Archive | April, 2015

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Tenor Jonas Kaufmann and soprano Aleksandra Kurzak named the winners of the Opera Awards 2015

Posted on 28 April 2015 by admin

The awards, which are supported by Classic FM, were presented in a ceremony hosted by Richard E. Grant at The Savoy Theatre. The award for female singer was presented to soprano Anja Harteros and best male singer went to baritone Christian Gerhaher.

The star-studded ceremony included performances by Readers’ Award-winner Aleksandra Kurzak and Young Singer Award-winner, mezzo-soprano Justina Gringyte.

Designer Es Devlin, who recently created designs for productions of Don Giovanni and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Royal Opera House, was named best designer. Richard Jones, who recently directed The Mastersingers of Nuremberg at English National Opera, was named best director.

The award for best opera company was presented to Komische Oper Berlin.

The other winners were:

Accessibility: Den Norske Opera

CD (Complete Opera): Offenbach’s Fantasio on Opera Rara

CD (Operatic Recital): Anna Bonitatibus: Semiramide; La Signora Regale on deutsche harmonia mundi

Chorus: Welsh National Opera

DVD: Strauss’s Elektra on Bel Air Classiques

Festival: Bregenzer Festspiele

Lifetime Achievement: Speight Jenkins

Newcomer: Lotte de Beer

Philanthropist: Ann Ziff (Bill and Ann Ziff Foundation)

Rediscovered Work: Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira at the Rossini Opera Festival

Richard Strauss Anniversary Production: Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Royal Opera House

World Premiere: Boesmans’s Au Monde at La Monnaie

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Could you pick Stradivarius sound out in a blind test?

Posted on 21 April 2015 by admin

Could you pick Stradivarius sound out in a blind test? The Strad magazine staged one to find out.

Stradivarius violin

Earlier this month, The Strad magazine got the leader of the London Symphony Orchestra to play six different violins in a blind test – one of them being a legendary Stradivarius model from 1709.

Listen to the test below and see if you can work out which violin is the Stradivarius – you might be surprised…

The other violins that you can hear are an 1850 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, a 1923 Giuseppe Fiorini, a modern Del Gesù copy, a Mirecourt French trade violin from around 1900 and an 1835 A.S.P. Bernardel.

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Chandos’ founder Brian Couzens has died

Posted on 19 April 2015 by admin

Chandos Records is today one of the leading independent classical music labels – not just in Britain, but internationally – and that is the finest tribute that can be paid to its founder, Brian Couzens, who died this morning following a short illness.

The Colchester-based record label was founded in 1979, and as it grew, Couzen’s instincts in both the musical and business dimensions of running a label proved to be inspired (and boldly followed). This is no better illustrated than when, back in 1986, he was visited by two representatives of the Oslo Philharmonic who asked whether he’d be interested in recording them: he took away a cassette of their recent performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth symphony, and promptly set about working with them. The conductor was the then far from household name Mariss Jansons. Other conductors whose extensive recordings for Chandos remain leading choices in the catalogue include Neeme Järvi and Richard Hickox, while artists including Lydia Mordkovitch, Louis Lortie, the Borodin Trio and Raphael Wallfisch were all nurtured by Chandos to the enrichment of listeners then and now.

From the perspective of the industry’s development, Brian’s instincts made Chandos an ‘early adopter’ of digital recording techniques and one of the first independents to sign up to CD, way back in 1983. This Chandos spirit is continued today under the leadership of Brian’s son Ralph by the label’s embracing of downloading as a way of delivering the highest quality sound files to the widest possible audiences, and by the support of some of today’s most impressive artists, including such musicians as conductors Edward Gardner, Sir Andrew Davis and Gianandrea Noseda, pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and violinists James Ehnes and Jennifer Pike.

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Kyung Wha Chung’s Complete Warner Recordings Boxed Set

Posted on 17 April 2015 by admin

The Complete Warner Recordings

Price: $27.59

4.8 out of 5 stars (6 customer reviews)

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Kyung Wha Chung, one of the great violinists of the past 50 years, first made musical headlines in 1967, when she won the prestigious Leventritt Competition in New York. Today – following an enforced five-year break from performance, the consequence of an injury to her left hand – she continues to live up to her reputation as a passionate and probing virtuoso.

When, at the end of 2014, Chung played in London for the first time in over a decade, the Sunday Times wrote: “ … Still a sound of utter resplendency, a brilliantly shining tone right across the instrument; a projection to make light of the acoustic distances to be travelled; an ardour, physical, musical and spiritual, that seems undimmed by years … extraordinary music-making.”

This 11-CD collection gathers together all the recordings Kyung Wha Chung made for EMI (now Warner Classics) between 1978 and 2000, with the majority dating from the years after 1988, the year she signed an exclusive contract with the label. The anthology showcases the different facets of her art: as a concerto soloist, collaborating with such conductors as Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti and Klaus Tennstedt in works by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvořák, Bruch, Bartók and Vivaldi; in works for solo violin and piano, playing Brahms’ three sonatas with pianist Peter Frankl, and in a wide-ranging album of short pieces – from Bach through Kreisler and Massenet to Szymanowski and Stravinsky – in partnership with pianist Itamar Golan; and as a chamber musician, in piano trios by Mendelssohn and Schumann (with Paul Tortelier and André Previn) and by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich (with her sister Myung-Wha Chung as cellist and brother Myung-Whun Chung as pianist).

The box also includes a DVD of a 1989 video recording, made at a performance at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, of the Beethoven Violin Concerto; as in the audio-only recording in the collection, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is conducted by Klaus Tennstedt.

Kyung Wha Chung was one of the first musicians from South Korea to achieve an international reputation. She began studying the violin at age six and at the age of twelve went to the USA, where she studied at the Juilliard School in New York with Ivan Galamian (described in The New York Times as “maybe the greatest violin teacher in history”), also receiving coaching from Joseph Szigeti and Szymon Goldberg.

In recent years she has herself become a professor at the Juilliard School, and in South Korea has taught at Ewha University and been active as co-artistic director of the Great Mountains Music Festival.

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