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July 30 , 2012

Reviews of the Week

More international acclaim for Dennis Russell Davies' and the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester's recordings of music by Lutoslawski and Bartók on Musique funèbre

This intelligent and satisfying programme features three contrasting miniature masterpieces by Bartók, and prefaces them with Lutoslawski’s Musique funèbre, subtitled ‘À la mèmoire de Béla Bartók’. As the only one of Lutoslawsiki’s works dedicated to a composer, it reflects the extent to which the Pole saw his older Hungarian colleague as a kindred spirit. [...] His tone row, though, is appealingly earthy, and the 12-note chords at the climax have a powerful scrunch, especially in this searing performance from the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies. [...] the disc’s other real draw is what’s billed here as ‘Seven Songs’, a selection of children’s chorusses from Bartók’s 1935 collection of Two- and Three-Part chorusses, sounding wonderfully fresh.
John Allison, BBC Music Magazine

This might at first glance seem a bit random as far as programming goes, but when you read about the influence Bartók had on Lutoslawski and about the unique dedication, ‘A la mèmoire de Béla Bartók’, the only one Lutoslawski gave in any of his works to another composer, then everything begins to slot into place.
Superbly performed and recorded on this CD, Lutoslawski’s Musique Funèbre builds in counterpoint and concentration with startling clarity and needle-sharp accuracy under Dennis Russell Davies’ directorship. [...] With chilling desolation on every page this is a performance to thrill the soul.
Dominy Clements, Music Web International


Heinz Holliger's Bach-recording Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis delights the reviewer from Scotland On Sunday

This recording focusses on „recovered“ Bach, and can only be desribed as „mellifluous“ throughout: Heinz Holliger’s technique on the oboe and oboe’d’amore is thoroughly assured, allowing the listener to melt entirely into its well-balanced mix of concertos and sinfonias. Bach’s music might not normally be thought of as summer fare, but this is definitely a CD that deserves an afternoon’s open-air listening, assuming the weather holds.
Alexander Bryce, Scotland On Sunday


Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen charm reviewers with their music on Hirundo Maris

With her pure, piercing and intimately expressive vocal tone, Arianna Savall movingly channels her late mother, the dedicatee of the new album ‘Hirundo Maris’, a collaboration with the Norwegian singer and Hardanger fiddle player Petter Udland Johansen. Catalan folksongs, ballads from Norway, Scotland and the Sephardim (the Jews of Old Spain) and a couple of originals – “Hirundo Maris” may depart in letter form the early repertoire, but its evocative “the old is new again” quality represents the spirit of early music at its best.
John Montanari, New England Public Radio

You get a rather marvellous collection of songs, beautifully performed. Aside from the originals there are traditional Sephardic songs, Catalan songs, Norwegian folk, the Scottish song ‘the Water is Wide’ and others, all done in more or less early music troubadour style with a small string ensemble conceived in traditional yet also innovative ways. [...] It’s very lovely music, timeless and timely, performed with style and feeling. Arianna’s voice is quite terrific and Petter has a pleasing voice as well. They blend together in harmony or strike off on their own from song to song for plenty of contrast. A beautiful album that I recommend highly.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical modernmusic.blogspot.com


Estonian vocal ensemble Vox Clamantis receives praise from New England for their album Filia Sion

Vox Clamantis probably breaks some of the ‘rules’ about Medieval music, to the extent anyone has any idea how it actually would have sounded. By combining male and female voices, by pitting soloists against choir, and even by using contemporary and non-standard vocal techniques ( I swear I hear ‘overtone singing’ behind Hildegard’s ‘O ignis spiritus’), Vox Clamantis’s imagination and musicality make for an absorbing and inspiring musical encounter.
John Montanari, New England Public Radio


Alexei Lubimov's interpretation of Claude Debussy's Préludes thrills the reviewer from NPR

Theoretically, the hook of this release is the fact that Lubimov used early 20th-century pianos in this recording. [...] But what about the actual performances? That’s where the real magic is. Both the solo and duet works are fresh and finely wrought. Lubimov brings great clarity to the Préludes; there are no soapy washes of sound here, even in the most ruminative and dreamy portions, like La fille aux cheveux de lin or Canope. Every dynamic marking is finely rendered, from the softest pianos to the most clangorous fortes, and Lubimov handles Debussy’s changes of mood and temper just as skilfully. [...] An excellent record – and very highly recommended.
Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR.org


The Seattle Post Intelligencer on Heiner Goebbels' Stifters Dinge

Stifters Dinge is a recording of a forward looking artist, who conversely often looks to the past for inspiration. Although I know I am shouting into the wind, I honestly believe that this record could (should) find an audience outside of the artistic or intellectual crowd who are undoubtedly the market. The music has an appeal to me that is almost universal. Take a chance on this album. It may sound ‘arty’, but I think more than anything else, Heiner Goebbels is having a huge amount of fun here. And for me, that is what it comes all down to in the end.
Greg Barbrick, Seattle Post Intelligencer


British magazine Jazz Journal on Terje Rypdal's box-set Odyssey - In Studio & In Concert

While it is good to have all of Odyssey available again – a previous single CD reissue omitted ‘Stone’ – the real news here is is the first-time release of the ‘Unifinished Highballs’ suite. Here the Odyssey band, minus Sunde, is joined by the 15-strong Swedish Radio Jazz Group in an extraordinary 1976 performance of what must rate as one of Rypdal’s most most expansive or inclusive – and successful – works.
Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal