Season's greetings! Welcome to the 2022 Rayfield Allied Advent Calendar.
This year, Rayfield Allied artists have been as busy as ever on stages, concert halls, and in recording studios. Over the next 25 days, join us as we share with you our advent calendar: one recording per day from the Rayfield Allied family.
Robert Levin's Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - The Piano Sonatas
Robert Levin makes the first complete recording of W.A. Mozart’s piano sonatas on the composer’s own instrument (Anton Walter, 1782). In this comprehensive, 7-CD boxed set Levin takes the Listener back to Mozart’s time by providing his own historically-informed realisations of unfinished fragments, as well as imbuing the works with improvised elements and ornaments on repeats. This approach makes the boundary between the composer and the performer seem more fluid, which is not only exciting, but also very much in keeping with the authentic practices of the time. The recording has received excellent reviews, and was named the ‘BBC Recording of the Month’.
“The crucial factor is the profound understanding, sophistication and sense of joy with which he delves into the personality of the composer, not just that of his piano… Each note is inhabited with vitality, each phrase urgent with meaningful expression.”
– Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine *****
Listen to Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 10 in C Major, K. 330 - II. Andante cantabile on Youtube here.
Clare Hammond's Hélène de Montgeroult - Études
Clare Hammond’s sixth album for BIS Records is a disc of Etudes by fascinating French composer Hélène de Montgeroult. A contemporary of Mozart and pioneer of the Romantic style that foreshadowed that of Chopin, Montgeroult wrote 114 études for her student, Johann Baptist Cramer, between 1788 and 1812, 29 of which have been carefully selected by Clare for this latest album which includes 12 world premiere recordings. The disc was released on the 7th October 2022 internationally, and on the 4th November 2022 in the UK, in a special launch concert at London's iconic National Gallery.
"Pianist Clare Hammond, noted for her muscular power, can also touch the keys as if stroking a Siamese cat...this music is of very high quality; and it falls under Hammond's fingers with a thoughtful beauty that should make many new friends both for herself and for the composer she so excellently serves."
– Geoff Brown, The Times
Listen to Piano Etude No. 41 in E flat Major on Spotify here.
Héloïse Werner's Phrases
Luminous and daring, this celebration of Héloïse Werner’s multifaceted gifts is nourished by rich dualities. Phrases reveals Werner as both singer and composer, as an artist shaped by both her native France and her adopted UK, and as a soloist of captivating individuality who is also an intrepid collaborator.
"lt is hard not to be in awe of Héloise Werner: a soprano of extraordinary range, tone and vocal abilities, possessing a seemingly inexhaustible expressive range.."
– Gramophone, Editor's Choice June 2022
Listen to Comme l'espoir/you might all disappear by Josephine Stephenson here.
Carolyn Sampson's Trennung
In the early 19th century, while Haydn and Mozart remained revered, many of their once admired contemporaries quickly fell into oblivion and with them much delightful, finely crafted music. In a recital centred on songs of parting, Carolyn Sampson and Kristian Bezuidenhout seek to make some amends to this.
“Carolyn Sampson presents every song as being delivered by a well-drawn protagonist, and emerges as a master storyteller in one of her most emotionally direct performances on disk.”
– David Patrick Stearrs, Gramophon
Listen to Dove sei, mio bel tesoro? here.
Annelien Van Wauwe's Flow
On her second PENTATONE album FLOW, Annelien Van Wauwe presents a programme inspired by her love for yoga, combining Mozart’s famous Clarinet Concerto with the world premiere recording of Wim Henderickx’s
concerto SUTRA. Van Wauwe performs both works on the characteristic basset clarinet, together with the renowned NDR Radiophilharmonie under the baton of Andrew Manze.
"Listening to this CD you start being impressed by the freshness and virtuosity, and the very next second be embraced by her grounded sound."
– Reinhard Mawick, Zeit Zeichen
Listen to the fourth movement of Wim Henderickx' Basset Clarinet Concerto SUTRA, Samadhi, here.
Music for Hope is a collaboration with the world-renowned sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, join forces with internationally renowned pipa virtuoso Wu Man, bringing together the musical traditions of India and China, and bringing the pipa – a 2,000 year-old lute-like instrument – a new role in both traditional and contemporary music.
