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Malcolm ARNOLD (b. 1921) Symphony No. 7 (1973) Symphony No. 8 (1978) National SO of Ireland/Andrew Penny rec 21-22 Feb 2000, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland (in presence of composer) NAXOS 8.552001 [63.55] [PSe] [RB]

Approach this "approachable" music with caution - Arnold's Seventh Symphony merits an "18" certificate with additional warnings for the faint-hearted! Rounding off their highly recommendable complete set of the Arnold symphonies, Andrew Penny and the NSO of Ireland may well have saved the best until last. Electrifying music given highly charged performances - buy it, and be damned! [PS]

Penny and the Irish orchestra in lucid and imaginative performances charting the brilliance and the darkness of the Irish chapter of Arnold's Dark Night of the Soul. [RB]

Daniel-François Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) The Crown of Diamonds (Les Diamants de la Couronne) - Comic Opera in 3 Acts (1841)
Ghyslaine Raphanel (sop), Mylène Mornet (sop), Christophe Einhorn (ten), Armand Arapian (bar), Dominique Ploteau (ten), Paul Médioni (ten), Nicolas Gambotti (ten), Sébastien Lemoine; Cori Spezzati, Orchestre de Picardie/Edmon Colomer Rec. Théâtre Impérial de Compiègne, December 1999 MANDALA (Harmonia Mundi) MAN 5003/05 (CD1 55.18; CD2 55.42; CD3 47.55)

A live and energetic theatre performance of a great rarity. The orchestra do justice to the pace of the score. All soloists are strong and confident in their rôles.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)The Complete Keyboard Concertos - Volume 10 [69.05] Concerto in G major H. 419 [24.28] Sonatina in F major H. 452 [22.12] Concerto in B flat major H. 447 [21.57] Miklós Spányi, tangent piano Concerto Armonico, Péter Szüts Rec: October 1997 BIS CD-914 [69.05] [KM]

An attractive recording of three very different works for keyboard and orchestra, featuring a tangent piano. While the relative volume of the keyboard is a problem, the music is delightful and well-performed.

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685 - 1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 [77.40] Joseph Payne (Harpsichord) Rec: December 1990. BIS-CD-519 [77.40] [KM]

This is a unique, personal recording of the Goldberg Variations. While much of what sets it apart is Joseph Payne's personal choice of ornamentation and even improvisation, it deserves the highest recommendation for those interested in hearing a different vision of the work.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I Sonata in G major, BWV 1027 [13.24] Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 860 [4.19] Sonata in D major, BWV 1028 [14.28] Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 850 [3.55] Sonata in G minor, BWV 1029 [15.03] Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 861 [4.03] Alison Crum, viola da gamba; Laurence Cummings, harpsichord Rec: November 1999. SIGNUM SIGCD024 [55.12] [KM]

This is perhaps the best recording available of Bach's Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord. Beautiful performances by both musicians, instruments that sound fresh and alive, and an excellent recording make this an essential disc for any Bach lover.

Johann Sebastian BACH Organ Masterworks. Franz Hauk on the Klaus organ of Ingolstadt Munster GUILD GMCD 7221 (DDD) [78.44] [DW]

Another winner from Guild. Right from the opening piece, the famous Wachet auf, I knew I was in for a treat.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Masterpieces Ton Koopman, organ Rec: not specified (late 1980s) REGIS RRC 2042 [131.47] [KM]

This recording features a selection of some of Bach's best organ works, played on some of the best sounding organs available. An excellent set, well worth buying for the music, the performance, or the sound of the organs; or perhaps all three.

J. S. BACH Piano Transcriptions various pianists NAXOS 8.110658, recorded 1925-47, [67.15] [AB]

A well produced and interesting disc with very good presentations of rare historical recordings. It can be recommended not only to a specialist audience but to the wider general music lover.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) French Suites Fifteen Inventions  Six Little Preludes Joseph Payne, harpsichord Rec: March 1992. BIS-CD 589/590 [133.35] [KM]

A brilliant recording of some of Bach's most appreciated keyboard works. If the remarkable sound of the recording is not reason enough to buy this set, the delicate and flexible phrasing and subtle ornamentation should be.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) French Suites Henry PURCELL (1659-1695] New Irish Tune [1.03] Rigadoon in C major [0.53] Sefauchi's Farewell [2.33] Minuet in D minor [1.25] Ground in C minor [2.37] Air in D minor [1.21] William CROFT (1678-1727) Ground [2.28] Thurston Dart, clavichord Rec: January 1961 (French Suites), ?. ISMERON JMSCD 4 [64.30] [KM]

An excellent performance, and a very good recording of a unique historical document. Beyond its interest as a historical recording, and the use of the clavichord, this is one of the finest recordings of Bach's French Suites available.

