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Edward MacDOWELL (1860-1908) Piano Concerto No 2 Op.23 (1884-5) [25:47] Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Concerto No 1 in E flat (1848) [18:21] Piano Concerto No 2 in A (1848) [20:44] André Watts (piano) Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Litton Rec. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas in July 1995 TELARC CD-80429 [65:15] [PCW]

The playing is sympathetic and recorded sound excellent but this does not eclipse stiff competition in the Liszt concertos … see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Resurrection) (1903) [88.02] Isabel Bayrakdarian (soprano) Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo) San Francisco Symphony Chorus San Francisco Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, June 2004 SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY 821936-0006-2 [23.19 + 54.43] [SV]

I am not convinced that Thomas, a one-time Bernstein protégé, has inherited his former mentor's Mahler identification, nor are his flashes of insightful detail enough to add up to a consistently absorbing performance. ... see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 Resurrection (1894) Allegro maestoso [21.35], Andante moderato [9.53], In sehr ruhig fliessender Bewegung [10.32], "Urlicht": Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht [5.12], Im Tempo des Scherzos – Wild herausfahrend – Allegro energico – Langsam – Misterioso [34.08] Kathleen Battle (soprano), Maureen Forrester (contralto) Saint Louis Symphony Chorus Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin, Recorded in Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis, 10 and 12 October 1982 DDD TELARC CD-80081-2 [42.01 + 39.19] [EM]

Slatkin’s is a steady yet exciting performance – perhaps not as "great" a recording as Klemperer’s or Solti’s, but still one that I can heartily recommend. ... see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 4 in G (1899/1900) arr. 1920, Erwin Stein (1885-1958), reconstructed 1990, Alexander Platt. Kate Royal (soprano). Manchester Camerata/Douglas Boyd rec. live, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, 6 Nov 2004. DDD AVIE AV2069 [56'20] [CC]

Recommended. The recording is superb and it is difficult to believe this is a live performance, given the overall excellence of instrumental response. More than a curio, this Fourth has an appeal and an impact all of its own. ... see Full Review


Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) The Complete Piano Music
Eight Préludes (1948) [22.54] Esquisse (1965) [3.52] Clair de lune (1952) [1.46] Etude rythmique (1965) [2.10] Guitare (1933) [8.22] Fantasie sur des rythmes flamenco (1973) [13.21] Ouverture et foxtrot for two pianos (1924) [9.02] Pavane couleur de temps for four hands (1920) [5.40] Au clair de la lune for four hands (1955) [2.08] Deux Pièces faciles for two pianos (1937) [2.25] Etudes pour deux pianos (1957) [19.10] Julie Adam (piano) Christine Logan (piano) – two piano and four hands rec. Eugene Goossens Hall of ABC’s Ultimo Centre, August-November 2003 ABC CLASSICS 476 2601 [2 CDs 55.49 + 38.23] [JW]

Adam’s playing is fine, as is Logan’s and only the recording may disappoint somewhat. Unusually it’s rather clangy and diffuse. Otherwise, a warm welcome. ... see Full Review

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Double Concerto for Strings, Piano and Timpani (1940) [22’39] Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra (1931) [17’53] Tre Ricercare (1938) [14’22] Jean-François Heisser, Alain Planès (pianos); Jean Camosi (timpani); Brandis Quartet French National Orchestra/James Conlon Recorded in Studio 104, Radio France, Paris, 30 Jan.-3 Feb. 1990 WARNER APEX 2564 62035-2 [54’37] [TH]

On a purely artistic level these are pretty compelling performances. ... see Full Review

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) The Piano Concertos Romantisches Klavierkonzert (Romantic Piano Concerto) (1919-20) (I. Lebhaft (Allegro moderato) [16.53]; II. Nicht zu langsam (Andante affettuoso) [10.16]; III. Sehr lebhaft (Allegro molto) [13.18]) Castelli Romani for piano and orchestra (1929-30) (I. Villa Hadriana. Allegro (ma non tanto) [11.07]; II. Tusculum. Andante [8.04]; III. Frascati. Presto [12.30]) David Lively (piano) Bochum Symphony Orchestra/Steven Sloane rec. Erholungshaus der Bayer Industry Services, Leverkusen, Germany, 13-17 Jan 2004. DDD Complete Orchestral Music: Volume 4. SANCTUARY-ASV CD DCA 1174 [72.46] [RB]

