Rising-star soprano Caroline MacPhie’s debut solo CD of songs inspired or written by women.
Catalogue No: 5060192780451
This lovely disc marks the decisive arrival of a fine young recitalist. Soprano Caroline MacPhie’s enterprising programme consists of “songs inspired or written by women”. Starting with Richard Strauss’s Ophelia settings, based on translations of the madness of Shakespeare’s heroine, it continues with Poulenc’s deceptively simple Fiançailles pour rire, which MacPhie interprets with great wit and panache. Following a real curiosity – Charles Koechlin’s Sept chansons pour Gladys, reflections of the composer’s infatuation with the actress Lilian Harvey – come six beautifully polished miniatures from Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch. Four lesser-known female composers are also featured. Muriel Herbert became friendly with Joyce, who gave her permission to set his verse. Three other composers are represented by contrasting versions of Ophelia’s mad songs. Elizabeth Maconchy’s How Should I Your True Love Know? is followed by newly-commissioned pieces by Rhian Samuel and Cheryl Frances-Hoad, all sung by MacPhie with beautiful sensitivity and emotional engagement. Vividly stylish and responsive accompaniment from Joseph Middleton enhances this delightful musical menu: MacPhie is a singer of whom we should hear more. **** (Daily Telegraph)
MacPhie and Middleton bring a nicely sidelong glance to the recital programme, mixing some well known with a fascinating selection of lesser known songs. Definitely a recital to investigate. (Planet Hugill)
Caroline MacPhie erweist sich in ihrem Debut-Album als eine interessante Interpretin, mit der man auch in Zukunft rechnen darf. Ihr heller, leichter lyrischer Sopran, auf dem Theater in Rollen wie Papagena, Norina und Schlaues Füchslein erprobt, zeigt auch dramatischen Biß. Der Vortrag der Sängerin ist imaginativ und eloquent und man nimmt ihr Ophelias Wahnsinn ebenso ab wie die Koketterie der Frauen im Italienischen Liederbuch. Dass die Sängerin vor ihrer Gesangsausbildung an der Universität Deutsch und Französisch studiert hat, kommt ihr sehr zugute. Auch das Idiom der französischen Lieder ist ihr nicht fremd, und bei den Gesängen der britischen Komponistinnen gewinnt man den Eindruck, dass sie für sie keine Pflichtübung sind, sondern eine Herzensangelegenheit. Joseph Middleton, mit dem sie auch im Konzertsaal häufig zusammenarbeitet, ist dabei weit mehr als ein Begleiter, sondern mit seinem entschiedenen Zugriff eine Art Motor des ganzen Unternehmens. (Klassik Heute)
A Christmas kaleidoscope of classical, popular and folk songs wonderfully arranged and beautifully played by this fabulous classical ensemble.
Catalogue No: 5060192780444
I also love Deck The Halls from the Little Venice Ensemble, an eclectic group of professional musicians drawn from all over the world, but especially from Scandinavia, who live and work in London, and regularly perform chamber music in the Paddington area. A truly talented arranger, Bjorn Kleiman turns out an amazing selection of music for a small instrumental ensemble, ranging from traditional carols to little-known European stuff like Koppången, first performed in 1998 by a group including Abba’s Benny Andersson. There are organ solos, lovely string quintet arrangements, and some fine solo work from soprano Susanna Andersson (no relation). It all ends splendidly with winning performances of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Keeping The Dream Alive, another Christmas-oriented pop song that was a big hit in late Eighties Germany. ***** (Mail on Sunday)
Listeners unfamiliar with European Christmas celebrations should head straight for this unpretentious compilation. Many of the numbers are well-known British and American ones, but the programme also reflects the polyglot nature of the Little Venice Ensemble’s membership. The fun starts with a spare solo viola transcription of the Swedish folksong “Beredan väg för herran”, followed by an enchanting arrangement of the modern carol “I Bethlehem” by Jerker Leijon. It’s sublime. As is the gorgeous childrens’ carol “Bethelehems Stjärna”, which should make sensitive listeners’ eyes water. Max Reger’s “Mariae Wiegenlied” is unexpectedly beautiful, as is a neat arrangement of the Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still”. Percy Grainger’s “Sussex Mummers” is heard in a mellifluous string transcription. This is a fantastic disc, and one which you’d happily listen to all year round. Familiar pleasures are interspersed with alluring rarities. Soprano Susanna Andersson’s pure-toned vocals are a consistent pleasure, and the chamber arrangements invariably charm. (The Arts Desk)
Deck the Halls from Stone Records is also a Christmas CD with a difference: the arrangements in this myriad collection are aimed at a broader mainstream audience than one which devoutly sits in church at Midnight on Christmas Eve. not that there is anything unsuitable in these transcriptions (International Record Review).
