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ADOLPHE ADAM La Jolie Fille de Gand (complete ballet) Queensland Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Andrew Mogrelia) (recorded 26 February & 1 March, 1996) Marco Polo 8.223772-73 (two discs) [132:51] [AS]

This is aworld premiere recording.The Queensland Orchestra tackles this undemanding score with spirit and style (it possesses an outstanding principal oboe) and the sound is bright if at times a touch over-reverberant.

Isaac Albéniz (rev. José de Eusebio) Merlin Opera in three acts, Part One of the trilogy King Arthur by Francis Burdett Money Coutts, Lord Latymer. Cast: Merlin - Carlos Álvarez; King Arthur - Plácido Domingo; Morgan le Fay - Jane Henschel; Nivian - Ana María Martinez; Archbishop of Canterbury - Carlos Chausson; Mordred - Christopher Maltman; with Javier Franco, Felipe Bou, José López Ferrero, Javier Roldán, Ángel Rodríguez. Monks of the Monastery of Alfonso X "El Sabio", Coro Nacional de España, Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, C. José de Eusebio. Decca 467 096-2 2CD box set  Total Timing 2 hr 17 min [CW] [LF]

Albéniz's opera "Merlin" is that rare thing, an unperformed and virtually unknown work of genuine power.[CW]
I must say I would love to see it. It is the perfect CD opera, and especially on the first disc this is a recording one will constantly dip into. Do try it.[LF]

ALBINONI Concert à cinque, opus 5 Collegium Musicum 90 Simon Standage Chandos Chaconne CHAN 0663 (76.18 minutes) [TB]

The musical judgements of the best, beautifully balanced keyboard continuo and string orchestra. An outstanding issue.

ATTERBERG Symphonies No 3 in D major, Op 10 and No 6 in C major, Op 31.   Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR/Ari Rasilainen   CPO 999 640-2 [68:18] [LF]

This is one of those couplings which prompt one to wonder why no one had done it before, for these two symphonies must be among the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg's (1887-1974) most approachable and memorable works, and together they make a lovely programme.

BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos  Concerto no. 4 in G major BWV 1049, Concerto no 5 in D major BWV 1050, Concerto in A minor BWV 1044, Concerto in F major BWV 1057. Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Helmut Müller-Bruhl Naxos 8.554608 [68:28] [CT]

I would not expect this disc to prompt dedicated Bach enthusiasts to discard their treasured recordings of these works. However, it has much to commend in the spirit of the playing which conveys a refreshing sense of youthfulness and vigour.

BACH: Violin Concerto in A minor, Violin Concerto in E major, Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, Concerto for Violin & Oboe in C minor Kennedy (Nigel); Albrecht Mayer (oboe); Daniel Stabrawa (violin) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  EMI CDC5 57019-2 [59 minutes]  [TB]

Kennedy and his colleagues pay splendid treatment to Bach in this fine compilation

BACH  COMPLETE ORCHESTRAL WORKS Overtures (Suites) nos 1 - 4 Karl Kaiser (flute) with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra (conducted by Helmut Müller-Brühl) (no recording date given: probably 1998)
Naxos 8.554609 [77:48] [AS]

This disc is a real winner in every respect.

BACH and the French Clavecinists.GASPARD DE LA ROUX Pieces in F from Pieces de Clavecin 1705 LOUIS MARCHAND Pieces in D minor from Pieces de Clavecin 1669 J. S. BACH Suite in A minor with Prelude (English Suite no. 2) Andrew Appel (harpsichord) ASV Quicksilva CDQS 6247 (DDD) (63.43) [DW]

Andrew Appel has great energy and verve and avoids all the fussiness that one sadly associates with early music. I really do like his style and that is some accolade when I have to admit that this music is not that interesting.

BACH: Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue) Hans Fagius (organ) BIS-CD-1034 (79.9 minutes) [TB]

Take courage, and listen - the rewards are considerable

BACH: Christmas Cantatas BWV36: Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV132: Wege, bereitet die Bahn! BWV61: Nun komm, der heiden Heiland, Instrumental Suite after BWV699 & 659 Teru Dunn (soprano); Matthew White (countertenor); John Tessier (tenor); Steven Pitkanen (baritone); Thomas Goerz (bass) Arcadia Ensemble Kevin Mallon Naxos 8.554825 (62.17) [TB]

These Advent cantatas are deserving of a wider recognition, and this disc serves them well.

