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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

MUSICWEB's TOP recommendations for 2001

DECEMBER 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946) The Song of Songs - Prelude (1926) Omar Khayyam - Prelude and Camel Caravan (1906) Caristiona (1920) Processional (1893) Thalaba the Destroyer - symphonic poem (1899) RPO/Vernon Handley
rec 20-21 Feb 2001, Walthamstow Assembly Halls, London - DDD HYPERION CDA 67250 [76.50] [RB]

Hyperion should take a deep bow for this latest Bantock salvo which is remarkably strong meat especially in the case of Thalaba and Caristiona.

DELIUS Song of Summer. A film by Ken Russell. Written by Ken Russell and Eric Fenby and based on the book Delius as I knew him by Eric Fenby. Produced and directed by Ken Russell. Starring Max Adrian as Frederick Delius, Maureen Pryor as Jelka Delius, and Christopher Gable as Eric Fenby. Black and white. 72 minutes. British Film Institute.
DVD version: BFIVD518 £19.99 (with director's biography and commentary). Video version: VHS BFIV101 £12.99.

No-one interested in Delius should be without a copy of Song of Summer. It has not dated at all and it repays repeated viewing and remains a fine tribute to Eric Fenby's sacrifice and self-less devotion.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Haydn Project [141.29] CD1 1. String Quartet No. 23 in F minor, Op. 20/5, H. 3/35 2. String Quartet No. 30 in E flat major "Joke" Op. 33/2, H. 3/38 3. String Quartet No. 43 in G major, Op. 54/1, H. 3/58 4. String Quartet No. 53 in D major "Lark" Op. 64/5, H. 3/63 CD2
1. String Quartet No. 59 in G minor "Rider"/"Horseman" Op. 74/3, H. 3/74
2. String Quartet No. 61 in D minor "Fifths"/"The Bell"/"The Donkey" Op. 76/2, H. 3/76 3. String Quartet No. 66 in G major "Lobkowitz" Op. 77/1, H. 3/81
Emerson Quartet Eugene Drucker, violin Philip Setzer, violin Lawrence Dutton, viola
David Finckel, cello Rec.: LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College, NY, 2000-01 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 327-2 [141.29] [KM]

A magnificent recording, which deserves the utmost attention. While it is unlikely that the Emerson Quartet will record a complete set of Haydnís quartets, one must hope that they will add more of them to their discography. This is a real gem. ...see Full Review

Graham WHETTAM (b.1927) Concerto Drammatico; Sinfonia contra timore Martin Rummel (vlc); Sinfonia da Camera, Urbana, Illinois/Ian Hobson; Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Günter Blumhagen (British Orchestral Music Vol 2) REDCLIFFE RECORDINGS RR 017 [60.00]

These pieces are gloomy and harsh. Whettamís is a striking musical world.

Hugh WOOD (born 1932) Symphony Op.21 (1982) Scenes from Comus Op.6 (1962/5)≤ Geraldine McGreevy (soprano)≤; Daniel Norman (tenor)≤; BBC Symphony Orchestra; Sir Andrew Davis Recorded: BBC Studio 1, Maida Vale, London, September 1999 NMC D 070 [69:16] [HC]

A superb release coupling two substantial pieces by a most distinguished composer whose music is still all too rarely heard. In my Top Ten list and heartily recommended

Lesley GARRETT Travelling Light Featuring Sir George Martin, Michel Legrand, The Clare Singers, Denyce Graves, Michael Ball, Bryn Terfel and Evelyn Glennie Orchestra conducted by Philip Ellis Recorded at Air Studios and Whitfield Street Studios, London, 2000-2001 EMI CDC 5 57251 2 [62:11] [SF]

This is one of those albums that seems to improve on every hearing. If youíre still not sure then give a copy to your mum or auntie or brother. But I suspect you will end up regretting not buying one for yourself.


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Bach Edition Complete works on 160 CDs FULL DETAILS AT FOOT OF REVIEW BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99697 [approx. 160 hours]

You owe it to yourself to get this set - at its super-bargain price, even those recordings you don't like will not cause too much disappointment, but the quality of the excellent ones is such that you will certainly be delighted. (Note that the cost of some of the recordings in this set that have been licensed from other labels would far exceed the total cost of the entire set.) If only to have the 60 CDs of sacred cantatas, and to discover what is an incredible collection of moving and memorable music, this set is worth having. Treat yourself to 160 CDs of Bach, then, take a few weeks off to enjoy this music. ...see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791) Mozart Edition Volume 1 Concertos for Wind Instruments,Violin Concertos BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99713 7CDs [approx 454 minutes]

This first volume of Brilliant Classicís complete Mozart set certainly bodes well for the other 23 volumes. The performances range from good to excellent, the sound is almost always fine. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791) Mozart Edition vol. 4 Piano Concertos [approx. 11 hours 25 min.] BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99720 [approx. 11 hours 25 min.] [KM]

Once again, Brilliant Classics comes up with a very good set of Mozartís works. While not perfect, these performances and recordings are fine. The budget price is an additional incentive for those interested in discovering all of Mozartís works for piano and orchestra. ...see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni, opera (1787) Bo Skovhus (Don Giovanni), Renata Girolami (Leporello), Boaz Daniel (Masetto), Janusz Monarcha (Commendatore), Torsten Kerl (Don Ottavio), Adrianne Pieczonka (Donna Anna), Regina Schörg (Elvira), Ildiko Raimondi (Zerlina)
Hungarian Radio Chorus, Nicolaus Estherházy Sinfonia/Michael Halász
Rec. Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Nov. 2000 NAXOS 8.660080-82 [CD1 58.31, CD2 58.38, CD3 56.30] [RF]

