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DOMINICK ARGENTO (b. 1927) Valentino Dances - suite from the opera (1994) Reverie, Reflections on a Hymn (1998) Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe - suite from the opera The Voyage of Edgar Allen Poe (1976) Valse Triste (1996) A Ring of Time (1972) Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue
rec 19 Feb and 28 Sept 1999, Minneapolis REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-91CD [65.07] [RB]

Argento's predilection for luxuriant textures and melodic profusion is immediately apparent. A generous selection of his music delightfully performed and powerfully recorded.

BACH Art of Fugue Berliner Bach Akademie/Heribert Breuer Recorded January 2000 ARTE NOVA CLASSICS 74321 74465 2 [Total playing time 70.49] [CF]

Bach with a difference!

BACH 48 Preludes & Fugues, Book 2 BWV 870-893   Robert Levin (harpsichords, clavichord, organ & fortepiano) Hanssler 92117 [66+69 mins] [PW]

A successful version of the 48, with thoughtful notes by Robert Levin, who explains his choice of instrument for each one.

BACH Cantata No.185   Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe Cantata No.186   Ärgre dich, O Seele, nicht Cantata No.187   Es wartet alles auf dich Arleen Augér, Maria Friesenhausen (sopranos) Hildegard Laurich, Helen Watts (altos) Aldo Baldin, Kurt Equiluz (tenors) Philippe Huttenlocher, Wolfgang Schöne (basses) Gächinger Kantorei, Frankfurter Kantorei Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling Recorded 1971/76/77 respectively HÄNSSLER EDITION VOL. 56 CD 92056 [73.59] Edition Bachakademie [CF]

The highlight of this dic is a ravishing duet 'Lass, Seele, kein Leiden' for soprano and alto, exquisitely sung by the late and sorely lamented American soprano Arleen Augér with the only British soloist among the many featured, Helen Watts.

BACH Cantata No.188 Ich habe meine Zuversicht  Cantata No.190 Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied Cantata No.191 Gloria in excelsis Deo Cantata No.192 Nun danket alle Gott Arleen Auger, Nobuko Gamo-Yamamoto, Helen Donath (sopranos) Julia Hamari, Helen Watts (altos) Aldo Baldin, Kurt Equiluz, Adalbert Kraus (tenors) Walter Heldwein, Niklaus Tüller (basses) Gächinger Kantorei Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling Recorded 1971/74/77/78/83 respectively HÄENSSLER EDITION VOL. 57 CD 92057 [73.13] Edition Bachakademie [CF]

This is a delightful recording with variety aplenty and no weak links among either soloists, chorus or orchestra.

BACH Cantata No.195 Dem Gerechten muss das Licht Cantata No.196  Der Herr denket an uns
Cantata No.197 Gott ist unsre Zuversicht Shihomi Inoue-Heller, Doris Soffel, Costanza Cuccaro (sopranos) Elisabeth Graf, Mechthild Georg (altos) Oly Pfaff, Aldo Baldin (tenors) Andreas Schmidt, Niklaus Tüller,  Philippe Huttenlocher (basses) Gächinger Kantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart Württembergisches Kammerorchester/Helmuth Rilling Recorded 1983/76/84 respectively HÄNSSLER EDITION VOL. 59 CD 92059 [58.31] Edition Bachakademie [CF]

There is much charming music in all three cantatas, BWV 196 consistently so in its string accompaniments throughout.

BACH Cantata No.198 Lass, Fürstin! Lass noch einen Strahl Cantata No.199 Mein Herz schwimmt im Blut Cantata No.200 Bekennen will ich seinen Namen Arleen Augér (soprano) Gabriele  Schreckenbach, Mechtild Georg (altos) Aldo Baldin (tenor) Philippe Huttenlocher (bass)  Gächinger Kantorei Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling Recorded 1983/76/84 respectively HÄENSSLER EDITION VOL. 60 CD 92060 [64.30] Edition Bachakademie [CF]

....the astounding moment before the recapitulation of the aria 'Tief gebuckt und voller Reue' (track 14) nothing short of heart-stopping. If you buy this disc for that moment alone you would not have wasted your money.

BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio, BWV248. Sibylla Rubens (soprano); Ingeborg Danz (alto); James Taylor (tenor, Evangelist); Marcus Ullmann (tenor); Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass); Gächinger Kantorei; Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling. Hännsler Edition Bachakademie CD92.076 [three discs] [DDD] [144'26] [CC] [PB]

Rilling inspires his forces to a compulsively alert rendering of the Christmas Oratorio: From the very first bars there is a celebratory urgency to his account. An excellent set.

