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RECORDING OF THE MONTH York BOWEN (1884–1961) Music for Viola Lawrence Power (viola); Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano) rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67651/2 [61:39 + 60:55][MC]

Power goes from strength to strength in this collection of Bowen’s viola music ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Volume 9: Nos 70, 73 & 75 Heidelberger Sinfoniker/Thomas Fey rec. 2007 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.517 [61:31]

The most vibrant Haydn performances I’ve heard for a long time … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Charles IVES (1874-1954) Orchestral Sets 1-3 Malmö Chamber Ch & SO/James B Sinclair rec. 2006-07 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559353 [63:36] [SH]

A great moment in the history of recorded music ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Garth Knox – Amore Garth KNOX (b.1956) Malor me bat (2004) [9:16] Marin MARAIS (1656-1685) Les Folies d’Espagne (1685) (arr. Garth KNOX, Agnès VESTERMAN) [10:35] Roland MOSER (b.1943) Manners of Speaking (2006): Poem [3:49] Anecdote [2:45] Tobias HUME (c.1569-1645) A Pavin (1605) (arr. Garth Knox) [6:45] Attilio ARIOSTI (1666-1729) Prima Lezione (1720): Allegro [4:16] Largo [4:12] Andante [2:09] Anonymous Celtic Dance (arr. Garth Knox) [1:36] I Once Loved a Lass/ Jig (arr Garth Knox) [2:35] Klaus HUBER (b.1924) ... Plainte ... pour Luigi Nono (1990) [5:15] Garth Knox (viola d’amore), Agnès Vesterman (cello) rec. September 2006, Propstei St. Gerold, Austria ECM 1925 - 4766369 [54:06] [GPu]

Outstanding … high musicality and ravishing sounds … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) a cappella choral works Laudibus/Mike Brewer rec. 2008, DDD Texts and English translations included DELPHIAN DCD34074 [64:00] JQ

An outstanding celebration of RVW in this anniversary year ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Martha Argerich - Music for Two Pianos Includes Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Suite No. 2 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Sonata, Variations on a theme by Haydn with Mirabela Dina, Gabriela Montero, Lilya Zilberstein, Polina Leschenko, Yefim Bronfman & Giorgia Tomassi rec. live 2002-4 EMI CLASSICS 2076232 [69.41 + 76.38] [MM-B]

Brilliant and uplifting … a must-have ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ensemble Syntagma - Remembrance: Music by Gautier D’ÉPINAL (1205/30-1272), Colin MUSET (13th century), Jacques de CYSOING (middle of 13th century), Jehannot de L’ESCUREL (d.1304) and Gautier DE COINCY (1177-1236) Ensemble Syntagma rec. 2006 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72190 [63:14][GPu]

Outstanding … undogmatic coherence and persuasive sensitivity in rare repertoire … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH The Rise of the North Italian Violin Concerto: 1690-1740 Volume Three - The Golden Age
Antonio Vivaldi
(1678-1741) Concerto for violin, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, strings and continuo Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764) Concerto da Chiesa in C, Concerto for 4 Violins, strings and continuo Giovanni Battista Sammartini (c.1700-1775) Concerto à più Stromenti in E-Flat, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) Concerto for violin, strings and continuo Antonio Vivaldi Concerto for violin, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, timpani, strings and continuo La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin) rec. 2008. DDD. AVIE AV2154 [79:25] [BW]

Buy the CD or the download, but get this recording somehow ... see Full Review


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas with Violoncello Piccolo Chœur de Chambre Accentus/Laurence Equilbey & Ensemble Baroque de Limoges/Christophe Coin rec. 1995 NAÏVE VOIX BAROQUE E8918 [62:20][BW]

Not Bach’s best-known music but strongly recommended ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Percy GRAINGER (1882–1961) An Introduction Joyful Company of Singers; BBC Philharmonic; City of London Sinfonia; Royal Northern College of Music Wind O rec. 1994-2000 CHANDOS CHAN2029 [77:11] [BW]

The favourites plus less well known pieces, excellently performed and recorded ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Viaggio a Reims Katia Ricciarelli, Enzo Dara, Samuel Ramey, Ruggero Raimondi, CO Europe/Claudio Abbado rec. live 1984 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON GRAND PRIX 477 7435 [67.07 + 68.35] [RJF]

One of the best recordings of a Rossini opera ever set down ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Padre Antonio SOLER (1729-1783)
Complete Harpsichord Sonatas – Volume 1
Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord) rec. 11-13 February 2008, Oud-Katholieke Kerk, Delft BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93758 [56:39 + 76:01] [GPu]

