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Jesús ARÁMBARRI (1902-60) Preludio Gabon-zar sorgiñak (Witches on New Year's Eve) Cuatro impromptus para orquestra (Four impromptus…) Ocho canciones vascas para soprano y orquestra (Eight Basque songs…) * In Memoriam - Elegía para orquestra Offrenda Viento Sur (Intermedio) Fantasía española para orquestra (Spanish fantasy) Itxaro Mentxaka, soprano * Bilbao Symphony Orchestra/Juan José Mena Recorded at the Euskalduna Concert Hall, Bilbao, 17th-21st October 2000. NAXOS 8.557275 [57.40] [NH]

Another winner from the Naxos Spanish Classics series. The Basque classical sound at its best! … see Full Review

Milton BABBITT (b 1916) Quatrains (1993) Tony Arnold (soprano) Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima (clarinet) Manifold Music (1995) Gregory D’Agostino (organ) My Ends Are My Beginnings (1978) Allen Blustine (clarinet and bass clarinet) Soli e Duettini (1989) William Anderson and Oren Fader (guitar) Swan Song No. 1 (2003) Cygnus Ensemble Recorded 1992-2003 BRIDGE 9135 [50.42] [JW]

Housing degrees of angularity and difficulty not untouched by more overt stirrings of warmth. … see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) "Clavier-Übung III – Sei gegrüsset" David Ponsford, organ [Peter Collins, 1990] Rec. February 2001, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland. DDD GUILD GMCD 7262/3 [63:14 + 60:02] [JV]

Rather mechanical and lifeless. It just doesn’t breathe. … see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 Gwendolyn Toth, Lautenwerk Recorded at St. James Chapel, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, June 2000 Lautenwerk by Willard Martin, 1988 ZEFIRO RECORDINGS 103 [2CDs: 83:06] [DS]

Sheer enjoyment … not in the ‘must have’ category, but not very far behind. … see Full Review

Immortal Performances - Kathleen Ferrier Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B Minor Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Walter Ludwig (tenor) Paul Schöffler (bass) Vienna Singverein Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan Recorded off-air from a live radio broadcast on 15th June 1950 (missing passages patched from the 1952 studio recording). Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Four Serious Songs Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent Recorded off-air from a BBC broadcast on 12th January 1949 Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Hark! The Echoing Air (from ‘The Fairy Queen’) George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Like as the love-lorn turtle (from ‘Atalanta’) George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) How changed the vision (from ‘Admeto’) Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Veborgenheit Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Der Gärtner Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Auf ein altes Bild Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Travelling Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) Pianist Unknown Recorded 1949 from a recital in Oslo Adolf JENSEN (1837-1879) Altar Henry PURCELL (1659-1695), arr. Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) From silent Shades Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) The Fairy Lough Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) A soft day Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Love is a bable Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1858) Silent Noon Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Go not, Happy Day Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Sleep Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Pretty ring time TRADITIONAL arr. Benjamin BRITTEN Come you not from NewcastleTRADITIONAL arr. HUGHES Kitty my love Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) Pianist Unknown Recorded 1952 from a recital in London GUILD HISTORICAL GHCD 2260/2 [3CDs: 74.47+65.10+60.23] [RH]

The success of Karajan’s live Mass in B minor is mixed. Despite a variable performance it has some memorable moments. With an artist like Ferrier, nearly all of her recordings are worth hearing. … see Full Review

Percy Grainger Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Preludes and Fugues BWV 531-552 Prelude (Fantasia) and Fugue in G minor BWV 542 (arr Liszt) Prelude and Fugue in A minor BWV 543 (arr Liszt) Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 (arr Grainger) Fryderyk CHOPIN (1809-1847) Etude in B minor Op. 25 No. 10 Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Funeral March Op. 35 Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58 Percy Grainger (piano) Recorded 1925-31 BIDDULPH LHW 010 [79.05] [JW]

Transfers that are splendidly quiet and full of presence and worthy of Grainger’s memorable playing. … see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Works: Fantaisie in C minor BWV 562; Fugue in G minor BWV 578; Fugue in B minor on a theme of Corelli BWV 579; Praeludium and Fugue in C minor BWV 549; Choral Preludes on- Durch Adams Fall BWV 637, Wenn wir in Hochsten not ensein BWV 641, Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 623, Jesu meine Freude BWV 610, Christum wir sollen loben schon BWV 611, Wir Christenleut BWV 612 Hans Helmut Tillmanns (organ) Played on the historic König organ of the Schlosskirche in Schleiden, Germany Eight little Preludes and Fugues BWV 553-560 Played on the Weimbs organ in Koln-Widdersdorf Recorded in March 2003 DANACORD DACOCD 608 [59.52] [GH]

