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RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Giselle (excerpts) Paris Conservatoire O/Jean Martinon rec. 1958 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD204 [47:30] [DM] Spell-binding from start to finish.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Fidelio Elisabeth Söderström (soprano) Anton de Ridder (tenor) Curt Appelgren (bass) Elizabeth Gale (soprano) Glyndebourne Fest Ch, London PO/Bernard Haitink rec. 1979 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 307 [128.00] [PCG] This is an exceptional release. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860 - 1911) Symphony 1 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2010 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO0070 [RMo] A triumph.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - P-SO of New York/Bruno Walter rec. 1947 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC382 [61:29] [DM] A mandatory Mahler Fifth superbly re-mastered; don’t miss.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Lieder - Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2009 RCA RED SEAL 88697567732 [75:52] [MC] Sheer enjoyment from start to finish. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 - Christine Brewer (soprano) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Robert Dean Smith (tenor) Bavarian & Netherlands Radio Ch, Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 RCO LIVE RCO13003 [ 80:15 + bonus DVD 86:27] [JQ] An Eighth to remember - incandescent.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios 1 & 2, Trio for piano, violin and viola Fanny MENDELSSOHN-HENSEL (1805-1847) Piano Trio - Hrvoje Jugovic (piano) Maria Bader-Kubizek (violin) Silvia Schweinberger (viola) Dorothea Schonwiese (cello) rec. 2009/10 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94490 [42:24 + 52:57] [BR] If you're interested in Mendelssohn on period instruments, it doesn't get much better than this. If you just want a set of the trios, the same advice applies. 

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Semiramide - Myrtò Papatanasiu (soprano) Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) SO & Ch of the Vlaamse Op Antwerp-Ghent/Alberto Zedda rec. 2011 DYNAMIC CDS 674/1-3 [3 CDs: 229:32] [ST] A dramatic, incisive and exciting take on a wonderful opera, and it deserves to be heard. 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Le Siège de Corinthe - Lorenzo Regazzo (bass) Marc Sala (tenor) Majella Cullagh (soprano) Camerata Bach Ch, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/Jean-Luc Tingaud rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.660329-30 [75.41 + 75.38] [RJF] This excellent performance fills a significant gap. At bargain price no enthusiast should hesitate.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1838) String Quintet Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Janine Jansen, Boris Brovtsyn (violin), Maxim Rysanov, Amihai Grosz (viola), Torlief Thedéen, Jens Peter Maintz (cello) rec. 2012 DECCA 478 3551 [83:12] [DC] Straight onto the 2013 Recordings of the Year list.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto Francesco Demuro (tenor) Leo Nucci (baritone) Nino Machaidze (soprano) Marco Spotti (bass) O & Ch Teatro Regio, Parma/Massimo Zanetti rec. 2008 C MAJOR 723304 [131:00 +10:00] [RJF] In my opinion this is by far the best-staged and performed Rigoletto in the modern digital format and should be a part of any opera collection. 

Russian Songs and Arias - Works by Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky & Rimsky-Korsakov - Dinara Alieva (soprano) New Russia State SO/Dmitry Yablonsky rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572893 [60:04] [GF] A recording to treasure! 

Waiting for Benny A Tribute to Benny Goodman Works by Gould, Bartok & Poulenc - Julien Hervé (clarinet) Maud Lovett (violin) Jean-Hisanori Sugitani (piano) Ying Lai Green (double bass) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573032 [67:17] [SA] It is difficult to praise this disc highly enough. 

John ADAMS (b. 1947) Shaker Loops Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Façades; Company Steve REICH (b. 1936) Eight Lines Dave HEATH (b. 1956) The Frontier London CO/Christopher Warren Green rec. 1990 VIRGIN RED LINE 7352992 [68:01] [ST] As good an introduction to the world of minimalism as I can imagine.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Transcriptions - Bruno Leonardo Gelber, Alexis Weissenberg (piano) rec. 1967/73 EMI CLASSICS 7 35300 2 [66:25] [JW] The audience for this is a more generalised one untroubled by older performances, some imperfectly recorded.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites 1, 2 & 3 - Hopkinson Smith (German theorbo) rec. 2012 NAÏVE E 8937 [65:39] Cello Suites 1, 3 & 5 - Antoine Tamestit (viola) rec. 2012 NAÏVE V 5300 [58:48] [BR] Two new arrangements of Bach’s cello suites, for theorbo and viola, take very different approaches. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas - Vol. 53 - Hana Blažíková (soprano); Robin Blaze (counter-tenor); Gerd Türk (tenor); Peter Kooij (bass) Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-1991 [67:37] [MC] It really is hard to find fault when this music is presented in such an exemplary manner.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites & sonatas, Concerto Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Cello Concerto - Antonio Janigro (cello) Robert Veyron-Lacroix (harpsichord) I Solisti di Zagreb, Prague SO/Milan Horvat rec. 1948/60 DOREMI DHR-8014-6 [3 CDs: 225:00] [JW] Admirers of Janigro should welcome this extensive release and look forward to the other volumes. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - Gottfried Schneider (violin) rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC868 [63:52 + 77:39] [DC] Not bad at all, but not top of the pile.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - Christine Busch (baroque violin) rec. 2011/12 PHI LPH008 [72:40 + 73:08] [JW] For historically informed Sonatas and Partitas these come highly commended. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I - Peter Hill (piano) rec. 2012 DELPHIAN DCD34126 [60:22 + 60:56] [DC] Tastefully subtle and beyond. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St Matthew Passion - Guy de Mey, Christoph Prégardie (tenors) Peter Kooy, Klaus Mertens (basses) Barbara Schlick (soprano) Kai Wessel (counter-tenor) Cappella Breda; Netherlands Bach Boys' Ch, Amsterdam Baroque O/Ton Koopman rec. 1992 WARNER APEX 2564 646751 [3 CDs: 164:43] [MS] The reissue of a respectable and well-conceived and performed Matthew Passion. 

The Bach Family Organ Music - Sergio Militello (organ) rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94483 [47:04] [JV] One of the less brilliant products of Brilliant Classics. 

Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Nicholas Walker (piano) rec. 2012 GRAND PIANO GP 636 [76:23] Variations on Themes from A Life for the Tsar, Piano Sonata in B flat minor, L'Alouette, Islamey - Etsuko Hirose (piano) rec. 2012 MIRARE MIR181 [61:04] [Byz] Balakirev's delightful, outstanding piano music. 

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1946) String Quartet 3 Alban BERG (1885-1935) String Quartet 3 Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) String Quartet - Signum Qt rec. 2012 CAPRICCIO C5163 [60:42] [SA] Played with panache and a huge degree of obvious enthusiasm. 

Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) Complete String Quartets - Guarneri Qt rec. 1974/76 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802111 [76:28 + 76:52] [GF] A lot to admire here but the recording is very close.

Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Phantasy Theodore HOLLAND (1878-1947) Ellingham Marshes Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Suite Richard HARVEY Reflections Roger Chase (viola) BBC Concert O/Stephen Bell, Richard Harvey rec. 2012 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7295 [79:13] [RB] Passion and poetry, thoughtful study and ideas that have matured. No evidence of the sight-reading conveyor belt. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 8, 14 & 23 - Yundi (piano) rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 476 5049 [57:14] [SG] An auspicious start to an enriching journey. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)/Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Symphonies 1 & 7 - Yury Martynov (pianoforte Erard 1837) rec. 2012 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT317 [67:17] [BR] While this Beethoven/Liszt First Symphony is a bit sleepy, the Seventh will enrich any collection. Great period instrument. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto; Große Fuge Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin) Berlin PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1952/53 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 370 [63:09] [MC] Captures the essence of those live performances.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete Piano Sonatas - Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 1983-1984 EUROARTS 2066424 [714:00] [KM] A fine document of one of the best performers of Beethoven on piano.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 3, 5, 6 & 7 - NHK SO/Horst Stein rec. 1985-1992 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC 2053-5 [3 CDs: 179:48] [SG] Full-blooded performances of four Beethoven symphonies but with several caveats. 

