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The Best of Opera, Volume 4. Die Meistersinger - Overture (Wagner). Aida - Ritourna vincitor. Il Trovatore - Di quella pira. La Traviata - Follie! Sempre libra (Verdi). Cosi fan tutte - Come scoglio. Die Zauberflote - Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon (Mozart). Thais - Meditation (Massenet). Manon Lescaut - Sola Perduta (Puccini). L'Elisir d'amore - Una fertiva lagrima (Donizetti). Die tote Stadt - Gluck des mir verblieb (Korngold). La Cenerentola - Nacqui all'affanno (Rossini). I Pagliacci - Bell Chorus (Leoncavallo). La Gioconda - Cielo e mar (Ponchielli). Alceste - Ombre Larve (Gluck). Carmen - Entr'acte Act 3 (Bizet). Cavalleria Rusticana - Mamma quel vino e generoso (Mascagni). Naxos 8.554682 [DDD] [77'58] [CC]

Given the variable quality Naxos provide, ranging from the must-buys to the risible, it will come as no surprise that this disc is variable in the extreme.

BRITISH GUITAR   Andrew Keeping: guitar Claudio Records - CC4628-2 [AD]

With this 1996 collection of 20th century guitar works Andrew Keeping goes a long way to justify a position as Julian Bream's natural successor in this area of the repertoire.

THE ESSENTIAL CLASSICS COLLECTION Deutsche Grammophon 463 485-2  6 CDs

For the absolute beginner. Good portal to the classics in often very fine performances well recorded

Guido Cantelli. HAYDN Symphony No. 83 FRANCK Symphony in D minor MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition HINDEMITH Sinfony - 'Mathis der Maler'.   NBC Symphony Orchestra Guido Cantelli.   Testament SBT2194 2CDs 118m ADD (Rec. 1949-54) [GF].

Indeed a splendid group of recordings demonstrating the genial and unique qualities of Guido Cantelli's fine conducting.

CANTICO DELLA TERRA The sacred and popular in 13th century Italy.   Quartetto Vocale Giovanna Marini/Micrologus   Opus111 OPS30-277 61m DDD. [GF]

Rather like Hyperion's 'English Songbook', this collection could be named, 'Italian Songbook', in fact it goes deep into 13th century folklore retrieving elements of song that have been long forgotten.

CATALAN STRING QUARTETS Josep SOLER String Quartet No 1 (1974) Miquel ROGER String Quartet No 2 (1994) Albert SARDA String Quartet (1978) Josep SOLER String Quartet No 5 (1994) Kreutzer Quartet rec 26-28 Aug 1998, St John's, Loughton METIER MSV CD 92026 [79.15] [RB]

Three 12 tone string quartets and one tonal quartet. Music both tough and subtle. Only the Sarda strikes me as weak. First class upfront recording.

devil's dance Works by Bazzini · Bolcom · Brahms Grieg · Korngold · Mendelssohn Morris · Paganini · Sarasate Saint-Saëns · Tartini Williams · Ysaÿe Gil Shaham (violin) Jonathan Feldman (piano) DG 463 483-2 [70 mins]

A high risk roller-coaster ride of virtuoso encore pieces, and Shaham never falls off

A FRENCH COLLECTION BIZET, CHABRIER, CHAUSSON, DELIBES, DUPONT, FRANCK, GOUNOD, PALAHDIHE & SAINT-SAENS Songs DEBUSSY, FAURE, SATIE Piano pieces. Martyn Hill (tenor) Graham Johnson (N.B. not Johnston!) & Albert Ferber, (piano)  Meridian CDE 84417 [73.28] [PGW]

.... this is another programme (like those of the Songmakers' Almanac concerts) which exemplifies Graham Johnson's imagination and his song-hunting instinct, which fuels indefatigable determination to quarry rare, forgotten mélodies from second-hand book stores and catalogues.

Collection: Great Moments of…NICOLAI GEDDA (b.1925)
EMI CMS5 67445 2 Mono/Stereo 3 CDs  [IL]

Unhesitatingly recommended. A wonderful operatic experience.

HAPPY AND GLORIOUS:  The Official Album of H.M. The Queen Mother's 100th Birthday Celebrations on Horse Guards.   Various orchestras and massed bands conducted by Barry Hingley OBE.
Decca 467-100-2 78m DDD [GF].

This wonderfully produced album is the official souvenir of an event that has had many of us harking back to the good old nostalgic days with the songs and tunes that shaped a century of British and Imperial development.

MUSIC FOR LUTE AND MANDOLIN: Paul O'Dette, The Parley of Instruments Roy Goodman/Peter Holman. Hyperion CDA20160 58m DDD.
GRANVILLE BANTOCK: Celtic and Hebridean Symphonies, The Witch of Atlas, The Sea Reivers. CDA20450 74m DDD.
G.F. HANDEL: The Four Coronation Anthems, Musick for the Royal Fireworks. The Choir of New College, Oxford, The King's Consort Edward Higginbottom/Robert King CDA20350 57m
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Serenade to Music, Five Mystical Songs, Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Flos campi. Various soloists, Noboku Imai: viola, Corydon Singers English Chamber Orchestra Matthew Best. Hyperion CDA20420 68m DDD.

