1 August 2021

Bach: The Six Partitas
Studio Master: CDA68311/2  RECORD OF THE MONTH 2CDs  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘If the first volume of Mahan Esfahani’s foray into Bach’s keyboard music showcased the youthful flamboyance of the Toccatas, the sequel embraces a composer pushing at the boundaries of the suite, upscaling its possibilities through an encyclopaedic assault buttressed by assorted national styles, compositional techniques old and new and an array of ‘Galantieren’ ranging from Rondeau and Capriccio to Burlesca and Scherzo. All keyboard life is there, and they raise plenty of issues for a performer. Esfahani is keen to tackle them head on, and his liner notes make for required reading … Trevor Pinnock (on Hänssler) or Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi) offer less idiosyncratic readings, but then Esfahani has never been one to play it safe. BWV 825’s ‘Menuet 1’ has the solidity of a bürgermeister mindful of his respectability, but its da capo positively boogies, darting embellishments doing the not-so-heavy lifting. A set not for everyone perhaps; but at its pungent best, Esfahani’s joie de vivre can be uniquely captivating’ (BBC Music Magazine)» More
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1 August 2021

Bach: The Six Partitas
Studio Master: CDA68311/2  RECORD OF THE MONTH 2CDs  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘Esfahani imparts a distinct character upon each of the three sections of the Second Partita’s Sinfonia. He arpeggiates the Grave adagio’s opening chord in slow motion, and continues to probe the music at free-floating leisure (imagine if Ennio Morricone had recomposed these seven bars!), easing his way into the Andante’s two-part counterpoint, in contrast to the final section’s headlong intensity. His subtle agogic stresses in the Courante create a slightly tipsy aura that will keep you alert, not to mention the Rondeaux’s emphatic off-beat accents and the hefty kick of the Capriccio finale’s left-hand octave coupling … [his] decisions regarding tempos and articulation throughout each of the Fourth Partita’s movements add up to one of this big work’s most satisfying recorded interpretations, highlighted by a hypnotic, deliberately unfolding Allemande … there’s no questioning Esfahani’s inquiring musical mind and absolute mastery of his instrument’ (Gramophone)
1 August 2021

Gablenz: Piano Concerto; Paderewski: Polish Fantasy
Studio Master: CDA68323  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘Jonathan Plowright makes the best possible case for [the Gablenz concerto] in partnership with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Łukasz Borowicz, a champion of neglected Polish music … Paderewski’s Polish Fantasy (1893), his last work for piano and orchestra, is an altogether more refined work … by turns melancholy and glittering across its four connected movements, and Plowright—who has made Paderewski a speciality—delivers all the required virtuosity’ (BBC Music Magazine)» More
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1 August 2021

Love songs
Studio Master: CDA68341  RECORD OF THE MONTH   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘This is Hewitt close up and personal … here, she opens her soul … the impression she conveys is of someone sitting at home on their own as the light fades, playing some favourite music purely for their own enjoyment … this is a lovely recital, one to return to often’ (Gramophone)
1 August 2021

Mendelssohn: The Complete Solo Piano Music, Vol. 5
Studio Master: CDA68344  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘As always, Shelley makes light of the music’s technical difficulties, and plays with innate musicianship throughout … followers of this valuable series won’t be disappointed. The perceptive booklet notes by the Mendelssohn specialist R Larry Todd are a decided asset’ (BBC Music Magazine)» More
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1 August 2021
Musik & Theater, Switzerland, Reinmar Wagner
Paganini: 24 Caprices
Studio Master: CDA68366  RECORD OF THE MONTH 2CDs for the price of 1  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

„Alina Ibragimova, eine der aufregendsten Endtdeckungen am Geigenhimmel der letzten zehn Jahre … was sie mit dem Bogen macht, das ist absolut aussergewöhnlich: Neutrale Klänge von lakonischer Unverbindlichkeit, hingehauchte Seufzer, schneidende Schärfen, die wie Nadeln stechen. Wer dachte, dass Paganini seine Kunststücke in der Komfort-Zone geigerischer Tongebung absolviert hätte, kriegt hier eine Ahnung, dass seine Magie mindestens so viel mit der rechten Hand zu tun gehabt haben könnte wie mit der—sicher absolut gelenkigen—linken“ (Musik & Theater, Switzerland)
1 August 2021