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Norma Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo) Sumi Jo (soprano) John Osborn (tenor) Michele Pertusi (bass) International Chamber Vocalista, O La Scintilla/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2011/13 DECCA 4783517 [81:34 + 61:37] [ST] The climactic duet brings out the best in both main characters, their antipathy finally turning to love and a recognition of what they have lost in one another. Qual cor tradisti is fantastic. 

Sir Richard Rodney BENNETT (1936-2012) Choral Music - Cambridge Singers, Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) Clare Wilkinson (mezzo) Simon Wall, Ben Breakwell (tenors) Sam Evans (baritone) Sue Dorey (cello) Charles Fullbrook (tubular bells)/John Rutter rec. 2004 COLLEGIUM CSCD 521 [74.28] [PCG] A worthy memorial to Bennett’s art. 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) La Damnation de Faust Maria Ewing, Dénes Gulyás, Robert Lloyd, Frankfurt RSO/Eliahu Inbal rec. 1989 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94391 [58:06 + 69:01] [JQ] A decent proposition, especially at the price, though the Colin Davis LSO Live version offers a more compelling Berlioz experience.

In the Shadow of War Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Schelomo FRANK BRIDGE (1879-1941) The Loneliest Wilderness Stephen HOUGH (b. 1961) The Loneliest Wilderness Steven Isserlis (cello) Deutsches SO Berlin/Hugo Wolff; Tapiola Sinfonietta/Gabor Takacs-Nagy (piano) rec. 2009/12 BIS BIS-SACD-1992 [67:40] [DJ] An outstanding disc of glorious music, superbly played and recorded. 

René Drouard de BOUSSET (1703-1760) Cantates spirituelles - Le Tendre Amour rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94288 [55:09] [JV] A compelling disc of French spiritual cantatas. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet, Clarinet Quintet - Sharon Kam (clarinet) Jerusalem Qt rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902152 [55:03] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet - Alexander Melnikov (piano) Jerusalem Qt rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902122 [54:56] [Byz] Strong, lusty advocates of immortal music.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies 1-4 - CO Europe/Paavo Berglund rec. 2000 ONDINE ODE 1229-2T [3 CDs: 162:03] [JW] Very good accounts of these inexhaustible symphonies using reduced orchestral forces.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein deutsches Requiem Elisabeth Grümmer (soprano) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale/Karl Forster, Berlin PO/Rudolf Kempe rec. 1955 ÉDITIONS JADE 699 780-2 [76:53] [MC] Sincere and dignified. One of the finest versions in the catalogue. 

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphonies 10, 21 & 22, Psalm 23, English Suite 5 - Paul Taylor (tenor) Brighton Festival Ch, Leicestershire Schools SO/James Loughran, Laszlo Heltay, Eric Pinkett rec. 1972-1974 HERITAGE HTGCD 256/7 [47:15 + 47:25] [JWh] An ideal introduction to Havergal Brian’s art.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Sinfonia da Requiem, Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia, Young person's guide to the orchestra - Royal Liverpool PO/Libor Pešek rec. 1989 VIRGIN CLASSICS REDLINE 7353012 [63:00] [RB] A sturdy entry in the Britten100 lists. 

Leo BROUWER (b. 1939) Beatlerianas - Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Larry Del Casale (guitar) Havana String Qt rec. 2012 ZOHO MUSIC ZM 201304 [69:52] [BR] If you’re new to the sophisticated world of Leo Brouwer, this is an ideal introduction. Plus, the perfect Beatles-classical crossover. 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 0 - Hamburg PO/Simone Young rec. 2012 OEHMS CLASSICS OC685 [49:41] [TB] Young makes a strong case for this splendid work. 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 6 - Métropolitain O Montréal/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2012 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2639 [53:58] [TB] Nézet-Séguin displays the greatest affinity for Bruckner.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Mass 3 - Lenneke Ruiten (soprano) Iris Vermillion (mezzo) Shawn Mathey (tenor) Franz Josef Selig (bass) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Suisse Romande O/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC 5186 501 [62:13] [RMo] Janowski’s more cautious, non-interventionist approach fails to generate the requisite fervour and intensity this music demands.

Alan BULLARD (b. 1947) Sacred choral music - Oliver Hancock Timothy Parsons (organ) The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge/Sarah MacDonald rec. 2012 REGENT REGCD404 [76:49] [JQ] A good selection of the sacred music of Alan Bullard. 

Francesca CACCINI (1587-1641) Maria, dolce Maria: Sacred and secular songs - Elena Cecchi Fedi (soprano) Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini/Gian Luca Lastraioli rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94461 [65:02] [JV] Elena Cecchi Fedi delivers outstanding performances of the vocal parts.

John CAGE (1912-92) The Works for Organ Gary Verkade (organ) rec. 2007 MODE RECORDS MODE 253/54 [48:05 + 55:41] MODE 253 [144:00] [DC] Comprehensive, and unlikely to be bettered any time soon.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Italia, Introduzione, Corale e Marcia, Symphony 3 - BBC PO/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10768 [69:37] [MC] Noseda’s makes a splendid case for this marvellous Symphony.

Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894) Orchestral works - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5122 [78:42] [RW] Järvi conducts with verve and the orchestra respond with an inclusive warmth. 

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto 2, Piano Sonata 3, Étude in E minor 'Tristesse' - Lang Lang (piano) Vienna PO/Zubin Mehta rec. 2005/08 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4790964 [76:12] [MC] Lang Lang’s deep empathy combined with a rare and innate ability to draw the listener into a compelling yet bitter-sweet sound-world. 

Aaron COPLAND (1900 - 1990) Rodeo, Dance Panels, El Salón México, Danzón Cubano Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559758 [70:13] [GP-J] Excellent readings of three of Copland’s firm favourites, plus an unfairly neglected masterpiece.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Trois Leçons de Ténèbres, Motet pour le jour de Pâques, Magnificat anima mea - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzosoprano) The King’s Consort rec. 2011 VIVAT MUSIC FOUNDATION VIVAT 102 [78:35] [DC] Sublime, fascinating and credible performances. 

Mixed Doubles Gordon CROSSE (b. 1937) Brief Encounter, Viola concerto, Fantasia on ‘Ca’ the Yowes’ John MANDUELL (b.1928) Flutes Concerto, Double Concerto Manchester Sinf/Timothy Reynish rec. 2012 MÉTIER MSV77201 [43:04 + 55:19] [JF] Demanding works not in the standard repertoire yet these musicians make them sound second nature. 

Jean-François DANDRIEU (1682-1738) Pièces d'orgues - Noëls & Pièces de clavecin André Isoir (organ) Olivier Baumont (harpsichord) rec. 1987 TEMPÉRAMENTS TEM 316041.42 [61:21 + 51:05] [JV] This set convincingly demonstrates the quality of Dandrieu’s oeuvre. A worthwhile tribute to this great composer.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Books I & II - Craig Sheppard (piano) rec. 2012 ROMÉO RECORDS 7297 [79:42] [JW] Sheppard’s sound-world is evocative, limpid and nuanced. 

Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYŃSKI (1807-1867) Characteristic Symphony, Piano Concerto, Monbar Overture - Emilian Madey (piano) Polish RSO/ Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2009/10 CHANDOS CHAN 10778(2) [51:26 + 45:12] [Byz] Tuneful and very well-crafted music.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Rita, ou Le mari battu Priscille Laplace, Aldo Caputo - O of the Opéra Royal de Wallonie/Claudio Scimone rec. 2010 DYNAMIC 33741 [54:00] [ST] For die-hard Donizetti completists only. 

