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Marie Grandval (1830-1907)
Romance for Oboe, Cello & Piano

from the
Romantic women composers
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Diana Ambache in a recording session, April 2002
photo: Peter Wiggins

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Piano Trio in C, K548
Piano Trio in E, K542
Piano Trio in G, K564
Triosatz in D, K442

Diana Ambache, piano;
Gabrielle Lester, violin;
Judith Herbert, cello

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
K548 (opening), K542 (Andante: excerpt), K564 (Allegretto), Triosatz, K442 (ending).

Issued in the Anniversary year 2006, Mozart's Piano Trios are a delightful addition to the Ambache recordings. The music dates from the late 1780s, and was written for sale to the enthusiastic amateur market in 18th century Vienna; they include his richness of melody and expressive harmony. Each Trio's character is coloured by his choice of key: celebratory C major, intimate E major, warm G major, and energetic D major.

"The star of the CD - if that's quite the right word for a chamber ensemble - is Diana Ambache. Her piano playing is exemplary, both technically and musically; her interpretations are soulful or delicate where appropriate."
Roderick Swanston, CD Review, BBC Radio 3

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MARION BAUER - Naxos 8.559253 (6)
A Lament on an African Theme, Op 20a
Concertino for Oboe, Clarinet and Strings, Op 32b
Trio Sonata No 1, for Flute, Cello and Piano, Op 40
Symphonic Suite for Strings, Op 33
Duo for Oboe and Clarinet
American Youth Concerto, Op 36

Diana Ambache, piano; Jeremy Polmear, oboe
Eli Eban, clarinet; Jonathan Snowdon, flute
Gabrielle Lester, violin; Ruth Ehrlich, violin
Jonathan Barritt, viola; Judith Herbert, cello

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Lament (opening), Dup for Oboe and Clarinet (Dance), Symphonic Suite (Fugue), American Youth Concerto (Andante excerpt).

Marion Bauer (1882-1955) was the first in a distinguished line of American composers to study with Nadia Boulanger. She was also particularly influencial as a music critic, teacher and author of a seminal book on modern music Twentieth Century Music. The range of atmosphere in the music on this recording shows her versatility and interest in exploring a variety of styles. The Lament and Symphonic Suite are powerful in their expression of deep emotion. By contrast, the Duo and Trio are lighter in manner; and the Concerto is a celebration of Americana, including a Cakewalk, a Blues and a Hoe down in the Finale.

"All the performances sound both committed and played with genuine affection. The recording itself is crisp and detailed."
Mark Morris, Music web

"The music here is melodic, charming, concise, folksy, and very accessible; it is certainly expertly crafted and without pretence. The committed performances are lucidly and vividly recorded."
Colin Anderson, Fanfare

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LOUISE TALMA - Naxos 8.559236 (6)
The Ambient Air
7 Episodes
Variations on 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Conversations for Flute & Piano
Soundshots for Piano
Full Circle for Chamber Orchestra

Diana Ambache, piano; Gabrielle Lester, violin
Martin Outram, viola; Judith Herbert, cello
Daniel Pailthorpe, flute; Jeremy Polmear, oboe
Paul Sperry, tenor; David Juritz, human metronome

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Ambient Air (Driving Rain), Lament (excerpt), Soundshots (Skipping), Full Circle (excerpt).

Louise Talma (1906-96) was a multiple award winner and the foremost American Neo-classical composer. She wrote a substantial body of music in a wide range of genres. Talma's music shows a keen intellectual mind; she also engages the listener at a visceral level and she entertains them with her originality and quirkiness. She frequently combines motor energy (sometimes associated with Stravinsky) with a melancholy expression, and often creates moment of extraordinary beauty, such as in the 'lullaby' in 7 Episodes. Her music is quite unique, and includes a lightness of touch, perhaps from her time in Paris as a student of Nadia Boulanger. Her slow music is exceptionally expressive.