This performance and recording stands ahead of many in the catalogue, even if not supplanting Giuliniís 1959 recording for EMI, which may never be bettered, but that is at full price. ... see Full Review

Carl ORFF (1895-1982) Carmina Burana Bo Skovhus (baritone), Jochen Kowalski (alto), Sumi Jo (soprano) Southend Boys' Choir London Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra Zubin Mehta (conductor) Rec 1993, The Maltings, Snape APEX 09274 13772 (60.27) [TB]

The extensive percussion is spectacularly well captured. The tam-tam and timpani can rarely have sounded so thrilling in a recorded performance. Mehta conducts with consummate control of his massed forces though he is occasionally a little indulgent with slow tempi. ... see Full Review

NOVEMBER 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH


Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Orchestral Works, Volume 1 Enter Spring, Isabella, Two Poems for Orchestra, Mid of the Night (premiere recording) BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox Rec 26-27 November 2000, Brangwyn Hall Swansea CHANDOS CHAN 9950 (75.48)

With excellent sound, and repertoire which includes a real masterpiece and other music of much interest, this CD makes a compelling beginning to Chandos's new cycle of the orchestral works of this splendid British composer.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Juditha triumphans 1716. Magdalena Kozena, mezzo-soprano, Juditha; Maria José Trullu, contralto, Holofernes; Marina Comparato, soprano, Vagaus; Anke Herrman, mezzo-soprano, Abra; Tiziana Carraro, mezzo-soprano, Ozias; Academia Montis Regalis; Chamber Choir of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. Conductor: Alessandro de Marchi
Recording in October 2000, Instituto de Musica Antica Adademia Montis Regalis, Mondovi, Italy. OPUS 111 OP 30314 [3 CDs: 165.30] [FC]

This flair for orchestration plus charging this oratorio with high drama makes this one of Vivaldi's undisputed masterpieces. It is not without reason that the record label, Opus 111, has chosen this work to lead off their announced project to record the entire works of this composer.

MIRRORS - SONGS BY CONTEMPORARY SWEDISH COMPOSERS
Jonas FORSSELL
(b.1957) Hans GEFORS (b.1952) Kjell PERDER(b. 1954) [full track listing at foot of review) Olle Persson (Baritone) Matti Hirvonen (Piano) Recorded in Swedish Radio Studio 3 April and May 2000 DAPHNE 1014 [59.16] [GH]

I cannot speak too highly of the whole enterprise. Don't let this be a CD that slips you by. A very remarkable recital by a remarkable singer.


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

ESPAÑA ANTIGUA CD1 CANSÓS DE TROBAIRITZ, CD2 LLIBRE VERMELL DE MONTSERRAT, CD3 COURT MUSIC AND SONGS, CD4 SEPHARDIC ROMANCES, CD5 RENAISSANCE MUSIC FROM THE NEAPOLITAN COURT, CD6 ANTONIO DE CABEZÓN 1510-1566, CD7 CANCIONES Y DANZAS DE ESPAÑA (1547-1616),CD8 EL BARROCO ESPAÑOL Hespèrion XX / Jordi Savall Rec: between 1976 and 1986; no precise information given with the set. VIRGIN CLASSICS VB5 619642 (8 CD set) [KM]

This is a beautiful set, containing 8 discs of masterpieces performed perfectly. I don't have enough superlatives to truly describe it, and, at such a low price (less than the cost of 2 full-priced CDs), there is no excuse if you don't go out and buy this right away.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas complete Riko Fukuda, fortepiano Rec: September - October 2000. BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99671 [approx. 10 hours 41 mins]

Not only are the performances by all the pianists very good, but the sound puts the instruments in a very flattering context. If you like Haydn's piano sonatas, you owe yourself to buy this set - it will certainly change the way you consider these works.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No.4 in G major (1899-1900) Dame Margaret Price (Soprano) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jascha Horenstein (Barking Town Hall, London, 23-24 November 1970) CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 5 74882 2 [59.25] [TD]

This is a leading recommendation for this symphony, now widely available in good sound at last.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder (7 CDs) Great Schubert Singers Die Schöne Mullerin [61.47] Peter Schreier, tenor; Walter Olbertz, piano Die Winterreise [76.26] Robert Holl, bass-baritone; Naum Grubert, piano Schwanengesang [51.38] John Shirley-Quirk, baritone; Steuart Bedford, piano 15 Lieder [56.26] Gundula Janowitz, soprano; Charles Spencer, piano Goethe-lieder [54.48] Arleen Augér, soprano; Walter Olbertz, piano 19 Lieder [74.05] Sarah Walker, mezzo-soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano 16 Lieder [54.48] Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Hartmut Höll, piano Detailed contents listed at end of review Rec: 1974, 1995, 1977, 1989, 1978, 1989, 1987. BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99443 [approx. 430 min.] [KM]

All in all, this bargain set is a wonderful collection of recordings of Schubert's lieder. As an introduction, it will allow you to discover seven of the finest singers of this music.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan & Isolde (1865) Tristan - Ludwig Suthaus (tenor) Isolde - Kirsten Flagstad (soprano) Brangäne - Blanche Thebom (soprano) King Mark - Josef Greindl (bass) Kurwenal - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler Recorded 9-23 June 1952, Kingsway Hall, London EMI Great Recordings of the Century, CMS5 67621 2 - 4 discs [67.05, 68.16, 64.28, 56.07] Mid Price [MB]

Listening to this performance again, in this beautifully remastered version, it is difficult to argue with history. Despite wonderful performances from Böhm, Karajan, Knappertsbusch and both Kleibers the Furtwängler holds its own as one of the supreme achievements of the Gramophone.

