CinemaLive to screen André Rieu’s Home for Christmas

CinemaLive has announce they will deliver André Rieu’s HOME FOR CHRISTMAS concert to cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Saturday November 24th at 5pm (GMT).   André Rieu will make a special Live Appearance by satellite from Maastricht, introducing his festive Christmas concert, and cinema audiences will have the opportunity to participate in a special hosted live Q & A prior to the concert screening.  Continue reading


Virgin Classics is to celebrate the 200th birthday anniversary of Italy’s greatest opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), with the release of Rolando Villazón sings Verdi, a collection of Villazon’s best-loved Verdi recordings. One of the leading tenors of our day, Rolando Villazón has firmly established himself as a critically acclaimed and beloved star of the music world. Here he teams up with leading conductors Antonio Pappano, Michel Plasson and Marcello Viotti to perform some of Verdi’s best loved arias, including La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Macbeth.



Fleming’s Rosenkavalier: From Blu-Ray to CD

R. STRAUSS: DER ROSENKAVALIER  Renée Fleming, Sophie Koch, Diana Damrau, Munchner Philharmoniker, Christian Thielemann, DECCA  It was always going to be a tough act to follow. Decca’s first CD release of Der Rosenkavalier since the legendary Solti recording of the late 1960s (with the incomparable Régine Crespin) was recorded during the Baden-Baden Festival performances in January 2009. This latest Rosenkavalier features what conductor Christian Thielemann has characterised as a “galactic cast”, and while Renée Fleming sings with great beauty and expressiveness as the Marschallin (in what is now the signature role of her repertoire), her companions (Sophie Koch as Octavian, Diana Damrau as Sofie, Franz Hawlata as Ochs) are more problematic, and hardly unseat their illustrious predecessors. However, the “luxury casting” of Jonas Kaufmann as the Italian tenor is a welcome touch. This set has been previously released on Decca DVD and Blu-ray, but the recording has been completely re-mastered for this release and sounds splendid. Surround sound, however, is only available on the Blu-ray release.


PROKOFIEV: VIOLIN CONCERTOS NOS. 1 & 2, SOLO SONATA  Arabella Steinbacher, Russian National Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko PentaTone SACD  Once again we are in PentaTone’s debt. This is the premier recording of both concertos on SACD and is an absolute winner. The Russian National Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko has the full measure of the music, and violinist Arabella Steinbacher presents both of Prokofiev’s Violin Concertos with great attention to the poetry of the scores, even if wonderful reading of the first concerto by Julia Fischer (also on SACD from Chandos) is not unseated from its pole position. The coupling is the expressive Sonata for Violin Solo in D Major Op. 115.


MIKLÓS RÓZSA ORCHESTRAL WORKS, VOLUME 3: VIOLIN CONCERTO, ETC. Jennifer Pike (violin) BBC Philharmonic, Rumon Gamba, CHANDOS  Surely, by now, it is safe to assume that sniffiness concerning concert works by composers better known for film music is a thing of the past? This is Volume 3 in the Chandos series of orchestral works by Miklós Rózsa. Rósza’s individual musical character is indelibly linked with his Hungarian antecedents, and his compositions glow with invention and colour (as does so much of his film work). The BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba here deliver these works with maximum bravura. Jennifer Pike plays the virtuoso Violin Concerto (written for Heifetz) with great skill, while the Concerto for String Orchestra (written in New York 1943) is powerful, uncompromising fare.


RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN: AT THE MOVIES John Wilson Orchestra, EMI  Conductor and arranger John Wilson’s Rodgers & Hammerstein: At the Movies presents the gloriously inventive music from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most celebrated musicals, including You’ll Never Walk Alone (Carousel), Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’! (Oklahoma) and I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair (South Pacific), Wilson brings his customary panache to the project, with sterling work from soloists Sierra Boggess, Anna-Jane Casey, Joyce DiDonato, Maria Ewing, Julian Ovenden and David Pittsinger.


DVORAK SYMPHONIES 3 & 6 Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, José Serebrier, Warner Classics  The third volume of this highly impressive Dvorak cycle maintains the standard of its predecessors. If Serebrier is unable to make the 3rd seem more than a charming interlude before its mighty successors, that is perhaps a task which only conductors such as Istvan Kertesz were equal to. But Serebrier is a terrific advocate of this music, and the 6th is given a once-in-a-lifetime performance.


WAGNER: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Marek Janowski, PENTATONE SACD  This series (the first in surround sound) of all the important operas of Wagner has proved to be an admirable enterprise, even though Wagnerians have harboured a caveat or two about some of the issues. No such reservations need to be noted for this utterly splendid Tristan, which is quite the most fully achieved entry in the series so far, with nonpareil singing matched to conducting alert to both the psychological and musical values of the composer’s most influential masterpiece. Perhaps the least surprising thing about the set is the astonishingly realistic recording which does full justice to the performance. 