The Marx revival continues with a tempestuous second recording of the Romantic Concerto and the world premiere of the bejewelled impressionistic Castelli Romani. Don't miss it. ... see Full Review

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria Rusticana (1889) Santuzza – Elena Obraztsova (sop) Turridu – Plácido Domingo (bar) Lucia – Fedora Barbieri (mezzo) Alfio – Renato Bruson (bar) Lola – Axelle Gall (mezzo) Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) I Pagliacci (1891-2) Canio – Plácido Domingo (bar) Nedda – Teresa Stratas (sop) Tonio – Juan Pons (bar) Silvio – Alberto Rinaldi (bar) Peppe – Florindo Andreolli (bar) Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Georges Prêtre Filmed c.1982 Directed by Franco Zeffirelli DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON UNITEL 00440 073 4033 [140:00] [TH]

If you like Zeffirelli’s ‘grand manner’, and realism where every grimace and jealous look is under the camera’s scrutiny, you can’t do better. ... see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto in D minor (1822) [23.28] RCA Victor String Orchestra, recorded New York, 1952 Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64 (1844) [27.15] Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler, recorded Berlin 1952 Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor Op.26 (1867) [22.47] Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch, recorded Boston 1951 Yehudi Menuhin (violin) with accompaniments as above NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110991 [73.31] [JW]

An interesting, if difficult, disc. For Menuhin’s admirers these retrievals are a boon. Sound is problematic but transfers are very reasonable. Menuhin made superior recordings of both the E minor and the Bruch. ... see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets, Vol. 3 Quartet in D major, Op. 44 No. 1 (1838) [28.46] Quartet in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2 (1837) [25.59] Four Movements for string quartet, Op. 81 (1827-1847) [20.09] Henschel String Quartet rec. 11-14 March 2004, Studio 1, Bayerische Rundfunk ARTE NOVA 82876 60848 2 [75.40] [TB]

The performance is as pleasing as the Henschel Quartet have provided elsewhere in the series, but I am not altogether sure that the Mendelssohn cause is best served by the issues this presentation raises. ... see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Complete Works for String Quartet String Quartet in E flat major (1823) [25.16] String Quartet in E flat major Op.12 (1829) [23.41] String Quartet in F minor Op.80 (1847) [25.35] String Quartet in A minor Op.13 [30.35] String Quartet in D major Op.44 No.1 (1831) [28.39] String Quartet in E minor Op.44 No.2 (1838) [27.29] String Quartet in E flat minor Op.44 No.3 (1838) [30.14] Andante and Scherzo in E major Op.81 Nos 1 and 2 (1847) [6.08 + 3.28] Capriccio in E minor Op. 81 No.3 (1843) [6.15] Fugue in E flat major Op. 81 No.4 (1827) [5.20] Pacifica Quartet Recorded at the Chicago Classical Recording Foundation, December 2002, October 2003, March and June 2004 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 082 [3 CDs 74.52 + 59.26 + 79.23] [JW]

A suitably warm and wonderfully detailed recording matches insight, imagination and colouristic sensibility. Consistently singing, illuminating and devoted interpreters. ... see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Complete Works for String Quartet
String Quartet in E flat major (1823) [24.04] String Quartet in E flat major Op.12 (1829) [22.43] String Quartet in F minor Op.80 (1847) [23.16] String Quartet in A minor Op.13 (1827) [27.11] String Quartet in D major Op.44 No.1 (1831) [26.22] String Quartet in E minor Op.44 No.2 (1838) [22.03] String Quartet in E flat minor Op.44 No.3 (1838) [28.56] Andante and Scherzo in E major Op.81 Nos 1 and 2 (1847) [9.16] Capriccio in E minor Op. 81 No.3 (1843) [5.47] Fugue in E flat major Op. 81 No.4 (1827) [5.22] Bartholdy Quartet Recorded February 1973 ARTS 47130-2 [3 CDs: 56.36 + 70.58 + 67.31] [JW]

Pleasing readings but the tonal quality is rather reserved and narrow-bore ... see Full Review


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) CD 1 Six Little Symphonies, L'homme et son désir, Piano Concerto No. 2, Suite cisalpine sur des airs populaires piemontais, CD 2 Le boeuf sur le toit, Concerto for percussion and small orchestra, Concerto No. 1 for viola and orchestra, La muse ménagère, Le carnaval d'Aix. Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra/Darius Milhaud , Luxembourg Radio Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Kontarsky /Louis de Froment rec. 1967-68, 1972. ADD. stereo. VOXBOX CDX 5109 [75:25 + 74:59] [RB]