BACH Magnificat in D Major (a) Cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV 51 (b) Nancy Argenta, Patrizia Kwella, Charles Brett, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, David Thomas, Monteverdi Choir (a), Emma Kirkby, Crispian Steele-Perkins (b) English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner (a & b) recorded 11 / 1983 in All Saints, Tooting, London. PHILIPS 464 672-2 [41.14] [JP]

This is a first class release and well worth listening to, but Oh Dear, the playing time - come on Universal, who are you trying to kid

BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas 83-86 Bach Ensemble, Helmuth Rilling Rec: 1978 - 1983. HAENSSLER CD 92.027 [68.04] [KM]

Another excellent recording of Bach's cantatas by Helmuth Rilling. This disc contains four very nice cantatas, with fine soloists and very good performances by all those involved.

BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B Minor, BWV 232 [106.24] Catherine Dubosc, soprano I Catherine Denley, soprano II James Bowman, alto John Mark Ainsley, tenor Michael George, bass The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra, Harry Christophers Rec: no date or location given but 1980s? REGIS RRC 2002 [106.24] [KM]

This is a fine recording, with a beautifully sounding choir, and excellent orchestra. While some of the arias and duets are slightly lacking in quality - the soloists are not all in top form - this budget recording is excellent value.

BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites Robert Cohen, cello Rec: 1990 REGIS RECORDS RRC 2001 [145.54] [KM]

An excellent, very personal recording of some of Bach's greatest instrumental music. Definitely one of the best versions of these pieces.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Six Partitas Lucy Carolan, harpsichord Rec: May and June 1998. SIGNUM SIGCD102 [146.07] [KM]

An excellent recording of Bach's partitas, which, while perhaps not as masterful as those by Parmentier and Pinnock, deserves a place in the pantheon of the best available versions of these works.

Arnold BAX (1883-1953) London Pageant (1937) Concertante for cor anglais, clarinet, horn and orchestra (1948-9) Suite from Tamara (1911) Cathaleen-ní-Hoolihan (1903) Gillian Callow (cor anglais); John Bradbury (clarinet); Jonathan Goodall (French horn) BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins rec Studio 7, BBC, Manchester, 17 May 23 June 2000 DDD CHANDOS CHAN 9879 [74.33] [CSS]

Gradually all Bax's music, (with the exception of the bulk of his songs) is finding its way onto CD and it was with some personal delight that I seized on this exciting disc.

Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Violin Concerto (1937-38) Symphony No. 3 (1928-29) Eda Kersey (violin) BBCSO/Sir Adrian Boult (concerto) Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli (symphony) rec 23 Feb 1944, Bedford Corn Exchange previously unpublished BBC Transcription discs (concerto) rec 31 Dec 1943, 12 Jan 1944, Houldsworth Hall, Manchester (symphony) DUTTON Epoch Historic CDLX 7111 [72.31] [RB]

The Dutton is a de rigueur addition for all Baxians and an antidote to the sleepy sloppy school of Baxian interpretation.

Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Twenty one songs Patricia Wright - soprano Richard Greager - tenor Christopher Keyte - baritone Rosemary Barnes - piano rec 1991 St Silas Church, Kentish Town, London CONTINUUM CCD1046 [66.01] [CSS]

A fine disc, that must surely be followed by another song recital exploring other facets of Bax's many-faceted personality

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture · Piano Concerto No. 1 · Symphony No. 7 Murray Perahia (piano) London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 100 148 (Regions 2 & 5) [94:00][SF]

As long as inexpensively priced products such as this superb release from Arthaus continue to enter the marketplace, the future of classical music on the twelve centimetre silver disc must remain buoyant.

Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 4 Piano Concerto No. 5 'Emperor' Alfred Brendel (piano) Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Hans Wallberg (4)· Zubin Mehta (5) rec 1960s?   REGIS RRC 1047 [72:35] [SF]

This economically priced reissue from Regis is very special in its own way and I would not wish to be without it.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 1 in C major, Opus 21 Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 36 North German Radio Symphony Orchestra/Günter Wand Rec Dec 1997 (No. 1), Feb 1999, Musikhalle, Hamburg RCA Red Seal 74321 66458 2 [59.04]

The catalogue contains sharper-edged performances of this repertoire but for spontaneous, stylish music making with top class playing this is hard to beat.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36 Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein recorded live 2/78 (No. 2) 11/98 (No. 7) in Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna. DG 469 545-2 [74.48] [JP]

This is an excellent release to buy if you are unable to get your hands on the earlier Sony release which I feel represents Beethoven's intentions better.

Ludwig von BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827) Serenade, op.8 Alessandro ROLLA (1757 - 1847) Trio concertant Nr.6 G-Dur Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877 - 1960) Serenade op.10 Budapest Trio ANTES EDITION BM-CD 31.9011 [77.46] [SHJ]

It is testament to Antes' adventurousness that two commercially non-mainstream works were included, but the risk pays off. Sloppy presentation belies an imaginative disc performed with great clarity and poise.

Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960) Five Negro Spirituals for cello and piano (1929) Violin Sonatina (1925) Pastoral Fantasy (1923) Viola Sonata (1942)Three Violin Pieces (1921-5) A Tune and Variations for Little People (1939) Locrian Ensemble rec Snape Maltings, 8-10 January 2001 DUTTON Epoch CDLX 7110 [76.48] [RB]

An affectionate and stunningly recorded collection of music by this adopted Brit. A composer with allegiances and valued achievements in the lighter field and in music with a sturdy emotional punch.

Luciano BERIO  Duets for two violins Edison DENISOV  Sonata for two violins Alexander Bulov and Ilya Gringolts (violins) BIS -CD-1047 (DDD) [57.21] [DW]

The Denisov sonata is the work that interests me. A musician's musician rather than a music lover's musician.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803 - 1869) Le Corsaire Overture (Royal Albert Hall, London, March 1951) King Lear Overture (Royal Festival Hall, London, December 1954) Harold in Italy (Usher Hall, Edinburgh, August 1956) Trojan March (Colston Hall, Bristol, July 1951) Frederick Riddle, Viola (Harold)  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra (King Lear) Conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham BBC LEGENDS BBCL 4065-2 mono [71.43] [AB]

Very fine performances by Beecham at his best but let down by the recording quality and audience noise.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens (1856-8) Ben Heppner (tenor) - Enée  Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano) - Dido Petra Lang (mezzo-soprano) - Cassandre Sara Mingardo (alto) - Anna Peter Mattei (baritone) - Chorèbe Stephen Milling (bass) - Narbal Kenneth Tarver (tenor) - Lopas London Symphony Chorus London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (Recorded 3, 7, 8 & 9 December 2000, Barbican Centre, London) LSO Live LSO 0010 CD 4 CDs [62.23, 68.57, 56.25, 51.51], Super Budget Price

This recording, from live performances at the Barbican last December, is the finest opera CD I have heard this year.  An outstanding bargain, this is an unmissable set.

Harrison Birtwistle Refrains and Choruses Richard Shaw (piano) The Galliard Ensemble; Recorded December 2000 at Leighton Park School, Reading. DEUX-ELLES DXL1019 [73 mins] [PGW]

This release should really put the Galliard Ensemble on the contemporary music international map.

Easley BLACKWOOD (born 1933)  Symphony No.5 op.34 (1990) Symphony No. l Op.3 (1955) (a)  Chicago Symphony Orchestra; James DePreist Boston Symphony Orchestra; Charles Munch (a) Recorded: Orchestral Hall, Chicago, May and June 1992; Symphony Hall, Boston, November 1958a  CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 016 [57:46] [HC]

Blackwood's music may be less polished and less personal than, say, Mennin's but his First Symphony is certainly one of the finest American symphonies I have heard so far.

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1804) Five Sonatas for Violoncello Sebastian Comberti, violoncello Elizabeth Kenny, archilute/guitar Ruth Alford, violoncello Rec: September 2000, All Saints Church, London. CELLO CLASSICS CC1001 [63.16] [KM]

An excellent recording of some very intimate and highly melodic music. Boccherini's cello sonatas deserved to be discovered by all those who enjoy post-baroque music.