OCTOBER 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Musical Offering BWV 1079 Le Concert des Nations, Jordi Savall, director Rec: November 1999, April 2000, Cardona Castle Collegiate Church, Cardona, Spain. ALIA VOX AV9817 [71.57] [KM]

Now you can discover one of Bach's greatest works in perhaps its finest performance.

Leonardo BALADA (b.1933) Concerto for piano and orchestra No 3 (1999) Concerto Magico for Guitar and orchestra (1997) Music for Flute and Orchestra (2000) Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and the Catalonia National Orchestra conducted by Jose Serebrier Rosa Torres-Pardo Piano Eliot Fisk, guitar Magdalena Martinez, Flute Recorded Sala Simfonica Barcelona July 2000 NAXOS 8.555039 [70.11] [GH]

These are outstanding performances of terrifically interesting and fascinating music. At any price I would go out and snap it immediately.

Lowell LIEBERMANN (b.1961) Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 12 Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 36 Six pieces from 'Album for the young' Stephen Hough (Piano) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lowell Liebermann Recorded: Caird Hall, Dundee, January 1997 HYPERION CDA66966 (56.21) [GH]

These works display phenomenal skill, technique, confidence and, I use the word not lightly, genius, in the 2nd concerto at least.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Preludio sinfonico, Op. 1. Messa di Gloria, Op. posth. Crisantemi. Roberto Alagna (tenor); Thomas Hampson (baritone); London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra/Antonio Pappano. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in September 2000. EMI CDC5 57159-2 [DDD] [60'55] [CC]

Maestro Pappano's obvious belief in lesser-known Puccini seems to have inspired the London Symphony Chorus and Orchestra to the peak of their abilities.The stars of the disc remain the London Symphony Chorus, whose unanimity of approach, well-drilled discipline and dedication to the Puccinian cause are beyond reproach.

OLGA GURYAKOVA SINGS RUSSIAN AIRS AND ROMANCES Olga Guryakova (soprano) * With Andrei Baturkin (baritone) Moscow Chamber Orchestra conducted by Constantine Orbelian Recorded in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, August 30 - September 5, 2000 DELOS DE 3273 [65.26] [JQ]

This is one of the most exciting new voices I have heard in a long time. A most enjoyable disc, winningly performed. Recommended unreservedly.


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) Ballet Mechanique (revised 1953) Serenade for String Orchestra No1, Symphony for Five instruments (second version), Concert for Chamber Orchestra Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Spalding Recorded October 1999 County Ballroom, Trenton New Jersey USA NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559060 [59.05] [GH]

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal (1865-1882) Amfortas - George London Titurel - Martti Talvela Gurnemanz - Hans Hotter Parsifal - Jess Thomas Klingor - Gustav Neidlinger Kundry - Irene Dalis Chor und Orchester des Bayreuther Festspiele, Hans Knappertsbusch Recorded live at the 1962 Bayreuth Festival. PHILIPS 464 756-2, 4 discs [65'52, 64'16, 59'15, 60'45], Mid Price [MB]

Along with Furtwängler's Tristan this is one of the great Wagner recordings of the last 50 years.

SEPTEMBER 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

DVD REVIEW
Richard WAGNER
(1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde (1856-1859) Isolde - Birgit Nilsson (sop) Tristan - Jon Vickers (ten) King Marke - Bengt Rundgren (bass) Kurwenal - Walter Berry (bar) Brangäne - Ruth Hesse (mez) Stanley Unruh - Melot (ten) Horst Laubenthal - Shepherd, Steersman & Sailor (ten) Orchestre National de l'ORTF & New Philharmonia Chorus, Karl Böhm Recorded on 7 July 1973 at a public performance, Orange, France DREAMLIFE CORPORATION [DLVC - 1019], [213 minutes] single DVD, Region encoded 0, NTSC format. Full Price [MB]

A simply fabulous historical document that catches breathtaking performances on the wing. It is unlikely to be surpassed.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

Carlos CHAVEZ (1899-1978) The Complete Symphonies:- Nos. 1 (Sinfonia de Antigona); 2 (Sinfonia India); 3; 4 (Sinfonia Romantica); 5; 6 London Symphony Orchestra/Eduardo Mata
rec. 1981 VOX BOX CDX 5061 (2 discs, DDD) [135.01] £9.99 [PS]

With the exception of the popular Sinfonia India, these symphonies, contrapuntally complex as well as colourful, reveal Chavez to be both a serious symphonist and arguably Mexico's answer to J. S. Bach. The composer's compatriot, Eduardo Mata, gets the LSO players right on the edges of their seats, and the recording is spot on. This "cheap and cheerful" Vox Box would still be cheap at twice the price

Richard WAGNER Parsifal George London (A mfortas), Martti Talvela (Titurel), Hans Hotter (Gurnemanz), Jess Thomas (Parsifal), Gustav Neidlinger (Klingsor), Irene Dalis (Kundry) Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival Conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch Recorded live in the Festspielhaus at the 1962 Bayreuth Festival PHILIPS 50 GREAT RECORDINGS 464 756-2 4 CDs [250.12] [TD]

In so much as any recording can be called definitive, this is the definitive Parsifal. I doubt if it will ever be equalled

GREAT VOICES OF THE OPERA VOLUMES I, II AND III 1905-46, 1901-46, 1905-1949 120CDs see review for details

With the under-a-pound price for each disk and the wealth of repertory this is, for the opera buff, an astonishing purchase. If you have never heard the French baritone Gérard Souzay, for example (Box 2, Disk Case 15), this discovery alone could be worth the price of the entire set.