One of classical music’s bargains of all time ... at less than bargain price two and a half hours of engaging music: gritty, jazzy, pastoral, urbane, winsome and witty.... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Quintet in E flat major, K452, for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano (1784) [22:48] Trio in E flat major, for clarinet, viola and piano, K498 'Kegelstatt' (1786) [18:53] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Quintet in E flat major, Op 16, for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano (1796) [26:37] Consortium Classicum/Dieter Klöcker Recorded in 1978 (Quintets) and 1981 (Trio) CPO 777 010-2 [68:16] [PL]

Having lived unquestioningly with the near-perfect Perahia/ECO Sony I'd made the fatal mistake of assuming that no one else could add to it. But Consortium Classicum are fine musicians, and the ADD recordings are clean and natural. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet in D K575 [25.12] String Quartet in B flat K589 [23.47] String Quartet in F K590 [27.30] Tokyo String Quartet Recorded at Sprague Hall, Yale University, May and November 2004 BIDDULPH 80215-2 [76.29] [JW]

Beautiful sounds from the Tokyo and they explore the architecture of these big works with consistent perception. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonata in A minor, K.310 (1778) [17’28] March in C major, K.408 (1782) [2’58] Courante in E flat major, K.399 (1782) [2’13] Gigue in G major, K.574 (1789) [1’32] Rondo in A minor, K.511 (1787) [10’14] Piano Sonata in F major, K.533/494 (1788) [23’54] Richard Goode (piano)
rec. American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, June 19-21 2003; March 9 2004 NONESUCH 7559-79831-2 [58’14] [TH]

If you are a Goode fan, or just fancy wallowing in a well programmed, superbly recorded concert hall-style recital, you really will enjoy this. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Operatic and Concert Arias - Margaret Price; Operatic Arias:- La clemenza di Tito, K.621, Act I: Parto, parto Le nozze di Figaro, K492, Act 2.Voi che sapete; Act 3 E Susanna non vien! Dove sono; Act 4. Giunse alfin il momento. Deh vieni, non tardar Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K.384, No. 11: Martern allerArten Il re pastore, K.208, Act 3 L'amero, saro costante Don Giovanni, K.527 Act 2. In quali eccessi. Mi tradi. Crudele? Non mi dir Idomeneo, K.366. Act 2. Idol mio Concert Arias: Bella mia fiamma; Resta, o cara, K.528; Vado, ma dove? K.583; Vorrei spiegarvi, o Dio! K.418 Margaret Price (sop) English Chamber Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra/James Lockhart Recorded Abbey Road Studio 1, London, February 1973 and Conway Hall, London, March 1974. DDD BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876 65841-2 [78.06][RJF]

Caught early in the decade of her best singing this disc is an excellent representation of Margaret Price’s highly accomplished vocal skills in repertoire which she loved and which was widely loved by audiences. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze di Figaro – opera in four acts Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte after Beaumarchais Count Almaviva – Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Countess – Kiri te Kanawa (soprano) Susanna – Mirella Freni (soprano) Figaro – Hermann Prey (baritone) Cherubino – Maria Ewing (soprano) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Böhm Staged and directed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle Rec. Sofiensaal, Vienna, Dec. 1975; filming Shepperton Studios, London, June 1976. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON UNITEL 00440 073 4034 [2 DVDs: 181:00] [ED]

If you are not convinced now, the chances are you may never be. For my part, I would not want to be without it. It really is that simple. ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte: The Magic Flute, K620 (1791) Tamino - Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (tenor) Pamina - Dawn Upshaw (soprano) Queen of the Night - Beverley Hoch (soprano) Sarastro - Cornelius Hauptmann (bass) Papageno - Andreas Schmidt (baritone) Papagena - Catherine Pierard (soprano) Monostatus - Guy de Mey (tenor) Speaker - Olaf Bär (bass-baritone) Three Boys - Tessa Bonner, Evelyn Tubb and Caroline Trevor (sopranos) Three Ladies - Nancy Argenta, Eirian James and Catherine Denley (sopranos) Two Armed Men - Rufus Müller (tenor) and Richard Wistreich (bass) Schütz Choir of London London Classical Players/Roger Norrington Recorded in Studio 1, Abbey Road, London, December 1990 VIRGIN VERITAS 4-82073-2 [72:39 + 66:06] [PL]

