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James MACMILLAN (born 1959) Sinfonietta, Cumnock Fair, Symphony no. 2 Scottish Chamber Orchestra/James MacMillan Rec February 2000, City Hall, Glasgow BIS CD1119 [55.52] [TB]

James MacMillan is now established as one of the leading composers of our time, a position which this excellent CD does much to confirm.

Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.1 in D major Dresdner Philharmonie/Herbert Kegel (Recorded in 1979) BERLIN CLASSICS 0090382BC [55.43] [TD]

A fine performance with much to enjoy. Not quite top flight for reasons of orchestral execution.

Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.3 in D minor Symphony No.4 in G* Ortrun Wenkel (Contralto), Lucia Popp (Soprano)*, Ladies of the London Philharmonic Choir, Southend Boys Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt (Recorded in Kingsway Hall, London, in 1979 and 1982*) EMI Double Fforte CZS5 74296 2 2 CDs [153.12] [TD]

This will delight Tennstedt's many admirers and might even find favour with his detractors. There are some problems in the Third Symphony's first movement but the Fourth Symphony is only spoiled by too serious a view of the finale. Recommended with reservations.

Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.9 in D major Berlin Sinfonie-Orchester/Kurt Sanderling (Recording made in 1979) BERLIN CLASSICS 0094412BC 2 CDs [81.00] [TD]

A fine and intelligent reading with many virtues, as you would expect, but just short of the real greatness we know Sanderling to be capable of in this work.

Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.9 in D Minor Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bruno Walter (Recorded "live" in Vienna on 16th January 1938) DUTTON CDBP 9708 [70.13] [TD]

Now at super bargain price, there is no excuse for not owing this famous recording with so much resonance, musical and historical.

Gustav MAHLER (1860 - 1911) Symphony No.10 in F sharp major  (Revised performing version by Deryck Cooke with further revisions by Kurt Sanderling) Berlin Sinfonie-Orchester/Kurt Sanderling rec Berlin 1979 BERLIN CLASSICS 0094422BC [73.46] [TD]

Sanderling's justly famous recording of the Cooke version of the Tenth Symphony is widely available at last. Mahlerites should snap it up without hesitation.

Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882 - 1973) Complete String Quartets Quartetto d'Archi di Venezia Recorded: Dynamic Studios, Genova, May and September 1996 DYNAMIC CDS 168/1-2 [68:08 + 57:19] [HC]

The Quartetto d'Archi di Venezia have obviously devoted much care and affection in preparing their performances of Malipiero's string quartets. Their readings are beautifully shaped, with an evident regard for the music and are given a warm recording.

Bohuslav Martinu  (1890-1959) The Six Symphonies (1942-1953) Symphony No. 1 (1942) [37.22] Symphony No. 2 (1943) [23.40] Symphony No. 3 (1944) [28.36] Symphony No. 4 (1945) [33.29] Symphony No. 5 (1946) [29.48] Symphony No. 6 Fantaisies Symphoniques (1953) [27.41] Czech PO/Václav Neumann rec Dvorák Hall, House of Artists, Prague, No. 1 8-15 Feb 1977, No. 2 17-22 March 1977, No. 3 14-18 Oct 1977, No. 4 23-26 Aug 1977, No.5 26-29 Sept 1978, No. 6 9-14 Jan 1976. AAD SUPRAPHON 11 0382-2 1013 [CD1 61.22; CD2 62.15; CD3 57.38] [RB]

Not a fashionable choice. Try defying fashion and you will find this a rewarding, natural sounding and persuasive analogue companion.

Bohuslav MARTINU (1890-1959)The Seven String Quartets - an integral recording by the Panocha Quartet (1979-82) Panocha Quartet SUPRAPHON 11 0994-2 113 [CD1 55.44; CD2 59.17; CD3 44.43]

For impassioned performances I recommend this set very strongly.

