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Recent reviews

23 November 2014
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning
Bach: Mass in B minor
Studio Master: CDA68051/2  2CDs NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Jonathan Cohen's choir of 20 can convey the inward spirituality of Et incarnatus est and the laudatory éclat of the Gloria and Et resurrexit with equal efficacy. The excellent high-voiced soloists are Lydia Teuscher and Ida Falk Winland, duetting sensuously in the Christe eleison, and Tim Mead’s rapt alto in Qui sedes and Agnus Dei. Samuel Boden’s lithe tenor and Neal Davies’s solid bass blend ideally with their colleagues' (The Sunday Times)» More
18 November 2014

Debussy: Images & Préludes II
Studio Master: CDA67920  NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'There will always be a special place for playing of Marc-André Hamelin’s quality and insight … The discretion of his pedal work and dynamic control creates layered vistas of perspective, with the notes themselves nuanced precisely to the graphic character of the music at any given moment. The effect is akin to standing in front of a painting and allowing eyes and brain to synch and study every detail, while still nailing the whole picture … With beautifully wrought sound that captures just the right amount of ambient space around a Steinway that must have been prepared by a master technician, seize the day or night with Hamelin at the earliest opportunity. He offers much to learn from as well as to wonder at' (International Record Review)» More
18 November 2014

Bach: The Art of Fugue
Studio Master: CDA67980  2CDs for the price of 1 Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

' Hewitt’s account, characteristically, is clean and precise but always pianistic—she never seems, like some pianists, to be imitating a harpsichord, whereas her delicate touch means that the music is not burdened with undue heaviness. Her ‘Contrapunctus 2’, for example, dances with carefree abandon. Hewitt is fluent and homogenous, her effective expressive and dynamic contrasts made subtly within an overarching, unifying concept, solemn but not overbearing' (International Record Review)» More
18 November 2014

Bruch: Violin Concerto No 3 & Scottish Fantasy
Studio Master: CDA68050  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'The Second Concerto … is a three-movement piece whose formal dimension – notably the weighty opening Allegro – follows on directly from Beethoven and Brahms. Jack Liebeck projects the combined rhetoric and supplication of the main theme with assurance, finding due tenderness in the ruminative melody that follows. The BBC Scottish Symphony is heard to advantage in the bracing initial and central tuttis, Martyn Brabbins ensuring a close coordination with the soloist in this avowedly symphonic conception. For all its inwardness, the Adagio evinces scarcely less intensive interplay – Liebeck conjuring some exquisite arabesques, not least in the melting coda, while the finale contrasts the robust vigour of its folk-like main theme with more elegant ideas in a rondo whose underlying momentum holds good through to a coda in which virtuosity is deployed to decisive formal ends … Those looking for an impressive new version of the Third Violin Concerto cannot go far wrong with Liebeck' (International Record Review)» More
12 November 2014

Hymns to Saint Cecilia
Studio Master: CDA68047  NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Gabriel Jackson's La Musique is attractive and beautifully imagined; this is another example of Jackson’s highly inventive ear for unaccompanied choral textures. The soprano solo line, which is a gift for a singer like Dame Felicity, contrasts with and complements the choral parts most effectively. The music is gorgeous, not least the soft, rapt conclusion … This is a most interesting and nicely varied programme of music. The singing is consistently fine. The choir’s blend is excellent and I admire very much the fresh tone that they produce. Rupert Gough, as we know from previous releases, trains his choir marvellously and this disc is another notable achievement. With Adrian Peacock and David Hinitt serving as producer and engineer respectively it’s no surprise that the recordings are excellent. Quite a few of these pieces will be unfamiliar to many collectors, which adds to the attraction of this splendid disc' (MusicWeb International)» More
12 November 2014
The Guardian, Tim Ashley
Schumann: Novelletten & Nachtstücke
Studio Master: CDA67983  NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Schumann’s eight Novelletten form the biggest and arguably the most challenging of his piano cycles ... The demands of sustaining the strenuous emotional pitch over the work’s 50-minute span are such that it’s rarely performed whole, either in concert or on disc. Danny Driver, however, who is going from strength to strength at the moment, turns in a powerhouse performance on his new Schumann album, playing with great technical prowess, and admirably alert to the fluctuations of mood and feeling within the prevailing intensity of the whole. His subtle, deeply felt reading of the melancholy Nachtstücke of 1839 provides contrast and relief, and the recital closes with the calm Romanze in F sharp, exquisitely done. Recommended' (The Guardian)» More

