This is one of those great Rossinian singing competitions in which everyone–and, in particular, the listeners–wins. Composed as a piece of occasional entertainment for the coronation of Charles X in Paris, Rossini borrowed liberally from his recent comic success Le Comte Ory and fashioned a musical necklace chock filled with one shiny bauble after another. Each character has a showpiece aria, from the highs of soprano Cecilia Gasdia as a melodramatic poetess all the way down to the basso realms of Samuel Ramey and Ruggero Raimondi. The ensembles are as delicious as the solos, and Claudio Abbado, in a very theatrical mood (this was recorded live) keeps everything going wittily and with great elan. The plot is practically nonexistent, but with singing like this, it's hard to complain. A real dazzler–and great fun.–Robert Levine
The debut recording by the award-winning Ensemble Meridiana. A scintillating programme of Telemann leading the listener on a musical jouney through Europe in the Baroque period. On this beautiful recording, Ensemble Meridiana explores a variety of Georg Philipp Telemann's chamber music. The pieces chosen highlight the mastery of Telemann's 'mixed taste' writing style and are a perfect display of Baroque influences from France, Germany, Italy and Poland.
Lisa Batiashvili is a wonderful violinist, and this fine album of Prokofiev’s two concertos marks another milestone in a career that leaps from mountain peak to mountain peak. She characterizes each work with great insight and style, clearly attuned to the biographical background of this most complex of 20th-century composers. What’s also striking is the range of color and volume with which Batiashvili and Nézet-Séguin invest the music, unusually faithful to the score—the opening of the Second Concerto is done with great imagination and some stunning solo and orchestral playing. Three short Prokofiev pops are delightful extras.
Of all the nearly forgotten music by Mendelssohn, the most nearly completely forgotten is his music for chorus. Only his songs come close to being as almost entirely ignored, but because a few of them have earned a place in the recital hall, even they have a more prominent place in the repertoire. This 10-disc Brilliant set of Mendelssohn's complete choral works featuring the Chamber Choir of Europe under Nicol Matt addresses this problem even though it may not solve it. The performances are uniformly excellent. The Choir has a smooth tone and superb diction and Matt elicits from them polished balanced and ardent interpretations.