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August 3 , 2012

Reviews of the Week

UK magazine Gramophone on Garth Knox' Saltarello

‘Saltarello’ is every bit as inventive and beautiful as its predecessor , ‘D’amore’ (9/08), rendering time and geographical space irrelevant in its jumping – the word ‘saltarello’ derives from the Italian for’to jump’ – from place to place and piece to piece. The repertoire moves with sublime elegance from Irish folk music to the German and French Middle Ages, the English and Italian Baroque and thence, in the figures of Saariaho and Knox himself, to the present.
Bringing all this music seamlessly together are the remarkable sonic possibilities offered by the combination of cello and viola or viola d’amore. A fiddle and electronics are added for good measure but it’s the massive range and depth of beauty of just these two instruments playing together that is at the heart of the recording.
Ivan Moody, Gramophone

Dennis Russell Davies' and the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester's recording of music by Lutoslawski and Bartók on Musique funèbre continues to impress British reviewers

Juxtaposing Lutoslawskis ‘Funeral Music’ in memory of Béla Bartók (1956-58) with the Hungarian’s divertimento (1939) is apt beyound the textural common string-orchestral ground. Bartók was creative godfather to the Pole, whose musical gravestone references the Divertimento obliquely. The obvious coupling – perhaps too obvious – would have been the ‘Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta’ but the ‘Romanian Folk Dances’, given here in the familiar 1937 string-orchestral transcription by Arthur Willner, act as a kind of creative corrective (not for the first time on disc), moving back towards the raw material from which Bartók’s creativity – and, at a further remove, Lutoslawski’s own – sprang. [...] Dennis Russell Davies ellicits finely judged and very refined performances from the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Thier measured account of Lutoslawski’s ‘Funeral Music’ is deeply felt and, while not displacing the composer’s own, gets to the heart of the matter. . [...] Typically superb ECM sound...
Guy Rickards, Gramophone

Praise from the UK for Arianna Savall's and Petter Udland Johansen's Hirundo Maris

The clear tones of Arianna’s voice are enhanced by her sparkling harp playing. Their Chants du Sud et Nord splice together the idioms of Norwegian, Catalan song, Sephardic music. A mesmerising album.
Gavin Engelbrecht, Northern Echo

British critic Jeremy Nicholas enjoys Alexei Lubimov and Alexei Zuev performing music of Claude Debussy on Préludes

[...] The two pianos are heard together in Ravel’s trancription of the ‘Trois Nocturnes’ and Debussy’s own transcription of his famous orchestral ‘Prélude’. In other words, if you want both books of the ‘Préludes’ together, don’t hesitate: these two relatively uncommon arrangements are the cherry on top. In addition, I very much like ECM’s minimalist cover, excellent presentation and sound quality, lending the whole release a satisfying integrity.
Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

The Hilliard Ensemble's new recording of music by Don Carlo Gesualdo on Quinto Libro di Madrigali impresses the Early Music Review

Flawless tone, intonation, articulation, superb musicality and intelligent interpretation in a crystal-clear recording – what more could you want?
D. James Ross, Early Music Review

The Northern Echo on Filia Sion by Estonian vocal ensemble Vox Clamantis

Their interpretation of medieval music is never purely historical and while remaining true to the spirit of the repertoire the approach is contemporary with sound and texture and blending of voices as focus. Highly recommended.
Gavin Engelbrecht, Northern Echo

Arild Andersen's and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra's Celebration of music from the ECM catalogue is reviewed in Jazz UK

The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra make their ECM debut with their homage to the label, ‘Celebration’, confirming the qualities that brought them to the Parliamentary Jazz Awards’ Ensemble of the Year title with the top drawer playing, terrific arrangements and the bonus of a fabulous guest soloist in Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen.
Rob Adams, Jazz UK