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The Nutcracker...Newly recorded in High Definition

Christmas gift for the whole family.

Russia's Mariinsky Theatre Musical Director Valery Gergiev conducts Tchaikovsky's glorious score in this enchanting, traditional production of Christmas favourite The Nutcracker . Vainonen's stunning choreography (from 1934, one of the oldest versions still performed today) is complemented by Simon Virsaladze's wonderfully colourful designs, and the roles of Masha and her Nutcracker Prince are danced by two of the Mariinsky's award-winning international soloists, all of which make this as magical and memorable a Christmas treat as ever. 
Premiered on 18 December 1892 at the very same Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, The Nutcracker was Tchaikovsky's last ballet. It took him a year to compose what remains today one of the most popular examples of ballet music and Tchaikovsky's most celebrated work. Watch a preview of the Mariinsky Theatre's captivating production:

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.