AUGUST 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

"A LITTLE OF WHAT YOU FANCY"
The Golden Age of the British Music Hall: Recordings from 1901-1931
Marie Lloyd, Harry Lauder, George Robey, Charles Coborn, Harry Champion, George Formby Snr., Billy Williams, Vesta Victoria, Florrie Forde, Billy Merson.Will Fyffe, Dan Leno, Little Tich, Albert Whelan, Gus Elen, Norah Blaney, Lily Morris, Vesta Tilley, Albert Chevalier, Billy Williams.  ASV Living Era CD AJA 5363 [74.56] [TD]

This is an indispensable record for those who love the world of the old Music Hall.

Malcolm ARNOLD (b. 1921 ) Symphony No. 7 (1973) Symphony No. 8 (1978) National SO of Ireland/Andrew Penny rec 21-22 Feb 2000, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland (in presence of composer) NAXOS 8.552001 [63.55] [PS] [RB]

Approach this "approachable" music with caution - Arnold's Seventh Symphony merits an "18" certificate with additional warnings for the faint-hearted! Rounding off their highly recommendable complete set of the Arnold symphonies, Andrew Penny and the NSO of Ireland may well have saved the best until last. Electrifying music given highly charged performances - buy it, and be damned! [PS]

Penny and the Irish orchestra in lucid and imaginative performances charting the brilliance and the darkness of the Irish chapter of Arnold's Dark Night of the Soul. [RB]

Hector BERLIOZ (1803 -1869) Les Troyens (1856-8) Ben Heppner (tenor) - Enée  Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano) - Dido Petra Lang (mezzo-soprano) - Cassandre Sara Mingardo (alto) - Anna Peter Mattei (baritone) - Chorèbe Stephen Milling (bass) - Narbal Kenneth Tarver (tenor) - Lopas London Symphony Chorus London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (Recorded 3, 7, 8 & 9 December 2000, Barbican Centre, London) LSO Live LSO 0010 CD 4 CDs [62.23, 68.57, 56.25, 51.51], Super Budget Price

This recording, from live performances at the Barbican last December, is the finest opera CD I have heard this year.  An outstanding bargain, this is an unmissable set.

Joseph-Ermend BONNAL (1880 -1944) String Quartet No. 1 (1919) [33.31] String Quartet No. 2 (1938) [21.08] Quatuor Debussy rec Aizac (07), 6-9 Oct 1999 ARION ARN 68504 [54.39] [RB]

I urge you strongly to seek out Bonnal's sheerly magical impressionistic music.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Harpsichord Music Vol. III Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord Rec: September 1998 DA CAPO 8.224118 [54.24] [KM]

This recording is perhaps the most essential of the three disc Marco Polo series. The Aria: "La Capricciosa" is undoubtedly Buxtehude's masterpiece, and probably a model for Bach's Goldberg Variations. Another excellent recording that all lovers of harpsichord music should own.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862- 1918) Images  Set 1, Images Set 2, Images oubliées,  Estampes,  Masques pour piano, L'isle joyeuse Noriko Ogawa (piano) Rec August 2000, Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm BIS CD1105 [73.28] [TB]

The unique sound-world of Debussy is delivered with the utmost conviction.

RUSSIAN ROMANCE Russian songs arranged for violin and orchestra by PETER BREINER Takako Nishizaki (violin), Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Peter Breiner] rec 1994, ABC Studios, Brisbane, Australia NAXOS 8.555331 [61.09] [CG]

Highly enjoyable arrangements for violin and orchestra of some familiar Russian favourites.


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Masterpieces Ton Koopman, organ Rec: not specified (late 1980s) REGIS RRC 2042 [131.47] [KM]

This recording features a selection of some of Bach's best organ works, played on some of the best sounding organs available. An excellent set, well worth buying for the music, the performance, or the sound of the organs; or perhaps all three.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803 -1869) Les Troyens (1856-8) Ben Heppner (tenor) - Enée  Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano) - Dido Petra Lang (mezzo-soprano) - Cassandre Sara Mingardo (alto) - Anna Peter Mattei (baritone) - Chorèbe Stephen Milling (bass) - Narbal Kenneth Tarver (tenor) - Lopas London Symphony Chorus London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (Recorded 3, 7, 8 & 9 December 2000, Barbican Centre, London) LSO Live LSO 0010 CD 4 CDs [62.23, 68.57, 56.25, 51.51], Super Budget Price

This recording, from live performances at the Barbican last December, is the finest opera CD I have heard this year.  An outstanding bargain, this is an unmissable set.

AMERICAN ANTHEM: from ragtime to art song Nathan Gunn (baritone), Kevin Murphy (pianoforte) Recorded in St. Michael's Church, Highgate, London, 1998 EMI CLASSICS Debut Series CDZ 5 73160 2 [CH]

The programme is an appealing one. If you don't know much about the American art song then start here.

