Violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis are joined by two acclaimed musical forces - pianist Jeremy Denk and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which Bell is Music Director – in a landmark joint recording, For the Love of Brahms (Sony Classical). Available September 30, 2016, the new album is a unique project that features works of Brahms and Schumann that Bell calls “music about love and friendship.” Bell, Isserlis and Denk unite here in Brahms’s first published chamber work, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 in its rarely performed original 1854 version. Isserlis also joins Bell – as violin soloist and director – and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Brahms’s last orchestral work, the celebrated Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102. Bell, Isserlis and members of the Academy also offer the first recording of an unusual coupling: the slow movement of Schumann’s rarely heard Violin Concerto, in a version for string orchestra made by Benjamin Britten, who also added a short coda.
There are many anthologies of late nineteenth and early twentieth century English music available but this collection from Decca is one of the finest. Neville Marriner directs the Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields in a programme of popular favourites and lesser known works collected from a number of LP's recorded between 1968 and 1981. The late analogue Decca sound is superb and the orchestra and conductor are totally in tune with the music.
Håkan Hardenberger has earned a reputation of breaking new ground for the trumpet, commissioning works from the world’s foremost composers. On this disc, he shows a different side to himself in arrangements of his favourite songs and film themes.
Most French operas from the middle of the 19-th century included ballets, as a lightweight intermezzo amidst the highly dramatic action of the opera. Jules Massenet was especially successful in the genre, and his ballet suites from his operas have surpassed the operas themselves in popularity. This CD contains the delightful and colourful suites from Le Cid,Thais and Cendrillon, evoking the atmosphere of the respective stories and fairytales of the operas.
The concept behind the work called Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario is to take as much as possible of William Walton's score for Laurence Olivier's 1943 film and interpolate suitable excerpts from Shakespeare's play to make an hour-long concert work for speaker, chorus, and orchestra. Though it demands all your attention, the high quality of the result thoroughly rewards it, clearly and intelligently combining the two mediums in a single, arresting form.
After the success of the first volume of Walton's film music, producer Christopher Palmer switches focus from Shakespeare to the theme of war. Of course, the justifiably famous "Spitfire Prelude and Fugue" is an obligatory inclusion. Assembled from Walton's music for First of the Few (1942), a biopic about aircraft designer R. J. Mitchell, "Spitfire" was an immediate concert hall success and is presented here in a grand performance. The enterprising Palmer also assembled "A Wartime Sketchbook," a world premiere compendium of selections from The Foreman Went to France (1941) and Next of Kin (1942).
Where Walton's scores for Henry V and Richard III have had extensive recordings, the one he did for Hamlet, the second of the three Shakespeare films directed by Olivier, has been rather left on one side, with the magnificent "Funeral March" and the `poem for orchestra', "Hamlet and Ophelia", the only major items to be recorded commercially. Here, thanks to the work of Christopher Palmer, a full suite of nearly 40 minutes has been assembled at last, to fill the gap.