I find these performances sure and faultless. … see Full Review

Johann Sesbastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Moon Water - Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan Suites for ’cello (1720) (excerpts): #1, Sarabande; #2, Sarabande; #3, Sarabande; #4, Prelude; #5, Prelude, Sarabande, Allemande; #6 Allemande. [65.00] Mischa Maisky, ’cello, [from Deutsche Grammophon DG 445373-2] Choreography by Lin Hwai-Min. Setting by Austin Wang. RM Associates/LGM/BR/DRS/ MEZZO, La Chaîne Musique, Opéra, Danse/ORF/YLE co-production. Behind the scenes documentary [20.00] in English. German, French, Spanish subtitles. Menu languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese. PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.0, DTS 5.0. PAL 16:9 DVD 5 Region 1-5, 7-8 RM Associates ARTHAUS/Musik 100 374 DVD [85.00] [PSh]

Graceful bodies moving swaying and dipping to beautiful music played very slowly. Only for a few moments do things heat up … see Full Review

RECORD OF THE YEAR Arnold BAX (1883-1953) The Seven Symphonies (1921-1939) Interview with Vernon Handley by Andrew McGregor BBC Philharmonic/Vernon Handley Recorded in: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 4 January 2002 (Third Symphony), 5 January 2002 (Tintagel), 19 December 2002 (Fourth Symphony), 14 January 2003 (Second Symphony), 6-8 August 2003 (Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, Rogue's Comedy Overture), 5 September 2003 (First Symphony) CHANDOS CHAN 10122 [5CDs: 74:03+77:24+73:41+69:37+60:43] [IL]

This set fully deserves the MusicWeb’s ‘Recording of the Year’ appellation, it is without doubt, my overall recording of 2003. This is the Bax symphonies cycle to which I shall turn again and again. ... see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos – No. 1 in C, Op. 15 (1795/98) [39’14]; No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73, ‘Emperor’ (1809) [39’34]. Victor Emanuel von Monteton (piano) Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner. Rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, on August 9th-11th, 2002. [DDD] RCA RED SEAL 74321 95030-2 [78’51]

Initially, I was dumbfounded, but I now seem to have found a voice. This disc enjoys the privilege of being one of the worst I have heard for many a moon. At the end there is a palpable feeling of relief that the experience is over. … see Full Review

Warsaw Philharmonic Archive – Stern and Rowicki Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Overture; Coriolan Op 62 (1807) Violin Concerto in D major Op 61 (1806) Isaac Stern (violin) Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Witold Rowicki Recorded November 1954 (Coriolan) and June 1966 (Violin Concerto) CD ACCORD ACD 117-2 [52.40] [JW]

A useful adjunct to Stern’s discography. I wouldn’t recommend it above the known recordings … he always had strong and important things to say … see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto in D major Op. 61 (1806) Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G Op. 40 (c.1802) Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in F Op. 50 (c.1798) Zino Francescatti (violin) Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Jean Morel (Romances), recorded April 1952 Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy, recorded November 1950 BIDDULPH 80205-2 [59.39] [JW]

Francescatti’s many admirers will want to acquaint themselves with a recording that has rather slipped the net over the years. … see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827) Complete symphonies Jean Glennon (soprano), Dalia Schaechter, (alto) Algirdas Janutas, (tenor) and Benno Schollum (bass) Kaunas State Choir of Lithuania (Choral) Sinfonia Varsovia/Yehudi Menuhin Live recordings June 1994 at the Salle Erasme, Palais de Musique, Strasbourg. DDD 5 discs, available as either a set or separately WARNER APEX 2564 60457-2 [5CDs: 358.12] [JP]

Lovely string playing by an enthusiastic band lead by a well respected musician … I do urge you to hear this set. At the price it is an absolute snip. … see Full Review

Arturo Toscanini Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis 1818-23) Violin Concerto in D Op. 61 (1806) Jussi Björling (tenor) Zinka Milanov (soprano) Bruna Castagna (contralto) Alexander Kipnis (bass) The Westminster Choir Jascha Heifetz (violin) NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini Recorded December 1940 (Missa Solemnis) and March 1940 (Violin Concerto) GUILD GHCD 2248/9 [2 CDs: 121.05] [JW]

Missa: a demonstrably superior and blazing performance. It’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest accounts ever committed to disc. … see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete Piano Sonatas Volume 8 Piano Sonata No. 4 in E flat Op. 7 (1797) Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat Op. 106 Hammerklavier (1818) Joyce Hatto (piano) Recorded Concert Artist Studios, Cambridge August 1995 and January 1998 CONCERT ARTIST/FIDELIO RECORDINGS CACG 8009-2 [68.29] [JW]

Lithe, alert in passagework, and constantly purposeful … engaged on architectural sureties and in coalescing and cohering the music … see Full Review

