VIDEO PODCAST: Slava Ukraini! - recorded on 24 February 2022, the day the world woke up to the news that Vladimir Putin's Russian forces had invaded Ukraine. A fifty minute video which also features Caitríona O'Leary and Eric Fraad discussing their new film Island of Saints, and pays tribute to Joseph Horovitz, Malcolm Troup and Maria Nockin.
BIS Records was founded in 1973 by Robert von Bahr, aiming to help world-class Swedish musicians to reach international audiences. The label, based in Åkersberga, is now flourishing and much respected, with more than two thousand titles in stock. It's the only large record label to keep all its recordings constantly available.
CD Spotlight. The Ravel Affair - Gerald Fenech listens to a series of works by Maurice Ravel which all failed to win the Prix de Rome. 'Pascal Rophé draws some convincing performances and, in his hands, the music has an immediacy that keeps it consistently fresh and vivid.'
CD Spotlight. An Unexpected Kinship - Stephen Francis Vasta listens to Susanna Mälkki conducting Bartók. 'The Helsinki Philharmonic sounds good, with expressive reeds and resonant strings ...'
CD Spotlight. Magical Brilliance - Gerald Fenech listens to orchestral music by Ravel. '... wonderfully detailed accounts that reveal all of Ravel's orchestral finesse and deft harmonic touches.'
CD Spotlight. Stimulating and Challenging - Concertos by Kalevi Aho, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Invigorating stuff in excellent sonics and detailed annotations.'
CD Spotlight. True to the Composer's Original Intentions - Schubert's Octet, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... the sound is detailed and crisp, and the balance is good.'
CD Spotlight. Immediate and Colourful - Geoff Pearce listens to Sebastian Fagerlund. '... probably definitive performances of these works.'
CD Spotlight. Culmination of the 'Tintinnabuli' Style - Gerald Fenech listens to Arvo Pärt's St John Passion. '... powerful and emotional stuff performed with devotional ardour and spiritual rigour.'
CD Spotlight. Often Beautiful - Geoff Pearce listens to Ilya Gringolts. 'Gringolts is an exciting violinist, his technique flawless, his sound sumptuous ...'
CD Spotlight. All Done with Mirrors - Geoff Pearce listens to music involving the double bass by Britta Byström, Eduard Tubin, Jesper Nordin and Carin Malmlöf-Forssling. '... a fitting reflection of the work of this fine composer.'
CD Spotlight. Sorrow and Gratification - Geoff Pearce listens to music by Xiaogang Ye. '... a fitting reflection of the work of this fine composer.'
CD Spotlight. Transcendental Studies - The music of English composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji from an Italian perspective, by Giuseppe Pennisi. 'On the two CDs, Fredrik Ullén demonstrates enthusiasm for Sorabji as well as high technical skills.'
CD Spotlight. The Dead in the Square - Allan Pettersson's Symphony No 12, strongly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Christian Lindberg gives a colossal interpretation of this difficult score, where everybody involved is wholly engrossed in Pettersson's unique creation.'
CD Spotlight. Awesome Stuff - Gerald Fenech is impressed by Ilya Gringolts' performances of three violin concertos by Pietro Locatelli. 'Ilya Gringolts' playing is phenomenally spellbinding, and his scintillating virtuosity and flawless execution are absolute joys and wholly worthy of constant admiration.'
CD Spotlight. Beset by Misfortune - Gerald Fenech listens to 'Kullervo' by Jean Sibelius. '... beautifully shaped and vocally refined and the voices come across clear and resonant.'
CD Spotlight. A Vision of Ambivalence and Incoherence - Music by Kalevi Aho, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... it makes huge demands on the listener ...'
CD Spotlight. Dash and Verve - Gerald Fenech listens to Piano Concertos 3, 4 and 5 by the enigmatic Camille Saint-Saëns. 'Alexandre Kantorow performs these highly attractive concertos with terrific panache, energy and a forward-thrusting momentum that make the whole project deeply distinctive while respecting throughout the composer's imaginative and innovative bravado.'
CD Spotlight. Night and Day - Osmo Vänskä's recording of Mahler's Symphony No 7, recommended by Patrick Maxwell. 'The music on this impressive recording deserves much larger recognition ...'
CD Spotlight. Ostentatiously Evocative - Vadim Gluzman plays music by Pēteris Vasks, heard by Patrick Maxwell. 'The music on this impressive recording deserves much larger recognition ...'
CD Spotlight. Meaning and Identity - Gerald Fenech listens to Leonard Bernstein's first two symphonies. 'A wholly impressive issue, brilliantly performed and recorded ...'
CD Spotlight. Fierce Urgency - Bach Collegium Japan's St Matthew Passion, reviewed by Patrick Maxwell. 'Suzuki's forces create this inner energy in a way that surges, through the music, into the crucifixion, creating the mix of oratorio and opera that Bach must have been envisaging when the work was first performed across the church of St Thomas' in Leipzig in 1827.'
CD Spotlight. A Delight - Song cycles by Mahler, Berg and Rhian Samuel, sung by Ruby Hughes with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, impress Geoff Pearce. 'Right from the start, she shows a more flexible and somewhat lighter voice, but a very good understanding of the lyrics, and she colours her voice beautifully to express this.'