Notably well-balanced, both as performance and recording. You may find that its impact is lessened by Norrington's impatience and the sheer quantity of dialogue. In every other respect, it's as good as any. ... see Full Review

Pehr Henrik NORDGREN (b. 1944) Rock Score Op.100 (1997) [12 :04] Cello Concerto No.1 Op.50 (1980) [23 :28] TRANSE-CHORAL Op.67 (1985) [30 :32] Marko Ylönen (cello) Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/Juha Kangas Recorded: Folk Arts Centre, Kaustinen, Finland, June 2002 BIS CD-1356 [67:15] [HC]

I doubt that these vital and committed performances could be bettered. ... see Full Review

Vítěslav NOVÁK (1870-1949) Six Sonatinas Op. 54 (1919-20 Sch111): No. 1 in C major Spring; No. 2 in A minor From Children's Lives; No. 3 in F major Spring; No. 4 in E minor Fairy-Tale; No. 5 in D minor Brigand; No. 6 in C major Christmas; Sonata Eroica Op. 24 (1900 Sch68) Pan Op. 43 (1910 Sch96) Bagatelles Op. 5 (1899 Sch63) My May Op. 20 (1899 Sch61) Songs on Winter Nights Op. 30 (1902-03 Sch77) Youth Op. 55 selection (1920 Sch112) František Rauch (piano) rec. Prague 1969, 1970, 1957, 1976. ADD SUPRAPHON SU 3744-2 113 [64.41+76.23+57.21] [JW]

Clearly a benchmark set for collectors ... see Full Review

DISCOVERY OF THE MONTH Gösta Nystroem (1890-1966) Prelude to The Tempest (1934) [12:31] Songs by the Sea (1942-43) [17:54] Symphony No.3 Sinfonia del Mare (1947-48) [40:38] Charlotte Hellekant, mezzo Women’s Choir from the Swedish Radio Choir (Prelude) Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov rec. Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, 4-5 Dec 1997 (Symphony); 10 Jan 2000 (Tempest); 13-14 Jan 2000 (Songs) MUSICA SVECIAE PSCD 709 [71:20] [JF]

A fantastic CD by a composer who is little known outside Sweden. Sea music portrayed in a great fusion of romanticism and modernism. ... see Full Review

Arvo PÄRT (b.1935) Es Sang vor Langen Jahren (1984) [6’38] Stabat Mater (1985) [23’55] Magnificat (1989) [6’33] Nunc Dimittis (2001) [6’39] My Heart’s in the Highlands (2000) [7’37] Zwei Sonatinen for piano, Op.1 (1958/9) [12’54] Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) [9’34] Stephen De Pledge (piano) Stephen Wallace (counter-tenor) Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh Chamber Domain/Matthew Owens (conductor and organ) Recorded at Gateway Studios, Kington, Surrey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh and Champs Hill, Pulborough, all March 2002 BLACK BOX BBM1071 [73’41] [TH]

Performances are uniformly superb and the recordings excellent ... a very appropriate birthday gift for the composer, who turns 70 later this year. ... see Full Review

