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Gramophone Awards

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Imogen Cooper are nominated for 'Artist of the Year'!

                                    Click here to vote

 

Congrats to our new CBE!

Sarah Connolly and Gerald Finley recorgnised in Queen's Birthday Honours.

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Orchestral Choice

'Every detail is clear and well placed in these excellent recordings.'

BBC Music, July 2017

 

JiΕ™í BΔ›lohlávek (1946-2017)

The leading conductor passed away on June 1st, after a long-term illness. He leaves behind him a tremendous discography, including major recordings with the Czech Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestras.  Click here for more.

 

Editor's Choice

'Technical perfection allied to insight'

Gramophone (June 2017)

 

Welcome to Federico Colli

Leeds Competition winner embarks on a Scarlatti series

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Editor's Choice

'A brilliant recording all around, and an important one'

Gramophone (June 2017)

 

Instrumental Choice

'This is altogether exceptional music making'

BBC Music (May. 2017)

 

Gordon Langford

We announce the death of our dear friend Gordon Langford on 18th April 2017. He was a composer,  (with thousands of fans in the Brass Band world) pianist and close friend and colleague of the founder of Chandos Records, Mr Brian Couzens. May he rest in peace.

 

Recording of the Month

'Immense and implacable power, astonishing'

BBC Music (Apr. 2017)

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Latest Reviews

“... everything about this release is a winner. Strongly recommended.”

“... everything about this release is a winner. Strongly recommended.”

Jerry Dubins – Fanfare – May 2009

Artistic Quality 9          Sound Quality 9

“All of these works predate Aaron Copland’s populist American ballets, but they reveal perhaps even more tellingly just what a talented and individual voice he had right from the start. The most important piece here is the Short Symphony (a.k.a. Symphony No. 2), a stunning essay in rhythmic lyricism that was considered all but unplayable when written in 1933—so much so that Copland rewrote it as a sextet…the Bournemouth Symphony under Marin Alsop shows itself more than capable of mastering the music’s intricacies The other two performances are even finer. Alsop catches the bittersweet lyricism of the First Symphony’s outer movements very affectingly, while the whirlwind central scherzo is dazzling. The same observation holds true of the Dance Symphony, which works its way to a fine frenzy in a finale that strikingly anticipates the mature composer of the 1940s. Copland’s bright, open textures come across well in the problematic acoustic of the Poole concert hall; this is one of Naxos’ better recordings from this locale, graced with some really impressive bass sonorities. This is an intelligently planned and impressively executed disc.”

Artistic Quality 9          Sound Quality 9

“All of these works predate Aaron Copland’s populist American ballets, but they reveal perhaps even more tellingly just what a talented and individual voice he had right from the start. The most important piece here is the Short Symphony (a.k.a. Symphony No. 2), a stunning essay in rhythmic lyricism that was considered all but unplayable when written in 1933—so much so that Copland rewrote it as a sextet…the Bournemouth Symphony under Marin Alsop shows itself more than capable of mastering the music’s intricacies The other two performances are even finer. Alsop catches the bittersweet lyricism of the First Symphony’s outer movements very affectingly, while the whirlwind central scherzo is dazzling. The same observation holds true of the Dance Symphony, which works its way to a fine frenzy in a finale that strikingly anticipates the mature composer of the 1940s. Copland’s bright, open textures come across well in the problematic acoustic of the Poole concert hall; this is one of Naxos’ better recordings from this locale, graced with some really impressive bass sonorities. This is an intelligently planned and impressively executed disc.”

David Hurwitz – ClassicsToday.com – February 2009

"...An altogether convincing and worthy disc ..." ***½

"...An altogether convincing and worthy disc ..." ***½

Jeff Simon – The Buffalo News – January 2009

“...A varied and engrossing survey of early Copland, well played and superbly recorded ...”

“...A varied and engrossing survey of early Copland, well played and superbly recorded ...”

