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Gustav 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. see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)Symphony No. 5 Gurzenich Orchestra Cologne James Conlon Rec September 1994, StudioStraáe, Cologne EMI Classics 5 74979-2 [71.04]

Despite many fine things and in spite of its merits this performance cannot rank with the very best...see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1864-1911) Symphony No.6 in A Minor (1903-05) San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas (Recorded "live" at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, September 12-15 2001) Hybrid SACD - playable on SACD and standard CD players. SFS MEDIA 821936-0001-2 2 CD set [87.30]. [TD]

This a Mahler Sixth Symphony with contemporary resonance superbly played and recorded. It competes with the best. … see Full Review

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Symphony No. 3 (1944) Symphony No. 5 (1948) National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Arthur Fagen Recorded 10-15 March 1995 Grand Concert Studio of the National Radio Company of the Ukraine, Kiev. NAXOS 8.553350 [60.31] [JF]

Excellent production of final instalment in the cycle. This makes a good introduction to the symphonies. One deep work and one that exudes happiness. A good buy. … see Full Review

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Parisina
Sung in Italian Libretto by Gabriele D’Annunzio Three-act revised version (1913) Soloists Chorus of Radio lettone National Orchestra of Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon Enrique Diemecke (conductor) Recorded live at Opéra Berlioz-Le Corum on 22 July 1999 NAÏVE AT 34103 [3 CDs 156’ 18"] [CF]

Full of engaging music and in very good sound this is well worth having for its rarity value – pity about the tenor though…see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto * Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto Joseph Szigeti, violin London Philharmonic/Thomas Beecham * Halle Orchestra/Hamilton Harty Recorded September 1933 (Mendelssohn), December 1928 (Halle) NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110948 [64’12] [JW]

Whilst the Mendelssohn preserves some weaknesses and idiosyncrasies this is mandatory listening for the Brahms…see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto No 1 Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso Ruggiero Ricci, violin London Symphony Orchestra Pierino Gamba Recorded 1958 (Mendelssohn, Bruch) 1960 (Saint-Saens) DECCA ELOQUENCE 461 369-2 [68.22] [JW]

Very nice transfers of recordings now over forty years old – you would never know - and an autumnal cover photograph of a rather desiccated looking birch tree. Nothing desiccated about the performances though. … see Full Review

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-92) Complete organ works Jennifer Bate Recorded in Beauvais Cathedral 1980-82 and Eglise du Saint-Trinité, Paris, May 1987 REGIS RRC1086, 1087, 2051, 2052 (available separately or as a 6-disc boxed set)
Olivier Latry Recorded in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, July 2000 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 480-2 (six discs)

I’ll pre-empt anyone looking for a quick either-or recommendation: both sets are outstandingly well played with sensitivity and imagination. … see Full Review

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-92) Livre du Saint-Sacrament (1984) Anne Page, organ Recorded in Norwich Cathedral, February 2000 GUILD GMCD7228/9 [1:39’49"] [PQ]

Free of the heavy reverence which belabours other performances and gentler than some recent versions, this is an affecting performance. … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K467 Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K491 Piotr Anderszewski (piano & director) Sinfonia Varsovia Rec 7-9 August 2001, Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw VIRGIN CLASSICS VC 545504 2 [59.30] [TB]

If you want to explore the potential of this wonderful music and hear more and more in it with each engagement, then this is well worth hearing and owning. … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Mass in C minor, K427 (1782) Barbara Bonney (soprano), Arleen Auger (soprano), Hans Peter Blochwitz (tenor), Robert Holl (bass), Rundfunkchor Berlin (Dietrich Knothe, Chorus Master), Sigurd Brauns (organ), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Claudio Abbado recorded 1991: DDD SONY SBK89777 [52.44][PL]

Abbado’s performance is wide-ranging, delivering most satisfyingly on every aspect of this hugely varied score. A fill-up – the rule rather than the exception these days on budget-priced reissues – would have been nice. … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Three Divertimenti on The Marriage of Figaro, for three basset horns Adagio canonique, K484d Adagio, K411 Allegro assai, K484b Adagio, K580a Adagio, K484c Anton STADLER (1753-1812) Terzetten for three basset horns Jean-Claude Veilhan (clarinet and basset horn). Eric Lorho (basset horn), Jean-Louis Gauche (basset horn), Catherine Delaunay (clarinet), Jean Jeltsch (basset horn) Rec 29 June to 1 July 1995, Chapelle Notre-Dame de l'Hor, Moselle K617 K617060 M7 865 [64.19] [TB]

Not great music but full of vitality and as a delightful diversion from the cares of life. … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791) Apollo et Hyacinthus Opera in three acts Œbalus…Markus Schäfer (tenor) Melia…Christian Fliegner (age 13 soprano)* Hyacinthus…Sebastien Pratchske (age12 soprano)* Apollo…Christian Günther (age 12 alto)* Zephyrus…Philipp Cieslewicz (age 13 alto)* With Christian Immler *Soloists from the Tölzer Knabenchor L’Ensemble Baroque de Nice / Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden DDD PAVANE RECORDS PRESTIGE ADW 7236/37 [CD1: 37.33 CD2:43.10] [RM]

Those are small quibbles about a CD which gives us a seriously different musical experience. If you do not have the (adult) Philips recording (422 526-2) this should be added to your collection: indeed if you do have that recording then add this for it is so very different. … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)Sonata in C major, K310 Sonata in A major, K331 Sonata in F major, K332 Christian Zacharias (piano) Rec January 1985 (K330), October 1958 (K331), July 1984 (K332), Historischer Reitstadt, Neumarkt EMI Classics 5 74983-2 (64.25) [TB]

An uneven disc. He can be sensitive and tighly focused rhythmically but in K331 ill-judged and lacking in taste...see Full Review

Carl ORFF (1895-1982) Carmina Burana (1946) Hei-Kyung Hong, soprano Stanford Olsen, tenor Earle Patriarco, baritone Gwinnett Young Singers/Lynn Redmon Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Donald Runnicles Rec Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia, 4-5 November 2000 TELARC CD-80575 [59.42] [AT]

Easy to get much enjoyment from this performance – but the competition in a crowded field is such that this version does not live with the very best. … see Full Review

Slavko OSTERC (1895-1941) Orchestral Music Classical Overture, Suite (1929), Three Dances, Symphonic Movement, Four Symphonic Pieces Slovenian Radio and TV SO/Samo Hubad Rec 1990s, Slovenia, DDD SAZAS DD 0259 [71.00]

Osterc was a contemporary of Hindemith and a friend of Hartmann. There is something of both to be heard throughout this disc. … see Full Review

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918) I was glad (orch. Gordon Jacob), Judith: Long since in Egypt’s plenteous land, Blest pair of Sirens, Jerusalem (orch. Elgar). Choir of Winchester Cathedral, Waynflete Singers, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/David Hill Recorded in Winchester Cathedral, June 1990 Songs of Farewell: 1. My soul, there is a country Canterbury Cathedral Choir/Allan Wicks Recorded in Canterbury Cathedral, October 1983 English Lyrics: Bright Star, When comes my Gwen, O mistress mine, Blow, blow, thou winter wind, A Welsh lullaby, When lovers meet again, On a time the amorous Silvy, When we two parted, Love is a bable, Weep you no more, When icicles hang by the wall, Looking backward, Take, o take those lips away, There be none of beauty’s daughters, And yet I lover her till I die, From a city window, Thine eyes still shine for me, Marian, No longer mourn for me, There Robert Tear (tenor), Philip Ledger (piano) Recorded in the Church of George the Martyr, London, February 1977 DECCA 470 378-2 [78’05"] [CH]

A lopsided representation of Parry, but admirers of British song will be glad to have the Tear recordings back in circulation. … see Full Review

