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Hans ABRAHAMSEN  (b. 1952) Stratifications (1973/5)a [8:51] Nacht und Trompeten (1981)a [10:21] Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1999/2000)b [15:21] Johann Sebastian BACH  (1685 – 1750) Befiehl du deine Wege BWV 272 (arranged Abrahamsen 1991)c [7:03] Carl NIELSEN  (1865 – 1931) Three Piano Pieces Op. 59 (1926, arranged Abrahamsen 1990)c [10:15] Per NØRGÅRD  (b. 1932) Breaking (1983, arranged Abrahamsen 1992)c [5:13] Arnold SCHOENBERG  (1874 – 1951) Four Pieces from Sechs kleine Klavierstücke Op.19 (1911, arranged Abrahamsen 1998)c [5:25] Anne Marie Abildskov (piano)b; Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DRa; BIT20 Ensemblebc; Thomas Dausgaarda, Ilan Volkovbc Recorded: Danish Radio Concert Hall, March 2000 (Stratifications, Nacht und Trompeten); and NRK AS Grieghallen and NRK Minde, May 2002 DA CAPO 8.226010  [62:39][HC]

As fine an introduction to this composer’s personal sound world as might be desired. Excellent performances caught in fine recording. Well worth investigating ... see Full Review

Hugo ALFVÉN (1872-1960) Symphony No. 4 From the Outermost Skerries Op. 39 (1919) Festival Overture Op. 52 (1944) Arndis Halla, (soprano vocalise), Johann Valdimarsson, (tenor vocalise), Sigrun Edvaldsdottir (violin), Richard Talkowsky (cello), Kristjan Th. Stephensen, (cor anglais) Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Niklas Willén. Rec. Haskolabo University Cinema Auditorium, Reykjavik, Iceland, 10–13 June 2003 DDD. NAXOS 8.557284 [58’12”][JP]

This very attractive disc. All of this for £4.99! We don’t know how lucky we are. ... see Full Review

Beth ANDERSON (b.1950) Quilt Music (1983) [24:49] Joseph Kubera (piano) Cat Songs: Lazy Pussy [1:48]; Kilkenny Cats [0:41]; Tyger Tyger [3:34]; Hey Diddle Diddle [0:36]; She Sights a Bird [1:10]; The Widow and Her Cat [1:34] Dreaming Fields: The Sugarplum Tree [4:19]; The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat [2:08]; Wynken, Blynken, & Nod [3:45] Harlem Songs*: Song [3:10]; Southern Roads [3:45]; Tableau [1:24]; While You Love Me [2:15] Keith Boardman (baritone), Johannes Wallmann (piano), *Darren Campbell (string bass) Belgian Tango [3:11]; Dr. Blood’s Mermaid Lullaby [3:06] Tale No 1 (2000) [2:47]; Tale No 2 (2000) [2:24] Ana Milosavljevic (violin), Terezija Cukrov (piano) Cleveland Swale (2001) [9:15] Darren Campbell (string bass), Kirsty Matheson (string bass), Johannes Wallmann (piano) No Recording information DDD ALBANY TROY 709 [76:05][PCW]

A potpourri of works which are tuneful, original and worth exploring … see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard Concertos Concerto for two keyboards in C minor, BWV 1062 Concerto for two keyboards in C major, BWV 1061 Concerto for three keyboards in D minor, BWV 1063 Concerto for two keyboards in C minor, BWV 1060 Güher and Süher Pekinel (Piano) Zürcher Kammerorchester/Howard Griffiths rec. Neumunster, Zurich 23-25, 27 June 2003. WARNER CLASSICS 2564 61950-2 [58:29] [ZT]

Can be enthusiastically recommended to provide 56 minutes of musical pleasure to all except the "pre-occupied purist". ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations BWV988 Jenő Jandó (piano) Recorded Phoenix Studios, Budapest, February 2003 NAXOS 8.557268 [77.29] [JW]

Next to Hewitt, say, it must cede recommendation, even at budget price ... see Full Review

J.S. BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites (complete) Maria Kliegel (cello) Recorded at the Phoenix Studio, Budapest, Hungary, May 2003. DDD NAXOS 8.557280-81 [71.56 + 76.56] [ZT]

Something special both for insatiable Bach cello suite "nuts" as well as neophytes embarking on a new musical odyssey ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord, Vol. I Sonata No. 1 in b minor BWV 1014 [13:25] Sonata No. 2 in A Major BWV 1015 [13:30] Sonata No. 3 in E Major BWV 1016 [16:30] Sonata No. 4 in c minor BWV 1017 [15:23] James Ehnes, violin Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord Recorded November 9-11 2004 at Domaine Forget, Canada. ANALEKTA AN 2 9829 [59:28] [KS]

A disc that will have pride of place on my shelf and one that is sure to get repeated listening. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin (ca. 1720) CD1 [77:56] Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV1001 [19:05] Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV1004 [31:04] Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV1003 [27:47] CD2 [76:02] Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV1006 [20:07] Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV1002 [29:49] Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV1005 [26:06] Oleg Kagan (violin) recorded live in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 16 April 1989 WARNER ELATUS 2564 61885-2 [77:56 + 76:02] [PL]

