Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Sonatas Nos. 5 & 6, Pensees Op. 62, Music for Children Op. 65 – Yury Martynov (2014) [Qobuz 24-48]

Sergei Prokofiev – Piano Sonatas Nos. 5 & 6, Pensees Op. 62, Music for Children Op. 65 – Yury Martynov (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:15:37 minutes | 584 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ Zig-Zag Territoires , Outhere Music
Recorded: 21-24 January 2014 at Teldex Studio (Berlin)

For Zig-Zag Territoires, Yury Martynov has undertaken the complete Beethoven symphonies in Liszt’s transcriptions on historic instruments. The third volume of that cycle came out in January 2014 and, like the previous instalments, has enjoyed great critical success.

This new release bears witness to another aspect of Yury Martynov’s talent and art, this time grappling with a composer from the avant-garde of the first half of the 20th century, and on a resolutely modern Steinway.

On the programme: works from the pre-war years (Sonata No.5, Pensées), as well as a ‘war’ work (Sonata No. 6) and the marvellous 12 pieces that make up the Music for Children, with which apprentice pianists are well familiar. This is therefore a recording that explores two registers quite present in Prokofiev’s work: rich, powerful writing contrasting with melodic, poetic writing.

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Pretenders – Pretenders (1980/2013) [Qobuz 24-96]

Pretenders – Pretenders (1980/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 00:46:52 | 992 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front cover | @ Warner Music UK Ltd.

Few rock & roll records rock as hard or with as much originality as the Pretenders’ eponymous debut album. A sleek, stylish fusion of Stonesy rock & roll, new wave pop, and pure punk aggression, Pretenders is teeming with sharp hooks and a viciously cool attitude. Although Chrissie Hynde establishes herself as a forceful and distinctively feminine songwriter, the record isn’t a singer/songwriter’s tour de force — it’s a rock & roll album, powered by a unique and aggressive band. Guitarist James Honeyman-Scott never plays conventional riffs or leads, and his phased, treated guitar gives new dimension to the pounding rhythms of “Precious,” “Tattooed Love Boys,” “Up the Neck,” and “The Wait,” as well as the more measured pop of “Kid,” “Brass in Pocket,” and “Mystery Achievement.” He provides the perfect backing for Hynde and her tough, sexy swagger. Hynde doesn’t fit into any conventional female rock stereotype, and neither do her songs, alternately displaying a steely exterior or a disarming emotional vulnerability. It’s a deep, rewarding record, whose primary virtue is its sheer energy. Pretenders moves faster and harder than most rock records, delivering an endless series of melodies, hooks, and infectious rhythms in its 12 songs. Few albums, let alone debuts, are ever this astonishingly addictive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Prayer: Voice & Organ – Magdalena Kozena, Christian Schmitt (2014) [PrestoClassical 24-96]

Prayer: Voice & Organ – Magdalena Kozena, Christian Schmitt (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:24:24 minutes | 1,38 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: September 2013 at Konzertsaal der Hochschule für katholische Kirchenmusik und Musikpädagogik, Regensburg, Germany

The new recording from Magdalena Kožená features deeply-felt interpretations of sacred songs from the Baroque to the 20th Century.
In a rare recording collaboration, she is joined by virtuoso Christian Schmitt, in music for voice and organ from the sacred traditions of Germany, Austria, France and England, as well as her native Czechoslovakia.
Of course, the album includes music by J.S. Bach – a composer with whom Magdalena Kožená has long been associated – with sacred aspects of German song represented by Hugo Wolf and Schubert.
The French tradition is heard in the music of Bizet, Ravel and the great Parisian organist Maurice Duruflé.