Bach Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue Beethoven Sonata no. 22 in F, opus 54 Schubert Piano Sonata in F minor, D65 Drei Klavierstucke, D946 Two Impromptus, D899 (Nos. 3 & 4) Wilhelm Kempff BBC Legends BBCL 4045-2 (77 minutes) [TB]

This is very special playing

BACH Magnificat/Sacred vocal works   Sibylla Rubens, Ruth Sandhoff, Christiane Oelze (sopranos) Ingeborg Danz, Anke Vondung (altos) Marcus Ullmann, Christoph Pregarden (tenors) Andreas Schmidt, Klaus Häger, Michael Volle (basses) Gächinger Kantorei Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling Recorded 1999/2000   HANSSLER EDITION VOL. 140 CD 92140 2 CDs [76.19] [CF]

For Bach collectors these may be curios, but they are finely played and sung ones in bright, resonant acoustics and are as good as the best of the Hänssler celebrations of the great man's 250th anniversary of his death.

Arnold BAX The Complete Symphonies The London Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra (No.4)
conducted by Bryden Thomson Chandos CHAN 8906-10 5-disc set, issued 1990 Available £20 for a limited period

Thomson's cycle continues to offer the most consistently recommendable introduction to Bax's world, and at this price it is simply not to be missed.

BECK  Stabat Mater   Vocalenensemble des SWR La Stagione Frankfurt/Michael Schneider with soloists Sandrine Piau, Heidrun Kordes, Derek Lee Ragin, Christophe Einhorn, Klais Mertens KochSchwann 3-6583-2 [60 mins]  [PW]

This is a real winner and will give a great deal of pleasure to purchasers who don't pass over unfamiliar names and assume that minor composers wrote minor music.

BEETHOVEN: THE NINE SYMPHONIES and Summary of Recordings

Berlin Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado
Karita Mattila, Violetta Urmana, Thomas Moser, Thomas Quasthoff, Swedish Radio Choir.
DG 469 000-2 5 discs (only available as a boxed set), Full Price
(released Nov 21st)

Wiener Philharmoniker, Stockholm Philharmonic & Chor & Orchester der Bayreuth Festspiele, Wilhelm Furtwangler
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elisabeth Hongen, Hans Hopf, Otto Edelmann
EMI CHS5 67496 2 5 discs (only available as a boxed set), Bargain Price

Claudio Abbado has waited until the final years of his tenure with the Berlin Philharmonic to record the complete Beethoven symphonies - and the result is one of the greatest integral cycles ever recorded.

BEETHOVEN Symphony no.3 in E flat, op.55 - "Eroica" Symphony no.5 in C minor, op.67 Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam/Erich Kleiber Decca 467 125-2 [77' 42"] [CH]

....perhaps in the last resort these are cult performances. Every student of Beethoven interpretation should hear them....

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral" Leonore Overture No. 3   Saito Kinen Orchestra - Seiji Ozawa.recorded at Nagano-Ken Bunka Kaikan, Matsumoto-Shi, 8, 10/12 September 1998. Philips 462 595-2 [55.32] [JP]

Good, stylish, and very well played performances of two of Beethoven's most popular orchestral works by a superb part time ensemble.

Naxos Great Conductor Series
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 Berlin State Opera O/Erich Kleiber First issued 1929
Symphony No.4 Berlin State Opera O/Hans Pfitzner First issued 1928
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110919 [62.39]
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 Berlin Philharmonic O/Hans Pfitzner First issued 1928
Symphony No.6 Berlin State Opera O/Hans Pfitzner First issued 1930
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110927 [63.50]
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.9 Lotte Leonard (soprano) Jenny Sonnenberg (contralto) Eugene Transky (tenor) Wilhelm Guttmann (bass) Bruno Kittel Choir Berlin State Opera O/Oscar Fried
First issued 1929 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110929 [61.16]

Whether the likes of Pfitzner and Fried qualify for inclusion in a series entitled 'Great Conductors' (Erich Kleiber certainly does) must remain a matter of opinion. So it's a question of accepting these interpretations and performances warts and all for what they are, fascinating historical documents, and for that alone they are highly recommended.