Elisabeth Batiashvili Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV1002 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, Opus 78 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Rondo in B minor, D895 Elisabeth Batiashvili (violin) Milana Chernyavskaya (piano) Rec October 1999 and November 2000, Potton Hall, Suffolk EMI Classics Debut Series CDZ 5 74017 2 [64.10] [TB]

Elisabeth Batiashvili is a major talent with a huge future, as those who heard last year's Proms performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto may remember.

Katarina Karnéus sings Strauss, Mahler, Marx Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano), Roger Vignoles (pianoforte) Recorded 7/1998 at St. Michael's Church, Highgate, London EMI CLASSICS CDZ 5 73168 2 [64.55][CH]

Katarina Karnéus has a very interesting voice, but here I feel there is still work to be done. What we hear is the sort of creamy, golden-toned "soprano" voice which we usually associate with Strauss.

JULY 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Benjamin FRANKEL (1906-1973) Symphony No. 7 (1970) Symphony No. 8 (1971) Overture to a Ceremony (1971) A Shakespeare Overture (1956) Queensland SO/Werner Andreas Albert rec ABC Studio 420, Australia, April 1999 CPO 999 243-2 [70.27] [RB]

Together with the CPO disc containing number 4 this is the CD with which to start your Frankel symphony collection.

Andreas Hallén (1846- 1925) Ett Juloratorium - A Christmas Oratorio (1904) Lena Hoel, soprano; Mathias Zachariassen, tenor Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra & Swedish Radio Choir B.Tommy Andersson, conductor. Rec live 19 December 1996, Berwald Hall, Stockholm STERLING CDS-1028-2 [Swedish Romantics] [58.20] [JF]

This is excellent choral music. Influenced, but not overwhelmed by the Wagnerian musical ethic, this piece deserves to be discovered. If it had been written by Richard Wagner and not by Andreas Hallén it would have a secure place in the musical canon.

HÄNDEL Dixit Dominus Anne Sofie von Otter, alto; Hillevi Martinpelto, soprano; Stockholm Bach Choir; Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble conducted by Anders Öhrwall.  Gloria (first recording; 05-03-2001)    Emma Kirkby, soprano; Royal Academy of Music Baroque Orchestra/Laurence Cummings  BIS CD 1235 [49 mins]  [PGW]

Emma Kirkby is in fine form and revels in the virtuosic demands of the youthful Gloria, the recent authentication of which caused a media furore.

Gustav MAHLER Das Lied Von Der Erde Peter Schreier (Tenor), Birgit Finnila (Alto) Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester/Kurt Sanderling Berlin Classics 0094022BC [62.01] [TD]

This is one of the finest recordings of this inexhaustible work. No Mahlerite should be without it.

Nikos SKALKOTTAS (190 4-49) Thirty-Two pieces for piano (1940) Four etudes (1941) Suite no 1 (1936) Nikolaos Samaltanos (piano) rec 1998-2000 at Eglise Saint-Marcel, Paris BIS CD 1133/34  2CD [119.22] [PGW]

A landmark release and essential purchase, a recording which is 60 years overdue. The Thirty-Two Pieces (1940) are of limitless variety and represent one of the great piano cycles of the century.

VILLA-LOBOS (1 887-1959) Chôros XII for orchestra (1929) Chôros VII for flute, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, bassoon, violin, cello and gong (1924) Bachiana brasileira I for eight cellos (1930) Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège cond. Pierre Bartholomée (Chôros XII) cond. Georges-Élie Octors (Chôros VII) Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico (Bachiana brasileira I) rec: (Chôros XII): Conservatoire Royale de Liège 9-10 Sept 1980; (Chôros VII): 22 Dec 1986; (Bachiana Brasileira I): l'Abbaye de la Byloke, Ghent, 5 Sept 1999 DDD CYPRÈS CYP 1623 [63.24] [RB]

This is music by which to warm your heart and your hands. Treasurable stuff.

John VEALE Violin Concerto Benjamin BRITTEN Violin Concerto. Lydia Mordkovitch/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox rec 1999? (DDD)CHANDOS CHAN 9910 [69.57] [DW]

Apart from the Britten, beautifully played and executed though it is, this is the 'disc of the year' It sets a standard of sound quality and performance that will hardly be beaten.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-

1958) Phantasy Quintet, String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Maggini Quartet, with Garfield Jackson (viola) Rec 13th-15th June 2000, Potton Hall, Suffolk  NAXOS 8.555300 [66.29] [TB] [HC]

At the bargain Naxos price, this disc represents quite extraordinary value, and adds something special to our awareness of RVW's achievement.

The Romantic Piano Concerto, Vol. 5
CD1:-Medtner:
Piano Concerto No.3, Op. 60 (1943) Balakirev: Piano Concerto in E-flat Major (1909-11) Liapunov: Rhapsody on Ukrainian Themes for Piano & Orchestra, Op.45 (1908) CD2:- Sinding: Piano Concerto in D-flat Major (1889) with Ronald Keller (piano) Goetz: Piano Concerto in B-flat Major, Op. 18 (1867) Michael Ponti (piano) is soloist for all but the Sinding concerto; Westphalian Symphony  Orchestra/Landau,  Orchestra of Radio Luxembourg/Cao, Berlin Symphony Orchestra/Faerber Rec. 1973/78 VOXBOX CDX5068 [CD1 78.20; CD2 55.48] [RW]

Michael Ponti and Roland Keller play with skill and energy, and handle both the powerful and tranquil passages sympathetically. The analogue recordings of the '70s are clear and are pleasantly balanced though with dryish acoustics.