Dan Morgan – MusicWeb-International.com – January 2009

Performance *****     Recording ****

"...Under Marin Alsop’s incisive direction, the Bournemouth musicians perform all three works with just the right blend of power and finesse, and negotiate their sometimes extremely complex rhythms with confidence and precision…this is a corner left bare by recent deletions: there is no other Short Symphony, the First Symphony is available only in a tense, dimly recorded live performance conducted by the composer on Etcetera, and the Dance Symphony in decca and EMI compilations can only be found in occasionally uncertain accounts under Dorati and Bátiz respectively. This disc knocks the socks off that limited competition, and surely ranks as one of the crowning achievements of Alsop’s six immensely successful years on the south coast. "

Performance *****     Recording ****

"...Under Marin Alsop’s incisive direction, the Bournemouth musicians perform all three works with just the right blend of power and finesse, and negotiate their sometimes extremely complex rhythms with confidence and precision…this is a corner left bare by recent deletions: there is no other Short Symphony, the First Symphony is available only in a tense, dimly recorded live performance conducted by the composer on Etcetera, and the Dance Symphony in decca and EMI compilations can only be found in occasionally uncertain accounts under Dorati and Bátiz respectively. This disc knocks the socks off that limited competition, and surely ranks as one of the crowning achievements of Alsop’s six immensely successful years on the south coast. "

Anthony Burton – BBC Music magazine – December 2008

“...Persuasive performances of neglected early works make this an essential CD”

“...Persuasive performances of neglected early works make this an essential CD”

Peter Dickinson – Gramophone magazine – December 2008

“Throughout the compositions on this CD, Zenz plays without any vibrato, her sound suspended and buoyant. When she plays loudly, her tone is bright and full of overtones. It reminds me of the rich, unaffected soprano sax of Steve Lacy. Her conception is effective in all the works presented here. …I can think of no better way to both perform and listen to Cage’s work. “

“Throughout the compositions on this CD, Zenz plays without any vibrato, her sound suspended and buoyant. When she plays loudly, her tone is bright and full of overtones. It reminds me of the rich, unaffected soprano sax of Steve Lacy. Her conception is effective in all the works presented here. …I can think of no better way to both perform and listen to Cage’s work. “

John Savage – The Flutist Quarterly – September 2017

Critic’s Choice

“…The larger works, Ryoanji and Music for Two, are both compelling and among the best performances…”

Critic’s Choice

“…The larger works, Ryoanji and Music for Two, are both compelling and among the best performances…”

Rob Haskins – American Record Guide – May 2016

“Marin Alsop with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra backs up the masterly Violin Concerto with the witty and delightfully parodic ballet, Souvenirs, and two early works, the evocative Scene from Shelley and a long-neglected three-movement Serenade, which is based on a string quartet written when Barber was nineteen and which anticipates the Adagio for Strings. James Buswell is a refined, sensitive soloist, warm without being soupy…”   ***

“Marin Alsop with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra backs up the masterly Violin Concerto with the witty and delightfully parodic ballet, Souvenirs, and two early works, the evocative Scene from Shelley and a long-neglected three-movement Serenade, which is based on a string quartet written when Barber was nineteen and which anticipates the Adagio for Strings. James Buswell is a refined, sensitive soloist, warm without being soupy…”   ***

The Penguin Guide – January 2003

“This is the best of the Naxos Barber orchestral series. This time Alsop’s structure is secure, she maintains intensity and attention, and the orchestra sound at home. There is plenty of expression, and climaxes are well judged. I especially like the interplay in the orchestra and between orchestra soloist.”

“This is the best of the Naxos Barber orchestral series. This time Alsop’s structure is secure, she maintains intensity and attention, and the orchestra sound at home. There is plenty of expression, and climaxes are well judged. I especially like the interplay in the orchestra and between orchestra soloist.”

Hecht – American Record Guide – May/June 2002

“Alsop’s performance is magnificent, exquisitely capturing the intended mood. The Serenade for Strings, Op. 1, is Barber’s arrangement of his Serenade for String Quartet, an enchanting but slight work. Music For a Scene from Shelley, Op. 7, rounds out this enjoyable disc. Special kudos to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Marin Alsop for vibrant, idiomatic interpretations of these scores, recorded in sound just short of audiophile quality.”

“Alsop’s performance is magnificent, exquisitely capturing the intended mood. The Serenade for Strings, Op. 1, is Barber’s arrangement of his Serenade for String Quartet, an enchanting but slight work. Music For a Scene from Shelley, Op. 7, rounds out this enjoyable disc. Special kudos to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Marin Alsop for vibrant, idiomatic interpretations of these scores, recorded in sound just short of audiophile quality.”