"This CD is a real discovery. All but one of the pieces was written by Talma in her 70's and 80's. The ensembles are intricate and carefully wrought. Talma writes especially beautifully for the flute. The soloists on this disc are all virtuosi. Not the slightest allowance has to be made for its budget price. The sound is beautiful too."
David Saemann,

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AMY BEACH CHAMBER MUSIC 2 - Chandos Chan 10162 (14)
Beach second CD Cover
Quartet for Strings, Op 89
Violin Sonata, Op 34
Pastorale, Op 151
Dreaming, Op 15 No 3

Gabrielle Lester, violin; Ruth Ehrlich, violin
Martin Outram, viola; Judith Herbert, cello
Diana Ambache, piano; Helen Keen, flute
Jeremy Polmear, oboe; Joan-Enric Lluna, clarinet
Timothy Brown, horn; Brian Sewell, bassoon

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
String Quartet (excerpt), Sonata (end of Finale), Pastorale (excerpt), Dreaming (excerpt).

This CD has been awarded a Rosette in
the Penguin Guide to CDs.

This is the Ambache's second CD of Beach chamber music, and it follows from the success of the first. The Quartet in One Movement reflects Beach's interest in ethnic music by using three Innuit songs. One of the great Romantic works for violin and piano, the Sonata is written in on a large canvas, in characteristically passionate mode. The sombre opening movement is followed by a scintillating Scherzo. The Largo is a great brooding tragic arc, and the Finale is in bravura style. The two miniatures are charming in contrasting ways - the Pastorale (for Wind Quintet) as an evocation of peace in the New Hampshire Woods, and Dreaming (for cello and piano) as an exquisite song without words.

"Bravo to the Ambache for resuscitating these pieces; the String Quartet is particularly worth hearing in this sympathetic performance"
Jessica Duchen, Classic fm Magazine
"The disc is thoroughly recommended for the group's perceptive and idiomatic approach to this delicate and enchanting music. ... a sparkling reading of the Violin Sonata, with beatifully measured lyrical lines. The dancing Scherzo is lithe and lovely, the Largo crafted with much sensitivity, and the bravura finale is rich with interest."
Catherine Nelson, The Strad
"The two attractive rarities are a bonus: the Pastorale is impeccably performed; and Dreaming is ravishingly played by Judith Herbert.
Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine
"First class performances and recording, and worth having for the String Quartet, one of Beach's most memorable works.

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RESPIGHI CHAMBER MUSIC - Chandos Chan 9962 (14)
Respighi CD Cover
Piano Quintet in F minor (1902) String Quartet in D minor (1909)
Six Pieces for violin and piano (1901-5)

Marcia Crayford, violin
Ruth Ehrlich, violin
Martin Outram, viola
Judith Herbert, cello
Diana Ambache, piano

These pieces all date from the first decade of the 20th Century, well before The Fountains of Rome, and already show Respighi's consummate technical skill combined with late Romantic intensity. Listen, for example, to the opening of the Piano Quintet.

The D minor string Quartet keeps up this intensity, and is a huge piece, lasting more than half an hour. The density of the string writing also means that finding rests in which to turn the pages is quite difficult, and extra music stands are required! Here is the opening of the Quartet's third movement.

After all that excitement, the Six Pieces for Violin and Piano come as a refreshing antidote. They truly are little gems, with simple, affecting violin lines underpinned by piano writing that is much more subtle than it first appears. Here is the start of the Berceuse - the first piece.

"The Ambache, an eminent group of five on this disc, play it all superbly well, the crowning duo of Ambache and Crayford in the beautiful Six Pieces rounding off a highly enjoyable feast of unfamiliar music." Christopher Fifield, Music Web

"Wonderful playing from the Ambache. You can sense the players' enjoyment of Respighi's rich textures, and technically they are completely reliable. The recorded sound is first-rate. This one is a very definite winner, and I recommend it highly." Fanfare

"I found these performances most enjoyable, and the recordings are excellent." Gramophone

This CD has received a five star rating for both performance and recording
in the March 2002 issue of the BBC Music Magazine

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This CD is not available in the shops
Clara Schumann
Clara Schumann (1819-96) Konzertsatz in F minor
Ambache Chamber Orchestra, Diana Ambache (piano)

Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47) Piano Trio in D minor, Op 11
Sophie Langdon (violin), Susan Dorey (cello), Diana Ambache (piano)

