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Collection: 20th Century Italian Piano Music Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Valse; Canone; Notturno; Minuetto; Studio; Intermezzo. Franco ALFANO (1875-1954) Four pieces: Mazurka; Romanzetta; Fable; and Causerie. Nostalgie. Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968)
Sogno; Canti di Ricordanza Nos.1 - 4 Poemetto Romantico: Appassionato; Intermezzo; Triste
Riccardo Sandiford (piano) BONGIOVANNI GB 5099-2 [69:06] [IL]

Sandiford's polished playing and considerable style and finesse brings out the delicate beauty of these pieces as well as plumbing their emotional depths. For the adventurous this is a very rewarding collection which I recommend most heartily.

THE ART OF THE PRIMA DONNA Dame Joan Sutherland (soprano), Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli Decca Legends 467 115-2  2 CDs, 52' 38"; 55' 54" [CH]

..... you will hear this incredibly beautiful voice flitting, floating and dancing around the notes with such freedom that you want to compare it, not with other voices, but with a violinist like Kreisler.

Collection: The Art of Singing - Golden Voices of the Century Stars of Opera on Film and TV WARNER MUSIC VISION/NVC ARTS 0630-15898-2 [116 mins] Chapters; and Subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. [IL]

A glance at the list of legendary singers, all caught on film, in this incredible, magical collection is impressive enough. ... I cannot recommend this absorbing compilation too highly

Collection: Christmas Concerto Cantilena Adrian Shepherd CHANDOS COLLECT CHAN 6630 [HS]

The disc's general title "Christmas Concerto" is derived from the famous pastorale last movement of Corelli's Concerto in G minor; otherwise there is no specifically Yuletide theme about these pieces. Nevertheless this disc will make a charming Christmas present - no doubt the title was chosen with eye to that market.

Combined CD and Book Review : The A to Z of Classical Music
A package comprising a 2 CD set of classical music excerpts drawn from the Naxos collection plus a 564 page CD-sized book, 'The A to Z of Classical Composers edited by Keith Anderson. NAXOS 8.555319-20 [CD playing time: 151:22] [IL] [RB]

An ideal stocking filler for those new to classical music. An inexpensive seasonal gift for the beginner who will learn much from book and CD. Both will deliver considerable satisfaction but this is not in the same star category as the Opera A to Z.

Combined CD and Book Review : A-Z OF OPERA
38 arias and interludes on 2 CDs 762pp book - all in presentation slip case NAXOS 8.555037-38 bargain price [157.41] [RB]

An inexpensive Christmas present for the opera-going beginner so long as everyone understands that this is not the final word. Now keep watching out for Thomas Harper. If you want a sample track go to Harper in Nessun Dorma (CD2 track 10) or to the Flower Song (CD2 track 12) or Handel Lascia ch'io (CD1 track 3).

THOMAS ADÈS: PIANO Niccolò CASTIGLIONI (b.1932) Come io passo l'estate.  Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Slåtter, Op. 72 - No. 14, the Goblins' Bridal Procession at Vossevangen; No. 15, The Skudal Bride; No. 10, Knut Lurasens halling. Alexey STANCHINSKY (b. 1926) Canon a 4 voci. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G. György KURTAG (b. 1926) Jatékok - Les Adieux in Janácek's Manner; The mad girl with the flaxen hair; Keringö; Hommage à Nancy Sinatra; Hommage à Csajkovszkij. Leos JANACEK (1854-1928) Intimate Sketches - No. 8, I await you!; Tears; Im memory of a just person; Preludium; Korál. Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Sonatina ad usum infantis (Sonatine No. 3)Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Souvenir d'une marche boche. Valse pour les enfants. Piano-Rag-Music. Conlon NANCARROW (1912-97) Three Canons for Ursula. Thomas Adès (piano). EMI CDC5 57051-2 [72'01] [DDD] [CC]

A thought-provoking selection, intelligently chosen, finely recorded (in Potton Hall) and played with the utmost advocacy.

