GLUCK – IPHIGENIE en Tauride
Iphigenie en Tauride is Gluck’s most dramatically involving work. It’s about familial love and deep friendship and noble aims of sacrifice, duty, and protection. And the opera was first performed in 1779 at the Paris Opera with great success and contains much of Gluck’s best music. For this recording Pinchgut, established by a small group who were passionate about a different experience of opera, assembled a wonderful team – the Orchestra of the Antipodes on period instruments and cast members Grant Doyle, Christopher Saunders, Christopher Richardson, Margaret Plummer, Nicholas Dinopoulos and the acclaimed chorus Cantillation – all under the baton of Artistic Director and conductor Antony Walker. The performance is full of rich textures and moods, fused with wonderful dramatic moments and with a conductor who maintains an exciting forward thrust which keeps one held on to the edge of one’s seat. The principals maintain an impressive control throughout which contributes to the audience feeling a sense of emotional closeness and excitement. With this work Gluck took the operatic reform to its logical conclusion, producing some memorable arias but shorter succinct recitatives, and reducing the usual number of dance movements as one would have found in similar works. The work is in four acts and begins with that memorable great storm at sea but ends with that tranquil deep peace reigning over the breast of the waves. Pinchgut Operas are recorded and released through the Pinchgut LIVE label and deserve a high acknowledgment for a wonderful performance and recording.
– Emyr Evans
Kaleidoscope: Khatia Buniatishvilli
Works by Mussorgsky, Ravel & Stravinsky
Sony Classical – 88875170032
Khatia Buniatishvilli’s choice of works for her latest album Kaleidoscope are unique in that each of them have an orchestral version. Her challenge is of course to bring out the timbre and sonority of each work on the piano. Her interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is both vibrant and refreshing. The opening Promenade is more held back than usual but it creates a sense of timelessness of one walking through an art gallery. It balances superbly with the 2nd Promenade that melts magnificently into The Old Castle where a beautifully structured tempo is set and maintained and is one of the highlights of the performance. Bydlo is played with power and gusto, however her best work is reserved for the eerie Paris Catacombs and communication with the dead. The sense of solemnity is both savage and terrifying. The Great Gate of Kiev provides grandiose and nostalgic finale. Ravel is well known for his orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition but here, he does the opposite and develops his orchestral work La Valse into a colourful and unfortunately rarely performed piano transcription. Buniatishvilli’s technical wizardry is on show again providing the listener with an 11-minute excursion into the realms of possibilities on the piano. Finally Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka that was developed from the original ballet score again allows her to let her hair down and captivate the listener into a seamless array of sound and colour. This album will please any lover of piano virtuosity but also anyone seeking an individual sense of musicianship and craftsmanship.
My Tribute to Yehudi Menuhin
Daniel Hope, Daniel Lozakovitj, Simon Papanas, Jacques Ammon, Avi Avital, Chen Reiss, members of the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, Kammerorchester Basel
A beautiful gift to his mentor, Daniel Hope has produced an impeccable selection of works in honour of his teacher and close friend, Yehudi Menuhin. April this year would have seen the 100th birthday of the violin master, Menuhin, and his contribution to the artistic world is celebrated in this wonderful collection. He made his first concerto recording in 1931, Bruch’s G Minor, and was known to have a great interest in Bela Bartok’s music, which became a major influence in his work. On this recording, Hope plays Duet by Steve Reich with such conviction and clarity; the articulation of the dissonances are impeccable. Another particularly invigorating piece is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and Strings in A Minor, Allegro. Hope’s playing has a strong sense of fluidity and continuity – he plays exactly what is heard in his imagination. As a non-Bartok fan, this recording allowed me to tolerate his music. Hope gives Bartok’s music some light and is played with a rich quality of sound. The conviction in his music pulls the listener to hang on and travel with the story all the way until the end. There is a fine mixture of different composers in this recording and definitely something for every classical fan, from Mendelssohn to Reich, Vivaldi to Tavener, Elgar to Bartok, and the list goes on. Hope enunciates each piece with conviction and in a genuine manner. He highlights each of the composer’s unique styles and has delivered an all-round solid performance.
– Leslie Khang