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Maestro: Independent Classical Spotlight

A monthly podcast dedicated to the best of independent classical musicians, composers, and labels from around the world. Each episode is typically 2 or 3 tracks, and includes a brief narrative. The music is always superb.

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Maestro 030: Bridge Records 30th Anniversary

Bridge Records was founded in 1981 by the classical guitarist David Starobin, and his wife, the violinist, Becky Starobin. The company celebrates its 30th anniversary with a catalog of more than 400 CD and DVDs, as well as a music publishing arm and an artist management division. Both of the Starobin's children, Robert Starobin and Allegra Starobin, work for the company, as well as a staff of engineers, designers and allied personnel. Bridge now issues between 35 to 40 discs per year, across a broad spectrum of classical music, contemporary music and jazz. The Washington Post wrote that "Bridge is a company with a highly selectiveand consistently excellent catalog". It is this selectivity that has led to 25 Grammy nominations and numerous awards from the international critical press. New Orford String Quartet "String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887, Op. 161: I. Allegro molto moderato" (mp3) from "New Orford String Quartet performs Schubert and Beethoven" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumThe New Orford Quartet is a brilliant all-star group from Canada. The quartet includes the concertmasters of the Montreal and Toronto Symphonies. This is the debut recording of the New Orford- a recording which has been receiving rave reviews in the critical press. Susanna Phillips, Myra Huang "Poemes Pour Mi: VII. Les Deux guerriers" (mp3) from "Susanna Phillips: Paysages" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumSusanna Phillips is a spectacular young mezzo-soprano. Ms. Phillips is the winner of the Metropolitan Opera's 2010 Beverly Sills Award. Her solo debut recording on Bridge is called Paysages (Landscapes) and includes French songs by Messiaen, Debussy and Fauré. Here we listen to a track from Olivier Messiaen's magical song cycle Poemes pour Mi.The Budapest String Quartet "String Quartet No. 3 in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3: IV. Presto" (mp3) from "Beethoven: The Early Quartets" (Bridge Records, Inc.) More On This AlbumOne of the special parts of the Bridge catalog is the company's historical recordings, many released by Bridge for the first time ever. These include 25 volumes of concerts played at the Library of Congress, between 1940 and the present day. Famous names on the Bridge series include George Szell, Leopold Stowkowski, Leontyne Price, Samuel Barber and the Budapest String Quartet. Here the Budapest String Quartet performs from a 1944 concert. Garrick Ohlsson "Sonata in B Minor, S. 178: IV. Allegro energico" (mp3) from "Garrick Ohlsson: Liszt Recital" (Bridge Records, Inc.) More On This AlbumBridge has a long history of recording many of today's leading soloists. Among pianists in the Bridge catalog you'll find names like Rudolf Serkin, Richard Goode, Peter Serkin and Garrick Ohlsson. Here we listen to Garrick Ohlsson's recent Liszt recording, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of Liszt's birth.BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew David "Concerto In Pieces - Purcell Variations: I. Theme and Variation I, Vivace Maestoso" (mp3) from "Concertos of Melinda Wagner and Poul Ruders" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew David "Concerto In Pieces - Purcell Variations: II. Variation II, Vivace Scherzando" (mp3) from "Concertos of Melinda Wagner and Poul Ruders" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumAmong the strengths of the Bridge catalog is a strong commitment to finding the leading composers of our own time, and recording large portions of their catalog. The Danish composer Poul Ruders has become known for his operas and orchestral music, much of which has been recorded on Bridge. Here we listen to his "Concerto in Pieces", played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.Joseph Alessi, Susan Narucki, George Crumb, Paul Cesarczyk, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra "Star-Child: IV. Musica Apocalyptica" (mp3) from "George Crumb Edition, Vol. 3" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumThe composer George Crumb celebrated his 80th birthday last year. Bridge has a particularly close relationship with Crumb, and is involved in recording the great American composer's complete output. Here we listen to the "Dies Irae" from Crumb's massive orchestral work, "Star-Child." This recording was a Grammy winner!Clara Rockmore, Nadia Reisenberg "Requiebros" (mp3) from "Clara Rockmore's Lost Theremin Album" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumEclectic titles are also a part of the Bridge catalog, and what could be more eclectic than a recording of classical masterpieces on the Theremin! Here we listen to the superb performer Clara Rockmore with an eerily beautiful rendition of Requiebros by Gaspar Cassado, accompanied by pianist Nadia Reisenberg.


6 Oct 2011

Rank #1

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Maestro 029: Beethoven Symphonies

Today we will be showcasing some of Beethoven's symphonies, including two tracks from our very special featured release from Avie Records titled "Beethoven: Symphony Nos 6 and 8" performed by Manchester Camerata and Douglas Boyd.Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Tiboris "Symphony No. 9, Op. 125 in D Minor -1895 Gustav Mahler Edition: III. Adagio molto e cantabile" (mp3) from "Beethoven's 9th Symphony: 1895 Gustav Mahler Orchestration" (Bridge Records, Inc.) Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumMahler’s grand expansion of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony employs an extra 4 horns and an extra set of Timpani, revoicing many passages of the venerable masterpiece. Mahler adds occasional counter-melodies and thickens the scoring in order to create his own heightened dynamic scale. Of his own performances of this re-scoring, Mahler wrote: "Far from following any arbitrary purpose or course, but also without allowing himself to be led astray by tradition, (this conductor) was constantly and solely concerned with carrying out Beethoven’s wishes in their minutest detail, and ensuring that nothing the master intended should be sacrificed or drowned out amid the general confusion of sound."San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas "Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 and Piano Concerto No. 4" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumThe San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas present Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto featuring pianist Emanuel Ax.Jan Willem de Vriend, The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra "Symphony no. 7 op. 92 in A major: Allegro con brio" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphonies nos. 7&8 - Complete symphonies vol.3" (Challenge Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumManchester Camerata, Douglas Boyd "Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 - "Pastoral"" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 6 & 8" (AVIE Records) More On This Album Manchester Camerata lodges the latest release in its acclaimed Beethoven Symphony cycle. Like the previous releases in this cycle these live recordings capture the spirit and freshness of these remarkable, genre-busting works, as well as the excitement, atmosphere and energy of the chamber orchestra under Music Director Douglas Boyd. Manchester Camerata has become one of the finest, most innovative chamber orchestras in the UK, and Douglas Boyd has proven to be an eminent Beethovenian. Conducting the composer’s Fidelio at the 2009 Garsington Opera Festival, The Times (London) noted “his grasp of Beethovenian idiom” and “pungent underlining of orchestral detail”, praising the musical performance as “sublime and exultant”. This is the penultimate release in the Douglas Boyd-Manchester Camerata Beethoven Symphony cycle. The Ninth “Choral” Symphony will be released in November 2011.


