Alexandra Mathew

Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.

Reviews

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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Suite Cubed: Bach and Beyond by Umberto Clerici

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Cellist Umberto Clerici wondered how eighteenth-century audiences listened to J.S. Bach’s cello suites, and what they heard and recognised in the music. Although Bach’s solo cello suites are variatio…

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Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola by Antoine Tamestit & Cedric Tiberghien

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

The butt of musicians’ jokes, the viola is often overlooked as a solo instrument. Not quite as high as a violin, and nowhere near as low as the cello, the viola’s most common function is to pad out h…

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À Madame: Divertissement pour Adélaïde by Olivier Baumont & Julien Chauvin

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

2017 is the year for music from the court of Versailles. First there was La Harpe Reine, then Henriette: The Princess of the Viol, and now À Madame: Divertissement Pour Adélaïde. I’m not complaining …

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Preghiera, Rachmaninov: Piano Trios by Gidon Kremer, Daniil Trifonov, Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Twenty-year-old Sergei Rachmaninov was shocked to hear of the death of his friend and mentor Tchaikovsky. He immediately set about composing ‘Trio Elegiaque No. 2’, dedicated ‘to the memory of a grea…

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Mahler: Das Lied Von Der Erde by Jonas Kaufmann, Wiener Philharmoniker & Jonathan Nott

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

When Gustav Mahler composed Das Lied von der Erde (‘The Song of the Earth’), he envisaged two singers – a tenor and an alto – performing the cycle. In the absence of an alto, Mahler specified that th…

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Henriette: The Princess of the Viol by Maddelena Del Gobbo

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Princess Anne Henriette of France (1727–1752), daughter of King Louis XV, was a passionate musician and skilled gambist. Her life was short (she died of smallpox aged only 24), but her legacy was gre…

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The Spirit And The Maiden by Muses Trio

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Australia’s Muses Trio is unique among chamber music ensembles. Consisting of a fabulous all-female line-up – Therese Milanovic (piano), Christa Powell (violin), and Louise King (cello) – the trio’s …

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Elena Kats-Chernin: Unsent Love Letters – Meditations On Erik Satie by Tamara-Anna Cislowska

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Many years after Erik Satie’s death in 1925, friends gained access to his small and cluttered apartment where they found two grand pianos stacked on top of each other, a chair, a table, seven velvet …

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Aida by Aida Garifullina

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Aged only 29, Russian soprano Aida Garifullina has it all. She is stunningly beautiful, and possesses the voice to match. If that weren’t enough, she is named after one of the greatest operatic heroi…

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Rachmaninov & Prokofiev: Cello sonatas by Nina Kotova and Fabio Bidini

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Russian cellist Nina Kotova’s 2014 recording of Bach cello suites became a favourite amongst Readings staff and customers. Eschewing the usual constraints of historically informed performance, Kotova…

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La Harpe Reine by Xavier De Maistre

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

In late eighteenth century Paris, a person in want of a harp could search for the perfect instrument in over two hundred speciality shops, such was the harp’s popularity. While today we think of it a…

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For the Love of Brahms

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Friendship is the theme of Joshua Bell’s latest album, For the Love of Brahms. Long-term friends Stephen Isserlis (cello) and Jeremy Denk (piano) join Bell to perform Brahms’ Double Concerto for Viol…

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Mozart by Richard Galliano

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Have you ever wondered what might’ve happened if Mozart had been born a Parisian busker rather than an Austrian composer? Neither had I until I heard virtuoso French accordionist Richard Galliano’s M…

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Verismo by Anna Netrebko

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

In 2001, aged only 30, Anna Netrebko made a cameo appearance as ‘opera’s new rising star’ in the film The Princess Diaries, singing Verdi’s ‘Sempre Libera’. She is now among the top flight of opera s…

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Faure / JC Bach / Mozart / Britten / Gounod Chamber Music by Inventi Ensemble

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

On Sunday 6 August, 1933, Benjamin Britten, along with his family and friends, gathered to listen to a broadcast of his Phantasy Quartet for oboe and strings. He was none too impressed, noting in his…

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Shostakovich: Piano Trios Nos. 1 & 2 / Viola Sonata

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

I begin with a confession: I have listened to little of Shostakovich’s music, and am familiar with only his most famous compositions such as The Gadfly and symphonies four and five. I therefore knew …

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Brahms: Lieder & Liebeslieder Waltzes

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

In 2003, at the Verbier Festival in the Swiss Alps, four singers with fabulously contrasting voices got together with James Levine on piano to perform Brahms’ chamber music. Thirteen years later Deut…

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Testament: J.S. Bach - Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Rachel Barton Pine

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

American violinist Rachel Barton Pine is not an Australian household name – surprising, considering the fantastic array of awards and accolades under her belt, and even more surprising once you hear …

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The Secret Lover by TENET

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Having recently read Anna Beer’s fascinating book on forgotten female composers, Sounds and Sweet Airs, I listened with interest to TENET’S The Secret Lover. The CD features music for and by the conc

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Nelson Freire: Bach

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire approaches the music of J.S. Bach with sensitivity and playfulness. Within this collection of transcriptions by Bach himself and other composers there is room for int…

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Butterflying: Piano Music By Elena Kats-Chernin

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Elena Kats-Chernin’s piano music is a gift to the contemporary classical repertoire. Performed by pianist Tamara-Anna Chislowska, Butterflying features over five decades of music by Uzbekistan-born A…

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Schubert: String Quintet & Lieder

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Recently, German baritone Matthias Goerne performed Schubert’s Wintereisse in Melbourne. At the end of the performance the audience remained still. No one clapped. Goerne, without word, exited stage …

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Sounds and Sweet Airs by Anna Beer

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Every page of Anna Beer’s Sounds and Sweet Airs – a study of forgotten female composers – contains a tempting distraction. With each reference to a composition, I reach over to my phone or computer t…

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Mendelssohn: Works for Piano Trio by the Streeton Trio

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

Australia’s Streeton Trio is going from strength to strength. Their 2011 debut recording of Ravel and Brahms trios was well received, and they currently enjoy a busy performance schedule – both here …

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Divine Karina by Karina Gauvin

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

‘Precision’ was the word that sprang to mind on first hearing soprano Karina Gauvin in her compilation Divine Karina. In the opening ‘Strike the viol’, Gauvin’s consonants–particularly the plosives–a…

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Magdalena Kožená: Monteverdi

Reviewed by Alexandra Mathew

There are two types of mezzo soprano voices: foggy, broad and thick; or dark, silvery, and fine. Magdalena Kožená possesses the latter. For this reason, her voice – proven versatile over many recordi…

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News

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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