There are several reasons to own this Vox Box 2CD set. For the first, it includes five great violin concertos in some of the very best performances in their discography. For the second, Ivry Gitlis (born 1922) is a great living violinist and these recordings made in early 1950s show his art in the best way, when Ivry's violin sounded powerful and brilliant.
It usually takes about ten seconds to identify Ivry Gitlis' playing. No offense intended, but he is perhaps one of the most "anti-Classical" violinists, or the one whom you would least like to hear playing the Bach solo partitas. His free-wheeling approach to vibrato and intonation are not what wins praise in conservatories and awards at competitions these days. Often, it is said that Gitlis sounds like a gypsy violinist. There's nothing wrong with that, though, at least in certain repertoire. Gitlis takes us back to a time when classical music and musicianship were a little more wild and unpredictable than they are today.
Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the second half of the twentieth century. In celebration of her 75th birthday, Sony Classical is pleased to release Martha Argerich The Complete Sony Classical Recordings, a new 5-CD original jackets collection featuring two albums available for the first time on CD remastered from the original analogue tapes. Argerich rose to international prominence when she won the seventh International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965 at age 24. In that same year, she debuted in the U.S. in Lincoln Center s Great Performers Series.
Year 2015 marks the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), often entitled 'Finland’s national composer'. The fourth album on Ondine by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is dedicated to the complete works for mixed choir by Jean Sibelius. The award-winning choir, one of the finest of its kind internationally, is conducted here by one of the leading Finnish choir directors, Heikki Seppänen, who has conducted a large number of professional choirs in Finland and abroad. The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s releases on Ondine have been a critical success: the first release was given an ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Gramophone Magazine and ‘Disc of the Year’ by the renowned German weekly Die Zeit.
The beautifully played Sibelius recordings by conductor Leif Segerstam and the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra have often been revelatory, not least in the much-neglected area of the composer's theater music. Segerstam found much of interest in the composer's incidental music, the forerunner of the soundtracks Sibelius might well have written if he had lived in our time. But Scaramouche, Op. 71, composed in 1913, is something else again: it is music for a pantomime, a genre not much in evidence for today (although it certainly has affinities with the music video). The action of the mostly wordless play (there were a few spoken passages, excised in this performance) was continuous, and so, thus, was Sibelius' music. It is thus a genuine piece of dramatic music, of which there is very little in the Sibelius catalog, and for the most part it has more to do with the developmental thinking of the symphonies than it does with the incidental music scores.
Rarely performed but recognized as a hidden masterpiece, Sibelius's score for Jedermann is unusual in that the music closely follows the words and action of this morality play, intensifying Everyman's hubris, penance, escape from the Devil's clutches and ultimate salvation.The Two Serious Melodies reflect Sibelius' dark mood during the difficult years of World War I, while In memoriam resonates with his preoccupation with death in 1909 following a life-saving throat operation, and was performed at his own funeral in 1957. This is the fourth of a six volume set that explores Jean Sibelius's orchestral works beyond the higher profile symphonies, violin concerto and tone poems.Finnish conductor Leif Segerstam is an acclaimed Sibelius interpreter, having been awarded the annual Finnish State Prize for Music in 2004; and in 2005 the highly esteemed Sibelius Medal.
There are two points concerning the piano music of Sibelius that I feel need to be kept in mind. One is that the piano was not a natural instrument for Sibelius to communicate his musical thoughts. The other is that his ability to write appealing music extended to his piano compositions. Merging the two points results in attractive music that does not reflect the masterful orchestral works and symphonies that Sibelius composed. Sibelius wrote most of his piano music in response to financial requirements, while his strongest concentration was saved for his large-scale works. The variable quality of the piano music is apparent in any recorded program, ranging from disjointed and rambling pieces to music of dramatic substance and pieces that delight and sparkle. However, you will not find any hidden masterpieces, as the works do not plumb deep emotional issues or offer the structural coherence found in the works of outstanding composers for the piano.
This double CD from EMI features the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by their Finnish principal conductor at the time (1970s), Paavo Berglund. It doesn't have to be that a conductor originates from the same country as the composer whose works he or she is conducting, but it often happens that this combination seems to produce performances of greatest sensitivity. So it is here, as Berglund conducts 10 works by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The discs include quite familiar works like En Saga, one of Sibelius' first compositions when he was in his late 20s. We also have Pohjola's Daughter, The Bard and two of the four Lemminkäinen Legends, and a beautiful version of Luonnotar sung by the Finnish soprano Taru Valjakka. The rest of the discs is made up of less frequently heard pieces. We have the five-movement suite from the incidental music Sibelius wrote for Adolf Paul's play King Christian II (1898); the Spring Song (Vårsång) of 1894; the suite of incidental music from Maeterlinck's Pelleas and Melisande.