14 Sep 2011

Rank #2

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Maestro 018: London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra Today's episode will be a special feature on the London Symphony Orchestra, also known as LSO. LSO is widely regarded to be one of the world's leading orchestras, with over 100 years of performing experience. LSO has performed all across the world and even recorded soundtracks for films, such as Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. In 2000, LSO launched their own classical label, LSO Live. Since then LSO Live has become one of the world's most talked about classical labels. Today we will be celebrating LSO Live's 10 year anniversary by playing samples from some of their best recordings and featuring a track from their newest release titled Verdi: Otello. Enjoy! video platform video management video solutions video player Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra "Enigma Variations" from "Elgar: Enigma Variations" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album During his time as Principal Conductor of the LSO, Sir Colin Davis gained a reputation as the leading interpreter of Elgar’s music and recorded the composer’s symphonies and Dream of Gerontius for LSO Live. Elgar himself was one of the LSO’s first Principal Conductors and the orchestra premiered many of his works, including the Introduction & Allegro for Strings. June 2007 sees the 150th anniversary of Elgar’s birth. The Enigma Variations was Elgar’s breakthrough work and remains one of his most popular. Although it is often thought of as whimsical and the epitome of “Englishness”, in reality it is a thrilling and ravishingly beautiful masterpiece. Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra "Messiah" from "Handel: Messiah" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 Buy at eMusic More On This Album Handel’s masterpiece uses short texts from the Bible to tell the story of Christ's birth, death and resurrection. Imbued with a deep humanity and written with the imagination of a composer at the peak of powers, Messiah is intimate yet dramatic and includes some of Handel's best-loved music.Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra "Má vlast" from "Smetana: Má vlast" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Inspired by the mythology and pastoral beauty of his Czech homeland, Smetana’s six tone poems that form Ma vlást (My Fatherland) is one of the best examples of Nationalism in music. The stirring second movement depicts the river Vltava as it flows through the countryside and into Prague. Struck with deafness in 1874, Smetana would never hear a performance of what would become his most popular work. Concert Reviews ‘Colin Davis's performance of Smetana’s Má Vlast with the London Symphony Orchestra was an irresistible pageant of Czech patriotic fervor, a depiction of ancient battles and pastoral idylls, as well as a revelation of the work’s symphonic integrity ’The Guardian (UK), 12 May 2005 ‘the LSO’s unforced brilliance constantly shining forth … The players rose to the occasion with the virtuosity and commitment that are their hallmark. Under Davis’s direction, Smetana’s depiction of natural phenomena and rustic scenes sprang to life’ Evening Standard (UK), 11 May 2005 ‘Yet the Smetana itself holds no terrors, least of all for Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra. In the first poem, how proudly Vysehrad, the guardian rock of Prague, stood out fortissimo on the skyline! And few musical rivers have accelerated with the natural grace of Davis’s Vltava, or begun its course with such lightly charming trickling flutes’ The Times (UK), 12 May 2005 Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestra, Elena Mosuc, Zlata Bulycheva, London Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 2" from "Mahler: Symphony No. 2" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album ‘Faced with the London Symphony Orchestra's concentrated glare and attack, I considered cowering under my seat ’The Times (UK) ‘an account of searing intensity ... The pure, visceral thrill of the final bars,greeted with an enthusiastic ovation from the packed audience,crowned a very fine performance of this great work’ MusicalCriticsm.com (UK)Bernard Haitink, Twyla Robinson, Karen Cargill, John Mac Master, London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 9 "Choral"" from "Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Benchmark Beethoven Cycle - BBC Music Magazine (UK) Classical Recordings of the Year - New York Times (US) CDs of the Year - Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) ‘a towering achievement’ The Times (UK) CDs of the Year ‘Few music lovers saw this one coming ... Haitink has rarely sounded more suitably agitated. Even the problematic Triple Concerto has rare drama and purpose; this recording may be the best ever’ Philadelphia Enquirer (US) ‘simply masterful Beethoven … Capped by a magisterial account of the Ninth Symphony, this is the Beethoven set for our time. Even if you already have umpteen other recordings of these works, you really owe it to yourself to hear this new set’ Chicago Tribune (US) Beethoven redefined what a symphony could be, giving his works a dramatic narrative and emotional intensity that sent blood flowing through the veins of music and set the tone for Romanticism in music. Many of the symphonies have their own journeys; from darkness to light in the Fifth symphony, from death to rebirth in the Eroica, or from a bleak void to a glorious vision of love and tolerance in the Choral Symphony. London Symphony Orchestra "The Planets, Op. 32: IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" from "Holst: The Planets" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Gustav Holst's The Planets was born of his fascination with astrology. His portrayal of the planets of the solar system, from the serene, romantic venus to the warlike Mars and the magisterial Jupiter, has become an absolute classic and contains some of the most well-known music of the 20th centruy. London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, Sir Colin Davis, Gerald Finley, Allan Clayton, Ben Johnson, Matthew Rose "Otello" from "Verdi: Otello" (LSO Live) More On This Album The release of Sir Colin Davis’s eagerly anticipated recording of Verdi’s Otello marks the 10th anniversary of the LSO Live label. Opera has always formed a major part of the label’s output and among Sir Colin’s greatest triumphs was his Grammy Award-winning recording of Verdi’s final opera, Falstaff. One of the world’s most exciting young tenors joins Sir Colin to sing the title role on the new recording. New Zealander Simon O’Neill stepped in at short notice to the concerts, making his debut in the role (although he had studied it with Domingo), delivering what was universally acclaimed as a sensational performance. The villainous Jago is sung by Gerald Finley and Otello’s wife Desdemona by Anne Schwanewilms. Verdi had retired from opera following the premiere of Aida in 1871 but was eventually persuaded by his publisher to work with the librettist Arrigo Boito. As with Falstaff, Verdi’s final opera on which they would subsequently collaborate, they turned to Shakespeare for inspiration. Otello, which was premiered in 1887, marked a significant evolutionary development in Italian opera and is widely regarded as one of the great operatic masterpieces. Simon O’Neill joins Sir Colin and the LSO again for performances of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass in October before singing Siegmund in Die Walküre in a production at La Scala conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Gerald Finley performs in Guillaume Tell in Rome in October and Pelléas et Mélisande at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in December. ‘This was an electrifying account of a masterpiece, conducted with an explosive energy that belies Sir Colin’s eighty years and pushed the LSO to the top of its game. Simon O’Neill made a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade … Gerald Finley was an arrestingly crisp and snakily plausible Iago … Verdi’s great music drama shone in all its power and glory’ Daily Telegraph (UK) concert review ‘a performance of Verdi’s opera that had finesse, fervour and glorious lyricism … Such is Davis’s rapport with the LSO and its rapant Chorus that he can unleash greater musical power with an elegant flick of the baton than most conductors muster with flailing arms. Gerald Finley was a superb Iago: insiduously sinister, yet sustaining a wonderfully suave line. And the New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill gave an immense performance … he will make the Moor his own’ The Times (UK) concert review ‘a thrilling performance from beginning to end … an evening to treasure; not just for Davis’s contribution, but for an impressive debut from the young New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill. O’Neill mastered Otello’s many moods with a striking musicality and an eveness of tone throughout the range. He will go far, and promises to be the outstanding Wagner Heldentenor we have been longing far … the men, led by Gerald Finley’s totally convincing and committed Iago, were splendid’ Mail on Sunday (UK) concert review

1hr 14mins

30 Sep 2010

Rank #3

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Maestro 007: feat. Tchaikovsky and J.S. Bach. Nutcracker Ballet Suite and Christmas Oratorio