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Trios 3 & 4 - Wu Han (piano) Philip Setzer (violin) David Finckel (cello) rec. 2012 ARTISTLED 11201-2 [68:03] [SV] The artists do well by Dvořák.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 6 Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Idyll Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz rec. 2009/2011 NAXOS 8.572698 [77:19] [LW] Naxos has another winner with this disc of Dvořák and Janáček.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet 12 Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) String Quartet 1 Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartet 8 - Simón Bolívar String Qt rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4790429 [68:54] [BR] A promising start, although not quite as talented an ensemble as some other new quartets.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Symphony 2 - Royal Stockholm PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2011-2012 BIS BIS-SACD-1879 [63.54] [IL] Altogether a very impressive Elgar programme. 

Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (?1812-1865) Etudes à Plusieurs Reprises, Le Carnaval de Venise, Variations Brillantes sur un Thème de Rossini - Josef Špaček (violin) Gordon Back (piano) rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572575 [73:49] [Byz] As an Ernst investment this is very hard to fault. 

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Nights in the Gardens of Spain César FRANCK (1822-1890) Symphonic Variations Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) Rapsodia sinfónica - Valerie Tryon (piano) Royal PO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2000-12 SOMM SOMMCD 250 [68:57] [DM] A real treat; Tryon’s easy and evocative talent augurs well.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) Violin and Orchestra - Carolin Widmann (violin) Frankfurt RSO/Emilio Pomàrico rec. 2009 ECM NEW SERIES 2283 [50:39] [DC] Are you ready to be changed?

Zdeněk FIBICH (1850-1900) Symphony 1, Impressions from the countryside Czech Ntl SO/Marek Štilec rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572985 [62:18] [RMay] A hugely attractive rustic approach entirely appropriate to these scores.

Giovanni GABRIELI (c.1554/57-1612) Sacred Symphonies - Ex Cathedra, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, Concerto Palatino/Jeffrey Skidmore rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67957 [66:16] [JV] A good survey of Gabrieli's sacred music.  

Vladimir GENIN (b. 1958) Seven Melodies for the Dial Olga Domnina (piano) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72568 [54:57] [DC] Significant new large-scale work for piano. 

Philip GLASS (b.1937) Transcriptions for harp - Lavinia Meijer (harp) rec. 2012 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 33912 [62:05]  Philip GLASS (b.1937) Transcriptions for harp - Floraleda Sacchi (harp and “creative mix”) rec. 2012 AMADEUS ARTE AAP12002 [63:56] [BR] Two Philip Glass harp recitals in one month? What are the odds? Anyway, one of these is a clear winner interpretively and sonically. 

Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) Orchestral Works Vol. 2 - Melbourne SO/Andrew Davis rec. 2010-2012 CHANDOS CHSA5119 [74:16] [GH] If you are new to Eugene Goossens, I would certainly commend this disc as an ideal place to start. 

Friedrich Hartmann GRAF (1727-1795) Flute Concertos - Gaby Pas-Van Riet (flute) Südwestdeutsches CO, Pforzheim/Johannes Moesus rec. 2011 CPO 777 724-2 [65:57] [SV] Stylish and committed and the sound quality is excellent. Enjoy!

Jesús GURIDI (1886-1961) String Quartets 1 & 2 - Bretón String Qt rec. 2011/12 NAXOS SPANISH CLASSICS 8.573036 [55:15] [RB] These fresh and well-chosen revivals merit wider attention from anyone with a predilection for the string quartets of Ravel, Kodály, Bax or Moeran.

Johann Adolph HASSE (1699-1783) Didone Abbandonate Theresa Holzhauser (mezzo) Flavio Ferri-Benedetti (counter-tenor) Hofkapelle München/Michael Hofstetter rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.660323-5 [3 CDs: 163:13] [TB] Brings to the catalogue a major work by one of the most important 18th century opera composers. By no means perfect but certainly worthwhile. 

Kenneth HESKETH (b. 1968) A Rhyme for the Season; Ein Lichtspiel; Graven Image; Wunderkammer; At God speeded summer’s end RLPO/Christoph-Mathias Mueller, Ensemble 10/10/Clark Rundell rec. 2009/2012 NMC NMCD186 [65:01] [CT] A compelling panorama of Kenneth Hesketh’s works for major instrumental forces.

HILDEGARD von Bingen (1098-1179) Music for Paradise - Sequentia/Barbara Thornton and Benjamin Bagby DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88697 983052 [73:17] [ST] A very good introduction to this remarkable woman and to her entire medieval sound-world.

Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812) Flute Concertos 21 & 24 - Bruno Meier (flute) Prague CO rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572738 [57:17] [Byz] Flutters and cruises gracefully along like a sunlit fritillary on a summer breeze. 

Gottfried August HOMILIUS (1714-1785) St Mark Passion Monika Mauch (soprano) Ruth Sandhoff (alto) Basler Madrigalisten, L'arpa festante/Fritz Näf rec. 2012 CARUS 83.260 [78:11 + 52:26] [JV] A worthy addition to the repertoire for Passiontide. 

C.F.E. HORNEMAN (1840-1906) String Quartets 1 & 2 Asger HAMERIK (1843-1923) Quartetto - Arild Qt rec. 2011 DACAPO 8.226097 [52:55] [BR] Germanic works from 1860s Denmark.

Toshio HOSOKAWA (b. 1955) Works for string quartet - Mayumi Miyata (shô); Quatuor Diotima rec. 2009 NEOS 11072 [69:37] [HC] Excellently played performances of Hosokawa's present-day output for string quartet.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Joby TALBOT (b.1971) Worlds, stars, systems, infinity Philharmonia Ch & O/Esa-Pekka Salonen rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGDVD009 [112.00] [PCG] There are not many musical works that could stand up to this degree of close scrutiny, but fortunately The Planets is one of them. 

Albert HUYBRECHTS (1899-1938) Chamber Music Vol 3 - Lionel Bams (piano) Carlos Bruneel (flute) Yves Cortvrint (viola) Philippe Pierlot (viola da gamba) Sébastian Walnier (cello) rec. 2011/12 CYPRÈS CYP4639 [42:41 + 41:21] [JW] Admirers should certainly carry on and acquire this third Huybrechts volume.

Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) String Quartet; Trio & other chamber pieces - Bridge Qt, Michael Dussek (piano), Bryn Lewis (harp), Richard Alsop (double bass) rec. 2011 SOMM SOMMCD 0122 [68:24] [GF] Two major works that should win new admirers and the other pieces are light, well written and highly attractive.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Glagolitic Mass; Taras Bulba Berlin Radio SO & Ch/Marek Janowski rec. 2010/12 PENTATONE PTC 5186 388 [64:35] [BR] Talk about superlatives. This was my most-anticipated recording of 2013, but it turned out to be the worst Janáček CD I have ever heard.

Johann Gottlieb JANITSCH (1708 - 1763) Sonate da camera Vol III Notturna/Christopher Palameta rec. 2009 ATMA ACD2 2626 [63:10] [JV] Janitsch turns out to be a composer of highly original and compelling chamber music. 

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Complete Works for Saxophone - David Brutti (alto/soprano saxophone) Duo Disecheis, Atem Saxophone Qt, O Città Aperta (winds/strings)/Filippo Farinelli rec. 2011/12 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9266 [3 CDs: 181:49] [Byz] Hard to imagine anyone not liking Koechlin … immensely melodic and idiomatic, uncomplicated on the surface yet expressive of a considered intelligence. 