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto no.4 in G, op.58;  Piano Concerto no.5 in E flat, op.73 - "Emperor" Clifford Curzon (pianoforte), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Hans Knappertsbusch Decca 467 126-2 [72' 52"] [CH]

.....the wonderful translucency of Curzon's passage work. Every note is a pearl, and every note sings. Add to this the most exquisite shading of the lyrical melodies and, in the relatively few moments where this concerto calls for it, considerable strength, and you have in Curzon the ideal pianist for the Fourth.

BEETHOVEN Sonata in B flat major, opus 106 'Hammerklavier' Sonata in C major, opus 2 no. 3 Bagatelles, opus 126 Sviatoslav Richter (piano) BBC Legends BBCL 4052-2 (78 minutes) [TB] [CC]

Richter's qualities as an artist are readily communicated here. The performances really do have something special to say about the music, and the ambient recorded sound also succeeds in capturing the tone quality of the instrument.

BEETHOVEN Sonatas Op. 10/2; 13; 27/2 & 53   Valentina Kamenikova (piano) Panton 81 9026-2 111 [72 mins]  [PW]

At Supraphon's reissue price, no need to hesitate; you will not be disappointed. Valentina Kamenikova recorded more than 50 key items of piano repertoire for Supraphon between 1963 & 1988 - I look forward to hearing many more of them.

ARTHUR BENJAMIN (1893-1960) Jamaican Rumba Vol. 1 Tall Poppies Benjamin series: The solo piano music:   Ian Munro (piano) rec July/Oct 1996  TALL POPPIES TP105 [77.52] [RB]

Well filled disc. Breezy, bright and imaginative piano music à la Howells, Bax or Moeran - performances and recording to match.

ARTHUR BENJAMIN (1893-1960) Jamaican Rumba Vol 2 Tall Poppies Benjamin series. The Chamber music (the string quartets to come!) Jamaican Rumba (1944) 1.58
Violin Sonatina (1924) 15.19 Cello Sonatina (1939) 12.37 Viola Sonata (1945) 18.42 Tombeau de Ravel (1958) 12.30 Humoresque (1924) 3.12 Arabesque (1924) 3.57 Carnavalesque (1924) 2.50
John Harding(violin)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonatina and last 3 items) Peter Jenkin (cl)/Ian Munro (piano) (Tombeau) David Pereira(cello)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonatina) Esther van Stralen(viola)/Ian Munro (piano) (sonata) rec 1998 and 1999 Australia   TALL POPPIES TP134 [71.36] [RB

Benjamin's talents and genius showcased through works encompassing pastoral charm and the darker emotions. Ian Munro's project should be followed closely. A strong disc.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) String Quartet, Op. 3. Lyric Suite. Anton WEBERN (1992-1945)
Three Pieces for String Quarteta (planned as Op. 3 No. 3). Leipzig String Quartet (Andreas Seidel, Tilman Büning, violins; Ivo Bauer, viola; Matthias Moosdorf, cello). Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG3070996-2 [DDD] [51'38] [CC]

The Leipzig String Quartet's recordings of the Schoenberg String Quartets for this label have firmly established this group's credentials in the music of the Second Viennese School. Here is a worthy successor: they combine a Romantic warmth with a questing sense of discovery, which itself reflects the processes going on in the music itself

BERLIOZ L'Enfance du Christ op.25 Susan Graham (Mary), Francois Le Roux (Joseph), John Mark Ainsley (Narrator), Philip Cokorinos (Herod), Andrew Wentzel (The Father), Gordon Getz (Centurion) and Marc Belleau (Polydorus). Sara la Baigneuse op 11 (triple chorus and Orchestra). Helene (from 9 Melodies op.2 No. 2) for male chorus and orchestra La Belle Voyageuse mezzo soprano and orchestra Quartetto e coro dei maggi Choir Chant sacre tenor solo, choir and orchestra Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Choir - Charles Dutoit DECCA 458 915-2 [119.44] recorded digitally in 1993 in Eglise St. Eustache, Montreal.[JP]

I am happy to say that here we have an issue which can take on the best of the opposition and come out of the comparison with flying colours.

BERNSTEIN A White House Cantata  (with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner)   Thomas Hampson; June Anderson; Barbra Hendricks; Kenneth Tarver; London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Naganor  DG 463 448-2 [80:07] [IL]

Hopefully, this excellent recording should help to really establish this appealing work for there is much to enjoy in its charting of the activities and personalities of the Presidents and their First Ladies from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt....A fine entertainment and a firm recommendation.

