Foyles Classical department was established in 2008 and is the now the largest of its kind in London. We offer a comprehensive range of titles on CD, DVD and Bluray. Alongside all the new releases we hold a hand-picked range of 10,000 titles with areas dedicated to both early and Renaissance music and late 20th century and contemporary composers. We specialise in opera, ballet and classical DVD and Bluray, offer a large array of collector’s boxed sets, have a thriving second-hand section and run a number of special offers on our favourite labels throughout the year. Help and advice and a musical chat are always on hand from Jim and Theo and we can order anything available in the UK and send it anywhere in the world if necessary.
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Classical Music CDs | Music and Dance DVDs and Blu-Ray
April's selection is chosen and reviewed by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and clarinetist Reto Bieri, and can all be found in our Music Department in the Charing Cross Road shop.
The Ligeti Project
Ligeti reinvented himself as a composer during his whole lifetime. The 5-CD box "Ligeti-Project" by Warner Classics gives an impressive overview of his work.
Among Kopatchinskaja's over 25 CDs, this album is the one nearest to her heart: duets for violin and different instruments, dating from the last thousand years, played with clarinettist Reto Bieri and other dear friends. It contains not only contemporary, but also very old music, e.g. the oldest notated polyphony, written a millennium ago in the Winchester Troper. The illustrated premium booklet is an introduction to music for young and not so young people. It also presents a sort of philosophy of interpretation and was written together with Patricia's daughter and husband.
Clarinettist Reto Bieri’s quest is for new frontiers in music and playing. On this CD he explores the possibilities of the solo-clarinet in works of contemporary music, many of which resulted from his collaboration with the composers. The repertoire goes to the limits of the instrument and of expression and includes Luciano Berio’s "Lied", Heinz Holliger’s "Contrechant" and "Rechant", Elliott Carter’s "Gra", Salvatore Sciarrino’s "Let me die before I wake", Péter Eötvös’s "Derwischtanz", and Gergely Vajda’s "Lightshadow-trembling".
Trio, Sonata, Duet
Galina Ustwolskaja (1919-2006) composed in the Soviet Union of Stalin and his successors and left about two dozen works, spiritual, laconic, monumental, shattering, often using queer combinations of a few instruments. Stravinsky after listening to them declared that now he finally understood what the iron curtain meant. Our CD presents her three works with violin: The violin sonata, the duet for violin and piano and the trio for clarinet, violin and piano. Markus Hinterhäuser is one of the few pianists who satisfied the demands of the composer.
Ligeti’s twin in spirit is Hungarian grandmaster György Kurtág (*1926). His works are distilled to the extreme - maximal expression with minimal means. His Kafka-fragments consist of small snippets of Kafka's works set for soprano and violin, here performed by Juliane Banse and Andras Keller to whom the work is dedicated. This cycle is a worthy successor of the Lied-cycles of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. We might add that Kurtág just premiered his first opera at the Scala: "Endgame" after Beckett, a ghastly summing up of our situation.
Piano Sonatas and String Quartets 1
The American Jack-Quartet, virtuosic, fearless and selfless, plays an enormous repertoire from middle ages to contemporary, a model for all musicians. Hear them in Horatiu Radulescu’s (1942-2008) string quartet "Before the Universe was born", primordial music with many dissonances and overtones, an example of the so-called "spectral music". Stephen Clarke adds two piano sonatas.
Beiset / Alb-Chehr
Swiss oboist Heinz Holliger (*1939) composes in the most inventive ways, drawing inspiration from everywhere. The piece Alb-Chehr is disquieting music set to a nightmarish legend from the Swiss Alps, spoken in the archaic Swiss-German dialect of the upper Valais. Partly played by folk-musicians on folk instruments and having a vaguely folkish air it's another example of music inspired by folklore. Also on the disc are songs dedicated to Kurtág on poems by Robert Walser.
Song of Songs
Last but not least: Composer Boris Yoffe (*1968) works every day on his collection of string quartets, short, strange and beautiful pieces, every part in them having its own individuality, music in a contemplative, almost mystical mood, captivatingly played by the Rosamunde quartet with lead violinist Andreas Reiner. In between are vocal works also by Yoffe sung by the Hilliards. Another imaginative gem from master-producer Manfred Eicher’s label "ECM new series" which permits so many discoveries.
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Symphony 5 and Hebrides Overture: Isabelle Faust, Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado.
This is one of those period instrument recordings that seems to turn familiar music inside out and upside down. Faust’s fantastical playing in the concerto is as far from the saccharine as I’ve ever heard but it’s the revelatory performance of my favourite Reformation symphony that excites most. A joy.
Bach, St. Matthew Passion
This oratorio is considered one of the greatest sacred works, but can be difficult to approach because of its length and melancholy tone. This recording is a good place to start. Avoiding the unbearable heaviness of some recordings, Gardiner combines beautiful textures with a plastic, sinewy sense of time which convincingly reinforces the relationship between the musical architecture and the emotions of the singers.
Bach Violin Concertos, Alina Ibragimova
Their interpretation of Bach’s concertos is precise and lively, avoiding melodrama. Rather than lingering over phrases to suggest depths of sentiment, they aim to keep everything clear and even. The result is pure and rhythmic, very exciting in the fast movements, and equally rewarding in the slow movements. Ibragimova is well balanced with the orchestra, only giving herself a little more freedom in tempo. The best is the D minor concerto, which seems particularly well suited to this treatment, and surges along irresistibly.
Beethoven Piano Trios, Alexander Melnikov, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras
As you would expect, their playing is excellent and their interpretation is sensitive and well-balanced. But their main accomplishment is successfully recreating Beethoven in the beautiful timbres of fortepiano and period strings. Everything is slightly different: the small, hard notes of the fortepiano in particular seem to loosen the whole texture. It is a new world of colour for people who have only heard the trios played on modern instruments, and worth discovering.
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hesperion XXI, Jordi Savall
Alia Vox remains Foyles bestselling label with each new issue eagerly received. Jordi Savall - scholar, polymath, musician - restlessly explores all musical byways and this recording of 14th century pilgrim songs from the Montserrat abbey in Northern Spain is one of his finest. The chant and songs are both hauntingly atmospheric and joyously uplifting and as usual the recording is accompanied by a wonderful illustrated book, which, in this case, also contains a DVD of the concert at which the disc was recorded. Highly recommended.
Dutilleux, Tout un Monde Lointain
The best thing about this piece is how alive and free it feels. The mood it expresses is turbulent, mysterious, and even bleak or catastrophic, but this is only one part of its effect. We are also affected by a sense of the plan or purpose of the piece, and here the music is able to wander and mutate in strange ways without feeling aimless. There is some hidden significance that always keeps us engaged. It is an enigmatic piece, but Rostropovich’s playing is urgent and definite, and is what makes this recording a success.
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