BACH  Keyboard Music Capriccios: in E major BWV993; in B flat major BWV992; Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue in D minor BWV903 Fantasias: in C minor BWV906; in G minor BWV917; in C minor BWV918; in A minor BWV 922: Fantasias & Fugues: in A minor BWV 904; in A minor BWV944; Fugue on a theme of Albinoni BWV950; Prelude in C minor BWV921; Prelude on a theme of Albinoni BWV923; Prelude & Fugue in A minor BWV551 Masaaki Suzuki (harpsichord) BIS-CD-1037 (77 minutes) [TB]

Tame the fierceness and the music can shine through, although that fierceness to some extent applies to the performances too

BACH TRANSCRIPTIONS by Barbirolli · Coates · Damrosch · Elgar · Gui · Horenstein · Kleiber · Klemperer · Koussevitzky · Melichar · Mitropoulos · Ormandy · Reiner · Sargent · Schmidt-Isserstedt · Stock · Stokowski · Toscanini · Wood Recorded 1926-1946 (Transferred by Mark Obert-Thorn) BIDDULPH BID 83069/70 (2-CD set) [RB] [HD]

Bach varied, surprising, satisfying and, thank heavens, suffused with a non-PC approach

BACH (1685-1750) SIX SUITES FOR VIOLONCELLO SOLO 1007-1012, transcribed for guitar Andreas von Wangenheim, Guitar  Arte Nova Classics 74321 67522 2 [AD]

This is the first recording I have heard of all the Bach cello suites played on the guitar and along with similar transcriptions of the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin present great music for guitarists wishing to perform Bach as alternatives to the much played lute suites. A disc well worth exploring

BACH Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord CD1: No. 1 in B minor, BWV1014 No. 2 in A major, BWV1015 No. 3 in E major, BWV1016 No. 4 in C minor, BWV1017 CD2: No. 5 in F minor, BWV1018
No. 6 in G major, BWV1019 No. 6 (alternative movements) Lucy van Dael (violin) Bob van Asperen (harpsichord) Naxos 8.554614 [61.09] 8.554783 [49.14] [TB]

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach described these six sonatas for violin and harpsichord as 'among the best compositions of my dear departed father'....These performances match those high expectations

BANTOCK (1868-1946) Cello Sonata in B minor (1940) [27.00] Cello Sonata in F sharp minor (1944) [18.16] Sonata in G minor for solo cello (1924) [10.38] Hamabdil and Pibroch for cello and harp [5.35, 6.36] Elegiac Poem (1900) [6.06] Andrew Fuller (cello) Michael Dussek (piano) Luct Wakeford (harp) rec All Saints, East Finchley 17-19 July 2000 Birmingham Conservatoire Research Project funding  DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7107 [75.27] [RB]

A further and diverting 'building block' towards the unfolding Bantock discography. Recording, documentation and performance excellent.

Bataille-Couperin-Lambert-Moulinié Airs de Cour Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor) Olivier Baumont (harpsichord, organ) Eric Bellocq (lute, guitar, theorbo) etc Glissando 779 013-2 [69 mins] [PGW]

These twenty-two songs, mainly of 17th 18th C., had to be realised from 'just a vocal line and a bass line, nothing more'. Fouchécourt's voice is cool and elegant, and the embellishment entirely convincing. His sense of discovery extends to the inclusion of 'a wink at the 20th C.' with Marquise by Brassens, to demonstrate continuity of the genre into our own times.

Bax, Bowen, Haydn, Schumann, Chopin, Scriabin, Debussy & Albeniz. Guy Jonson (piano) Libra MNU 9910 [74 mins] [PGW]

Forget (for the time being) your celebrity virtuosi & the latest whiz-kid, and celebrate the wisdom of maturity. I do not care for its title Echoes from a Golden Era because no allowances for age which that might suggest are called for. Jonson's Traumerei is a marvellous demonstration that virtuosity is not just about speed and power!

BEETHOVEN Diabelli Variations Op. 120 Maurizio Pollini (piano) Deutsche Grammophon - 459 645-2 [50.08] [PW]

.....Pollini is far more straightforward in his approach and storms through imperiously, without ever relaxing his hold on the listener.

BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas No.4 Op 7; No. 22 Op 54; No. 23 Op 57 "Appassionata"; No.25 Op 79 Stephen Kovacevich piano EMI Classics CDC 5 56965 2 [70.29] [SF]

Kovacevich's technique is never in question, but one is made aware throughout the CD that the extended thought process, which he doubtless undertook before entering the studio, actually led to the performances becoming somewhat mannered and un-spontaneous.

BEETHOVEN Violin Sonatas: No. 5 Op. 24 "(Spring)" No. 8 Op.30, no. 3, No. 9. Op 47 "(Kreutzer)" Arthur Rubinstein (piano) Henryk Szeryng (Violin) Recorded 1958 (No. 5 & 9); 1961 (No. 8) RCA The Rubinstein Collection Vol. 40 09026630402 [AB]

The total effect frankly is rather disappointing. As there have been so many really good discs of these two sonatas - notably the Perlman/Askenazy performance, this disc can only be recommended to those who are particularly interested in the 8th Sonata

BENDIX (1851-1926) Symphony No 1 Mountain Climbing (1882) Symphony No 2 Sounds of Summer from South Russia (1888) Symphony No 3 (1895) Symphony No 4 (1906) Omsk PO/Evgeni Shestakov rec Omsk 1995 (syms 1-3) July-Aug 1999 (sym 4)  DANACORD DACOCD436-7 CD1 [66.37]; CD2 [66.04] [RB]

Danacord puts the musical world in their debt by recording this late romantic composer. The Third Symphony is a work of some considerable strength and glowing lyricism.