Sailing By -- The Music of Ronald BINGE (1910-1979) Various Artists and Orchestras ASV British Light Music Heritage Series CD WLZ 245 2 CDs [136:38] [CW]

Worth the price for the Saturday Symphony alone - a fine and undervalued work which is a must-have for anyone remotely interested in the British symphonic tradition.

Rutland BOUGHTON (1878-1960) Concerto for String Orchestra, Concerto in D major for flute and strings, Aylesbury Games, Three Folk Dances Emily Beynon (flute) with The New London Orchestra conducted by Ronald Corp HYPERION CDA67185 [76:20] [IL]

The first thing one notices about the music on this album is how preponderantly warm and good-natured, and how tuneful and accessible it all is.

BOULANGER (1893-1918) Fauste et Hélène *  Psaume 24 Psaume 130: Du fond de l'abîme † D'un soir triste D'un matin de printemps Lynne Dawson (soprano) *; Bonaventura Bottone (tenor) *; Jason Howard (bass) *Anne Murray (mezzo-soprano) †; Neil MacKenzie (tenor) † City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus; BBC Philharmonic conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier CHANDOS CHAN 9745 [73:24] [IL]

This is an important release of dramatically charged and atmospheric music that is often exciting, sometimes harrowing and seldom comfortable. Yet its riches stimulate and demand repeated hearings.

BRAHMS Symphony no. 3 in F ; Violin Concerto ; Hungarian Dances nos. 1 and 5 Anne-Sophie Mutter, BPO, Karajan. Sonata for violin and piano in G Zukerman, Barenboim 3 Intermezzi Op 117; Six Pieces for piano, Op 118.   Wilhelm Kempff Alto Rhapsody Christa Ludwig, Vienna P0 and Choir, Bohm  Recordings date from 1960 to 1989.DG Panorama 469 124-2. 2 CDs at a bargain price. [DW]

A Curate's egg

BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein Deutsches Requiem Lucia Popp (sop) Wolfgang Brendel (bar)
Prague Philharmonic Choir/Lubomir Matl Czech PO/Giuseppe Sinopoli rec 1982 ELOQUENCE 469 658-2 [76.22] [RB]

A mellow interpretation and haze-focus recording slated in some quarters but at this price appreciated by newcomers to the Requiem.

BRUCKNER  Symphony No. 0 in D minor, 'Nullte'. String Quintet in F - Adagio (arr. Skrowaczewski). Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. Arte Nova 74321 75510-2 [DDD] [60'56] [CC]

Skrowaczewski is as underrated a conductor as they come. At any price this performance would be worth acquiring, but at super-budget it is indispensable.

BRUCKNER Symphony No.4 in E Flat Major "Romantic" Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Daniel Barenboim Eloquence 469 642-2 [63.40] [TD]

At this low price the competition is with the Naxos version (8.554128) conducted by Georg Tintner. The extra ten minutes he takes over the work seems to encapsulate the difference between the approach of a good Bruckner conductor and a great one.

BRUCKNER:  Symphony No.7  Rameau:  Gavotte with Six Variations Philharmonia and New Philharmonia Orchestras Conducted by Otto Klemperer EMI "The Klemperer Legacy" CDM5 67330 2 [TM]

This 7th is now reissued in the Klemperer Legacy series, freshly remastered .... The difference is extraordinary

Anton BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 Vienna PhiharmonicOrchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez
recorded 1996, St. Florian, near Linz at the International Bruckner Festival Centenary Concert celebrating Bruckner's birth. DGG 459 678-2 [76.14] [JP]

A new recording, well 5 years old, of Bruckner's 8th, magnificently performed and recorded in a highly relevant venue, conducted by Pierre Boulez.

BRUCKNER Symphony No.9 in D minor Psalm 150* Ruth Welting (Soprano)* Chicago Symphony Chorus* Chicago Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Daniel Barenboim Eloquence 469 667-2 [69.26] [TD]

...Most impressive of all, however, is the last movement where Barenboim and the orchestra bring an impressive level of concentration and, when necessary, heaven-storming power amid the spiritual repose with only the final dissonant climax lacking the shocking power of some other versions.

Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN June twilight. A Dream. The Cherry-Blossom Wand. The Cloths of Heaven. Shy One. The Seal Man. Midsummer Moon. Down by the Salley Gardens. Infant Joy. Lethe. Three English Songs for Voice and Violin. The Tiger. Tears, God made a tree. Come, o come, my life's delight. Greeting. The Donkey. Chinese Puzzle. Lullaby. Three Irish Country Songs. Cradle Song. Eight O'Clock. A Psalm of David. The Aspidistra. Patricia Wright (soprano); Jonathan Rees (violin); Kathron Sturrock (piano). Guild GMCD7208 [DDD] [74'38] [CC]

Patricia Wright has just the right voice for this repertoire: light and clear. The violinist Jonathan Rees is committed throughout his solos.Enthusiastically recommended to anyone interested in exploring this repertoire.

AARON COPLAND (1900-1990) Fanfare for the Common Man (1943) 3.32 Appalachian Spring suite (1944) 25.09 Symphony No. 3 (1946) 43.33 Minnesota Orchestra/Eiji Oue rec 25-26 March 2000, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-93CD [70.04] [RB]

A reserved and subtle approach avoiding the blatancy. Satisfying and generous. Nice coupling linked by the atmosphere of the 1940s.

JEAN CRAS (1879-1932) Suite en Duo (1927) 14.10 Four Pieces (1926-9) 18.50 Poemes Intimes for piano solo (1902-11) 28.15  Marie-Annick Nicolas (violin)/Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec 1993 SKARBO SK4941 [61.15]

JEAN CRAS (1879-1932) Paysages (1917) 12.55 Danze (1917) 34.26 Two Impromptus (1925) 10.12 Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec 22 Dec 1997, d'Aulnay-sous-Bois. SKARBO SK1986 [57.39] [RB]

A definite 'must' for collectors of French (specifically Breton) piano music. Less of an imperative for the general collector

Léo DELIBES (1835-91) Ballet: Coppélia (ou La Fille aux yeux d'émail) The Kirov Ballet Maryinsky Theatre Orchestra conducted by Alexandre Viliumanis WARNER MUSIC VISION / NVC ARTS 4509-94190-2 [91 mins] [IL]

The world famous Kirov Ballet does not disappoint

"While Spring and Summer Sang" Transcriptions of Delius, and Piano Music by John Ireland Alan Rowlands (Piano) [CSS]

This present CD, beautifully produced with an evocative title (from Rossetti) and sleeve .design is an equally personal testament on the part of the pianist Alan Rowlands who confesses, in the sensitively written sleeve notes, that he too agonised over his desire: - as he puts it "I could not rest until I had played this music for myself.

DONIZETTI La Favorite Vesselina Kasarova (Léonor), Abbie Furmansky (Inès), Ramòn Vargas (Fernand), Anthony Michaels-Moore (Alphonse XI), Carlo Colombara (Balthazar), Bavarian Radio Choir and Orchestra/Marcello Viotti BMG Classics 74321 66229 2 [2 CDs, 147' 59"] [CH]

Vesselina Kasarova throws herself wholeheartedly into the role. This is a real star performance. A genuine gap has been filled with a performance which will not be quickly bettered. Any French readers who have surfed in are warned that the French pronunciation tends to be of the international variety, but this is not really noticeable enough to worry the rest of us.

DVORAK Legends 1 - 10, op. 59 Notturno in B major, op. 40. Miniatures, op. 75a Prague Waltzes   Budapest Festival Orchestra - Ivan Fischer Philips 464 647-2 [61.52] recorded in the Italian Institute, Budapest - March and May 1999.[JP]

A superb new issue of out of the way Dvorak played by perhaps the most exciting of young European Orchestras.

DVORAK (1841-1904) Romance. Five Bagatelles, B79a. String Quartet No. 10 in E flat, B92. Two Waltzes. Cypresses, B152. Piano Quintet in A, B155c. Terzetto in C, B148. String Quintet in E flat, B180, 'American'b. String Quartets - No. 12 in F, B179, 'American'; No. 12 in G, B192; No. 15 in A flat, B193. The Lindsays (Peter Cropper, Ronald Birks, violins; Robin Ireland, viola/aharmonium; Bernard Gregor-Smith, cello) with bPatrick Ireland (viola); cPeter Frankl (piano). ASV CDDCS446 [four discs] [282'53] [DDD] [CC]

The key to this set is enjoyment, a feeling of being privileged to eavesdrop on this wonderful music and to hear such confident musicians do justice to these masterpieces. This set will bring oodles of pleasure. Guaranteed.

