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EMI Classics & Virgin Classics July 2010 releases

Handel: Berenice
Klara Ek, Ingela Bohlin, Franco Fagioli, Romina Basso, Mary-Ellen Nesi, Vito Priante, Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani
Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis
Three CD-set and downloads available July 13 from Virgin Classics

“Curtis is such a fluent, undogmatic musician that anything he touches springs to life.  No one with an interest in Handel operas will be disappointed by his performance or by a cast led by the bright-voiced Klara Ek in the soprano title role and two excellent mezzos, Romina Basso and Mary-Ellen Nesi, as Selene and Arsace.” – Financial Times [Andrew Clark]

The New York Times has called Alan Curtis, “one of the great scholar-musicians of recent times,” while Gramophone has observed, “Alan Curtis has done more than most to prove that many of Handel’s 42 operas are first-rate music dramas.”  BBC Music magazine has praised him as “a seasoned Handelian who has contributed, perhaps more than anyone now, to the composer’s operas on disc.”

Curtis’s new recording of Handel’s Berenice is his seventh complete recording of a Handel opera for Virgin Classics; the six previous works (Admeto, Arminio, Deidamia, Radamisto, Rodrigo, and Fernando, rè di Castiglia) were re-released in a special 15-CD box in 2009, and 2011 will bring the release of Ariodante, with Joyce DiDonato in the title role, supported by Karina Gauvin, Sabina Puertolas, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and Topi Lehtipuu.

In Berenice, set in Alexandria in 80 B.C., the title role of the Egyptian queen is taken by Swedish soprano Klara Ek, while Italian countertenor Franco Fagioli is Demetrio, the man she loves, but who loves her sister Selene, played by Italian mezzo Romina Basso; another Swedish soprano, Ingela Bohlin, takes the travesty role of Alessandro, the man Berenice is expected to marry for political expediency, but whom, eventually, she happily chooses as her consort.

Berenice was composed at a turbulent time in Handel’s career, when he was undergoing both professional and personal crises.  It turned out to be the last opera he wrote for John Rich’s new theater in Covent Garden and was performed only four times before disappearing from view.  The first staged production since the 18th century took place in 1985 in the UK, at the University of Keele; the opera was subsequently staged in Cambridge in 1993 and Germany’s Karlsruhe Handel Festival presented Berenice in 2001.


A Year at King’s
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
CD and downloads available July 13 from EMI Classics

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is arguably the world’s most famous choral group.  The choir’s new album is a tour of the ecclesiastical year from Advent through to Ascension.  The paired ancient and modern settings represented on the album showcase the vast range of music that the choir performs each season reflecting Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection through the festivals of Advent, Christmas, Candlemas, Lent, Easter, and Ascension.  The rest of the year, known as Ordinary time, focuses more particularly on Christ’s ministry on earth.

A Year at King’s includes such favorites as Allegri’s Miserere and Barber’s Agnus Dei (an arrangement of his famous Adagio for Strings), as well as the first recording of Tavener’s Away in a Manger, written for King’s College Choir’s 2004 “Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.”  The rest of the program comprises music composed between the 15th and 20th centuries, including works by Palestrina, Pärt, Poulenc, Lassus, Holst, Guerrero, Eccard, Peter Philips, and Stanford.  The disc is rounded off with a spectacular performance of Tallis’s Spem in alium.  On this, as on many previous King’s College Choir recordings, the conductor is Stephen Cleobury, organist and Director of Music at King’s since 1982.

Track list
1.   Arvo Pärt: “O Weisheit” from 7 Magnificat Antiphons
2.   Arvo Pärt: “O Immanuel” from 7 Magnificat Antiphons
3.   Francisco Guerrero: Canite tuba
4.   Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Hodie Christus natus est
5.   John Tavener: Away in a Manger
6.   Francis Poulenc: Videntes Stellam
7.   Orlando Lassus: Videntes Stellam Magi
8.   Johannes Eccard: When to the temple Mary went
9.   Gustav Holst: Nunc Dimittis
10. Gregorio Allegri: Miserere
11. Samuel Barber: Agnus Dei
12. Peter Philips: Surgens Jesus
13. Charles Wood: ’Tis the day of Resurrection
14. Tomás Luis de Victoria: Ascendens Christus in altum
15. Charles Villiers Stanford: Coelos ascendit hodie, Op. 38
16. Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium unquam habui


Virgin Classics artists tour summer music festivals in U.S.