Sir Richard Rodney BENNETT (b. 1936)  Film Music: Murder on the Orient Express; Far from the Madding Crowd; Tender is the Night; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Enchanted April; Lady Caroline Lamb Rumon Gamba conducting the BBC Philharmonic CHANDOS CHAN 9867 [69:45] [IL]

A delightful album and strongly recommended.

BERNERS (1883-1950) Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement (1923) Fanfare (1931) Caprice Péruvien (1938) Viceroy: Ian Caddy (bar) Martinez: Alexander Oliver (ten) Balthasar: John Winfield (ten) La Périchole: Cynthia Buchan (sop) Thomas d'Esquivel: Thomas Lawlor (bass) Bishop of Lima: Anthony Smith (bass) BBC Scottish SO/Nicholas Cleobury (Carrosse) rec Glasgow 16 Aug 1983 Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Gavin Sutherland (Fanfare) rec London 15 Sept 1999 RTE Sinfonietta/David Lloyd-Jones (Caprice) rec Dublin 10 Jan 1995 MARCO POLO 8.225155 [79.17] [RB]

An unfamiliar lighter opera that will appeal to anyone who likes Ravel's L'enfant et les Sortilèges or Holst's Wandering Scholar

ERNEST BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Concerto (1938) * Trois Poemes Juifs ** BELA BARTOK
Rhapsody No. 1 * * Roman Totenberg (violin) rec 1961 *Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Vladimir Golschmann
** Hartford SO/Fritz Mahler rec 1960 VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC 4046 [75.46] [RB]

This is a very attractive and economical disc made specially so by the Three Poems.

BLOMDAHL (1916-1968) Praeludium and Allegro (1949) [5.43] Violin Concerto (1946) [16.20] Concerto Grosso (1944) [17.55] Concert Overture (1940) [7.12] Symphony No. 2 (1947) [22.00] Ola Rudner (violin) Helsingborg SO/Stig Westerberg rec 1989 Helsingborg, Sweden Scandinavian Contemporary Music Series MAP CD 9024 (Swedish Society Discofil associate) [70.08] [RB]

A disc packed with substantial pieces by the lean-themed poetic Hindemith of the North.

BLOMDAHL (1916-68) (1) Sisyphos: Dance with Death; Dance of Life (1954) (2) Chamber Concerto (1950) (3) Symphony No 3 Facetter (1950) Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (1955) (1) Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Varujian Kojian (2) Hans Leygraf (piano), London SO/Sixten Ehrling (3) Stockholm PO/Sixten Ehrling Thore Jansen (Cl), Erling Bløndahl Bengtsson (vc), Kjell Baekkelund (piano) all rec Stockholm 1957-79 (except Concerto, Kingsway Hall, London, Feb 1965) SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD1037  [64.33] [RB]

A challenging disc of works cross-sectioning Blomdahl's output.

Joly BRAGA SANTOS (1924-1988) Symphony No. 2 (1947) [48.30] Crossroads (ballet in one act) (1967) [16.53] Bournemouth SO/Alvaro Cassuto rec Bournemouth 1-2 August 2000 MARCO POLO 8.225216 [65.23] [RB]

Enjoy this disc. After the Portugalsom CD of the Fourth Symphony this is the one to start with if you decide you would like to try Braga Santos. A natural next step for anyone who loves their Vaughan Williams, Rózsa or Moeran

BRAHMS  Piano Concerto no 1 in D minor SCHUMANN  Introduction and Concert Allegro in D minor Idil Biret with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Antoni Wit) (recorded 29-31 August, 1996) Naxos 8.554088 [66:15] [AS]

This disc can certainly be recommended to anyone who wishes to study the musical and personal relationship between the two composers in 1853/54: while Brahms was on the threshold of a successful career, Schumann was about to end his days confined to an asylum.

BRITTEN War Requiem Stefania Woytowicz (soprano); Sir Peter Pears (tenor); Hans Wilbrink (baritone) Wandsworth School Boys' Choir Melos Ensemble New Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus Carlo Maria Giulini Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 6th April 1969 BBC Legends BBCL4046-2 (79 minutes) [TB]

A marvellous performance of a major classic is available for just a fraction of the cost of its competitors

BRODMANN  Musica Sacra Percussion Fantasies   all music performed by the composer CPO 999 749-2 [52:27] [GD]

It is too unsettling and even irritating to be background music, to uninteresting to be fully listened to, yet does achieve the apparent aim of creating a sound canvas into which one might become mentally absorbed.

GEOFFREY BURGON (b. 1941) Merciless Beauty (1996) * The Calm (1974) ** A Vision (1991) *** Voices from the Calm (1974) **** James Bowman (counter-tenor) * ** **** City of London Sinfonia * Neil Jenkins (tenor) *** Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields *** all conducted by the composer rec London, 1998/1999 ASV CD DCA 1059 [66.08] [RB]

Music of chilly beauty, appositely articulated both at artistic and technical levels. Full texts. Satisfying notes from Terry Barfoot.

[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Y] [Part 6 Misc] 

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,  Christopher Fifield, Lewis Foreman, Simon Foster, Christopher Howell, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott-Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Christopher Thomas, Richard Whitehouse, 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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