Press Releases: September 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphonies 1 & 4
Rafael Kubelik, London Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra


The latest release in the Remastered Classics series from PENTATONE is Rafael Kubelik’s sprited and acclaimed reading from the 1970s of Beethoven’s first and fourth symphonies, performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Delightful, infectious and witty, Beethoven’s first symphony is a paean to the classical symphonies of Haydn and Mozart shot through with very Beethovenian touches, such as the opening Adagio which starts in the wrong key and the final movement which struggles to get started at all. These peculiarities taken with the felicity and inventiveness of his writing make this a happy and evergreen work.

Overshadowed by the monumental third and the dramatic fifth symphonies, Beethoven’s cheerful and optimistic fourth has been described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” for its mix of engaging melodies, lurching rhythms, pungent dissonances and its vigorous orchestral writing. While structurally and harmonically more complex than the first symphony, it too is cast in the classical mould with a palpable nod to Haydn in the rousing final movement.

Rafael Kubelik recorded his acclaimed cycle of Beethoven symphonies in the 1970s for Deutsche Grammophon, each with a different orchestra to dazzling effect. Although recorded in multi-channel sound, these unmissable 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.

Further releases from this memorable cycle are planned this year in the Remastered Classics series: Symphonies 2 & 5 (October) and Symphonies 6, 7 & 8 (November).

Richard Strauss – Also sprach Zarathustra
Gustav Mahler – Totenfeier
Vladimir Jurowski, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin


Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin excel in these new recordings of Richard Strauss’s electrifying Also Sprach Zarathustra and Mahler’s Totenfeier, released by PENTATONE to coincide with the Russian maestro taking up office as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the orchestra.

Strauss’s bold and passionate tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra is a riveting work, famous for its startlingly atmospheric opening. With a thrilling and florid orchestral score, it’s a work which Jurowski observes “…launches the whole idea of 20th century music. Written in the 19th century, this is one of those pieces which announces the new century to come.”

It is paired with Mahler’s no less gripping Totenfeier which is an early version of the first movement of his Symphony No 2 “Resurrection”. “I find very interesting to compare [the two versions] …”, writes Jurowski, “In many ways, the Totenfeier is less accomplished , but far more honest and genuine.” Juxtaposing the Strauss and Mahler works in this way, Jurowski notes “Zarathustra is all about technical brilliance and accomplishment … in the Mahler the surfaces are much less polished, so there is much more aspiration to go into the depth of things.”

Jurowski is one of today’s most sought-after conductors, widely praised for his adventurousness and incisive musicianship. He has made several critically acclaimed recordings for PENTATONE, including works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. For his recording with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin of Schnittke’s Symphony No 3, BBC Music Magazine opined “Vladimir Jurowski…delivers an absolutely stunning account that vividly captures the work’s drama and emotional intensity.”

“While discussing future projects with PENTATONE,” writes Jurowski “I said that having heard the Schnittke in such a brilliantly multi-dimensional way, I would like to hear a few pieces of the main repertoire recorded like this. The first one that came to mind was Zarathustra.”

The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin is one of the leading orchestras in Berlin. Under former artistic director and chief conductor Marek Janowski, it has made numerous classic recordings with PENTATONE, including a critically acclaimed cycle of 10 Wagner operas. Upcoming releases on PENTATONE include Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, and violin concertos by Britten and Hindemith with Arabella Steinbacher, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.

Thomas Hampson
Thomas Hampson, Maciej Pikulski


The acclaimed American baritone Thomas Hampson lovingly showcases the riches of French salon music for PENTATONE in this irresistible survey of melodies françaises, from the finesse of Gounod and Bizet to the iridescent harmonies of Chausson and Massenet.

Conceived for the intimate environment of the Parisian salon, these composers honed their skills to produce songs which are sophisticated, superbly crafted and laced with drama, irony and surprise. Always a delight, these songs palpably caress the listener with their beautifully contrived melodies and exquisitely refined harmonies, particularly evident in the plaintive, haunting songs of Ernest Chausson and Jules Massenet. Gallic wit and verbal dexterity is provided in the famous Danse Macabre of Camille Saint-Saëns, Emmanuel Chabrier’s Villanelle des petits canards, and the charming Sérénade and Ô ma belle rebelle by Charles Gounod. It’s a fascinating survey brought vividly to life in these compelling performances in pristine multi-channel sound.

Thomas Hampson is one of the today’s most respected and innovative musicians. With a repertoire of more than 80 operatic roles he has a discography comprising over 170 albums (including multiple nominations and winners of the Grammy Award, Edison Award and the Grand Prix du Disque). He is joined on this recording by the Polish pianist Maciej Pikulski who combines a busy career as a soloist, chamber music player and accompanist.

This is their first release for PENTATONE.

J.S. Bach
Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
Julia Fischer


Bach’s astonishing and unsurpassed works for solo violin are glowingly realised in award-winning performances by Julia Fisher in this re-issue from PENTATONE, also available in an LP version.

Bach’s remarkable Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are revered for their boundless inventiveness, technical ingenuity and emotional depth. With their brilliant preludes, stately dances and complex four-part fugues, the demands on the performer are enormous – from rapid scale passages, double stopping and arpeggios, to the skill and concentration required to create the illusion of separately moving and interweaving voices.

The set is full of surprises. Sonata No. 3 contains a colossal fugue of increasing complexity and difficulty (and at over 350 bars, one of his longest).  Partita No. 3 is one of Bach’s sunniest works, with the virtuoso Prelude and the charming Gavotte being regularly performed as encore pieces. Most famous of all is the legendary Chaconne from Partita No. 2, a kaleidoscopic series of variations as deeply felt and cathartic as anything Bach wrote and an incontestable milestone in classical music.

Julia Fischer’s recording for PENTATONE was showered with praise upon its first release in 2005. “Classic accounts by Milstein and Grumiaux have been usurped by this extraordinarily gifted newcomer” enthused BBC Music Magazine. “Her mastery is beyond question,” affirmed Gramophone magazine “her ability to trace a smooth, even line a source of pleasure itself.” It also achieved the rare distinction of garnering three of France’s most prestigious awards: the Diapason d’Or from Diapason; the CHOC from Le Monde de la Musique; and the highest rating from Classica-Repertoire.

Julia Fischer’s extensive recordings for PENTATONE have earned major recognition and awards. This re-issue is launched simultaneously with an exquisitely designed LP edition.

Julia Fischer plays on an Italian violin made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, dating from 1742.