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Paysages et Marine, Sonatines, Wind Septet, Sonate a 7 - Ensemble Contraste, Ensemble Initium rec. 2011 TIMPANI 1C1193 [71:16] 
Sonatas and Suite
Pierre de BRÉVILLE (1861-1949) Viola Sonata Charles KOECHLIN Viola Sonata Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939) Suite en trois parties - James Parker (piano) Steven Dann (viola) rec. 2011 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD 22519 [66:00]
Charles KOECHLIN Piano Quintet, String Quartet 3 - Sarah Lavaud (piano) Antigone Qt rec. 2008 AR RÉ-SÉ AR2009-1 [55:45]
Charles KOECHLIN Chamber works - Raimond Lissy (violin) Jan Latham-Koenig (piano) Raphael Flieder (cello), Wolfgang Vladar (horn), Helmut Zehetner (viola) rec. 1998 VMS 187 [66:30] [Byz] An aural feast of Koechlin. 

Herman D. KOPPEL (1908-1998) Sonatina for wind quintet Anders KOPPEL (b. 1947) Sonatina for wind quintet Benjamin KOPPEL (b. 1974) Krazy Kat Music for wind quintet - Carion rec. 2012 DACAPO 8.226107 [42:32] [JW] The Koppel lineage has been an adornment of the Danish musical stage for many decades.

Toivo KUULA (1883 - 1918) South Ostrobothnian Folk Songs; The Song of the Sea Kimmo HAKOLA (b. 1958) Seven Songs - Jorma Hynninen (baritone) Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas rec. 2012 ALBA ABCD 348 SACD [62:39] [HC] Beautifully straightforward and superbly crafted music that is really worth hearing.

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697 - 1764) Premier Livre de Sonates - Fabio Biondi (violin) Maurizio Naddeo (cello) Pascal Monteilhet (theorbo) Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord) rec. 1992 ARCANA A 361 [64:10] [JV] The reissue of this recording was not such a good idea.

Magnus LINDBERG (b.1958) Expo, Piano Concerto 2, Al largo - Yefim Bronfman (piano) New York PO/Alan Gilbert rec. 2009-12 DACAPO 8.226076 [62:32] [GPJ] Dramatic, highly-coloured music from one of the most approachable and individual voices in contemporary music. 

Jukka LINKOLA (b. 1955) Robin Hood - Ville Rusanen (baritone) Mari Palo (soprano) Matti Salminen (bass) Koit Soasepp (bass) Finnish National Opera O & Ch, Children’s Ch/Mikko Franck. rec. 2011 ALBA AB-BR-DV1 [137:00] [RJW] Linkola tames his jazz harmonies for this modern and attractive score.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Les Préludes, Hungarian Rhapsody 2, Piano Concerto 1, Tasso - Hooshik Hwang (piano) Russian Federal O/Vakhtang Jordania rec. 2000/03 ANGELOK1 CD-7752 [61:08] [SV] Unfortunately, in a competitive catalogue, none of these performances is quite up to snuff. 

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906-1994) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Eldar Nebolsin (piano) O Sinf do Porto/Matthias Bamert rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572817 Suite Rústica 1, Poema de Dezembro, Sinfonia - Royal Scottish Natl O/Álvaro Cassuto rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572892 [66:30] [Byz] A significant composer who should be much better known.

Albert LORTZING (1801-1851) Der Waffenschmied Kurt Böhme (bass) Lotte Schädle (soprano) Hermann Prey (baritone) Bavarian State Opera Ch & O/Fritz Lehan rec. 1964 EMI CLASSICS 9123102 [45.20 + 61.07] [PCG] Be grateful for this recording which, with the exception of a libretto and translation, presents the score in an approachable manner.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Anja Harteros (soprano) Bernarda Fink (mezzo) Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 685 [96:00] [MC] I couldn’t currently name a finer orchestra. Bravo!

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 3 Anny Felbermayer (soprano) Sonja Dreksler (alto) Austrian Radio Ch, Vienna SO/F. Charles Adlerrec. 1953-56 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1265 [75:43 + 64:51] [JW] Preserves a reading of breadth, latitude and sure architectural peaks and troughs. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphonies 2, 4, 7, 9, Das Lied von der Erde, Rückert-Lieder, Des Knaben Wunderhorn - New Philharmonia, Philharmonia O & Ch/Otto Klemperer rec. 1961-1967 EMI CLASSICS 2483982 [6 CDs: 411:10] [DM] Powerful, provocative, peerless; these classics have never sounded so good.

Luigi MANCINELLI (1848-1921) Scene veneziane, Cleopatra Roma SO/Francesco La Vecchia rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573074 [57:37] [JS] Certainly worth exploring. 

Marin MARAIS (1656-1728) La Gamme en forme de petit Opéra, Sonate à la Marésienne, Sonnerie de Sainte Geneviève du Mont de Paris Antoine FORQUERAY (1671-1745) Suite 1 Trio Sonnerie LINN RECORDS CKD 434 [79:00] [JV] Superb playing.

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Le Conte de Cendrillon - Clémence Tilquin (soprano) David Hernandez Anfruns (tenor) Varduhi Khatchatryan (alto) Alexandra Hewson (soprano) O de la Haute école de musique de Genève/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2010 CLAVES CD 50-1202 [68:07] [HC] An excellent première recording of one of Martin's unjustly neglected scores. 

Vladimir MARTYNOV (b.1946) Lamentations of Jeremiah Sirin Choir/Andrey Kotov rec. 1997 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9403 [77:12] [SA] An uplifting and rewarding experience.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Rhapsodie Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Suite New York Piano Quartet rec. 2012 URLICHT UAV5596 [70:18] [WK] Committed performances of unusual piano quartets by two Austrian masters. The New York Piano Quartet is an ensemble to watch. 

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) La terre promise; Hérodiade, Le Cid,Thaïs, Le jongleur de Notre Dame (excerpts) French Oratorio Ch & O/Jean-Pierre lo Ré rec. 2012 EROL ER200040 [107.00] [PCG] Has some very fine and original things even if the inspiration is uneven. 

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Don Quichotte Orlin Anastasov (bass) Tsvela Sarambalieva (mezzo) Sofia Natl Op/Francesco Rosa rec. 2009 DYNAMIC 33733 [125.00] [PCG] The Director’s ‘updating’ might perhaps be acceptable if the performance were exceptional, but unfortunately that is not the case here. 

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Thérèse - Nora Gubisch (mezzo) Charles Castronovo (tenor) Étienne Dupuis (bass) François Lis (baritone) Ch & O Opéra National, Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon/Alain Altinoglu rec. 2012 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1011 [69:46 & book] [IL] Dedication, commitment and enthusiasm show this short opera to its best advantage. An enterprising issue. 

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b.1934) Piano Concerto, Worldes Blis - Kathryn Stott (piano) Royal PO/Peter Maxwell Davies rec. 1993-1997 NAXOS 8.572357 [78:25] [Byz] Tremendously impassioned accounts of these extraordinarily demanding works. 

Simon MAYR (1763 - 1845) Il sagrifizio di Jefte Hrachuhi Bassénz (soprano) Stefanie Irányi (mezzo) Simon Mayr Ch & Ens/Franz Hauk (harpsichord) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572719-20 [57:34 + 53:36] [GF] Worth the attention of all inquisitive music-lovers and should attract lovers of excellent singing. 

