Best of the year from EMI and Virgin Classics
Antonio Pappano Antonio Pappano Antonio Pappano
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Diana Damrau Diana Damrau Diana Damrau
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Simon Rattle Simon Rattle Simon Rattle
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Kate Royal Kate Royal Kate Royal
Kate Royal This song cycle charts a young girl’s journey of love and loss in four chapters: Waiting, Meeting, Wedding and Betrayal. It combines German Lieder, English and American songs and French melodies.
Alexandre Tharaud The imaginative French pianist performs a selection of Domenico Scarlatti’s captivating keyboard sonatas, drawing inspiration from developments in historically informed performance.
Joyce DiDonato DiDonato takes full advantage of the vocal and gender range of the mezzo repertoire, voicing not only the eager young men of her many “trouser” roles but also passionate heroines.
Christina Pluhar Christina Pluhar Christina Pluhar
Christina Pluhar L’Arpeggiata, the multi-faceted ensemble led by Christina Pluhar, brings its “unrivalled instrumental and vocal virtuosity” to Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine.
The John Wilson Orchestra The John Wilson Orchestra The John Wilson Orchestra Quatuor Ebène
Quatuor Ebène Quatuor Ebène Quatuor Ebène
The John Wilson Orchestra World renowned conductor and arranger John Wilson leads an all-star cast of singers and his eponymous orchestra on this recording of the bestloved songs from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
After their award-winning debut CD of Debussy, Ravel and Fauré, a Brahms programme and the pop-jazz Fiction, the quartet turns to two of Mozart’s Haydn Quartets and the Divertimento KV 138.
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Focus David Zinman at 75 – page I » The Scene Musical highlights – page IV » Reviews – page IX
leAdinG liGhtAt75,davidZinmancontinuesto drive the Zurich tonhalle Orchestra forwards with his youthful curiosity, as Michael McManus discovers
When David Zinman turned 75 in July, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, which he has led since 1995, laid on quite a party for him. At a concert the night before his birthday, pianist Radu Lupu and violinist Julia Fischer played and Alfred Brendel read some of his own poetry, thanking Zinman for providing the ‘many beautiful tones of a rare musical harmony’. The great and the good of Zurich assembled to honour a man who had restored the standing of Switzerland’s oldest orchestra, which had previously fallen into disrepair in the absence of a committed music director.
I meet Zinman several months on, in a Zurich that’s sunny yet autumnal, as he is about to travel to the Far East with the orchestra. The programmes will include Mahler’s Symphony No 5 and Brahms’s Symphony No 2, which receives a sprightly performance in the Tonhalle first. Zinman likens this latter piece to the film Babette’s Feast, because ‘each course is simply better than the one before’. Other orchestras from the German-speaking world have struggled to persuade their players to play in Japan since the earthquake there raised the spectre of radiation leaks. Only four Tonhalle players have exercised their entitlement to withdraw – a testament to the ethos Zinman has built. When Zinman agreed to extend his Zurich contract to 2014, he described the Tonhalle as his ‘last love’. He has evidently won over the orchestra and, just as importantly, their powerful patrons within the upper echelons of Zurich society with his combination of musical mastery and self-deprecating charm. ‘I’m your friend,’ he explained when he first introduced himself to the musicians, ‘but I’m also your boss.’ He no longer feels any need to be overly demonstrative in rehearsals, for these players know what he wants. Sometimes he stops conducting altogether and lets the musicians play, while somehow remaining the controlling mind. He deploys humour to good effect, too. ‘Just a little more grausam,’ he once implored. It is little wonder they adore him here.
Few, if any, great conducting reputations can be separated from particular tenures as music director: think of Sergey Koussevitzky in Boston, Fritz Reiner in Chicago, George Szell in Cleveland and gramophone.co.uk
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Leonard Bernstein in New York; and, more recently, Michael Tilson Thomas in San Francisco, Simon Rattle in Birmingham and Berlin and Mariss Jansons in Oslo, Amsterdam and Munich. Guest conducting may bring superstardom and a taste of the high life, but few, if any, maestros really find their life’s purpose on the road or in the air. Zinman certainly believes in commitment. His two decades with Zurich follow 13 years with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, 11 at the Rochester Philharmonic and 13 at the helm in Baltimore. This demonstrates the patience and application of this most genial and modest of maestros, but now his reputation is truly – and deservedly – taking wing. Fittingly for the 21st century, it is recordings that have spread the word about there being something special happening in a city usually associated more with banking than with music-making.
For his recent Mahler cycle, Zinman followed his preferred way of playing the works in concert before recording in studio conditions – in the excellent acoustic of the Tonhalle. The Swiss press commended the cycle both for its musical virtues and for what one critic described as ‘a sound quality one can scarcely believe to be possible’. Much of Zinman’s love of Mahler can be attributed to his time in London as assistant to Pierre Monteux. He still recalls with pleasure the famous LSO of the early 1960s, with players smoking at rehearsals and,
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