Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, James Gaffigan – Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (first version) (2015) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, James Gaffigan
Title: Prokofiev: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 (first version)
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2015
Duration: 00:32:36
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/CC72584-symphonies-nos-3-and-4-first-version

Sergei Prokofiev has a large reputation, although many of his works are seldom heard. The reason for this is that his music has a certain image, one created to some extent by the composer himself and one from which he found it difficult in later years to distance himself, no matter how hard he tried. One might summarise this image as that of a poker-faced comedian. Compositions that confirm this impression, such as the Classical Symphony, the Third Piano Concerto and some of his early piano works are amongst his best-known works.
He shows a different side in his works for voice; a side that is clearly close to his heart, since even though most of his operas enjoyed little in the way of success during his lifetime, he wrote at least eight of them, with lyricism to the fore and a tendency for declamation and unpredictable forms. The less popular of these include L’Ange de feu, based on the 1907 novel by the writer Bryusov, setting a 16th century tale of the passionate young girl Renata, who becomes obsessed by the devil. She vacillates between fascination and rejection. She can neither circumvent nor defy her own sorcery and is ultimately condemned to death. Prokofiev worked on this piece almost throughout the 1920s. When he realised that a performance was unlikely at the time, and because he was unaccustomed to leaving his musical inventions unperformed, he rearranged the material from the opera into a new symphony, his Third.

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Arno Piters, Members Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – Brahms, Schumann: Strings attached (2013) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Arno Piters, Members Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Title: Brahms, Schumann: Strings attached
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2013
Duration: 01:52:16
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/strings-attached

People have been making arrangements of music for many centuries. This can take a variety of forms, from arranging existing melodies into partsong versions such as chorales or folk tunes to writing elaborate compositions based on a specific theme. Another common type of arrangement is writing for a different instrumentation than the original. Composers of today and yesteryear have adapted or “improved”, more or less drastically, their own compositions or those of other composers.
Until around the mid-eighteenth century adaptation was felt to be on a par with an original composition. Bach, for example, did not consider it beneath himself to adapt works of colleagues such as Vivaldi and Telemann for his own use. But with the rise of the genius cult in the mideighteenth century, arrangements of music began to decline in status. Even so, significant composers such as Mozart and Beethoven eagerly threw themselves into making new adaptations. Beethoven primarily arranged his own work for different instrumentations, making for more ways of performing it, but he also wrote arrangements for string quartets of parts of the Well-tempered Clavier; Mozart, too, wrote similar adaptations. Then and later, Bach’s music continued to be in demand as material for arrangers: both Mendelssohn and Schumann composed complete piano accompaniments to his music for solo violin and solo cello, and Mendelssohn modernised the instrumentation of the St. Matthew Passion to suit the taste of the period. But nineteenthcentury composers also frequently made arrangements of their own work. Schumann, for example, transformed his original Symphony No. 2 into Symphony No. 4. A widely known example is Bruckner’s propensity to revise his own works, which would later make authenticity a problem. And Mahler thought nothing of refreshing the instrumentation of symphonies by Beethoven and more particularly Schumann, a custom that was considered completely acceptable in that day and age. In time though, the “improvements” made by Rimsky-Korsakow to the music of his colleague Moussorgski acquired a bad name.

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Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Michael Schonwandt – Schumann: Symphonic Works (2013) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic, Michael Schonwandt
Title: Schumann: Symphonic Works
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2013
Duration: 02:25:23
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/symphonic-works

Robert Schumann’s four symphonies are undoubtedly highlights of the symphonic repertoire and are a true challenge for any orchestra. The numbering of the symphonies produces a degree of confusion — the Symphony in D minor from 1841 was fundamentally revised by Schumann in 1851 and was then given number 4. The recording on this Album is a reconstruction of the original version and is in fact Schumann’s ‘Second’. It is remarkable to see how fast Schumann could work. He maintained a detailed and accurate administration of his activities. This means we know that as soon as he had an idea he was often able to write down a piano sketch in a few days, which was then instrumented during a very short period of time. The piano versions were often performed on piano by his wife Clara Schumann before a critical circle of friends at home. His direct involvement with the orchestral world in Leipzig, where his friend Felix Mendelssohn was in charge, and later in Dusseldorf — where he himself was Stdtischer Musikdirektor — meant that once his symphonies were orchestrated they could be programmed and performed immediately. Compared with our modern days this was an incredible enterprise — nobody was familiar with this complicated music and it was played from manuscripts. The works had not been published yet and every part was copied by hand!

