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MusicWeb reviewers select their Recordings of the Year
Reviewers were allowed a totally free choice. They were not restricted to discs they had reviewed.

Click on cover to read a full review
  CLASSICAL EDITOR Rob Barnett's CD of the YEAR

Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950) Symphony in G minor (1937) [44.30] Sinfonietta (1940) [23.03] Bournemouth SO/David Lloyd-Jones rec: 4-5 June 2001, Wessex Hall, Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset, DDD NAXOS 8.555837 [67.33]

The Symphony: A performance bright with life. Lloyd-Jones is at a career peak here with things really catching fire. Just listen to the rushing attack of the baritonal strings at 4.39 in the first movement. Played with mordantly shivering attack. The Sinfonietta:Succulent and spry.Bull's-eye, split-second attack and dreamy yearning. The best of the modern recordings. A large orchestra in fullspate. A superb bargain.

  Colin Anderson

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas – No. 13 in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1; No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2, ‘Moonlight’; No. 30 in E, Op. 109. Maria João Pires (piano). Recorded at Granja de Belgais, Portugal in June 2000 and May 2001 [DDD] DG 453 457-2 [51.16]

Pires's Beethoven is intimate and poetic, ideal for the 'quasi una fantasia' designations of the Op.27 sonatas, and equally appropriate to the great E major. For all her gentleness, sensibility to colour and dynamics, suggestion of improvisation, and beguiling legato, Pires has Beethoven's structures in full view. There's a compelling sense of direction; one is in the company of a musician who has the music's expression and construction in equilibrium. A superbly recorded CD, one with presence, rich tone and air around the piano's notes. CA

Per NØRGÅRD (born 1932) Symphony No.6 "At the End of the Day" (1998/9) Terrains Vagues (2000, rev. 2001) Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Thomas Dausgaard Recorded: Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen, November 2000 (Symphony No.6) and September 2001 (Terrains Vagues) CHANDOS CHAN 9904 [55:54]

Per Nørgård, born in 1932, stands as the senior Danish composer, one individual and influential. From an early style described as post-Sibelius, Nørgård has developed a personal language both emotional and vivid, one founded on a harmonic slow-burn of infinite possibilities. A busy, kaleidoscopic surface overlays a clear, long-term structure in Nørgård's masterly Sixth Symphony (1999). In 'three passages' (the composer's description) lasting over half-an-hour, the symphony makes an immediate impression and holds the attention. Unpredictability of melody and rhythm, the ever-changing aural landscape, and a sense of fantasy, suggest a musical freedom that is almost improvised; underlying the whole is Nørgård's debt to Sibelius - a rigorous structural shaft that provides the listener with map and compass. Terrains Vagues (2001) occupies perspectives primitive and sophisticated - waves (vagues) of sound are projected at the listener that alternate with rhythmic polarities; the effect is hypnotic. CA

Inghelbrecht conducts Debussy on Testament Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune,
Nocturnes, Marche écossaise, Jeux - poème dansé, La damoiselle élue TESTAMENT SBT 1212 [78’ 10"]
La mer, Images pour orchestre, Trois chansons de Charles d’Orléans,
Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisonTESTAMENT SBT 1213 [70’ 23"]
Trois ballades de François Villon, Le martyre de saint Sébastien TESTAMENT SBT 1214 [74’ 01"]
Various artists with Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française conducted by Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht

Preserved on these immensely valuable Testament CDs are important recordings that students of Debussy will find indispensable; also captured is the distinctive French instrumental timbres that Debussy would have known and that are today all but lost – sadly. The fruity woodwind tones, the expressive vibrato of the brass, the ardent strings – all wonderful sounds absolutely at one with the music.

And what marvellous performances these are. Inghelbrecht never gets in the way of the music, but as every bar passes one is conscious of a guiding spirit subtly blending sounds and shaping expression to the composer’s intentions – without pedantry.