"Both Wu Man and Amjad Ali Khan and his family have contributed enormously towards the establishment of their instruments on the world stage. Hope, looking to a better future, is expressed by these five artists through this coming together; their harmony is immediate."
– Neil Sorrel
Listen to Rhythm of Life here.
Robin Johannsen's Bach: Mass in B Minor, BWV 232
Bach's Mass in B Minor, BWV 232, recorded with Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and RIAS Kammerchor under the baton of Rene Jacobs. A composition as brilliant as it is protean – the earliest sections date back to 1724, others were written in 1733 in the hope of obtaining a post in Dresden – the Mass in B minor occupied Bach until the end of his life.
"Robin Johannsen has an established reputation as an interpreter of Baroque repertoire, and her Dominus Deus with Sebastian Kohlhepp is brisk, airily articulated and evenly balanced."
– Classical Music Magazine
Listen to Christe Eleison here.
Pieter Wispelwey's Weinberg
Few composers can be said to be ‘citizens of nowhere’ and yet, exactly this moniker is appropriate for Mieczysław Weinberg. Research on Weinberg’s music is very much ongoing, and several previously unknown works have been discovered in recent years. Perhaps most surprising of these is the Cello Concertino opus 43bis, performed on this new recording by soloist Pieter Wispelwey.
"Pieter Wispelwey captures the music’s claustrophobic intensity with even greater acuity. At times it feels as though he is merely breathing on his instrument, whispering emotional confidences."
– Julian Haylock, The Strad
Listen to Weinberg's Cello Concertino: Allegro vivace here.
Leonore Piano Trio's Bargiel: Piano Trios
The Leonore Trio’s eighth disc in their series of hidden gems of the piano trio repertoire for Hyperion champions the richly melodic Piano Trios of Woldemar Bargiel. Previous releases include discs of works by Henry Charles Litolff, Anton Arensky, Edouard Lalo, Johann Peter Pixis, Sergei Taneyev, and Sir Hubert Parry, which are widely admired and frequently awarded four- and five-star reviews for their advocacy, energy, and authoritative interpretations.
"This is music that by its very nature requires gentle coaxing and affectionate warmth to sound its best, and the Leonore responds with playing that possesses a radiant inner glow. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine this music played more captivatingly"
– Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine
Listen to selections of the recording here.
Sō Percussion's Forbidden Love
Sō Percussion’s new album of Julia Wolfe’s string quartet for percussion, ‘Forbidden Love’ was released in August 2022 on Cantaloupe Music – the ensemble have toured it live on both sides of the Atlantic, and performed it at the Barbican’s Milton Court in December 2022.
“Julia Wolfe’s Forbidden Love uses the instruments of a string quartet as her sound sources, but has the percussionists play them with thimbles, chopsticks and lengths of cord; string players might be horrified, but the sounds are fresh and always inventive.”
– Andrew Clements, The Guardian ****
Listen to Forbidden Love here.
Jeanne Gérard's Media Vita
In composer Karol Beffa's words: "Media Vita, the title of this album, takes up that of the piece for mixed choir that I wrote in 2010 at the request of the dancer and choreographer Julien Lestel for his ballet Corps et Âmes. Another piece from the ballet, De profundis, is also on the CD. The theme of this ballet in twelve tableaux was based on the dyad of body and soul, and Julien Lestel's choreography to my music alternated delicate aerial gestures and powerful chthonic movements."
"Jeanne Gérard’s singing is impeccable, highly expressive, and comes into its own with the piano part."
– Remy Franck, Pizzicato
Listen to Deux Poemes de Guillaume Apollinaire: Marie here.
Harrison Birtwistle's Chamber Works
This disc, of Harrison Birtwistle’s late chamber works, marks a continuation of Birtwistle's close relationship with the Nash Ensemble, who have commissioned and given eight world premieres of works by the composer since 1999, two of which (Duet for 8 Strings and his Oboe Quartet) feature on the disc.