BOISMORTIER (1689-1755) Sonatas for Two Flutes without Bass Stéphan Perreau, Benjamin Gaspon, baroque flutes. Rec: January 2001. DISQUES PIERRE VERNAY PV700023 [48.06]

This is a beautiful recording, quite surprising, of some unexpectedly compelling music. Highly recommended, for anyone interested in discovering a little-known facet of French baroque music.

Joseph-Ermend BONNAL (1880-1944) String Quartet No. 1 (1919) [33.31] String Quartet No. 2 (1938) [21.08] Quatuor Debussy rec Aizac (07), 6-9 Oct 1999 ARION ARN 68504 [54.39] [RB]

I urge you strongly to seek out Bonnal's sheerly magical impressionistic music.

Classics Explained: BRAHMS Piano Concerto No 2 in B Flat, Op. 83 An introduction to the work written and presented by Jeremy Siepmann. Includes a complete performance by Jeno Jando (piano) with BRT Philharmonic, conducted by Alexander Rahbari. NAXOS 8.558030-31 [115.25] [JQ]

An excellent way for relative newcomers to the concerto to learn what makes it "tick". It is also very useful for others to refresh and expand their understanding of a familiar piece.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97) Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 (orch. Schoenberg).
Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121 (arr. Leinsdorf)
a.  Chorale Preludes, Op. 122 - No. 8, Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen; No. 7, O Gott, Du frommer Gott (both arr. Leinsdorf). aOlle Persson (baritone); Norrköpping Symphony Orchestra/Lu Jia. Recorded in the Louis de Geer Hall, Norrköpping, Sweden in April and May 2000. BIS CD1140 [DDD] [65'01] [CC]

This is a thought-provoking and enjoyable disc notable for an involving account of the Brahms/Schoenberg.

Luis de FREITAS BRANCO (1890 - 1955) Quartetto de Cordas (1911) Sonata para Violoncello e Piano (1913) Takács Quartet - Miklós Perényi, cello - Jenö Jandó, piano Recorded: Lisbon University, February 1979 and Hungaroton Studio, Budapest, February 1980 STRAUSS SP 4179 [43.31] [HC]

These fairly early pieces reflect the enriching experience of Freitas Branco's early maturity.Very rewarding indeed.

Luis de FREITAS BRANCO (1890 - 1955) Sonata No.1 para violino e piano (1907) Sonata No.2 para violino e piano (1928) Tibor Varga, violin - Roberto Szidon, piano Recorded : Philharmonia Studio, Switzerland, January 1986 STRAUSS SP 4045 [49:54] [HC]

Tibor Varga and Roberto Szidon play with evident relish and seem to enjoy the warm lyricism of the music enormously. These 1986 recordings, made in Switzerland, still sound very well.

Eduard Brendler (1800 - 1831) 'Ryno' - The Knight Errant (Music completed by Prince Oscar). Libretto by Bernhard von Beskow Soloists, members of the Choir of Stora Teatern, Gothenburg. Gothenburg SO/Anders Wiklund Live Performance 27th-29th April 1992 & 11th-12th January 1993. Gothenburg Concert Hall STERLING CDO-1031/2-2 'Swedish Romantic' series [2CDs 114.26] [JF]

This is a fine recording of a long lost opera. It should be of abiding interest to all lovers of early romantic opera in the style of Weber. It is a competent work that deserves wider recognition. A good buy for opera fans.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings Op.31 (1943) Sally in our alley (arr. Britten) The bonny Earl O'Moray (arr. Britten) The last rose of Summer (Moore, arr. Britten) Avenging and bright (Moore, arr. Britten) William WALTON (1902 - 1983) Façade: An Entertainment Peter Pears (tenor); Dennis Brain (horn); The Boyd Neel String Orchestra; Benjamin Britten (piano [Folksong arrangements] and conductor [Serenade]) Dame Edith Sitwell, Peter Pears; English Opera Group Ensemble; Anthony Collins Recorded: May and October 1944 (Serenade) ; October 1959, November 1961 (Folksongs) and 1953 (Façade) DECCA 468 801-2 [73:42] [HC]