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Paulus, Christus, Elijah - Soloists, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Klassische Philharmonie Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 1987-2007 CARUS 83.021 [4 CDs: 273:03] [DC] A set you can possess with pride and enjoy at length.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quintets 1 & 2 - Leipziger Streichquartett, Barbara Buntrock (viola) MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 307 1806-2 [56:53] [MC] Not my first choice but this well recorded music is imaginatively and vigorously played.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) The Complete Piano Music Vol. 1 - Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67935 [74:08] [Byz] A perfect place to start a Mendelssohn collection - even for those who already have a recording of these works. 

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908) Zigeunerweisen Gerhard Taschner (violin) Michael Raucheisen (piano) Bamberg SO/Fritz Lehmann, Berlin PO/Artur Rother rec. August 1943-53 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 642 1797-2 [67:30] [JW] Though he became the leading German violinist after the deaths of Kulenkampff and Busch his career didn’t last long. 

Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) I Due Figaro Asude Karayavuz, Rosa Feola, Philharmonia Chor Wien/Orch Luigi Cherubini/Riccardo Muti rec. 2011 DUCALE DUC 045-47 [3 CDs: 166:18] [ST] Well worth exploring. 

Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Piano Sonatas 2-4 - Lydia Jardon (piano) rec. 2009 AR RE-SE 2009-2 [47:16] [SA] There is clearly a lot more to Miaskovsky than many people think. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni Benjamin Luxon, Stafford Dean, Horiana Branisteanu, Rachel Yakar, LPO/Bernard Haitink rec. ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 312 [1977] [RJF] Brings back memories but competition is such that limitations leave it as an outsider.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Sinfonia Concertante; Concertone - Camerata de Lausanne/Pierre Amoyal (violin) rec. 2012 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 652158 [56:18] [SG] Captivating performances of two of Mozart’s most inventive scores.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Requiem, new realisations & audio documentary - Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) Christine Rice (mezzo); James Gilchrist (tenor); Christopher Purves (bass-baritone) Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Academy of Ancient Music/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2011 KING’S COLLEGE KSG0002 [62:37 + 66:31] [JQ] A fine performance of the Süssmayr edition of Mozart’s Requiem with some interesting bonus items. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Horn Concertos - Herman Jeurissen (horn) Netherlands Chamber O/Roy Goodman rec. 1996 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94644 [79:22] [RB] Perfectly in style: a genial and generous blend of enchantment, panache and poetry. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies, Overtures, Serenades - Philharmonia O, New PO/Otto Klemperer rec. 1956-71 EMI CLASSICS 4043612 [8 CDs: 9:55:41] [CH] Klemperer’s finest Mozart performances are a match for any, and actually stand up better today than some that were more fêted in their own time. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 20, 23, 24 & 27 - Walter Klien (piano) NHK SO/Horst Stein, Hiroshi Wakasugi rec. 1977/89 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC 2047/8 [63:11 + 58:20] [SG] With one reservation these are inspired readings by a pianist whose Mozart stands there with the best.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Serenades 10 & 12 - Harmonie O Champs-Èlysées/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 1995 HARMONIA MUNDI HMG501570 [70:26] [RMo] Sensitive, civilised music-making of the highest order. 

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition (transcribed for organ by Calvin Hampton) Calvin Hampton (organ) rec. 1982 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD281 [33:00] [DM] Technically superb but musically much less interesting.

Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849) Mass in D major & other sacred choral music Consono Chamber Ch, Essen Folkwang CO/Harald Jers rec. 2012 CARUS 83.341 [58:24] [MC] Lovers of sacred choral music looking for unusual repertoire of excellent quality should be in their element.

Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840) Violin Concerto 1 - Maria Solozobova (violin) Cape PO/Nicholas Cleobury rec. 2012 ANTES EDITION BM319287 [51:12] [JWh] A fine soloist but an uncompetitive release. 

Benedetto PALLAVICINO (1551-1601) Madrigali su testi del Guarini Felice che vi mira [2:03] Dario Tabbia, Ugo Nastrucci (lute) Daltrocanto rec. 2005 PAN CLASSICS PC 10280 [56:20] [JV] Even without fully understanding the text one can enjoy these madrigals.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b.1933) Piano Concerto, Flute Concerto - Barry Douglas (piano) Lukasz Dlugosz (flute) Warsaw Philharmonic/Antoni Wit rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572696 [BR] The piano concerto is good if you’re up for a bit of Sturm und Drang, and this performance will be hard to beat. 

François André Danican PHILIDOR (1726 - 1795) L'Art de la Modulation Quartets I-VI - Camerata Köln rec. 2007 CPO 777 439-2 [56:56] [JV] Almost an hour of pure delight.  

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Sonata for Violin Solo, Violin Sonata 1 Leos JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) From the Homeland - Josef špaček (violin) and Miroslav Sekera (piano) rec. 2012 SUPRAPHON SU 4129-2 [67:18] [SA] I found this enjoyable from start to finish.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Manon Lescaut - Montserrat Caballé (soprano) Plácido Domingo (tenor) Robert Tear (tenor) Ambrosian Opera Ch, New PO/Bruno Bartoletti rec. 1971 EMI CLASSICS 7359822 [57:28 + 58:38] [GF] Bartoletti at white heat and Caballé and Domingo in superb shape - a set worth anyone’s money. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonic Dances Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010 EUROARTS 2058908 [120:00] [LW] Worthy performances of Rachmaninov and Mahler in excellent sound and video. 

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882) Te Deum, De Profundis, Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Vier Marianischen Antiphonen - Karlstad Chamber Ch & Stockholm Singers/Anders Hörngren, Gothenburg Opera O/Henrik Schaefer, Bo Aurehl rec. 2011/12 STERLING CDS1098-2 [79:59] [Byz] Raff's music is undeniably exquisite. 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Trio Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Cello Sonata, Violin Sonata Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Trio - Hagai Shaham (vioin); Raphael Wallfisch (cello); Amon Erez (piano) rec. 2013 NIMBUS NI5905 [72:38] [TB] Consummate skill and splendidly balanced textures.

Max REGER (1873-1916) The Reger Collection: concertos, suites, variations, sacred songs, chamber music - rec. 1963/97 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94663 [11 CDs: c.10:00:00] [JFL] An ultimately very charming Reger survey.

Jean RICHAFORT (c.1480-after 1547) Missa pro defunctis ‘Requiem’ - King’s Singers rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 326 [58:22] [DC] A very fine release, but it’s cook-off time. 

Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Symphonie "Nähe Fern" - Hans Christoph Begemann (baritone) Luzerner SO/James Gaffigan rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902153 [47:35] [MS] Pleasing orchestral music from the under-appreciated Wolfgang Rihm played with panache and insight. 

Andrew RINDFLEISCH (b. 1963) In the Zone; Four Fanfares; Four Vintage Songs; Abide With Me Meridian Arts Ensemble INNOVA 850 [36:52] [DC] Top class brass.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia David Kuebler (tenor) Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo) Gino Quilico (baritone) Ch of Cologne City Op/Stuttgart Radio SO/Gabrielle Ferro rec. 1988 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102305 [158:00] [RJF] A traditional production graced by a young and sparkling Cecilia Bartoli and by scintillating music getting its due from the rostrum. 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Complete Overtures Vol. 2 - Prague SO/Christian Benda rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.570934 [58:21] [RW] This disc is welcomed without hesitation. 

Mathilde de ROTHSCHILD (1832-1924) Songs - Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano) Adrian Farmer (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI 5903/4 [70.16 + 70.41]  [PCG] Atmospheric yes but the spark of individuality?

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Music for violin and piano - Vol 1: Violin Sonata 1, Triptyque - Fanny Clamagirand (violin) Vanya Cohen (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572750 [67:33] [BR] The first traversal of Saint-Saëns’ violin music in a long time, and well worth the wait. 

Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825) Les Danaïdes - Margaret Marshall (soprano) Dimitri Kavrakos (bass) Raúl Giménez (tenor) Südfunk Ch, Stuttgart RSO/Gianluigi Gelmetti rec. 1990 EMI CLASSICS 9123202 [49.07 + 60.43] [PCG] Dramatic engagement in this excellent performance but where is text and translation? 

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660 - 1725) Profano e Sacro Dominique Corbiau (alto) La Cetra d'Orfeo/Michel Keustermans AVANTICLASSIC 10442 [67:15] [JV] There is much to enjoy here, but some of the liberties taken by the interpreters are questionable.

Johann Herman SCHEIN (1586-1630) Opella Nova - Fontana D’Israel Ensemble Sagittarius/Michel Laplénie rec. 2009 HORTUS 075 [66.05] [DC] Nicely conceived and well worth having.

Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951) Pelléas and Mélisande Alban BERG (1885-1935) Three Pieces for Orchestra - Dortmund PO/Jac van Steen rec. 2009-2013 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 901 1807-6 [61:18] [GPJ] Superb performances from van Steen and the Dortmunders in these two searing early twentieth century masterpieces. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise Kurt Moll (bass) Cord Garben (piano) rec. 1982 ORFEO C042 831 A [81:59] [RMo] No devotee of this song-cycle will want to be without this magnificent version. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828) Winterreise - Alice Coote (mezzo) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2012 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0057 [78:47] [GF] Coote will be added in this repertoire to Fassbaender and Stutzmann in my affection. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies 8 & 9 - Slovak PO, Failoni O/Michael Halasz rec. 1988/94 NAXOS 8.572939 [76:28] [JWh] A really good value coupling.

Six to Seven Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) String Sextet Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Metamorphosen Hyperion Ens rec. 1997 PALADINO MUSIC PMR 0010 [49:21] [SA] Two very different reactions to the experience of war ... both equally effective and affecting. 

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Concertino, Flute Sonata Leo SMIT (1900-1943) Flute & harp quintet, Flute Sonata - Virginie Reibel-Escoffier (flute) rec. 2011 SAPHIR LVC 1128 [75:14] [JW] With sympathetic and sensitive performances, and a well-judged church acoustic, this disc presents both composers’ works in highly recommendable fashion. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Concerto - Mindru Katz (piano) Israel Broadcast Authority O/Mendi Rodan, Sergiu Comissiona rec. 1962/63 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD171 [61:19] [JW] A musician too easily overlooked during his lifetime.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartets 9-12 Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) String Quartet 6 - Pacifica Quartet rec. 2011-2012 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 138 [70:20 + 58:25] [MC] The excellence of this series makes this the finest collection available of the complete Shostakovich string quartets. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 10 - Royal Concertgebouw O, Amsterdam/Mariss Jansons rec. 2009 RCO LIVE RCO13001 [53:17] [JQ] A very fine performance of one of Shostakovich’s greatest symphonic achievements.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony 2, The Oceanides, Pohjola’s Daughter Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2007-12 HALLÉ CDHLL7516 [70:59] [MC] Playing with dramatic bite the Hallé is certainly on its finest form here.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 2, 4 & 5; Tapiola; Finlandia Philharmonia O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1952-1960 MAJOR CLASSICS M2CD009 [66:07 + 77:51] [TB] A most appealing prospect at super-bargain price.

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) Music for Wind Band - Vol. 12 - The Royal Swedish Navy Band/Keith Brion rec. 2010 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559691 [56:06] [RB] Brion and his Swedish band have the Sousa manner off to a tee.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1945) Also sprach Zarathustra Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Wonderful Mandarin suite - RSO Stuttgart des SWR/Rudolf Kempe rec. 1961 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 94.220 [50.27] [IL] A quite frightening Mandarin and a Zarathustra to treasure.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du printemps, Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Apollon musagète Berliner Phil/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2007-2012 EMI CLASSICS 7236112 [75:36] [DC] Terrific stuff, but best on record? 

Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911) Orchestral Works - Vol. 3: Violin Concerto, Symphony 1 - Marianne Thorsen (violin) Bergen PO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10766 [74:10] [JW] The sonics of these Bergen performances are about as good as Svendsen has yet received and the performances are fine.

Dobrinka TABAKOVA (b. 1980) String Paths: Insight, Cello concerto, Suite in Old Style, Such different paths - Kristina Blaumane (cello) Janine Jansen (violin) Lithuanian CO/Maxim Rysanov (viola, conductor) rec. 2011/12 ECM NEW SERIES 2239 [72:22] [RB] Revel in it ... you cannot help but be emotionally moved. 

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker, Swan Lake Suisse Romande O/Ernest Ansermet rec. 1958 MAJOR CLASSICS M2CD001 [42:35 + 41:14] & M2CD002 [42:41 + 40:36] [RMay] Ansermet’s reputation still carries weight. These two reissues can be warmly welcomed. 

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Eugene Onegin Kristine Opolais, Artur Ruciński, Dmitry Korchak, Orquestra de la Comunitat Valencia/Omer Meir Wellber rec. 2011 C MAJOR 712504 [150.00] [DBi] A beautifully sung performance but a challengingly re-imagined staging.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Seasons, Romeo and Juliet, Symphony 6 Adagio - Emile Naoumoff (piano) rec. 2011 SAPHIR PRODUCTIONS LVC1174 [78:45] [OL] Balanced and loving reading of The Seasons; the transcriptions are a little stiff.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 5 - Evan Few (violin) The Wallfisch Band/Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin) rec. 2010 CPO 777 550-2 [58:24] [JV] The expressive aspects of these concertos mostly come off rather well. 

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony 8 Maurice RAVEL (1883-1937) Piano Concerto Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931) Symphony on a French Mountain Air - Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer (piano) Boston SO/Charles Munch rec.1958 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 368 [76:25] [WK] Major performances by Munch and the Boston Symphony from 1958 - recording quality such as could only be dreamed of back then.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Forza del Destino - Dimitra Theodossiou, Vladimir Stoyanov, Mariana Pentcheva O & Ch Teatro Regio di Parma/Gianluigi Gelmetti rec. 2011 C MAJOR 724504 [178.00 + 11.00] [DBi] A decent enough performance in good sound and video but there are better Blu-ray discs of La Forza if reviews elsewhere are to be believed. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Traviata - Svetla Vassileva, Massimo Giordano, Vladimir StoCh & O of the Teatro Regio di Parma/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2007 C MAJOR 723608 [DBi] An excellent performance of Verdi's most popular opera with fine singers and a staging that Verdi would have approved. But buy the Blu-Ray if you can. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Otello (Historic highlights) rec. 1914-1961 MAGDALEN METCD 8019 [77.17] [RJF] The wonders of technology, allied to imaginatively mixed casting, give a wonderful insight into Verdi’s penultimate opera alongside an enjoyable experience. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff Ruggero Raimondi, Barbara Frittoli, Manuel Lanza, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Zubin Mehta rec. 2006 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 309 [128:00] [RF] Raimondi’s acted portrayal is worthy to sit alongside more traditional stagings on your shelves.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un ballo in Maschera - Franceso Meli (tenor) Vladimir Stoyanov (baritone) O & Ch of the Teatro Regio, Parma/Gianluigi Gelmetti rec. 2011 C MAJOR 724208 [138:00 + 11:00] [RJF] A traditional production and set provide a welcome visual treat without gimmicks. Regrettably, the music side fall short.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Il Trovatore - Marcelo Álvarez (tenor) Teresa Romano (soprano) O & Ch Teatro Regio, Parma/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2010 C MAJOR 723504 [140:00 +10:00: bonus] [RJF] Provincial at best. Verdi and Álvarez deserved better than this.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rarities - Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) O Teatro alla Scala/Claudio Abbado rec. 1978/80 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 646538 [42:47] [MC] It is good to hear Pavarotti singing rare Verdi repertoire to which he seems so well suited. 