Stone Record’s Christmas discs are always a delight but this year’s offering is unique. Deck the Halls, with Susanna Andersson and the Little Venice Ensemble. Imagine yourself at a house party, where some of the young European musicians based in London, (relatively far away from home) celebrate by performing together. The joyous energy on this disc is bound to chase away chills and bring good cheer. Expect surprises! (Classical Iconoclast)
Susanna Anderssons slanka, svala sopran passar bra till julvisornas enkelhet; hon dominerar inte och blir aldrig svulstig. Det är roligt med så många instrumentala stycken, och skivans största förtjänst, förutom att den är fläckfritt spelad och välsjungen, är de många effektfulla, påhittiga och genomtänkta arrangemangen av framför allt violinisten Björn Kleiman. Men i skickliga och välspelade arrangemang, som här, kan en stråkensemble visa oväntade sidor. Det blir många sorters musik inslagen i samma behändiga paket. (Sundsvalls Tidning)
På en annan engelsk julskiva hör vi en ensemble som döpts efter Little Venice, det kanaltäta området i norra London. Basen är en skicklig stråkkvintett, utökad med flöjt och orgel samt den svenska sopranen Susanna Andersson – en omväxlande skiva, jazzig och stillsamt klassisk, där vi både får höra ”Koppången” och en härligt bumpig version av Leroy Andersons “Sleigh ride”. (Svenska Dagbladet)
“Fina stråkar och tajta orgelsolon”. I ”Betlehems stjärna” är kompet genomarbetat och sången som ett direkt tilltal. Samma sak gäller fina ”Marie Wiegenlied”. När stråkgruppen ”Little Venice” tar sig an ”Deck the halls” blir det riktigt svängigt och tajt. Detta är albumets pärla. Även ”Tomorrow shall be my dancing day” får skönt sväng, liksom käcka ”Sleigh ride”. Detta är främst stråkkvintettens förtjänst. Emellertid vill jag ge en speciell eloge till organisten Jonathan Cunliffe, som presenterar några tajta solon och ett nära ackompanjemang. (Norrköpings Tidningar)
I årets skörd av souljul, retro- och dansbandsjul, så damp det ned jul i, typ, systrarna Brontës anda. Och jag är såld. Stråkensemblen Little Venice Ensemble tillsammans med sopranen Susanna Andersson har satt tänderna i ett gäng uttjatade klassiker – “Stilla natt”, “Bereden väg för herran”, “Ding Dong Merry on high”, ni fattar – och lyckats med konststycket att gjuta ny magi utan att för en ton falla för den svulstiga frestelsen. Arrangören och violinisten Björn Kleiman är en fena på att slå in julvisorna med snöre av hampa, i sparsmakat, oblekt papper och sätta en lackad kvalitetsstämpel som glänser i all sin finstämda strykning av stråkar. (Kristianstadbladet)
Music for flute and piano by Australian composers
Catalogue No: 5060192780437
There’s no shortage of excellent flute works, but a few more by a group of Australian composers won’t harm, especially when they are of the calibre of those on this two-disc charmer from English independent label Stone Records. It features two prodigious talents in Neil Fisenden, principal flute of West Australian Symphony Orchestra and pianist David Wickham, who also lives in WA. Perhaps the gem here is Raymond Hanson’s Sonata for Flute and Piano from 1941. Hanson, who died in 1976, taught and influenced a whole generation of Australian composers but his own works have been neglected. Part of the reason is that his scores only existed in manuscript form in the Sydney Conservatorium, but more likely he was shunned for his opposition to serialism and the prevailing trends of the time. His works are now seeing the light of day. Tall Poppies have released his complete piano works but also composer Geoffrey Allen, who published all the works on this album and has contributed two excellent pieces of his own, has brought some of them to the public notice. Allen’s suite Watercolours proves an admirable companion to the Hanson work on the first disc. Phillip Wilcher’s charming An Idle Voice, a tribute to Ravel’s Pavane, opens the second half. But the pivot is Allen’s Sonata for Flute, with its harmonic hints of Delius, a substantial work in four movements. Some of the works owe a debt to paintings, while Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition inspired May Howlett’s Exhibits with one of its pieces dedicated to Arthur Streeton. The clean and simple lines of Japanese art and ceramics are more the spark for Ann Ghandar’s Iridescences. Paul Paviour’s Elstow Suite, an affectionate and very English tribute to the village in Bedfordshire where he grew up, round things off nicely. (Limelight)