Joseph EYBLER Christmas Oratorio Sabine Ritterbusch (sop), Waltraud Hoffmann-Mucher (alto), Harry van Berne (ten), Jelle Draijer (bass) Alsfeder Vokalensemble & Bremer Domchor I Febiarmonici conducted by Wolfgang Helbich  CPO 999 667-2 [70.11] [HS]

The predominant emotion of the whole work is one of undiluted joy and exultation, alternating with movements of serene contemplation .... the final chorus alone would be a fitting climax to any Christmas concert.

FINNISSY Traum des Sängers; WAM; Mars+Venus; Ének.   Ixion/Michael Finnissy with Charles Mutter (violin) NMCD043 [54 min] [PW]

....a piece of exceptional beauty, romantic and melodic, with small solos for each instrument and an enigmatic ending punctuated with long pauses. For me (not a complete Finnissy devotee) this was the most haunting music of his I had heard ....

ROMANTIC VIOLIN CONCERTOS. FIORILLO Concerto no. 1 in F; VIOTTI Concerto no. 13 in A minor. Adelina Oprean (violin) European Chamber Orchestra, Jorg Faerber. Hyperion Helios CDH55062 (DDD) (46.29) [DW]

A splendid disc.This is how all baroque and classical concertos should be played.

GILBERT Dream Carousels; Igorochki; Quartet of Beasts; Six of the Bestiary; Towards Asavari. RNCM Wind Orchestra/Timothy Reynish and New Ensemble/Clark Rundell with Peter Lawson (piano) & John Turner (recorder) NMC D068 [78 mins]  [PW]

Contemporary composers of the older generations can become temporarily overlooked, however accomplished and original they may be. Anthony Gilbert is one such

GLAZUNOV volume 11 Works for cello and orchestra Concerto Ballata, Chant du Menestrel, Two Piece for Cello and Orchestra (Melodie; Serenade Espagnole), A la mémoire de Gogol, A la mémoire d'un héros Alexander Rudin (cello)Moscow SO/Igor Golovschinrec April 1996, Moscow NAXOS 8.553932  [64.29] [RB]

A collection of fluent pleasantry. The two Memoirs are a cut above. Worthy of exploration.

GLAZUNOV volume 12 Symphony No. 3 (1889) Symphony No. 9 (1910) Moscow SO/Alexander Anissimov rec Moscow, Feb 1997 NAXOS 8.554253 [61.40] [RB]

Creditably agreeable even if I could, ideally, have wished for a higher octane approach.

GLAZUNOV volume 13 Symphony No. 6 (1896) 35.58 The Forest (1887) 59.10 Moscow SO/Alexander Anissimov rec Moscow July 1996, 25-26 Feb 1997 NAXOS 8.554293 [59.10]

A decent entry in the Naxos Glazunov series (vol. 13) - strong for The Forest and the first movement of the symphony.

GLAZUNOV Volume 14 Piano Concerto No. 1 (1910) [34.22] Piano Concerto No. 2 (1917) [21.03] Variations on a Russian Theme (1901) for orchestra by Artsybushev, Vitols, Liadov,  Rimsky-Korsakov, Sokolov, Glazunov. [13.30] Oxana Yablonskaya (piano) concertos only
Moscow SO/Dmitry Yablonsky rec Moscow 18-23 June 1996 NAXOS 8.553928 [69.01] [RB]

Two pin-bright concertos joined with a previously unrecorded set of orchestral variations. Pleasant if not knock-out music, extremely well done. No competition at the price.

GLAZUNOV Volume 15 Symphony No 5 [35.05] Symphony No 8 [42.52] Moscow SO/Alexander Anissimov rec Moscow Jan 1997 NAXOS 8.553660 [78.07] [RB]

This is the crown of the Naxos series. A prize disc at any price.

GRIEG Piano Concerto in a minor, op.16 CHOPIN Piano Concerto no.2 in f minor, op.21 Jean-Yves Thibaudet (pianoforte), Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Valery Gergiev Decca 467 093-2  [62' 22"] [CH]

Chris has mixed feelings about this disc

GRIEG  Piano Concerto  NewPhilharmonia Orchestra, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos (recorded Royal Festival Hall 17 June 1965)  DEBUSSY Preludes Book 1.  (recorded Royal Festival Hall 13 April 1982).   MICHELANGELI, Arturo Benedetti.   BBCL 4043 -2 (ADD) (68.53) [DW]

This is the performance to judge all others by but no one will ever come near it.