An auspicious opening to a complete Soler sonatas, vivacious and perceptive … see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Works of Igor Stravinsky Columbia SO/Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft rec. 1959-1966 SONY-BMG 88697 103112 [22 CDs: ca 26:32:00] [RB]

A lifetime's treasury of musical experience at a breathtakingly low price ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Richard WAGNER (1813-83) Das Rheingold (1869) [145:47] Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1958. ADD. 24-bit remastering. Booklet with German text and English translation. Decca Originals 478 0382 [70:34 + 75:13]

Fifty years on, this is still the recording of Rheingold ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Richard WAGNER (1813–1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen Royal Danish Opera Chorus (Götterdämmerung) and Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt rec. live, Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen, May 2006 DECCA 074 3264 [7 DVDs: 920:00 + Bonus: 36:00] [GF]

Wholly engrossing, fresh and deeply involving ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH The Art of Christa Ludwig rec. 1956–1969 EMI CLASSICS 5176082 [5 CDs: 387:44] [GF]

A worthy tribute. Should be snapped up by all lovers of great singing ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Rostropovich plays Cello Works Mstislav Rostropovich (cello); Various accompanists rec. 1969-1995 WARNER ERATO 2564696817 [9 CDs: 9:55:00][RB]

A zanily variegated, enterprising selection … glorious playing ... see Full Review

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[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[Recommended recordings]

I was full of admiration for Benjamin Pasternack’s previous CD of Copland’s solo piano music; indeed, it became one of my discs of the year and has been played often since (see review). So this new release already created some anticipation, as I have always had a soft spot for the rarely heard Piano Concerto as well as looking forward to the other works here.
In fact, the planning on this new Naxos release is very intelligent indeed. I don’t recall having heard the suite from Copland’s little-known opera The Tender Land before, but suffice to say it is full of what might be termed the best of his popular style. As befits the subject matter – the vicissitudes of a simple farming family in the Depression-hit South of the 1930s – the music is redolent of Appalachian Spring, the film music to Of Mice and Men and other ‘wide-open’ scores of the 1940s and 1950s. The Suite he extracted from the opera, which was not a success after its New York premiere in 1954, is in three movements. The Introduction is replete with those open fourths and fifths in the brass, the Love Music that follows it enjoying the simplest and most affecting of melodic lines. The lively rhythms of the Party Scene which follows could be out of Billy the Kid, whilst the ringing affirmation of the Finale: The Promise of Living, are about as American as Copland ever got. It is well worth making an acquaintance with and note writer Joseph Horowitz admits to preferring it to the flawed opera.
The Piano Concerto is firmly rooted in the 1920s, though once again the glorious introductory bars, where horns, trumpets and trombones exchange bold fanfares, points to his later style. It’s usually referred to as his jazziest work, and there are lots of elements to back this up, particularly the second movement, where Copland clearly has Gershwin in his sights, though with very different results. But the opening movement, for all its ‘blue note’ leaning, has more in common with the angular dissonance of the Piano Variations, written just a few short years later. The Concerto is a marvellous work, full of New York swagger but tightly constructed – rather like the more popular Clarinet Concerto – and it’s a real mystery why it doesn’t crop up on more concert programmes. There have been some good recordings over the years, including the benchmark version from the composer himself with Bernstein at the helm, though it does sound rather aggressively bright by modern standards. I’ve tended to stick by an excellent RCA recording from Garrick Ohlsson and the San Francisco Symphony under Tilson-Thomas, part of an excellent Copland survey he undertook in the early 1990s (Copland – The Modernist, c/w Orchestral Variations, Symphonic Ode and Short Symphony). I have to say this newcomer runs it close, with orchestral playing every bit as solid and assured. The string tone of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, another new name to me, is superb and the brass and wind sections are easily as sonorous and colourful as their more famous counterparts. Pasternack shows once again that he is completely inside Copland’s style, and the very tricky passages of the second movement are just as effective as Ohlsson’s more overtly virtuosic reading.
The disc rounds off its rarity value in style with arrangements of Copland’s popular Old American Songs, originally for voice and piano but here transcribed to include chorus and orchestra by Irving Fine, R. Wilding-White and Glenn Koponen. It works very well, with the St Charles Singers relishing the allusions to folk ballads, minstrel tunes, hymns and children’s tunes. The lyrics – included in the booklet - may be pure cornball in places (‘My pig says ‘griffey, griffey…’) but they’re great fun and the chorus approach them in this spirit.
The recorded sound is warm and generous, coping with the thicker textures well, and good liner-notes complete a very desirable Copland selection.



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