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Al Ayre Espanol, Eduardo Lopez Banzo – Handel’s Memories – A selection from Grand Concertos op. 6 (2012) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Al Ayre Espanol, Eduardo Lopez Banzo
Title: Handel’s Memories – A selection from Grand Concertos op. 6
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2012
Duration: 01:34:02
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/handels-memories-a-selection-from-grand-concertos-op-6

George Frideric Handel arrived in England towards the end of 1710, encouraged by a group of music lovers excited by the extraordinary success he had achieved with his opera Agrippina in Venice. At the beginning of the 18th century, London was a very prosperous city in need of talent to modernize and revitalize its theatrical performances, and the German musician, who was then at the service of the Elector of Hanover (who would soon be crowned King of Great Britain), was the ideal candidate.
For many years, Handel was the most acclaimed composer of Italian opera in London, premiering at a rate of one show a year, and managing all aspects related to production, from the orchestra, which became one of the best in Europe, to the singers, with whom he did not always have optimal relationships. In 1733, he had a notorious clash with one of the most famous castrati of the time, Senesino, who founded, with the support of a good portion of the aristocracy, the Opera of the Nobility, determined to rival the German composer. Two Italian opera companies were too much for a city where this genre had seriously declined during the previous decade, hence the considerable losses they both accumulated during consecutive seasons. In 1737, Senesino’s opera closed permanently. Handel, exhausted by excessive work and the constant upsets, became seriously ill.

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Liza Ferschtman, Dmitry Ferschtman – Kodaly, Ravel, Schulhoff – Duos for Violin & Violincello (2012) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Liza Ferschtman, Dmitry Ferschtman
Title: Kodaly, Ravel, Schulhoff – Duos for Violin & Violincello
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2012
Duration: 02:05:04
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/duos-for-violin-and-violoncello

The name of Zoltn Kodly will always be irrevocably bound up with that of fellow countryman and friend Bla Bartk, with whom he collected and investigated the sources of original Hungarian folk music. After studying German and Hungarian, he even devoted a thesis to the Hungarian folksong in 1906. Despite political troubles and despite being thwarted by the Hungarian regime with its Nazi sympathies, as a member of the opposition Kodly metamorphosed into the fundament of Hungarian cultural life. And in contrast to Bartk, he even managed to get works performed abroad, works such as Psalmus Hungaricus and parts of Hary Jans. Kodly had made it his object to create a tradition of true Hungarian artistic music on the basis of Hungarian folklore and tradition, as can be heard in his own works. He remained in Hungary even when his good friend Bartk was given political asylum in the United States. He received many honours and afterthe war he was an internationally famed composer and instructor. Kodly died in Budapest in 1967.

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Liza Ferschtman, Mario Venzago, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra – Dvorak: Violin Concerto; Gershwin: An American in Paris (2011) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Liza Ferschtman, Mario Venzago, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Title: Dvorak: Violin Concerto; Gershwin: An American in Paris
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2011
Duration: 01:44:28
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/violin-concerto-an-american-in-paris

When Antonn Dvork first submitted a number of compositions in 1874 to qualify for a state stipendium, Eduard Hanslick, an influential music critic, but also a member of the assessment committee, was pleasantly surprised. Dvorak was awarded the grant and could spend all his time on composing. In the next years he again applied for the grant, and it was again awarded. When he appliedin 1877, he even received a personal letter from Hanslick, advising the young composer to get in touch with Johannes Brahms, who had been a member of the committee for several years. Brahms held Dvor?k’s work in high regard and wanted to meet him.
They indeed met shortly afterwards and soon became good friends. Brahms brought Dvork in contact with other composers, publishers and famous musicians. One of them was the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim, a good friend of Brahms for many years. Dvork was invited to the Joachim home in Berlin, where he was cordially received. The violinist even organised a home concert for the first performance of Dvork’s String Sextet and the Tenth String Quartet. The two men talked at great length, and Dvork spoke of the violin concerto which he had recently started to compose. Joachim, who had not long before played the premiere of Brahms’s Violin Concerto, responded with enthusiasm. Dvork spent the next few months labouring over the concerto and sent it to Joachim in the autumn of 1879.

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Jaap van Zweden, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir & State Male Choir Latvija – Wagner: Parsifal (2011) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz

Artist: Jaap van Zweden, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir & State Male Choir Latvija
Title: Wagner: Parsifal
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2011
Duration: 1:46:07+1:05:51+1:13:39
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://www.challengerecords.com/products/1298982403

This live recording of Wagner’s opera Parsifal comes from a memorable concert that took place in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in December 2010. It is performed by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir and conductor Jaap van Zweden. The cast includes tenor Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role, celebrated bass Robert Holl as Gurnemanz, bassbaritone Falk Struckmann as Amfortas, and soprano Katarina Dalayman as Kundry. The set also includes a bonus DVD featuring video footage of highlights from the performance.

Although first conceived in 1857, Parsifal ended up being Wagner’s last opera production at Bayreuth in 1882. The story is loosely based on the legend of the Arthurian knight Sir Percival and his quest for the Holy Grail.

