have outpaced the decline in traditional sales. The online sales growth of 73% resulted in a 2.6% lift in total music annual revenues to £623m.