Harpsichord Pieces by Giovanni da MACQUE and Giovanni SALVATORE Michèle Dévérité, harpsichord Rec: June 1999. ARION ARN 68476 [58.45]

A beautiful recording of some little-known composers from 16th and 17th century Naples, performed with verve and emotion on an excellent harpsichord. A disc to discover!

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)  Polyptyque, for Violin and two small string orchestras. Etudes for String Orchestra.  Sonata da Chiesa, for viola and string orchestra. Munich Chamber Orchestra/Hans Stadlmair; Gottfried Schneider, violin; J Reiber, viola d'amore. KOCH SCHWANN: MUSICA MUNDI 3-6732-2 [60:27]  [BB]

An outstanding CD: despite limited patience for all-strings music, it has bowled me right over.

George Frederick McKAY (1899-1970) From A Moonlit Ceremony (1945) Harbor Narrative (1934) Evocation Symphony "Symphony for Seattle" (1951) National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine·John McLaughlin Williams Recorded at the Grand Concert Hall, National Radio Company of Ukraine Radio, Kiev, June 1999 Naxos American Classics 8.559052 DDD [69:06] [CT]

This disc is well worthy of recommendation for the fine Seattle Symphony. John McLaughlin Williams obtains creditable performances of all three works.

Etienne Nicolas MÉHUL (1763-1817) Symphony No.1. in G Minor, Symphony No.2. in D Rhenish Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jorge Rotter Recorded Koblenz, January 1988 NAXOS 8.555402 [53.01] [AB]

Two interesting and enjoyable symphonies by this French contemporary of Beethoven.

Felix MENDELSSOHN  Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor Overture - The Fair Melussina Mayumi Seiler, violin City of London Sinfonia Richard Hickox, conductor No recording dates given  BLACK BOX BBM3005 [59.34] [JW]

Seiler is not the most tonally opulent of players but is discerning and the conjunction of these two concertos is of rather more value than the endless Mendelssohn and Bruch discs.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-19 92) Quartet for End of Time, Theme and Variations* Amici Ensemble Joaquin Valdepeñas, clarinet; David Hetherington, cello; Patricia Parr, piano*; Scott St John, violin* Rec 15th-16th December 1999, River Run Centre, Guelph, Ontario, Canada NAXOS 8.554824 [56.48] [TB] [AAS]

A sensitive performance, well worth hearing, recorded sound is excellent. [TB]

Performances of superlative quality by four distinguished players. Their unanimity of time and pitch is nothing short of miraculous. Highly recommended. [AAS]

Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881- 1950) Sinfonietta No. 1 (1929) Theme and Variations,  Two Pieces for String Orchestra (1945) Napeve St Petersburg Chamber Ensemble/Roland Melia rec 3-6 Apr 1994, St Petersburg, Russia, DDD ASV CD DCA 928 [55.41] [RB]

Shorter playing time and a hint of over-brilliance justify a recommendation in favour of the Claves disc though I regret passing by the Theme and Variations.

Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950)  The nine piano sonatas
Comparing the Hegedüs (Marco Polo) and McLachlan (Olympia) cycles.
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As things stand the recommendation has to go to the Olympia discs which are more generously timed and which have the perceptive virtuosic strengths of McLachlan.

MOZART (1756-91) Flute Concertosa - No. 1 in D, K313/285c; No. 2 in D, K314. Concerto for Flute and Harp in C, K299/297cb. Karlheinz Zöller (flute); bNocanor Zabaleta (harp); aEnglish Chamber Orchestra/Bernhard Klee; bBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Ernst Märzendorfer. Recorded aDecember 1972, Watford Town Hall, bOctober 1962, Berlin. DG Galleria 469 553-2 [ADD] [74.04] [CC]

At mid-price, one has to balance whether it is worth the outlay for, basically, the Flute and Harp Concerto alone.

