This is the second fine Don Giovanni we have had within the past year. Like Gardiner (Archiv), Mackerras includes every note Mozart wrote for both the original Prague version and the Viennese revival. Moreover, it is easier than ever for listeners to ‘programme in’ their preferred version: all Prague die-hards have to do is to bypass Don Ottavio’s ‘Dalla sua pace’ in Act I – a beautiful aria, in all conscience, though it holds up the dramatic action at a crucial stage. By coaxing a modern orchestra into a real awareness of period style, Mackerras seems to have the best of both worlds: the playing has admirable liveliness and intensity, and there are none of the intonation problems that so often plague actual period instruments. Mackerras does use natural trumpets, and their rasping sound lends real bite, not least to the overture’s chilling opening chords. In his introductory essay Mackerras argues that Mozart’s Andantes in ‘cut-time’ (ie two beats to the bar) are often taken too slowly.
This unique, baroque take on The Beatles contains arrangements of the songs in the styles of Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, and Corelli. Breiner very successfully finds baroque elements in pop/rock music. (E.g., taking the main theme of "Michelle", Peter Breiner's orchestra creates a perfect FOUR-PART COUNTERPOINT!)…
For those looking for a fresh read on Haydn's symphonies, look no further than this release by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and youthful conductor Robin Ticciati. They offer a trio of symphonies in D major, from different parts of Haydn's career, and all have the feeling of having been taken up by musicians who had no preconceptions about them. The general classification of the performance is modern-instrument with influences from the historical-performance movement. The splendid hunting-horn quartets that open the Symphony No. 31, Hob. 1/31, are given to gutsy natural horns, and the lyrical effect of the various solo passages in the slow movement is amplified by the emergence of a continuo fortepiano.
This Finlandia disc, which sadly never got a US release and is hard to find there, surveys Per Nørgård's works for strings across a broad span of the Danish composer's output, from the 1950s to the 1990s. All of these express the perennial concerns of Nørgård's work: ambiguity, "infererence" and the development of the tonal tradition. Juha Kangas leads the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra.
Since the beginning of it’s existence in 1960, the Slovak Chamber Orchestra has developed into one of the most popular ensembles in the field of classical music in Slovakia, and into one of the principal representatives of the Slovak interpretation art abroad. The idea of founding a string orchestra has risen in the mind of Prof. Bohdan Warchal in the late 50-s, while still a member of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.
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
As other reviewers have noted previously, the sleeve notes for Apex discs don’t necessarily overload readers with information. This issue contains a detailed track-listing in English together with the libretto and a very short uncredited introduction to Messiah written in English, French and German. Sadly however, no details at all are given about any of the performers, despite the fact that the late Lord Menuhin apparently enjoyed a sustained association with both the orchestra and choir from 1990 until his death in 1998.