The present release is most welcome and well worth having for Façade, even if the 1944 performance of Britten's Serenade is rather of documentary interest.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976)  The Rarities Canticle II : Abraham and Isaac Op.51 (1952) Gemini Variations Op.72 (1965) A Birthday Hansel Op.92 (1975) Cantata Academica Op.62 (1959) Russian Funeral (1936) Cantata Misericordium Op.69 (1963) Children's Crusade Op.82 (1969) The Poet's Echo Op.76 (1965) Six Hölderlin Fragments Op.61 (1958) Two Insect Pieces (1935) Norma Procter (contralto); Peter Pears (tenor); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone); Owen Brannigan (bass); Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano); Helen Watts (contralto); Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano); Heinz Holliger (oboe); Mstislav Rostropovich (piano); András Schiff (piano); Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, John Iveson; Ian Cobb, John Clegg (piano); Jonathan Smith (organ); Wandsworth School Boys' Choir, Russell Burgess, Benjamin Britten; London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, George Malcolm, Benjamin Britten Recorded : 1957, 1961, 1963-4, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1976, 1979 and 1991 DECCA 468 811-2 [75:40+72:34] [HC]

Much to admire and relish here, most of all a superb performance of Abraham and Isaac. This set might be worth having for this alone.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.8 in C minor (Ed. Haas) Hallé Orchestra/Sir John Barbirolli (Royal Festival Hall, London on 20th May 1970) BBC LEGENDS BBCL 4067-2 [73.58] [TD]

The last of Barbirolli's summer wine and a rich vintage.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) The Six Sonatinas,  Indianisches Tagebuch,  Toccata Roland Pontinen (piano)rec September 20-23, 1999, Kammermusikstudio des SWR, Stuttgart CPO 999 702-2 [74.47] [CA]

Pontinen proves to be a subtle, sensitive and perceptive guide through this intriguing music. He's well recorded too.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Harpsichord Music Vol. 1 Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord Rec: September 1998 DA CAPO 8.224116 [51.58] [KM]

Excellently performed, perfectly recorded, and played on a delightful instrument, I could not recommend this with more enthusiasm.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Harpsichord Music Vol. II Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord Rec: September 1998 DA CAPO 8.224117 [52.42] [KM]

One cannot help but be amazed at the variety of music Buxtehude wrote for the harpsichord, from moving suites to complex and fulfilling variations.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Harpsichord Music Vol. III Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord Rec: September 1998 DA CAPO 8.224118 [54.24] [KM]

This recording is perhaps the most essential of the three disc Marco Polo series. The Aria: "La Capricciosa" is undoubtedly Buxtehude's masterpiece, and probably a model for Bach's Goldberg Variations. Another excellent recording that all lovers of harpsichord music should own.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Organ Music Vol. I   Volker Ellenberger, organ Rec: December 1999. NAXOS 8.554543 [53.43] [KM]

In any case, this is a good performance of a selection of Buxtehude's organ works. Presumably, this will become a complete set in the near future. While Olivier Vernet probably gives a more convincing performance, this budget disc is worth listening to for those curious about Buxtehude's organ music.

DIETRICH BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Vocal Music Vol. II  Das neugeborne Kindelein [7.14] Der Herr ist mit mir [8.10] Alles, was ihr tut [12.33] Förwarh, er trug unsere Krankheit [14.20] Appendix Magnificat anima mea [8.40] Johan Reuter, bass Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir The Dufay Collective, Ebbe Munk Rec: June 2000 DA CAPO 8.224160 [50.59] [KM]

This is a beautiful recording of some of Buxtehude's most interesting vocal works. This composer deserves to be much better known; these works are remarkable in their emotion and feeling.

[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Y] [Part 6 Misc] 

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Arthur Baker, Grace Barber, Terry Barfoot,  Peter Bates, Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Jim Cooke, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Christopher Fifield, Lewis Foreman, Simon Foster, John France, Julian Hellaby, Christopher Howell, Simon Jenner, Stephen Lloyd,   Kirk McElhearn, Gwyn Parry-Jones, John Phillips, John Quinn, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Adrian Smith, Colin Scott-Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Paul Serotsky, Christopher Thomas, Richard Walker, Richard Whitehouse, Jonathan Woolf, 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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