Review on

  Terry Barfoot

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 4 in E flat 'Romantic' (1876)Franz SCHUBERT (1796-1828) Symphony No. 5 in B flat Günter Wand interviewed by Wolfgang Seifert Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra/Günter Wand Rec 28-30 October 2001, Hamburg, Musikhalle RCA VICTOR 7432193041 2 [2CDs: 73.02+64.47]

Günter Wand was one of the great Bruckner interpreters, whose death earlier this year (2002) marked the end of an era. This recording turned out to be his last, and it is therefore a special document. Wand is second to no-one in understanding this wonderful composer. TB

  Rob Barnett

Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950) The Complete Symphonic Works Volumes 6 - 9 on OLYMPIA Volume 9 Symphony No. 9 (1926-27) [41.38: I 13.55; II 6.53; III 9.56; IV 10.48] Symphony No. 20 (1940) [27.02: I 8.09; II 8.38; III 10.07] Russian Federation Academic Symphony Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov rec: 1991-3, Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Russia. DDD OLYMPIA OCD 739 [69.35]

The Miaskovsky Symphony No. 20 - a superb work - for its commercial debut in any recorded carrier. The Twentieth is wholly Russian,haunting, exultant, nostalgic, plangent, sad and poignant with an exalted spirit lofted high by a blaze of strings and a supreme brass choir.

Alistair HINTON (b.1950) String Quintet (1969-1977) Sarah Leonard (soprano)
Jagdish Mistry (violin) Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin) Levine Andrade (viola) Michael Stirling ('cello) Corrado Canonici (double bass) rec 1999 UK ALTARUS AIR-CD-9066(3) [3CDs: 41.23+62.45+65.14]

The Hinton Quintet - A major work that impresses by its obdurate refusal to embrace the obvious and the threadbare and by itssincerity, its subtlety and its lyricism.

Edward ELGAR (1865-1934) Symphony No. 1 (1908) [48.43] Symphony No. 2 (1911) [51.35] Introduction and Allegro (1905) [14.16] Serenade (1892) [12.04]
LPO/Solti (symphonies); English Chamber Orchestra/Britten (Intro & Allegro); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner (Serenade) rec 1968 (Serenade), 1969 (Intro), 1972 (1), 1975 (2), Kingsway Hall, Maltings Snape (Intro) ADD DECCA The British Music Collection 473 082-2 [2CDs: 127.15]

The Elgar set has been chosen principally for the Second Symphony. Solti rips up the old assumptions and found excitement, snap, passion and splendour. No-one has built the crushing, slashing, silvery emotional landslide at the peak of the Larghetto as well as Solti. My top recommended version of the Symphony.

  Marc Bridle

Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) Symphony No. 2 Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim Recorded 12-15 December 2001, Orchestra Hall, Chicago Teldec 0927 43495 2, 2 discs priced as one (51’52 & 30’15)

Quite by some distance the finest (and I think most important) recording I've heard this year is Barenboim's incandescent performance of Furtwangler's Second Symphony. Wonderfully played, and passionately conducted, it stands head-and-shoulders above any other recording of this work (with the exception of the composer's own Vienna performance). MB

DVD/CD Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem (1874) Angela Gheorghiu (sop), Daniela Barcellona (mezzo), Roberto Alagna (tenor), Julian Konstantinov (bass) Swedish Radio Chorus Berliner Philharmoniker/Claudio Abbado
Recorded at live performances in the Philharmonie, Berlin on 25th & 27th January 2001 Full Price DVD EMI CLASSICS 7243 4 92693 9 2 Region coded for all territories [88’47"] CD EMI CLASSICS 7213 5 57168 2 8 [83’48"]

One of the most moving and powerful performances I have reviewed of Verdi’s masterpiece, not least because of the conductor’s failing health at the time. Seeing Abbado, clearly in pain, conduct this work gives added pathos to the performance. This DVD alone should defeat the argument that the medium is only successful for opera. MB