Maestro Classical podcast: episode 7, a holiday celebration feat. Tchaikovsky and J.S. Bach.1.The London Symphony Orchestra "Nutcracker Ballet Suite: Waltz Of The Flowers" (mp3) from "Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite / 1812 Overture" (Everest Records) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the Romantic era. While not part of the nationalistic music group known as "The Five", Tchaikovsky wrote music which, in the opinion of Harold C. Schonberg, was distinctly Russian: plangent, introspective, with modally-inflected melody and harmony. Despite the compositional efforts of The Five, Tchaikovsky dominates 19th century Russian music as its greatest talent. While his formal conservatory training instilled in him Western-oriented attitudes and techniques, his essential nature, as he always insisted, remained Russian. This was true both in his use of actual folk song and his deep absorption in Russian life and ways of thought. His natural gifts, especially for melody (what he called the "lyrical idea"), give his music a permanent appeal. However, it was his hard-won though secure and professional technique, plus his ability to use it for the expression of his emotional life, which allowed him to realize his potential more fully than any of his major Russian contemporaries.The Nutcracker is one of Tchaikovsky's best known works. While it has been criticized as the least substantial of the composer's three ballets, it should be remembered that Tchaikovsky was restricted by a rigorous scenario supplied by Marius Petipa. This scenario provided no opportunity for the expression of human feelings beyond the most trivial and confined Tchaikovsky mostly within a world of tinsel, sweets and fantasy. Yet, at its best, the melodies are charming and pretty, and by this time Tchaikovsky's virtuosity at orchestration and counterpoint ensured an endless fascination in the surface attractiveness of the score.The Nutcracker, Op. 71, is a fairy tale-ballet in two acts, three scenes, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, composed in 1891–92. Alexandre Dumas père's adaptation of the story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky (written by Marius Petipa and commissioned by the director of the Imperial Theatres Ivan Vsevolozhsky in 1891). In Western countries, this ballet has become perhaps the most popular ballet, performed primarily around Christmas time.The composer made a selection of eight of the more popular numbers from the ballet before the ballet's December 1892 premiere, forming The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, intended for concert performance. The suite was first performed, under the composer's direction, on 19 March 1892 at an assembly of the St. Petersburg branch of the Musical Society[1]. The suite became instantly popular; the complete ballet did not achieve its great popularity until around the mid-1960s.Among other things, the score of The Nutcracker is noted for its use of the celesta, an instrument that the composer had already employed in his much lesser known symphonic ballad The Voyevoda (premiered 1891).^ Although well-known in The Nutcracker as the featured solo instrument in the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Act II, it is employed elsewhere in the same act. Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album2.The London Symphony Orchestra "Nutcracker Ballet Suite: Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" (mp3) from "Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite / 1812 Overture" (Everest Records) More On This Album3.Boston Bach Ensemble "Chorus: Jauchzet, frohlocket" (mp3) from "J.S. Bach: Weihnachts-Oratorium - Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248" (Musica Omnia)The greatest musical setting of the Christmas story, compiled by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1734. Based on the Gospel of St. Luke, the text describes the nativity of Jesus and is adorned by some of Bach's most colourful and beautiful music. In modern performance, the piece is generally either presented as a whole, or split into two equal sections. The total running time for the entire work is nearly three hours. Scored for an Evangelist, four vocal soloists, four part chorus and full baroque orchestra, including trumpets, timpani and horns, the Christmas Oratorio is among Bach's best-loved works.The Boston Bach Ensemble was founded in 1992 by Julian Wachner and Peter Watchorn, and performed principally at Boston University. It has performed cantatas, oratorios and masses by J. S. Bach, and features a choir of twenty young professional singers and a period instrument orchestra comprising some of the leading specialist musicians from the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. In 1998 the BBE recorded a celebrated live performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio, which featured distinguished vocal soloists, including the celebrated Dutch baritone, Max van Egmond.Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album4.Boston Bach Ensemble "Recitative: Es begab sich aber" (mp3) from "J.S. Bach: Weihnachts-Oratorium - Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248" (Musica Omnia) More On This Album5.Boston Bach Ensemble "Recitative: Nun wird mein liebster Bräutigam" (mp3) from "J.S. Bach: Weihnachts-Oratorium - Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248" (Musica Omnia) More On This Album


5 Dec 2008

Rank #4

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Maestro - 004 feat. Mozart's "Requiem" and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47"

Maestro Classical Podcast: Episode 4 feat. Mozart's "Requiem" and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47".1.Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra "Requiem" (mp3) from "Mozart: Requiem" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album2.Chicago Symphony Orchestra "Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47" (mp3) from "CSO Resound / Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5" (CSO Resound) Buy at iTunes Music Store Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon More On This Album


6 Sep 2008

Rank #5

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Maestro 005 feat. Ludwig van Beethoven

Maestro Classical Podcast: episode 5 feat. Ludwig van Beethoven, movements from Symphonies No. 1, 5, & 9.Ludwig van Beethoven (16 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. He was a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, and remains one of the most respected and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, he moved to Vienna in his early twenties and settled there, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. Beethoven's hearing gradually deteriorated beginning in his twenties, yet he continued to compose, and to conduct and perform, even after he was completely deaf.This is Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Opus 21. It was written in 1799 - 1800 and was premiered April 2, 1800 in Vienna, and is dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an early patron of the composer. Here, the 3rd movement is performed by the USSR State Symphony, conducted by Konstantin Ivanov.Konstantin Ivanov "Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphony No. 1, The Creatures of Prometheus Overture" (MUSIC ONLINE) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Napster More On This AlbumSymphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 was written in 1804– - 08. This symphony is one of the most popular and well-known compositions in all of European classical music, and is also one of the most often-played symphonies. First performed in Vienna's Theater an der Wien in 1808, the work achieved its prodigious reputation soon afterwards.
The symphony, and the four-note opening motif in particular, are well known worldwide, with the motif appearing frequently in popular culture, from disco to rock and roll, to appearances in film and television.
The Fifth stands with the Third Symphony and Ninth Symphony as the most revolutionary of Beethoven's compositions.Here, the first movement is performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andreas Delfs.Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra & Andreas Delfs "Beethoven: Symphony No. 5" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphony No. 5" (MSO Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumSymphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" is the last complete symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, it is considered both an icon and a forefather of Romantic music, and one of Beethoven's greatest masterpieces. It incorporates part of the poem "Ode to Joy" by Friedrich Schiller, written in 1785, with text sung by soloists and a chorus in the last movement. It is the first example of a major composer using the human voice on the same level with instruments in a symphony, creating a work of a grand scope that set the tone for the Romantic symphonic form. Further testament to its prominence is that an original manuscript of this work sold in 2003 for $3.3 million USD at Sotheby's, London. Stephen Roe, the head of Sotheby's manuscripts department, described the symphony as "one of the highest achievements of man, ranking alongside Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear."Here, the final movement is performed by Ama Deus Ensemble, conducted by Valentin Radu.Ama Deus Ensemble, Valentin Radu "Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 - "Choral"" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 & Die Ruinen von Athen" (Lyrichord) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Napster Stream from Rhapsody More On This Album


16 Oct 2008

Rank #6

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Maestro 028: Romantic Period Pieces

