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Schola Antiqua of Chicago

During the late Middle Ages and Renaissance there was plenty of music written and performed to celebrate the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Like the festive music heard today, it contains a sense of anticipation and hope surrounding the celebration of Jesus’s birth. Hail Mary, full of grace is an anonymous Medieval carol that originates from a fifteenth-century English manuscript. This performance is taken from Schola Antiqua of Chicago's recent disc of Medieval and Renaissance music for advent, which also includes the world premiere recording of Pierre de la Rue's Missa Conceptio tua. The Illinois-based ensemble, founded in 2000, is led by Michael Alan Anderson and exclusively performs music from before 1600. Click here to buy Schola Antiqua’s collection of Medieval and Renaissance works for advent...

Elora Festival Singers and The Wonder of Christmas

Elora Festival Singers (EFS), conducted by internationally acclaimed director Noel Edison, is one of the most exciting of contemporary choirs. Their disc of Eric Whitacre’s choral music (8.559677) was nominated for a GRAMMY® in 2010. Now they turn to the art of the Christmas carol, a genre covering a variety of styles, both popular and refined, each piece expressing religious sentiments and beliefs. The music ranges from much-loved settings to new works, from polyphony to more straightforward melodies, in a recital stretching from the Middle Ages to the music of today. Michael Bloss, Organ


Gilbert, NY Philharmonic play Nielsen on new release

The early First Symphony is no makeweight. For all its momentary echoes of Brahms and Dvořák, it’s full of Nielsen’s characteristic turns of melody and harmony and his volatile transitions, framed in one of his purposeful key-schemes,' writes Anthony Burton in his review of this recording in our Christmas issue. 'Gilbert interprets it flexibly and sympathetically, and is rewarded by whole-hearted playing.' Burton adds: ‘I’m already impatient to hear how Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic tackle the towering Fifth and the enigmatic Sixth symphonies.’ Nielsen dedicated his First Symphony to his wife Anne Marie Brodersen, a Danish sculptress he fell in love with in Paris and married in Florence in 1891. The second movement, which you can download here, is an expressive andante full of passionate sweeping melodies and rich wind and string textures.

EMMANUELLE HAIM conducts Handel: Messiah, HWV 56

Emmanuelle Haïm (French pronunciation: ​[emanɥɛl aim]) (born in Paris, France, 1967) is a French harpsichordist and conductor with a particular interest in early music and Baroque music.WIKIPEDIA
 Following several acclaimed albums of Handel’s operatic and choral masterpieces (including a triumphant Giulio Cesare with Natalie Dessay as Cleopatra and the oratorio La Resurrezione with British soprano Kate Royal), French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm at last brings her fresh, expressive approach to Messiah. Joining her on a musically and spiritually uplifting journey for this long-awaited recording is Haïm’s own choir and period-instrument orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, with four of the UK’s finest Handelian singers. Having begun her career as a brilliant harpsichordist and protegee of Baroque pioneers William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Haïm has a long history with Messiah. She is invited regularly to conduct the work in France (this album was recorded during performances at the Opéra de Lille in December 2013) and the United States – as in 2012 with the New York Philharmonic. For this complete recording, Haïm opted for an intimate Baroque sound, without reducing the power and impact of this perennial seasonal favourite. “I made the choice of four British singers, with a single countertenor rather than two altos – the configuration used in 1752 at Covent Garden,”

Bach: Magnificat; Handel: Dixit Dominus, HWV 232 Natalie Dessay, Karine Deshayes.....

Sakari Oramo conducts Elgar

Sakari Markus Oramo OBE (born October 26, 1965) is a Finnish conductor.WIKIPEDIA ‘Oramo and his Stockholm orchestra follow their acclaimed recording of the Second Symphony with an account of the First that is about as far from the starchy Edwardiana of Elgarian cliché as one can imagine,’ writes Erica Jeal in her review of this recording in the November issue of BBC Music Magazine. She continues: ‘Oramo has secured a vibrant, electric orchestral sound that underpins everything, making even the slow introduction seem exuberant underneath its finely judged nobilmente breadth.’ Elgar began sketching material for a symphony in 1900, but this was absorbed into three shorter pieces – the first two Pomp and Circumstance marches and the Cockaigne overture. The First Symphony came eight years later. By the time the London premiere arrived on 6 December 1908, there was much anticipation surrounding the performance. That, and the world premiere in Manchester, were conducted by the renowned Hans Richter, who said: ‘let us now rehearse the greatest symphony of modern times, written by the greatest modern composer.’ The London performance was fully-attended and proved a great success.


Robin Ticciati conducts Schumann

‘The first thing to be said about this Schumann cycle is how splendidly alert the orchestral playing is,’ writes Misha Donat in his review of this recording in our November issue. ‘The Scottish Chamber Orchestra must be one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the world today.’ ‘It’s principle conductor, Robin Ticciati, is very much on his toes, too, paying meticulous attention to detail throughout.’ Schumann composed his Symphony No. 1 – Spring – in 1841 over a period of just four days. He was full of excitement about the work, noting in his diary: ‘I am full of thanks to my guardian angel, who has let me finish a large work with such ease… I am tempted to smash my piano; it has become too restrictive for my ideas.’ The inspiration for the Spring Symphony came from a poem by Adolph Böttger that depicts spring’s arrival throwing off the shackles of a cold winter. Robin Ticciati (born 16 April 1983, London) is a British conductor of Italian ancestry. His paternal grandfather, Niso Ticciati, was a composer and arranger. His father is a barrister, and his mother is a therapist. His older brother is a violinist, and his sister is a theology professor.


Discover Beethoven’s famous & lesser known Piano Sonatas by Maurizio Pollini

Are you familiar with Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas? Maurizio Pollini has just brought a 40-year project to completion – recording all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas! After nearly 40 years, Maurizio Pollini’s Beethoven Sonatas cycle has reached completion. All recordings are now available on a a new 8CD- / part edition. Pollini / Beethoven: A story that goes back to June 1975, when Maurizio Pollini began recording the Beethoven Sonatas, starting with two of the last three – op. 109 and op. 110. The remaining Late Sonatas (op. 101, op. 106 and op. 111) followed in 1976 and 1977. Released initially as single LPs, the subsequent 3-LP set won a Gramophone Award. The story ended in 2014, when the three Sonatas op. 31 and the two of op. 49 were recorded. (Pollini had also recorded op. 31 no. 2, the so-called “Tempest”, before.) Nearly 40 years to record all 32 Sonatas: Pollini’s is the first cycle on Deutsche Grammophon since those of Daniel Barenboim (1981 – 1984) and Emil Gilels (1972 – 1984, incomplete).


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