Lawrence Foster, Mari Kodama, Momo Kodama, Sarah Nemtanu, Deborah Nemtanu, Magali Demesse, Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille
PENTATONE PTC 5186658
Bohuslav Martinů’s distinctive musical voice, which infuses the great Czech tradition with modern idioms, is showcased in this captivating survey of his concertante works, performed by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille conducted by Lawrence Foster.
The Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is a lively and rhythmic tour de force. Breezily energetic and relentless, it is full of jazzy inflections and high speed fireworks, pausing only in the tranquillity of the slow movement for moments of serene calm. By contrast, the Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra is a warm, lyrical work in the Romantic tradition. With its intricate and interweaving solo lines, expansive melodies and dance-like syncopations it’s an engaging work of considerable charm which deserves a wider audience. The Rhapsody-Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is a dreamily nostalgic work whose simple melodies, radiant lyricism and soaring viola line make it one of the 20th century’s most performed viola concertos.
This release reunites the Kodama sisters in the studio following their scintillating recording of Tchaikovsky ballet suites for PENTATONE. In a review of a public performance of the Martinů Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, the Ziebline journal wrote “Mari and Momoyo Kodama are extraordinary … The fingers of the Japanese musicians were flying with with diabolic ease and finesse: a stunning finale.”
Hidden Gems for Reed Quintet
PENTATONE PTC 5186696
Switching genres and periods with consummate ease, this adventurous new release for PENTATONE from the reed quintet Calefax is a superb collection of well-honed arrangements of less familiar works, all played with the ensemble’s customary verve, passion, and mellow sound.
From the frothy virtuosity of Corelli and Locatelli to the haunting beauty of Gesualdo, Satie, and the heartfelt introspection of Nina Simone, it’s an astonishingly varied and intriguing programme. As well as pieces by Franck and Janáček, it includes one commission, Look for Me by Nico Muhly, based on an American folk song, and an arrangement of the Chinese popular song Er Quan Ying Yue. All these pieces have regularly featured in Calefax’s concerts and they fully showcase the ensemble’s versatility and mastery.
Calefax is an internationally acclaimed ensemble of reed players renowned for performing their own arrangements and newly commissioned compositions for the unique combination of oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet and bassoon. “Incredible […] almost everything Calefax touches turns to gold.” – De Telegraaf. “Calefax – five extremely gifted Dutch gents who almost made the reed quintet seem the best musical format on the planet.” – The Times.
Kazuki Yamada, Denis Kozhukhin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
PENTATONE PTC 5186620
Exuberant high spirits, pulsating rhythms and breathless virtuosity jostle with urbane sophistication and deeply felt sentiment in these scintillating jazz-inspired concertos by Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin, played with élan by Denis Kozhukhin and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Kazuki Yamada in this new release from PENTATONE.
A sparkling divertissement with witty orchestration and sizzling virtuosity, Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major is and one of his best-loved works thanks to its impeccable style, dashing humour, and its hauntingly beautiful slow movement. In a change of mood, Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major is a darkly hued, powerful work with a heroic grandeur realised in a fearsomely difficult piano part that traverses the keyboard to dazzling effect. And Tin Pan Alley beckons with Gershwin’s breezily confident and polished Piano Concerto in F major. With an inventive score that artfully combines jazz elements, heart on sleeve melodies and brilliant pianistics, the result is irresistible.
Kozhukhin’s recording for PENTATONE of the Grieg and Tchaikovsky piano concertos was widely praised, garnering the ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Gramophone magazine in May 2016 “Above all, [Kozhukhin] is natural … His inerrant rhythmic sense is pliant yet taut; his sound unalloyed silver. Listening to Kozhukhin, you’re left with one thing: the music – incontestable, complete.”