This month on Maestro Independent Classical Spotlight we have a selection of four Romantic Period pieces from our classical collection. Amber Yiu Hsuan Liao"Piano Sonata No.18 in E-flat major, Op.31, No.3" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.18; Granados: Goyescas; Schumann: Humoreske" (MSR Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This AlbumThe three pieces in this recording were all written during difficult times in the lives of their composers. Beethoven composed the E-flat major sonata in the same year he wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament. Goyescas was created shortly after Granados learned about both the death of his close friend Issac Albéniz, and the Tragic Week, a bloody confrontation between the working class of Barcelona and the army. When Schumann composed Humoreske, he was an aspiring composer trying to win the approval of Clara’s father, and was staying in Vienna away from home and his beloved. It is touching to hear how the composers rose above the pain, anxiety and desperation in their lives with such grace. They transcended their suffering, and created these beautiful pieces that have enriched the lives of many others in future generations.Pianist Amber Yiu Hsuan Liao has given recitals and solo performances throughout United States and Taiwan. Recent engagements include recitals at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center and the Freeport Memorial Library, and the world premiere of Between Stream and Hills III for piano solo by Chih-Chen Wei. Ms. Liao has been invited to participate in several music festivals in Europe, including Courchevel Academie Musicale in France, Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum in Salzburg and New Millennium Piano Festival in Gijón, Spain. She has also been selected to perform in the master classes of distinguished artists such as Leon Fleisher, Dmitri Bashkirov, John Perry, Leslie Howard, Oxana Yablonskaya, Michel Béroff and Robert McDonald. As a chamber musician, Ms. Liao’s collaborations with vocalists and instrumentalists have led to performances in the CAMI Hall, Symphony Space and the Lenox Athenaeum, among others. She was the pianist in the Emerald Quintet, a group dedicated to both standard repertoire and the works of contemporary composers. Ms. Liao started her early music training in Taiwan. As a teenager, she was the prize winner of several regional and national composition competitions. She continued her studies in piano performance in the United States under the tutelage of Boris Slutsky and Arkady Aronov. A winner of the Rose Marie Milholland Award and the President’s Award, she received her Master of Music from the Peabody Institute and Doctor of Musical Arts from the Manhattan School of Music. She currently maintains a private studio in New York City, and is on the faculty of Seton Hall University in New Jersey.Budapest String Quartet, Artur Balsam "Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25: I. Allegro" (mp3) from "Brahms and Schumann Recital" (Bridge Records, Inc.) More On This AlbumThe Budapest String Quartet was a string quartet in existence from 1917 to 1967. It originally consisted of three Hungarians and a Dutchman; at the end, the quartet consisted of four Russians. A number of recordings were made for HMV/Victor through 1938; from 1940 through 1967 it recorded for Columbia Records. Additionally, several of the Quartet's live performances were recorded, at the Library of Congress and other venues.More info on Budapest String Quartet.Artur Balsam (1906-1994) was a highly versatile pianist who was born in Poland and became established as an accompanist for Yehudi Menhuin on a 1932 tour of the United States. After being hounded out of Europe during the Nazi period, Balsam settled in New York and began both teaching and recording. Balsam was a very flexible artist who proved himself quite capable in piano repertoire ranging from the Baroque to ultra-modern works. Balsam was well-known locally in New York City, Rochester and Boston as a teacher, recitalist and chamber musician. He worked for dozens of East Coast based record labels, but the highest concentration of his recordings may be found in the Vox catalogue.More info on Artur Balsam.Lavina Meijer "Impromptu- Caprice, Op. 9" (mp3) from "Fantasies & Impromptus" (Channel Classics Records) More On This AlbumLavinia Meijer (1983) is recognized worldwide as one of the most promising rising stars of the moment. Born in Korea and adopted into a Dutch family, she is now based in the Netherlands. She studied under the guidance of Erika Waardenburg at the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam, where she received her Bachelor and Masters degrees of Music with the highest distinction. Since then she has toured as a solo-harpist across Europe, America and Asia, showing the many possibilities of the harp as a solo-instrument.From a young age on, she has won several important music prizes, such as first prize at the Dutch Harp Competition in the Netherlands, first prize at the International Harp Competition in Brussels, a second prize at the International Harp Competition in Vienna and a third prize at both the International USA Harp Competition and the International Harp Competition in Israel. Special awards have been given to her, such as the MeesPierson award and the Vriendenkrans of the Royal Concertgebouw from Amsterdam and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust from London. In 2009 she received the Dutch Music Prize, which is the highest distinction for a Dutch classical musician.For full bio, please click here. Vassily Primakov "Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5" (mp3) from "Vassily Primakov: Rachmaninoff Recital" (Bridge Records, Inc.) More On This AlbumIn many ways Vassily Primakov is a reincarnation of the keyboard virtuoso from the early and mid-20th century: he possesses an enormous technique, a highly individual interpretive persona, and a keen sense for drama in the big moments of Romantic and post-Romantic works. To watch him at the piano in performance underscores this atavistic view: Primakov often plays trance-like, seemingly carried away by the music, with all manner of facial expressions and animated movements, while still conveying the sense he is in complete control, despite whatever technical challenges confront him. His growing number of fans will assert that he is fun to watch in his captivating mixture of eccentricity and sensitive virtuosity. Primakov possesses a broad repertory inclusive of Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Scriabin, and Shostakovich. But he does not skirt the less meaty repertory, as his performances of Mozart concertos will attest; nor does he avoid the unusual: he plays the generally neglected and less pianistic Dvorák Piano Concerto. Primakov has recorded for Bridge Records and the Van Cliburn Foundation.Vassily Primakov was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1979. At 11 he became a student of Vera Gornostaeva at the Central Special Music School in Moscow. At 17 he enrolled at Juilliard, where he studied until 2005. His teachers there included keyboard icon Jerome Lowenthal. Primakov eventually made the U.S. his adopted homeland.For full bio, please click here.


8 Aug 2011

Rank #7

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Maestro - 003: Austrian composers part I - Anton Bruckner

Austrian composers part 1: Anton Bruckner.1.Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra & Andreas Delfs "Bruckner: Symphony No. 4" (mp3) from "Bruckner: Symphony No. 4" (MSO Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Amazon More On This Album2.Carl Schuricht "Symphony No. 9 D minor" (mp3) from "Anton Bruckner: Symphony No.8 / No.9" (haenssler CLASSIC) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon More On This Album


2 Aug 2008

Rank #8

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Maestro Classical 016: Nocturnes for Summer Nights