Moses PERGAMENT (1893-1977) Violin Sonata (1918-20) [30.25] String Quartet No. 1 (1918-22) [37.20] Nils-Erik Sparf (violin) Bengt Forsberg (piano) Lysellkvartetten
rec Studio 2, Radiohuset, 15-16 Nov 2000 (sonata); 17-19 Aug 2000 (quartet) PHONO SUECIA - MUSICA SVECIAE - PSCD 711 [67.45] [RB]

Another horizon-broadening lesson for this listener. Highly recommendable to the Gallic-Mediterranean stream. … see Full Review

Allan PETTERSSON (1911-1980) Symphony No. 14 (1978) Stockholm PO/Sergio Comissiona rec Stockholms Konserthus, 3-4 Dec 1981, DDD PHONO-SUECIA PS CD 12 [47.42] [RB]

A raw pioneering performance of this monumental symphonic statement of torture and despair. ... see Full Review

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64 (1936) (excerpts) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Esa-Pekka Salonen Recorded at the Philharmonie, Berlin, October 1986 DDD SONY ESSENTIAL CLASSICS SBK 89740 [55.16] [TH]

In many ways, this Salonen disc combines the Previn (EMI) and Maazel (Decca) approaches very well, so as a cheap, all-round highlights recommendation, it will be very hard to beat. … see Full Review

Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No.1, Op.25 ‘Classical’ [14.24]
Sinfonietta, Op.48 [20.53] Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) orch. Ravel Sarabande [4.57] Danse [5.27] Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) La Création du Monde, Op.81 [16.41] Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Chamber Symphony for String Orchestra, Op.110a (arr. Rudolf Barshai) [27.39] Symphony No.14 for soprano, bass, strings & percussion, Op.135 [50.07] Makvala Kasrashvili (soprano), Mikhail Krutikov (bass) Lausanne Chamber Orchestra conducted by Alberto Zedda (Prokofiev, Debussy, Milhaud), and Alexander Lazarev (Shostakovich) Recorded at La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, April, 1999 (Prokofiev, Debussy, Milhaud), and Lausanne University, April, 1990 (Shostakovich) DDD VIRGIN CLASSICS 7243 5 62050 2 4 [2 discs, 62.49; 77.59] [TH]

Excellent collection, well-recorded and expertly played, but with only a qualified recommendation. … see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI La Bohème Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa Sung in Italian Rodolfo - Jussi Björling (tenor) Mimi - Victoria de los Angeles (soprano) RCA Victor Chorus and Orchestra Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor) Recorded at Manhattan Center, New York in March/April 1956 mono EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 67750 2 2 [2CDs: 107’21"] [CF]

An electrifying performance … orchestral playing quite stunning and the singing thrilling. Both of the principal soloists were among the finest exponents in their day … see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Boheme (highlights). Mimi, Renato Scotto (sop). Rodolfo, Alfredo Kraus (ten). Musetta, Carol Neblett (sop). Marcello, Sherrill Milnes (bar). Colline, Paul Plishka (bass). Trinity Boys Choir. Ambrosian Opera Chorus. National Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond. James Levine. Recorded August 1979. Walthamstow Town Hall, London. Budget Price. EMI Encore Series 574985 [64.46] [RF]

Scotto showing signs of a wobble as pressure is put on the voice. Nonetheless an effective and emotionally taught performance. Kraus phrases with elegance and his plangent tone and well-supported voice lie easily on the ear. Enjoy! … see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca - Opera in three Acts Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, The chorus and orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Victor de Sabata Recorded at La Scala, Milan in August 1953 EMI CLASSICS (‘Great Recordings of the Century’ series) CMS 5 67756 2 [109:34] [IL]

In short this is the Tosca to die for – a true classic of the gramophone and a set that just has to be in every opera-lovers’ collection and a fitting celebration of 100 EMI Great Recordings of the Century. … see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca Maria Caniglia , Beniamino Gigli, Armando Borgioli Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Reale dell’Opera, Rome Oliviero de Fabritiis
Recorded in Rome, September 1938 Disc 2 also contains highlights from another Tosca, recorded in Paris in 1931, sung in French by Ninon Vallin, Enrico di Mazzei, Arthur Endreze and Paul Payan. NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110096-97 [2 discs, 78.23, 75.14] Mono ADD Superbudget [TH]

