Sony Masterworks Announces US Classical Releases for October
Fourteen years after his first recording (originally released on Arte Nova and later RCA), the acclaimed baritone and “most moving singer of the world” (The Telegraph), Christian Gerhaher, turns back to Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin together with long-time collaborator and pianist, Gerold Huber. Die Schöne Müllerin has always been seen as the most important lieder cycle because of its full-length narrative dimension based on a popular and rather simple story – disillusioned love between a miller’s daughter and a young miller’s apprentice. This new recording also includes the five poems by Wilhelm Müller not set to music by Schubert, read by Christian Gerhaher, showcasing the complexity of Müller's poetry.
Acclaimed across the globe for the beauty of his voice, the emotional power of his performances, and his extraordinarily dazzling high notes, the Peruvian superstar tenor Juan Diego Flórez has so far in his career focused almost exclusively on the masterpieces of the bel canto repertoire by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, and others. Now, in his eagerly awaited debut recording for Sony Classical, he turns his attention to a composer with whose works his talents also have an ideal relationship – Mozart. “I’ve always wanted to do it, but now is the time,” Flórez said. “I finally feel I’m ready to convey the expressiveness, the simplicity, the universality – in short, the magic – of Mozart.”
Although Flórez has not yet performed a Mozart role on stage, the music of the great Austrian composer has nevertheless played an important part in his career. When he first began to turn his attention from rock and pop to opera as a young man of seventeen, he was profoundly inspired by the recordings of legendary Mozartians such as Alfredo Kraus. His decision to devote his life fully to opera was then consolidated when he appeared in the chorus of a production of Die Zauberflöte aged eighteen. “I was blown away. Mozart became a synonym of ‘magic’ for me, and his music helped me decide my path in life,” he said.
From his earliest studies at the conservatoire in Lima to the present day, Flórez has studied, sung, and performed Mozart’s opera arias and concert works in his recitals. But this is the first time he has chosen to record them. “I feel this is the right time, and in the future, I’ll be adding much more Mozart to my career, and singing the great tenor roles in Die Zauberflöte, Idomeneo, La clemenza di Tito, and also Don Giovanni,” Flórez explains. “I’m so excited by this new future and new adventure with Mozart.”
The album includes many of the best-loved arias from those operas. From Die Zauberflöte comes “Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön” in which the hero is inspired by a picture of the beautiful Pamina to fall in love with her. There are two arias from the late masterpiece La clemenza di Tito: “Del più sublime soglio” in which Titus sings of his love for Servilia, and the anguished “Se all’impero” which sees Titus struggle to show mercy to a man who has plotted to kill him. Both tenor arias – “Dalla sua pace” and “Il mio Tesoro” – from Don Giovanni are included as well, as is the hauntingly beautiful “Un’aura amorosa” from Così fan tutte.
There are also arias from earlier operas, including the dazzlingly virtuosic “Si spande al sole in faccia” from Il re pastore, and the infectious “Fuor del mar” from Idomeneo. From Die Entführung aus dem Serail is the lovely “Ich baue ganz auf deine Stärke,” full of amorous hopefulness, and from Mitridate, re di Ponto, composed when Mozart was just fourteen, is the fast and furious “Vado incontro.” The album also includes the substantial concert aria “Misero! O sogno.”
Sibelius’s solo piano music – too long in the shadow of his symphonic writings – is the focus of Leif Ove Andsnes’ new Sony Classical recording, his first since the award-winning Beethoven Journey series. Recorded in Berlin last December, the album, titled Sibelius, gathers together some of the Finnish composer’s lesser-known gems that Andsnes, who scoured the composer’s entire piano output to select them. Andsnes says, “There has been such a feeling of discovery. Everyone was astonished that there can be a major composer out there with such beautiful, accessible music that people don’t know. The fact that many will be hearing it for the first time, that’s a wonderful feeling.”
The album includes the composer’s own piano arrangement of his famous Valse triste, and excerpts from the popular Ten Pieces, Op. 24 and the piano score that is often considered his finest, Kyllikki (Three Lyric Pieces), Op. 41. Also featured are The Birch and The Spruce from his five “tree” pieces, and the final pair of his Six Impromptus, Op. 5, early pieces from the 1890s that reveal the influence of Finnish folklore. Andsnes explains: “There is an impressionistic, watery feel while Sibelius can almost feel like a Nordic Satie. It’s quite clear he experimented with very different approaches.”
The album also includes the first of the Three Sonatinas, Op. 67, composed during the early 1910s, when Sibelius famously compared his music – by contrast with the “cocktails” of other composers – to “pure cold water.” Andsnes says: “The first Sonatina is a real masterpiece – so simple and so sophisticated at the same time. It inhabits a very private world and is almost not a piece for the public, but something to play for a friend or even alone.”