Neil Fisenden’s performances are outstanding, and he is sensitively accompanied by David Wickham (SA Flute News)
The eighth disc in the first complete recording of the songs of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), recorded live at the Oxford Lieder Festival. This eighth disc features his settings of the poet Eichendorff.
Catalogue No: 5060192780420
The variety of portraits is matched by the palette of voices chosen by deviser and accompanist Sholto Kynoch. The baritone, David Stout, is the very incarnation of the stalwart stoic companion … Nicky Spence is more agile throughout his tenor range, and more expressive in his characterisation … Best of all, Katherine Broderick’s star-bright soprano creates sensuous nocturnes of silent love. (BBC Music Magazine)
The sound is clear and alive, the presentation exactly what one would want … Kynoch’s accompaniments are beautifully sensitive, flexible and transparent throughout, and all three singers engage intelligently with the texts … These are all refreshing and unfailingly engaging performances (Gramophone)
Settings of Francis Booth’s poety for counter-tenor, flute, vibraphone and cello.
Catalogue No: 5060192780413
Praise for Ronald Corp’s Dhammapada CD:
an expert choral hand at work (Gramophone)
Album of the Week (The Independent)
An artless quality informed but not stifled by western choral tradition – ***** (Classic FM Magazine)
The debut album from chamber choir Cantoribus, featuring a cappella works by Timothy Hamilton.
Catalogue No: 5060192780406
Cantoribus offers a novel approach to small ensemble singing … It’s one that is worthwhile to experience (Musicweb International)
Timothy Hamilton is a composer, singer, and founder and musical director of the choral group Cantoribus. Hamilton has fairly prestigious credentials: he studied singing with Benjamin Luxon, Teresa Cahill and Janice Chapman; he studied composition with Paul Edlin and jazz piano with Lionel Grigson. Hamilton has written a substantial body of choral and sacred music, and has also composed orchestral works and film and television scores. From the evidence here, I would say that Hamilton appears to be a talented composer and his choral group sings with commitment and great beauty. According to the album notes Hamilton composed the music on this disc “to reflect some of the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year,” but with no chronological scheme in mind. It is sung a capella, as are the works by Stanford and Adam. Hamilton’s music is conservative in its expressive manner but not without grit and mettle. While much of it is very lush and fluid, and maybe even serene, it often features an anxious or unsettled sense especially in faster-paced middle sections or in upward melodic surges or even in harmonies that strike you as slightly cool emotionally when heard against their warmer main line. Crucifixus may be the piece here that embodies many of these stylistic elements. It begins in a restive way with the word “Crucifixus” sung repeatedly. Soon it is proclaimed loudly and emphatically, almost as if shouted, and then the character of the music turns both dark and ethereal. A sense of struggle ensues but finally a consoling character emerges at the close. Here in this short work (3:44) a whole world of emotion and religious fervor is effectively conveyed … The sound reproduction is fine and the album notes are informative. Full texts are provided too … He is an imaginative and stimulating composer of sacred choral music whose style is quite individual within its conservative character … If you are interested in contemporary sacred choral music, this disc should prove of considerable interest. (Classical.net)
Australian art-songs by twentieth-century composers.
