Friday, 30 July 2010

Last Tuesday night at the proms, the long-awaited 'Beethoven the Romantic' concert took place, and of course The Classical Shop is featuring this wonderful repertoire as part of our Proms Special which offers 25% off the price of selected recordings. If you are a fan of 'Beethoven the Romantic', have a look at such top-quality labels as Avie, Arts Music, LSO Live and the BBC Philharmonic which have these works available at a one-off bargain price.

Thursday night should have seen Sir Charles Mackerras conduct the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a programme of Dvorak and Mozart, but it was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Sir Charles on 14th July. All of us at The Classical Shop would like to pay tribute to this extraordinary musician who was loved and respected by everyone in the classical music community. Sir Charles was particularly known for his passionate advocacy of Czech music, represented in the first item of the night, Dvorak's Serenade for Wind; but Sir Charles performed and recorded music of many genres and periods, and completed several successful projects on the Opera in English label for Chandos Records. He shines on several recordings on the LSO and MPLive labels in our our Proms Special. He will indeed be greatly missed.

Coming up on Sunday's evening Prom is the wonderful Sarah Connolly who will sing Wagner's Brangane. Don't miss out on the many fine examples of her work in the Classical Shop, currently available at a special price.

Friday, 23 July 2010

This Week at the Proms

I listened on the radio to the splendid Monday night Prom with Vasily  Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra - absolutely marvelous. If you were impressed too and don't have the works in your collection we have a recording of Tchaikovsky's 'Manfred' Symphony with the same artists on the Naxos label as part of our 'Proms Special' sale offer. If you would like to explore some different repertoire with these artists, then you will find them on the Avie label, this time perfoming Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances and The Rock - why not give this a try?

This Sunday we have the Dr Who Prom and I am looking forward to this one immensely it will include several of my favourites. Have you heard John Adam's Short Ride in a Fast Machine? Definately one to listen out for. The Classical Shop has this piece available in recordings on both Chandos and Naxos, so take advantage of our sale and choose one of these!

Monday, 19 July 2010

This week sees the start of the Proms! Are any of you lucky enough to be going this year? Which Prom will you be going to? The Classical Shop is offering a selection of downloads featuring works and artists appearing in this year’s Proms. For the first week The Mastersingers of Nuremberg has got to be a must and the Guild label has a historical recording of the opera in our ‘Proms special’; the wonderful Bryn Terfel has got to be the featured artist this week – he sings the role of Hans Sachs in The Mastersingers on Saturday. Chandos Records has several great recordings featuring Bryn Terfel and one of the newer labels to join the classical shop, SAIN, features him on a recording included in our ‘Proms special’. If you will be going to any of the Proms don’t forget to leave a comment, letting us know which concert and what you thought of it – we’d love to hear from you.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Charles Mackerras, 1925-2010

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Sir Charles Mackerras. Chandos has enjoyed a long association with Sir Charles, one of the great conductors of the recording era. His distinguished career really goes back to the 1940s when he began a life-long association with Sadler’s Wells Opera (now the English National Opera), where he conducted a vast repertoire, from Bach to, most significantly, Janáček. He was also at the forefront of period performance practice, and recorded a legendary performance of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks in 1959, as impressive today as it was when it first appeared. His performances of Mozart were impressive too, for their informed use of ornamentation as much as for the sparkle of the playing. Indeed, his performances and recordings are uniformly notable for their exhilarating freshness and infectious spontaneity.

Of course, Sir Charles is perhaps most famous for his championing of the music of Janáček and recorded a landmark series of Janáček’s operas for Decca, as well as EMI and Chandos (Osud, The Makropulos Case and Jenůfa, among many others) as well as the original version of the Glagolitic Mass. Also, for Chandos, he conducted a Grammy Award winning version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. His classic recordings made at the ENO – Mary Stuart, Werther, La traviata and Julius Caesar – are an important part of Chandos’ Opera in English series and all received superb critical acclaim, comparing well to the best recordings available in whatever language.

Whilst Sir Charles was a great expert on Janáček, and Czech music in general, his other great passion was the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan. He was a supreme Gilbert and Sullivan conductor and his arrangement of music by Sullivan to form the ballet Pineapple Poll is one of the most successful of its kind. Indeed, he recorded it several times and the ballet has become a staple of the British light music repertoire. His arrangement of music by Verdi for the ballet The Lady and the Fool is hardly less successful, and very enjoyable.

Sir Charles Mackerras was a consummate musician, able to communicate with absolute clarity to the orchestra the results he wanted. He possessed a flair for eliciting the results he wanted, which rarely, if ever, failed him.

Ralph Couzens, the Managing Director of Chandos Records, comments: ‘Sir Charles was a great musician with impressive attention to detail, no matter what the repertoire. He brought life to whatever he did. His few recordings on Chandos have all been highly acclaimed. He will be missed very much and may he rest in peace.’

Indeed, as a man and a supreme musician Sir Charles Mackerras achieved legendary status in his own lifetime. Our deepest sympathy is with Lady Mackerras and their daughter.