Louise Farrenc (1804-75) Clarinet Trio in E flat, Op 44
Joan Enric Lluna (clarinet), Naomi Butterworth (cello), Diana Ambache (piano)

Marie Grandval (1830-1907), Romance and Gavotte
Jeremy Polmear (oboe), Naomi Butterworth (cello), Diana Ambache (piano)
Sound Clips - click what you want to hear: Schumann (start) , Mendelssohn (start) , Grandval Romance (middle)

This was issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Clara Schumann's death in May 1996, as the cover CD with the BBC Music Magazine. There are no reviews, as far as we know. However, one woman in the BBC office said "it's the best CD we've done", and it's a nice thought. Maybe she was expressing her delight at discovering that classical music by women could be so accomplished, and so enjoyable. For more details, click here. It is only available from us.
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MOZART CHAMBER MUSIC - Oboe Classics CC2007 (12)
detail from wedding festivities of Emperor Joseph II with Isabella of Parma, 1760
Oboe Quartet in F, K370
"Glass Harmonica" Quintet, K617
Adagio for cor anglais and strings, K580a
Sonata in F, K376/K374d
Quintet for winds & piano in E flat, K452

Diana Ambache (piano)         Helen Keen (flute)
Sophie Langdon (violin)         Jeremy Polmear (oboe/cor anglais)
Martin Outram (viola)         Joan-Enric Lluna (clarinet)
Susan Dorey (cello)        Susan Dent (horn)
Brian Sewell (bassoon)

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Oboe Quartet (start), Quintet K452, finale: cadenza, Adagio K580a (start), Glass Harmonica allegro (start), Sonata slow movement (start)

The CD includes all Mozart's chamber music featuring a solo oboe plus some fine arrangements, including the F major Sonata, originally for violin, here sympathetically adapted to the oboe. This is the Ambache's second recording of the Quintet K452.
Double Reed News, a UK magazine for oboe and bassoon enthusiasts, commented:
"An attractive and delightful CD..... the Oboe Quartet presents Jeremy Polmear's admirable musicianship and agile technique in excellent balance. The first movement communicates his obvious pleasure in performing this marvellous music... The delightful ensemble work in the Glass Harmonica Quintet K617 leads to the disc's finale, a realisation of Mozart's sketch K580a... the music seems ideally suited to this medium and to the persuasively mellifluous tones of Jeremy Polmear's cor anglais. By the final repeat of the main cantabile melody he seems to have found even more sensitivity with which to bring these fine performances to a restful close." Clive Fairbairn
"This CD is a joyous example of first class music making by a team of musicians whose delight in the music is matched by their involvement with their instruments." Denby Richards, Musical Opinion
"A must for oboe-philes; a rare treat for Mozartians. Jeremy Polmear's beguiling performance of the Sonata, with Diana Ambache, is entirely persuasive; plus there's an ebullient Quartet and sprightly Quintet." Anthony Holden, Observer

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AMY BEACH CHAMBER MUSIC - Chandos Chan 9752 (14)
Beach CD Cover
Piano Quintet in F sharp minor, Op 67
Theme and Variations for Flute and String Quartet, Op 80
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op 150

Helen Keen, flute
Elizabeth Layton, violin
Ruth Ehrlich, violin
Martin Outram, viola
Naomi Butterworth, cello
Diana Ambache, piano

This CD has been awarded a Rosette in the
Penguin Guide to CDs.

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Piano Quintet (start) , Flute Quintet, Variation IV (complete) , Piano Trio ( a bleeding chunk from the slow movt).

"The Chandos version from Diana Ambache and her group is even richer (than the Roscoe/Endellion recording), more passionately involving, amd the coupling with two other fine chamber works is more apt. These are marvellously performances of three highly rewarding works, superbly recorded." Rosette in Penguin Guide to CDs

"Amy Beach's Piano Quintet of 1908 is a fine piece by any standards, expertly written in a late Romantic idiom owing most to Brahms and Dvorak, and distinguished by some memorable melodic writing, especially in the deeply felt slow movement. The members of the its demands with technical command and passionate fervour...a well-rounded portrait of a significant figure, which, with a clear recording in a warm church acoustic, makes enjoyable listening from beginning to end" Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine

"...her quintet is given a rich and brooding performance by the Ambache. The Trio, a later work (1939), is delicately played, exposing Beach's lyrical writing with great refinement." Tarik O'Regan, Observer

"Flautist Helen Keen has a refreshingly focused and steady tone, and the string players are perfectly attuned to Beach's mixture of headiness and firm control. Most treasurable of all is the glowing, searching and unfailingly sensitive playing of the ensemble's leader, Diana Ambache." Brian Hunt, The Mail on Sunday

For this last review complete - a description not only of the CD but of Amy Beach, and of women composers in general - click here.

