Alexandra Mathew

Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.

Reviews

Maddalena and the Prince by Maddalena del Gobbo

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Maddalena and the Prince is the second of Maddalena del Gobbo’s concept albums for Deutsche Gramophon, following on from Henriette: the Princess of the Viol – a disc of viola da gamba music originall…

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Lieder: Brahms, Schumann, Mahler by Renee Fleming

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Schumann’s Frauenliebe und –leben was groundbreaking: it was the first song cycle composed to be sung by a woman and from her perspective. As the title indicates, the cycle follows the life and love …

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Mozart: Le Testament Symphonique by Le Concert Des Nations

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

During the summer of 1788, aged only thirty-two, Mozart achieved a monumental feat of compositional greatness: in just one and a half months, he completed symphonies 39, 40 and 41, to which he referr…

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Il Giardino Dei Sospiri by Magdalena Kozena, Collegium 1704 and Václav Luks

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Magdalena Kožená’s silvery mezzo soprano voice is a fascinating one: she possesses a bright upper register befitting a coloratura soprano, and a rich, penetrative depth throughout her range which all…

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Gounod: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 Iceland Symphony Orchestra & Yan Pascal Tortelier

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Being so opera-centric as I am, it was not until this CD fell into my hands that I discovered Gounod was in fact a great symphonist. Under the baton of Yan Pascal Tortelier, the Iceland Symphony Orch…

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Liszt’s Italian Pilgrimage by Tristan Lee

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Melbourne’s own Tristan Lee recently emerged from a PhD, for which he was researching the music of Beethoven and Liszt. His recording of Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage: Deuxième année: Italie (Years of…

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Florence Beatrice Price: Symphonies 1 & 4 by John Jeter & Fort Smith Symphony

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Florence Price, the first African American woman to gain recognition as a symphonic composer, was remarkable. Celebrated contralto Marian Anderson championed and recorded Price’s vocal music, and, in…

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In Circles by Amy Dickson

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

I used to have little interest in classical saxophone repertoire, until one day, in Paris, I was walking through a deserted passageway, and I heard a most beautiful, soulful sound reverberating aroun…

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Elles by Marina Thibeault & Marie-Eve Scarfone

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

In a similar vein to Women of Note, and again to coincide with International Women’s Day, French-Canadian violist Marina Thibeault has released an album featuring chamber music by some of the most fa…

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The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

It is 1914, and Midhat Kamal has travelled from Palestine to France to study medicine at the University of Montpellier. He is billeted with the Molineu family (Frédéric, father and academic; and Jean…

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Women of Note: A Century of Australian Composes by ABC Classics

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

2019 has seen a welcome proliferation of recordings featuring music by women. Although for a long time musical women were actively discouraged from composing and audiences were less willing to open t…

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Britten: Hymn to St Cecilia by Justin Doyle & RIAS Kammerchor

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Benjamin Britten was just twenty-nine when his Hymn to St Cecilia premiered on 22 November, 1942 – the feast day of St Cecilia, patron saint of music, and Britten’s birthday. He had returned to Engla…

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Ibn Battuta: The Traveler of Islam by Jordi Savall & Hesperion XXI

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Recorded over two years and across two countries, Ibn Battuta: Traveller of Islam tells the story of the travels of the great Muslim Moroccan scholar of the same name. In the fourteenth century, over…

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Handel: Italian Cantatas by Sabine Devieihe & Lea Desandre

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

The violent and confronting tale of Lucretia’s rape at the hands of the evil Tarquinius has, for reasons I’d rather not ponder, inspired countless works of great art. Paintings, plays, narrative poem…

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Schmelzer: The Emperor’s Fiddler

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Relatively little is known about Austrian composer Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623–1680), despite being described during his lifetime as ‘the famous and just about foremost violinist of all Europe’. …

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Into the Fire: Live at Wigmore Hall

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

For me, the drawcard of mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato’s latest album, recorded live in Wigmore Hall, is not Jake Heggie’s song cycle Into the Fire, but DiDonato’s moving Richard Strauss interpretation…

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Calling the Muse: Old & New Pieces for Theorbo

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Bruno Helstroffer is a master theorbist. In Calling the Muse he draws on his experience as blues guitarist and early music specialist, depicting a broad landscape for the repertoire of his instrument…

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Saint-Saëns: Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 5 & Pieces for Solo Piano

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Eight years ago, on a trip to Paris, I visited Saint-Saëns’s tomb at Montparnasse Cemetery. Not out of some kind of morbid curiosity, but instead to commune with a composer whose music I love but fee…