Vladigerov: Exotic preludes & Impressions
Studio Master: CDA68327  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘There’s no point in tackling these dense, intricate works at all if you’re not a virtuoso in the profoundest sense, as Vlaeva is and Vladigerov clearly was. The Lisztian tradition is floridly served in these 16 pieces … I’m glad to have heard the effortless transcendental pianism of Vlaeva, though, and want to hear more from her’ (BBC Music Magazine)» More
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22 July 2021
British Music Society Journal, Paul Jackson
Voyage of a sea-god
Studio Master: CDA68371/2  2CDs  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘Disc 1 has short works by British composers set amongst larger works by international figures … Bax’s 1936 Threnody and Scherzo for bassoon, harp and string sextet, is a wonderfully scored imaginative work that has the makings of a concerto rather than an occasional piece, if only he had extended it. Disc 2 is made up of more substantial works by British based composers. Elizabeth Maconchy called her 17-minute work concertino rather than concerto, but it is not light-hearted or frivolous. It was written as a showpiece for the great Gwydion Brooke and the bassoon is certainly put through its paces. Mr Perkins is more than up to its difficulties … Richard Rodney Bennett’s Bassoon Sonata, most gratifyingly a work for bassoon and piano and not bassoon with piano … is a marvellous synthesis of Bennett’s two styles, the serial and the tuneful. There are spikey chords in the piano but nothing that would scare a jazz aficionado while the bassoon is generally smoothly seductive. Mr Perkins' tone in the high register is exemplary’ (British Music Society Journal)» More
13 July 2021
HörBar, Germany, Michael Kube
Paganini: 24 Caprices
Studio Master: CDA68366  RECORD OF THE MONTH 2CDs for the price of 1  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

„Alina Ibragimova gelingt dies mit stupender Technik und Tongebung, bei der nichts dem Zufall überlassen bleibt und selbst in den Extremen bewundernswert gestaltende Souveränität behält (hinreißend die bisweilen diabolischen Schattenklänge). So wirken die Capricen nicht mehr wie halsbrecherische Exerzitien, sondern entfalten ein Ausdrucksspektrum, von dem bisher vielfach nur Teile zu erahnen waren. Vortrefflich!“ (HörBar, Germany)» More
12 July 2021
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany
Paganini: 24 Caprices
Studio Master: CDA68366  RECORD OF THE MONTH 2CDs for the price of 1  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

„Die Geigerin Alina Ibragimova streicht ihr Instrument nicht nur sensibel, sie streichelt es geradezu. Im Lockdown hat sie jetzt 180 Jahre nach Niccolò Paganinis Tod dessen 24 Capricen eingespielt. Mit absolutem Respekt vor dem Urtext bringt sie subtilste Details zum Leuchten und den Zyklus bar jeder Effekthascherei als wahrhaft musikalisches Opfer dar. Technische Teufeleien werden da überwölbt von expressiver, dynamisch und artikulatorisch sorgfältigster Gestaltung. Astreine Intonation ist jederzeit gesichert. Ibragimova verwandelt Paganinis berüchtigte Exerzitien in tönende Wunder. Alles wirkt rund, nie hört man Mühsal. Verhextes wird erlöst zur Leichtigkeit des Seins. Doppelgriffe sind erfüllt von balsamischer Wärme, Legato-Striche umfassen locker zwei Dutzend Noten. Wie Funken sprühen beim finalen Spuk Pizzikato-Wolken über eisig glitzernden Flageolett-Zauber: Virtuosität als notwendiges Element des Ausdrucks“ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany)
7 July 2021
The Telegraph, Ivan Hewett
Brahms: Piano Sonatas & Rhapsodies
Studio Master: CDA68334  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘Ohlsson has a wonderful feeling for Brahms’s very special sound-world, which runs from craggy monumental force to the soft-edged mystery that emerges here and there, especially in the beautiful middle section of the second of the two Rhapsodies … he catches the cloudy grandeur of the music, without sacrificing the clarity that makes the grandeur comprehensible’ (The Telegraph)» More

6 July 2021
Winnipeg Free Press, Canada
Love songs
Studio Master: CDA68341  RECORD OF THE MONTH   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

‘Canada’s first lady of the piano, Ottawa-born, UK-based Angela Hewitt wears her heart on her sleeve with her latest release … acclaimed for her sparkling performances of Baroque composers including J S Bach, Hewitt treats listeners to lushly romantic transcriptions of works by Schumann, Schubert, Strauss, Grieg and Falla among others, with even Percy Grainger and George Gershwin making cameo appearances. What’s most fascinating is the way the pianist’s renowned, impeccably clear pianism translates to the milkier sonorities of her chosen repertoire, immediately apparent in Schumann’s 'Widmung', transcribed by Liszt, or Strauss's more delicate 'Freundliche Vision', from 5 Lieder, Op 48. Other highlights include Gluck’s 'Orpheus’ lament & Dance of the blessed spirits' as well as Hewitt’s own transcription of Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor, brought to life with limpid sentimentalism’ (Winnipeg Free Press, Canada)

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