JUNE 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

MUSSORGSKY (1839- 1881) Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Lawrence Leonard) Two Interludes from Khovantschina Gopak from Sorochinsky Fair (orch. Liadov) Pictures from Crimea (orch. Walter Goehr) Scherzo in B flat (orch. Rimsky-Korsakov) A Tear-Drop (orch. Hans Kindler) Night on the Bald Mountain (orch. Rimsky-Korsakov) Tamas Ungar (piano) Philharmonia Orchestra - Geoffrey Simon Recorded London, 1986 (Night on the Bald Mountain) and 1992 CALA CACD 1030 [77:10] [HC]

All in all, a fine release of fairly well-known and loved pieces with, as a bonus, an unusual, though well worth having arrangement of Pictures.

THE POWER OF LOVE BRITISH OPERA ARIAS  Rare repertoire- see review for listing Deborah Riedel (soprano), Australian Opera & Ballet Orchestra/Bonynge Rec. St Scholastica Chapel, Sidney in August 1999 MELBA 301082 [69.49]

A collection of rare British Opera arias brought to life again by the advocacy of Richard Bonynge

 

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

SPECIAL OFFER this month. EMI British Composer series: full Price reduced to mid-price; midprice reduced to budget price details

GREAT MOMENTS OF ELISABETH SCHWARZKOPF EMI CMS 5 67634 2 [2 CDs, 63' 50", 57' 38"] [CH]

An essential purchase for all those who care about singing in the last 50 years or so.

HEIFETZ CENTENARY MEMORIAL EDITION Naxos 8.107001 - Set of 7 individual CDs in a cardboard presentation case [PSe]

Sounding, as you have every right to expect, exactly like much-loved, very well cared for, and rarely played 78s, this set is a treasure-house for both serious students of the art of violin-playing and those simply seeking something to rekindle their sense of wonder.

WALTON: Façade (the complete extant numbers).  CONSTANT LAMBERT:  Suite from the incidental music to Salome.   Eleanor Bron, Richard Stilgoe, The Nash Ensemble, David Lloyd-Jones.   Hyperion CDA67239. [SL]

Under the able direction of David Lloyd-Jones, is well worth considering. It comes in a handsome casing, with John Piper's 1942 curtain design on the cover. One should not, however, overlook Pamela Hunter's 'complete version' (Discover DICD 920125). Available in some places at super-budget price ($6)

MAY 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

DVORAK (1841 -1904) Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53. Mazurek, Op. 49. Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)  Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20. Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25. Akiko Suwanai (violin); Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer.  Philips 464 531-2 [DDD] [55'27][CC]

This is a remarkable record. I have little hesitation in placing the performance of the Dvorák as a first choice.

HENZE (b. 1926) Sechs Gesänge Aus Dem Arabischen (Six Songs from the Arabian), Three Auden Songs Ian Bostridge, tenor and Julius Drake, piano EMI Classics 7243 5 57112 2 9 DDD [56:52] [CT]

A hugely rewarding disc that positively cries out for repeated listening. The music is outstanding, as are the performances.

MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D, Des Knaben Wunderhorn* Jessye Norman* (Soprano), John Shirley-Quirk* (Baritone), Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bernard Haitink PHILIPS 50 464 714 [TD][SF]

One of the greatest recordings of Mahler's Ninth Symphony, remastered and rightly restored to the catalogue. Philips has done a fine job with this reissue.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2) - Original 1913 version - première recording George BUTTERWORTH The Banks of Green Willow London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox   Chandos CHAN 9902 [67:42] [SF]

If you have any interest in the music of Vaughan Williams this is an almost mandatory purchase.

Theme & Variations: Various British Composers Variations on an Elizabethan Theme (1953) [16.21] Severn Bridge Variations (1966) [18.54] Variations on 'Sumer is icumen in' (1987) [19.59] BBC SO/Jac van Steen rec. 2/4/5. 3. 99, BBC Maida Vale Studios, London NMC DO062 [55.45].

British composing life in miniature. Essential to all who care for British music.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

BRAHMS (1833-1

897) Violin Concerto, Double Concerto Isaac Stern (violin) Leonard Rose (cello) Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy ADD rec 1973/74 SONY SBK 46335 [74.03] [RB]

A towering bargain. Fortunate the new listener who learns her/his Brahms through these works. Snap it up.

APRIL 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

MAHLER Symphony No.5 in C sharp minor Junge Deutsche Philharmonie Conducted by Rudolf Barshai Laurel Records Laurel-905 [69:33] [TD]

If you buy only one new Mahler recording this year make sure it's this one. Versions of Mahler symphonies of this calibre arrive very seldom. It is the finest recording of the Fifth Symphony currently available.

MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder*, 5 Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn+, 5 Rückert Lieder+ Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone) Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Rudolf Kempe* with Daniel Barenboim (piano)+ EMI Great Recordings of the Century CDM 5675562 [TD]

An essential disc for admirers of Fischer-Dieskau, Furtwängler and Mahler.