Catalogue No: 5060192780390
Soprano Lisa Harper-Brown and pianist David Wickham, both English but now based in Perth, have released a sequel to The Poet Sings (2012), their first volume devoted to neglected 20th-century Australian art song, and particularly female composers. The Red of a Woman’s Heart features three collections by Margaret Sutherland, including of William Blake poetry and six settings of Judith Wright, which for Wickham “are the best of the genre in Australia.” Many composers were still looking to England for lyrical material, so the Wright cycle is particularly significant, as are Raymond Hanson’s two settings of poems by the extraordinary Australian radical socialist poet Mary Gilmore. Other highlights include two sets by Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Profiles from China and Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird. There is a lightness of touch about this recording, with a great sense of presence and space that makes it an excellent complement to the selections recorded by Ian Munro and Elizabeth Campbell nearly a decade ago. The interplay between Harper-Brown and Wickham is seamless, as though the music is being produced by a single entity. Harper-Brown is completely at home with the demands of this excitingly varied material, from the dance rhythms of Sutherland’s Blake songs, to the melancholy of two Jewish songs by Linda Phillips **** (Limelight)
Live recording of every work for cello and piano by Mendelssohn.
Catalogue No: 5060192780383
This is a disc on which the stance of the playing ideally matches the scale and perspective of the music. Mendelssohn’s works for cello and piano are not numerous but, with two sonatas together with the “Variations concertantes” and a couple of miniatures, they fit neatly onto one CD. Mendelssohn was not a cellist, but he had a brother who was, and it was for him that he wrote the “Variations concertantes” and the two sonatas. Given Mendelssohn’s talents as a pianist, it is understandable that in his duo music he did not exactly underplay the pianist’s virtuoso requirements, but here in the chopping and changing of priorities in the “Variations concertantes” Marie Macleod and Martin Sturfält weave a scintillating, tightly knit fabric, full of colour and energy. Instinctive coordination and passion are maintained in the B flat Sonata No 1, the cello’s tonal spectrum and the piano’s variety of touch and weight astutely and expressively applied both to the music’s lyricism and to its bravura flourishes. They also possess exciting panache for the D major Sonata No 2, a performance combining brilliance with emotional warmth. (Daily Telegraph)
Powerfully eloquent (Guardian)
Real technical brilliance, which Sturfält has in abundance … a masterly performance. (Manchester Evening News)
The première recording of Carr’s Seven Last Words from the cross and other choral works.
Catalogue No: 5060192780376
This is a finely presented CD. The performances from the baritone, William Dazeley in The Seven Last Words is excellent. The choral singing is always well-balanced and clear. And finally the Bath Philharmonia under Gavin Carr give a committed account of this deeply felt music. The liner-notes by the composer are always helpful. The sound quality is faultless. This is an excellent production from one of Britain’ leading composers. Every piece is enjoyable, approachable and ultimately inspiring and often moving. It may be that some folk will not approve of Paul Carr’s largely ‘traditional’ musical language. However, to my ear this CD proves that there is still ever so much to be ‘said’ using a largely tonal musical structure. This music does not require any ‘ism’ but simply a genuine inspiration — truly devotional in the broadest sense. (MusicWeb International)
Drawing on Arvo Pärt and the Slavonic choral tradition, the key work here is a substantial work which, Britten-like, interpolates the Seven Last Words with religious texts ranging from Phineas Fletcher to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina … All are strongly performed and richly recorded (Classical Music)
The role of Jesus, most eloquently fulfilled here by William Dazeley … Fluency and ease with which he handles his forces … Exemplary results from his assembled performers (Gramophone)
Settings of texts by Buddhist nuns, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, alto flute, clarinet and viola.
Catalogue No: 5060192780369
The texts are strongly meditative, evoking the calm and poise of those who wrote them. Corp has expertly matched this in music, and by craving for variety, greater characterisation and even drama one is no doubt missing the point. This is music that will work well late at night with the lights down. The five performers certainly seem convinced by it. (Gramophone)
Romantic British music for viola and piano.