Robert Moon - Audiophile Audition - May 2002

“Composed between 1928 and 1952, these works, with the exception of the concerto, are undeservedly forgotten. Hearing them again restores one’s admiration for Barber’s unflagging creativity, abundant gifts and well-honed craft. All of this music, not just the inspired Violin Concerto, played here with easy authority and sensitive detailing by the virtuosic American violinist Buswell, touches the listener with its melodic flow and emotional confidence. As ever, Barber’s characteristic lyricism dominates, yet his dramatic peaks as in the Shelley scene, can be striking, shattering, and completely convincing. American conductor Alsop coaxes a full range of dynamics and orchestra colors from the accomplished Scottish ensemble.”

“Composed between 1928 and 1952, these works, with the exception of the concerto, are undeservedly forgotten. Hearing them again restores one’s admiration for Barber’s unflagging creativity, abundant gifts and well-honed craft. All of this music, not just the inspired Violin Concerto, played here with easy authority and sensitive detailing by the virtuosic American violinist Buswell, touches the listener with its melodic flow and emotional confidence. As ever, Barber’s characteristic lyricism dominates, yet his dramatic peaks as in the Shelley scene, can be striking, shattering, and completely convincing. American conductor Alsop coaxes a full range of dynamics and orchestra colors from the accomplished Scottish ensemble.”

Daniel Cariaga - Los Angeles Times - March 2002

“When Naxos decided to record the complete orchestral music of Samuel Barber in its American Classics series, it turned to conductor Marin Alsop, the last protege of Leonard Bernstein. The series has now reached its third installment, and Alsop has kept it on the high level she and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra established at the beginning. The most famous work here is the Violin Concerto, although ‘Music from a Scene from Shelley’ occasionally turns up on programs. The ‘Serenade for Strings’ is Barber’s adaptation of his Op. 1 String Quartet; the ballet suit ‘Souvenirs’ is an orchestration of a set of pieces originally written for piano, four-hands. Soloist in the concerto is the New England Conservatory’s James Buswell, who plays it with conviction and soaring tone; it is a piece that Alsop has known all her life—one of her first big gigs was conducting her violinist father in the work—and she knows how to convey its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. In Alsop’s capable hands, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra sounds pretty terrific throughout the disc. Of the other pieces, ‘Souvenirs’ is a real charmer—the composer calls it a look ‘with amused tenderness’ at Palm Court music in New York’s Plaza Hotel, c. 1914—there’s a waltz, schottische, a two-step, a gallop, and an example of the latest rage, the tango.”

“When Naxos decided to record the complete orchestral music of Samuel Barber in its American Classics series, it turned to conductor Marin Alsop, the last protege of Leonard Bernstein. The series has now reached its third installment, and Alsop has kept it on the high level she and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra established at the beginning. The most famous work here is the Violin Concerto, although ‘Music from a Scene from Shelley’ occasionally turns up on programs. The ‘Serenade for Strings’ is Barber’s adaptation of his Op. 1 String Quartet; the ballet suit ‘Souvenirs’ is an orchestration of a set of pieces originally written for piano, four-hands. Soloist in the concerto is the New England Conservatory’s James Buswell, who plays it with conviction and soaring tone; it is a piece that Alsop has known all her life—one of her first big gigs was conducting her violinist father in the work—and she knows how to convey its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. In Alsop’s capable hands, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra sounds pretty terrific throughout the disc. Of the other pieces, ‘Souvenirs’ is a real charmer—the composer calls it a look ‘with amused tenderness’ at Palm Court music in New York’s Plaza Hotel, c. 1914—there’s a waltz, schottische, a two-step, a gallop, and an example of the latest rage, the tango.”

Richard Dyer - The Boston Globe, January 2002

“What’s a critic to say? There are so many really excellent recordings of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto that any newcomer has to be little short of amazing to challenge the status quo. James Buswell plays a mean fiddle, offering a nicely singing opening Allegro, a rapt Andante, and an impressively brilliant finale. Conductor Marin Alsop stays with him all the way, fashioning an appealingly fresh and rhythmically spirited accompaniment. Still…there ought to be a good reason to acquire this disc aside from the Violin Concerto, however good it may be (and make no mistake, it is very good). Happily, Alsop and the Scottish National Orchestra furnish just such a reason in the form of an energetic rendition of Souvenirs and a sensitive reading of Barber’s very rarely heard Serenade for Strings (his Op. 1)…Naxos’ recording team captures all of it in clear, well-balanced sound with excellent depth and a wide (but not irrational) dynamic range. Taken as a whole, this disc makes a worthy addition to Naxos’ ongoing Barber series.”