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935): A Portrait CD 1 1. Für Alina Alexei Lubimov, piano
2. Symphony No. 1: Second movement Bamberg SO/Neemi Järvi 3. Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten Strings of Hungarian State Opera Orchestra/Antal Eisrich 4. Passio: Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem Tonus Peregrinus/Antony Pitts 5. Berliner Messe: Kyrie Elora Festival Singers and Orchestra/Noel Edison 6. Fratres for cello and piano Tibor Párkányi, cello /Sándor Falvai, piano 7. Magnificat Elora Festival Soingerws and Orchestra/ Noel Edison 8. Summa for strings Strings of Hungarian State Opera orchestra/Tamás Benedek 9. Passio: Unde es tu? Jesu autem responsum non dedit ei Tonus Peregrinus/Antony Pitts 10. Berliner Messe: Credo Elora Festival Singers and Orchestra/Noel Edison 11. The Beatitudes Elora Festival Singers and Orchestra/Jurgen Petrenko,organ/Noel Edison 12 – 18 Annum per annum for organ Kevin Bowyer, organ CD 2 1. Fratres for strings and percussion Antal Eisrich & Miklós Kovács, percussion/Strings of Hungarian State Opera Orchestra/Tamás Benedek 2 – 4. Collage über B-A-C-H Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa 5 – 7. Pro et contra for cello and orchestra Frans Helmerson, cello/Bamberg SO/Neemi Järvi 8. Symphony No. 3: Third movement Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa 9. Cantate Domino canticum novum (Psalm 95)
Elora Festival singers and Orchestra/Jurgen Petrenko, organ/Noel Edison 10. Spiegel im Spiegel Daniel Hope, violin, Simon Mulligan, piano 11- 13. Triodion The Choir of Lancing College/Peter Davis, organ/Neil Cox 14. Tabula rasa:Ludus Leslie Hatfield & Rebecca Hirsch, violins/Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa 15. Passio: Et ex illa hora accepit eam discipulus in sua Tonus Peregrinus/Antony Pitts Including 78 page booklet by Nick Kimberley No recording dates and venues given NAXOS 8.558182-83 [78:29 + 75:59]
Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935): Spiegel im Spiegel 1. Fratres for violin and piano Vadim Gluzman, violin, Angela Yoffe, piano 2. Dopo la vittoria (Piccola cantata) 3. Bogoròditse Djévo 4. I am the True Vine Swedish Radio Choir/Tõnu Kaljuste 5. Annum per annum Hans-Ola Ericsson, organ 6. Spiegel im Spiegel Vadim Gluzman, violin, Angela Yoffe, piano 7. Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka 8. Für Alina Alexei Lubimov, piano 9 – 11. Quentettino, Op. 13 Philharmonisches Bläserquintett Berlin 12 – 14. Concerto piccolo über B-A-C-H for trumpet, strings, harpsichord and piano Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet, Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi 15. Fratres for string quartet Tallinn Quartet 16. Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi Recorded 1988 – 2002 at different venues BIS-CD-1434 [77:23] [GF]

What counts is the music of Pärt and it is worth delving deeply into. ... see Full Review

Gavriil POPOV (1904-1972) Symphony No.1, op.7 (1934) Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Theme and variations, op.3 (1922) London Symphony Orchestra/ Botstein Recorded in Watford Town Hall, Watford, England, April 5-8, 2004. DDD TELARC CD 80642 [65:24] [SA]

Popov: an extremely satisfying and poignant work and thoroughly recommended. Shostakovich: less than typical of the composer but delightful and hugely enjoyable ... see Full Review

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Suite Française (after Claude Gervaise, arranged Poulenc 1953 from the chamber suite, 1935) [11.04] Two Song Arrangements (1943 arranged John York, 2003) C’est ainsi que tu es (No.2 of Métamorphoses de Louise de Vilmorin) [1.59] C (No.1 of Deux poèmes de Louis Aragon) [2.20] Sérénade (No 8 of Chansons gaillardes 1925-26 transcribed Maurice Gendron 1950) [2.19] Sonata for Cello and piano (1949) [22.27] Sonata for two pianos (1952-53) [21.12]* Raphael Wallfisch (cello) John York (piano) York 2 Piano Duet (John and Fiona York)* Recorded at Champs Hill, Pulborough, Sussex in June 2000 except the Sonata for two pianos, recorded in St George’s Brandon Hill, Bristol, May 2000 ASV GOLD GLD 4014 [62.28] [JW]

A good hour of music nostalgic, acerbic, witty and naughty not forgetting Poulenc’s irresistible ear for melodic beauty. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Piano Music: Les Soirées de Nazelles (1930-1936) [22:06] Napoli: Suite (1922-1925) [10:45] Mélancolie (1940) [6:09] Trois Novelettes (1927; 1959) [7:08] 15 Improvisations (1932-1959) [26:53] Charles Owen (piano) Rec. Walthen Hall, St Paul’s School, London SW13, 6-7 September 2003 SOMM CD 035 [73:24] [IL]

Delicacy and brilliant insouciance. An album to cherish and one that will undoubtedly figure highly in my recital discs of 2005. ... see Full Review

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891 - 1953) Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 19 (1917) [22’16"] Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63 (1935) [28’17"] Suite from – The Love for Three Oranges Op. 33a (1924) [16’22"] Boris Belkin (violin) Opp. 19 and 63
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Kirill Kondrashin (Op. 19), Rudolf Barshai (Op. 63), Walter Weller (Op. 33a). All recorded in Kingsway Hall, London, January 1981 (Op. 19), January 1982 (Op. 63), and November 1977 (Op. 33a) ADD/DDD ELOQUENCE 476 2744 [67.16] [JPh]