Catalogue No: 5060192780352
Viola music of virtuosic brilliance, splendidly played by Su Zhen and Simon Lepper in this well-recorded Stone disc. (Gramophone)
Thanks to Lionel Tertis (1876-1975), the great viola player who inspired many works last century, British composers have had a close association with the instrument. This disc is full of the rhapsody and lyricism that suits its middle-voiced, rich tone, opening with the poignant First Meeting (Souvenir) by Eric Coates, composer of Desert Island Discs’ theme tune and himself a violist. Delius, in an arrangement of his Violin Sonata No 2, and York Bowen’s Phantasy follow the mood deliciously. The Welsh composer Rhian Samuel (b.1944), in contrast, exploits the viola’s capacity for sparseness and eloquence in Blythswood, written as she watched seascapes and mountains while resident in the remote Scottish Highlands. Beautifully played, this is an addictive disc. (Observer)
Zhen and Lepper play all the selections with sensitivity and the ultimate in technical prowess. I enjoyed this foray into British music and think listeners will like it too. (Fanfare)
One of the 40 men and women who make Beijing great (Time Out Beijing)
Su Zhen – someone who makes people love the viola (Musical Instrument Magazine)
The seventh disc in the first complete recording of the songs of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), recorded live at the Oxford Lieder Festival. This seventh disc features the secular songs from the Spanish songbook.
Catalogue No: 5060192780345
This is a disc few would regret buying – **** (BBC Music Magazine)
A musical countdown to Christmas with 25 wonderful carols.
Catalogue No: 5060192780338
Lusty performances, and a nice mix of familiar and less familiar selections. (BBC Music)
One of the most interesting programmes of carols this year (Gramophone)
This is a truly excellent and worthwhile disc (International Record Review)
At last, a Christmas disc you can enjoy for the quality of the performances! It would make a great gift, but you might want to keep it for yourself. This is a disc you can enjoy in private, and in the company of friends and family with above average taste in music. It’s that good. No Xmassy ersatz here. This is the real thing! The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, conducted by David Crown make this a disc to cherish. Their enthusiasm is genuinely infectious. You get caught up in the sheer joy of the singing, excitement, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. That’s high praise, especially in a market saturated with the blasé and conventional. The Somerville Choir are young, but older than many church choristers. Thus they sing with freshness and energy, yet are mature enough to sound as if they’re singing because they have chosen, spontaneously, to get together and enjoy themselves. (Classical Iconoclast)
A wonderful survey of Schubert’s Lieder, with one song taken from each year of his composing career.
Catalogue No: 5060192780321
CHOICE FOR THE CURIOUS, Terrific. Amazing value. (Classic FM)
Here is a most unusual collection of Schubert Lieder. Eighteen songs are arranged in chronological order, with one representative song selected from each year, beginning with Schubert’s earliest known song, Der Vatermörder, D 10, written in 1811 when he was 14, and ending with his last composed song, Die Taubenpost, D 965a, written in 1828, shortly before his death. If you’re wondering why there are 18 songs instead of 17—the number of years between 1811 and 1828, it’s because Die Taubenpost, which really is Schubert’s last known song, was arbitrarily tacked on to the end of the Schwanengesang collection, D 957, by its first publisher, Tobias Haslinger, and there it remains today in most modern performances. So, just to cover all bases, the current CD also gives us one other, slightly earlier, song from 1828, Der Winterabend. The highly informative booklet note omits one crucial detail. It doesn’t tells us who came up with the idea for this program, whether it was pianist Sholto Kynoch’s brainstorm or the joint vision of the seven singers that share the honors of presenting the songs. Whoever was responsible should be congratulated, for the individual songs chosen, even if you ignore the chronological theme, make for an exceptionally satisfying recital.Obviously, I can’t conclude this review without mentioning the excellent keyboard support afforded all seven singers by pianist Sholto Kynoch. Not only has he had to learn the accompaniments to these 18 songs, but his task is made all the more challenging by having to adjust his tone and touch to complement the unique vocal timbres of each of the vocalists. Credit, too, goes to Stone, for a bright, but not glaring, detailed recording. Strongly recommended. (Fanfare)
Mary Bevan’s soprano brings warm scents and breezes of spring to “Lob der Tränen” (1818) and the vernal tenor of James Gilchrist gives sweet, if slow, performances of “Frühlingsglaube” (1820) and “Im Frühling” (1826). Best of all is the cultivated, supple and stable tenor of Benjamin Hulett in “Abendstern” (1824). (BBC Music)
An interesting disc, with many good things in it. (International Records Review)
Live recording of Britten’s five canticles, with the extended version of Canticle III (The heart of the matter).