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This CD was originally issued in 1995, and is not available in the shops
Farrenc CD cover
Sextet for Piano and Wind in C minor, Op 40
Nonet for Strings and Wind in E flat, Op 38
Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano in E minor, Op 45

Diana Ambache, piano
Sophie Langdon, violin
Martin Outram, viola
Susan Dorey, cello (Nonet), Naomi Butterworth, cello (Trio)
Lynda Houghton, double bass
Helen Keen, flute
Jeremy Polmear, oboe
Joan Enric Lluna, clarinet
Mark Paine, horn
Brian Sewell, bassoon

You can download and hear the first minute of the Nonet Scherzo by clicking here.

"A single year younger than Berlioz, who had some good words for her, Louise Farrenc lived through busy times in Paris... everything she writes in these three wind works is beautifully textured, with a range of colour and variety of timbre... She is an unfailingly inventive composer, and one of great wit and charm. These qualities are very much appreciated by the players here, who clearly enjoy the considerable challenges which she can set them... Farrenc is a very sympathetic composer, whose music can give great pleasure in a way that excites intelligent interest without making very serious demands... The recording is suitably lively and colourful." John Warrack, Gramophone
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This CD was originally issued by Carlton Classics, now reissued by us, and is not available in the shops
Beethoven Chamber Music cover
Quintet for Piano and Winds, Op 16
Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op 11
Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op 17

Diana Ambache, piano
Jeremy Polmear, oboe
Joy Farrall, clarinet
Stephen Stirling, horn
Neil Levesley, bassoon
Naomi Butterworth, cello

You can download and hear the first minute of the Horn Sonata by clicking here.

As far as we know this CD has not been reviewed, so we will have to blow our own trumpet, and Beethoven's. For here is some of his best chamber music outside the string quartets. The trumpet is not featured, but the horn most certainly is, in a Sonata of great nobility and beauty, with a recording to capture the warm sound of Stephen Stirling's horn [you can visit Stephen's own website by clicking here]. The horn features, too, in the slow movement of the Quintet - remarkable music, with piano alternating with the wind choir, and individual voices joining up in a continuous stream of melody. In the outer movements Beethoven is sunny, confident and full of invention, with beautiful writing for all the instruments. This is also true of the Trio, and the music has a strong opening and another beautiful slow movement. In the final set of variations on an operatic theme Beethoven dazzles us with inexhaustible creative inventiveness and - yes - sense of fun. The recording was made in 1993 in the warm acoustic of St Michael's Church, Highgate, north London.
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This CD was originally issued by Pickwick, now reissued by us, and is not available in the shops
Mozart Piano Concertos 8 and 9 cover
Piano Concerto No 9 in E flat, K271
Piano Concerto No 8 in C, K246
Concert Rondo in A, K386

Diana Ambache, piano/director

Ambache Chamber Orchestra

Leader Adrian Levine

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
No 9, 2nd Movt (piano entry) , No 8, 1st Movt (piano entry)

It is a great pleasure for us to get this CD back in action; it was originally issued on the Pickwick label, and disappeared when Pickwick did. It contains two of Mozart's earliest Piano Concertos plus a bonus, and was recorded in the rich acoustic of Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London.

Piano Concerto No 9 is a remarkable work. The first movement has a symphonic sweep that carries you through in its rich complexity; the second movement is an apparently simple outpouring of emotion; and the third just bubbles with energy, with a gentle minuet sitting improbably inside it.

Number 8 is perhaps Mozart's most playful piano concerto. Joix de vivre is everywhere and there are many witty touches. As in Number 9, Mozart uses his small orchestra of strings, oboes and horns to telling effect.