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Preludes, Guitar concerto, Melodia Sentimental - Krzysztof Meisinger (guitar) ASMF/José Maria Florencio rec. 2011 FUGA LIBERA FUG599 [50:39] [BR] Very good; eccentric but in an interesting way, luckily for us.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Organ concertos - Margherita Gianola, Silvio Celeghin (organs) Accademia di San Rocco/Francesco Fanna rec. 2012 STRADIVARIUS STR 33951 [57:48] [DC] Attractive, and mostly rewarding.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerti per fagotto III - Sergio Azzolini (bassoon) L'Aura Soave Cremona/Diego Cantalupi rec. 2012 NAÏVE OP30539 [70:25] [JV] Another impressive addition to Naïve’s growing Vivaldi Edition. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Das Rheingold Tomasz Konieczny, Antonio Yang, Kor-Jan Dusseljee, Christian Elsner, Iris Vermillion, Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE PTC5186406 [70:33 + 69:54] [ST] A most impressive sense of drama and excitement.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Bernd Weikl, Ben Heppner, Cheryl Studer, Bavarian State Op Ch & O/Wolfgang Sawallisch rec. 1993 EMI CLASSICS 7390182 [4 CDs: 256:41] [PCG] The most consistently well-cast studio recording of Meistersinger in the catalogue. Superlative but once again no text or translation. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Prelude, Siegfried-Idyll, Götterdämmerung: Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey, Siegfried's Funeral March, Immolation Scene - Petra Lang (soprano) Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2012 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 32713 [64.21] [JPr] This is an outstanding Wagner CD on three incomparable counts: Iván Fischer, Budapest Festival and Petra Lang. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin Wolfgang Windgassen (tenor) Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Astrid Varney (soprano) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Bayreuth Festival Ch & O/Eugen Jochum rec. 1954 OPERA D’ORO OPD 7086 [4 CDs: 206.12] [PCG] A cast which it would be difficult to find equalled on any other release.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin Jess Thomas (tenor) Claire Watson (soprano) Christa Ludwig (mezzo) Ch & O der Wiener Staatsoper/Karl Böhm rec. 1965 ORFEO C862133D [3 CDs: 194:43] [ST] A remarkable record of a live performance, capturing a collection of Wagner greats and a few surprises. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde Wolfgang Windgassen, Birgit Nilsson, Kerstin Meyer, Josef Greindl, Bayreuth Fest Ch & O/Karl Böhm rec. 1962 MYTO HISTORICAL 00328 [3 CDs: 229.43] [PCG] There is certainly no lack of dramatic punch here. 

Adrian WILLAERT (c.1490 - 1562) Musica Nova - The Motets - Singer Pur rec. 2011 OEHMS OC 835 [3 CDs: 7225:35] [JW] A worthy tribute to one of the greatest composers of the 16th century. 

Mikołaj ZIELEŃSKI ( fl. 1611) Opera Omnia - Vols 1-3 Collegium Zieleński/Capella Cracoviensis/Stanisław Galoński rec. 2007-11 DUX 0740/0786/0861 [3CDs: 183:16]  [Byz] No one whose only previous experience of this era is Thomas Tallis is likely to be disappointed with Zieleński's epic late-Renaissance-cum-proto-Baroque music. 

Amoroso Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartet 1 Alban BERG (1885-1935) Lyric Suite Anton WEBERN (1883-1945) Langsamer Satz Cecilia String Qt rec. 2012 ANALEKTA AN29984 [54:09] [SA] Played most beautifully by this young all female Canadian ensemble.

Around Prague Works by Burian, Ponc & Ullmann - Barbara Kozelj (mezzo soprano) Ebony Band/Werner Herbers rec. 2012/13 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS 34813 [78:26] [DC] Pioneering and superb. 

Australian Portrait Works for saxophone & piano - HD Duo rec. 2010 CALA CACD77013 [71:18] [JW] A discriminating and excellently performed saxophone selection.

Between The Bliss And Me Songs to poems of Emily Dickinson - Julia Faulkner (soprano) Martha Fischer, Lee Hoiby (piano) rec. 2007/12 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559731 [58.37] [PCG] Throws a valuable sidelight onto the approach of composers to the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Géori Boué (soprano) Arias by Gounod, Mozart & Puccini rec. 1942-1957 MALIBRAN CDRG194 [79:26] [JW] I hope that this disc stimulates others that more fully celebrate the musicianship of this admirable artist. 

Canciones Españolas Sylvia Schwartz (soprano) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67954 [67:58] [GF] Utterly satisfying. 

Piano Arrangements by Alfred Cortot - He Yue (piano) rec. 2012 GRAND PIANO GP641 [57:46] [BR] Surprise transcriptions from Alfred Cortot, played by a surprisingly poetical pianist.

Cuillin Sound Lynda Coffin (flute); Sarah Watts (bass clarinet); Laurence Perkins (bassoon) rec. 2011 CUILLIN SOUND CUILL1001 [77:42] [RB] A nicely calculated wind trio confectionery selection.

Deutsche Motette German Romantic choral music from Schubert to Strauss - Ch Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. Ch King’s College, London/Geoffrey Webber, David Trendell rec. 2012 DELPHIAN DCD34124 [61:30] [JQ] High Romantic German choral music in excellent and committed performances.

English Recorder Works by L Berkeley, Arnold, Rubbra, Jacob & Bowen - Jill Kemp (recorder) Aleksander Szram (piano) Brodowski Qt rec. 2012 MUSICMEDIA MMC103 [70.58] [GH] If you fancy getting to know some 20th century English music, this is a perfect place to start.

Early Romantic Overtures Works by Weber, Wagner & Berlioz - London Classical Players/Roger Norrington rec. 1988 VIRGIN CLASSICS 9282742 [58:36] [RW] Aimed at the newcomer more than the seasoned collector and meets its intention admirably. 

Fancy that! Alan Vivian (clarinet), Susanne Powell (piano) rec. 1988 REVOLVE AJM 1314 [64.50] [PCG] If the programme appeals, this is well worth a listen. 

French Horn in Prague Přemysl Vojta (horn) Tomoko Sawano (piano) rec. 2012/13 SUPRAPHON SU41252 [60:05] [RB] Rather a nice and surprising collection of approachable music by composers from Prague. 

Mirella Freni - The Opera Album Excerpts from Puccini, Verdi & Bizet operas - Various orchestras 1959-74 ACANTA 233707 [3 CDs: 142:59] [MC] I greatly enjoyed this fine collection.

Elisabeth Grümmer (soprano): Great Singers Live Hans Altmann (piano) Munich RSO/Kurt Eichhorn, Horst Stein rec. 1956/62 BR KLASSIK 900308 [61:41 [SG] A valuable addition to the Grümmer discography, and a must for those who wish to explore the art of this wonderful singer.

Hommage à Debussy Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images Books I & II, Estampes & works by Dukas, Casella, Grante & Piania - Carlo Grante (piano) rec. 2012 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1267 [67:02] [JW] Grante plays with richly engaged intelligence and variegated tonal response.

Wilhelm Kempff Piano Recital 1962 - Works by Schubert, Mozart & Beethoven rec. 1962 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.720 [65:54] [JW] Kempff is perhaps a touch too artful and romanticised in this repertoire but it’s valuable to have the chance to gauge his responses in this way. 

Landscapes Works by Copland, Torke & Ticheli - Kansas U Wind Ens/Paul W. Popiel rec.2012 NAXOS 8.573104 [60:44] [DM] Simply splendid; another fine college ensemble at its best. 