Catalogue No: 5060192780314
Both sets of performances are very fine. Those from Oxford around Norman are easier on the ear … The Oxford performance has a wider-ranging essay by recent Britten biographer Paul Kildea … Both discs are well recorded. (International Record Review)
This release is a valuable addition to the Britten discography (Classical Iconoclast)
Those expecting five “canticles” will not be disappointed (Fanfare)
The second disc in a four-disc series that will comprise the first complete recording of the songs of Roger Quilter (1877-1953).
Catalogue No: 5060192780307
The talented baritone Mark Stone adds another fine disc to his discography. Once again, the range of colour and dynamic in his singing is impressive, precisely geared to the words of each song. In every way this is an English equivalent to German Lieder or French mélodie. Roger Quilter is an extraordinary composer. Born into a wealthy family, he was a delicate child and ill health dogged him throughout his life. He was educated at Eton but never had any idea of trying to earn a living. It did not help that he was homosexual, at a time when any gay activity was strictly illegal. Nonetheless, he was wealthy enough to leave his parents’ apartment and set up on his own nearby in Mayfair, devoting his whole life to writing songs, 38 of which are on this second disc (of four) in Stone’s ‘Complete Quilter Songbook’. Going from one song to another is a delight. It reminds me that Quilter’s songs were favourites with the great Jessye Norman, drawing out her great ranger of expression in their easy lyricism and easy freshness. When each song is so delightful it is hard to pick out particular examples, except that Quilter’s love of poets of the 17th century – Herrick, Suckling, Lovelace etc – drew out some of his finest inspirations. As in previous discs from Mark Stone, Stephen Barlow in his accompaniments matches his partner perfectly. (Gramophone).
Quilter’s songs feature in may English song recitals, but this second volume of Mark Stone and Stephen Barlow’s excellent complete edition confirms that they’re more than mere programme fillers. This wealthy Old Etonian might be mistaken for a patrician amateur, but he was a serious musician who studied in Germany alongside Percy Grainger and others, and wrote successful operas, light music, and more than a hundred songs. Heard together, their individuality becomes more evident, sprightly and limpidly lyrical in a characteristically Edwardian manner; they influenced Philip ‘Peter Warlock’ Heseltine and others. They lack Vaughan Williams’s dynamic originality, perhaps, yet they have deeply felt undercurrents, sometimes a melancholy hinting at Quilter’s ill health, repressed sexuality and mental decline after his nephew’s murder in World War Two. They’re mostly strongest when they emory Quilter’s response to some already power poetry, from Shakespeare and the Earl of Rochester to Byron, Blake and Keats; Quilter’s own early lyrics sound distinctly weedy. The concluding Herrick sequence To Julia is particularly good. Stone’s high. slightly grainy baritone and incisive diction deliver Quilter’s often long, soaring lines with compelling fervour, and Barlow’s fluent accompaniment is the opposite of the dreaded effete tinkling sometimes inflicted on these songs. **** **** (BBC Music)
This second of four discs will be the first complete recording of the songs of Roger Quilter (1877-1953). As well as setting Blake, Byron, Keats, Binyon and the Earl of Rochester, the Sussex-born composer also wrote some of his own texts, sometimes using a pseudonym. The mood of these songs is wistful, fairly conventional and often with intricate piano parts, elegantly played by Stephen Barlow. Mark Stone’s performances are assured and persuasive … this Volume 2 is full of pleasures, not least the song cycle To Julia, to poems of Robert Herrick. (Observer)
Internationally renowned organist Robert Costin performs the much-loved Goldberg Variations (1741) on the organ of Pembroke College, Cambridge – a modern reconstruction of a period instrument (dating from 1708).