I have had much pleasure from this disc and will be returning to it regularly. I highly recommend it. ... see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly (1904) Mirella Freni (soprano) Cio-Cio-San (Butterfly); Plácido Domingo (tenor) B. F. Pinkerton; Christa Ludwig (mezzo) Suzuki; Robert Kerns (baritone) Sharpless; Michel Sénéchal (tenor) Goro; Marius Rintzler (bass) The Bonze; Elke Schary (mezzo) Kate; Giorgio Stendoro (baritone) Prince Yamadori; Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan. Rec. Sofiensaal, Vienna, in January and September 1974. DDD
Staged, Directed and Designed by Jean-Pierre Ponselle. Filmed at Union Film, Berlin, in November - December 1974; Picture format: NTSC Colour 4:3. Region Code 0 (Worldwide). Sound formats PCM Stereo; DTS 5.0. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD 073 4037 [145'00] [CC]

Ponselle's film of Butterfly is an interesting affair, although some may detect an over-reliance on dream-sequence. ... see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca (1896-99) Raina Kabaivanska (soprano) Tosca; Plácido Domingo (tenor) Mario Cavaradossi; Sherill Milnes (baritone) Scarpia; Giancarlo Luccardi (bass) Angelotti; Mario Ferrara (tenor) Spoletta; Alfredo Mariotti (bass) Sacristan; Bruno Grella (bass) Sciarrone; Domenico Medici (bass) Jailer; Plácido Domingo Jnr (treble) Shepherd Boy Ambrosian Singers; New Philharmonia Orchestra/Bruno Bartoletti. Rec. Walthamstow Hall, London in August 1976 (sound); filmed on location in Rome, Italy, September-October 1976. Director Gianfranco de Bosio. Set and Costume Giancarlo Pucci. NTSC Colour 4:3; Region Code 0 (Worldwide). PCM Stereo/DTS 5.1. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD 073 4038 [115'00] [CC]

My preferred Tosca DVD now, particularly for the often glorious Domingo. ... see Full Review


Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924) Concerto per Puccini Gianni Schicchi: Ah, che zucconi; Firenze è come un albero fiorito La Bohème: Che gelida manina; Si, Mi chiamano Mimi; O soave fanciulla; In un coupe? ... Con pariglie e livree Madama Butterfly: Un bel di vedremo Turandot: Non piangere Liù Il Tabarro: Nulla, silenzio La fanciulla del West: Minnie, dalla mia casa Manon Lescaut: Tutta su me ti posa; Manon, senti amor mio; Sola, perduta, abbandonata; Fra le tue braccia Renata Tebaldi (soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor), Giuseppe Taddei (baritone) Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della Rai/Alberto Paoletti Recorded live on November 29th, 1954 at RAI Auditorium in Rome, to commemorate 30th Anniversary of Giacomo Puccini’s death. WARNER FONIT 5050467-7215-2-4 [60:56] [GF]

Can be confidently recommended to anyone who wants to hear these three great singers in their prime. ... see Full Review

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) The Fairy Queen (1692) [143.56] Sara Macliver; Miriam Allan; Belinda Montgomery (sop); Sally-Anne Russell; Jenny Duck-Chong (mezzo); Jamie Allen; Paul McMahon; Brett Weymark (ten); Corin Bone; Simon Lobelson (bar); Stephen Bennett (bass) Cantillation Orchestra of the Antipodes/Antony Walker rec. Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Ultimo Centre, December 2003. DDD ABC CLASSICS 476 2879 [70.50 + 73.06] [GH]

I love the young freshness of the voices ... absolutely ideal ... chorus work is crisp and the diction clean. There is much to enjoy here. It has spirit and is alive with a true sense of theatre. ... see Full Review

Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) Complete Folk Song arrangements, Complete Part songs for Women's voices Amanda Pitt (soprano); Joanne Thomas (mezzo); Philip Langridge (tenor); David Wilson-Johnson (baritone); David Owen Norris (piano) recorded University of Southampton, 14-15 Feb, 31 Aug, 1 Sept 2004. DDD NAXOS 8.557495 [77’53"] [AO]

A worthy addition to British song history. Quilter enhances traditional tunes with understated, self effacing arrangements. ... see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Isle of the Dead Op. 29 (1909) [22:30] Symphonic Dances Op. 45 (1940) [36:45] London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski rec. Royal Festival Hall, London, 8 Dec 2004 (Isle), 29 Oct 2003 (Dances). SACD. DDD LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0004 [60:17] [RB]

