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Friday February 29th

There were 216 CDs & DVDs reviewed in February.

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Latest from Onyx £12.00 Postage Paid ELGAR Violin Concerto Ehnes, Amanada Roocroft recital Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Strauss None but the Lonely Heart; SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trio No 1, 5 pieces for two violins, Piano Quintet

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BOOK REVIEWS

Isolde Ahlgrim, Vienna and the Early Music Revival by Peter Watchorn. Ashgate Publishing Limited, (2007) 264pp., hardback. Includes 32 b&w illustrations and 23 music examples. £55.

A very interesting account of a neglected exponent of authentic performances of Early Music ... see Full Review


LATEST CD REVIEWS

FRIDAY February 29th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 28 & 29 Mitsuko Uchida rec. 2007 PHILIPS 4758662 [CC]

A mixed reception. Never less than fascinating, but these readings cannot sit in the pantheon of the greats ... see Full Review

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Seven Elegies Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750) Chaconne (arr. for piano Busoni) David Rubinstein rec. 2007 MUSICUS 1001 [BBr]

Busoni’s most approachable piano works in the modern style in performances worthy of the music. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH John DOWLAND (1563-1626) Lute Songs Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Nocturnal after John Dowland Mark Padmore (tenor), Elizabeth Kenny (lute), Craig Ogden (guitar) rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67648 [MG]

A terrific disc which demonstrates how flexibly Dowland’s line can be treated in expressing the nuances of the texts … see Full Review

Joseph Martin KRAUS (1756-1792) Violin Concerto, Olympie - incidental music, Azire - ballet music Takako Nishizaki (violin) New Zealand SO/Uwe Grodd rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570334 [JW]

Restores some worthwhile and valuable music to public audition ... see Full Review

Klaus LANG (b. 1971) Missa Beati Pauperes Spiritu Peter Gerwig Romirer (cantor) Natalia Pschenitschnikova (voice) Roland Dahinden (trombone) Gunter Meinhardt (percussion) Thomas Musil and IEM Graz (live electronics) Trio RGB rec. live 2005 COL LEGNO WWE1CD 20271 [DB]

An interesting and extremely understated piece recommended for fans of Feldman and Eno … see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Divertimento for violin, viola and cello Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons David Nadien (violin) Kapp Sinfonietta/Emanuel Vardi rec. 1960/61 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD125 [JW]

Nadien’s is a name worth celebrating and this disc does just that ... see Full Review

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) La traviata Antonietta Stella, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Tito Gobbi, La Scala, Milan Ch & O/Tullio Serafin rec. 1955 NAXOS 8.111272-73 [GF]

In spite of the less than attractive sound, a far from negligible set and Di Stefano admirers should definitely add it to their collections ... see Full Review

Dedicated to Barrère - Volume Two Includes Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941) Sonatine quasi Fantasia Christiaan KRIENS (1881-1934) La Nymphe Bocagère Wallingford RIEGGER (1885-1961) Suite for flute alone Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES (1884-1920) Poème Marion BAUER (1882-1955) Forgotten Modes Leone Buyse (flute) Martin Amlin (piano) Paula Page (harp) rec. 2004-07 CRYSTAL RECORDS CD716 [JW]

A wide and eloquently expressive palette ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Arie di bravura - Diana Damrau Arias by Salieri, Mozart and Righini Diana Damrau (soprano) Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer rec. 2006 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3952502 [GF]

This disc is superb in all respects and the repertoire is un-hackneyed! ... see Full Review

Opera Fantasies for Violin Includes Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937) Fantasie brillante on Bizet's "Carmen" Joseph Joachim RAFF (1822-1882) Duo on themes from Wagner’s Lohengrin Oswald GOLIJOV (b.1960) Ainadamar: Desde mi ventana Stephen PRUTSMAN (b.1960) Fantasy Extract on Themes from Richard Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier" Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) " I Palpiti" - Introduction and Variations on “Di tanti Palpiti” from Rossini's Tancredi Livia Sohn (violin) Benjamin Loeb (piano) Geoff Nuttall (violin, viola) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570202 [JW]

Cannily selected and little heard pieces, played with flair and no little virtuosity ... see Full Review

 