. . . Magdalena Kozená takes a broad, dramatic approach to devotional music . . . If this is unlikely material for a singer whose bright timbre and temperament seem to predestine her for lyric, mischievous operatic roles, especially Dorabella, that challenge adds zest to the recital. –David J. Baker, Opera News

Kozená is a sensitive interpreter who avoids religious kitsch in the individual songs, and the sheer variety of the program also works in her favor: she brings together music from Purcell to Maurice Duruflé, and most of it is so sharply recontextualized by hearing it on the organ that it holds your attention. Further, she shifts effectively among the song types on display, deploying her characteristic alto-like tone in the likes of Verdi’s little-heard solo setting of the Ave Maria . . . and in the several Hugo Wolf pieces included, but cultivating a lighter and more radiant tone in the earlier art songs and the Baroque pieces . . . The sound environment of the “Hochschule für Katholische Kirchenmusik” auditorium in Regensburg is most congenial to the project. Recommended . . . –James Manheim, Allmusic.com

Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená believes it is “impossible to draw a line between the religious and the personal”. It’s a philosophy shared by composers throughout the 19th century, whose music moved freely from church to home and concert hall. Kozená’s is a broad musical church, but vocally (and with the aid of organist Christian Schmitt’s elegant transcriptions) she makes it work . . . Her Wolf is is particularly luscious — never overworked but always emotionally direct, establishing the same flexible intimacy with the organ that we’d expect with a piano. Her covered middle and lower registers dissolve delicately into cloudy organ registrations, a musical “coup de théâtre” . . . Kozená sings superbly here, proving herself as flexible stylistically as vocally. –Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone

The combination of Magdalena Kozena’s rich voice with the organ is something not to be missed . . . [a] brilliant program . . . Kozena performs each piece exquisitely. She rips through the coloratura in “The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation” with lightning speed and absolute clarity. Schubert’s “Litanei” is gentle and contemplative, and Wolf’s “Zum Neuen Jahr” is full of joy and hope. Christian Schmitt takes full advantage of all the colors available to him at the organ . . . An all-around spectacular recording. –Erin Heisel, American Record Guide

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Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda – Maria Callas, Orch Sinfonica di Torino della RAI, Antonino Votto (1952/2014) [HRA 24-96]

Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda – Maria Callas, Orch Sinfonica di Torino della RAI, Antonino Votto (1952/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:47:29 minutes | 1,66 GB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: highresaudio.com |  Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ Warner Classics
Recorded: 6–10.IX.1952, Auditorium RAI, Turin

Although Maria Callas is perhaps most closely associated with the roles of Norma, Violetta and Tosca, Ponchielli’s passionate, generous, and ironically named heroine Gioconda played a major role in the diva’s life and career. Following the war, Callas came from Greece to New York in an attempt to launch a major career. After several setbacks, including the cancellation of a high-profile debut as Turandot, the 23-year old soprano auditioned for retired tenor Giovanni Zenatello, who was casting about for a Gioconda for the Verona Arena’s summer season. Callas landed the part, and made her Italian debut on 3 August 1947. Although Richard Tucker, the Enzo on that occasion, walked away with most of the reviews, this engagement effectively launched Callas’s career in other ways: she met and married Giovanni Battista Meneghini, who gave the penniless singer the financial security to pursue her art, and she first worked with conductor Tullio Serafin, who became her mentor and supplied subsequent bookings before Callas’ extraordinary gifts were recognised.
In July 1952, Callas returned to Verona in the role, and in August it became her first complete opera recording, before unveiling her Gioconda in December at La Scala. After 13 performances in total, she abandoned the role, returning to it only in the recording studio in 1959. But with two records of the opera, Gioconda became a ‘Callas role’, and a fascinating vehicle in which to study her artistic development.
This early Gioconda features Callas in enormous, free vocal estate, infinite colours pouring out of her with volcanic power. The chest voice is huge, employed with searing intensity – witness the definitive reading of ‘Suicidio!’ – the high notes secure and steady. Memorable phrases and definitive line readings abound and, partnered by Fedora Barbieri, Callas delivers a white-hot Gioconda/Laura duet, surpassing any on disc. Callas’s Gioconda is ablaze throughout with the spontaneity of a staged performance, transcending the studio surroundings, capturing her at her youthful best. –IRA SIFF, 2014