Birtwistle has been rethinking traditional compositional genres to bring out their inherent ambiguity; and calling his most recent piece Duet for Eight Strings rather than something more conventional such as ‘Duo for viola and cello’, gives a wry, personal twist to music that dramatises duality in a variety of ways. This is one of the composer’s ‘in memoriam’ pieces, its tone increasingly elegiac as it moves towards its understated ending. As often with Birtwistle, allusions to song and dance interact, while, on a more technical level, the refined interplay of symmetries and hierarchies is as vivid as ever. All the music here retains a freshness and focus belying the composer’s age; it’s a long way from a mere rehashing of familiar ways of doing things."
– Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine
Listen to Duet for 8 Strings here.
Mahan Esfahani's Italian Concerto & French Overture
The next disc of Mahan Esfahani’s Bach project with Hyperion was released on the 2nd September 2022, featuring JS Bach’s Italian Concerto and French Overture. It marks the third disc in his Bach recording cycle for Hyperion, following the 2019 release of Bach's Toccatas and 2021 release of the six Partitas in Clavier-Übung I, which were both awarded four- and five-star reviews across major publications.
"The music jumps into vivid relief, an effect magnified hugely by the prismatic variety of rich, jangling colours Esfahani conjures from his custom-made harpsichord. In the performance of Bach’s very early “Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother” Esfahani adds laugh-out-loud wit and imaginative recreation to the mix. In all these performances are a marvel. Never has Bach seemed less dry and more full of fantasy."
– Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph *****
Listen to selections of the recording here.
Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene's The Playhouse Sessions
After their widely popular project ‘The Alehouse Sessions’, Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene take us on a journey to the Restoration following Cromwell’s Commonwealth, with audiences so hungry for the arts that theatres couldn’t be built fast enough. With very limited available funds, musical entertainment was inevitably centred around public houses. Providing a delightful selection of folk chanties and traditional seventeenth-century tunes, including arrangements by Bjarte Eike himself, this unique album explores the idea of what it means to be a performer in the true sense.
“Rip-roaring music making effortlessly melds ancient and modern”
– Peter Quantrill, The Strad
Listen to The Fairy Shuffle here.
Anna Harvey's Songs by Warlock and Howe
A delightful recital of English songs bringing together one of the form’s most distinctive and prolific composers, Peter Warlock, with a composer born in 1951 who continues very much in the tradition of the older composer – Frederick Howe, whose selection of his own folksong arrangements dovetail neatly this aspect of Warlock’s output. Howe’s songs are receiving their world-premiere recordings. Magpie by Warlock is also a world-premiere recording using the original text.
"Harvey's bright, characterful mezzo and easy, unaffected way with text give constant pleasure in this lovely recital showcasing the breadth of Warlock's style, from the almost Straussian 'Autumn Twilight' to the salty dark humour of 'The Magpie' (later reworked as the rather less salacious 'Yarmouth Fair' due to copyright restrictions)."
– Katherine Cooper, Presto Music
Listen to Peter Warlock's The Magpie here.
Helen Charlston's Battle Cry: She Speaks
Following her debut album, Charlston's Battle Cry programme re-balances an obsession with female abandonment and lament in the 17th century, offering those women a platform for their own voice. Owain Park’s Battle Cry considers this stance in the 21st century. It also illuminates the voice and theorbo as a modern-day musical pairing.
“These characters come alive in Charlston’s flexible mezzo, surely one of the most exciting voices in the new generation of British singers… You get the strong sense from this superb recording that they’re only just getting started”
– Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
Listen to Henry Purcell's Bonduca’s Song ‘Oh lead me to some peaceful gloom’ here.
Ruby Hughes' ECHO
ECHO revolves around the notion of a loved spirit returning in dreams. The lead track by pianist and composer Huw Watkins is a setting of Rosetti's poem of the same name, and is the centerpiece of the album. The disk draws together musical memories from Baroque to Contemporary, featuring new commissions by Deborah Pritchard and Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
The cycle as a whole is deeply personal obviously because of the chosen text but even more so due to Hughes’ storytelling capabilities: she possesses the rare ability to make listeners feel like they are the only ones in the room.
– The Classic Review
Listen to By beauteous softness here.
Alberto Miguélez Rouco's Nebra: Donde Hay Violencia, No Hay Culpa
Alberto Miguélez Rouco conducts his ensemble Los Elementos with the zarzuela "Where there is violence, there is no guilt". First performed in 1744, this work tackles the story of the rape of the virtuous Roman woman Lucretia, the founding myth of the Roman Republic, as handed down by Livius.