More about Nocturnes Leon Bosch, Sung-Suk Kang "Nocturne" (mp3) from "Virtuoso Double Bass" (Meridian Records) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album The working relationship between Sung-Suk Kang and the distinguished double bass player Leon Bosch goes back to 1982, when both were students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. Sung-Suk accompanied Leon during lessons and at scholarship auditions. 'At the end of our courses of study,' Leon remembers, 'the RNCM principal, Sir John Manduell, invited us to play two pieces together in one of the so-called principal's concerts. These were showcase events in which his ‘prize students’ were afforded a platform to perform in front of an audience of many distinguished invited guests, as well as the public. Sung-Suk and I performed two pieces by the great double bass player Bottesini, the Capriccio di Bravura and Fantasy Sonnambula. 'I'll remember that 1984 concert forever, for Sung-Suk’s magical playing throughout. There was one extended piano tutti in Sonnambula which was particular memorable for its unique delicacy and scintillating effervescence.' Sung-Suk picks up the story. 'After we left the RNCM, Leon and I lost contact with each other for twenty years. Then in the autumn of 2006, all of a sudden I received an SMS message from Leon on my mobile.....out of the blue. I called him back and discovered that at short notice he wanted me to play for him on a CD of pieces by Bottesini. After exchanging a few emails, I agreed.’ So what had inspired Leon to make the move? 'After Sung-Suk and I parted company back in 1984 I always thought of her whenever I played Sonnambula. I often wondered what had happened to her. I have a tape recording of that principal's concert and played it often over the years to reassure myself that it was indeed real and not just a grossly exaggerated and romanticised memory! 'Then when I was scheduled to record my first Bottesini disc, my pianist had to withdraw. After much thought, I resolved to try and find Sung-Suk, since she was the only person I felt I'd really be happy to work with. I put her name into Google and found her referred to on the website of the conductor, Nayden Todorov. With that lead, I traced her to Vienna.’ 'We began to rehearse as soon as I arrived in London!' Sung-Suk recalls. 'There wasn`t enough time to work on each piece in detail.... and we only had one and a half days to record all the repertoire for the CD. 'Playing with Leon wasn`t easy at first - he has a unique way of phrasing and his rubato is never predictable. And of course my ears had to concentrate so much on picking up the thick, deep lower register of the double bass sound. But during the recording sessions everything clicked and became completely natural. 'We tried to create a new atmosphere for each piece and then find the inspiration for a special interpretation at the end of the process. This was always different from what we'd prepared....music-making with Leon is always spontaneous! I love the full sound he makes, all the different colours he creates to express varied emotions in depth.’ As for Nocturne, it allows the piano to anticipate the main theme in the opening section but then gives it no share of the melodic line so expressively introduced and sustained by the double bass. It is, however, the piano which towards the end initiates the change from minor to major harmonies, just before double-bass harmonics magically project the melody into the soprano register. If Bottesini expected to be remembered by future generations he no doubt felt that it would be through his operas and sacred music. In fact, while they are forgotten, his posthumous reputation derives from an instrumental artistry which, though it died with him, survives in the hands of those few bassists who can do his compositions full justice. Nikolai Lugansky "Nocturne, Op. 55 No. 1" (mp3) from "Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3, Fantasie-impromptu, Prélude, Nocturne, et al." (Onyx Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album Nikolai Lugansky's first recording for ONYX. The Daily Telegraph commenting on Lugansky, said 'He can thrill in taxing pianism through his iron will and fingers of steel, but there is an assuaging velvet quality to his tone, a natural feel for lyrical line' Gramophone praised his 'pianism of immense skill, fluency and innate musical quality' Nikolai Lugansky was born in Moscow in 1972. He studied at Moscow Central Music School (under Tatiana Kestner) and then at the Moscow Conservatory, where he was a pupil of Tatiana Nikolayeva, who described him as ‘the next one’ in a line of great Russian pianists. Following Nikolayeva’s untimely death in 1993, Lugansky continued his studies under Sergei Dorensky. A laureate of the International Bach Competition in Leipzig, the Rachmaninov Competition in Moscow and the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Lugansky has a repertoire of over 50 concertos with orchestra as well as a wide range of solo and chamber works. He has worked with many distinguished orchestras and conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Valery Gergiev, Neeme Järvi, Raymond Leppard, Yoel Levi, Mikhail Pletnev, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Vladimir Spivakov, Evgeny Svetlanov, Yuri Temirkanov, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Chailly and others. His chamber music partners have included Vadim Repin, Alexander Kniazev, Joshua Bell, Yuri Bashmet, Mischa Maisky, Leonidas Kavakos and Anna Netrebko among others. Lugansky has recorded 23 CDs. His solo recordings on Warner Classics — Chopin Études, Rachmaninov Préludes and Moments musicaux and Chopin Préludes — were each awarded a Diapason d’Or. His PentaTone Classics SACD of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no.1, with the Russian National Orchestra under Kent Nagano, was cited as ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Gramophone. His Prokofiev CD was one of the ‘CDs of the Year’ (2004) featured in The Daily Telegraph. Lugansky’s recordings of the complete piano concertos of Rachmaninov, with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo, received Choc du Monde de la Musique, Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik and the 2005 ECHO Klassik Award. His last recording (Chopin’s and Rachmaninov’s cello sonatas) with the cellist Alexander Kniazev won the 2007 ECHO Klassik Award. As well as performing and recording, Lugansky teaches at the Moscow Conservatory as an assistant of Prof. Sergei Dorensky. Anthony Goldstone "Nocturne in D-Flat Major, Op. 8" (mp3) from "Russian Piano Music, Vol. 4: Sergei Lyapunov" (Divine Art) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Now almost forgotten in the West, Lyapunov was one of the truly great composers of the Romantic era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His Sonata is a phenomenal work and his mastery of pianistic composition is also finely demonstrated by the other works on this album masterfully interpreted by Anthony Goldstone. Anyone who loves Chopin or Liszt should get to know this music. Fuzjko Hemming "Nocturne No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor" (mp3) from "Fuzjko Hemming - Collector's Edition" (Fuzjko Label) Buy at iTunes Music Store Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Having wowed much of the Eastern Hemisphere for years, classical pianist Fuzjko Hemming is preparing for her introduction to the United States. Having been born into humble circumstances, child of a Japanese mother and Swedish father, she has felt rootless, too Asian in appearance for Sweden, and in Japan constricted by the society's stratified and class-oriented way of life. Then, as she was starting to gain traction as a professional musician, her promising career was cut short. - Fuzjko lost all hearing in her left ear after battling a serious cold. At 16, she already lost her hearing in her right ear due to illness. Completely deaf for 2 years, she eventually had 40% of her hearing restored in her left ear. After living in poverty in Europe for many years before returning to Japan and gaining acclaim for her music - critics hailed her as being "born to play Chopin and Liszt " In 1999, Japan's NHK Television aired a documentary of her life and she released her debut album, La Campanella, which sold more than two million copies, a rare accomplishment for any classical artist She also has won an unprecedented four Classical Album of the Year Awards at the Japan Gold Disc Awards, another extraordinary achievement for any artist, let alone a classical artist She remains the only four-time Gold Disc Award winner. Since that time she has recorded numerous successful albums - invigorating collections of classical interpretations, five of which are being released for the first time in the U.S. on her label Domo Records: Echoes of Eternity, La Campanella, Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1, Nocturnes of Melancholy, Live at Carnegie Hall. On the new album, Fuzjko, the artist performs largely romantic repertoire ranging from Beethoven's "The Tempest" sonata to works by Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti and Debussy. In each piece, whether performing Chopin's Nocturnes or Liszt's bravura pieces "La Campanella" and "Grand Etudes D'Apres Paganini No. 6", Fuzjko infuses poetry to these timeless compositions, and always in her own eminently attractive style. The warmth of Fuzjko's sound can also be heard in Scarlatti's Sonata K.162 and Debussy's "Claire De Lune". Although much of the repertoire is familiar, Fuzjko also dips into lesser known works like Liszt's transcription of Schumann's "Fruhlinghsnacht", and Chopin's "Trois Nouvelles Etudes No.3, and always played with her celebrated musicality much in evidence. The celebrated virtuoso blends the classicality of her influences such as Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin with the sophisticated approach of her mentors (Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan) to create an emotional delivery of exquisite craftsmanship. She's been known to bring some fans to tears with her moving immersion in her music. With her strikingly unorthodox playing style and intricate ethnic roots, it's evident that Fuzjko's true home is at the piano, where she reveals herself as a true artist of the world. Carly Comando "Bear" (mp3) from "One Take" (Deep Elm) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Chilling. Stirring. Powerful. Contemplative. These are some of the words most frequently used to describe the achingly beautiful piano instrumentals of Carly Comando. Her debut album "One Take" features ten delicately woven songs (including her single "Everday") that are the direct emotional output of her innermost thoughts. "The album means the world to me. It's complete, in-the-moment sincerity translated into moody solo piano music. I used an improv technique, recording in just one take, so I could capture the essence of pure emotion" says Carly. From the rises and falls to the shrinks and swells, these songs will leave an indellible impression on your mind. It's music that stays with you forever. "One Take" was recorded in Carly's home studio in Brooklyn, NY. Mastered by Phil Douglas (Latterman, Small Arms Dealer, Iron Chic). The album includes the "Everyday" which was originally released in December 2006. Deep Elm Records is simultaneously releasing an EP titled "Cordelia" featuring four additional piano instrumentals. Carly also plays keyboards / sings in the band Slingshot Dakota and composes custom works upon request. And yes, that was the name given to her at birth. "This is music that changes lives, opens minds, broadens horizons. Carly is an amazing pianist." - ANA "Beautiful and soothing, she will evoke emotion and ease any scattered mind. A talented composer." - SweetieJo "Emotional and inspiring, it grabs your soul and moves you. Highly recommended." - The Rez