Tchaikovsky/Schumann Piano concertos Barenboim Munich Phlharmonic/ Celibidache EMI 5574172

There is no shortage of performances of Tchaikovsky's B flat piano concerto
but Barenboim's live 1991 performance from Munich under Celibidache is one
of the very best. Perhaps because Barenboim has played this work so
infrequently it comes across with startling freshness. No recent recording
looks so far back to the legendary performance of Solomon for its
inspiration and it is very rare indeed today to hear piano playing which is
so monumental in its power. Simply, a revelation.
(no link yet as it is still being reviewed) MB

  Michael Cookson

Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950) Symphony in G minor (1937) [44.30] Sinfonietta (1940) [23.03] Bournemouth SO/David Lloyd-Jones rec: 4-5 June 2001, Wessex Hall, Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset, DDD NAXOS 8.555837 [67.33]

David Lloyd-Jones can do no wrong at the moment and displays his impeccable
credentials with his reading of the wonderful Moeran symphony. The music is
so evocative of landscapes and seascapes, England and Ireland, some say even a train; you name and you may find it here. Marvellous stuff and my record of the year! MC

Arthur BLISS (1891 – 1975) String Quartet no.1 in B flat Major (1941) Conversations (1923) String Quartet in A Major c.1915 Nicholas Daniel – Oboe/Cor Anglais (tracks 5-9) Michael Cox – Flute/Alto Flute (tracks 5-9) The Maggini Quartet Recorded 2000, Suffolk, UK NAXOS 8.557108 [70:00]

The Maggini string quartet go from strength to strength with their
impressive series of British chamber music for Naxos. This release of
chamber music from Bliss rewards the listener with repeated plays and
demonstrates Bliss as a master craftsman in the chamber music field. I hear
the predominantly the English pastoral school in the works whilst my friend
hears French impressionism. So what! The listener has a real treat in
store with this welcome release. MC

Gustav HOLST (1874 – 1934) The Planets (with Colin Matthews’ Pluto, The Renewer) The Mystic Trumpeter * (ed. Colin Matthews and Imogen Holst) Claire Rutter * (soprano) Ladies of the RSNO Chorus and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Conducted by David Lloyd-Jones Recorded in Surround Sound in the City Halls Glasgow, 17-18 February 2001 NAXOS 8.555776 [75:18]

I have heard so many recordings of the Planets suite over the years but none
as good as this Naxos release which is now clearly the benchmark recording.
The orchestras performance is out of the top drawer which is a testament to
the conductor Davis Lloyd-Jones. Superb sound quality too from the Naxos recording engineers! MC

  Hubert Culot

Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882 – 1973) I Capricci di Callot (1942) Martina Winter (soprano), Giacinta; Markus Müller (tenor), Giglio; Gro Bente Kjellevold (mezzo-soprano), la Vecchia Beatrice; Bernd Valentin (baritone), il Principe; Burkhard Ulrich (tenor), il Poeta; Jörg Sabrowski (baritone), una Maschera; Thomas Schmid-Kapfenburg (piano); Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra; Peter Marschik Recorded (live): Opernhaus Kiel, May 1999 CPO 999 830-2 [56:36 + 36:36]

A fine performance of one of Malipiero's most attractive works. The music is richly melodic, colourful and appealing throughout. A wonderful example of Malipiero's sunniest lyricism. Excellent live recording. The sort of release that serves this much underrated composer well.HC

Edith CANAT DE CHIZY (born 1950) Exultet (1995)a Siloël (1992) Moïra (1998)b Laurent Korcia (violin)a; Sonia Wieder-Atherton (cello)b; Philarmonie de Lorraine; Pascal Rophé Recorded: Arsenal, Metz, March and July 1998 TIMPANI 1C1048 [47:05]

Three strikingly beautiful works by a most distinguished composer whose music is of great intellectual rigour as well as of great beauty. A name new to me, but one that I will look for in the future.HC