Janet Baker in Recital HAYDN  Arianna a Naxos SCHUMANN  Frauenliebe und leben Schubert, Wolf, Strauss: Lieder Janet Baker (mezzo soprano) John Constable, Geoffrey Parsons, Paul Hamburger (piano) BBC Legends BBCL 4049-2 (80 minutes) [TB]

These recordings from 1968-70 find Dame Janet at the height of her considerable powers, with recorded sound that is faithful and atmospheric. It is a winning combination.....This is simply one of the finest recital discs on the market today

Beecham in Concert SCHUBERT Symphony no. 3 MENDELSSOHN Symphony no. 4 'Italian' TCHAIKOVSKY Nutcracker Suite Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Sir Thomas Beecham BBC Legends BBCL 4044-2 [TB]

These three pieces were all particular favourites with Beecham, and the beautifully judged phrasing, the natural feel of the orchestral balances, reveal the wizard at the height of his powers.

Disc 1 - Beethoven - Symphony No 7 & Britten - Four Sea Interludes
Disc 2 - Beethoven - Piano Concerto No 5 & Brahms Double Concerto
Disc 3 - Mozart - Great Mass in C minor & Exsultate, Jubilate
Disc 4 - Mahler - Symphony No 5
Disc 5 - Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue, Copland - Appalachian Spring, Barber - Adagio for strings & Roy Harris - Symphony No 3
Disc 6 - Mozart - Piano Concerto No 17

Boston Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic & New York Philharmonic Orchestras, LEONARD BERNSTEIN   DG 469 460-2 6 discs,[MB]

I think when one comes to assess the pantheon of great twentieth century conductors Bernstein will find himself very near the top. Like Furtwängler and Celibidache he was an individualist - and there can be no higher praise than that.

Dennis Brain in Concert BEETHOVEN Quintet for Piano and Winds, opus 16 (1) DUKAS Villanelle (2) MARAIS Le Basque (2) MOZART Horn Quintet, K407 (3) BRAHMS
Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano, opus 40 (4) Dennis Brain (horn) Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble (1); Wilfird Parry (piano) (2); English String Quartet (3); Max Salpeter (violin), Cyril Preedy (piano) (4) BBC Legends BBCL 4048-2 (72 minutes) [TB]

The BBC Legends series has certainly captured a legend on the top of his form in these splendid performances.

British Music for Piano Duet - Warlock, Bowen, Walton, Musgrave, Berkeley and Philip Lane  Peter Lawson and Allan MacLean - piano duo Campion RRCD1353

Here is nice crisp playing - a fine rapport and spot-on timing between the two pianists - of a selection of nineteen-twenty-ish favourites.

BRITISH SONGS FOR BARITONE, STRING QUARTET AND PIANO WALFORD DAVIES Prospice BUTTERWORTH Love Blows as the Wind Blows ARTHUR SOMERVELL A Broken Arc GEOFFREY BUSH Farewell Earth's Bliss RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Five Mystical Songs Martin Oxenham (baritone) Bingham String Quartet Katharine Durran (piano) David Ayre (double bass) rec 4-5 Aug 1992, Haberdasher's Aske's School, Elstree MERIDIAN DUOCD 89026 [75.12] [RB]

A disc for collectors of British song. It fills gaps and also makes you aware of others (think of Walford Davies and Somervell). I am confident that familiarity wth the Walford Davies will set you exploring his many other cycles and sets.

Collection Maria Callas sings popular music from TV Film and Opera EMI CDC5 57050 2 [74:28] [IL] [CH]

The album includes Callas in duets with other great voices of the century including the tenor Nicolai Gedda and baritone Tito Gobbi. Any further comment or rating from me is as unnecessary as it is superfluous.
but CH says "
Purely on principle I feel this shouldn't be bought" - see why.

