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EMI Classics & Virgin Classics September releases

The thrilling, young, and award-winning Ebène Quartet is heard and seen on two new releases from Virgin Classics this month: an all-Mozart recording, Dissonances, so named because of the strikingly modern harmonies that open the first movement of the composer’s remarkable String Quartet in C (KV 465), and Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère, a new DVD filmed at one of Paris’s most famous music halls. Virgin Classics also releases the world-premiere recording of Gluck’s opera Ezio this month, in a performance by Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco. On EMI Classics, Sir Simon Rattle leads the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in an all-Schoenberg album that features the composer’s orchestration of Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor; Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene (Accompaniment to a Film Scene); and the full orchestral version of the Chamber Symphony No. 1. Details of these and other releases follow, as well as a schedule of fall appearances by EMI Classics and Virgin Classics in North America.
Ebène Quartet: Two New Releases
Mozart: Dissonances
String Quartets in D minor (K. 421) and C (K. 465), “Dissonance”
Divertimento in F (K. 138)
CD and downloads available September 27 from Virgin Classics
Quatuor Ebène: Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère
Special guests Natalie Dessay, Stacey Kent, and Jim Tomlinson
DVD available September 27 from Virgin Classics
“We are fortunate to have a clutch of young, extremely talented string quartets in action today… . But none except the Ebène Quartet can sing four-part harmony on tunes like ‘Someday My Prince Will Come,’ improvise solos on standards like ‘Nature Boy,’ shred with conviction on the surf-rock classic ‘Misirlou,’ and uncover the unique sound world of Fauré, Debussy, and Ravel.”
– NPR Music
France’s dynamic young Ebène Quartet, whose unique ability to switch seamlessly from core classical repertoire to jazz and pop music has made it one of classical music’s most talked-about ensembles, returns to the U.S. in the 2011-12 season with live performances and master classes, and on two new recordings from Virgin Classics. Fall performances in Pasadena, CA (Oct 2) and Portland, OR (Oct 3 & 4), master classes at the Colburn School in Los Angeles (Oct 5–13), and a concert with the Colburn Chamber Music Society (Oct 9) will coincide with the release on September 27 of Dissonances, an all-Mozart album featuring two of the composer’s “Haydn” Quartets (K. 421 and K. 465, “Dissonance”) and the Divertimento (K. 138), as well as Quatuor Ebène: Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère, a new DVD filmed at one of Paris’s most famous music halls. The Ebène will return to the U.S. in March for performances across the country and Canada beginning in San Diego (March 2), and including stops in San Francisco (March 8), New Orleans (March 14), and New York City, where they will make their debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (March 18).
The Ebène’s new Mozart recording takes its name from the C-major quartet (K. 465), “Dissonance,” so named because of the strikingly modern harmonies that open the first movement. Also on the album is the String Quartet in D minor (K. 421), the only one of the so-called “Haydn” Quartets – the six quartets Mozart wrote for and dedicated to his friend, mentor, and fellow composer, Joseph Haydn – in a minor key. The final movement is a haunting theme and variations that brings to mind the otherworldly feeling of Schubert’s late works.
The program on Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère was drawn from the Ebène’s previous audio release, Fiction, which features improvisations and arrangements of themes from film soundtracks, jazz standards, and rock classics. Among the highlights of Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère are Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia, and the quartet’s much talked-about spin on Misirlou, a tune made famous by surf guitarist Dick Dale and by its inclusion in the film Pulp Fiction. Two special guests join the Ebène for the program: the dazzling French soprano Natalie Dessay, who sings Harold Arlen’s Over the Rainbow, and jazz singer Stacey Kent, who sings Jobim’s Corcovado. The complete program is listed below.
The New York Times has described the Ebène as “a string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band,” and critic Steve Smith gave high marks to performance of selections from Fiction at WQXR’s Greene Space in New York in April:
“The group’s solid grounding in jazz came through in its nuanced arrangements – dreamy small-combo drift for Miles Davis’s ‘All Blues’; big-band swagger in a racing account of Eden Ahbez’s ‘Nature Boy’ – and in its confident, idiomatic improvisations. Still further afield, an Ebène arrangement of the Dick Dale surf-rock anthem ‘Misirlou’ teased out the song’s piquant Mediterranean roots; a rendition of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’ did uncommon justice to the danger and libido in the original. When the Ebène members sang in elegantly harmonized French to start ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come,’ you grew convinced that there was nothing they couldn’t do.”