The 'bonus' is a single movement Rondo (only recently restored to its original version) that exudes an engaging warmth.
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MOZART PIANO CONCERTOS 17, 19, 21 and 25 - Virgin Classics 5 61445 2
Mozart 4 Concertos cover Out of print, sorry

Piano Concerto No 21 in C, K467, 'Elvira Madigan'
Piano Concerto No 25 in C, K503
Adagio in B minor, K540
Piano Concerto No 17 in G, K453
Piano Concerto No 19 in F, K397
Fantasia in D minor, K397

Diana Ambache, piano/director
Ambache Chamber Orchestra

(leader Adrian Levine)
Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
No 17 (final minute) , No 19 (piano entry) , No 21 (the Elvira Madigan bit) , No 25 (817K chunk of 1st Movt)

This double CD is actually a reissue of two separate CDs, which is why the reviews below talk only of pairs of concertos. Numbers 21 and 25 were recorded in 1990 in the gorgeous acoustic of Abbey Road studio 1 (not the Beatles' studio which is number 2, and is terrible for classical music); numbers 17 and 19 were recorded in 1991 in Rosslyn Hill Chapel, north London, though the CD doesn't tell you that. In fact the sleeve is fairly short on information, and the plastic cover is one of those with a fifty-fifty chance of breaking when you first open it. But, look, a delightful cover picture if you like that sort of thing, four lovely concertos plus two bonuses for 10 - who's complaining?

"Diana Ambache's Mozart performances [in concertos 17 & 19] are spirited and single-minded... bright-eyed and impulsive while retaining an intimate and unforced ease of address. The music itself hardly needs special pleading, but it does need high-quality woodwind to make the most of its orchestral colouring. Here the Ambache Chamber Orchestra is in its element. Bassoon [Neil Levesley, Ed] and oboe [Jeremy Polmear] regularly catch the ear, and the flute [Helen Keen] comes into its own in K459...The music making is always fully alive, and the solo Fantasia is a lyrical encore." Robert Maycock, BBC Music Magazine

"The F major, No 19, is especially attractive with clear articulation of the opening motive and delightfully springy rhythms throughout. At any price this would be worth exploring." Simon Trezise, Classic CD

"An enjoyable pairing of those C-major Piano Concertos 21 & 25 with Diana Ambache and eponymous CO: relaxed poise aplenty and beautifully focused Abbey Road sound into the bargain, with the great B-minor Adagio offered as a thoughtful postscript." Andrew Achenbach, Hi-Fi News & Record Review

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MOZART PIANO CONCERTOS 14 & 18 - Meridian ECD 84086 (14)
Mozart 1st recording cover
Piano Concerto No 14 in E flat, K449
Piano Concerto No 18 in B flat, K456

Diana Ambache, piano/director

Ambache Chamber Orchestra

(leader Adrian Levine)

You can download and hear some of the slow movement of Concerto No 18 by clicking here.

"All true Mozartians will be attracted by Diana Ambache's recording... a well-matched orchestral strength of 27 players; splendid tempi, of the most superbly-judged kind, revealing fully the grand symphonic sweep of these undoubted masterpieces; and orchestral playing that is quite exceptional in modern-day Mozart performances." Music and Musicians
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Piano & Wind, Piano & Strings cover
Quintet for Piano and Wind, K452
Quartet for Piano and Strings, K478

Diana Ambache, piano
Jeremy Polmear, oboe
Antony Pay, clarinet
Timothy Brown, horn
Neil Levesley, bassoon
Adrian Levine, violin
Norbert Blume, viola
Andrew Shulman, cello

You can download and hear the first minute of the Piano Quartet by clicking here.