(b. 1907) Orchestral works Icarus (1975) Rochester PO/David Zinman Genghis Khan (1963) Louisville Orchestra/Jorge Mester Bongo Divertimento (1952) Marvin Dahlgren (percussion)
St Paul Chamber Orchestra/Leopold Sipe Symphony No. 5 for Strings (1962) Cincinnati SO/Max Rudolf

Gutchë's music will draw you in if you take your music spare, with an acid splash of the atonal and without sugary additives.

HANDEL Theodora   Gabrieli Consort & Players/McCreesh, with Susan Gritton, Susan Bickley, Robin Blaze, Paul Agnew, Neal Davies & Angus Smith DG Archiv 469 061-2 [76+60+47]  [PW]

The performance and recording are exemplary throughout, with leading singers all in top form. Many articles and full texts in a 100 page booklet. Recommended without reservation.

VAGN HOLMBOE (1909-96) Preludes for Sinfonietta:- No. 10 To the Unsettled Weather (1991) No. 5 To a Living Stone (1987) No. 8 To the Victoria Embankment (1990) No. 3 To a Maple Tree (1986)No. 2 To a Dolphin (1986) Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen/Giordano Bellincampi rec 7-11 Sept 1998, Lyngby Park Kapel DA CAPO 8.224123 [50.02] [RB]

The ten Sinfoniettas are late works for small ensemble. They are dedicated to one of the composer's staunchest critical supporters, Robert Layton, the critic who has done more than anyone else in the British speaking musical press to introduce Scandinavian 20th century music.

ALAN HOVHANESS Magnificat, Psalm 23 (cantata from Symphony No. 12), A Rose Tree Blossoms, Jesus Lover of my Soul, Jesus Christ is Risen Today, The Lord's Prayer, Peace be Multiplied, O for a Shout of Sacred Joy, Out of the Depths, O God Our Help in Ages Past Cathedral Choir, Boys and Girls Choir and Orchestra of St John's Episcopal Cathedral Eric Plutz (organ)
Donald Pearson (conductor) rec 6-8 Mar 1995, Denver DELOS DE 3176 [60.20] [RB]

Music of healing sung with feeling. Of as much interest to dedicated Hovhaness fans as to choral enthusiasts. Give the admirable John Rutter a vacation and try this for a change.

GIYA KANCHELI (b.1935) Simi - Joyless Thoughts for cello and orchestra [28.10]
Magnum Ignotum [22.28] Royal Flanders PO/Jansug Kakhidze ECM NEW SERIES ECM 1669 462 713-2 [50.38] [RB]

The sombre and sincere eloquence of this disc is totally compelling.

KARLOWICZ (1876-1909) The complete symphonic poems CD1 [61.57] Returning Waves (1904) [25.15] Eternal Songs (1907) [25.44] A Sorrowful Tale - Preludes to Eternity (1908) [10.57]
CD2 [68.29] Lithuanian Rhapsody (1906) [20.17] Stanislav and Anna Oswieczin (1912) [22.33] Episode during a Masquerade (1908-9) [25.37] Silesian State PO/Jerzi Salwarowski rec Katowice, 8 Dec 1981, 11-13 June 1983. recorded with financial assistance from Ministerswa Kultury i Sztuki DUX 0132-33 [61.57+68.29] [RB]

Karlowicz's music is emotional, with a gloomy Tchaikovskian stripe caught up in a riptide of marmoreal late romanticism.  Truly a dark and secret joy.

KHACHATURYAN (1903-1978) Ode to Joy - The Spring Sun Rises (1956) Three Concert Arias (1946) Ballad of the Motherland (1961) Poem [aka Poem to Stalin or Ode to Stalin] (1938 rev 1961)
March of Zangezur (1938) Hasmik Hatsagortsian (sop) Vardouhi Khachatrian (mezzo) Mourad Amirkhanian (bass) Armenian Philharmonic Chorus Armenian PO/Loris Tjeknavorian rec 19/20 July 1999, Yerevan ASV CD DCA 1087  [61.56]

Not top drawer Khachaturian but brightly and eagerly performed.