“We must thank the countertenor Alberto Miguélez Rouco and his immense admiration for the work and its author for rescuing it"
Listen to selections of the recording here.
Written in 2018 for Matthew Owens and the choir of Wells Cathedral, an important characteristic of the work are the congregational hymns taken from the collection of English tunes, published by Vaughan Williams in his English Hymnal of 1906. These hymns, with their timeless melodies, anchor the Passion in a very English setting.
"This is a truly important release, all premiere recordings of works composed between 2014 and 2019 by a master craftsman."
Listen to Mhairi Lawson perform Peter's Denial here.
Laurence Osborn's Rendering Error on Caprices by Fenella Humphreys
The title Rendering Error refers to badly rendered computer-generated images. When a rendering error occurs in a video game, the image will be warped or disfigured, but still recognisable. Rendering Error starts with some vaguely recognisable material that is rendered badly. Gradually, the resulting glitches and warps begin to reveal themselves as the true material of the piece. This material mutates until the final section, which is a long howl of distress.
"This is a seriously entertaining disc..."
– Tim Homfray, The Strad
Listen to Rendering Error here.
A compelling survey of music by Stuart MacRae, focussing on works of the last decade while also reaching back to include two pieces from the composer’s mid-twenties. Reflecting diverse inspirations from nature and myth, the ancient Greek hero Prometheus receives an unexpectedly intimate portrait, his human aspects to the fore – flawed yet sympathetic. MacRae’s perception of the natural world, meanwhile, extends from the microscopic scale of lichen to the vastness of the night sky, in which the medium of distance transmutes all turmoil into calm.
"This beautifully performed composer portrait from the Hebrides Ensemble captures Stuart MacRae at his most searching."
– BBC Music Magazine
“I am Prometheus and Parable (2018 and 2013, persuasively sung by Joshua Ellicott and Marcus Farnsworth respectively) explore complex character flaws and their far-reaching consequences.”
– BBC Music Magazine*****
Listen to Ursa Minor here.
Matthew Brook's Haydn: The Creation & The Paris Symphonies
In honor of Harry Christophers’s acclaimed career as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, the CORO record label is releasing a digital collection of some of H+H’s greatest recordings with the celebrated conductor, including The Creation.
"Brook inspired many a smile and chuckle by plumbing the bottom of his vocal range and displaying a wormlike mien. He continued, however, with alacrity into the extroverted aria “Now heav’n in fullest glory”, negotiating its plentiful coloratura with agility and assurance.”
– Geoffrey Wieting, The Boston Musical Intelligencer (from most recent Creation performance with Handel & Haydn)
Listen to And God Created Great Whales here.
Ben McAteer's Puccini: La Bohème, Irish National Opera
The tragedies of love and poverty: Puccini’s best-loved opera is touching, comic, realistic and romantic, true for any time in which deep bonds can flower in the face of adversity.
“Ben McAteer was an excellent Schaunard”
– Opera Magazine (from live production)
Listen to selections of the recording here.
Steve Reich's Reich/Richter
Steve Reich’s 2019 collaboration with renowned visual artist Gerhard Richter takes on a new life as a concert piece in this premiere recording by French group Ensemble Intercontemporain, released on Nonesuch Records.
"Reich/Richter stands as one of Reich’s most impressive works to date. Reich’s music has fundamentally altered the way we listen, and this latest recording provides further testimony of his ability to shape time in unique and fascinating ways."
Listen to selections of the recording here.
Paul McCreesh's Praetorius Mass
As a special Christmas treat, Gabrieli Ensemble and Paul McCreesh's Praetorius Mass for Christmas Morning, recorded in the early 1990s. Recently named as one of BBC Music Magazine's "Christmas Favourites", this recording of Praetorius’s Lutheran Mass reconstructs a Lutheran Christmas service as it might have been heard in the early 17th century.
"Memories as deep as any stir when I reach for conductor Paul McCreesh’s reconstruction of Praetorius’s Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning, ‘as it might have been celebrated around 1620’."
– Andrew Stewart, BBC Music Magazine
Listen to the full recording here.