Related Artists: Robert Costin
Catalogue No: 5060192780291
Though nowadays played on all manner of instruments, from harp to accordion, the Goldberg Variations was originally written for harpsichord. However, hearing this masterful performance by Robert Costin on the Pembroke College organ, it’s impossible to imagine that Bach, an accomplished organist, didn’t compose it on such an instrument. Right from the wistful charm of the opening “Aria”, the organ’s timbre is a model of acoustical grace, a perfect union of instrument and space, and as Costin launches into the Variations, its full majesty is revealed in rich, satisfying sonorities that build to an epic climax with the “Variatio 30 –Quodlibet”. A marvellous, engrossing performance by a true master. ***** (Independent)
Organist Robert Costin is well known here in New Zealand and, indeed he has been here recently playing the Goldberg Variations on organs around the country. And here is the recording he made of Bach’s great work in 2012 on the organ of Pembroke College, Cambridge. We have recordings of the Goldberg Variations on the harpsichord, modern piano, strings, jazz group and even with a consort of viols, but none, as far as I can see, on the organ. Given that Bach was a fine organist surely he would have expected the Goldbergs to be performed on the instrument, and Robert Costin proves that it works extremely well. Yes, the crispness one gets from the harpsichord is not there ( but neither is it on any of the string arrangements ), but it rarely seems to matter. In short, this great set of variations sounds as natural on the organ as any of the works that Bach composed for the instrument. With the Pembroke College organ sounding superb and with Costin’s registrations sounding very convincing and the sound extremely natural, this is, for all Bach lovers, a self recommending release. ***** (The Dominion)
This is a remarkably successful record … The clarity of the playing is admirable, as is the recording quality. All in all, a fascinating and, in its way, important release. ***** (Organ Magazine)
All in all, a superb recording which may become my default Goldberg (Organists’ Review)
On this recording, British organist Robert Costin, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, plays them brilliantly on the Pembroke College Organ … I really enjoyed the Stone Records disc and I think our readers will as well (Fanfare)
If you want a Goldberg recording, you’ll be spoilt for choice – there are dozens. And you have a wide choice of instruments: harpsichord or piano (the leaders) but also harp; saxophone quartet; string trio; jazz trio; marimba; accordion; and a few organ recordings – by Catherine Ennis, Jean Guillou, Elena Barshai, and now Robert Costin, Director of Music at Ardingly College. Costin plays the Pembroke College, Cambridge, organ, a period instrument containing some Father Smith pipework and reconstructed by Mander in 1980. It is eminently suited to the repertoire. Helped by a sympathetic acoustic, Costin delivers a sensitive and accomplished performance, making this recording a strong contender in a crowded field. (Organ Club)
The sixth disc in the first complete recording of the songs of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), recorded live at the Oxford Lieder Festival. This sixth disc features settings of Lenau and the sacred texts from the Spanish songbook.
Catalogue No: 5060192780284
The quality of sound in these latest discs in Stone’s Wolf series is wonderfully vivid and full of presence … Presentation is first-rate … Anna Huntley, nicely evocative … pointedly sung by Bejamin Hulett … well brought out by Marcus Farnsworth … Birgid Steinberger shading her tone beautifully. Sholto Kynoch is the excellent accompanist throughout … Another splendidly wide-ranging selection of songs. (Gramophone)
These pioneer recordings are the most significant achievement of the Oxford Lieder project, and on that count alone it represents a landmark. But Kynoch’s commitment to live performance by young singers should not be diminished by comparison with the all-time great recordings. It renews the lifeblood of a long tradition, which has found a thriving home in Oxford. (Oxford Today)
An inspiration for all! (Classical Iconoclast)
The ever-impressive Oxford Lieder Festival – **** (BBC Music Magazine)
The second CD in a two-disc series that comprises the complete songs of Havergal Brian (1876-1972).