Gigli sings with warmth, humanity, and even humour - a difficult balancing act that can only come from real familiarity with the role and if Caniglia does not spit venom her sincerity is moving and she sings total honesty … see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924) Puccini’s Heroines: ‘The Power of Love’ Kiri te Kanawa (soprano) & Lyon Opera Orchestra, cond. Kent Nagano (the Intermezzi are orchestral items) except as follows: Barbara Hendricks (soprano) & Orchestre National de France, cond. James Conlon* Cristina Gallardo-Domas (soprano) & Münchner Rundfunkorchester, cond. Maurizio Barbacini** Jennifer Larmore (mezzo-soprano), Hei-Kyung Hong (soprano) & Münchner Rundfunkorchester, cond. Jesús Lopez Cobos*** DDD WARNER CLASSICS 0927-44282-2 [68.53] [PL]

A lifetime’s experience on the stage and in the studio though the voice doesn’t glow quite like it used to. … see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Three Symphonies Symphony No. 1 in D minor Op. 13 (1897) [44.08] Symphony No. 2 in E minor Op. 27 (1907) [47.13] Symphony No. 3 in A minor Op. 44 (1936) [38.44] Vocalise for orchestra, Op. 34 No. 14 (1915) [6.22] Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy Rec Town Hall, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 28 Feb 1966 (1); 19 Apr 1959 (2); 20 Dec 1967 (3); 18 Oct 1967 (Vocalise) ADD SONY ESSENTIAL CLASSICS SB2K63257 [CD1: 70.50; CD2: 66.03] Superbudget [RB]

A burnished classic of the gramophone. Ormandy nurtured sumptuous steadfast string tone and precision of attack within a close-up Rachmaninov tradition. Forget political correctness and let Ormandy guide you through the Second Symphony … see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 18 (1900) [34.03]Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor, Op 30 (1909) [43.09] Yefim Bronfman (piano) & The Philharmonia, cond. Esa-Pekka Salonenrecorded 5-8 October 1990 in Abbey Road Studios, Studio 1, London: DDD SONY SBK89734 [77.12] [PL]

So, one hell of a disc: the pleasure-per-penny factor, were we able to calculate such a thing, is definitely towards the top of the scale. … see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36 Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat, Op. 83 Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp, Op. 53 Alexei Sultanov (piano). Recorded at the Teldec Studio, Berlin in November 1990 (Prokofiev, Scriabin) and February 1992 (Rachmaninov). [DDD] WARNER APEX 0927-40830-2 [54’23] [CC]

Really this disc is only recommendable if you are searching for this particular coupling. … see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Aleko - opera in one act Gothenburg Opera Chorus/Martin Andersson Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi rec Gothenburg Concerthall, Aug 1996 DG 453 453-2 [58.19] [RB]

An easy first recommendation for this version of Rachmaninov's early Tchaikovskian opera made compelling by the voices of Leiferkus and Guleghina and by the tight direction of Neeme Järvi. … see Full Review

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Violin Sonata + Piano Trio # Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata + Cello Sonata * Arthur Grumiaux, violin + Istvan Hajdu, piano + Maurice Gendron, cello * Jean Francaix, piano * Beaux Arts Trio # Recorded 1962 (Ravel Violin Sonata) 1963 (Debussy Violin Sonata) 1964 (Debussy Cello Sonata) 1966 (Debussy Trio) ELOQUENCE PHILIPS 468 306-2 [68’02] [JW]

There is simply no substitute for this kind of elevated music making. A superb disc. … see Full Review

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) The complete solo piano music Angela Hewitt (piano) recorded in Reitstadel, Neumarkt, Germany, 20-23 March 2000, and Henry Wood Hall, London, 11-14 August 2001 DDD HYPERION CDA 67341/2 [138.11] [PL]