30 Jul 2010

Rank #9

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Maestro 026: Joseph Haydn

Welcome to the Maestro Classical Podcast. This is episode number 26 and we are featuring music from Joseph Haydn, with performances by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra & Andreas Delfs. More information on this episode can be found at www.maestroclassical.com. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan"Symphony No. 88" from "Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 104, 88, 101" (Philharmonia Baroque) More On This AlbumMilwaukee Symphony Orchestra & Andreas Delfs "Haydn: Symphony No. 96" (mp3) from "Haydn: Symphony No. 96" (MSO Classics) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Thomas Beecham "Symphony No. 100 in G, 'Military'" from "Haydn: Symphonies No. 99 & 100" (Discover Classical Music) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumAustro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra"Symphony No. 6 In D Major Le Matin" from "Great Haydn Symphonies" (Nimbus Records) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at eMusic Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra, Jane Glover"Haydn: Symphony #104 In D, H 1/104, "London" - 1. Adagio, Allegro" from "Haydn: Symphony No. 102, Symphony No. 104 "London"" (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album


2 Jun 2011

Rank #10

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014: Solo Feature: San Francisco Symphony

Today’s episode will be our first ever, solo focus feature on the San Francisco Symphony aka SFS. SFS has a long history of presenting world premieres and receiving various awards. They recently received 3 Grammy awards for an album we will play today for Best Classical Album, Best Engineered Classical Album, and Best Choral Performance. www.sfsymphony.org SFS The Black and White Ball SFS Season Schedule and Tickets San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas "Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major "Eroica", Op. 55" from "Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumAlbum Notes This album is the companion concert recording for Keeping Score, the San Francisco Symphony's multi-media project on PBS, national public radio, web sites and education. For more information visit www.keepingscore.org. San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas "Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36" from "Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Album Notes This album is the companion concert recording for Keeping Score, the San Francisco Symphony's multi-media project on PBS, national public radio, web sites and education. For more information visit www.keepingscore.org. Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major" (mp3) from "Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major - Adagio from Symphony No. 10" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major" (mp3) from "Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major - Adagio from Symphony No. 10" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major" (mp3) from "Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major - Adagio from Symphony No. 10" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Michael Tilson Thomas, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Chorus "Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major" (mp3) from "Mahler: Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major - Adagio from Symphony No. 10" (San Francisco Symphony) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Album Notes Mahler's Eighth Symphony is his largest-scale work and among music's most epic statements. Scored for huge orchestra, chorus, two children's choirs, and eight vocal soloists, Mahler 8 is sometimes called the Symphony of a Thousands — which is just a slight exaggeration. Fusing an ancient hymn of praise with Goethe's ecstatic story of Faust's redemption, Mahler 8 is an overwhelming musical experience. Description The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas present Mahler's Adagio from Symphony No. 10 and Symphony No. 8 featuring soloists Laura Claycomb, Anthony Dean Griffey, Katarina Karnéus, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris, Yvonne Naef, Elza van den Heever & Erin Wall, the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Pacific Boychoir. Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas Orchestra: San Francisco Symphony Soloist: Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, Katarina Karnéus, Yvonne Naef, Anthony Dean Griffey, Quinn Kelsey, James Morris Chorus: San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Pacific Boychoir, San Francisco Girls Chorus


19 Mar 2010

Rank #11

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Maestro 017: harmonia mundi

harmonia mundi France harmonia mundi was born in 1958 in Paris. In 1986 the group moved to Arles France, where they are still headquartered today. This group has always been known for their support for independent artist and classical music. Additionally they have been growing recognition for various sections within the publishing business.Olga Kern "Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 58" (mp3) from "Chopin: Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 & 3" (harmonia mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Frederic Chopin's Piano Sonatas No.2 ("Funeral March") and No.3 are the product of the composer's maturity and boundless invention. Here they receive incandescent performances by the 2001 Cliburn Competition gold medalist Olga Kern. Olga KernJavier Perianes, Javier Perianes (piano) "Sonata no.1 in C minor" (mp3) from "Blasco de Nebra: Piano Sonatas" (harmonia mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album Javier Perianes invites us to discover the keyboard works of a composer who, like himself, was a native of Andalucia : the heir to Scarlatti in many respects, Blasco do Nebra magisterially combined his own natural heritage with the forms imported by the Hispano-Neapolitan composer. The sonata and pastorales presented on this disc shed light on the multiple facets of his creative genus, alas cut short all too soon: he died at the age of just thirty-four. Javier PerianesPaul Lewis, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jirí Belohlávek "Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op.58" (mp3) from "Beethoven: Complete Piano Concertos" (harmonia mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album His complete set of the Beethoven sonatas enjoyed extraordinary acclaim in the UK, culminating in the prestigious 'Recording of the Year' award from Gramaphon magazine for the fourth volume in 2008. Encouraged by what has now become a worldwide success, Paul Lewis has chosen to turn his attention to the five piano concertos with these distinguished partners. Recorded between July 2009 and March 2010, these interpretations paint a portrait of Beethoven full of light and shade. Paul Lewis


1 Sep 2010

Rank #12

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Maestro 021: Grammy Nominations