MOZART  Piano Sonatas: 6 in D, K284, 11 to 17, K331, K332, K333, K457, K533, K545 and K570 Klara Wurtz (piano). REGIS RECORDS RRC 2037 (DDD) 2 CDs [77. 33 and 70.49] [DW]

Here is that rare joy! Mozart played with life, vibrancy and sheer excitement along with an exquisiteness that is so beautiful and rare that I do not know what to say. It would be a mistake for genuine music lovers not to buy this set.

Gösta NYSTROEM (189 0-1966) The Tempest Prelude (1934) Songs by the Sea (1943) Sinfonia del Mare (1948) Charlotte Hellekant (mezzo) Swedish Radio Choir (female section) Swedish RSO/Evgeny Svetlanov rec Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, 4-5 Dec 1997 (Del Mare); 10-14 Jan 2000 Musica Sveciae Modern Classics series PHONO SUECIA PSCD 709 [71.20] [RB]

Superbly recorded. If you are to have one collection of Nystroem this must be it. Everything is poignantly clear and registers boldly. The symphony is one of Sweden's (and the world's) national treasures.

ALLEGRO BARBARO Bela BARTÓK (1881 - 1945) Allegro Barbaro (1911) Leos JANACEK (1854 - 1928) In the Mists (1912): Sonata for Piano (1905) Klement SLAVICKY (1910 - 1999) Three Piano Pieces (1947): Piano Sonata (1958) Lubos FISER (1935 - 1999) Sonata for Piano No. VIII (1998?) Martin Kasik ARCODIVA UP 0030 2 131 [63.41] [JF] [SJ]

All these pieces both move and inspire. Martin Kasik is a great pianist. I hope to hear much more from him in the future. PLUS A second opinion from Simon Jenner

 

 

MARCH 20001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

CRUSELL (1775 - 1838) Concertos for Clarinet and orchestra, op.11 in Bb, op. 5 in F minor, and op.1 in Eb Kari Kriiku, clarinet, Finnish Radio Symphony/Sakari Oramo Ondine ODE 965-2 [63:57] [GP-J]

I was hooked right from Kriiku's first entry, which happens about 12 seconds into the first concerto. Whichever way you look at it, he is an amazing performer....These are truly stunning performances, and Kriiku is superbly supported by Oramo and the excellent Finnish RSO. NOT TO BE MISSED!

NIELSEN Violin Concerto, Op.33 BRUCH Violin Concerto, Op.26 Nikolaj Znaider, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Lawrence Foster EMI CDC5 569062, [65.12] Full Price [MB]

The coupling is an unusual one but what impresses is the delight in hearing a young violinist so clearly looking back to the past to capture that sound and strength of tone which I had thought almost a thing of the past. This performance is at once haunting, sublime and effortless. It is a triumph.

SHOSTAKOVICH Dmitry (1906- 1975) Violin Concerto no. 1 ; Violin Concerto no. 2 YSAYE
Amitie op 29 for two violins and orchestra David Oistrakh (violin) with Igor Oistrakh in the Ysaye.  Orchestras in order Philharmonia: Rozhdestvensky USSR State SymphonyOrchestra/ Svetlanov LPO, Sargent.   BBC Records. BBCL 4060-2 (ADD) [78.18] [DW]

The exciting music is almost too hot to handle. This is great stuff, really. Even the final cadenza sizzles with musical heat. The final minutes are breathtaking! Music of confidence and triumph. If you don't respond to this, you need professional help!

VERDI (1813-1901) Messa solenne (Messa di Gloria). Qui tollis. Tantum ergo in F. Laudate pueri. Tantum ergo in G. Pater noster. Ave Maria. Libera me (Messa per Rossini, 1869 version). Elisabetta Scano, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs (sopranos); Juan Diego Flórez, Kenneth Tarver (tenors); Eldar Aliev, Michele Pertusi (basses); Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Riccardo Chailly. Decca 467 280-2 [DDD] [69'09] [CC]

The Verdi celebrations have elicited a host of welcome issues from the majors. Riccardo Chailly here makes a notable contribution by turning his attention to another side of this most operatically based of composers: the lesser-known liturgical music. Decca in fact include no fewer than five World Première recordings on this release

FANFARES FOR A NEW MILLENNIUM  Fanfares by: Christopher BLAKE Auckland!, Eve de CASTRO ROBINSON Other echoes, John RIMMER Vulcan, Juliet PALMER Secret Arnold, John PSATHAS Luminous, Lisa MERIDAN-SKIPP firecracker, John ELMSLY Resound!, Dorothy BUCHANAN Peace, Chris CREE BROWN Y2K Pacemaker, Philip DADSON MAYA, David HAMILTON Zarya. Auckland Philharmonia/Miguel Harth-Bedoya, James Sedares, Nicholas Braithwaite, Kazufumi Yamashita, Samuel Wong, Edvard Tchivzhel, Vladimir Verbitsky, Yip Wing-Sie, Anthony Halstead
rec Auckland Town Hall, 1999-2000 Atoll ACD 100 [56.07]

Your first reaction on reading the heading above might well be to click that mouse button and quickly move on to the next review. But hold fast! Here is an extraordinary CD that will doubtless rate as one of my records of the year and deserves a hearing from anyone with the slightest interest in contemporary music.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

English String Miniatures Volume

2 Frank Bridge  'Sally in our Alley'; 'Cherry Ripe' & 'Sir Roger de Coverley' Sir Edward Elgar  Sospiri Haydn Wood  Fantasy-Concerto John Ireland  The Holy Boy Ralph Vaughan Williams  Charterhouse Suite (c.1923) Frederick Delius  Air & Dance (c. 1920) Peter Warlock  Serenade for the 60th birthday of Frederick Delius (1922) Geoffrey Bush  Consort Music (1989) Rec. 21/22 March 2000 English Northern Philharmonia David Lloyd-Jones Naxos 8.555068 [69.21] [JF]

When you are jaded with the complexities of Boulez, bored by the repetitiveness of Reich and overwhelmed by the massive constructions of Mahler and Bruckner, turn to English String Miniatures - Volume 2 on Naxos. This is a stunning CD. Never be put off simply by the fact that it is described as 'miniatures'. The works on this disk are all miniature masterpieces and deserve to be firmly entrenched in the orchestral repertoire - and not necessarily just as 'encores.'

