Albeniz – Iberia Turina – Danzas Fantasticas
Albeniz – Iberia Turina – Danzas Fantasticas
As in numerous other works by Spanish composers, Isaac Albeniz's aim in his Iberia Suite was to portray the landscape and express the zest for life which is so abundant in southern countries. Infused with folk music elements, the suite is introduced by the dance like Evocacion which vividly evokes a picture of Iberia. The lush, extravagant harmonies and the stark contrasts of the dynamics in particular - from the softest pianissimo to the extreme fortissimo - certainly whet one's appetite. Don't worry - Spain has a lot to offer!
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Albeniz – Suite Espanola
Albeniz – Suite Espanola
The Suite espanola, written by the piano virtuoso and composer Isaac Albeniz, is one of the most outstanding works in the history of Spanish music. Albeniz invites the listener to join him on a musical journey through eight great Spanish cities, each steeped in tradition, investing each scene with local colouring as an homage.
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Beethoven – Complete Incidental Music to Goethe’s Egmont
Beethoven – Complete Incidental Music to Goethe’s Egmont
Ludwig van Beethoven - Complete Incidential Music to Goethe's Egmont Pilar Lorengar, Klaus-Jrgen Wussow and the Vienna Philmarmonic Orchestra conducted by Georg Szell "It is a happy state of events to see two great masters unite in a glorious work and thus fulfil every wish of the thoughtful connoisseur. Beethoven has proved that he alone - among many composers - was certainly the one to comprehend the tender and at the same time powerful poem deep in his innermost soul: every tone which the poet struck resounded in his heart like a string tuned at the very same pitch and vibrating at the same rate, and so the music was created which now threads its way and binds all together like a brightly coloured ribbon woven from brilliant tones." Such were E.T.A. Hoffmann's enthusiastic words about Beethoven's Egmont: indeed very little else needs to be added - except that this recording has been newly pressed and is now available on the DECCA label once again.
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Beethoven – Concerto No. 5 (Emperor)
Beethoven – Concerto No. 5 (Emperor)
Beethoven's Emperor (Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 in E-flat Major) was composed in 1809. I have heard nothing except good comments concerning the Emperor Concerto, but the reviews point to little else than the unique structural departure from previous concerti and the moods of the movements as robust and calm. Beethoven's intention, I feel, was primarily to produce a point/counterpoint study of that remarkable melody created with a few notes in the upper range by the right hand. It appears approximately five minutes into the first movement and again ten minutes later. The robust themes preceding and following those appearances are in themselves a study in power; a series of rich chords expressing, in effect when held against the crystalline theme, the contrast between masculine and feminine.
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Beethoven – Symphony No. 9
Beethoven – Symphony No. 9
It was clear from the start that Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with its air of solemnity in the final chorus, which calls for brotherly love just as the New Year comes in, would become a musical part of our world’s cultural legacy. Hundreds of minds, Beethoven researcher Karl Nef prophesied, have been set in motion by this music in the most varied ways, and it will continue not only to bestow pleasure upon countless thousands, but also to stimulate mental life right at the most fundamental level.
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Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique
Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique
Behind the mysterious title Symphonie fantastique is to be found what was undoubtedly one of the most powerful musical compositions of its day. The highly controversial discussions which this autobiographical, extraordinary work provoked are quite understandable when one considers that Beethoven and Schubert had just put down their quills for the last time and that Wagner had only just left his childhood behind him. In commenting upon the daring cyclical structure of the work, one French music critic said, “In Berlioz’s Symphony we believe that we have seen the prelude to a revolution in instrumental music”.
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Bizet – Carmen / L’Arlesienne
Bizet – Carmen / L’Arlesienne
All that remained of the five-act play "L’Arlésienne" after its unsuccessful premiere was Bizet’s incidental music, which he himself orchestrated lavishly and premiered with success. Similar to "Carmen", popular melodies are treated with the composer’s own unique style to make them ageless, and Ernest Ansermet and his orchestra stages them delightfully for all eternity.  
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Bizet – Carmen Fantaisie Sarasate.
Bizet – Carmen Fantaisie Sarasate.
It goes without saying that these 19th-century bravura pieces are an absolute “must” for all those who wish to join the annals of great virtuoso violinists. And today, 40 years after the making of this recording, general consensus has it that Ruggiero Ricci has taken his rightful place among the great virtuosos.  
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Borodin – Borodin Quartet No.2 : Shostakovich – Quartet No.8
Borodin – Borodin Quartet No.2 : Shostakovich – Quartet No.8
Dmitri Shostakovich has often been honoured as one of the outstanding composers of this century. Shostakovich was devastated by the destruction of Dresden and the composition of the moving String Quartet No. 8 was his means of overcoming his war experiences. The intensity of this piece is augmented by the relaxed climax in the largo which brings his composition to a serene ending. The international career of the Moscow Philharmonic Quartet began in 1955 when it took on the honourable title “The Borodin Quartet”. These 1962 recordings are masterly performances, full of great expressivity. Even the highest demands are met by the warm and full sonority.
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Brahms – Hungarian Dances / Dvorak – Slavonic Dances
Brahms – Hungarian Dances / Dvorak – Slavonic Dances
From a tonal point of view, the sound is beautifully balanced and reaches the highest standards despite its recording date of 1960 – or maybe just for that reason? The recording is characterized by its brilliance, warmth and vivacity with the result that listening becomes a true musical pleasure.
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Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor op.15
Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor op.15
Brahms originally intended his Piano Concerto No. 1 as a symphony and he extensively reworked his ideas before setting down the work in the form as we know it today. The composer’s original intentions still shimmer through however, for the work goes far beyond mere concertante playing and a display of virtuoso brilliance by the soloist. The first movement in particular, with its relentless, threatening main theme, embodies Brahms’s dramatic symphonic writing and even a conciliatory secondary theme offers no relief for it too must give way to the heavy, fateful initial theme.  
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Britten – Sonata in C for Cello and Piano
Britten – Sonata in C for Cello and Piano
The cello has always been held in high esteem for its warm, noble timbre and range of expression. So it is no wonder that numerous solo pieces have been written for the instrument. In this recording, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, together with the great Benjamin Britten at the piano, have left the accustomed pathway to perform three less well-known – but nevertheless excellent – works from the 19th and 20th century.  
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