Thursday, July 2, 2015

Woman at the New Piano a “New Favorite”

Critic Don Clark has “a new favorite” in Nadia Shpachenko's Woman at the New Piano recording:

“Woman at the New Piano is an album with a surely cosmic purpose… this prodigiously talented, California-based pianist and teacher, has recorded a delightful and diverse program of brand new works she commissioned in 2013 from four outstanding composers, Tom Flaherty, Peter Yates, Adam Schoenberg and James Matheson. … Shpachenko makes a most convincing case for [Adam Schoenberg's “Picture Etudes”] and we are unlikely to get such a definitive, affectionate recording soon. As with Mussorgsky, the piano only version gives the listener insight to the inner voices and the frame of the music while the orchestral can dazzle with color and power. Both are worth hearing. … Stellar performances throughout, usual fine Reference Recordings sound throughout, informative liner notes and a most varied and energetic program make “Woman at the New Piano” a clear winner and a new favorite here.” —Don Clark, Pictures on Silence

Read Don Clark's work-by-work breakdown on his Pictures on Silence blog!


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kansas City Saint-Saëns “A Pleasure To Own”

MusicWeb International critic Michael Cookson recounts a live Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony performance while reviewing our new Kansas City Symphony recording:

In the Adagio – Allegro moderato Michael Stern’s well balanced opening soon increases in weight and volume. The efforts of the Kansas orchestra are thrilling. Stern engenders a sense of steely determination. The low growling entry of organ in the Poco adagio is notable and the dialogue between organ and strings is delightfully reflective. Conversely the skittering Scherzo is afforded ample amounts of engaging vitality. There is exhilaration in the celebrated Finale: Maestoso – Allegro when Kraybill erupts the weighty Casavant organ triumphantly creating a flood of vibrant colour. This is a powerful and engaging account…This beautifully produced release is a pleasure to own.” —Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

Read the full review on www.musicweb-international.com




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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Manfred Honeck and Pittsburgh Symphony's Bruckner Symphony No. 4 an “Excellent Choice”

Arthur Lintgen reviews Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony's new Bruckner recording for Fanfare Magazine:

“What Honeck does accomplish, perhaps better than any other conductor, is to move the music along and even lighten instrumental textures as in the relaxed and faster second subject of the first movement without detracting in any way from the solemnity of the opening horn call and the power of the massive brass climaxes. In other words, Honeck’s flexible tempos add to the power of the recurring horn call by increasing dynamic contrasts. … Honeck is aided by the almost unbelievable playing of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and especially the French horns and brass section… The sound is excellent and qualitatively similar to the first two recordings in this series. All of them have a wide and deep sound stage with no objectionable spotlighting of individual instruments. The dynamic range is outstanding from the barely audible opening horn call to the massive brass climaxes at the end of the first and fourth movements.…Honeck and his A-list Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra provide an excellent…choice and…interpretive approach.” —Arthur Lintgen, Fanfare

Read the full review on www.fanfaremag.com




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Monday, June 29, 2015

Specs for the The Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875

In David Hurwitz's fantastic new review of the Kansas City Symphony's Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony recording, he states “I do wish, though, that Reference Recordings had included a stop list in the booklet. The instrument has some interesting timbres and I would have liked to know what resources it calls upon to make them.” Unfortunately these specs were not able to fit in the included liner notes, but in case anyone else might be curious, we wanted to share them here:

THE JULIA IRENE KAUFFMAN ORGAN

CASAVANT FRÈRES OP. 3875, 2011

KAUFFMAN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, KANSAS CITY, MO.



GRAND ORGUE (I)GRAND CHOEUR (IV) — ExpressiveRÉCIT (III) — Expressive


  • Montre 16
  • Montre 8
  • Bourdon 8
  • Prestant 4
  • Quinte 2 2/3
  • Doublette 2
  • Cornet V 8
  • Grande
  • Fourniture II-IV 2 2/3
  • Fourniture IV-V 1 1/3
  • Cymbale IV 2/3
  • Bombarde 16
  • Trompette 8
  • Clairon 4


  • Bourdon 16
  • Bourdon 8
  • Violoncelle 8
  • Flûte harmonique 8
  • Voix angélique 8
  • Voix céleste 8
  • Grand Nazard 5 1/3
  • Flûte 4
  • Grande Tierce 3 1/5
  • Nazard 2 2/3
  • Quarte de Nazard 2
  • Tierce 1 3/5
  • Cor anglais 8
  • Trombone 16
  • Trompette
  • harmonique 8
  • Clairon
  • harmonique 4
  • Tremblant