THURSDAY February 28th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord BWV1027-29, Trios BWV583-4, Keyboard Sonatas BWV963 & 967 Mikko Perkola (viola da gamba), Aapo Häkkinen (harpsichord) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570210 [JS]

Not a “safe” option; too idiosyncratic for that ... see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto Max BRUCH (1838 - 1920) Violin Concerto 1 Kyung-Wha Chung, Concertgebouw O, (Beethoven), London PO (Bruch)/Klaus Tennstedt rec. 1989/90 EMI CLASSICS 5034102 [JW]

Lacking the ultimate in romantic allure ... see Full Review

Frydéryk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Nocturne Cello Sonata, Introduction et Polonaise brillante & transcriptions Truls Mørk (cello) Kathryn Stott (piano) rec. 2006 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3857842 [JW]

Naturalness is all in this refined and splendidly elegant recital ... see Full Review

John DOWLAND (1563-1626) Lute Music -Volume 3: Pavans, Galliards and Almains Nigel North rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570449 [JW]

The high standards set in this series have been outstandingly maintained here ... see Full Review

Vernon DUKE (Vladimir Dukelsky) (1903-1969) Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Homage to Boston Scott Dunn (piano), Sam Magill (cello) Russian PO/Dimitry Yablonsky rec. 2006/7 NAXOS 8.559286 [BBr]

One of the very best, and, for me, most interesting, releases in Naxos’s American Classics series ... see Full Review

George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759) Arias Danielle de Niese (soprano) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie DECCA 475 8746 [GF]

In spite of some reservations this is an endearing disc, with wonderful music and not a dull moment ... see Full Review

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Complete Piano Music - Volume 4 Includes Seven Czech Dances, Les ritournelles, Rujana Giorgio Koukl rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570215 [JW] [BBr]

Koukl has cast his net wisely and well, mixing established classics with works that none but a manuscript editor would have heard [JW]
I made the mistake of judging the book by its cover and dismissing the contents of this CD without playing it. Under no circumstances must you make the same idiotic mistake [BBr] ... see Full Review

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Dido and Aeneas Susan Graham, Ian Bostridge, European Voices, Le Concert d’Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm rec. 2003 VIRGIN CLASSICS 5034222 [JW]

A warm welcome back to a first class recording ... see Full Review

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Humoreske for violin and orchestra, Leggenda for violin and orchestra, Sei piccoli pezzi (orch. Adriano), Rossiniana Marco Rogliano (violin) Sassari SO/Roberto Diem Tigani INEDITA PI2632 [IL]

A rare treat for Respighi fans. Engaging performances in very good sound ... see Full Review

Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915) Complete String Quartets – Volume 1 Quartets 1 & 3 Carpe Diem String Quartet rec. 2006  NAXOS 8.570437 [JW]

A welcome offering that shows Taneyev in emphatic and questing compositional form ... see Full Review

 

WEDNESDAY February 27th

Komei ABE (1911-2006) Symphony No.1 (1957) [18:54] Divertimento for alto saxophone and orchestra (1951 orch. 1960) [19:58] Sinfonietta (1964) [25:43] Aleksey Volkov (alto saxophone) Russian Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.557987 [64:35] [JW]

Exciting music energetically performed, not always subtle but torridly lyric ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto in F major BWV971 (1735) [12:56] Toccata in C minor BWV 911 (1710s)[11:39] Four Duets BWV 802-805 [11:00] English Suite No.6 in D minor BWV 811 (c.1722) [26:03] Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. Le Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, October 1985 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON ELOQUENCE 442 9446 [62:01] [JW]

This DG has strong claims of its own ... see Full Review

Erik CHISHOLM (1904-1965) Music for Piano - Volume 3 Piobaireachd [14:17] Sonatina No.1 [7:20] Sonatina No.2 [7:03] Two Piobaireachd Laments [13:44] Cornish Dance Sonata (1926) [33:58] Murray McLachlan (piano) rec.2006 DUNELM RECORDS DRD 0224 [76:37] [JW]

A progressive absorption of diverse influences: Gaelic folk music and Bartók prominent among them ... see Full Review

