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 New Release Round-up, New Release Round-up - 9th March

Today’s highlights include the first release of live performances which Alfred Brendel gave in Vienna to mark his seventieth birthday, William Christie taking on Bach’s mighty Mass in B minor, a DVD which captures a scintillating recent Prom from Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich, and the second and final solo album from the enchanting Norwegian treble Aksel Rykkvin – now in the early stages of training as a baritone.

Les Arts Florissants, William Christie

Christie follows Bach’s lead in directing large sections of the composer’s masterpiece (a work which he describes as ‘a powerful affirmation of humanism, the exaltation of man and his achievements’) from the keyboard; his soloists include Les Arts Florissants alumni Katherine Watson (who also appears on Stephen Layton’s Hyperion account, released last week) and elegant Belgian tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen.

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Alfred Brendel (piano), Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

Recorded during the great pianist’s seventieth birthday residency in 2001 (seven years before he gave his final performance, also in Vienna), these Austrian Radio broadcasts capture Brendel in the Brahms Handel Variations (which he never recorded in the studio) and the Schumann Piano Concerto; on listening to the recording, Brendel commented that ‘for once, I heard what I wanted to hear’.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Though this is their first album dedicated to his music, the conductorless British early music vocal ensemble have form with Victoria, who featured on their Song of Songs and Passion and Resurrection recordings; The Telegraph described their 400th anniversary tribute to him at the Wigmore Hall in 2011 as ‘a concert that captured all the joy and grave dignity of this wonderful composer’.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Aksel Rykkvin (treble) MIN Ensemble, Mark Bennett, Lazar Miletic

In his final recording as a treble (his website now styles him as a baritone), the 14 year old Norwegian singer performs arias from Rameau’s Naïs and Castor et Pollux, Albinoni’s opera seria La Statira, and Handel’s Diane cacciatrice, Ode for St Cecilia’s Day and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, supplemented by instrumental works by all three composers and Philipp Jakob Rittler.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Maxim Emelyanychev (piano)

Still only in his twenties, the Russian pianist and conductor is perhaps best known for his work with Il Pomo d’Oro, whom he usually directs from the harpsichord (his recordings with the group include solo albums with Joyce DiDonato and Max Emanuel Cencic, and three Haydn keyboard concertos); here he makes his solo recording debut with Mozart’s Sonatas Nos. 14, 16 and 18, plus the Fantasia in C minor K475.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Francisco Fullana (violin), David Fung (piano), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Carlos Izcaray

The Spanish violinist’s debut recording presents four modern works inspired by baroque music: Max Richter’s homage to Vivaldi in The Four Seasons Recomposed, Isang Yun’s response to Bach’s A Musical Offering, Salvador Brotons’s Variations on a Baroque Theme, and Alfred Schnittke’s Suite in the Old Style.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Menahem Pressler (piano)

The 94 year old pianist (whose victory at the 1946 Debussy Competition kickstarted his international career) makes his solo debut on the Yellow Label with excerpts from Children’s Corner, Suite Bergamasque and the Preludes, plus Fauré’s Barcarolle and Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant défunte.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Colin Currie, Synergy Vocals

For the first release on the eponymous percussionist’s own label, The Colin Currie Group presents Steve Reich’s 1971 tour de force Drumming - the work with which they made their debut in 2006 to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday at the BBC Proms (incidentally, also the Proms premiere of the work); the concert was praised by The Independent for its ‘joyously cumulative sense of ritual theatre’.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Stéphane Degout (baritone), Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon

The stylish French baritone makes his recording debut on Harmonia Mundi with a fascinating programme centring on depictions of the underworld in the music of Rameau, Gluck and Rebel; scenes from operas including Zoroastre, Dardanus, Iphigenie en Tauride and Armide intersperse the movements of a Requiem assembled from themes from Castor et Pollux.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Ruby Hughes (soprano), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Laurence Cummings

The British soprano (who won the London Handel Competition in 2009) explores music written for the Italian soprano Giulia Frasi, who created Iphis in Handel’s Jephtha, the Queen of Sheba in Solomon and title-roles in Theodora and Susanna; also includes arias from operas, oratorios and masques by Thomas Arne, Vincenzo Ciampi, John Christopher Smith and Philip Hayes.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Martha Argerich (piano). West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim

This live recording captures the second of the West-Eastern Divan’s 2016 Proms performances, beginning with Jörg Widmann’s concert overture Con brio, followed by an account of Liszt’s first Piano Concerto which was described by The Guardian as ‘electrifying, somehow not flashy, warmly accompanied’; the programme also includes orchestral highlights from Wagner’s operas and (by way of encore) Barenboim joining Argerich on the piano-stool for Schubert’s Rondo for Piano Duet D951.

Available Format: DVD Video

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim

Picture: Full HD – 16:9, Sound: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0

Available Format: Blu-ray