WAGNER Die Walkure Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Helen Traubel (Soprano), Kerstin Thorborg (Mezzo), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor), Freidrich Schorr (Baritone), Alexander Kipnis (Bass)
Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra Conducted by Eric Leinsdorf Broadcast performance from 6th December 1941 Restoration by K&A Productions Ltd. Naxos Historical 8.110058-60 (175.38) [TD]

It's the eve of Pearl Harbour and an unknown Astrid Varnay is a last minute replacement for Lotte Lehmann in this truly Historical broadcast from the Met

FEBRUARY 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

HAYDN Haydn and the Gypsies Monica Huggett/Lux Musica/Linda Burman-Hall Recorded 2000 KLEOS Classics KL 5101 [Total playing time 78.06] [CF]

Despite the unlikely title it becomes self-evident bearing in mind Haydn's birth in the Hungarian lakeside village of Rohrau and his later service as Kapellmeister at the Esterhazy Court, Austro-Hungarian roots and life respectively...This highly interesting and superbly played CD is the brainchild of an expert in the field, the American Linda Burman-Hall, a musicologist who can also get out there and perform

McEWEN Violin Sonatas No. 2; No. 5 Sonata-Fantasia & No 6, Prince Charlie - A Scottish Fantasia Olivier Charlier (violin); Geoffrey Tozer (piano) rec 16/17 March 2000 Potton Hall, Suffolk CHANDOS CHAN 9880 [62:43] [JF]

It is dangerous for a reviewer to abuse superlatives - but this is a phenomenal disc. The playing is superb and the programme is revelatory.

ALAN RAWSTHORNE  Symphonic Studies, Oboe Concerto, Cello Concerto. Stéphane Rancourt (oboe), Alexander Baillie (cello), Royal National Scottish Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones Naxos 8.554763 [PC]

A recording of major importance at bargain basement price.

GRAHAM WHETTAM  Sinfonia Intrepida   BBCSO/Sir Charles Mackerras.   Redcliffe Recordings RR016 (44' 11'') [PC]

Redcliffe's first orchestral recording and a major premiere. In his massive Sinfonia Intrepida, Graham Whettam has taken up the challenge of writing an orchestral piece of genuinely symphonic stature in the late 20th Century.
This is a major release that deserves the widest exposure. I have not been so enthralled by an 'unknown' work since I discovered Artur Lemba's Symphony years ago [MB].
Purchase at special MusicWeb/Crotchet price.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

HAYDN

Symphonies 70 - 81 Austro Hungarian Haydn Orchestra - Adam Fischer. Symphonies 70, 71 and 73, June 1997, and Symphonies 72 and 74 - 81,  May 1998. recorded in the Haydnsaal, Esterhazy Palace, Eisenstadt, Austria. Nimbus NI56525 [4 hours 2 minutes] [JP]

Excellently played, well recorded performances in Nimbus's complete series of Haydn Symphonies played by an ensemble which has this music in its bones.

PALESTRINA Master of the Renaissance Six Masses, Two Motets & The Lamentations Pro Cantione Antiqua/Brown/Turner Recorded 1988/91/92 REGIS RRC 4002 4CDs [275'.42"] [CF]

A classy act at bargain price.

JANUARY 2001

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

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

COPLAND  The Populist (suites from Billy the Kid and Rodeo, plus the complete ballet Appalachian Spring) Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the San Francisco Symphony RCA Red Seal 09026635112 [76: 32] [GD]

Whether an admirer of Copland, Americana, or the wide open spaces of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, this is an essential recording which should please a wide musical constituency. One of the finest albums of the year.

Heritage & Legacy Frederick AUSTIN - The Sea Venturers (1934), Alexander Campbell MACKENZIE - Prelude to Colomba Op. 28 (1883), Charles Villiers STANFORD - Overture - Shamus O'Brien (1896), Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1910), Edward ELGAR -Variations on an Original Theme, 'Enigma' Op.36 (1899), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Douglas Bostock RLPO-Live RLCD 301 [69'33"] [JF]

Three British World Premieres on the one disc! Imaginative British programme & stunning playing by one of the great 'northern' orchestras.

 


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH

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

TOP BRASS: A limited edition containing the following two albums: BRASSED OFF: Music from the original soundtrack Grimethorpe Colliery Band/John Anderson except *Orchestra/Trevor Jones CLASSIC BRASS Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band/Garry Cutt, with *Lesley Garrett (soprano) BMG Classics 75605 51368 2 [2 CDs 49' 55", 68' 50"] [CH]

Brassed Off is a great disc which I feel everyone should have, even and especially those who normally don't go in for brass bands.


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