Lost Generation Works by Schulhoff, Ullmann & Tausky - Ulrike Anton (flute) Russell Ryan (piano) English CO/David Parry rec. 2012 GRAMOLA 98964 [64:34] [Byz] The latest volume in Gramola's fine 'exil.arte' series. 

Magnificat - If today were tomorrow and yesterday today Music by JS Bach - Zurich Ballet, O La Scintilla, Zurich Opera/Marc Minkowski rec. 2012 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC089 [73:00] [ST] Well worth a look, not just for dance enthusiasts but also for Bach fans who fancy something a little different.

Mengelberg in New York Works by Handel, Bach & Wagner - New York P-SO/Willem Mengelberg rec. 1928-30 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 378 [72:54] [RMay] Of interest primarily to Mengelberg devotees. 

In This Moonlit Night Modest Petrovich MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Songs and Dances of Death & songs by Tchaikovsky & S Taneyev - Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Ivari Ilja (piano) rec. 2011 ONDINE ODE 1216-2 [58:34] [GF] Fascinating and the singing and playing throughout is riveting. 

The Panufnik Legacies London SO/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2012 LSO DISCOVERY LSO5061 [56:23] [SA] An insight into where some of the future’s great music will be coming from.  

Va pensiero, sull’ali dorate - Verdi’s life told by Thomas Hampson - Thomas Hampson (baritone) O Age of the Enlightenment/Richard Armstrong rec. 2001 EUROARTS 2051048 [58:00] [RF] Verdi’s life, its triumphs and tragedies are told in a succinct and appealing way. 

Primakov Live in Concert Works by Medtner, Schumann, Ravel & Brahms - Vassily Primakov (piano) rec. 2004-2011 LP CLASSICS 1004 [70:15] [OL] From misty-eyed Medtner, through bipolar Schumann and jovial Brahms to the wild abandon of Ravel - a spectacular and thrilling journey.

The Complete Psalms of David Volume 3 - Liverpool Cathedral Ch/David Poulter, Ian Tracey (organ) rec. 2012 PRIORY PRCD 1079 [79:02] Volume 4 - Peterborough Cathedral Ch/Andrew Reid, David Humphreys (organ) rec. 2012 PRIORY PRCD 1082 [75:41] [JQ] Two more excellent issues in Priory’s survey of The Complete Psalms of David.

Ossy Renardy (violin) The Complete Columbia Recordings rec. 1938/39 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 383 [73:53] [JW] A valuable and astutely selected Renardy slice of real interest to violin collectors.

Romantic Overtures Works by Marschner, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Nicolai, Weber & Beethoven - Tasmanian SO/Sebastian Lang-Lessing rec. 2004 ABC CLASSICS 476 7736 [63:27] [SV] Some fine things here but also some misfires.

Royal Lullabies - Soothing Music for a Royal Baby - MEMORY LANE GLM/Y-69 [73:52] [JE] A reminder of 2013 and the Royal birth.

Saxophone Impressions Works by Gershwin, Piazzola & Chopin - Pawel Gusnar (saxophone) Witold Lutoslawski CO Lomza/Jan Milosz Zarzycki rec. 2011 DUX 0885 [64:05] [BR] Entertaining arrangements for saxophone - not profound but enjoyable. 

Carl Schuricht Collection II Stuttgart RSO rec. 1951-66 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.292 [11:00:00] [JW] Continues the fine archival work Hänssler is carrying out on behalf of Schuricht.

Fabien Sevitzky (violin) Works by Bossi, Grieg, Bach, Dubensky, Tchaikovsky, Grainger, Bloch and Arensky - Philadelphia Chamber String Simfonietta/Fabien Sevitzky rec. 1927-40 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 375 [77:17] [JW] A most enjoyable release.

Janos Starker: French Album Works for cello by Faure, Debussy & Ravel - Leon Pommers (piano) rec. 1955 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD294 [30:28] [SG] A fitting tribute to a great cellist, and a valuable document restored for posterity. 

Classical Barbra Barbra Streisand (vocals) - Columbia SO/Claus Ogerman (piano) rec. 1973 SONY CLASSICAL 88691 922552 [40:14] [GF] A beautiful and expressive voice and a vocal range that was quite astonishing. 

Nobuyuki Tsujii at White Nights Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerto 1 Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 14 - Nobuyuki Tsujii (piano) Mariinsky Theatre O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2012 EUROARTS 2059354 [110:00] [LW] White Nights concert showcasing the talents of Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. 

Alain Vanzo - Airs français rec. 1954/62 MALIBRAN CDRG 201 [80:20] [RMo] Everything Vanzo sings is worth hearing for the intrinsic charm and beauty of his very Gallic lyric tenor. 

La Viola Works for viola by women composers of the 2oth century - Hillary Herndon (viola) Wei-Chun Bernadette Lo (piano) rec. 2010-12 MSR CLASSICS MS1416 [60:29 + 63:17] [JW] This excellently chosen selection will make an obvious appeal to the collector. 

Other reviews

Keith ROWE (b.1940) and Graham LAMBKIN Over C, Making A, Wet B - Keith Rowe (contact mic/objects/field recordings) Graham Lambkin (contact mic/objects/room) rec. 2013 ERSTWHILE RECORDS 067 [42:30] [MM] Effortless mastery of sound and narrative.

Adventures in the Scream Trade - Scenes from an operatic life by Charles Long Mountain Lake Press, 2012 [RJF] Can be gainfully read by opera-lovers and would-be singers alike. It is well written and contains much wisdom alongside anecdotes and stories. 

William Alwyn: A Research and Information Guide John C. Dressler Routledge Musical Bibliographies [JF] Required reading for all enthusiasts of William Alwyn.

Bailes, Tonadas and Cachuas 18th century songs and dances from Trujillo, Peru - Música Temprana/Adrián Rodríguez Van der Spoel rec. 2012 COBRA RECORDS 0036 [66:24] [JV] Not only lovers of Latin American early music, but also those who have an interest in folk music will enjoy this disc.

The Best of Beatles Baroque Les Boréades rec. 2000-06 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 3008 [44:53] [BR] Very literal Beatles transcriptions, best for appreciating the lively band or the genius of the original songs.

Black Dyke Gold - Volume II Black Dyke Band/ Nicholas J. Childs & Robert B. Childs rec. 2012 DOYEN DOYCD307 [61:45] [JW] A finely worked programme played and directed with superior skill and nuance.

British Bandsman 125th Anniversary Concert - James Morrison, Black Dyke Band/Nicholas J Childs rec. 2012 WOB 168 [128:00] [JW] Band aficionados will enjoy the concert and the audience loved it all.

Inside Conducting by Christopher Seaman University of Rochester Press [CF] An approachable read from cover to cover.

Les Witches Lord Gallaway's Delight - An Excellent Collection of Dances & Gaelic Laments rec. 2012 ALPHA 534 [77:51]  Nobody's Jig - Mr Playford's English Dancing Master rec. 2001 OUTHERE REW503 [72:01] [Byz] Performed on a variety of period instruments with elegance and decorum.

Experiencing Stravinsky A Listener’s Companion by Robin Maconie The Scarecrow Press [JF] A useful addition to the shelves of Stravinsky enthusiasts.

Makh tsu di Eygelekh Yiddish Songs - Helene Schneiderman (voice) Götz Payer (piano) rec. 2012 CARUS 83.380 [57:09] [JW] This hour-long programme covers a rich range from a variety of traditions.

Articles & notices

Being a collector in the digital era by David Barker

Performing Mahler in Rotterdam 1954 - A letter from a reader

Britten 100 on NMC - Retrospect and Horizon - a survey by Rob Barnett

Download News 2013/10 by Brian Wilson


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