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929 – 1988) String Quartet No.1 Op.32 (1956) String Quartet No.2 Op.33 (1957) Seven Variations for String Quartet Op.43 (1964) Edinburgh Quartet (Susanne Stanzeleit, Philip Burrin, violin; Michael Beeston, viola; Mark Bailey, cello) Recorded: no details, published 2002 MERIDIAN CDE 84460 [67:43]

That Leighton was a most distinguished composer should never have been in doubt. This superb release should however definitely settle the issue. Three substantial works confirming Leighton's stature. Dedicated performances in excellent recording. A most welcome addition to Leighton's discography. HC

  Tony Duggan

Gustav MAHLER (1864-1911) Symphony No.6 in A Minor (1903-05) San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas (Recorded "live" at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, September 12-15 2001) Hybrid SACD - playable on SACD and standard CD players. SFS MEDIA 821936-0001-2 2 CD set [87.30].

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Tragic" (1903-4)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Günter Herbig Recorded "live" at the Congresshalle, Saarbrücken on 26th November 1999 BERLIN CLASSICS 0094612BC [75:38]

I review a lot of Mahler so I listen to a lot also. This year has seen two remarkable recordings of the Sixth Symphony which I choose for two different reasons. The first is the recording by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony on Avie. This recording is a perfect illustration of my firm belief that the performance of music is a public act which gains when placed in a specific time and place. This was recorded at "live" performances in the days following September 11th 2001 and must have been influenced by the events of that day. The second recording is by Gunther Herbig and the Saarbrucken Radio Orchestra. I choose this because of its superb quality and for the fact that it doesn't come from a high profile conductor or orchestra and should remind us to always look behind the hype and spin of the big name performers and record companies. TD

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 - 1975) The Symphonies (Complete) WDR Symphony Orchestra/Rudolf Barshai, with WDR Chorus (Nos. 2, 3), Sergei Aleksashkin (bass, No. 13), Moscow Choral Academy (No. 13), Alla Simoni (sop., No. 14), Vladimir Vaneev (bass, No. 14) Brilliant Classics 6324-1/11

My other choice is Shostakovich. The complete set of his symphonies conducted by Rudolf Barshai and the WDR Symphony on Brilliant Classics is an astounding bargain and it represents a lifetime's statement by a master conductor on a composer at the centre of his musical life. This is a set that will last you a lifetime also. As a companion to it don't overlook the recording of the Eleventh Symphony by Mstislav Rostropovich and the London Symphony Orchestra on LSO Live. The sound of the alarm bells left reverberating at the end is an unforgettable conclusion to a fabulous performance of a work that must now be regarded as one of the composer's most profound. This recording proves it.TD

  Christopher Fifield

Sir John Barbirolli The British National Anthem* [1’12"]   Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971): Street Corner Overture** [5’06"]   Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958): Symphony No 8 in D minor*** [28’57"]   Arnold BAX (1883-1953): Oboe Quintet (arr. Barbirolli)**** [17’54"]   Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934): On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring***** [6’57"]   William WALTON (1902-1983): Crown Imperial: A Coronation March* [7’00"]   Edward ELGAR (1857-1934): Land of Hope and Glory****** [4’19"]   *The Trumpeters and Band of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall   ****Evelyn Rothwell (oboe)   ******Kathleen Ferrier (contralto); The Hallé Choir   The Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli   Recordings: * and ***** Royal Albert Hall, London, 19 November 1969; ** Royal Festival Hall, London 24 April 1968; *** Royal Albert Hall, London, 11 August 1967; **** BBC Studios, London, 13 November 1968; ****** Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 16 November 1951   BBC Legends BBCL 4100-2 [73’19"]

This disc includes my favourite Vaughan Williams symphony, and in the hands of 'Glorious John' it could not have a more authentic interpreter, but the highlight of this varied fare is Kathleen Ferrier and her radiantly sublime singing of an over-familiar tune. CF

