(Sale ends at midnight ET, 10/26/21.)
Planès knows exactly how much of himself to impose and how much to leave alone. He is not averse to an occasional exaggeration, but never loses sight of the whole. Clarity, both of note and of vision, is paramount.
While Hough’s approach to Kreisleriana is supremely lyrical, he is especially adept at capturing the sudden, unsettling shifts of tone and mercurial mood swings. Embarking on the great C major Fantasie, we are transported to a realm of almost ideal beauty.
A Gramophone Editor's Choice! It’s rare to find interpretations that marry insight and naturalness, and that sends this recording to very near the top of an imposingly tall heap.
Roth conducts his group with gusto - the thickest textures in Le sacre and Petrushka become crystal clear; his rhythms are lighter than many listeners will be used to, taking us back to the dance while adding an extra layer of buoyancy to the performances.
A more thrilling performance of Paderewski's Polish Fantasy is hard to imagine. Combining an unfamiliar yet worthy work with Paderewski’s signature warhorse, freshly reconceived and proudly resplendent, makes this release a rare treat.
A Gramophone Editor's Choice! Semenzato and Richardot are tremendous. Minasi and his musicians bring all the drama of Italian opera, highlighting the gamut of Baroque affects with unapologetically extravagant gestures.
Vocal forces of just 10 singers supported by the same number of instrumentalists bring a level of intimacy that is entirely appropriate to this programme of 17th-century music reflecting on the Passion.
Gli Incogniti, under stylistically assured direction, captures this music’s mercurial temperament with panache. Crisp articulation, eloquently shaped phrasing, and a shared enthusiasm for Emanuel Bach’s elusive idiom enlivens the music at every turn.
With its colorful and expressive dissonance, and references to earlier musical styles, McDowall’s music requires singers who can marry unflinching accuracy with passionate communication. Stephen Layton and his forces deliver these qualities in abundance.
Fresh-faced charm pervades this astutely curated disc. Far from a marriage of convenience, long-standing duo partners Lewis and Osborne complement each other perfectly. In short, this is pure enjoyment from start to finish.
These works are here to stay, in the distinguished line of études stretching back via Debussy to Chopin. They require even more virtuosity, sometimes of a brain-teasing sort, and Danny Driver supplies it all.
A Gramophone Editor's Choice! Especially fetching is the empathy between Faust and Queyras, with total mutual understanding of phrasing and rubato. All in all this really is an outstanding recording.
The ensemble’s sound is clean and ingenuous throughout: boyish sopranos and altos are balanced by fresh-voiced tenors and basses, intonation is nigh flawless, the recording limpid.
To call this a concept album would be to diminish its power and timeliness. It is both a meditation on the fragility of life and a Bergmanesque game of chess with Death, for which Hough has laid out his pieces and pawns in a masterstroke of programming.
There’s an exuberance about the quintet especially that is carried forward into some of the fantasy pieces. But the virtues of the Wanderer’s playing, their immaculate ensemble and balance, really come into their own in the numbered trios.