“What’s a critic to say? There are so many really excellent recordings of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto that any newcomer has to be little short of amazing to challenge the status quo. James Buswell plays a mean fiddle, offering a nicely singing opening Allegro, a rapt Andante, and an impressively brilliant finale. Conductor Marin Alsop stays with him all the way, fashioning an appealingly fresh and rhythmically spirited accompaniment. Still…there ought to be a good reason to acquire this disc aside from the Violin Concerto, however good it may be (and make no mistake, it is very good). Happily, Alsop and the Scottish National Orchestra furnish just such a reason in the form of an energetic rendition of Souvenirs and a sensitive reading of Barber’s very rarely heard Serenade for Strings (his Op. 1)…Naxos’ recording team captures all of it in clear, well-balanced sound with excellent depth and a wide (but not irrational) dynamic range. Taken as a whole, this disc makes a worthy addition to Naxos’ ongoing Barber series.”

David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com, - January 2002

“The rich seam of lyricism running through Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto is displayed in all its lustre by this performance. It comes in Naxos’s continuing and continuously revelatory series devoted to Barber’s music, with the conductor Marin Alsop articulating the composer’s distinctive voice through the expressive medium of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and with the soloist James Buswell interpreting the music’s wistfulness, romantic yearning and virtuoso flourish with winning sensitivity and panache. This is a performance with a genuine heart, superbly played, with a marked care for detail, instrumental colour and melodic inflection, and with a deeply communicative warmth and affection. The other works all convey the refinement of Barber’s craftsmanship coupled with a clear characterisation of the music’s spirit, be it in the early, elegant Serenade for Strings or the more lushly impressionistic Music for a Scene from Shelley. The ballet suite Souvenirs is a delightful divertissement of dances, with many an intriguing rhythmic and harmonic twist.”

“The rich seam of lyricism running through Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto is displayed in all its lustre by this performance. It comes in Naxos’s continuing and continuously revelatory series devoted to Barber’s music, with the conductor Marin Alsop articulating the composer’s distinctive voice through the expressive medium of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and with the soloist James Buswell interpreting the music’s wistfulness, romantic yearning and virtuoso flourish with winning sensitivity and panache. This is a performance with a genuine heart, superbly played, with a marked care for detail, instrumental colour and melodic inflection, and with a deeply communicative warmth and affection. The other works all convey the refinement of Barber’s craftsmanship coupled with a clear characterisation of the music’s spirit, be it in the early, elegant Serenade for Strings or the more lushly impressionistic Music for a Scene from Shelley. The ballet suite Souvenirs is a delightful divertissement of dances, with many an intriguing rhythmic and harmonic twist.”

Geoffrey Norris – The Daily Telegraph (Australia) – December 2001

“...It is fascinating to hear Barber’s own recordings of three works from the 1940s, made for Decca in London as long ago as 1950, although they were first reissued by Pearl. At that time Barber took conducting seriously and brought his tutor to the sessions. The performances are excellent and Naxos’s remastered sound (Mark Obert-Thorn) is astonishingly good, especially in the symphony. The Second Symphony (1944) is a curious case because Barber destroyed the material at his publisher’s in New York in 1964. After a set of parts was found in England in 1984 the work was reinstated and recorded. Barber had retained the slow movement as Night Flight…Later recordings, such as Alsop again (6/00), confirm that this is a strong piece, eloquently expressive of its wartime genesis, that should be heard more often.”

“...It is fascinating to hear Barber’s own recordings of three works from the 1940s, made for Decca in London as long ago as 1950, although they were first reissued by Pearl. At that time Barber took conducting seriously and brought his tutor to the sessions. The performances are excellent and Naxos’s remastered sound (Mark Obert-Thorn) is astonishingly good, especially in the symphony. The Second Symphony (1944) is a curious case because Barber destroyed the material at his publisher’s in New York in 1964. After a set of parts was found in England in 1984 the work was reinstated and recorded. Barber had retained the slow movement as Night Flight…Later recordings, such as Alsop again (6/00), confirm that this is a strong piece, eloquently expressive of its wartime genesis, that should be heard more often.”

Peter Dickinson – Gramophone magazine – April 2011

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