The dynamic young French pianist David Fray will make two important festival debuts in the U.S. this summer, beginning with performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (July 27 and 29).  Soon afterwards, he performs Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival (Aug 6 and 7).  The Mozart performances offer a preview of a new recording from Fray of this Mozart concerto along with Nos. 20 and 25, which is slated for release this fall and features Jaap van Sweden conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Fray made an international splash with his debut album for Virgin Classics a few seasons ago, boldly pairing the music of Bach with works by Pierre Boulez.  The New York Times called the album a “superbly played and thoughtful program,” noting: “in both Bach and Boulez, Mr. Fray displays an articulate touch, splendid command of shadings and nimble finger work.  The youthful freshness of the performances is especially appealing.  Mr. Fray is not intimidated by either giant.”  Since that release in November 2007 there have been additional recordings from Fray on Virgin Classics: a collection of Bach Keyboard Concertos and an all-Schubert album featuring the Moments musicaux and Impromptus.  The music of Bach and Schubert will make up the program of another important debut this fall, when Fray makes his Carnegie Hall recital debut in Zankel Hall on November 16.

Turning to more Virgin Classics recording artists on tour this season, the Ebène Quartet will also make important summer festival debuts, beginning on August 17 at the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival.  Additional concerts follow at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival (Aug 18), Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall (Aug 19), and Woodstock’s Maverick Concerts (Aug 22).  Featured tour programs include music by Mozart (Divertimento, K.136), Beethoven (Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131), and Bartók (String Quartet No. 1).

The Ebène Quartet burst onto the international concert scene with a debut recording for Virgin Classics featuring works by three French composers: Debussy, Fauré, and Ravel.  The widely-acclaimed album, released in the U.S. in October 2008, was named Gramophone’s 2009 Record of the Year.  Reviewing live performances by the Ebène in New York in Spring 2009, the New Yorker’s Alex Ross observed:

“Their performance of the Ravel Quartet was a riot of nuance, sometimes raptly lyrical and sometimes swingingly rhythmic.  A recent Virgin Classics CD of the Ravel, Debussy, and Fauré quartets shows similar virtues.  In a wacky encore, which involved both playing and humming variations on ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come,’ the Ebène revealed that they don’t take themselves too seriously.  They seem bound for greatness all the same.”

The quartet’s most recent release was an all-Brahms album.  They recently recorded an album of non-classical music (repertoire TBA) that will be released next season.  A 13-city tour of North America in Spring 2011 (March 31 – Apr 17) will begin with performances by the Ebène at the Savannah Music Festival, and will include performances in Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City (Apr 8).


EMI Classics and Virgin Classics: artists on tour – summer 2010
July 7
Ingrid Fliter: Recital
tba (Aspen, CO)
July 8
Ingrid Fliter: Schumann Symphonic Etudes
Aspen Music Festival (Aspen CO)
July 27 and 29
David Fray: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3
Hollywood Bowl (Los Angeles, CA)
August 2
Piotr Anderszewski: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17 (K.453)
Mostly Mozart Festival, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center (New York, NY)
August 6 and 7
David Fray: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 22 (K.482)
Mostly Mozart Festival, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center (New York, NY)
August 17
Quatuor Ebène: Mozart, Bartók, Debussy, and Beethoven
Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Springs, NY)
August 18
Quatuor Ebène: Mozart and Beethoven
Mostly Mozart Festival, Late-Night at Kaplan Penthouse, Lincoln Center (New York, NY)
August 19
Quatuor Ebène: Mozart, Bartók, and Beethoven
Tanglewood Festival, Seiji Ozawa Hall (Lenox, MA)
August 22
Quatuor Ebène: Mozart, Bartók, and Beethoven
Maverick Concerts (Woodstock, 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]

Mariko Tada, EMI Music: (212) 786-8964,  [email protected]

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© 21C Media Group, July 2010

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