Likewise, the pianist describes the Five Sketches, Op. 114 as “again, real masterpieces – unique in the way they describe Sibelius’s development as a composer.” All told, he explains: “There has been such a feeling of discovery. Everyone was astonished that there can be a major composer out there with such beautiful, accessible music that people don’t know. The fact that many will be hearing it for the first time, that’s a wonderful feeling. I really, really believe in this music and I want people to hear it. I feel like I’m on a mission here!”
This 15-CD box set includes all of Murray Perahia’s analog recordings in new state-of-the-art remastering, newly transferred from the original analog masters using 24 bit / 192 kHz technology, and features all of Perahia’s great Schumann, Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven recordings from 1972-1979. The set includes original LP covers and labels, and booklet with full liner notes.
Murray Perahia has been called “a prince amongst pianists” (Financial Times), but he could as easily be dubbed a Romantic painter or a lyricist, for the way he draws an exquisite palette of colors from the instrument or makes it sing with the nuances of a perfectly matched vocal ensemble. Even in his first decade as a CBS artist, Perahia was amassing an impressive discography including Mozart and Beethoven; Chopin, Schumann and Mendelssohn; as well as an acclaimed LP of Bartók. Sony Classical’s new 15-CD box set brings all these treasures together for the first time in new, state-of-the-art remastered recordings.
Reviewing his Beethoven sonatas, Penguin Guide called Perahia an “authoritative and sensitive an interpreter … All these readings have the blend of authority, finesse and poetry that distinguishes this great artist at his best.” “What struck me first”, wrote Gramophone’s original review of the pianist’s 1979 recording of Chopin’s E minor Concerto with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, “was the strength of Murray Perahia’s characterization throughout, realized with fingers as strong as they are fluid and gleaming … The first movement’s lyricism, like that of the central Romanze, is wonderfully poetic too. The rubato is so natural, so unmannered, so poised. The finale’s teasing charm is conveyed without a trace of archness. Its coda, like that to the first movement, is bursting with brio.”
The composer most closely associated with Murray Perahia is probably Mozart. Begun in 1975, his cycle of the Piano Concertos conducted from the keyboard, says Penguin Guide, “is a remarkable achievement; in terms of poetic insight and musical spontaneity the performances are in a class of their own. There is a wonderful singing line and at the same time a sensuousness that is always tempered by spirituality.”
Murray Perahia collaborated with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears at Aldeburgh. A priceless 1979 Schumann lieder recital with the legendary English tenor is part of this new collection. Recently The New York Times singled out Perahia’s beautiful 1973 recording of the Davidsbündlertänze and Fantasiestücke as one of the finest of all Schumann piano recordings: “I loved it when it was released and still do. He … lays out the scores with devotion, poetic sensitivity, scrupulous musicianship and pristine technique.” The same could be said of his foray into 20th-century music in the present collection. Wrote the BBC Music Magazine: “Much of Bartók’s most appealing music is on this disc, played by Murray Perahia with an authority which has few peers.”
Plácido Domingo & Friends Celebrate Christmas in Vienna features the legendary tenor and a host of guest stars from the popular and classical music world backed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in a collection of some of the greatest moments from the annual Christmas in Vienna concerts from 1993 to 1999. Guest artists include Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Vanessa Williams, Charles Aznavour, José Carreras and more.
With over a billion YouTube views for their 50-plus music videos, The Piano Guys announce the release of their new holiday album Christmas Together(Portrait), available October 27. The album features collaborations with music royalty from the pop, opera, and video worlds on classical themes, holiday chestnuts, and original compositions. Christmas Together is available for pre-order here.
Their seventh full-length studio album and second holiday collection, Christmas Together brings The Piano Guys’ “Wonders of the World” quest back home for the holidays after their last album, Uncharted, found the Utah quartet roaming far afield to places like Scotland, Mexico, and Jordan.
Both words in the title, “Christmas” and “together,” are equally important – in more ways than one. The 11 stellar songs on Christmas Together reflect holiday-time togetherness. They bring leading and legendary vocal talent together to make music that is more than the sum of its parts. Plus, they blend Bach, Beethoven, and Händel together with yuletide classics like “Little Drummer Boy,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
The album opens with a burst of togetherness, featuring YouTube star Peter Hollens, pop sensation David Archuleta, and the legendary Mormon Tabernacle Choir lifting their voices in song on “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” And “Silent Night, Holy Night” boasts vocals from Plácido Domingo backed by the children of the famous Cathedral School Choristers.
British acappella legends The King’s Singers lend their own gorgeous vocal textures to an exquisite arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “O Little One Sweet,” while angelic-voiced young star Lexi Walker helps lift a medley of “O Holy Night” and “Ave Maria” to soaring heights.
