Press Room

EMI Classics & Virgin Classics December 2010 releases

As music lovers enter the final lap of their holiday shopping marathon, EMI Classics and Virgin Classics offer some high-profile releases that are perfect recommendations for last minute gifts.  Opera and vocal enthusiasts have multiple offerings to choose from, including an all-star performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater conducted by Antonio Pappano and featuring Anna Netrebko, Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo on EMI Classics; French superstar countertenor Philippe Jaroussky singing opera arias by Antonio Caldara on Virgin Classics; and Luc Bondy’s controversial season-opening production from 2009-10 of Puccini’s Tosca from New York’s Metropolitan Opera, with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila in the title role, also on Virgin Classics.  Other highlights this month include Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang playing Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, and The Very Best of Nigel Kennedy, both on EMI Classics.
Rossini: Stabat Mater
Netrebko, DiDonato, Brownlee, D’Arcangelo
Orchestra and Chorus dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Antonio Pappano
CD and downloads available December 7 from EMI Classics
Internationally renowned conductor and exclusive EMI Classics artist Antonio Pappano and Italy’s leading symphony orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, continue their highly successful collaboration with a new studio recording of Rossini’s hauntingly beautiful Stabat Mater for chorus, orchestra, and soloists.  They are joined on the album by four international star soloists: Anna Netrebko, Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo.
Rossini’s Stabat Mater – a setting of a ancient Roman poem that portrays the suffering of Christ’s mother as she witnesses the crucifixion of her son – is the product of the composer’s later years, written long after he had retired from composing opera.  The work took a decade to complete and was premiered in 1842 in Paris, where it proved an immediate triumph.
EMI Classics’ most recent recording with Pappano and Santa Cecilia, featuring Verdi’s powerful and transcendent Requiem, garnered extensive critical acclaim and won both the 2010 Classical Brit Critics’ Choice Award and the BBC Music Magazine Award for Best Choral Recording.
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez
Xuefei Yang, guitar
Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya
CD and downloads available December 7 from EMI Classics
“Xuefei Yang’s touch throughout this program of Spanish pieces is stunning, with nimble fingering of trills and runs, and subtly emotional phrasing in the slower passages.”
– Independent (UK)
In her new release, Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang performs the most famous concerto for her instrument: Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.  Recorded in Barcelona in July 2010, Yang’s performance with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya harkens back to the 1939 premier of this great work by the same orchestra.
Coupled with this famous concerto is a new one, here receiving its world-premiere recording, based on arrangements of four works by the guitar master, Albéniz, whose 100th anniversary was in 2009.  The arrangements of these four works are by the composer Stephen Goss, who is also responsible for the beautiful solo arrangements of Chinese folksongs on Yang’s most recent album: 40 Degrees North.
The album also contains Albéniz’s rarely recorded complete solo suite Espana: 6 hojas de album on guitar, as well as Rodrigo’s solo piece Invocación y danza, which was written in 1961 and won the first prize in Coupe International de Guitare, awarded by Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Francaise (ORTF).  At age 14, Yang played the Invocación y danza in the presence of Rodrigo during her Madrid debut in 1991.  The piece is dedicated to R. Sainz de la Maza, the guitarist-composer of the exclusive iTunes bonus track available with this album, Zapateado.
Caldara: Opera Arias
Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor
Concerto Köln / Emmanuelle Haïm
CD and downloads available December 7 from Virgin Classics
Philippe Jaroussky continues to rediscover long-forgotten arias for high male voice with this collection of music by Antonio Caldara (1670/71-1736), a contemporary of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, and the first composer to set many librettos by the great Metastasio and Zeno.  This is Jaroussky’s eighth solo album for Virgin Classics and his second recital to be conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm.
With this new album, Jaroussky revives a number of forgotten works by the Venetian-born Antonio Caldara, who made his career in Mantua, Barcelona, Rome, and Vienna.  All the arias – several recorded for the very first time – come from operas with librettos by Metastasio (1698-1782), whose noble texts defined the genre of opera seria.
England’s Guardian praised Jaroussky’s previous recording, La dolce fiamma, an album of opera arias by J.C. Bach: “You can’t help but be seduced by the passion and range of Jaroussky’s singing, which embraces everything from perfect coloratura to rapt introversion.”  Meanwhile, in the countertenor’s native France – where he won a third high-profile award in the annual Victoires de la Musique in 2010 – the Diapason asked: “Can Philippe Jaroussky’s talent be praised any further? … His indomitable technique enables him to tackle the wildest vocalises, but also, thanks to his cultivated legato, to caress sinuous melodic curves.  His even, wide-ranging voice charms from the first moment.  There’s a touch of mystery, great gentleness, subtlety, and sweetness – and the magic of singing does the rest.”