A very personal and expansive Isle of the Dead and a stolid set of Symphonic Dances that picks up momentum and temper only in the final panel ... see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (1900) [33:47] Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40 (1925) [26:10] Nikolai Lugansky (piano) City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo Recorded in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 4-6 January 2005 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 61946-2 [59:59] [PL]

Lugansky's wide-ranging performances encompass the entire gamut of Rachmaninov's inexhaustible emotional palette. Enthusiastically recommended. ... see Full Review

Maurice RAVEL (1875 – 1937) Shéhérazade (Trois Poèmes de Tristan Klingsor) (1903): Asie; La Flûte enchantée; L’Indifférent Henri DUPARC (1848 – 1933) Les Mélodies: L’Invitation au Voyage; Sérénade Florentine; La Vague et la Cloche; Extase; Phidylé; Le Manoir de Rosamunde; Lamento; Testament; Chanson triste; Elégie; Soupir; La Vie antérieure Konrad Jarnot (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano) rec. 20–23 December, 2003, Konzertsaal der Musikhochschule, Munich OEHMS CLASSICS OC 355 [61:01] [GF]

A pleasant surprise and I urge readers to give it a try. ... see Full Review


Max REGER (1873-1916) Organ Works Volume 5: Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 60 (1901) [23’40]. Organ Pieces, Op. 65, Nos. 7-12 (1902) [34’33] – No. 7, Prelude in D minor [6’25]; No. 8, Fugue in D [4’13]; No. 9, Canzona in E flat [6’31]; No. 10, Scherzo in D minor [3’13]; Toccata in E minor [4’37]; Fugue in E [7’43]. Chorale Fantasia on ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’, Op. 52 No. 2 (1900) [19’39] Stefan Frank (organ). Rec. on the Great Organ of Fulda Cathedral (Rieger-Sauer) in October 2002. DDD NAXOS ORGAN ENCYCLOPAEDIA 8.557186 [76’14][CC]

Reger’s music is fully deserving of investigation. A reputation for dullness and turgidity by no means represents the whole story ... see Full Review

Josef Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Organ Music Volume 11 Sonata No. 17 op. 181 (1894) [22:08] Sonata No. 18 op. 188 (1897) [21:33] Zwölf Trios für Orgel op. 189 (1897) [25:46] Consolation [3:42] Rudolf Innig (organ) Rec. Stadtkirke St. Anton, Zürich, 5-6 August 2004 MDG RECORDS MDG 317 0901-2 [73:45] [BJ]

Rudolf Innig is a fantastic organist, and his technical proficiency demonstrated on this CD is amazing. ... see Full Review

Josef RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Complete Organ Works, Vol 12 Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 193 (1899) [27.37] Sonata No. 20 in F major, Op. 196 (1901) [29.43] Canzonetta Intermezzo Praeludium Trio: Andantino Singmesse Rudolf Innig (organ) Rec 7-8 August 2004, Stadtkirche St Anton, Zürich MDG 317 0902 2 [79.24] [TB]

For the discerning listener this disc is worth exploring. ... see Full Review

Afterimage - Slava Grigoryan plays the music of Shaun Rigney Shaun RIGNEY (b. 1960) 1. Girasol [8:39] 2. Garden of Forking Paths - guitar quintet [14:27] Flinders Quartet 3-12. Ten Coastal Sketches [13:53] 13-16. Lapis Lazuli - concerto for guitar and orchestra [20:40] Maria Miller (violin), Orchestra Victoria/Brian Kelly 17-19. Sonata in E Major- homage to Rodrigo [7:46] 20. end point - duet for guitar and oboe [3:39] Stephen Robinson, oboe Slava Grigoryan, guitar Recorded at the Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Melbourne, Avalon Studios NSW. ABC CLASSICS 476 227-1 [69:09] [ZT]

Combining new compositions of wide appeal and excellent guitar playing, this new release on the ABC Classics label can be enthusiastically recommended. ... see Full Review

Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908) Opera Edition: Snegurocha (Snow Maiden) May Night, The Golden Cockerel, Boyarinya Vera Sheloga CAPRICCIO 49 474 [8 CDs: 63:56 + 66:37 + 78:46 + 52:33 + 70:47 + 46:17 + 72:24 + 49:13] [GF]