Christmas Together builds on the foursome’s history of defying genre and chart limitations. Cellist Steven Sharp Nelson expresses the group’s musical aim this way: “We hope it transcends conventional classification and instead reaches beyond boundaries, finding audiences from all walks of life that want positive content and fresh takes on old and new music.” The Piano Guys’ recordings have always been tapestries of inventive, inspiring songs with multigenerational appeal, and that goes double for their holiday releases.
Svatoslav Richter’s first North American tour in 1960 solidified his international standing as one of the 20th century’s most exciting, provocative, and original Russian pianists. His Carnegie Hall debut consisted of five sold-out recitals within twelve days in October, with two recitals added in December. The complete recordings from these concerts – previously only available in two separate editions – are gathered together for the first time in one collection of thirteen CDs in a slipcase box including a booklet with archival photos and a new essay by Carnegie Hall archivist Gino Francesconi.
The October 1960 recitals originally appeared on mono LPs in the United States (Columbia Masterworks) and Japan (Sony). They did not last long in the catalog, however, and became highly sought-after collectors’ items. By contrast, RCAs complete stereo master tapes from the December 23rd and 26th concerts came to light after Richter’s death in 1997. The recordings reveal the unusual breadth of the pianist’s enormous repertoire, including such Richter benchmarks as the Prokofiev Sixth and Eighth Sonatas, Schumann’s C Major Fantasie, Rachmanimov Preludes, Beethoven Sonatas, Scriabin’s Fifth Sonata, plus works by Haydn, Schumann and Debussy.
The 1960 Carnegie Hall series not only captures Richter in his prime, but also preserves his daring, unfettered artistry in its most honest, authentic manifestation, exactly as his audiences experienced him: live and unedited, and without a net.
Lucas Debargue’s third recording presents sonatas by Franz Schubert and polish composer Karol Szymanowski. In addition to recording Schubert's famous Sonatas No.13 and No.14, the pianist continues to dedicate himself to composers and works left in the shadows.
He says, “I think it makes more sense to devote myself to an astonishing but little-known work, than it does to focus on pieces that people have heard too often.”
2015 Tchaikovsky Competition sensation Lucas Debargue gained worldwide attention for his riveting background and ‘genius-like playing’ (Boris Berezovsky) at one of the world’s foremost piano competitions. He started formal piano training aged 20. Only four years later he won the fourth prize, was described as “the real winner” of the competition and received the Music Critics’ Association award as “the pianist whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.”
NDR Germany reports, “Anyone who complains about uniformity in today’s music business will find the greatest pleasure in Debargue. He is different.” San Francisco Classical Voice writes, “Lucas Debargue takes the music beyond the accepted norm, questioning the status quo with a fresh perspective.”
Sony Classical’s 100-CD Leonard Bernstein edition will become a new catalogue landmark. This collection is the most comprehensive display of the iconic American conductor’s unparalleled dynamism and versatility in one single package. It includes his classic American Columbia/CBS and RCA recordings with the New York Philharmonic, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic.
Many of Bernstein’s most memorable and critically acclaimed interpretations are brought together here for the first time, newly remastered from their original 2- and 3-track analogue tapes. This has allowed for the creation of a natural balance (for example, between the orchestra and solo instruments) that brings the quality of these half-century-old recordings, excellent for their time, up to the discriminating standards of today’s audiophiles. In addition, there has been a meticulous restoration of some earlier masters in which LP surface noise was too rigorously eliminated at the expense of the original brilliance. In every case, the masters in this new collection represent the best ever issued of these peerless recordings by one of the greatest musicians of the last century.
Highlights include two complete opera recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic: Verdi’s Falstaff (1966) starring Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Strauss’s Rosenkavalier (1971) with Christa Ludwig, Gwyneth Jones, Lucia Popp and Walter Berry. Also included is Bernstein’s incandescent complete 1966 Haydn Creation from New York, as well as his New York Philharmonic recordings that launched the “Mahler Renaissance” in the 1960s, including the 1961 Third Symphony. The set also includes his recordings of Carl Nielsen’s music, whose great works Bernstein brought to a wide new public with interpretations like the 1962 New York Philharmonic recording of the Fifth Symphony. Bernstein’s Beethoven Fifth from 1961, also included in the set, is still as electrifying now as it was then. His talk about the work is also included, one of many treasurable spoken-word commentaries in this set. Other highlights include Bernstein’s recording of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring from January 1958 – two months after his appointment as the youngest music director in the New York Philharmonic’s history. And, as a special bonus, his debut with the Philharmonic, from the radio broadcast of November 11, 1943, when he made music history stepping in for Bruno Walter and setting the musical world abuzz. Bernstein the composer is also represented by all his ballets, symphonies, concertos, and more. The original Broadway cast recording of Candide from 1956 is included, as is the definitive version of his most famous work – the original Broadway cast recording of West Side Story from 1957.