Gerald Fenech starts a survey of Hyperion's celebratory re-issues

A Sheaf of Songs from Ireland Larchet: The Wee Boy in Bed; Wee Hughie; A Stoirin Ban; An Ardglass Boat Song; Padraic the Fiddler; Stanford: A Sheaf of Songs from Leinster, op.140; The Fairy Lough, op.77/2; Arr. Stanford: An Irish Lullaby (abridged) (from "50 Songs of Old Ireland"); Hardebeck: The Song of Glen Dun; A Dandlin' Song; Victory: An Old Woman of the Roads; O'Brien: The Fairy Tree; Nelson: The Little Pets of Mochua; Dirty Work; Arr. Bax: Oh Dear! What can the Matter Be? Bernadette Greevy (mezzo soprano), Hugh Tinney (pianoforte) Marco Polo 8.225098 [62' 18] [CH]

It would have been unchivalrous of me to draw attention to the longevity of Ms Greevy's career were it not that absolutely no allowances need be made.

LLIBRE VERMELL: Various songs and music from Monserrat. Sarband Dorian DOR93202 63m DDD [GF].

The far off sounds of medieval pilgrims are indeed a haunting and highly moving experience. Sarband's recreation of the Red Book does just that!

Looking to the East Lou HARRISON Suite, Henry COWELL Homage to Iran, Colin McPHEE Nocturne, Alan HOVHANESSKoke no Niwa, The Holy City, Ave Maria, Christmas Ode, Easter Cantata.   Leopold Stokowski and his orchestra; Hessian Radio SO/David Van Vactor; Bamberg SO/Bavarian Radio Singers/Alfredo Antonini CRI CD 836 [76.29] [RB]

An extremely impressive collection in decent archive recordings. Not to be ignored.

The Making of a Medium Volume 6  Peter SCULTHORPE, David DIAMOND, John CORIGLIANO  PETER SCULTHORPE Night Song (1995) [6.49] From Nourlangie (1995) [4.49]
DAVID DIAMOND Violin Sonata No. 2 (1981) [13.07] Piano Trio (1994) [27.56]
JOHN CORIGLIANO Violin Sonata (1963) [22.47]
  Walter Verdehr (violin) Elsa Ludevig-Verdehr (clarinet), Gary Kirkpatrick (piano), Ralph Votapek (piano - in Corigliano only); recorded Chicago - no dates given  CRYSTAL RECORDS CD746 [75.52] [RB]

A disc for the collector of American/Australian music and/or the Verdehr series on. The Diamond works will be wanted by all those collecting the works of this fine composer. The two Sculthorpe pieces will prompt me to explore further in that direction. As for the Corigliano I urge you to hear the disc if only for the masterly humanity of the Corigliano and the tenderness of the Sculthorpe Night Piece

(Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Beethoven) NAXOS 8.110910 [69'40"]

SERGE KOUSSEVITZSKY (Boston Symphony Orchestra - Bartok, Mussorgsky/Ravel)   NAXOS 8.110105 [59'29"] [CA]

.... this is a fantastic slice of history. For less than a fiver, and with well-made transfers and helpful notes, even the most hesitant collector should have a go at these issues.

Tony PALMER Maria Callas - La Divina - A Portrait… a film by Tony Palmer  DVD (also available on video) * aspect ratio, 4:3 * sound, Dolby stereo * PAL * region encoding 2, 5, 6 * languages - English & German * subtitles in French * Arthaus Musick KAT. - NR 100 052 [91:27] [GD]

.....In short, some imagination could have been used. As it is, the film itself is interesting though hardly compelling or essential viewing. As a package the DVD does not have the substance to warrant repeated viewing.

Highlights from DG Panorama series. full details provided DG Panorama 469 100-2 [137.40] [HD]

A generous and worthwhile introduction to a welcome new series.

PULSE: Contemporary solo piano music played by Matti Hirvonen  IVO NILSSON Puls
JOHNANNES JANSSON The Nightingale WERNER WOLF GLASER Preludium; Sospeso MATS LARSSON GOTHE Ride of the Valkyries KJELL PERDER London Vertigo MAURICE KARKOFF Fantasia for the Left Hand BO NILSSON Arctic Romance JAN SANDSTROM Campane in campi aperti FOLKE RABE With Love 1 and 2.
   Various; rec Swedish Radio, Aug 1999 Feb 2000  DAPHNE 1012

This is the sort of set you will return to again. Its rewards are patent. It is a pity that the playing time is short.