CELLO WORKS Zoltan KODALY Sonata for Solo Cello (1915) George CRUMB Sonata for Solo Cello (1955) Jonathan HARVEY Curve with Plateaux (1982) Magnus LINDBERG Stroke (1984) Panu Luosto (cello) rec Helsinki, 1997 ALBA ABCD 135 [54.37] [RB]

If you are in the market for a single CD of solo cello music this could be it. Brilliant playing at every level from ascendant star Luosto.

A CELLO CENTURY OF BRITISH WOMEN COMPOSERS Music for cello and piano by British women composers Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979), May MUKLE (1880-1963), Sheila Mary POWER (1903-1971`), Margaret HUBICKI (b.1915), Marie DARE (1902-1976), Amy Elsie HORROCKS (1867-1920), Imogen HOLST (1907-1984), Dora Estella BRIGHT (1863-1951), R Caroline BOSANQUET (b.1940), Janetta GOULD (b.1926). Catherine Wilmers (cello) Simon Marlow (piano) ASV QUICKSILVA CD QS6245 [68.10] [RB]

This disc deserves to sell well in the bargain range. A nicely balanced recital around a theme that should also attract its own attention.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS FROM YORK MINSTER The Choir of York Minster/Francis Jackson. Chandos Collect CHAN6632 [71'03] [ADD]

Despite small reservations this is a wonderful CD that will give you that warm, Christmassy feeling inside.

CHRISTMAS MUSIC Carl BÖDDECKER (1607-1683) Natus est Jesusa. Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Non sò qual più m'ingombraa. O di Betlemme, altera povera venturosaa. Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706) Canon and Gigue. Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV61 - Öffne dich mein ganzes Herza. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, BWV1068 - Air. Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV147a - Bereite dir, Jesu, noch itzo die Bahna. Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6 No. 8, 'Fatto per la notte di natale'. aEmma Kirkby (soprano); London Baroque/Charles Medlam (cello). BIS CD-1135 [66'49] [DDD] [CC]

BIS have come up with that seasonal rarity: the intelligent, considered and beautifully presented Christmas album. Many, many delights await you.

THE ESSENTIAL HYPERION - 2 Various artists Hyperion HYP 20 (2 CDs) [156.48] [SF]

As a testimony to the qualities of Hyperion, this inexpensive 2 CD set can hardly be faulted.

A FRENCH COLLECTION. BIZET Ouvre son coeur. CHABRIER L'île heureuse. Chanson pour Jeanne. CHAUSSON Le Colibri. DEBUSSY Rêverie. Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune. Danse (Tarantelle styrienne). Préludes, Book 1 - La fille aux cheveux de lin. DELIBES Regrets!. Départ. DUPONT Mandoline. FAURE Impromptu No. 2 in F minor, Op. 31. FRANCK Nocturne. GOUNOD Où voulez-vous aller?. Viens, les gazons sont verts. PALADILHE Psyché. SAINT-SAENS La Cloche. SATIE Trois Gymnopédies.Martyn Hill (tenor); Graham Johnson, Albert Ferber (pianos).Meridian CDE84417 [ADD] [73'28] [CC]

Francophiles rejoice - Christmas has come early!. This is a gem of a CD.

Great Composers: BACH, MOZART, BEETHOVEN, WAGNER, TCHAIKOVSKY, MAHLER, PUCCINI The complete 7-programme BBC TV series on 2 video cassettes (each programme lasts approximately 1 hour)BBC/NVC Arts/Warner Music Vision 3984-20511-3 [IL]

These are truly outstanding programmes. They offer not just outline biographies but interesting comment and insight on the composers' lives and achievements, and their importance in the development of the art of music, from an impressive team of experts: biographers and musicologists, and conductors and artists that are associated with their music.

GREAT OPERATIC ARIAS: JOHN TOMLINSON John Tomlinson (bass); Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry with aHelen Williams (soprano); bBarry Banks (tenor); cAndrew Shore (bass-baritone); dGeoffrey Mitchell Choir.Chandos CHAN3044 [DDD] [77'42] [CC]

It's discs like this one that make one take stock and realise how lucky we are to boast a singer of the calibre of John Tomlinson.

