Yolanda Sonnabend's Fabergé-inspired designs evoke the world of Imperial Russia in Anthony Dowell's acclaimed production for The Royal Ballet of one of the world's best-loved ballets. Marianela Nuñez as Odette/Odile and Thiago Soares as Prince Siegfried bring new vitality to a compelling story of tragic romance. The Russian conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov directs the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Tchaikovsky's lush romantic score.
Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, a tone poem based on a detailed program drawn from Lord Byron's epic poem Manfred, lasts for close to an hour and is rarely performed, although somewhat more often recorded. When conductor Semyon Bychkov proposed the present performance to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the players were unenthusiastic. But then, he recalls, "something wonderful happened…
This was the first commercially produced SACD hybrid super audio on the market. In June of 2000, I sat in one room recording in pcm and the research team of Philips were in the room next door taking my analogue signal directly from my mixer. I first released my pcm version in the fall of 2000. The Pyramix at that time was very primitive but thanks to the Phliips team who worked around the clock to produce the software, we were able to get this DSD version out at the beginning of 2001.
While not technically awful, Jascha Heifetz's 1955 recording of Brahms' Violin Concerto with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony is still close to unbearable. By 1955, Heifetz's once sinewy tone had tightened, his once supple technique had hardened, and his once warm interpretation had grown cold. With the never sinewy, supple, or warm Fritz Reiner, Heifetz creates a performance of Brahms' lyrical masterpiece that grates on the sensibilities.
When I first put this disc in the player, I wondered if I would really enjoy it. I had just listened to a performance of the Tchaikovsky played by Sviatoslav Richter accompanied by the Leningrad Philharmonic under Evgeny Mravinsky. Obviously, the first characteristic was a vast improvement in the recording quality over the mono Russian recording (Leningrad, 1957). As the new disc got underway I was very pleasantly surprised, as André Watts, although not Richter, gave a very proficient and exciting reading.
Violinist Aleksey Semenenko writes of this new release: “I decided to make it the central focus of this album by placing Schubert’s Fantasy in C after Paganini’s ‘I Palpiti’ Variations. After hearing him play in concert, Schubert was so impressed by Paganini’s technique and style that he wanted to write something similarly virtuosic, which eventually resulted in the Fantasy in C major. Some passages are indeed on a par with anything Paganini has written. However, Schubert adapted the music into his own symphonic style. In Schubert’s Fantasy in C, technical brilliance is always at the service of the musical idea. Furthermore, Schubert is not as interested in the individual instrumental parts as Paganini was.” In addition to the Paganini and Schubert, Semenenko has included works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco. “Stunning technique and intonation, verve, wit, (and) beautiful phrasing.” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer) “an unparalleled level of refined musicianship and stage presence.” (The Strad)
What makes these performances stand out is Ott's thoughtful approach to both concertos, eschewing empty display and bringing weight, detail and a range of colours to the solo parts.