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Handel: Acis and Galatea

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

No sooner have Acis and Galatea declared their love than the evil giant (read: sexual predator) Polyphemus tears their union asunder. After doggedly but unsuccessfully pursuing Galatea, a jilted Poly…

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Debussy: Songs Volume 4

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Lucy Crowe, it would seem, is the soprano of the hour. I admit, I am biased in her favour after witnessing her glorious 2017 performance in the title role of Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen with the B…

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Bach & Telemann: Cantatas for Baritone

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Despite his mature sixty-two years, Christoph Prégardien possesses a voice of youthful agility. I first heard Prégardien singing Schubert’s ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ in his delectable tenor register, but…

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John Adams: Violin Concerto by Leila Josefowicz

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Sometimes, when listening to John Adams’s violin concerto, I expected the soaring violin line to continue to rise. It was not so: Adams’s music is full of the unexpected. Although (a decade ago now) …

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Vocalise by Nuria Rial

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Heitor Villa-Lobos dreamt up the imaginative combination of eight cellos and soprano soloist. His famous composition for such an ensemble is Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 – part vocalise and part lamen…

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Wayfaring by Umberto Clerici & Karin Schaupp

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Wayfaring, a collaboration between Italian-Australian cellist Umberto Clerici and German-Australian guitarist Karin Schaupp, traces a path ‘from birth to death, with everything in between’. Consideri…

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The Verdi Album by Sonya Yoncheva

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Sonya Yoncheva’s voice is big and bold and soars above the orchestra like a gloriously voluptuous bird of prey. This young Bulgarian soprano is a principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera in New Yor…

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After Bach by Brad Mehldau

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

I come to Brad Mehldau’s latest album After Bach with classical rather than jazz ears. The album is structured around excerpts from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II, and each alternate tr…

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Richard Strauss by Louise Alder and Joseph Middleton

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Recently, while perusing the shelves at Readings, I was thrilled to discover young British soprano Louise Alder’s debut Strauss recording. My excitement was twofold: I recognised her as an acquaintan…

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Sous l'empire d'Amour by Marie-Claude Chappuis and Luca Pianca

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

French musicologist Marin Mersenne (1588–1648) declared the French air de cour to be lacking the passion of Italian vocal music. ‘Our French musicians,’ he wrote, ‘are content to flatter the ear and …

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Falla: El Amor Brujo by Euskal Barrokensemble, María José Pérez and Enrike Solinís

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Manuel de Falla’s legacy is a study in contradictions. Although Spanish-born, Falla spent seven years in Paris, where he greedily consumed the music of Ravel and Debussy, and marvelled at colourful s…

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J.S. Bach: Cantatas for Soprano by Carolyn Sampson

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

J.S. Bach composed for the voice like he did for a string instrument: highly chromatic, with irregular intervallic leaps, not necessarily taking the human limitations of singing into account. Bach as…

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News

The best classical CDs of 2018

by Alexandra Mathew

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 classical CDs of the year, voted for by Readings' staff, and displayed in no particular order. (You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2018 here.) re:member by Ólafur Arnalds

In re:member, Ólafur Arnalds blends ambient and contemporary classical music…

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The best classical CDs of 2016

by Alexandra Mathew

Every year our staff vote for their favourite books, albums, films and TV shows of the past 12 months. Here are our top 10 classical CDs of the year, voted for by Readings' staff, and displayed in no particular order. (You can find all our best picks for books, CDs & DVDs of 2016 here.) Arias by Pumeza Matshikiza

South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza is one to watch. Her first album Voic

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The best classical CDs of 2015

by Alexandra Mathew

Here are our top ten classical CDs of the year, voted for by Readings' staff. Displayed in no particular order.

Max Richter: The Blue Notebooks by Max Richter

The Blue Notebooks, a tenth anniversary rerelease of Max Richter’s second album, is breathtaking. Richter cites Sigur Rós as an influence, evident in the meditative ‘Horizon Variations’. This, along with tracks such as ‘Written on the…

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Meet the bookseller with Alexandra Mathew

by Alexandra Mathew

We chat with Alexandra Mathew about her love for immersive books and classical music.

Why do you work in books and music?

My primary area of interest and knowledge is in classical music, but I also happen to love reading, so the two go together nicely. It’s a privilege to share my love of books and music with like-minded people.

What book or music would you happily spend a weekend indoors

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