George Flynn on CD: An Overview - Esdras Mugatik explores the work of this American composer
CD Spotlight. Absolutely Riveting - Kent Nagano's recording of the 1869 version of Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov', reviewed by Gerald Fenech. 'Nagano's formidable insight is able to take the listener on a musical journey into the dark depths of the human soul. Painful, yes, but unmissable.'
CD Spotlight. Technical Mastery - Yevgeny Sudbin plays Rachmaninov, heard by Lucas Ball. '... most of the time, what Sudbin does with these fiendishly difficult works is hard to criticise.'
CD Spotlight. Truly Compelling - Three of Haydn's 'Sun' Quartets, enjoyed by Gerald Fenech. 'The renowned Chiaroscuro Quartet gives superlative renditions of these masterpieces, and with tempos, blend and balance superbly judged, refinement and subtlety are consistently to the fore.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Stirring - Vadim Gluzman plays Brahms, heard by Lucas Ball. 'Gluzman and Yoffe are at their most energetic and communicative.'
CD Spotlight. Beautiful Tone - Glazunov and Taneyev String Quintets, enjoyed by Stephen Francis Vasta. '... the Gringolts ensemble plays expertly, projecting the music's sense of "symphonic" weight and importance while maintaining the vivid interplay among the parts.'
CD Spotlight. Consistently Vibrant - Prokofiev's Symphonies Nos 4 and 7, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Andrew Litton and his Bergen ensemble deliver some forceful performances full of exciting vigour ...'
CD Spotlight. Exceptional Clarity - Masaaki Suzuki conducts Stravinsky, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... immaculately performed ...'
CD Spotlight. Novel Soundscapes - Music by Xiaogang Ye, enjoyed by Geoff Pearce. '... superbly directed and played ...'
CD Spotlight. Winningly Done - Osmo Vänskä's Sibelius Symphonies 3, 6 and 7, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'The Seventh is a superb exercise in momentum and continuity ...'
CD Spotlight. An Interesting Disc - Chamber music associated with Frans Preumayer, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... the performances ... were truly marvellous by all concerned.'
CD Spotlight. Musical Invention - Orchestral music by Ottorino Respighi excites Gerald Fenech. '... passionately performed and sumptuously recorded ...'
CD Spotlight. Entrancing Imagery - Sibelius tone poems enthrall Gerald Fenech. 'A magically enthralling foray into Finnish mythology.'
CD Spotlight. Unmistakable Timbre - Schubert symphonies, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... performances of unwavering focus ...'
CD Spotlight. A Fine Partnership - Daniel Norman and Christopher Gould sing Britten, heard by Robert Anderson. '... the surest of touches ...'
DVD Spotlight. Outrageously Flamboyant - Christian Lindberg as trombonist, composer and conductor, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... an extraordinary character ...'
CD Spotlight. Unaffected Restraint - Halida Dinova plays music that tells stories, heard by Howard Smith. '... a mesmerising interpreter ...'
CD Spotlight. A Brave Show - Choral music by Sibelius, heard by Robert Anderson. '... much here to surprise and fascinate ...'
CD Spotlight. Delicate Refinement - Music for piano by Sibelius, heard by Robert Anderson. 'Folke Gräsbeck is a splendid advocate ...'
CD Spotlight. Transcendent Resignation - Mahler's Ninth Symphony, heard by David Wilkins. '... played with love and knowledge and commitment ...'
CD Spotlight. Robust and Spirited - James Tibbles plays J S Bach, heard by Howard Smith. '... worthy of widespread international recognition.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Challenging - Music for unaccompanied violin, heard by Howard Smith. '... searching performance ...'
CD Spotlight. Deft and Brilliant - Sibelius orchestral music, recommended by Robert Anderson. '... in the safest of hands.'
CD Spotlight. Jaw-Dropping Technique - Sharon Bezaly plays Gubaidulina, Beamish and Takano, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... a beautiful tone at any volume in any octave ...'
CD Spotlight. Exceptional Assurance - J S Bach organ sonatas, heard by Howard Smith. '... an immensely satisfying conclusion.'
CD Spotlight. Admirable Devotion - Sibelius songs, appreciated by Robert Anderson
CD Spotlight. A Special Quality - Music by Sibelius for voice and orchestra, recommended by Robert Anderson. 'Throughout the set BIS has maintained the high standards ...'
CD Spotlight. Inspired Sibelius - Music for the theatre fascinates Robert Anderson. 'Again BIS has done the great master proud.'
CD Spotlight. A Special Joy - The Sibelius tone poems, recommended by Robert Anderson. '... so sparely wrought and of such integrity ...'
CD Spotlight. A Memorable Disc - Vadim Gluzman plays Tchaikovsky and Glazunov, enjoyed by Robert Anderson. 'Vadim Gluzman is a violinist of remarkable gifts.'
CD Spotlight. A Special Pleasure - Masaaki Suzuki directs J S Bach cantatas, reviewed by Robert Anderson. 'If the Japanese tempo is faster than mine, so be it ...'
CD Spotlight. Sweeter than Roses - Amorous music by Purcell inspires Howard Smith. '... glorious song with inspirational accompaniments.'
CD Spotlight. An Interesting Mix - Sacred treasures, enjoyed by Robert Hugill. '... certainly intoxicating.'
CD Spotlight. Superbly Measured - Music by Haskell Small and Mussorgsky, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... indisputably fine pianism ...'