Jascha Heifetz (1901-87) Miniatures for Violin and Piano. Elena Denisova (violin); Alexei Kornienko (piano). Arte Nova 74321 72124-2 (super-budget price, 1 hour 3 minutes). [CC]

...In fact, it is the rare mix of virtuosity and lyrical projection which distinguishes Denisova's playing. As an introduction to Heifetz's by turns nostalgic and virtuosic world, this disc will stand you in good stead.

IN PRAISE OF WOMAN -  150 YEARS OF ENGLISH WOMEN COMPOSERS 27 songs by 15 English women composer Anthony Rolfe Johnson/Graham Johnson Hyperion CDA66709 [78.55] [RB]

A rewarding musical experience from a generously packed and documented disc.

Kraus  Stabat Mater; Kerger Ausklange;  Hemmer  Scénes;  Mullenbach  Karm;  Fenigstein
Was ist ... (Goethe)?  Marinova/Kraus and Uriarte/Mrongovius piano duos  Editions LGNM Anthologie de Musique Luxembourgoise Vol.9 [PW]

Attention is grabbed immediately by the unique first work on this interesting anthology. ... It is a significant addition to a limited repertoire of serious music for eight-hands at two pianos

Kronos Quartet - In Accord  Piazzolla - Four, for Tango * Riley, Cadenza on the Night Plain * Ueda - Hamza el Din: Escalay * Zorn - Cat O' Nine Tails * Adams - John's Book of Alleged Dances * Hildegard von Bingen - O Virtus Sapientie * Partch - Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales * Perotin - Viderunt Omnes * Schnittke - Collected Songs Where Every Verse is Filled With Grief * Ortiz - Altar de Muertos * Hendrix - Purple Haze  DVD written and directed by Manfred Waffender  16:9 anamorphically enhanced for widescreen television * PCM stereo  Arthaus Musik 100 050 * [56 minutes] [GD]

Essentially this is a classical music rock video, short pieces by various composers performed in a studio setting, alternating with different members of the band sat in a theatre seat talking straight to camera about the music.

Igor Markevitch in Concert Peter TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)  Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32. Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1893)  Songsa ­ Lullaby; The magpie; Night; Where are thou, little star?; The ragamuffin; On the Dnieper. Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Le sacre du printemps.
aGalina Vishnevskaya (soprano); London Symphony Orchestra/Igor Markevitch. BBC/IMG Artists BBCL 4043-2 [ 74'44] [ADD]. [CC]

This is a remarkable disc. A must-hear Rite with such imaginative and effective couplings is a bargain at any price. The recording is remarkably detailed.

MENUHIN LEGEND EMI CMS 5 67326 2 [2 CDs 76' 43"; 73' 50"] [CH]

EMI are the guardians of a great historical legacy. This involves a heavy responsibility (such as Decca are showing with their Legends series) if they are not to be accused of sheer commercial exploitation. This and the Callas set I've recently reviewed suggest that the enterprise is in unmusical hands.

BELLA DE VOS SOM AMORÓS Music at the courts of the Catholic Monarchs and Charles 1 of Spain Capella Virelai Directed by Jordi Reguant la mà de guido LMG 2035 [61.46] [SF]

This is a highly entertaining CD of popular music from Spain at the turn of the 15th century into the 16th.

NEW HORIZONS: Contemporary British and American Music. The Wordsworth Singers
conducted by Michael Hancock Charles Harrison. WS 001£10 plus p&p from Frances Faux, Gate Farm, Mungrisdale, Penrith CA11 0XR. [PS]This review will also appear in the British Music Society News

Established in 1997, the Singers sound impressive, accomplished, musicianly and nicely balanced with commendably clear diction.

rec 1955-1998 RCA VICTOR 75605 51366 2 2 CD set [76.33+73.23] [RB]

Long playing time. Perl and Kazakevich excellent. The only piano album you will ever need? I think not. Still this makes an inexpensive intro. Hey now don't be so superior. One of these days you might be stuck in a guesthouse with only this to listen to.