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854–1921) Hänsel und Gretel (1893) Theo Adam (bass) – Peter, a broom-maker; Gisela Schröter (mezzo) – Gertrud, his wife; Ingeborg Springer (contralto) – Hänsel, their son; Renate Hoff (soprano) – Gretel, their daughter; Peter Schreier (tenor) – Witch; Renate Krahmer (soprano) – Sandman/Dew Fairy; Members of Dresdner Kreuzchor; Staatskapelle Dresden/Otmar Suitner rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 1969 German libretto enclosed BERLIN CLASSICS 0184182BC [54:23 + 40:37] [GF]

Several other sets are more recommendable but Suitner’s big-boned reading shouldn’t be overlooked – and Peter Schreier’s witch cries out to be heard ... see Full Review

Sergei Vasilievich RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Olga Rusina Plays Rachmaninoff Olga Rusina (piano) rec. 2002/2006 DUX 0565 [63:32] [WK]

A disc of sometimes vibrant, sometimes eccentric Rachmaninoff - worth catching for certain of the performances. ... see Full Review

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Music for 18 Musicians (1976) [61:21] Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble/Bill Ryan rec. No date given, Royce Auditorium, St. Cecilia’s Music Center, Grand Rapids, MI. USA. INNOVA 678 [61:21] [KMc]

An excellent recording of the seminal work of minimalism ... see Full Review

Thomas WEELKES (c.1576-1623) Ninth Service, Evening Service and Anthems Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington rec. 1988. DDD. Texts included. NIMBUS NI5125 [50:42] [BW]

Good performances of a neglected composer; if you want his most extended composition, the Ninth Service, there is no alternative ... see Full Review

The City Waites - Lusty Songs and Country Dances
Douglas Wootton (voice, lute cittern); Roderick Skeaping (violin, bass viol, voice); Michael Brain (curtal, recorders, voice); Mike Sargeant (bagpipes); Dave Chatterley (hurdy-gurdy); Robin Jeffrey (lute); Ian Gammie (violone); Lucie Skeaping (director, voice, violin) rec. 1992/1995 REGIS RRC 1275 [70:42] [PG]

Plausibly sounds as if it could have been plucked from a tavern 350 years ago ... nearly flawless … see Full Review

English Piano Sonatas CD 1 [74:26] Arnold BAX (1883-1953), John IRELAND (1879-1962), CD 2 [72:32] Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Malcolm Binns (piano) rec. 2007, notes in English only. BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS434-435CD [72:32 + 74:26] [HC]

A magnificent collection of impressive and substantial British piano sonatas ... see Full Review

A Piano Odyssey Trevor Barnard (piano) rec.1978. DIVERSIONS DDV 24125 [JW]

A rather bipartite affair - an enjoyable if not quite Homeric journey. ... see Full Review

 

TUESDAY February 26th

Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) Recuerdos de viaje; Espagne (Souvenirs); Azulejos; La Vega, ‘Fantaisie espagnole’; Navarra Guillermo González (piano) rec. 2004 NAXOS SPANISH CLASSICS 8.570553 [72:35][GPu]

An interesting juxtaposition of fairly early and (very) late works by Albéniz … see Full Review

John DOWLAND (1563-1626) Lute Music Volume 3: Pavans, Galliards and Almains Nigel North (nine-course lute) rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.570449 [66:22][BW]

Another excellent recording in this thoroughly recommendable series … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH John Herbert FOULDS (1880-1939) A World Requiem BBC SCh & O/Leon Botstein rec. 2007 CHANDOS CHSA5058 [45:08 + 44:50] [PCW]

Ventures like this give one hope for the future of recorded music … see Full Review

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Selected Masterpieces Various artists rec. 1994-2000 DYNAMIC CDS 554/1-6 [71:39 + 68:35 + 57:08 + 64:33 + 57:32 + 76:06][MS]

A selection of some of Hummel’s most enticing and satisfying music … real value for money though the level of inspiration may be bettered elsewhere ... see Full Review

HISTORICAL RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919) Chatterton Chorus and orchestra of Teatro alla Scala/Ruggiero Leoncavallo rec. 1908 Pagliacci Giuseppe Rosci Chorus and orchestra of Teatro alla Scala/Ruggiero Leoncavallo (as stated on labels; possibly Carlo Sabajno) rec. 1907 MARSTON 52016-2 [79.04 + 78:14][JW]

