Robert Schumann – Complete Symphonic Works, Vol. VI – WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, Heinz Holliger (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:16:01 minutes | 750 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: audite.de | Digital Booklet | © Audite Musikproduktion
Recorded: Philharmonie Köln, April 12-16, 2010, March 2-5, 2015 (Overture ‘Manfred’ & Symphony ‘Zwickauer’)

Concluding audite’s Schumann edition, this CD combines the first symphony with the late overtures, whose compactness displays the composer’s symphonic mastery.

The overtures, all written after 1847, represent an essential complement to the symphonies: seen in relation to the symphonies, they take a similar position as do the Konzertstücke relative to the concertos. Schumann conceived them partly as preludes to operas, oratorios or incidental works, partly as independent pieces. On the one hand, they were intended to provide “an image of the whole”; on the other, their purpose was to introduce, leading into the drama. Beside larger- and smaller-scale vocal works, and alongside the poetic renewal of the symphony, they bear testimony to the great significance of literature in Schumann’s musical thought and style.

The overtures are supplemented with Schumann’s first symphony, the so-called “Zwickau”. It was the composer’s first attempt in the symphonic form to be performed publicly, even though the work remained incomplete.

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Robert Schumann – Complete Symphonic Works, Vol. III – Oren Shevlin, WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, Heinz Holliger (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 00:52:58 minutes | 485 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: audite.de | Digital Booklet | © Audite Musikproduktion
Recorded: Köln, Philharmonie, April 8-11, 2013

Featuring the Cello Concerto and the second version of the D minor Symphony, this CD presents two major works that Schumann composed and revised during his time as music director in Düsseldorf. In both works, the movements of the classical model merge into one another without interruption. By transforming themes and musical codes he creates a stream of thought and coherence akin to the course of a narration or abstract theatre. His original version of the D minor Symphony of 1841 was pioneering in its literarisation of musical form. When he began revising it in 1851, the first Symphonic Poems of Franz Liszt had been performed: they aspired to a greater fusion of music and literature. In his revision of the D minor Symphony, Schumann discreetly reinforced the traditional symphonic elements of the work. The obvious references to Mendelssohn in his Cello Concerto suggest that he regarded multi-part forms as “narrations without words”, or as “bigger siblings” of the “songs without words”. According to Schumann, neither genre required explanation via a literary programme.

The original version of the D minor Symphony is included in the first volume of this series. Both versions, whose relationship remains an object of divisive discussion to the present day, can therefore be compared to one another.

Holliger’s interpretations draw on a life-long study of Schumann’s oeuvre, thought, personality and fate. Holliger’s approach imparts lightness and lucidity to these opulent scores thanks to a hierarchical balance of parts, delicately graded dynamics and invigorating tempi. The widespread image of this romantic composer as a weak orchestrator is thus refreshingly rectified.

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Robert Schumann – Complete Symphonic Works, Vol. II – WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, Heinz Holliger (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:06:50 minutes | 674 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: audite.de | Digital Booklet | © Audite Musikproduktion
Recorded: Köln, Philharmonie January 23-27, 2012 (Symphony No.2),  March 19-23, 2012 (Symphony No.3)

With this CD, audite is presenting the second volume of the complete recording of Robert Schumann’s orchestral works. The series includes all the symphonies (with both versions of the Fourth) as well as all the overtures and concertos.

The Second and Third Symphonies, according to the usual numbering, passed through contrasting histories of reception. Whereas the ‘Rhenish’ remained relatively popular, the C major Symphony was received by contemporaries as trend-setting, but receded into the background from the late nineteenth century onwards. At this time, criticism was primarily levelled at its instrumentation, which had still been praised after its premiere. Heinz Holliger and the WDR Symphony Orchestra have recorded the works with an orchestra of the same size that was available to Schumann. In so doing, they not only uncover the sonic ideal of the composer, but also its consistent and convincing realisation.

Holliger’s performances draw on a lifetime study of Schumann’s music, thought, personality and fate. His approach imparts lightness and lucidity to these opulent scores through a hierarchical balance of parts, delicately gradated dynamics and invigorating tempos. The widespread image of this romantic composer as a weak orchestrator receives a refreshing and well-grounded correction.

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Robert Schumann – Complete Symphonic Works, Vol. I – WDR Sinfonieorchester Koln, Heinz Holliger (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 01:12:09 minutes | 704 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: audite.de | Digital Booklet | © Audite Musikproduktion

This CD launches a complete series of recordings of Robert Schumann’s orchestral works, performed by the WDR Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Heinz Holliger. The series will contain all the symphonies (including both versions of the Fourth) as well as all the overtures and concertos. Holliger’s performances draw on a lifetime study of Schumann’s music, thought, personality and fate. His approach imparts lightness and lucidity to these opulent scores through a hierarchical balance of parts, delicately gradated dynamics and invigorating tempos. The widespread image of this romantic composer as a weak orchestrator receives a refreshing and well-grounded correction.

Volume 1 of the series presents the First Symphony in B-flat major (Op. 38), Overture, Scherzo and Finale (Op. 52) and the original 1841 version of the Fourth Symphony in D minor (Op. 120).

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Robert Schumann – The Violin Sonatas – Ulf Wallin, Roland Pontinen (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:14:06 minutes | 1,15 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | © BIS Records


Music Web International March 2012: “With highly impressive playing, sound and presentation it is hard to find fault with this excellent release”.

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Thomas Tallis – Ave, rosa sine spinis & other sacred music – The Cardinall’s Musick, Andrew Carwood (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 01:13:41 minutes | 667 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: hyperion-records | Digital Booklet | © Hyperion Records
Recorded: November 2013, Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle, United Kingdom

The Cardinall’s Musick and their inspirational director Andrew Carwood present a further volume of their Gramophone-Award-winning series of Tallis’s sacred music.
This new album contains some of the most sublime music of the entire period, performed with The Cardinall’s Musick’s familiar committed, full-blooded and beautiful singing. In including both Tallis’s English and Latin settings, it demonstrates the composer’s mastery of the changing edicts imposed on him from above in this turbulent time.
Informative and scholarly booklet notes by Andrew Carwood place the music in its historical and liturgical context.

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The Bolshoi Experience: Highlights from Russian Operas, Vol. 2 – Soloists, Chorus & Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre Moscow, Alexander Vedernikov (2009)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,82 MHz | Time – 01:00:14 minutes | 2,38 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet | © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Moscow, November 2005 & February 2006

Traditionally, since the middle of the 18th century, Russian opera had been influenced by the Italians, just as the music world as a whole had been strongly oriented towards that country during the empire of the czars. For Russian composers, this meant that they have to battle incessantly for the recognition of their musical identity, which was not surprising in a country where many prominent families felt more at home speaking French than Russian. In his operas A Life for the Czar (1836), and Ruslan and Lyudmila (1841), Michael Glinka laid a foundation for the national opera culture, and Alexander Dargomishky  followed his example. However, their music was still strongly influenced by foreign works; the torch was then taken over by Alexander Borodin and a few others, who grouped together under the name Moguchaya Kuchka (the ‘mighty handful’). Their main objective was to develop an authentic idiom, based on Russian folklore music. In addition, they strove to create a high degree of realism in the music drama. They were successful at this, even though at times hindered in the realization of their intentions by a lack of professional training of various members.

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