Peacock Pie Gordon JACOB (1895 – 1984) Concertino for Piano and Strings (1954) Cecil Armstrong GIBBS (1889 – 1960) Concertino Op.103 (1942) Peacock Pie (1933) Cyril ROOTHAM (1875 – 1938) Miniature Suite (1921) Robin MILFORD (1903 – 1959) Concertino in E major (1955) Madeleine DRING (1923 – 1977) Festival Scherzo (1951) Martin Roscoe (piano); Guildhall Strings; Robert Salter (director) Recorded: Henry Wood Hall, London, July 2001 HYPERION CDA 67316 [60:14]

A feast of fun from this enterprising group, down the byways of British music of 30 years 1925-1955 and coming up with more than pleasant surprises. Easy listening in beautifully crafted, witty pieces, broadening the scope for this attractive instrumental combination. CF

  Lewis Foreman

York BOWEN (1884-1961)Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1909-11) [32.47] Frederic AUSTIN (1872-1952) Symphonic Rhapsody: Spring (1902-07) [14.55] Edgar BAINTON (1880-1956) Symphonic Movement Genesis (1920) [19.56] Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra conducted by Douglas Bostock rec. RNCM Manchester, 15-16 Dec 2001 Three world premiere recordings The British Symphonic Collection - Vol. 10 CLASSICO CLASSCD 404 [79.14]

For me the highpoints of the year are all explorations of forgotten repertoire. Perhaps my favourite has been the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra's premiere recording of York Bowen's gloriously romantic Second Symphony - unplayed since 1912 - with a supporting programme of romantic British orchestral music by Frederic Austin and Edgar Bainton. LF

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The Early Chamber Music Piano Quintet in C minor for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass (1903) [30'30] Nocturne and Scherzo for string quintet (1906) [10'18] Suite de Ballet for flute and piano (edited Roy Douglas) (1913-1924?) [5'50] Romance and Pastorale - for violin and piano (c1914) [8'59] Romance for viola and piano (c1914) String Quartet in C minor (1898) [25'27] Quintet in D major for clarinet, horn, violin, cello and piano (1898) [24'50] Scherzo for string quintet (1904) [5'57] Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes (Household Music) for string quartet (1940/41) The Nash Ensemble: Philippa Davies flute, Richard Hosford clarinet; Richard Watkins horn; Marianne Thorsen violin; Elizabeth Wexler violin (string quintet; Preludes); Simon Blendis violin (String Quartet in C minor); Lawrence Power, Garfield Jackson viola (string quintet) Recorded in Henry Wood Hall on 25-27 June; 15-18 July 2002. DDD HYPERION CDA67381/2

But on the assumption that one should not vote for a recording one has worked on, let me quickly move on to highlight the Nash Ensemble's wide-ranging survey of early chamber music by Vaughan Williams, music which until recently was barred from performance. Yet there is nothing here to damage RVW's reputation. It is remarkable to be able to hear we can hear the composer searching for his mature voice. But even though the substantial Piano Quintet of 1903 and the memorable Quintet for horn, clarinet, piano and strings of 1898 do not sound like Vaughan Williams, it is still eminently worthwhile music, with some memorable writing beautifully realised by a top line group. By allowing the discoveries also to be from Vaughan Williams' maturity Hyperion have programmed treasurable performances of the Romance and Pastorale for violin and piano and the Romance for viola and piano, both of 1914, and lovely discoveries. With Hyperion's customary superb production values and good notes, this is how revivals should be done. LF

Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946) King Lear Overture Kubla Khan Prometheus Unbound Symphonic Prelude The Land-Of-The-Ever-Young The Frogs (Of Aristophanes) Overture Orion Dramatic Overture Festival March University of Salford Brass Band-Dr. Roy Newsome Recorded Maxwell Hall, University of Salford DOYEN DOYCD 109 DDD [66:40]