In June, NPR Music named Fiction one of the top 25 albums for the first half of 2011, calling the performances, “some of the most stunningly agile string playing of recent times” and “a ridiculous amount of fun.”
Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet and music from Fiction will be featured on the Ebène’s concert programs this season in North America. They will also perform quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky on tour (programs and cities follow).
The Ebène Quartet rose to international prominence when their debut recording for Virgin Classics, featuring quartets by Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré, won Gramophone’s coveted Recording of the Year (2009). Gramophone’s editor enthused,
“What a sensational disc! At a time when there is a multitude of crack new quartets, Quatuor Ebène here stake their claim to join the top rank with riveting playing that encompasses an almost otherworldly sound range. The Debussy especially left me reeling.”
A video of the Ebène playing Misirlou at the Verbier Festival is available here, and an excerpt of Stacey Kent singing Corcovado with the Ebène at the Folies Bergère is available here.
Program for Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère
1.   Footprints
2.   Nature Boy
3.   Misirlou
4.   Unrequited
5.   Calling You
6.   Corcovado with Stacey Kent
7.   All Blues / So What
8.   Somewhere Over the Rainbow with Natalie Dessay
9.   Libertango
10. Nothing Personal
11. 7-29-4 The Day Of
12. Streets of Philadelphia
Schoenberg: Orchestral Works
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle
CD and downloads available September 13 from EMI Classics
“The late Accompaniment to a Film Scene, effectively a miniature tone poem, is new to his Schoenberg discography… . [It is] superbly played by the Berlin Phil, with Rattle encapsulating perfectly its concentrated drama.”
– Guardian (UK)
Following the release of the complete Brahms symphonies (“altogether a marvelous achievement” – Daily Telegraph), Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic have performed and recorded a program of orchestral works by Arnold Schoenberg, who was a great admirer of Brahms. The repertoire, recorded in concert at Berlin’s Philharmonie in fall 2009, consists of Schoenberg’s orchestration of Brahms’s Piano Quartet in G minor; Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene (Accompaniment to a Film Scene), Op. 34; and the full orchestral version of the Chamber Symphony No. 1.
In these three contrasting works, Schoenberg evokes the spirits of Modernism, Romanticism, and Classicism and reveals himself as a revolutionary whose aesthetic roots lay firmly in tradition. Sir Simon Rattle, who first established his international reputation with masterpieces of the 20th century, explores these musical cross currents with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, long supreme in Austro-German repertoire.
Sir Simon Rattle discusses the album in a video interview here.
Gluck: Ezio
Sonia Prina; Max Emanuel Cencic; Ann Hallenberg; Topi Lehtipuu; Julian Prégardien; Mayuko Karasawa
Il Complesso Barocco / Alan Curtis
Two-CD set and downloads available September 27 from Virgin Classics
Ezio is one of Gluck’s early operas, unknown outside academic circles. But if Curtis, the inspirational American scholar-conductor, believes in it enough to make its debut recording, there must be something worth hearing.”
– Financial Times
Described by the New York Times as “one of the great scholar-musicians of recent times,” Alan Curtis conducts a brilliant cast including Sonia Prina, Ann Hallenberg, Max Emanuel Cencic, and Topi Lehtipuu in the world-premiere recording of Gluck’s Ezio. Described by Curtis as, “from a dramatic point of view, perhaps the finest of Gluck’s pre-Orfeo operas,” this recording presents the original version of Ezio, which received its premiere in Prague in 1750.
Written to a libretto by the prolific and influential Metastasio, Ezio exemplifies the formal opera seria that Gluck sought to leave behind with his so-called reform operas such as Orfeo and Alceste. However, after Orfeo’s epoch-making premiere in Vienna in 1762 he revised Ezio in the reform-opera style for performance at the city’s Burgtheater in 1763.
The last Virgin Classics release from Curtis and his orchestra featured an all-star cast, led by Joyce DiDonato, in Handel’s Ariodante. London’s Telegraph gave the album five stars, calling it “a supremely polished performance…, more than a match for the rival versions in the current catalog conducted by Marc Minkowski, Nicholas McGegan, Ivor Bolton, and Raymond Leppard.”
Special compilations, boxed sets, and reissues
EMI Classics – The Home of Opera series
Various artists
Ten new titles available September 13 from EMI Classics
With an unrivaled catalog of over 450 complete opera recordings produced over the last 60 years – and an illustrious succession of artists that today includes such names as Angela Gheorghiu, Natalie Dessay, Joyce DiDonato, Roberto Alagna, Antonio Pappano, and Riccardo Muti – EMI Classics, with its sister label Virgin Classics, can rightly claim to be the Home of Opera.