Happy New Year! We want to celebrate the New Year by congratulating our Rightsholder for their Grammy nominations. To view a full listing of Grammy nominee, click here. Below we have what albums received which Grammy nomination. Enjoy the episode! Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, Rinde Eckert, Synergy Vocals, Catch Electric Guitar Quartet "Dreamhouse"from "Steven Mackey: Dreamhouse" (BMOP/sound) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Engineered Album, ClassicalBest Classical AlbumBest Orchestral PerformanceValery Gergiev, Sergei Aleksashkin, Mariinsky Orchestra, Mariinsky Chorus "The Enchanted Wanderer"from "Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer" (Mariinsky) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Contemporary Classical CompositionBest Opera RecordingEliesha Nelson, John McLaughlin Williams"Speed Etude"from "Porter: Complete Viola Works" (Dorian Recordings) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Stream from Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Engineered Album, ClassicalBest Chamber Music PerformanceBest Instrumental Soloist(s) with OrchestraArs Lyrica Houston "Marc Antonio e Cleopatra"from "Hasse: Marc Antonio e Cleopatra" (Dorian Recordings) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Opera RecordingSarah Schuster Ericsson "Sonata per Arpa, Op. 68"from "20th Century Harp Sonatas" (Dorian Recordings) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Instrumental Soloists Performance w/o OrchestraMarc Regnier, Marco Sartor"Suite Retratos for 2 Guitars"from "Gnattali: Solo & Chamber Works for Guitar" (Dorian Recordings) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance w/o OrchestraEkaterina Lekhina, Marie-Ange Todorovitch, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano "Deuxième acte. Deuxième tableau : L'Amour de loin. Le Pèlerin : "Rien ne vous oblige à l'aimer""from "Kaija Saariaho: L'Amour de loin" (Harmonia Mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Opera RecordingJudith Gauthier, Marianne Beate Kielland, Adrian Thompson, Mattijs van de Woerd, Konstantin Wollf, Cappella Amsterdam, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Reuss, Judith Gauthier (soprano), Marianne Beate Kiell "Golgotha "from "Martin: Golgotha" (Harmonia Mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Choral PerformanceMaximilian Schmitt, Freiburger Barockorchester, René Jacobs "I. Teil. 10. Chor "Stimmt an die Saiten""from "Haydn: The Creation" (Harmonia Mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Choral PerformanceEstonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier "Three Folksongs"from "Baltic Runes" (harmonia mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Choral PerformanceIsabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov"Sonata for piano & violin no.5" from "Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for piano & violin" (Harmonia Mundi) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Chamber Music PerformanceThe Silk Road Ensemble "Ritmos Anchinos"from "Off the Map" (World Village) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Rhapsody Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Classical Crossover Album Track 3: Étude No 03 in B minor 'after Paganini-Liszt' from "Hamelin: Etudes" Artist: Marc-André Hamelin Best Instrumental Solo Performance Track 9: Haec dies from "Ceremony & Devotion: Music for the Tudors" Artists: The Sixteen, Harry Christophers Best Small Ensemble PerformanceMichael Stern, Kansas City Symphony"Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia" from "Britten's Orchestra" (Reference Recordings) Buy at Napster Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumBest Surround Sound


6 Jan 2011

Rank #13

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Maestro 020: IODA Favorite Holiday Special

