Alice Coote, mezzo-sporano
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Marc Albrecht conducts the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra with the acclaimed mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in a persuasive new recording of Mahler’s incomparable orchestral song cycles Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder and the Rückert-Lieder.
Richly lyrical, poignant and soul searching, Mahler’s orchestral songs deal with the familiar themes of love, life, resignation and loss, exquisitely realised on an orchestral canvas which combines haunting and compelling sonorities with strident, unsettling dissonances. While not as ambitious as his symphonies, they are as deeply-felt and often regarded as the key to the larger-scale works.
The eloquent sadness of the Kindertotenlieder is expressed though the rather bare orchestration and the entrancing use of solo instruments, culminating in a blissfully serene conclusion. With Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, the restless mood swings are matched with fluctuating, vividly textured orchestral colours. And for the most lyrical song cycle, the Rückert-Lieder, the delicately woven orchestral textures are ravishing in their effect, especially in the incomparable Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, a song of which Mahler said “It is truly me”.
“What makes Albrecht’s Mahler so unique? His approach has integrity, is intelligent and sensitive … Albrecht leads the Mahler that makes you love Mahler.” (NRC Handelsblad).
Marc Albrecht is Music Director of the Netherlands Philharmonic, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Dutch National Opera. Acclaimed for his interpretations of Wagner, Strauss and Mahler, as well as for his commitment to contemporary music, Albrecht is a regular guest at Europe’s most prestigious opera houses and orchestras.
The world renowned mezzo-soprano Alice Coote is acclaimed for her performances of Strauss, Mahler, Berlioz, Mozart, Handel and Bach; she performs throughout the UK, Europe and the US and has a busy recital schedule.
The Guardian noted “Alice Coote’s many admirers will be grateful to have her performance in Mahler’s great song-symphony documented in a carefully made studio recording [for PENTATONE], for she has emerged over the past few years as one of the finest mezzo interpreters of Das Lied von der Erde around … exquisitely coloured; every word matters, and the sadness that pervades the mezzo songs in particular is conveyed without it ever becoming self-conscious or sentimental.”
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, Raphael Kubelik
Béla Bartók’s brilliant orchestral tour de force, the Concerto for Orchestra is coupled with his spine-tingling Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta in these newly remastered classic recordings with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rafael Kubelik and Seiji Ozawa.
Bartók’s at times breezily energetic Concerto for Orchestra was an instant hit on its premiere given by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1944 and it has remained popular ever since. It’s a compelling work, bursting with Central European folk melodies, North African rhythms, shimmering harmonies and vivid orchestration that culminates in a strident final movement guaranteed to bring the house down. In a darker vein, Bartók’s earlier Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is a powerful and eerily atmospheric work which has been used in film soundtracks to great effect, notably in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Rafael Kubelik recorded the Concerto for Orchestra several times throughout his career but it was this 1974 recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra that has been singled out for especial praise, Gramophone magazine commending Kubelik’s “sheer animal excitement and biting intensity … with the rhythms pointed to bring out the wit, above all the peasant-like jollity … This is a performance to keep making you smile with delight.”
Although recorded in multi-channel sound, these memorable performances have previously been available only in the conventional two-channel stereo format. Using state of the art technology which avoids the need for re-mixing, PENTATONE’s engineers have remastered the original studio tapes to bring the performances to life as originally intended: in compelling and pristine multi-channel sound.
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Stephan Genz, Russian National Orchestra
Russia’s foremost composer Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev conducts the Russian National Orchestra in a sublime programme of some of Bach’s most cherished works, including the achingly beautiful solo cantata Ich habe genug and the ever-popular Orchestral Suite No. 2. The programme also contains Alfeyev’s breathtaking arrangements of Bach’s organ masterpieces Ich ruf’ zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ and the colossal Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.
Alfayev’s own compositions are noted for their deep spirituality and commitment; with this new release from PENTATONE, he brings the same sense of awe and wonder to the music of Bach in a series of riveting performances.
“In classical music, I do not know anything more sublime, meaningful, profound and spiritual than Bach’s works” writes Alfeyev “… he combined a magnificent and unsurpassed skill in composition: rare diversity, melodic beauty and very profound spirituality”.
Bach’s deceptively simple choral prelude, the plaintive Ich ruf’ zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 is a masterpiece of humility and restraint. In Alfeyev’s masterly arrangement, the voice of the supplicant is moved between different sections of the orchestra, underscoring the universality of the prayer. Bach’s most famous solo cantata, the haunting Ich habe genug, BWV 82, radiates a profound sense of resignation with its gentle swaying rhythms and exquisite writing for solo oboe; its central aria, Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen, is an oasis of calm and transcendence with its warmly uplifting bass solo. In a somewhat lighter vein, Bach revels in his mastery of the French style in his Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067, an irresistible collection of dances – both aristocratic and popular – which closes with a mischievous Badinerie. Resplendent with orchestral colour and powerful, full-throated brass, Aleyev’s arrangement for full orchestra of the mighty Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582 for organ is an enthralling conclusion to a compelling programme.
Writing about his vision for this all-Bach programme Alfeyev says “Bach’s music is not a museum piece. Living in modern times, we have full rights to use the full scale of modern means of expression in order to translate to the listener the outstanding grandeur and timeless beauty of his music.”
Born in 1966, Alfeyev studied violin and composition at the Gnessins School of Music and the Moscow State Conservatory. He was ordained as a priest in 1987 and became a bishop of Russian Orthodox Church in 2002. Elevated to the rank of Archbishop in 2009, he became a Metropolitan in 2010. His musical compositions include pieces for a cappella chorus, chamber works and monumental oratorios for soloists, choir and symphony orchestra. This is his second album with the Russian National Orchestra for PENTATONE.