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Vivat Brahms!, Vol. 1

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Catalogue No: SOMMCD 0126
Release Date: 04/01/2013
Number of Discs: 1
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Hungarian Dances (arr. Barralet)
James Barralet, Cello
Simon Callaghan, Piano

Two exciting new artists have just joined the galaxy of young Rising Stars in SOMM’s NEW HORIZONS series. Cellist John Barralet and Pianist Simon Callaghan. With this special series which is nearing its tenth anniversary, SOMM aims to provide young musicians of great talent with the opportunity of promoting their careers worldwide in top quality recordings. They are chosen from the cream of interpreters of the new generation on their way to international recognition and they nearly always have something fresh, new and exciting to offer us in an overcrowded CD market.

In this instance, the resourceful James Barralet  has made an irresistible arrangement of Brahms’s 21 Hungarian Dances for cello and piano! There is no doubt that his compositional skill, coupled with his deep love and knowledge of the instrument have inspired him to make a wonderful transcription of these evergreens. Brahms had originally written the Dances for piano duet and also re-arranged them for solo piano. Within a few years of the appearance of the first two sets, (Nos 1 – 10), his enterprising publisher Simrock had published arrangements of them for countless instrumental and orchestral combinations – several Dances were orchestrated by Brahms (an inveterate transcriber of his own music as well as that of other composers’), and some by Dvorak whose Slavonic Dances were undoubtedly suggested by Brahms’s example. Now for the first time in recording history, and thanks to James and his duo partner Simon Callaghan, we have the entire collection in versions for cello and piano.

The CD includes Brahms’s Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, dedicated by the composer to his friend and duo partner, Joseph Gansbacher. The original title, Sonate fur Klavier und Violoncello, emphasizes both the importance and the difficulty of the piano part and in this recording, Simon Callaghan’s fine ear for balance enables him to partner James with great skill; he also navigates easily around Brahms’s busy sonorities and textures in the piano part, doing it full justice both musically and technically. The two musicians are ideally matched and their Duo partnership which they formed recently, is now beginning to yield rich artistic dividends in their Cello and Piano Duo recitals.

In his busy life as an award-winning musician, James Barralet has given recitals at major UK venues which include the Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and the Purcell Room. Festivals where he has performed include Music in The Round, Newbury Spring Festival, Northern Aldeburgh, Ryedale as well as festivals outside the UK, including the Zeitkunst Festival in Berlin and Rio, Graz Festival, Saronic Festival n Greece, and the Mecklenberg Festival among others.

His talent as a performer has attracted numerous awards. These include the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Julius Isserlis Award, winner of the Landor Records competition, Park Lane Group, Making Music, Hattori, Munster, Muriel Taylor, MBF, Swiss Government, ESU and Martin Scholarships. His studies have taken him from Manchester with Hannah Roberts to Basel with Thomas Demenga. These were followed by studies at the Royal Northern College of Music where he received first a class honours degree  and the Soloist’s diploma from Basel Hochschule fur Music.

With Wigmore Hall Ignite Ensemble and Music For Life, James helps to give workshops for children with special needs and for dementia sufferers.

He is also a composer and arranger and his music has been performed at important festivals all over the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, Korea, China and India and most European countries.

Elected a Steinway Artist in 2012, British pianist Simon Callaghan’s performances both in prestigious concert halls and in the recording studio have earned him a reputation as an exciting young artist of the new generation. Highlights of recent seasons include working with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, St. David’s Hall Cardiff, Wigmore Hall, as well as extensive concert tours of Malaysia and South Korea and broadcasts on BBC Radio, ITV and BBC TV.

The first volume of his Delius series with fellow pianist Hiro Takenouchi on SOMM (SOMMCD 0112) has been warmly received, most recently in the BBC Music Magazine. “Simon Callaghan and Hiroaki Takenouchi… play with such love, panache, and exact synchronisation”. A Second volume of Delius’s Two-Piano Music is due to be released soon.

Simon’s busy schedule has most recently included a five-week residency at the Banff Centre, Canada, performances with Timothy and Samuel West and Prunella Scales, two-piano recitals in Japan and chamber music with Jack Liebeck, Tim Hugh (LSO) and the Carducci, Sacconi and Maggini Quartets. He has given masterclasses and recitals in Malaysia and was also appointed Head of Piano of the Ingenium Academy – International Music Summer School. He is also Artistic Director of the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts, a renowned chamber music series in the UK and all over Europe.

After initial studies at Chetham’s School of Music with Bernard Roberts, Simon was awarded a full scholarship to study with Yonty Solomon at the Royal College of Music from where he graduated with first class honours and won numerous prizes. He has also received awards at the Bromsgrove International Competition, Jean Francaix Concours (Paris) and the Liverpool Young Musician of the Year

On This Recording

  1. Cello Sonata No. 1: I. Allegro non troppo
  2. Cello Sonata No. 1: II. Allegretto quasi menuetto
  3. Cello Sonata No. 1: III. Allegro
  4. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 1 in G Minor
  5. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 2 in D Minor
  6. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 3 in F Major
  7. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 4 in F Minor
  8. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 5 in F-Sharp Minor
  9. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 6 in D-Flat Major
  10. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 7 in A Major
  11. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 8 in A Minor
  12. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 9 in E Minor
  13. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 10 in E Major
  14. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 11 in D Minor
  15. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 12 in D Minor
  16. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 13 in D Major
  17. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 14 in D Minor
  18. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 15 in B-Flat Major
  19. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 16 in F Minor
  20. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 17 in F-Sharp Minor
  21. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 18 in D Major
  22. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 19 in B Minor
  23. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 20 in E Minor
  24. 21 Hungarian Dances: No. 21 in E Minor