Jaroussky recently appeared in New York with Christina Pluhar and her ensemble L’Arpeggiata, performing their Monteverdi program Teatro d’Amore, which they also recorded for Virgin Classics.  Soon after, Jaroussky was profiled in a feature for the New York Times Magazine, available online here:
Track list:
1.   Lo seguitai felice (L’Olimpiade)
2.   Misero pargoletto (Demofoonte)
3.   Numi assistenza (La clemenza di Tito)
4.   Opprimete i contumaci (La clemenza di Tito)
5.   Mentre dormi Amor fomenti (L’Olimpiade)
6.   Non tremar vassallo indegno (Temistocle)
7.   Se mai senti spirarti sul volto (La clemenza di Tito)
8.   O mi rendi il bel ch’io spero (Scipione nelle Spagne)
9.   Tutto fa nocchiero esperto (Ifigenia in Aulide)
10. Tutti nemici e rei (Adriano in Siria)
11. Son io Fabio (Lucio Papiro dittatore)
12. Troppo è insoffribile fiero martir (Lucio Papiro dittatore)
13. Contrasto assai più degno (Temistocle)
14. Vado o sposa (Enone)
15. Se un core annodi (Achille in Sciro)
Puccini: Tosca
Karita Mattila, Marcelo Alvarez, George Gagnidze, Paul Plishka
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus, New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra / Joseph Colaneri
DVD available December 7 from Virgin Classics
The production by Swiss-born Luc Bondy of Puccini’s Tosca featured on this new Virgin Classics DVD opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009-10 season.  It was the first to be programmed entirely by the house’s new General Manager, Peter Gelb, who, as the New York Times explains, “has been on a campaign to make the house a place for theatrically daring productions with dramatically compelling casts.”
Bondy’s production ignites Tosca’s potent mix of sex, politics, music, and religion, contrasting starkly with its predecessor at the Met – a traditional spectacular first staged by Franco Zeffirelli in 1985.  According to the Los Angeles Times, “Bondy updated the story of a diva, her lover, and the lecherous chief of the secret police from 1800 to a decadent Rome in the early 20th century.  Cavaradossi paints a topless, fetching Mary Magdalene, which Tosca, in a fit of jealousy, slashes with a knife.”
The title role is performed by the daring soprano Karita Mattila, whom Opera News has called, “an artist defined by her ability to take risks – emotionally, vocally, temperamentally.”  The striking Finnish blue-eyed blonde becomes a sultry dark-eyed Roman brunette for the role, and brings “shimmering power, incisive attack, pliant lyricism, and emotional honesty to her performance… . In Act III, when she tells Cavaradossi of having stabbed Scarpia to death, she leapt to a high C of ferocious intensity, then plunged down two octaves, mimicking the thrust of the knife into the villain’s gut.”
American maestro Joseph Colaneri conducted this performance, replacing an indisposed James Levine.  Colaneri has regularly taken charge of Italian repertoire at the Met since 2000.  As Opera News observes, “the combined effect of the Met chorus and orchestra remains a thing of wonder.”
Amor – Richard Strauss: Opera Scenes and Lieder
Natalie Dessay, soprano
with Felicity Lott, Angelika Kirchschlager, Sophie Koch
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Antonio Pappano
CD and downloads available December 7 from Virgin Classics
“This disc proves that the French soprano Natalie Dessay is as much at home in Richard Strauss’s coloratura repertoire as she is in Mozart or her native opera and operetta.  It opens with Zerbinetta’s set-piece aria from Ariadne auf Naxos, a wonderful demonstration of her vocal artistry: pure, open tone, agility, and the knowing characterization of one who has sung the role many times on stage.”
Daily Telegraph (UK)
Having received much praise after the original release of this album in 2004, Natalie Dessay has made a name for herself on stage in Richard Strauss’s opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, as the reigning Zerbinetta of our time.  In a program worthy of the greatest Strauss sopranos, Virgin Classics presents Dessay in performances of four Brentano Lieder and scenes from Arabella, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Der Rosenkavalier.
Also featured on this album are several other dazzling singers of our day, including Felicity Lott, Angelika Kirchschlager, Sophie Koch, and Thomas Allen.  Under the direction of EMI Classics conductor Antonio Pappano, this fabulous cast is supported by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.  This sensational album was certainly among the most important opera/vocal releases of 2004, the year of its original release.
The program is distributed as follows: Natalie Dessay sings the Brentano Lieder and the roles of Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Zdenka (Arabella), and Sophie (Die Rosenkavalier); Felicity Lott is the Marschallin (Die Rosenkavalier) and Arabella (Arabella); Angelika Kirchschlager is Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier); Sophie Koch is the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos); and Thomas Allen sings the roles of the Music Master (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Faminal (Der Rosenkavalier).
Special compilations, boxed sets, and reissues
The Very Best of Nigel Kennedy
Nigel Kennedy, violin
Two-CD set and downloads available December 7 from EMI Classics
Nigel Kennedy, one of the world’s best-known and best-selling classical artists, refuses to play by any one set of rules.  In the past decade he has recorded Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Mlynarsky, and Karlowicz, and laid his personal instrumental stamp on the songs of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Kate Bush.  Kennedy has also performed the violin introduction to “Baba O’Riley” on stage with The Who; performed at London’s BBC Proms with Jeff Beck; explored klezmer music with Polish band Kroke; dug deep into the roots of modern jazz on The Blue Note Sessions, an album recorded with Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette; and most recently, on his 2010 release Shhh!, collaborated with his old friend and North London neighbor Boy George, on Nick Drake’s classic “River Man.”