THE ART OF EUGENE ORMANDY (1899-1985) Mono recordings 1923-1948 CD1 [73.47]
Ormandy the violinist, Ormandy and his salon orchestra, Ormandy and the Dorsey Brothers orchestra, Ormandy and the Minneapolis SO, Ormandy and the Philadelphia, Ormandy and the Philadelphia, Ormandy and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra BIDDULPH RECORDINGS WHL064/5 [151.29]

De rigueur: for violin fanciers, Ormandy enthusiasts, Philadelphians and Mahlerians. A real cross-section of repertoire!

Lisa REIM; Luca VANNESCHI; Pierre COUPRIE; Tony LEUNG; Lars GRAUGAARD; Jean-Luc DARBELLAY; Andreas PFLÜGER; Serban NICHIFOR. Pieces for ensemble (first performances) Luxembourg Sinfonietta/Wengler Editions LGNM 401[54 mins] [PW]

The Luxembourg Society for Contemporary Music appealed world-wide on its website for compositions for an unusual ensemble and these were the result.

Fritz Reiner conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. RICHARD STRAUSS Till Eulenspiegel ; Death and transfiguration  BRAHMS Hungarian Dances nos 1,5,6,7,19 and 21. DVORAK Slavonic Dances op 46 nos. 1, 3 and 8. op 72 nos. 1 and 2 DECCA LEGENDS 467 122 -2 (ADD) [78. 57] [DW]

There is no doubt in my mind that Fritz Reiner was the greatest conductor of the 20th century.

Venezia Florian Uhlig (piano)   Black Box BBM1054 [74 mins] [PW]

This one could make a nice Christmas present for piano music collectors who have got (nearly) everything.

VERLAINE ou la musique des mots Chagas Circonspection  de Jaer Logique  Evrard Verlaine Mix  El Gammal Initium  Gérard Cavitri  List Rossignol  Rzewski Sagesse  Schell Sérénade.   Ensemble Kadéleis/Luc Gérard (piano) Cypres CYP4606 [73 min] [PW]

An unusual CD which is, and will remain, unique.

VIVA ESPAÑA - anthology (rec 1959-1992) DG PANORAMA 469 253-2 [CD1 76.53+CD2 77.44] [RB]

Not the most obvious selection of Iberiana. I can imagine some being put off by a seeming 'grab-bag' of Latino oddments. In fact the mix is not bad at all and is pretty generous. Hardly a first choice.

VIVA SAX! Australian Music for Saxophone GERARD BROPHY We Bop! MARGARET SUTHERLAND Saxophone Sonata DULCIE HOLLAND Saxophone Sonata RAE MARCELLINO Whispers of Fauvel ROGER FRAMPTON Double Dreaming PAUL SARCICH Matters Arising Margery Smith (saxophones) Daniel Herscovich (piano) Roger Frampton (piano) rec 1996-98, Sydney TALL POPPIES TP132 [70.56] [RB]

Fresh and enterprising saxophone collection with enough variety of approach to satisfy most listeners. One of the very few saxophone and piano anthologies.

[Part 1]  [Part 2]
[Part 3] [Part 4]  [Part 5]    

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Arthur Baker, Terry Barfoot,  Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Gerald Fenech,  Christopher Fifield, Lewis Foreman, Simon Foster, Christopher Howell, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Richard Whitehouse, Reg Williamson, Peter Grahame Woolf, David Wright. A complete list of contributors can be seen here


Any opinions expressed in reviews or articles on this site are those of the author and  do not necessarily represent the views of the site owner, Len Mullenger or the Editors.  Reviewers and authors retain copyright in their work unless it has been paid for or commissioned by the site owner.

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