Finally the specialist brass band label Doyen, one not often seen in mainstream shops, but with a fine catalogue well worth investigating. Their survey of seven band works by Sir Granville Bantock resurrects several scores thought lost, but now rediscovered mouldering in band libraries and strongly justifying their airing in scrip performances by the Salford University Brass Band under their energetic conductor Roy Newsome. If you are a follower of Hyperion's Bantock orchestral series, this band music is an essential footnote. Bantock must have been the most productive of all established composers in writing for band, and the music here includes three extended overtures, atmospheric quasi-orchestral music such as the Hebridean poem The Land-of-the Ever-Young, and the Festival March. The latter, written for a labour party gathering in 1914, is perhaps the only surprise, for despite its arresting celebratory opening and catchy quick-march sections, it is actually more a short tone poem encompassing varied moods, than a concert march in the Elgarian mould. LF

  Tony Haywood

Iannis XENAKIS (1922-2001) Works for large orchestra Volume 1 Aïs for baritone, solo percussion and orchestra (1980) [17.29] Tracées (1987) [5.11] Empreintes (1975) [10.27] Noomena (1974) [12.33] Roáï (1991) [12.35] Spyros Sakkas (baritone), Béatrice Daudin (percussion solo) Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra Arturo Tamayo Recorded in Luxembourg Conservatoire, April, 2000 DDD
TIMPANI 1C1057 [59.02]

This is the first in an outstanding, and luckily ongoing, series from Timpani that plugs a serious gap in the output of a major 20th Century figure. Exemplary performances and recording. TH

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Petite Symphonie Concertante for Harp, Harpsichord, Piano and Double String Orchestra (1945) 6 Monologues aus ‘Jedermann’ (1943) Concerto for 7 Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion and Strings (1949) Eva Guibentif (harp), Christiane Jaccottet (harpsichord), Ursula Ruttimann (piano) Jean-Claude Hermenjat (flute), Jerome Capeille (oboe), Michel Westphal (clarinet), Roger Birnstingl (bassoon), Bruno Schneider (horn), Yves Guigou (trombone), Stephen Jeandheur (trumpet), Yves Brustaux (timpani) Gilles Cachemaille (baritone) Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Armin Jordan Recordings made between December 1989 and June 1991 DDD WARNER APEX 0927 48687 2 [62’42]

A superb digital collection at super budget price. Martin's music is in a tough neo-classical mode, highly individual yet very listenable. TH

  Neil Horner

Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001) The Three Symphonies Symphony No. 1 (1949)
Symphony No. 2 (1951) Symphony No. 3 (1959) New Zealand Symphony Orchestra James Judd, conductor Recorded in the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand, 29th - 31st May 2001. NAXOS 8.555862 [77.16]

Superb advocacy for wonderfully lyrical but concentrated nature music from NZ that ought to be far wider known - fans of Sibelius, Moeran, Harris etc. will love it. Essential. NH

Bagad de Lann-Bihoué 'Fromveur' Azerty Suite de Loudeac (a) Circus b) Servane c) Tan-Dezhi) Big Deal Dans Keff (featuring Solo Ensemble of Bombardes) Fest Ar Bragou Bihan Hanter Dro Evit Maelan Fromveur (featuring Ensemble Batterie) Suite Ecossaise Marie A'r M'enez (Gavotte des Montagnes) Souben Al Laez Features various combinations of cornemuses (bagpipes), bombardes, batteries (drums), percussions and accordeon. Recorded live at the Centre Culturel Oceanis de Ploemeur, Morbihan, Brittany on 15th May 2002. Saint George/Sony France (SAN 5086512) [46.46]

Not strictly (or even unstrictly!) classical but a brilliant listening experience. A white hot live performance by the celebrated Breton pipe band (bagad) of the French Navy. Totally addictive "martial folk" (?) music. NH