ALEKSANDR KOPYLOV (1854-1911) Symphony in C minor (1888) Scherzo, Concert Overture Moscow SO/Antonio de Almeida rec Moscow, Nov 1996 ASV CD DCA 1013 [69.08] [RB]

Kopylov given the de luxe treatment by ASV. Russophiles should not miss it.

LANGGAARD String Quartet No.3 (Miro String Quartet); NIELSEN Violin Concerto1 5 Songs2 1Odense Symphony Orchestra/Jan Wagner with Saeka Matsuyama, violin 2Lars Thodberg Bertelsen with Frode Stengaard, piano Bridge 9100 [62 mins] [PW]

The orchestra naturally has the music in its blood, and this18 yr old Julliard student spins a lovely line with complete assurance.

Franz LEHAR Piano Sonata in F; Piano Sonata in D minor; Fantasie in A flat Wolf Harden (pianoforte) CPO 999 715-2 [73' 51"] [CH]

This ultimately comes into the "interesting-to-have-heard-it" category, though I shall return to the F major sonata from time to time.

Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) Pagliacci. José Cura (tenor) Canio/Pagliaccio; Barbara Frittoli (soprano) Nedda/Colombina; Carlos Alvarez (bass) Tonio/Taddeo; Charles Castronovo (tenor) Beppe/Arlecchino; Simon Keenleyside (baritone) Silvio; Netherlands Radio Choir; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly. Decca 467 086-2 [73'05] [DDD] [CC]

Riccardo Chilly's innate feeling for Italianate lyric tragedy, José Cura's involved reading of Canio … make this an eminently recommendable Pagliacci. This hugely impressive issue will grace even the most Pagliacci-heavy of shelves.

LISZT (1811-1886) The Symphonies A Faust Symphony (1857) 74.22 Dante Symphony (1856) 44.31 Les Préludes (1854) 16.49 Prometheus (1850) 12.28 Siegfried Jerusalem (ten) Chicago SO and chorus/Solti LPO/Solti L'Orchestra de la Suisse Romande/Jesus Lopez-Cobos rec 1986 (Faust), 1978 (poems), 1982 (Dante) DECCA 466 751-2 Decca Twofer [148.26] [RB]

A creditable Dante and a world-beating Faust all spectacularly recorded at a great price.

LISZT  Symphonic Poem Les Preludes Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies Hungarian Rhapsodies nos. 2 and 4. (Shura Cherkassky, BPO, Karajan) Piano Concerto no.1 (Argerich, LSO, Abbado) Mephisto Waltz no. 1 (Richter) Piano Sonata (Argerich) Feux follets; Harmonies du soir. (Richter) Benediction de Dieu dans la solitude (Arrau) Hungarian Rhapsody (Argerich) DG Panorama 469 151 -2. Two CDs series at a special price. (ADD) [75.52 and 75.23] [DW]

Karajan fails to understand Liszt as is quite evident from his recording of four works on this disc.....I don't know how to assess these discs. What is clear is that you must look elsewhere for the orchestral music since Karajan's performances are sabotage!

LISZT (1811-86) Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas Tree).  Ballades - No. 1 in D flat; No. 2 in B minor. Rhondda Gillespie (piano). Chandos CHAN6629 [ADD] [61'43] [CC]

A solid recommendation at its bargain price but spending more would get you preferred versions of both works.

LISZT Piano Sonata in B minor. Années de Pèlerinage, Deuxième Année: Sonetto 27 del Petrarca; Sonetto 104 del Petrarca; Sonetto 123 del Petrarca; Après une lecture du Dante, 'Dante Sonata'. Alfredo Perl (piano). Arte Nova 74321 71767-2 [DDD] [68'59] [CC]

Even for a fiver, it is hard to muster up much enthusiasm for Perl's rather routine brand of Liszt.

[Part 1]  [Part 2]
[Part 3] [Part 4]  [Part 5]    

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Arthur Baker, Terry Barfoot,  Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Gerald Fenech,  Christopher Fifield, Lewis Foreman, Simon Foster, Christopher Howell, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Richard Whitehouse, Reg Williamson, Peter Grahame Woolf, David Wright. A complete list of contributors can be seen here


Any opinions expressed in reviews or articles on this site are those of the author and  do not necessarily represent the views of the site owner, Len Mullenger or the Editors.  Reviewers and authors retain copyright in their work unless it has been paid for or commissioned by the site owner.

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