An amazing rarity transferred with care, presented with authority, and made universally available ... see Full Review

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Donizetti - Operatic Reminiscences and Transcriptions William Wolfram (piano) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570137  [65:57][DM]

There’s nothing modest about the pianistic talents of William Wolfram ... see Full Review

Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838) Flute Quartets John Herrick Littlefield (flute); Aaron Boyd (violin); Ah Ling Neu (viola); Yari Bond (cello) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.570330 [56:33][BW]

Attractive music – not top-flight but certainly worth getting to know – well performed and recorded ... see Full Review

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Romantic Poets - Vol. 2 Markus Schäfer (tenor), Ulrich Eisenlohr (piano) rec. 2006 NAXOS 8.557831 [68:27][GF]

Expressive readings but the singing style may not be to everyone’s taste ... see Full Review

Julius Baker (flute) - A Flutist’s Favorites Julius Baker (flute); Boris Barere (piano) CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 127 [63:20][JW]

A valuable and worthy tribute to a rare artist ... see Full Review

Singers of the Century 40 Greats of the twentieth century rec. 1948–1957 REGIS RRC2078 [77:28 + 78:27][GF]

Gems a-plenty and technical limitations are not serious enough to diminish listening pleasure ... see Full Review

 

MONDAY February 25th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well Tempered Clavier - Books I and II Edwin Fischer (piano) rec. 1933-36 EMI CLASSICS 3919582 [3 CDs: 79:30 + 81:41 + 76:37][JW]

A tonally diffused, unrepresentative approximation of Fischer’s playing ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No.2 Stephen Hough (piano); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis rec. 1990 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3913662 [51:01][JW]

Not really a contender ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet Op.51/2 Felix Otto DESSOFF (1835-1892) String Quartet Op.7 Mandelring Quartett rec. 1998 AUDITE 97505 [60:21][JFL]

Worth a strong recommendation for Brahms A minor alone and the Dessoff is immediately and lastingly enjoyable ... see Full Review

George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) Solomon Winchester Cathedral Choir; Göttingen Festival Orchestra/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2007 CARUS 83.242 [3 CDs: 60:20 + 49:15 + 47:04][JW]

Doesn’t really alter the balance of power in the discography stakes ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Philippus (Philippe) de MONTE (1521-1603) Motets, Madrigals and Chansons Ensemble Orlando Fribourg; In Echo/Laurent Gendre rec. 2007 CLAVES 502712 [51:17][BW]

An unjustly neglected composer brought to life in very good performances, well recorded ... see Full Review

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra Oleg Marshev (piano); Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes rec. 2001-2 DANACORD DACOCD586-7 [78:49 + 75:49][PSe]

Good recordings, solid dependability, imaginative interpretations, and intriguing “new” pieces ... see Full Review

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) Il trovatore (highlights) Rome Opera House Chorus and Orchestra/Thomas Schippers rec. 1964 CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 3933752 [70:37][GF]

Primarily for diehard admirers of one or other of the singers here ... see Full Review

4 – The Soundtrack Music by Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741), George GERSHWIN (1898-1937), Nora BAYES and Jack NORWORTH Sayaka Shoji (violin) and the Kioi Sinfonietta, Tokyo ABC CLASSICS 4429963 [57:08][JW]

Soundtrack to a seasonal travelogue illuminated by the local musics of the visited countries ... see Full Review

The Kite Runner – film score (2007) Music by Alberto IGLESIAS (b.1955), Ehsan AMAN (b.1959), Sami YUSUF (b.1980) and Bara KHERIGI Hollywood Studios Symphony/Michael Nowak EDGE MUSIC 477 7333 [62:47][RM]

If not immediately memorable, the score is certainly atmospheric and undeniably skilful ... see Full Review

Itzhak Perlman - Virtuoso Violinist Christopher Nupen (director) ALLEGRO FILMS A08CND [169:00][AOz]

Reveals how an ordinary human being can achieve great things through integrity and faith … and talent and hard work ... see Full Review

 



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