DELIUS: ORCHESTRAL WORKS: PARIS: A NOCTURNE, PIANO CONCERTO Howard Shelley, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis CHANDOS  More exquisitely realised Delius from Davis, including the ambitious tone poem Paris, the Piano Concerto and the Idylle de Printemps which affords a valuable glimpse into the development of Delius as a composer. The performance of Brigg Fair has the subtle beauty of even greatest interpreter, Thomas Beecham. In Paris, the composer utilises large-scale orchestral forces to lovingly recreate a favourite city. An unmissable disc – but one might legitimately ask why (unlike its predecessor in the series) it’s not in Chandos’s impeccable SACD surround sound?




Nagano in Late Romantic Masterworks

STRAUSS, WAGNER, SCHUMANN: Orchestral Works  Kent Nagano, Bayerische Staatsorchester, Faroa Classics SACD


The Bavarian State Orchestra (Bayerische Staatsorchester) has a history dating back almost 500 years and during that time, in its capacity as the orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, musical directors have included some of the most eminent conductors of the past one hundred and fifty years including Richard Strauss, Bruno Walter, Hans Knappertsbusch, Rudolf Kempe, Georg Solti and Wolfgang Sawallisch. While the orchestra’s profile on many opera recordings is well established, its role in the concert hall has been less prominently represented on record in recent years partly due to being based in a city blessed with an abundance of fine orchestras. Hopefully this excellent SACD from Farao Classics should help to remedy that situation. Continue reading

London Philharmonic releases audiobook of The Mozart Question

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is releasing a new musical audiobook adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s The Mozart Question narrated by the much-loved children’s author. The Mozart Question is an eloquent and ultimately uplifting story charting a small boy’s discovery of his love for the violin and of his parents’ traumatic past in a concentration camp during the Second World War. Originally published in 2007, this is the first time the story has been adapted as a musical audiobook. It is brought to life by narrators Michael Morpurgo and Alison Reid, and weaved together with musical extracts performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra featuring young British violin soloist Jack Liebeck, winner of Young Performer of the Year at the Classical Brits (2010). Released on the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s own record label and available on iTunes, The Mozart Question is suitable for children aged 7 to 12.



OXFORD DICTIONARY OF MUSIC Michael & Joyce Kennedy & Tim Rutherford-Johnson/OUP Few books can be honestly described as absolutely essential to a music lover collection — both there is a volume of which that claim can legitimately be made. There is a particular skill in collating a guide such as the Oxford Dictionary of Music – ensuring that the often concise judgements on composers encapsulate everything from the life history to the musical ethos of the subject in (sometimes) a mere handful of sentences (the most important composers, of course, are given considerably more space). Continue reading

Russian Composers around 1900

RUSSIAN COMPOSERS AROUND 1900, Stefan Blunier, Beethoven Orchestra, Bonn, MDG SACD  Stefan Blunier and his fine Beethoven Orchestra, Bonn, have compiled a most enjoyable programme for this SACD – described collectively, though not entirely accurately, as “ Russian Composers around 1900”. Perhaps the least well-known name on this SACD is that of the Ukranian composer Mykola Lysenko (1842-1912). Like Smetana for the Czechs, Erkel for the Hungarians and Chopin for the Poles, Lysenko is regarded as the national composer of his country. His opera ‘Taras Bulba’ impressed Tchaikovsky who wished to have it performed in Moscow, but because it would have had to be sung in Russian not Ukranian Lysenko refused. Here he is represented by the opera’s stirring overture whose arresting opening gives way to a gorgeous lyrical melody on the strings before moving to more heroic and martial fare. Continue reading

Dario Marianelli: Unorthodox Choices

DARIO MARIANELLI: ANNA KARENINA Decca/Universal  The composer Dario Marianelli has written some engaging woks for piano and orchestra, but is perhaps best known for his film scores for the British director Joe Wright, such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. The pair’s latest collaboration has resulted in a score as unorthodox as the film itself (with its faux-theatrical framing): this is an eclectic, unusual score which never takes the direction that one might anticipate in a Tolstoy adaptation. Sound quality is superb.

Sightread4Guitar for iPad Launches

Following SightRead4Piano earlier this year, and SightRead4BowedStrings in August, Wessar International Ltd. has announced the launch of Sightread4Guitar for iPad. As with the previous Apps, SightRead4Guitar is a unique method of training pupils to sight read. The system was created by Dr Christopher Wiltshire who, after many years of research, has developed this effective way of helping music students to dramatically improve
their sight-reading skills. Continue reading

Classical Music Theme for New Donna Leon Novel

There is strong classical music element for Donna Leon’s first stand-alone novel, The Jewels of Paradise, published to coincide with the release of Cecilia Bartoli’s CD Mission. The novel is based on the true story of the composer Steffani.  The book is the result of  months of research by Donna and Cecilia – and yet is  as gripping and intriguing as all of Donna’s novels. Donna Leon’s first love has always been music, and she is heavily involved with the baroque orchestra Il Complesso Barocco. The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon is published by William Heinemann in October.