Geirr TVEITT (1908-1981) Variations on a Folksong from Hardanger for two pianos and orchestra (1949) (30.54) Piano Concerto No. 4 "Aurora Borealis", Op. 130 (1947) (29.57) Håvard Gimse (piano); Gunilla Süssmann (piano) Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset Rec 7th – 12th January 2001 in Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow NAXOS 8.555761 [60.51]

The finest yet of the Naxos Tveitt series. Norwegian folk music filteredthrough Bartok and Messiaen - the variations in particular are awesome intheir evocation of man's place in primal nature. Brilliant. NH

Christopher Howell

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Songs: Illalle, op. 17/6, Den judiska flickans sång, from Belshazzar’s Feast, op. 51, 6 Songs, op. 36, Jag är etz träd, op. 57/5, Necken, op. 57/8, 5 Songs, op. 37, Vem styrde hit din väg? Op. 90/6, Norden, op. 90/1, 6 Songs, op. 50, Våren flyktar hastigt, op. 13/4, Under strandens granar, op. 13/1 Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (pianoforte) Recorded 26th-28th June 2001, location not given HYPERION CDA67318 [65’01"]

Karnéus singing Sibelius songs; a glorious young voice in its first splendour interpreting some wonderful music with total involvement CH

Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944) Mélodies (1): Ronde d’amour, La Lune paresseuse, Sombrero, Mignonne, L’Anneau d’argent, Ma première lettre, L’Amour captif, Attente (Au pays de Provence), Voisinage, Bonne humeur, Alleluia, Malgré nous, Nice-la-belle, Menuet (1, 2), Te souviens-tu?, Auprés de ma mie, Viens! Mon bien-aimé, Si j’étais jardinier, Villanelle, Mots d’amour, Ecrin, Espoir, Chanson triste, Je voudrais …, L’Eté Pièces pour violon et piano (2) Sérénade espagnole, op. 150 (arr. Kreisler), Rondeau, op. 97, Capriccio, op. 18 Pièces pour deux pianos (3) Valse carnavalesque, op. 73, Pas de cymbales, op. 36/2, Danse païenne, op. 158 Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) (1), Nils-Erik Sparf (violin) (2), Peter Jablonski (pianoforte) (3), Bengt Forsberg (pianoforte) (all items) Recorded Sep. 2000, Stockholm, Sveriges Radio AB, Berwaldhallen DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 331-2 [76’ 09"]

Von Otter singing Chaminade; a revelation from one of the major singers of our times CF

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Overture – "Rob Roy", op. 54 (1) César FRANCK (1822-1890) Symphony in d (2) Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Suite no. 3 in G, op. 55: Theme and Variations (3) Sir William WALTON (1902-1983)
Portsmouth Point (4) Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Coriolan Overture, op. 62 (5) Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony no. 4 in d, op. 120 (6) Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Italian Serenade (7) Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony no. 4 in c, D.417 – "Tragic" (8) Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) The Tempest: Prelude (9) London Orchestra Society (2), London Philharmonic Orchestra (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9), New Philharmonia Orchestra (5), Philharmonia Orchestra (7)/Sir Adrian Boult EMI CLASSICS CZ5 5 75459 2 [2CDs: 73’45"+75’35"]

Some important recordings brought back to the catalogue after a long absence and a reminder that Boult was far more than an interpreter of British music. CF

Robert Hugill

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Giulio Cesare Cesare - Jennifer Larmore Cleopatra – Barbara Schlick Cornelia – Bernarda Fink Sesto – Marianne Rorholm Tolomeo – Derek Lee Ragin Achilla – Furio Zanasi Nireno – Dominique Visse Curio – Olivier Lallouette Concerto Köln/René Jacobs director HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 901385.87 (4 CDs priced as three) [243.25]

A first choice recording for Giulio Cesare, and high up the list of all time great Handel opera recordings. A must for all Handel lovers. RH