1 November 2014

Bach: Mass in B minor
Studio Master: CDA68051/2  2CDs NEW   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'This is a performance where character and rich dimension emerge from within a patient and naturally projected vision of Bach’s most celebrated compendium. The work infrequently speaks with such gracefulness, freedom or conviction' (Gramophone)» More
1 November 2014

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas
Studio Master: CDA67936  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'This new recital has proved something of a revelation. Steven Osborne’s recording of the expansive Sonata Romantica, Op. 53 No. 1, reveals colours, and light and shade, that made me listen to the work anew. Lasting almost 25 minutes, this is a big piece, and what’s so impressive about Osborne’s account is not only the superlative technical command but the musical imagination he brings to the work – finding a range of nuance and expressive depth that makes the most urgent and compelling case for large- scale Medtner that I’ve ever come across' (International Record Review)» More
1 November 2014

Music for Remembrance
Studio Master: CDA68020  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'This disc offers a stimulating programme, beautifully performed and very well recorded. The choir is on excellent form and the soloists drawn from its ranks also deserve separate commendation, helping to make this a fine contribution to this year’s remembrance observations' (International Record Review)» More
1 November 2014

Oswald & Napoleão dos Santos: Piano Concertos
Studio Master: CDA67984  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Portuguese-born Artur Pizarro is a natural choice for this repertoire. (A charming booklet photograph shows him as a boy with his teacher, Evaristo de Campos Coelho, who gave the first complete performance of Napoleão’s Concerto.) His playing has all the dash and flair the pieces demand, and the gentler, more lyrical passages are played with an evident understanding of the idiom. He is a brilliant champion for these neglected works. Martyn Brabbins and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales provide the solid support we now expect of them. I hope they thoroughly enjoyed themselves; it certainly seems so. The recording is well up to the exalted standards of the house' (International Record Review)» More
26 October 2014
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning
Bach: The Art of Fugue
Studio Master: CDA67980  2CDs for the price of 1 Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Angela Hewitt only took The Art of Fugue into her repertoire in 2012, but it crowns—magnificently—her acclaimed Hyperion recordings of the complete keyboard works, reaffirming her position as the outstanding Bach pianist of her generation' (The Sunday Times)» More
19 October 2014
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning
Wagner: Wagner without words
Studio Master: SIGCD388  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'The Welsh virtuoso's idea of juxtaposing a selection of Wagner's uneven piano works with transcriptions is pianophile catnip. Wagner's 'long-winded' Fantasy, written at 19, and his effusive Sonata for his Tristan muse, Mathilde Wesendonck, are the most substantial original items, surpassed by Liszt's elaborations of extracts from Tristan, Tannhauser and Rienzi. Williams's reduction of Glenn Gould's four-hand Meistersinger Overture and his own Parsifal arrangements are highlights. An uplifting disc. (The Sunday Times)
12 October 2014
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning
Schumann: Symphonies
Studio Master: CKD450  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Ticciati's Scottish Chamber Orchestra has nothing to fear from comparisons. Like the Canadian conductor [Yannick Nézet-Séguin] with the COE, Ticciati banishes the 'problems' of orchestration with the leaner texture of a smallish ensemble of strings. In contrast to Rattle, he opts for the 1851 version of the D minor symphony, not the 1841 original, and this climactic performance in his cycle sets the seal on the new issue's success. Already, in the B flat major 'Spring', C major and E flat major 'Rhenish' symphonies, Ticciati adopts near-ideal tempi, refusing to drag in the slow movements … and he is propulsive in Schumann's energetic, animated allegros. The wind soloists throughout effortlessly take centre stage, but the splendidly swaggering horns, especially in the Rhenish and D minor works, deserve special mention' (The Sunday Times)» More
10 October 2014
The Times, Geoff Brown
Bach: The Art of Fugue
Studio Master: CDA67980  2CDs for the price of 1 Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'I won’t mince words. This Art of Fugue is marvellous. The variety and beauty of tone alone make compelling listening, bringing contrasts, clarity and warmth to Bach’s intellectual marvels. The fugal subjects pile up; they are inverted, augmented and turned inside out—permutations neatly documented in the pianist’s typically detailed booklet notes. Yet her fingers never make the results dry triumphs of engineering' (The Times)» More