MOZART (1756 -91) Violin Concertos - No. 1 in B flat, K207; No. 2 in D, K211; No. 3 in G, K216; No. 4 in D, K218; No. 5 in A, K219.  Violin Sonatas - B flat, K454; A, K526. Artur Grumiaux (violin); Clara Haskil (piano); London Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis. Recorded 1956-1964 [ADD] PHILIPS 50 Great Recordings 464 722-2 [two discs] [153.26]  [CC]

Recommended primarily for the Sonatas ... here, the players seem as one. The Concertos are very much of their time ...Robust might seem the most apt (kindest?) description here.

MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni. Opera in two Acts, K527 (1787)
Don Giovanni: John Brownlee, baritone Donna Anna: Ina Souez, soprano Glyndebourne Festival Chorus and Orchestra/Fritz Busch CD transfer of 1936 78 rpm recording at the Glyndebourne Theatre NAXOS Great Opera Recordings series 8.110135-37. 3 CDs [total playing time 200.52] [RBr]

The production as a whole will reward connoisseurs for its bravura and panache, and deserves a place in the excellent Naxos Historic Opera Recordings series, though it is. not recommended to those of a nervous disposition.

MOZART MOZ ART III DG PANORAMA 469 166-2 [2 CDs: 78.43 78.46] [CH]

I suppose I've spent an awful lot of space when the message is "don't buy it" and those three words would have done. Some more of Géza Anda's Mozart would be welcome at a future date.

Thea Musgrave Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, The Seasons, Autumn Sonata (Bass Clarinet concerto) Victoria Soames (clarinet and bass clarinet), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thea Musgrave Clarinet Classics CC0035 [73.55]

Attention is drawn to this important re-release

LETTERS TO THE WORLD Chamber Music of GEORGE NICHOLSON Nodus (1978) for clarinet and piano Spring Songs (1991) Nots Justes for solo piano Letters to the World John Turner, recorder; Peter Lawson, piano; Philip Edwards, clarinet; Alison Wells, soprano, Keith Elcombe, harpsichord; Jonathan Price, cello Recorded : Manchester University, September 2000 METIER MSV CD 92062 [79:27] [HC]

His music, as heard here, is always beautifully crafted, technically demanding, certainly not easy to play but eminently accessible for the composer always sees to it that it communicates directly by way of its invention, its imagination and its vitality.

Ludolf NIELSEN (1876-1939) Babelstarnet, Op. 35 (The Tower of Babel) (1912-14) Skovvandring, Op. 40 (Forest Walk) (1922)  Iréne Theorin (sop) - Voice of a bird, Johnny van Hal (ten) - tenor solo, Per Høyer (bar) - Human Voice  Danish National Radio SO/Owain Arwel Hughes co-production with Danmarks Radio
rec 1-3 Oct 1999, Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen DACAPO 8.224157 [63.05] DDD [JP]

The playing of the orchestra, Denmark's premiere ensemble, is everything which one would expect, and the recording, made in the orchestra's home is clear and very true.

Otakar OSTRCIL (1879-1935) Variations for Large Orchestra Calvary (1928) [30.44] Josef SUK (1874-1935) Symphony in E major (1899) [46.27] Czech PO/Václav Neumann rec Rudolfinum, Prague, 10 Mar 1982, 27 Feb, 2 Mar 1979 DDD SUPRAPHON 11 1826-2 011 [77.21] [RB]

The Dvorák-like Suk Symphony intriguingly harnessed with a tough and forward looking work by Ostrcil.

Otakar OSTRCIL (1879-1935) Symphony in A major (1905) [39.50] Sinfonietta (1921) [37.34] Prague SO/JirÍ Behlolávek rec Smetana Hall, Prague, 18-19 Feb 1980; 16, 18 Nov 1983, AAD SUPRAPHON 11 1826-2 011 [77.32] [RB]

An early symphony with Mahler and Dvorák mixed in its veins alongside the hardy equivocality of the enigmatically dubbed Sinfonietta.

PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Stabat Mater [36.41] Salve Regina [14.10] Dennis Naseband, soprano Jochen Kowalski, alto Raphael Alpermann, organ Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach/Harmut Haenchen Rec: April 1992. BERLIN CLASSICS BC 1047-2 [50.58] [KM]

Musically satisfying but there are weaknesses amongst the solo singers in both works.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca. Montserrat Caballé (sop) Tosca; Jose Carreras (ten) Cavaradossi; Ingvar Wixell (bar) Scarpia; Samuel Ramey (bass) Angelotti; Piero De Palma (ten) Spoletta; Domenico Trimarchi (bar) Sacristan; William Elvin (bar) Sciarrone, Gaoler; Ann Murray (mez) Shepherd Boy; Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Sir Colin Davis. Recorded 1976 PHILIPS Great Recordings 464 729-2 two discs: [118.15] (ADD) [AB]

Some very good singing and excellent production and recording. Not the most dramatic version but can give considerable pleasure.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Bells [37:18] Poem for soprano, tenor and baritone soli, chorus and orchestra Text by Konstantin Balmont adapted from Edgar Alan Poe's poem Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915) John of Damascus [22.48] Cantata for four-part mixed chorus and orchestra (The Bells) Marina Mescheriakova (soprano); Sergei Larin (tenor); Vladimir Chernov baritone) The Moscow State Chamber Choir
Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev (Rec: Moscow State Conservatory Great Hall, June 2000) Deutsche Grammophon DG 471 029-2 [60:21] [IL]

A first class performance of Rachmaninov's thrilling choral masterpiece, in excellent sound, coupled with a work that deserves to be better known.

Ture RANGSTRÖM (1884-1947) Suite No. 1 for Violin and Piano (1912) Capriccio amoroso, for Violin and Piano (1936) Poem, for Violin and Piano (1942) Mälarlegender, Three Legends for Piano
Arioso, for violin and Piano Tre dansminiatyrer, Three Dance Miniatures for Two Violins Ein Nachtstück (Nocturne in E. T. A. Hoffman Style) for Two Violins, Viola and Violoncello (1909) Improvisata for Piano
Suite No. 2, for Violin and Piano Mats Jansson (piano) Tale Olsson (violin) Holmen Quartet Recorded November 1998, Studio 3, Stockholm and February 1998, De Geer Hallen, Norrköping CPO 999 689-2 DDD [75:25] [CT]

There is much to enjoy on this disc, the performances both committed and fresh, the recorded sound natural and with admirable clarity.

Sergei RACHMANINOV Symphonic Dances, op.45, Piano Concerto no.2 in c, op.19* Israela Margalit (pianoforte)*, London Symphony Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth Recorded Abbey Road Studios, London, undated but pub. 1992 BLACK BOX BBM 3001 [73.33] [CH]

Aren't Black Box supposed to be a rather underground, off-beat organisation? Surely this record is dangerously close to popular all-the-family listening? A great deal of pleasure is to be had here.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Opus 30 Martha Argerich (piano) Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly Live Rec Dec 1982, Sender Freies Berlin Suite No. 2 for 2 pianos, Opus 17 Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire (pianos) Rec Aug 1982, Switzerland Philips 464 732-2 (61.27) [TB]

A fine collaboration, driving through to an exhilarating, truly uplifting conclusion, crowning a performance in which the lyricism and the power of Rachmaninov's conception have been vividly drawn.

Joachim RAFF (1822-82) Piano Trios - No. 1 in C minor, Op. 102; No. 4 in D, Op. 158. Trio Opus 8 (Eckhard Fischer, violin; Mario de Secondi, cello; Michael Hauber, piano). Recorded January 11th-12th, 1999 in the Chamber Music Studio of South West German Radio. [DDD] CPO 999 616-2 [61.12] [CC]

Well worth hearing, in performances which at their best do Raff a great service.

RATHGEBER (1682-1750) Augsburger Tafelconfekt Consortium Canticum Leipzig
Kammermusikensemble Freiburg Rec: October 1994. ANTES EDITION BM-CD 31.9033 [57.10] [KM]

An attractive recording of some little-known "light" vocal music, designed to delight the mind and provide entertainment in a secular setting.