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Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1959/2014) [HRA 24-96]

Amilcare Ponchielli – La Gioconda – Maria Callas, Orch del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Antonino Votto (1959/2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 2:46:31 minutes | 3,26 GB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: highresaudio.com | Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ Warner Classics
Recorded: 4–11.IX.1959, Teatro alla Scala, Milan

Maria Callas sang the role of Gioconda on stage a total of 13 times – five in 1947, eight more in 1952–3. It may therefore come as a surprise that Ponchielli’s ironically named street singer played such a pivotal role in the soprano’s life and career. After numerous setbacks in her effort to launch an American career in the mid-1940s, Callas struck gold when she auditioned for retired tenor Giovanni Zenatello, searching for a protagonist for a Gioconda he was casting for the Verona Arena’s summer season of 1947. The 23-year-old soprano got the part, and during those performances met two men who changed her life – Giovanni Battista Meneghini, whom she married, and Maestro Tullio Serafin, who became her artistic mentor. Fast forward five years, and we find Callas recording Gioconda, her first complete opera release, and another seven years to sessions for this more artistically mature second studio Gioconda – during which time she announced her separation from Meneghini, mentioning her ‘profound friendship’ with Aristotle Onassis.
In addition to the importance Gioconda played in her life and career, the role served Callas’s art – but perhaps not nearly as much as she served it. This document of her portrayal came at a perfect moment, when artistic maturity and vocal glory coincided maybe for the last time for this magnificent artist. 1959 was the final year of her vocal prime, and the year after which Callas’s relationship with Onassis consumed the time and energy previously spent on her work.
Callas arrived at the sessions in Milan, radiant, in love – and in glorious voice. Her first Gioconda boasts a volcanic verismo voice; this one offers myriad interpretative details, coupled with such elegant singing as to eradicate any condescending remarks about Ponchielli’s ‘potboiler’. Throughout the opera, Callas imbues the heroine with a tragic grandeur. Many phrases are indelible, seem inevitable, and are unforgettable – making it difficult to accept anyone else in the role. The entire final act is a Callas masterpiece, from a searing ‘Suicidio!’ to the heroine’s final phrase. This is Callas at her greatest – and that’s saying something. –IRA SIFF, 2014

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Porcupine Tree – Lightbulb Sun (2011) [24-48]

Porcupine Tree – Lightbulb Sun (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 00:56:24 | 721 MB | Genre: Progressive Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: WEB | Digital Booklet

Burning Shed 24 Bit Store:
“Originally released in 2000, this album contains the original studio versions of Porcupine Tree classics such as Shesmovedon, Russia On Ice, Hatesong, and Feel So Low. Includes downloadable artwork.”

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Polyphonies oubliees: Faux-bourdons XVI-XIX – Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard (2014) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Polyphonies oubliees: Faux-bourdons XVI-XIX – Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 01:47:16 minutes |  1,02 GB | Genre: Classical, Choral
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source:Qobuz |  Digital Booklet , Front cover
Label: @ Aparté · Little Tribeca | Recorded: l’Église de Mont St Jean (21) du 15 au 18 septembre 2011 et à la Chapelle Sainte-Anne, Toulouse du 19 au 23 avril 2012

Et pourquoi donc Polyphonies « oubliées », demanderez-vous fort légitimement ? C’est que sur les vingt-sept pièces ici présentées, seules cinq sont de compositeurs identifiés – Charpentier, Sermisy, Bournonville, Perne et Kunc –, les autres restant muettes à jamais sur l’identité du maître qui les a écrites. Mais est-il besoin de connaître le nom du compositeur pour mieux (ou moins bien) goûter la beauté d’une œuvre ? Est-il seulement besoin d’en connaître la date ou même l’époque de composition ? Eh… Quant au terme « faux-bourdon » inscrit dans le titre du CD, il n’a aucune connotation entomologique : il s’agit d’une forme d’harmonisation du plain-chant dans laquelle les quatre parties vocales sont différentes (là où le plain-chant initial est monophonique), mais toutes les quatre dans le même rythme, note contre note – aucun contrepoint donc. Quelques-unes des pièces présentées respectent cette forme, fort ancienne. Un sacré florilège de somptueuses beautés sacrées, anonymes certes mais certes pas anodines ; chantées selon la prononciation classique du latin à la française, donc les terminaisons en usse et pas en ousse.