The Beethoven Mysteries Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 61 (transcribed for piano and orchestra by the composer) (1806) Rondo in B flat major for piano and orchestra, WoO6 (1790?) Felicja Blumental (piano) Brno Philharmonic Orchestra/Jiri Waldhans Allegro in D major for piano and orchestra (1788?) Felicja Blumental (piano) Prague Symphony Orchestra/Alberto Zedda Rec. 1967, Brno (Violin Concerto), Milan (Rondo), Prague (Allegro) BRANA BR 0004 [68.34]

It makes for interesting listening, though anyone hoping to find an embryonic Emperor Concerto is likely to be disappointed. … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Alban BERG (1885-1935) Lyric Suite (1926) Dawn Upshaw (soprano) Kronos Quartet Recorded May 20-24, 2001 at Skywalker Ranch, Nicasio, CA NONESUCH 7559 79696 2 [27’15] [TH]

A mandatory purchase for Bergians … I doubt I shall be able to listen to this great and enigmatic work again without reference to this new finale, which unlocks so many of the piece’s secrets. … see Full Review

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Harold in Italy [41.39] André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Zémire et Azor - Pantomime (air de ballet) (1771) [4.29] Étienne MÉHUL (1763-1817) Timoléon - overture (1794) [5.30] Le Trésor Supposé - overture (1802) [6.30] La Chasse du Jeune Henri - overture (1797) [11.26] Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) La Vierge - The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1877-78) [5.19] William Primrose (viola) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. EMI Studio 1, Abbey Road, 13, 15 Nov 1951 (Berlioz); Walthamstow Town Hall, 28 Apr 1954 (Grétry); Dec 1953 (Méhul; Massenet) SONY CLASSICAL SMK91167 [76.20] [RB]

Beecham in Gallic works - soothing and stimulating ... see Full Review

Hildegard Von BINGEN (1098-1179) In Portrait Ordo Virtutum
Hildegard (documentary) A Real Mystic (documentary) A Source of Inspiration (documentary) Illuminations (commented images) Sound format: Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitle languages: GB, D, F, ES, NL Picture format: 16:9 and 4:3 Picture standard: PAL Region code: 0 OPUS ARTE OA 0874 D [250 min] [KM]

An interesting package featuring music and documentaries about one of the most profound medieval composers. … see Full Review

Arthur BLISS (1891 -1975) Chamber music Volume 2 Piano Quartet (1915) ¹ Sonata for Viola and Piano (1933) ² Oboe Quintet (1941) * Maggini Quartet Nicholas Daniel, oboe * Peter Donohoe, piano ¹ Julian Rolton, piano ² Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk, England, 18th - 20th December 2001. NAXOS 8.555931 [62.07] [NH]

A worthy and enjoyable successor to all the previous Naxos discs of the music of Arthur Bliss … see Full Review

Pierre BOULEZ (b.1925) Piano Sonata No.1 (1946) Le Marteau sans Maître (1953-55) Marc Ponthus (piano) Linda Hirst (mezzo) Lontano/Odaline de la Martinez Recorded at St. Silas Church, London (sonata), and Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London (no dates given, c.1995) DDD LORELT LNT108 [46’55] [TH]

As good an account of this groundbreaking work as you are likely to encounter, even from the great man himself. … see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897): Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83* [44’31"] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856): Fantasia in C major, Op. 17 [28’13"] Wilhelm Backhaus (piano) *Sächsische Staatskapelle/Karl Böhm Recorded *in 1939 and in London in 1937 ADD HÄNSSLER CLASSIC MASTERPIECE CD94.044 [72’44"] [JQ]

Two vintage performances … see Full Review

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Coronation March (1911) [6.46] Summer (1914) [10.42] Phantasm (1931) [24.21] There is a Willow Grows A Brook (1927) [11.18] Vignettes de Danse (1938) [11.20] Sir Roger de Coverley (A Christmas Dance) (1922) [4.41] Howard Shelley (piano) BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea 27 Nov 2000 (Sir Roger); 28-29 Nov 2002. DDD Orchestral works: volume 3 CHANDOS CHAN 10112 [69.55] [RB]

Cuts a broad swathe through Bridge's stylistic journey. A well balanced and attractive collection ... see Full Review

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 8 in C minor (1887) (Original version) Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev
Recorded 1999 RELIEF CR 991063 [74’16"] [JQ]

However, it would be perverse to recommend this Russian performance in preference to the authoritative Tintner reading. If you want the 1887 score then the choice is clear. … see Full Review

The Beecham Collection Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Noel Mewton-Wood (piano) BBC Men’s Chorus BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Thomas Beecham Recorded live in broadcast at BBC Studio No. 1, Maida Vale, London, January 1948 SOMM-BEECHAM 15 [68.56] [JW]

Playing that pianistically speaking can be measured against that of Petri … this exceptionally rare survivor deserves the widest possible scrutiny and admiration. … see Full Review

Detailed listing (last two days)]
[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L]  [Part 7 Misc M-Z]

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