Franz Schubert’s choral works have certainly never achieved the popularity or the impact of his late symphonies, of some of the piano and chamber works, or of his best-known songs. And yet his extensive choral oeuvre is no less important, and no less characteristic….
Following the Artemis Quartet‘s prizewinning Beethoven Quartet cycle on Virgin Classics, the Berlin-based ensemble has recorded Schubert’s last three quartets, works that Artemis cellist Eckart Runge praises for both their “incredible simplicity and purity” and their “almost terrifying modernism”. Awarded both Germany‘s prestigious Klassik ECHO award and France’s Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros in 2011 for their Virgin Classics Beethoven cycle, the members of the Artemis Quartet now release an all-Schubert CD. It presents the composer’s final three string quartets: No 13 in A minor, ‘Rosamunde’ (which draws on his incidental music for Helmina von Chezy’s play Rosamunde); No 14 in D minor, ‘Death and the Maiden’ (with its haunting second movement based on his song Der Tod und das Mädchen), and No 15 in G major.
Ever since Beethoven wrote his last piano sonata and called it "Opus 111", the number 111 has enjoyed certain kudos in musical circles, and 2009 marks the 111th anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon.
Over 11 decades, the label's philosophy has always been “the greatest recordings by the greatest artists in the world” and now they showcase this with this incredible 55 CD box set.
The songs that Kathleen Battle chooses for her recital mostly eschew deep drama for sheer lyricism. If you want an album that explores the lyric impulse in Schubert songs, then, this is certainly for you. Battle sings these pieces with unfailingly beautiful vocal production, plus a winning charm and insouciance that border on the–well, girlish, one wants to say, if that isn't entirely politically incorrect. Her voice is a beautiful instrument, no doubt about it…By M. C. Passarella
Nikolai Demidenko is a celebrated piano virtuoso, considered a leading exponent of the Russian school of playing. His blend of technical brilliance and musical vision have earned him consistent raves since he first emerged on the international scene in the mid-1980s, and he has become a musical fixture in his adopted home of Great Britain, where he gained citizenship in 1995. Demidenko began playing before the age of five, learning on his grandfather's old, beaten-up piano. By the age of six, he was a student of Anna Kantor (Evgeny Kissin's teacher) at the Gnessin School of Music. An obstinate student who disliked scales and technique, Demidenko still made swift progress, and he eventually entered the Moscow Conservatory. There, he studied with Dmitri Bashkirov, whom Demidenko credits with fostering his more individual qualities as a player, as well as ironing out the remaining wrinkles in his technique. Reaching the finals of both the 1976 Montreal competition and the 1978 Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow (where he played through an acute case of the flu) served as a final springboard to professional recognition.