"I recently wrote with enthusiasm about Antony Pay's playing of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet... the other players are mostly new to me but they all reach the same high quality. Diana Ambache's neat crisp style and polished technique help to make it easier than usual to accept Mozart's unlikely remark that this Quintet was the best work he had ever composed. Few of his slow introductions have the quality of this one, and what follows is equally delightful. The whole work must be as much of a joy to play as it is to hear... The backing is the Quartet in G minor for piano and strings. Here too the playing is polished, stylish and very pleasing... the record is easy to recommend." Roger Fiske, Gramophone

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SWEET MELANCHOLY - CD 10, Cassette 7
Sweet Melancholy CD cover
(all works for oboe and piano unless otherwise stated)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Six Studies in English Folk-Song (cor anglais & piano)
Benjamin Britten (1913-76)
Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op 49 (oboe solo)
Malcolm Arnold (b 1921)
Sonatina, Op 28
Edmund Rubbra (1901-86)
Sonata in C, Op 100
York Bowen (1884-1961)
Sonata, Op 85
Madeleine Dring (1923-77)
Danza Gaya

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Vaughan Williams No 6 , Britten Arethusa (start) , Arnold (start)
Rubbra (start) , Bowen (1st Movt complete - 3.23Mb) , Dring (start)

"This is a recording not only for oboists, though they - amateur or professional - will have occasion to enjoy such finished performances in the repertory. There is also an interest in the vein of music-making that was opened up in English composition by the artistry of Leon Goossens. Some of the pieces here were written for him (Malcolm Arnold, with his engaging, haunting Sonatina, and York Bowen); others were for performers inspired by his playing to take the instrument up. One such was Joy Boughton... for her Britten wrote his skillfully fashioned Metamorphoses, yet another tribute to his technical skill in its drawing of so much music out of a single unaccompanied line. Another was Evelyn Rothwell, later Lady Barbirolli... who won from Rubbra a sonata that is less distinctive than some of his music but is difficult not to accept for its easy lyrical qualities. These are some English versions of pastoral, as of course are Vaughan Williams' Six Studies (really for cello, here well suiting the cor anglais)...there is something to be learnt, and to be enjoyed, in music as well-crafted as this, as is the sonata by York Bowen.
Jeremy Polmear plays the works with the unaffected enjoyment of their virtues. He is a sympathetic, musicianly artist, with a sweet, Goossens-like tone (though - for oboists to note - he plays a Marigaux, richer-toned than Goossens' elegant Loree). He finishes with a charming little piece by the talented, lamented Madeleine Dring, who wrote it for her husband, another superb oboist, Roger Lord." John Warrack, Gramophone

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THE OTHER DONIZETTI - Meridian CDE 84147 (10)
Instrumental music by Donizetti, together with Fantasies on his operas by Liszt and Pasculli
Donizetti CD Cover
(all works for oboe and piano unless otherwise stated)
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)
Sonata in F
Waltz in C (piano solo)
Concertino in G (cor anglais and piano)
Il Barcaiolo
Antonio Pasculli (1842-1924)
Concerto on themes from the opera La Favorita
Fantasia on the opera Poliuto
Franz Liszt (1811-86)
Reminisciences de Lucia di Lammermoor (piano solo)

Sound Clips - click what you want to hear:
Sonata 1st movement (middle) , Concertino (middle) , La Favorita (near start) , Liszt (middle) , Poliuto (middle)

The Other Donizetti refers to the instrumental side of a composer known mainly for his more than sixty operas, and the recording celebrates his unfailing melodic gifts. Antonio Pasculli was a celebrated oboist in his time, and his music allows plenty of opportunities for virtuosity. However, in both his and Franz Liszt's contributions there is always respect for the beauty of the melodies.
"This collection shows an essentially lightweight side to the composer, but is given some substance by the stylish elegance of Jeremy Polmear's playing. The Sonata in F is an agreeable piece with a fluent Andante and a catchy finale, and the vignette Il Barcaiolo is even more engaging. The cor anglais Concertino centres on a set of variations which are not unlike the fantasias on themes from his operas by Pasculli. However, these demand the utmost bravura from the soloist. The La Favorita Concerto has a finale marked Allegro velocissimo which speaks for itself, and in the Poliuto Fantasia Jeremy Polmear is made to sound like one of Rimsky-Korsakov's bumble-bees set loose in the Italian sunshine. Diana Ambache proves a sympathetic partner and gives a suitably flamboyant account of Liszt's famous Lucia paraphrase. The artists are well balanced and are afforded striking naturalness and presence." The Penguin CD Guide

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