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Placido Domingo – Domingo at the MET – Anniversary Edition (2014) [Qobuz 24-88.2]

Placido Domingo – Domingo at the MET – Anniversary Edition (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88.2 kHz | Time – 03:51:55 minutes | 3,42 GB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Front Cover | @ Sony Classical  , The Metropolitan Opera

Sony Classical is proud to announce the release of Domingo at the MET, a 3-CD anniversary set with many previously unreleased live recordings celebrating Plácido Domingo’s 45th season at the Metropolitan Opera.
“There have been many legendary tenors who have performed at the Met over its 130-year history. From Jean de Reszke in the late 1800s to Enrico Caruso in the early 1900s, from Corelli, Vickers, and McCracken in the 1960s to Luciano Pavarotti, who rose to prominence in the 1970s, the Met has been home to a remarkable array of tenors. But no other tenor in Met history has enjoyed a career of such astounding breadth, longevity, and musical and dramatic excellence, as Plácido Domingo.
Forty-five years ago, Plácido appeared on the Met stage for the first time, stepping in to replace an ailing Franco Corelli as Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur and announcing his arrival as a major new talent. Today, he’s still performing on our stage, having triumphed last season in the baritone role of Germont in La Traviata, and this year reprising his acclaimed turn as Neptune in the Met’s Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island—one of his astounding 143 roles, of which he’s sung 48 at the Met. I can’t think of any other artist in the history of opera who would be capable of accomplishing such a feat.
Somehow, in the midst of learning new operas and performing, Plácido also finds time to run the Los Angeles Opera and to conduct all over the world. For 45 years at the Met, Plácido has been one of opera’s greatest forces. We’re proud and thankful for all of the invaluable contributions he has made to the life of our company, and we congratulate him on this stunning new collection.” –Peter Gelb

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Allan Pettersson – Symphony No.9 – Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg (2013) [eClassical 24-96]

 

Allan Pettersson – Symphony No.9 – Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:10:11 minutes | 1,17 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download |  Source: eClassical | Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ BIS Records AB
Recorded: January 2013 at the Louis de Geer Concert Hall, Norrköping, Sweden

Allan Pettersson composed his Ninth Symphony in 1970, two years after the Seventh had been given a triumphant première conducted by Antal Dorati. This had brought him greater recognition than ever before, but at the same time his health was deteriorating even further, and shortly after completing the Ninth Pettersson was hospitalized for a period of nine months. It is striking that he at such a time should have chosen to compose what is the longest of all his works – in the score Pettersson himself estimated the duration to ‘65–70 minutes’, and the first recording of the work actually lasted for more than 80 minutes. As so many of the symphonies, the work is in one single movement which may be described as an extended struggle in which harmony is the ultimate winner. As Pettersson himself had said about an earlier work: ‘If one fights one’s way through a symphony one needs to achieve consonance and harmony even if it takes twenty hours to do so.’ In the case of the Ninth, this harmony is summed up more concisely than ever before or after, in the final two chords which form a plagal or ‘Amen’ cadence in F major. Completing a cycle for BIS of Pettersson’s symphonies, Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra have been receiving great critical acclaim for previous instalments – most recently a Sixth described in International Record Review as ‘a release that could well be the ideal introduction to Pettersson’s singular musical vision’. About the same disc, the reviewer in Gramophone wrote: ‘Lindberg’s empathy for Pettersson’s music is once again shown in the Sixth, where he catches its dark atmosphere to perfection, pacing its progress through the succession of climaxes superbly well.’

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