This new disc from the Zurich Opera presents just about as thoughtful and coherent account of Rossini's Otello as one could hope for. This isn't the first time the company has made something of a splash with the bel canto repertory. Some will remember their CD release, a few years back, of Bellini's Norma, also featuring Bartoli. That set got very mixed reviews, and those who hated that will probably hate this too, no doubt before they even watch it. But for those not initiated in the trench warfare that music loving often attracts, this disc will be most welcome. The world class cast, led by Cecilia Bartoli and tenor John Osborn, are (mostly) young, committed and talented. They deliver, here, an intense performance that makes a very strong case for this neglected opera… By Stephen McLeod
Perhaps I should begin by reminding readers that Krysia Osostowicz (of Polish descent) and the Edinburgh-born Susan Tomes are founder members of Domus—the group whose debut recording of Faure's two piano quartets won them the Gramophone Chamber award in 1986. And once again these two artists affirm their very special affinity with this French composer. It is a record I can recommend without reservations for its style and conviction, as also for wholly natural tonal reproduction (Andrew Keener and Antony Howell) and discerning programme-notes (Richard Wigmore).
During the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912) a broad diffusion of Western music flowed into Japan, first in the form of military band music and. later, Protestant hymns. By 1900, recitals of piano, violin and song were quite popular. Composers like Prokofiev, and performers such as Heifetz, Kreisler and Segovia also encouraged this musical direction, which strongly followed German Romanticism and French Impressionism. The new Western repertoire found a place with the traditional Japanese music, hdgaku, and as the two traditions came in contact, a new and unique form of music emerged. One of the most fascinating developments in Japanese music was the introduction of new instruments in the south of Japan, and their metamorphosis as they migrated north via Kyoto and Tokyo. Several composers on this disc have focused on natural themes, with water being a favourite and obvious choice. The works have been chosen to give a sampling of the diversity of Japanese music, from the beautiful, traditional folk-songs to the complex and challenging multi-movement works, many of which evoke the traditional instruments, namely shakuhachi and koto.
Susan Wong's first ever blu-ray, My Live Stories was filmed live over 2 days in the world famous Ocean Way Studios in Nashville,USA. The performance was filmed in high definition and was recorded and mixed at 24bit/96khz and encoded as DTS-HD 96/24 & PCM Stereo 96/24. Highlights include Billie Jean, the blues tinged Cry Me A River, an up tempo Perfect and a spine tingling performance of Desperado.
After sixteen years of exceptional achievement and vast critical acclaim, the career paths of the members of The Florestan Trio are diverging. Sadly, the trio will disband at the end of this year and this disc marks the end of their studio career. For their final recording, the trio performs an all- Shostakovich program comprising the two piano trios and the Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok, for which they are joined by soprano Susan Gritton. Written in 1923, the first trio was an astonishing achievement for a seventeen-year-old student.