Giulio REGONDI (1822-1872) INTRODUCTION ET CAPRICE, TEN ETUDES, FETE VILLAGEOISE John Holmquist - Guitar NAXOS 8.554191 [58:12] [AD]

This disc, and composer are welcome additions to what is becoming the Naxos encyclopaedia of composers of classical guitar music.

Joseph-Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955) Le Miracle de Saint Nicolas (1905) Psaume 136 (1897)
(1911) Nocturne (1926) Les Vepres sonnent (1927) Choeur Regional Vittoria d'Ille de France Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy Conductor Michel Piquemal Recorded 22nd-24th April 1994 Salle Poirel, Nancy. NAXOS 8.555656 [56.06] [JF]

A gorgeous CD from a composer who is too little known. Fine choral works evoking a sense of devotion and landscape. Joseph Guy-Ropartz need to be re-evaluated as a matter of urgency and this CD is an excellent beginning to this project.

ROSSINI CANTATAS Vol. 2 Gioacchino ROSSINI Le nozze di Teti, e di Peleo (1) Il pianto d'Armonia sulla morte di Orfeo (2) Elisabetta Scano (soprano) (1), Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano) (1), Daniela Barcellona (contralto) (1), Juan Diego Flórez (tenor) (1), Luigi Petroni (tenor) (1),Paul Austin Kelly (tenor) (2) La Scala Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly Recorded 1997 (2), 1998 (1), Milan DECCA 466 328-2 [CH]

Listeners are advised to snap up two performances whose hearts are in the right place.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) Complete solo piano music Michael Dussek (piano) Rachael Dussek (piano - in the Teaching Pieces) rec Henry Wood Hall, London 29-31 Jan 2001 The recording was made with a research grant from the Royal Academy of Music. DUTTON Epoch CDLX 7112 [61.56] [RB]

These are all very brief works although often sententious and by no means lacking emotional-symphonic substance. Their coherence and their strengths are portrayed with extreme empathy by Michael Dussek making this a most desirable collection.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) Violin Sonata No. 1 (1925) Violin Sonata No. 2 (1931) Violin Sonata No. 3 (1968) Four Easy Pieces (1926) Variations on a Phrygian Theme (1961) Krysia Osostowicz  (violin)/Michael Dussek (piano) rec 30 June - 2 July 1999, Henry Wood Hall, London. DUTTON Epoch CDLX 7101 [58.34] [RB]

This is a very well fleshed out disc and greatly enhanced by the steady-tone and reserves of feeling invested in the music by Osostowicz and Dussek.

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Symphony No. 1, Op. 40 (1850) Ivan the Terrible, Op. 79 (1869) Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra/Stankovsky Rec. 1989 at the House of Arts, Kosice, Slovakia NAXOS 8.555476 [60.29] [RW]

The CD is well recorded and the orchestra play competently under Robert Stankovsky

Poul RUDERS (b. 1949) Piano Works Star-Prelude and Love Fugue; Sonata No. 1 "Dante Sonata"; Three Letters from the Unknown Soldier; Sonata No. 2 Rolf Hind (piano) rec. July 2000 (DDD) DACAPO 8.224148 [69'10] [PS]

Apocalyptic playing from Rolf Hind, a superb piano superbly recorded - if you already know and love the music this is self-recommending (probably!). If you don't, do give it a whirl: the two imposing powerful, purposeful, and eloquent sonatas are based on an unconventional - and surprising - compositional technique. Even mild persistence will reap its reward, as I myself discovered.

Pierre De La RUE (1460?-1518) Heinrich ISAAC (ca. 1450-1517) Missa pro defunctis [22.27] Missa carminum [21.55] Mitgleider des Rundunk-Kinderchors Berlin, Paul Funk Capella Lipsiensis, Diethrich Knothe Rec: 1972. BERLIN CLASSICS 0031022BC [44.22] [KM]

This 1970s recording disappoints by its overuse of vibrato and the uneven mix, which muddles music that relies for its strength on clarity of lines and of their interaction.

[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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