This month, EMI Classics introduces ten more timeless operas into the series, this time focusing on highlights from some of the most famous and beloved recordings in the catalog. Among those operas that are surveyed are Puccini’s Tosca, Wagner’s Lohengrin, and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, performed by opera greats from Maria Callas to Plácido Domingo, and many others.
Information about the series is available at
Bellini: Norma (highlights)
Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Christa Ludwig, Nicola Zaccaria
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano / Tullio Serafin
Delibes: Lakmé (highlights)
Natalie Dessay, Gregory Kunde, José Van Dam
Chœur et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse / Michel Plasson
Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor (highlights)
Edita Gruberova, Alfredo Kraus, Renato Bruson, Robert Lloyd
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Nicola Rescigno
Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana / Leoncavallo: Pagliacci (highlights)
Renata Scotto, José Carreras, Kari Nurmela, Ugo Benelli, Thomas Allen, Montserrat Caballé, Matteo Manuguerra, Julia Hamari, Astrid Varnay
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra / Riccardo Muti
Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (highlights)
Giuseppe Taddei, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Anna Moffo, Fiorenza Cossotto, Eberhard Wächter Philharmonia Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra / Carlo Maria Giulini
Puccini: Tosca (highlights)
Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Renato Bruson
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra /James Levine
Verdi: Il trovatore (highlights)
Franco Corelli, Gabriella Tucci, Giulietta Simionato, Robert Merrill
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma / Thomas Schippers
Verdi: La traviata (highlights)
Beverly Sills, Nicolai Gedda, Rolando Panerai
John Alldis Choir, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Aldo Ceccato
Verdi: Rigoletto (highlights)
Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes, Alfredo Kraus, Mignon Dunn, Samuel Ramey
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra / Julius Rudel
Wagner: Lohengrin (highlights)
Jess Thomas, Elisabeth Grümmer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christa Ludwig, Gottlob Frick, Otto Wiener
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera / Dr. Richard Rossmayer; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Rudolf Kempe
EMI Classics and Virgin Classics artists on tour – fall 2011
September 18–24
William Christie: Lully’s Atys
New York, NY (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
September 22–24
Sarah Chang: Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Concert Hall)
October 2
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Borodin, and Brahms
Pasadena, CA (Coleman Concerts)
October 3
Ebène Quartet: Debussy and Ravel
Portland, OR (Lincoln Performance Hall)
October 4
Ebène Quartet: Mozart, Borodin, and Brahms
Portland, OR (Lincoln Performance Hall)
October 5–13
Ebène Quartet: master classes at Colburn School
Los Angeles, CA
October 9
Ebène Quartet with Colburn Chamber Music Society: Martinu: La revue de cuisine; Debussy: Quartet in G minor; and Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4
Los Angeles, CA (Colburn School)
October 26 – November 6
Philippe Jaroussky: US Tour with Apollo’s Fire
   Durham, NC (Oct 26)
   Los Angeles, CA (Oct 28)
   Berkeley, CA (Oct 30)
   Toronto, Canada (Nov 1)
   Ann Arbor, MI (Nov 3)
   Boston, MA (Nov 5)
   Storrs, CT (Nov 6)
October 27–29
Ian Bostridge: Haydn’s The Creation with Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Haitink
Chicago, IL
October 30
Ingrid Fliter: Beethoven and Chopin
Rockville, MD (Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington)
November 4
Ingrid Fliter: Beethoven and Chopin
Durham, NC (Duke University)
November 4
Xuefei Yang: Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with Detroit Symphony / Joana Carneiro
November 17, 19, & 20
Emmanuelle Haïm: Handel’s Il delirio amoroso and Water Music with Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles, CA (Walt Disney Concert Hall)
November 25 & 27
Leif Ove Andsnes: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 with Pittsburgh Symphony / Honeck
Pittsburgh, PA
November 28
Ian Bostridge, tenor and Thomas Adès, piano: music by Dowland, Adès, and Kurtág, plus Schumann’s Dichterliebe
New York, NY (Carnegie Hall)
Nov 30 & December 1
Leif Ove Andsnes: Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 with Montreal Symphony Orchestra / Roger Norrington
Montreal, Canada
December 31 – January 30
Joyce DiDonato: The Enchanted Island
New York, NY (Metropolitan Opera)
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]
Andrew Ousley, EMI Classics: (212) 786-8607, [email protected]






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