RUSSIAN CONCERT BAND MUSIC PROKOFIEV March for military band (1943) RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Variations for oboe and military band RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Concertstuck for clarinet and military band STRAVINSKY arr Song of the Volga Boatmen SHOSTAKOVICH March of the Soviet Police (1965) KHACHATURYAN Soviet Police March (1975) MIASKOVSKY Symphony No. 19 (1938) Alf Nilsson (ob) Solve Kingstedt (cl)
Stockholm Concert Band/Gennadi Rozhdestvenski rec Stockholm, 11-12 June 1995   CHANDOS CHAN 9444 [54.44] [RB]

Piquant collection of concert music for brass band. Bit short on playing time.

Sing, ye Heavens. HYMNS FOR ALL TIME.   The Cambridge Singers,  Thelma Owen (harp),  John Scott (organ),  The City of London Sinfonia Brass,  Directed by John Rutter.  Recorded Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Holborn, London.  8 & 11 February 2000. DDD   Collegium Records. COLCD 126 [76.45] [HD]

A very warm welcome for a fine disc that already, with months to go, could be a good suggestion for a Christmas present.

THE SWINGLE SINGERS - JAZZ SEBASTIAN BACH 23 Bach tracks each arranged by Ward Swingle. Rec 1963 and 1968 AAD PHILIPS 824 703-2 [65.33] [RB]

All-conquering if you are a Swingle fan or nostalgia-phile. Great recording quality. Mis-hits musically speaking.

Infamia Tangos de Barcelona  Julia Migenes (mezzo-soprano); Albert Guinovart (piano), Marcelo Mercadante (bandoleón), Angel Jesús Garcia (violin) and Vincent Ellegiers (cello)   Lawrence Foster conducts Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona I Nacional de Catalunya   DECCA 466 764-2   [61:39] [Zara] [IL]

Throw away your preconceptions of the tango and enjoy this album for what it is -- a joyful, exuberant, exceedingly colourful, and sometimes dreamy celebration of the tango as arranged for a symphony orchestra with piano soloist (and others) and vocalist.

Incitation to Desire Yvar Mikhashoff (piano) plays Tangos composed for him New Albion NA073CD [70.07] [PW]

I have no problem in concurring with the writer of the liner notes that this CD celebration of 'the dance of desire' is 'a telling memorial to an extraordinary pianist'.

Wind Quintets: NIELSEN: Wind Quintet MORTENSEN: Wind Quintet JERSILD: Serenade WELLEJUS: Wind Quintet Wind Quintet of the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Da Capo 8.224151 (72 minutes)

The players of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra have a special understanding of Nielsen's musical language, as well they should. And in this performance it shows.


The Jane Austen Collection Concert Royal. Margarette Ashton (soprano); Peter Harrison (flute); Rachel Gray (violoncello); John Treherne (square piano). Recorded Westfield Farm, Sheriff Hutton, North Yorkshire. Oct 1999 and February 2000 DDD   Divine Art Ltd. 2 -4107 [47.46] [HD]

A recommendation then for an imaginative and enterprising CD - even though it lasts less than 48 minutes.

FRANK CHACKSFIELD The Decca Years 1953-75. Orchestral favourites.   Decca 466-927-2 2 CDs 153m DDD. [GF]

The recordings have resurfaced as fresh as an ice cold drink on a hot summer's day with many nostalgic tunes really sounding as if they were taped yesterday.

VERA LYNN The Decca Years 1936-60.  Decca 466-921-2 2CDs 153m ADD. [GF]

This charmingly nostalgic double album is the ideal companion to the many millions around the Commonwealth who have always admired this great singer.


Berlioz, by David Cairns Volume 1, The Making of an Artist - 648pp ISBN: 0140287264
Volume 2, Servitude and Greatness - 896pp ISBN: 0520222008 [AB]

Although clearly based upon very thorough scholarship, this biography is designed to be read by the general reader, not just by musicologists. There is a fascinating story to be told and David Cairns tells it very well.

PERCY GRAINGER By John Bird  Oxford University Press 1999 (Third Edition). Hardback 376 pages ISBN 0-19-816652-4 £25

This is an invaluable document and an absorbing read

Covent Garden: The Untold Story by Norman Lebrecht
Simon & Schuster, £25.00 ISBN: 0684851431

This is a completely riveting book and one of the most damning studies of a cultural institution you could ever imagine reading.

NICOLAI GEDDA - My Life and Art By Nicolai Gedda as told to Aino Sellermark Gedda (Translated from the Swedish by Tom Geddes) Amadeus Press 1999. 244 pages. Hardback. ISBN 1-57467-048-4 $24:95 [IL]

A good read and a valuable record of the life and experiences of a fondly regarded singer who has made an indelible impact on the world of opera in the 20th century.

An Affinity with Gustav Mahler Edited by Stewart Quentin Holmes Elius Books (Paperback £11.99 180pp) ISBN 0-952-87120-3 [TD]

People who have never heard a note of Mahler's music often ask me what it is I find so fascinating about his life and work and I would happily recommend this book to them. The overwhelming impression you receive is of how an affinity with the music of Mahler can indeed change the course of your life and affect your way of looking at the world.

[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, Terry Barfoot,  Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Gerald Fenech,  Lewis Foreman, David Frieze, Malcolm Galloway,  Ian Marchant, 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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