Supremely musical playing. … see Full Review

Joaquín RODRIGO (1901 - 1999) Complete Orchestral Works 1 Soleriana: Suite para orquesta (1953) Zarabanda lejana y Villancico (1930) Cinco Piezas Infantiles (1925) Asturias Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maximiano Valdés DDD Stereo NAXOS 8.555844 [60:56] Superbudget [DB]

A charming collection of rarely played Rodrigo, mostly well played and entirely well recorded, which seems to suggest that we already know the best works. ...see Full Review

Sigmund ROMBERG (1887-1951) The Desert Song (1926) Harry Welchman, Edith Day, Dennis Hoey, Sidney Pointer New Moon (1929) Evelyn Laye, Howett Worster, Ben Williams Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra/Herman Finck Rec. 1927 and 1929 Robert STOLZ (1880-1975) The Blue Train (1927) Lily Elsie, Bobby Howes, Arthur Margetson, Cicely Debenham Prince of Wales Theatre Orchestra/Charles Prentice Rec. 1927 PEARL GEMM CD 9100 [69.10]

Unusually these recordings from the late 1920s use the original casts and theatre orchestras. Authentic voices in historic sound. … see Full Review

Joseph Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955) Petite Symphonie (1943) [19.46] Pastorales (1950) [17.44] Sons de Cloches (1913) [11.26] Sérénade Champêtre (1932) [9.13] Divertimento (1947/8) [10.44] Orchestre de Bretagne Pascal Verrot Recorded at Quartz, Brest, October, 1995 DDD TIMPANI 1C 1043 [70.08] [TH]

If you love French repertoire or just enjoy investigating generally, you may well get more out of this disc than I did. None of the music offends in the slightest, but I doubt if any of it will give you the feeling that you’ve made a real discovery. … see Full Review

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1869) Il Barbiere di Siviglia Zürich Opera Reinaldo Macias, Carlos Chausson, Vesselina Kasarova, Manuel Lanza, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Elizabeth Rae Magnuson Orchestra of the Opera House Zürich / Nello Santi Directed by Grischa Asagaroff Recorded live at the Opera House Zürich, April 2001 EuroArts/TDK 10 5124 9 DV-OPBDS [JL]

DVD is able to make the most of the visually stunning designs in this very fine Zürich Opera ensemble production that has a strong international cast including one of the Rosinas of our time in Vesselina Kasarova. … see Full Review

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Barbiere di Siviglia Rosina – Victoria de los Angeles Figaro -- Sesto Bruscantini Almaviva – Luigi Alva Basilio – Carlo Cava Bartolo – Ian Wallace Berta – Laura Sarti Fiorello – Duncan Robertson Glyndebourne Festival Chorus (chorus master Myer Fredman) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vittorio Gui Recorded in No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London October, 1962 ADD EMI GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY CMS5677622 [2 CDs: 71.27+69.59] Medium price [TH]

Anyone coming new to this opera can safely invest in this set, knowing they will experience a glimpse of a great Rossini tradition. … see Full Review

Nino ROTA (1911 - 1979) Concerto for Harp [20.52] Concerto for Bassoon [17.03] Castel del Monte [10.07] Concerto for Trombone [13.28] Luisa Prandina, harp Paolo Carlini, bassoon, Guido Corti, horn Andrea Conti, trombon I Virtuosi Italiani/Marzio Conti Rec. Auditorium Panduera, Cento, Italy, November 2000 CHANDOS CHAN 9954 [61.52] [AT]

The works on this disc are not profound enough to reward repeated listening, but its virtues of simplicity and good nature make a very pleasant treat now and again. … see Full Review

Norman Harvey RUTHERLYN (1934-) The Churchill Music Czech National Symphony/Vladimir Valek available from: This England, PO Box 52, Cheltenham, GL50 1HT. £8.50 [PS]

For many this release’s curiosity value may outweigh its uneven invention. … see Full Review


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

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