EMI Classics’ new two-CD set celebrates the multiple facets of Kennedy’s career.  The first disc focuses on classical repertoire, featuring Kennedy’s iconic recordings of the popular violin repertoire: movements from the great concertos including those of Bruch and Beethoven; the Four Seasons; and stand-alone works such as Zigeunerweisen and Lark Ascending.  The second disc features the jazz and pop repertoire: standards from the violinist’s Blue Note Sessions album, performances of his own pop and fusion compositions with the Nigel Kennedy Quintet and the Polish klezmer trio Kroke, and tracks from his latest album, Shhh!
Track list:
CD 1
1.   Vivaldi: Allegro from Concerto No. 3 in F, Op. 8, No. 3 “L’Autumno” (RV293)
2.   Bruch: Adagio from Concerto for violin and orchestra No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26
3.   J. S. Bach: Allegro from Violin Concerto in E (BWV 1042)
4.   Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending (Romance for violin and orchestra)
5.   Brahms (arr. & orch. Kennedy with J. Lenehan & M. Messiter): Hungarian Dance No. 5
6.   Massenet: Méditation from Thaïs
7.   Beethoven: Larghetto from Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61 (cadenza: Kennedy)
8.   Chopin (arr. Krzesimir Debski): Andante from Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2
9.   Rimsky-Korsakov (arr. & orch. Kennedy with J. Lenehan & M. Messiter): “The Flight of the
      Bumble-Bee” from The Tale of Tsar Saltan
10. Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20
11. Kroll (arr. & orch. Kennedy with J. Lenehan & M. Messiter): Banjo and Fiddle
CD 2
1.   Kenny Burrell: Midnight Blue
2.   Bawol/Kennedy/Kukurba/Lato: Kukush
3.   Nick Drake: River Man
4.   Horace Silver: Song for my Father
5.   Bawol/Kennedy/Kukurba/Lato: Lullaby for Kamila
6.   Kennedy: Carnivore of the Animals
7.   Bawol/Kennedy/Kukurba/Lato: One Voice
8.   Kennedy: The Empty Bottle
9.   Kennedy: Nice Bottle of Beaujolais, Innit?
10. Kennedy: Maybe in your Dreams
11. Kennedy: Boo boooz blooooze
Acclaim for recent releases from EMI Classics and Virgin Classics
Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano; London Symphony Orchestra / Antonio Pappano (released October 2010)
“Leif Ove Andsnes’s new recording of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto, with Antonio Pappano conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, is just as rippling and brilliant as his 1995 live recording with the Oslo Philharmonic but even more rhapsodic and searching.  This welcome release includes a bracing account of Rachmaninov’s enigmatic, experimental Fourth Concerto.”
New York Times [Anthony Tommasini] 
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker – complete ballet
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle (released October 2010)
“‘Why haven’t I heard this before?’ I kept asking my car CD player on a long drive through the fall colors of Midwestern bluff-country.  The CD player didn’t respond – it just kept spinning track after track of 120-year-old music that was brand-new to me, as colorful and surprising as what I saw out my window. …When I listened to the Berlin Philharmonic’s drop-dead gorgeous new two-CD set, I heard this beautiful, inventive, and fanciful music for the first time.  It was like reading a classic novel I’d previously known only through SparkNotes.”
NPR Music [Brian Newhouse] 
Italian Concertos
Alison Balsom, trumpet; Scottish Ensemble (released October 2010)
“There is nothing quite like the happy-days-are-here-again of the Italian Baroque to dispel holiday blues.  The young British trumpeter Alison Balsom knocks off high notes like they were going out of style in ‘Italian Concertos.’”
Los Angeles Times [Mark Swed] 
Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for violin and piano
Renaud Capuçon, violin; Frank Braley, piano (released November 2010)
“Five stars out of five.  This is the finest new cycle of the Beethoven violin sonatas to appear on disc in years.  As their previous trio recordings for Virgin with cellist Gautier Capuçon have demonstrated, Renaud Capuçon and Frank Braley are outstandingly musical players whose partnership is founded on a shared sense of expressive purpose.  Nothing seems forced or contrived in these performances; Capuçon’s tone is unfailingly warm, Braley’s piano sound lacks any hard edges, and each of their phrases seems shaped with uncomplicated naturalness.”
Guardian [Andrew Clements] 
Simon Rattle in New York City
December 17, 2010 – January 1, 2011
Sir Simon Rattle makes Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (New York, NY)
December 19, 2010
Sir Simon Rattle conducts Ensemble ACJW at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall
Program: Rameau’s Suite from Les Boréades; Ligeti’s Violin Concerto and Mysteries of the Macabre; Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen: A Study for 23 Solo Strings (New York, NY)
For further information:
Visit EMI Classics’ YouTube channel for video previews of many of its new and recent releases:
Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: (212) 625-2038, [email protected]
Jan Lee, EMI Classics: (212) 786-8963, [email protected]


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