1 October 2014

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 22 & 24
Studio Master: CDA68049  Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Replete with all the Angela Hewitt virtues—among them, unfailing clarity, innate elegance, an unerring sense of proportion, a finely honed mastery of style, melodic finesse and an unobtrusive grasp of harmonic rhythm—these are exemplary performances … the prevailing tonal palette, from soloist and orchestra alike, is appropriately lean but always beautifully focused and elegantly applied. Operatic in the best sense, Hewitt is more concerned with dialogue, not only between the two hands but within all levels of the texture, than with conventional notions of 'vocal' cantabile' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING
1 October 2014
The Strad
Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos
Studio Master: CDA68002  Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'A new recording by Natalie Clein is always an event … and this one finds her on top form … this is exciting stuff with a real sense of happening … Concerto No 2 draws a muscular response from both orchestra and soloist. The beauty and freedom of Clein’s playing in the first movement’s three solo episodes and in the poignant Andante sostenuto is matched by her technical confidence and strong tone' (The Strad)
1 October 2014

Saint-Saëns: Cello Concertos
Studio Master: CDA68002  Best of 2014   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'This is a first-class recording, the fifth in Hyperion's series of Romantic cello concertos. Anybody wanting both Saint-Saëns's Cello Concertos and La muse et le poète really doesn't need to look any further. Natalie Clein is a comprehensively gifted player who performs these pieces with an ideal combination of warm-hearted expressiveness and astonishing technical agility. She also demonstrates a rare understanding of how the solo instrument is often woven into Saint-Saëns's beautifully written orchestral textures. And here, again, this release scores very highly. Andrew Manze and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are the most imaginative and sensitive partners' (International Record Review)» More
20 September 2014
The Times, Geoff Brown
Schumann: Symphonies
Studio Master: CKD450  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Listening to this release, no one could cling to another ancient complaint about Schumann: that he orchestrated badly. Muddy textures? Difficulties of balance? Not in these lithe accounts, dancing with subtly changing colours, from the antiphonal comments of winds and strings to those horns that rise over Schumann's musings like morning sun breaking through mist. Punchy rhythms, too: a particular legacy of the 'historically aware' performing movement developed over the past 40 years … onwards and upwards, I hope, both for Ticciati and the SCO' (The Times)» More

17 September 2014
The Guardian, Andrew Clements
Schumann: Symphonies
Studio Master: CKD450  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'Robin Ticciati’s Schumann cycle is the third complete set to appear in the last six months, following Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s version with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for Deutsche Grammophon and Simon Rattle’s with the Berliner Philharmoniker on the orchestra’s own label. It’s also by a considerable margin the best of them … and perhaps the most impressive thing that Ticciati has done on disc so far. Every bar in these urgent performances with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra seems alive and full of interest. Ticciati uses an orchestra with 32 strings, almost exactly the same size as those used for the first performances, and while none of the climaxes is ever lacking in weight or grandeur—the opening of the Third Symphony, the Rhenish, has a terrific sweep to it—the textures are joyously buoyant. The conductor and his orchestra toured all four works in concert before recording them in the Perth Concert Hall, and in each symphony there is the sense of careful consideration and total absorption in the music so that not a detail of Schumann’s scoring goes missing. Everything flows with total naturalness, yet tiny contrapuntal phrases that are often hardly noticeable are allowed to make their points here without a trace of mannered emphasis … it is clear from this set, and also from his Berlioz recordings with the SCO, that Ticciati has a real affinity with early romantic composers; some more Schumann and perhaps Mendelssohn too ought to follow' (The Guardian)» More

3 September 2014

Schumann: Symphonies
Studio Master: CKD450  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

'It is interesting to compare Ticciati with Nézet-Séguin because, despite the latter consistently taking faster speeds, both conductors choose to shape the melodies with a subtle rubato without impeding the forward progress of the music. Generally Ticciati is a little freer with his phrasing and from the outset of No 1 the approach, and for that matter the acoustic, is more spacious. Firm, confident playing from the outset enhances this strong interpretation … the ‘Rhenish' opens majestically and, throughout, the clarity of the recording is impressive. I like the weightiness of the unhurried intermezzo-like Scherzo and there is great depth of feeling in the slow movement … the finale [of No 4] is crisp and clear with an interesting understatement of the three grand chords with which it opens. There is an electrifying coda which pays due respect to Schumann's use of timpani. Robin Ticciati joins the distinguished list of today's conductors treating Schumann's symphonies with the respect they deserve' (ClassicalSource.com)» More
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