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Franz LISZT (1811–1886)
Études d’exécution transcendante
La leggierezza • Rigoletto Paraphrase
Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante enshrine the spirit of High Romanticism, embodying extremes of expressive drama and technical virtuosity. His encyclopedic approach to technique is shown at its most dazzling in this cycle, heard here in the 1852 revision which Liszt himself declared ‘the only authentic one’. Integration of musical and technical elements is absolute, and the music’s narratives are supported by dramatic physicality, an orchestral richness of sonority, and an exceptional colouristic quality.
Russian Cello Concertos
TCHAIKOVSKY • RIMSKY-KORSAKOV • GLAZUNOV
Li-Wei Qin • Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice • M. Halász
Russian composers have made a significant contribution to the repertoire of music for cello and orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, deftly scored for an 18th-century orchestra, reveals his admiration for Mozart whereas the Pezzo capriccioso is full of ripe charm. In the year of Tchaikovsky’s death, Rimsky-Korsakov composed the attractive Serenade, Op. 37 and his student, Glazunov, both absorbed and continued the great Romantic lineage with his own sonorous and beautiful Concerto ballata, the poignant Chant du ménestrel, and the iberian evocations of the Sérénade espagnole from Deux Morceaux.
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave
After Le Pasteur, ou l’Évangile et le Foyer by Émile Souvestre and Eugène Bourgeois
Katzarava • Ganci • Sala • Landolfi • Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna • Calvo • G. Vick
Verdi’s Stiffelio is a tense moral drama in which a Protestant minister learns of his wife’s betrayal and is torn between a thirst for revenge and his religious duty of forgiveness. These themes of adultery and divorce were social taboos in 1850, and Stiffelio was met with such censorship and disapproval that it was soon withdrawn. Today we can appreciate both the title character’s significance as the first true Verdi tenor, and the many wonderful moments in this ‘most unjustly neglected of Verdi’s operas’. This unique and dynamic production from Parma was acclaimed for taking us to ‘a whole new theatrical world’ (Huffington Post), and as ‘nothing short of a coup’ (bachtrack.com).
Also available on Blu-ray (NBD0084V).
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683–1764)
Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour,
ou Les Dieux d’Égypte
Libretto by Louis de Cahusac
Debono • Perruche • J. Thompson • Lis • The New York Baroque Dance Company • Kalanidhi Dance • The Seán Curran Company • Opera Lafayette • R. Brown • Turocy • Nehru • Curran
Les Fêtes de l’Hymen et de l’Amour was Rameau’s first exploration of the world of Egyptian mythology. Its libretto called for magic, gods and extraordinary natural effects to which he responded with one of his most comprehensively brilliant scores, blending a gallant and pastoral inspiration of extreme refinement with powerful vocal and orchestral writing. In his use of a fluid and continuous flow of music, in the theatrical deployment of choruses, and in the blurring of the distinction between recitatives and airs, Rameau entered a new and pioneering stage of development. The score heard in this performance is the authoritative version.
Alfred CELLIER (1844–1891)
Libretto by Benjamin C. Stevenson
Performing Edition by Richard Bonynge
Cullagh • Vallis • Maitland • Mears • M.V. Jones • Maclaine • J.I. Jones • E. Robinson • Relph • Victorian Opera • Bonynge
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Alfred Cellier was a contemporary of Arthur Sullivan as a Chapel Royal chorister, and would later conduct several Gilbert and Sullivan productions. With its rural tale of disguise and romantic scheming, its jaunty tunes, lively characters and farcical comedy, Cellier’s light opera, Dorothy, has been almost entirely forgotten today. It had the longest run of any 19th-century piece of musical theatre, seeing off The Mikado and Ruddigore, and became such a popular hit in its day that the box office profits were able to fund the building of the Lyric Theatre on London’s Shaftsbury Avenue.
Florence PRICE (1887–1953)
Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 †
Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra • Jeter
† WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
Florence Price was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and studied at the New England Conservatory, but it was in Chicago that her composing career accelerated. The concert in 1933 at which her Symphony No. 1 in E Minor was premiered was the first time a major American orchestra had performed a piece written by an African American woman. Influenced by Dvořák and Coleridge-Taylor, she drew on the wellspring of Negro spirituals and vernacular dances, full of lyricism and syncopation. The Symphony No. 4 in D Minor demonstrates her tight ensemble writing, her distinct sense of orchestral colour, her Ellingtonian ‘jungle style’ language and her penchant for the ‘juba’ dance.
Bedřich SMETANA (1824–1884)
Swedish Symphonic Poems
Richard III • Wallenstein’s Camp • Hakon Jarl
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra • Svárovský
The symphonic poems Smetana wrote during his stay in Sweden were composed during a pivotal time in his life. Financial prospects at first seemed better in Gothenburg than in his native country, while the dual influences of Berlioz and Liszt were informing the direction of his music. Richard III is not a programmatic drama, but focuses instead on the haunting scene before the Battle of Bosworth in Shakespeare’s play. Wallenstein’s Camp is symphonically structured, while Hakon Jarl dramatises the life of the tyrannical Viking warrior with memorable flair.
John FIELD (1782–1837)
Piano Concertos *
Nocturnes • Sonatas
Frith • Northern Sinfonia * • Haslam *
Irish by birth, John Field gained an international reputation as one of the finest pianists of his time, with an influential delicacy and nuance in his playing that is expressed in his innovative and poetically lyrical Nocturnes. Field’s earlier Sonatas are more classical in feel, but their sense of flow and dramatic narrative exhibit qualities that are developed and given added virtuoso panache in his fine Piano Concertos, works admired by Liszt, Chopin and Schumann. ‘Benjamin Frith has done a stellar job in bringing these concertos into the sunlight, brilliantly supported by the Northern Sinfonia under David Haslam’ (Pianist magazine).