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Piano Concerto in E flat (1903) - Massenet Andante moderato - Allegro non troppo Largo Airs slovaques: Allegro Reynaldo HAHN (1875-1947) Piano Concerto in E (1931) Improvisation : modéré très librement Danse: Vif Reverie, Toccata et Finale: Lent - Gai, fortement rythme (pas trop vite) - Allegro Stephen Coombs (piano) BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Jean-Yves Ossonce
Recorded on 15/16 June 1996 The Romantic Piano Concerto: Volume 15 HYPERION CDA66897 [59.45]

Two charming french piano concertos in stylish performances. Hahn's masterly one deserves to have more outings. RH

Gwyn Parry-Jones

Tarantella – Music for double-bass and piano Giovanni BOTTESINI (1821-1889) Fantasie on ‘La Sonnambula’ [8:59] Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Une Larme pour Basse [3:01] Fritz KREISLER (1875-1972) Liebeslied Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Après un Rêve [3:29] Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Pièce en Forme de Habañera [3:23] Giovanni BOTTESINI Rêverie [3:41] Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Spring Song [2:25] Giovanni BOTTESINI Romanza Patetica [7:31] Serge KOUSSEVITSKY (1874-1951) Valse Miniature [2:50] Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Vocalise [6:25] Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956) Präludium op.32, no.1 [3:26] Scherzo op.32, no.2 [4:44] Intermezzo op.9, no.1 [3:18] Tarantella op.9, no.2 [4:42] Duncan McTier, double bass, Kathron Sturrock, piano Recorded on 7th and 8th March 1989 at University of Surrey Music Dept. BLACK BOX BBM 1004 [61:30]

Fantastic bass playing, and an exceptional partnership between McTier and Sturrock. GP-J

Ian Lace

Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Symphony No. 4 Overture to a Picaresque Comedy, Nympholept Royal Scottish National Orchestra Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones Rec 25-25 August 2000, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow NAXOS 8.555343 [64.38]

Bax’s highly evocative and colourful Fourth Symphony was influenced by the natural grandeur of Scotland’s west coast and islands, specifically the views in all weathers out from Morar (near Malaig at the end of the Road to the Isles from Fort William). David Lloyd-Jones’s reading is a triumphant continuation of his highly acclaimed and best-selling Bax symphonies series for Naxos. IL

Peacock Pie Gordon JACOB (1895 – 1984) Concertino for Piano and Strings (1954) Cecil Armstrong GIBBS (1889 – 1960) Concertino Op.103 (1942) Peacock Pie (1933) Cyril ROOTHAM (1875 – 1938) Miniature Suite (1921) Robin MILFORD (1903 – 1959) Concertino in E major (1955) Madeleine DRING (1923 – 1977) Festival Scherzo (1951) Martin Roscoe (piano); Guildhall Strings; Robert Salter (director) Recorded: Henry Wood Hall, London, July 2001 HYPERION CDA 67316 [60:14]

This is a delightful, genial compilation of shamefully neglected early-to-mid-20th century light music for strings and piano. Armstrong Gibbs is centre stage with two enchanting works: the title work based on verses by Walter de la Mare and the lovely elegiac Concertino written in the English Lake District during the turmoil of World War II. The other works are equally charming. IL

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Lieder Dietrich Henschel (baritone) with Helmut Deutsch (piano) Recorded November 2001, Teldec Studio, Berlin HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 901780 [75:45]

This harmonia mundi release reveals another golden seam in Korngold’s oeuvre, closing another important gap in our knowledge. Here are 36 of the composer’s songs (he composed around 40) ranging from the early, heavily-influenced, 12 Lieder of 1911 (when the composer was barely into his teens), to the radical, advanced harmonic language of the Drei Lieder Op. 18 of 1924.

This collection contains many first recordings including songs transcribed from the manuscripts and performed here for the very first time. Baritone Dietrich Henschel rises to the challenges of these often demanding songs, sensitively colouring his voice according to their mood and atmosphere. He is splendidly partnered by pianist Helmut Deutsch who reveals all the striking beauty of Korngold’s piano writing. IL


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