Catalogue No: 5060192780277
Brian fanatics, while no doubt queueing up for more, will savour the consistently strong performance by these three fine musicians (BBC Music Magazine)
Mark Stone and Sholto Kynoch prove strong interpreters of the songs, some of the most individual in the British repertoire… Strongly recommended. (Gramophone)
Even when Brian’s prosody seems curious or arbitrary he shapes the vocal lines with a pleasing naturalness, and he finds an altogether more intimate approach in songs like ‘Farewell’. (Stone also provides the booklet notes, which are well researched and free from egregious error.) (International Record Review)
The first CD in a four-disc series that will comprise the first complete recording of the songs of John Ireland (1879-1962)
Catalogue No: 5060192780260
Mark Stone uses all his gifts in this splendid collection of John Ireland’s songs to bring out their varied range of expression. One might say that he treats them with the subtlety that other singers adopt when singing German Lieder. These lovely and varied songs certainly deserve it. Sensibly, Stone starts off with the best-known of all Ireland’s songs, his setting of Masefield’s ‘Sea Fever’. His speed is daringly slow but he sustains it superbly, not least on the final sustained pianissimos in each stanza, ‘And the seagulls crying’ or ‘When the long trick’s over’. The delicacy of Stone’s tonal shading is exquisite. In a vigorous song such as ‘Hope the Hornblower’, setting a poem by Henry Newbolt, the bite of Stone’s attack, matched by the accompaniment of Sholto Kynoch, is ideal, full of flair and swagger. The ordering of the songs also helps, with military songs and songs of the sea providing revealing sequences. If these songs are out of fashion, then Stone and Kynoch make them sound fresh and new. Ireland’s settings of Rupert Brooke include the most celebrated poem of all, ‘The Soldier’, simply dedicated, bringing out its form as a sonnet. Stone and his partner are particularly effective in the sharply rhythmic songs, often march-time, but it is striking how Stone can always vary his tone colours beautifully for the slow, meditative songs. Altogether a disc to leave one freshly enthusiastic about the writing of John Ireland, often strikingly supported by his idiomatic piano-writing (Gramophone)
Its virtues are very considerable indeed. Stone is blessed with a most beautiful voice, which he uses intelligently, and his words are crystal-clear … The recorded sound is excellent, as is the booklet, where you will find a measured introduction to the composer, background and descriptive notes on each song written by Stone himself, and complete song texts … The programme has been intelligently planned … Piano accompaniment is well brought out by Sholto Kynoch, whose playing throughout the disc is of great sensitivity … This highly enjoyable collection (International Record Review)
Ireland devotees should savour the new material in this crazy quilt of the poignant and frivolous (BBC Music)
Stone delivers it in a relaxed, slightly understated way … his performances with pianist Sholto Kynoch are models of discretion. (Guardian)
Stone’s baritone proves a lively and expressive guide, ably partnered by Kynoch (Financial Times)
Stone has been doing very valuable work on behalf of English songs on his own label, and that continues here. Ireland’s music does not deserve the neglect it has suffered. He had a genuine melodic gift, real imagination, an excellent sense of text-setting. Many of these songs show real inspiration. The Five Songs by Turlay Royce are light ballads that he wrote under that pseudonym. These popular songs were known as “royalty ballads,” and publishers would pay famous singers to perform them. Stone’s notes point out that “Turlay Royce” is an anagram of Royalty Cure. Light they may be, but they are delightful. Ireland responded sensitively to poetry, and these songs are fine examples of a keen musical mind finding the right atmosphere to amplify and/or comment on the words of the poems, so that the music is consistently adding something of its own. Some of these songs have a strong inward-looking and intimate quality to them that can be quite gripping. In the softer and more lyrical songs, Stone’s singing is lovely. He varies his dynamics nicely … His feel for the shape of the line and his ear for shading make for some very effective and beautiful work here. The Heart’s Desire, Song from O’er the Hill, “The Soldier” (the first of the Two Songs to Poems by Rupert Brooke), and quite a few others are quite special … The overall impression with which one is left is one of satisfaction mixed with gratitude for being introduced to so many imaginative, colorful songs with a wide emotional range. (Fanfare)