Born in Amsterdam in 1960, Jaap Van Zweden began his musical career as a violinist, becoming at 19 the youngest ever concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In 1997, van Zweden made the decision to conduct full time, and was named the chief conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra where he remained until 2003. In 2000, he added the music directorship of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague to his credits, a post he held until 2005. Jaap van Zweden began his third season as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra last year. His commitment to the orchestra was recently extended through the 2015-16 season.

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Pauline Oostenrijk, Nienke Oostenrijk, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Jaap ter Linden – Oboe passion – Arias & concertos by J.S. Bach & sons (2011) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz

Artist: Pauline Oostenrijk, Nienke Oostenrijk, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Jaap ter Linden
Title: Oboe passion – Arias & concertos by J.S. Bach & sons
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2011
Duration: 1:09:12
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://www.challengerecords.com/products/1279030376

This 2-CD set is a re-issue of two separate albums, the first being a collection of arias for soprano and oboe by J.S. Bach performed by Pauline Oostenrijk and her sister the soprano Nienke Oostenrijk, (previously available on Vanguard), and the second a performance by Pauline of concertos by J.S. Bach, and two of his sons J.C. Bach and C.P.E Bach. Both recordings feature the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and conductor (and well-known cellist) Jaap ter Linden.

In 1999 Pauline Oostenrijk received the Music Prize of The Netherlands, the highest State Award for classical music. She is a member of the Orlando Wind Quintet and the ensemble Nieuw Amsterdams Peil, and several composers have dedicated works to her, among them Louis Andriessen. Pauline Oostenrijk’s previous releases for Challenge Classics include a collection of 20th century pieces ‘Oboesession’ (CC72062), and a disc devoted to concertos by Vivaldi (CC72389).

Pauline Oostenrijk’s sister Nienke appears in opera roles as well as on the concert platform, and has performed throughout Europe but mostly in The Netherlands and Germany. She is also a much sought-after Lieder singer.

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Pauline Oostenrijk, Baroque Academy Of The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Jan Willem de Vriend – Vivaldi: Concertos For Oboe, Strings And Basso Continuo (2010) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Pauline Oostenrijk, Baroque Academy Of The Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Jan Willem de Vriend
Title: Vivaldi: Concertos For Oboe, Strings And Basso Continuo
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2010
Duration: 01:48:50
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/concertos-for-oboe-strings-basso-continuo

In Vivaldi’s oeuvre, there is only one composition of which we are totally certain it was written for Pelegrina. Above the manuscript of the Sonata for oboe, violin, chalumeau and organ, RV 779, Vivaldi wrote the names of the girls for whom the piece was intended: Pelegrina dall’ Obo, Prudenza dal Contralto, Candida dalla Viola and Lucietta Organista*. But since Pelegrina was by far the most accomplished oboist when Vivaldi worked at the Ospedale (the only other oboist mentioned in the archives is one Susanna, in 1726), we can assume that a number of the oboe concertos featured on this CD were also written for, and performed by, Pelegrina. And that is why I would like to dedicate this recording to her.

To you, Pelegrina dall’ Obo, who came into this world with so little; but who managed to breathe colour and lustre into life with that beautiful, yet so obstinate, double-reed instrument; and who inspired one of the greatest Baroque composers to create little gems we can enjoy to this very day.

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Cappella Pratensis, Joshua Rifkin – Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope (2010) High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz

Artist: Cappella Pratensis, Joshua Rifkin
Title: Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope
Genre: Classical
Release Date: 2010
Duration: 01:04:52
Quality: High-Fidelity DSF Stereo DSD128/5.64MHz
Label: Challenge Records
Source: https://challengerecords.nativedsd.com/albums/vivat-leo-music-for-a-medici-pope

‘Let us enjoy the papacy, since God has given it to us’ — thus, according to a contemporary report, Giovanni de’ Medici, the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, on becoming pope in March 1513. Enjoy it he did. In the eight years of his reign, Leo X, as Giovanni now became known, lived extravagantly, holding banquet after banquet, hunt after hunt, and sometimes parading a white elephant through Rome. His costly enthusiasms extracted their price, of course; within two years of taking the throne, he had turned a handsome surplus left him by his predecessor into a deficit, and before long he had to raise funds by such dubious tricks as selling indulgences on a grand scale — provoking what would eventually become the Reformation. Yet Leo did not exhaust the papal treasury on frivolous things alone. A man of extensive humanistic learning, he supported notable scholars and poets, including Pietro Bembo; commissioned major works from Raphael; and initiated significant building projects. Above all, Leo loved music. He knew it from the inside, possessing sufficient technical knowledge to compose in five voices. He staffed the papal choir — the body responsible for music at liturgical services — with some of the most eminent singers and composers of his day, and he maintained a private body of musicians that similarly included several highly prized singers, composers, and instrumentalists. His awareness of musical developments extended well beyond Rome, moreover; he particularly admired the French royal chapelmaster Jean Mouton, the most influential composer of the day, whom Leo had occasion to meet in 1515 and named to a highly honorific church position.

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