It has been rewarding to listen through these four operas but be warned, while there is much here that is enchanting all is not gold ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Hilding ROSENBERG (1892 – 1985) Lycksalighetens ö (The Isle of Bliss) (1945) - opera in four acts. Patrik Forsman (tenor) – Astolf; Agneta Eichenholz (soprano) – Felicia; Lisa Gustafsson (soprano) – Zephyr; Susanna Levonen (contralto) – Anemotis, Nyx; Peter Kadiev (baritone) - Time; Håkan Starkenberg (tenor) – Young Florio, East Wind, Mopsus; Lars Martinsson (bass) – Hunter, North Wind, Old Florio; Dietmar Keitz (bass) – Hunter, North Wind, Priest; Anna Bergendahl Sjöberg (mezzo-soprano) – Peribanou; Anna Axelson (soprano) – Nightingale, Ervina; Helena Martinsson (contralto) – Laura; Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlands Opera, Children’s Chorus and Chorus of the Norrlands Opera, Chorus Master: Kjell Oscarsson/Kristjan Järvi Recorded live at the Norrlands Opera, Umeå, March 2nd, 8th, 9th and 12th, 2002 PHONO SUECIA PSCD 722 (1-2) [62:44 + 56:21] [GF]

Highly approachable music ... any lover of late-romantic opera will feel at home. I recommend this with the highest possible enthusiasm. ... see Full Review

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville, 1813) [7:04] La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie) (1817) [9:16] La Cenerentola (Cinderella, 1817) [7:23] Il Signor Bruschino (1813) [4:34] La scala di seta (The Silken Ladder, 1812) [6:27] Guglielmo Tell (William Tell, 1829) [11:58] Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, 22 November 1958 BMG CLASSICS (RCA RED SEAL) 82876 65844 2 [47:02] [PL]

A disc to make you smile, to lift your spirits. Effervescent music and the unmatched panache of Reiner's conducting are a winning formula! ... see Full Review

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia - comic opera in two acts Libretto by Cesare Sterbini based on the Beaumarchais play. First performed at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, 20 February 1816 Count Almaviva, Luigi Alva (ten); Figaro, a barber, Hermann Prey (bar); Bartolo, a doctor and ward of Rosina, Enzo Dara (buffa bar); Rosina, Teresa Berganza (mezzo); Basilio, a singing teacher, Paolo Montarasolo (bass); Berta, Dr. Bartolo’s housekeeper, Stefania Malagú (mezzo); Fiorello, servant of Count Almaviva, Renato Cesari (bass) Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala, Milan/Claudio Abbado Recorded July and August 1972. Unitel Film based on a production at Teatro Alla Scala, Milan Staged, directed and designed by Jean-Pierre Ponelle Presented in PCM Stereo/5.1 DTS Surround Sound. NTSC/Colour/ 4:3 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD VIDEO 000440 073 4039 GH [140:00] [RJF]

Curiously wooden. ... see Full Review

Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995)
Sinfonia Concertante op. 29 (1958) [31:16] Notturno Ungherese op. 28 (1962) [8:31] Tripartita op. 33 (1972) [23:52] András Agoston (violin) Lászlo Fenjö (cello) Philharmonia Hungarica/Werner Andreas Albert rec. Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, Stadthalle Vennehof, 11-20 Oct 2000 (Op. 29); 26-30 May 2000 (opp. 28, 33). DDD CPO 999 839-2 [63:42] [RB]

A refreshing collection with excellent interpretations all round ... see Full Review

Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995) Three Choral Suites: Ben-Hur, Quo Vadis and King of Kings: Ben-Hur (1951) 1. Overture; 2. Star of Bethlehem/Adoration of the Magi; 3. Rowing of the Galley Slaves; 4. Alleluia; 5. Parade of the Charioteers; 6. Miracle and Finale Quo Vadis (1959) 7. Prelude; 8. Ave Caesar March; 9. Fertility Hymn; 10. Assyrian Dance; 11. Marcus and Lygia; 12. Miracle and Finale King of Kings (1961) 13. Overture; 14. Roman Legions; 15. Nativity; 16. The Feast of Passover; 17. Herod's Feast; 18. Miracles of Christ; 19. The Lord's Prayer; 20. Pieta; 21. Resurrection and Finale Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Craig Jessop Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel Rec. orchestra: Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, 15-16 May 2004; choir: Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah, 22 Oct 2004 DSD 2 Channel Recording 6 Channel Recording multichannel SACD as well as the CD recording TELARC CD-80631 [61:54] [IL]

An album of highlights of the three scores that now supersedes the original soundtrack albums. ... see Full Review

Detailed listing (last two days)]
[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L]  [Part 7 Misc M-Z]

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