In this episode we wanted to celebrate the upcoming holidays with a few of our favorite pieces. We have also included a special sneak peak to Agustin Hadelich's new album, "Echoes of Paris"! We hope you enjoy the music. Everyone have a wonderful holiday and a fantastic New Year! Harry Christophers, The Sixteen "In Dulci Jubilo" from "A Traditional Christmas Carol Collection, Vol. II" (The Sixteen Productions Ltd.) There is such an abundance of festive music available to us that sometimes one wishes Christmas did not come but once a year! The Sixteen’s first volume of traditional Christmas carols contains some of our most favorite pieces but there is so much more wonderful festive music that deserves to be better known. So we decided to make a second volume. On this disc you will discover familiar seasonal favorites such as ‘Unto us a boy is born’ and ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ but we have also included some less well-known gems like ‘Cherry Tree Carol’ and ‘Gloucestershire Wassail’.Woody Phillips "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" (mp3) from "A Toolbox Christmas" (Gourd Music) Buy at Amazon MP3 Buy at eMusic More On This AlbumA Toolbox Christmas - Liner Notes: A Toolbox Christmas marks Woody Phillips' breathtaking debut into a world of repertoire and instrumentation only dreamed of by composers who have gone before him. True, Beethoven gave us the 'Hammer (klavier) Sonata' -- but Phillips has dared to explore the full range of the workbench's symphonic palette. Never before have your ears experienced the the exquisite marimba-like 2x4's in Jingle Bells ; the majestic table saw duet in Joy to the World ; the sensitive counterpoint provided by the power planer in I Saw Three Ships ; the filigreed ornamentation of the clanking pipes in We Wish You a Merry Christmas ; the uniquely persuasive percussion of the pneumatic nailer in Patapan ; the panoply of hand and power tools in The Twelve Days of Christmas -- listen and you'll know you're in a new and extraordinary realm of holiday music. Tchaikowsky's beloved Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy may never sound the same to you again once you've experienced Phillips' ensemble of antique hand drill, mandolin, anvil, t-square, level and pipes. Will an eye remain dry as Auld Lang Syne, ethereal and poignant on the musical saw, shimmers over the drone of the shop vac? Phillips' ear is impeccable, perfectly attuned to nuances of tone and subtle differences of timbre among the various power tools, always employing the right tool for each job. Never, however, does Phillips disdain the traditional instruments of the concert hall. Though purists may balk at the sound of actual musical instruments on A Toolbox Christmas , when Phillips senses the need for a cello, mandolin, oboe or flute, in it goes, without regard for mere commercial considerations. His generous, all-encompassing love of beautiful sounds permits no petty divisions in his artistic kingdom. Above all, Phillips' true genius in A Toolbox Christmas has been to include the entire ambiance of the workshop on this recording. He has drawn not only on the incomparable sonorities of the tools themselves, but adds sounds every home-improver will recognize with delight: a tape measure retracting; duct tape tearing; the little ball bearing rolling as the spray paint can is shaken. He has created choirs of bottles and chiming sacks of 10d nails. Perhaps most inspired of all is his brilliant use of the perfectly-timed pop-top. The resulting magic awaits you in A Toolbox Christmas .Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra "Messiah" from "Handel: Messiah" (LSO Live) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 Buy at eMusic More On This Album Handel's masterpiece uses short texts from the Bible to tell the story of Christ's birth, death and resurrection. Imbued with a deep humanity and written with the imagination of a composer at the peak of powers, Messiah is intimate yet dramatic and includes some of Handel's best-loved music.Hallé, Carl Davis"The Nutcracker" from "Hallé Christmas Classics" (Halle Concerts Society) Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This AlbumA wealth of Christmas favourites, under the direction of BAFTA award-winning conductor and composer, Carl Davis.'Claire Rutter... thrilling confidence and elan... a true prima donna... [with] spine tingling top notes...' Sunday Times Augustin Hadelich, Robert Kulek"Poulenc: Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 119" from "Echoes of Paris" (AVIE Records) More On This Album Augustin Hadelich, Robert Kulek"Stravinsky: Suite After Themes, Fragments and Pieces by Giambattista Pergolesi" from "Echoes of Paris" (AVIE Records) More On This AlbumI chose the four works on this recording because I think they fit together really well. After having played many combinations of them in recitals, I started wondering about the connection between these pieces - why are they so compatible? Almost immediately, Paris came to mind. All of these composers lived in Paris during the early part of the 20th century, when that city was a magnet for creative artists: painters like Matisse, Dali, Chagall, and Picasso, the writers Proust, Joyce, and Hemingway, and composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Poulenc, Copland, and many others. Stravinsky and Prokofiev were also among the many expatriate musicians who flocked to Paris at that time. They drew inspiration from the city’s electric atmosphere and cultural ferment, and then went off in their own amazing, revolutionary directions. I think that these French and Russian pieces form such a good program because there are echoes of Paris in these four works that help tie them together: puppet-like dances in both Debussy and Stravinsky; percussive, as well as militaristic and march-like sections in Stravinsky's Suite and the sonatas of Poulenc and Prokofiev; jazz references in Debussy and Prokofiev; and hints of Spanish flavor in both Debussy and Poulenc, so popular among French composers at that time. The key signatures also help to unify the program - g minor, G Major, D Major, and d minor. Claude Debussy sought to develop a style that was free of German compositional influences. Drawing inspiration from Spanish, jazz, and gypsy music, the violin sonata of 1917 (his last work) certainly bears the imprint of that philosophy. Avoiding the conventional sonata form, the structure of the piece is quite fractured and rhapsodic - the result is unique and fascinating. I love the sonata for all of its sudden twists and delicate turns. The second movement makes me think of puppets engaged in a dance. In 1920, two years after Debussy's death, Igor Stravinsky wrote his ballet Pulcinella, a humorous neo-classical work, that premiered in Paris the same year with sets and costumes designed by Pablo Picasso. In this work, he used music from an obscure 18th-century commedia dell'arte opera, assumed to have been written by Pergolesi, but probably written by other, lesser-known composers. By altering this material in various ways, Stravinsky created something completely new. He called the composition of Pulcinella an "epiphany through which my late work became possible" - for the first time, borrowed style became a compositional element. Most often, violinists play Samuel Dushkin’s 1932 transcription of Pulcinella, modeled after the transcription for cello and piano. Because many of the quirky dissonances are removed, it turns out to be a rather toned-down version of the work. On this recording, I am playing the earlier 1925 transcription that was made in collaboration with the violinist Paul Kochanski; it is much closer to Stravinsky’s original orchestral work. It is more difficult for both the violinist and the pianist, but well worth the effort! Sometimes I think the awkwardness of the writing is intentional, to make the piece seem slightly askew, making both the player and the listener a little bit uncomfortable. I am again reminded of puppets, but larger and clumsier than Debussy's. I also love how Stravinsky composes apparent mistakes into the piece. Having fled Russia after the revolution in 1917, Sergei Prokofiev spent many years living in Paris before returning to his homeland in 1935. Very much admired by Stravinsky and other composers who lived in Paris at the time, his first symphony (1917) is considered to be one of the first neo-classical works, even pre-dating Stravinsky's Pulcinella. His second violin sonata is, however, a late work. Originally written in 1942 for flute and piano, it was transcribed for violin at the request of David Oistrakh. It is a large, powerful work that is, in turn, sweet, happy, sad, passionate, even violent and militaristic. The march in the last movement, however, makes me think more of tin soldiers than real ones! In the sonata by Francis Poulenc, the soldiers are very real. Composed in 1942-1943, it is Poulenc’s homage to the great Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, who was executed in 1936 by the fascist government in Spain. The percussive opening of the sonata owes something to Stravinsky and Prokofiev, who were among his formative influences. Throughout the first movement, militaristic passages are juxtaposed with more lyrical, salon-like themes; perhaps these represent the socialist and fascist forces at war in Spain when Lorca was killed. Showing the impressionist influence of Debussy, the beautiful second movement was inspired by one of Lorca's poems: It has been speculated that the two triple-forte notes in the piano towards the end of the last movement ("Presto tragico") are the gunshots of the firing squad. Following exclamations of pain, a few sweet memories briefly return in the sorrowful coda. Poulenc himself was actually quite unhappy with the sonata, which was written for the French violinist Ginette Neveu, and after many revisions concluded that it was an "utter failure". I think he was being a little too hard on himself, and history has not agreed with him. It is one of my favorite sonatas, and I perform it often. Likewise, audiences are extremely enthusiastic and deeply moved by it. Coincidentally, I played a recital in Paris in April 2010 at the Louvre, also with Robert Kulek. We couldn't resist taking some photos while we were there. I hope you enjoy this recording! Augustin Hadelich


2 Dec 2010

Rank #14

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Maestro 022: Valentine Special

We have a few pieces selected for our Valentines Special. Enjoy and feel the love!Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestra from "Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet" (LSO Live) Buy at Napster Buy at iTunes Music Store Buy at Amazon MP3 More On This Album LSO Live celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2010. The label's first release of the year features Prokofiev's spectacular score for the ballet Romeo & Juliet conducted by Valery Gergiev. Romeo & Juliet can lay a strong claim to being the greatest ballet score as well as the finest musical realization of Shakespeare. It shows Prokofiev at the absolute peak of his powers - a composer of immense creativity with an astonishing ability to capture drama in his music. Gergiev is a tireless champion of Prokofiev's music. In 2004 he conducted a complete cycle of the composer's symphonies with the LSO. LSO Live recorded the performances which were released by Philips and collected a Gramophone Award. Shortly afterwards Gergiev became Principal Conductor of the LSO and spent much of 2008 and 2009 touring Prokofiev's symphonies with the orchestra in Europe, Japan and the USA. London Symphony OrchestraJill Crossland from "Jill Crossland plays Mozart and Beethoven" (Diversions) More On This Album This album was previously issued as Calico CCCR101 and now re-issed for worldwide distribution. Jill Crossland is a phenomenal pianist who specializes in the baroque and classical repertoire, Here she plays one very well known sonata, Beethoven's 'Tempest' op. 31/2, the lesser known but dramatic op. 110, and Mozart's 'hybrid' Sonata K533/494 in F. The original issue was well reviewed by the critics. ìA highly individual player, thoughtful yet compelling, she has the gift of spontaneity in the recording studio, to carry the personal insights of her interpretations, as at a live performance. She is very well recorded.î ñ Ivan March (Penguin Guide to Compact Discs) Jill CrosslandMoonwinds, Joan Enric Lluna "II Andante" (mp3) from "Mozart Serenatas" (Temps Record) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album MoonwindsThe Moscovia Chamber Orchestra, Eduard Grach "Serenade" (mp3) from "Tchaikovsky: Serenade, Sextet "Souvenir of Florence"" (Russian Music Society) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album Russian Music Society presents one of the best Russian violinists, People's Artist of Russia, Eduard Grach and The Moscovia Chamber Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky: Serenade, Sextet "Souvenir of Florence" Executive Producer: Cristina Botnari The Moscovia Chamber OrchestraKara Kirkendoll Welch, Gabriel Sanchez "Sonata No. 1 in A major, Op. 13" (mp3) from "Ballade - Works for Flute and Piano" (MSR Classics) Buy at iTunes Music Store More On This Album MSR Classics


4 Feb 2011

Rank #15