  • Bourdon doux 16
  • Diapason 8
  • Cor de Nuit 8
  • Flûte traversière 8
  • Viole de Gambe 8
  • Voix céleste 8
  • Octave 4
  • Flûte octaviante 4
  • Nazard harmonique 2 2/3
  • Octavin 2
  • Tierce harmonique 1 3/5
  • Plein Jeu
  • harmonique III-VI 2
  • Bombarde 16
  • Trompette harmonique 8
  • Hautbois 8
  • Voix humaine 8
  • Clairon harmonique 4
  • Tremblant
POSITIF (II) — ExpressivePÉDALECouplers


  • Quintaton 16
  • Principal 8
  • Salicional 8
  • Unda Maris 8
  • Bourdon 8
  • Flûte harmonique 8
  • Prestant 4
  • Flûte douce 4
  • Nazard 2 2/3
  • Quarte de Nazard 2
  • Tierce 1 3/5
  • Larigot 1 1/3
  • Piccolo 1
  • Plein Jeu V 1
  • Clarinette 16
  • Trompette 8
  • Cromorne 8
  • Clairon 4
  • Tremblant


  • Soubasse 32
  • Contrebasse 16
  • Montre 16
  • Violonbasse 16
  • Soubasse 16
  • Bourdon 16
  • Grande Quinte 10 2/3
  • Flûte 8
  • Violoncelle 8
  • Bourdon 8
  • Grande Tierce 6 2/5
  • Grande Septième 4 4/7
  • Flûte 4
  • Contre-Bombarde 32
  • Bombarde 16
  • Basson 16
  • Trompette 8
  • Clairon 4


  • Grand Choeur /Pédale
  • Récit aigu / Pédale
  • Récit / Pédale
  • Positif / Pédale
  • Grand Choeur / Grand Orgue
  • Récit / Grand Orgue
  • Positif / Grand Orgue
  • Octaves graves
  • Récit / Positif
  • Grand Choeur / Positif
  • All expressions to Récit Pedal
ACCESORIES


  • Clochettes


  • Rossignol

Jan Kraybill gives a tour of the new Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875:




See more information courtesy of the manufacturer.

Friday, June 26, 2015

ClassicsToday: A “Remarkably Good” Saint-Saëns from Kansas City

ClassicsToday's David Horowitz reviews the “remarkably good” Kansas City Symphony recording of Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3:

“…this is an unusually vivacious and texturally transparent reading, recorded with welcome clarity in an acoustic that never permits detail to get obscured by excessive reverberation. The balance between organ and orchestra in the finale, even when everyone is blasting away, could not be more perfect. In the serene Adagio too, which flows with impressive poise, the soft tones of the organ add just the right touch of color to support the strings and solo woodwinds. In the scherzo, Stern keeps the rhythm taut, and he doesn’t drag out the quiet coda to the point where one’s patience begins to run thin. In the finale everyone really does pull out all of the stops, literally and figuratively, bringing the work to a thrilling conclusion. …Audiophiles will want to hear this for the superb sonics, but the musical values are just as strong.” —David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

Read the full review at www.classicstoday.com




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Thursday, June 25, 2015

ClassicalNet Reviews Minnesota Orchestra's Bruckner Symphony No. 9

Brian Wigman says our 1997 Bruckner Symphony No. 9 recording featuring Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and the Minnesota Orchestra should be “required listening.”

“This disc dates from 1997, well before the Bruckner explosion and at a time when a small label like Reference Recordings was still carving a niche as an audiophile enterprise. Everything works wonderfully. I dare you to play this for friends; I imagine they would name a great European orchestra if asked who was playing. As astonishing as the ensemble is under Vänskä, I found myself shivering with the sheer thrill of the strings and brass letting loose in the first movement. It's a great interpretation that stands with Jochum, Giulini, and the other great recordings of the work. Who knew that this orchestra could make this sound nearly two decades ago? Clearly, Reference Recordings did, and we have this performance forever as a result. … The sound is spectacular even today, and serves as a worthy testament to the accomplishments of Skrowaczewski in Minnesota. I like that each section of the work is tracked, which makes it an ideal disc for students, conductors, or score-followers to use for reference, and the liner notes are also typically fine. If you love Bruckner, you owe it to yourself to explore the career of this extraordinary man, and if you love this symphony, this disc is required listening.” —Brian Wigman, ClassicalNet

Read the full review at www.classical.net

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Joel Fan: Dances For Piano and Orchestra “Sparkles”

ClassicalNet critic Brian Wigman has a new review for Joel Fan and the Northwest Sinfonietta's Dances for Piano and Orchestra recording:

“This diverse and engaging program of works for piano and orchestra reflects Joel Fan's ongoing commitment to international music. … There is…a real sense of intelligence and enjoyment. Captured in excellent sound, this program has a wide potential audience, from piano students and teachers to the adventurous listener. … I can't imagine any piano fan not wanting this for the range and quality of the performances. Fan's piano sounds terrific, and from a label that does so few concerto collaborations, the high standards of the house are upheld. This is a joyous and intriguing album that truly sparkles.” —Brian Wigman, ClassicalNet

Read the full review on www.classical.net

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