Some extraordinary playing of extraordinary music, and a record of an extraordinary occasion. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suites for unaccompanied cello (ca. 1720) transcribed for viola CD1 [57:03] Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV1007 [17:36] Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV1008 [19:21] Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV1009 [20:06] CD2 [73:32] Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV1010 [22:24] Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV1011 [22:55] Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV1012 [28:13] Nobuko Imai (viola) recorded in the Théâtre La Musica, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, June 1997 (Nos 1-3) and January 1999 (Nos 4-6) PHILIPS 475 6219 [57:03 + 73:32] [PJL]

Bridges the gap between old-time expressive indulgence and latter-day historically-informed performance practice. I recommend this whole-heartedly. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Fantasia and Fugue in A minor BWV904 (1714-17) [7'59] Aria Variata 'alla Maniera Italiana' BWV989 (1709) [16'16] Sonata in D major BWV963 [8'52] Partie in A major BWV832 [8'45] Suite in F minor BWV823 [8'26] Fantasia and Fugue in A minor BWV944 [5'51] Angela Hewitt (piano) Recorded in Henry Wood Hall, London, on 3–5 February 2004 HYPERION CDA67499 [67.42] [JW]

The last of Hewitt’s CDs of solo Bach. A significant series, a laudable one, and there’s no lessening in perception in this volume. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion (BWV 245) (1st version, 1724; reconstruction: Pieter Dirksen) The Netherlands Bach Society: Caroline Stam, soprano; Peter de Groot, alto; Charles Daniels, Gerd Türk (Evangelist), tenor; Stephen MacLeod (Jesus), Bas Ramselaar, bass [concertists]; Marjon Strijk, soprano; Marleene Goldstein, Elsbeth Gerritsen, contralto; Simon Wall, tenor [ripienists] Alfredo Bernardini, Peter Frankenberg, oboe, oboe d'amore; Antoinette Lohmann, Pieter Affourtit, violin; Jan Willem Vis, viola; Lucia Swarts, cello; Mieneke van der Velden, viola da gamba; Robert Franenberg, double-bass; Mike Fentross, theorbo; Siebe Henstra, harpsichord; Pieter Dirksen, organ Dir: Jos van Veldhoven Recorded March 2004 at the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. DDD CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 22005 [37:13 + 74:22][JV]

A most interesting recording of a reconstruction of the very first version of Bach's St John Passion, in a performance with one voice per part … see Full Review

J.S. BACH (1685-1750) St. Matthew Passion - excerpts (Part One): 1 1 Kommt, ihr Töchter chorus [8:01], 2 8 Blute nur aria (soprano) [4:44] 3 18 Da kam Jesus recitative (Evangelist, Jesus) [1:52] 4 20 Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen, aria (Tenor) [4:44] 5 26 Und er kam und fand sie recitative (Evangelist. Jesus, Judas) [2:31] 6 27A So ist mein Jesus, aria (soprano, alto) [4:55] 27B Sind Blitze.sind Donner chorus 7 29 O Mensch, bewein dein Sunde groß chorale [5:55] (Part Two): 8 30 Ach! nun ist mein Jesus hin! aria(alto) [3:37] 9 36A Und der Hohepriester antwortete recitative (Evangelist,Pontifex,Jesus) [2:02] 36B Er ist des Todes schuldig! Chorus, 36C Da spieten sie aus recitative (Evalgelist) 36D Weissage uns, Christe chorus 10 39 Erbarme dich aria(alto) [6:08] 11 45A Aber die Hohenpriester recitative(part Evangelist,Piatus) [1:02] 45B Laß ihn kreuzigen! chorus, 12 46 Wie wunderbarlich ist doch diese Strafe! chorale [0’38], 13 49 Aus Liebe,aus Liebe aria (soprano) [5:23], 14 50A Sie schrieen aber noch mehr recitative(Evangelist) [1:48], 50B Laß ihn kreuzigen! Chorus 50C Da aber Pilatus sahe recitative (Evangelist,.Pilatus) 50D Sein Blut komme über uns chorus 50E Da grab er ihnen Barrabam los recitative (Evangelist) 15 52 Konnen Tranen meiner Wangen aria (alto) [5:40], 16 53A Da nahmen die Kriegsknechte recitative(Evangelist) [1:11] 53B Gegrüßet seist du, judenkönig! chorus, 53C Und speieten ihn an recitative(Evangelist), 17 54 O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden chorale[1:57]. 18 58A Und oben zu seinen Haupten hefeten recitative[part] (Evangelist) [2:10] 58B Der du den Tempel Gottes zerbrichst chorus, 58C Desgleichen auch die Hohenpriester recitative (Evangelist) 53D Andern hat er geholfen chorus, 19 60 Sehet, Jesus hat die Hand aria (alto)[ 2:58, 20 61A Und von der sechsten Stunde an recitative (Evangelist, Jesus) [2:31] 61B Der rufet dem Elias! chorus, 61C Und bald lief einer unter ihnen recitative (Evangelist) 61D Halt! Laß sehen chorus,61E Aber Jesus schriee recitative (Evangelist) 21 62 Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden choral [1:25], 22 63A Und siehe da recitative (Evangelist [1:34] 63B Wahrlich,dieser ist Gottes Sohn gewesen chorus 23 67 Nun ist der Herr zu Ruh gebracht recitative( bass, tenor,alto,soprano) [1:50], 24 68 Wir setzen uns mit Tränen neider chorus [5:27]Nancy Argenta, soprano Robin Blaze, counter-tenor Makoto Sakurada, tenor Gerd Türk, bass Peter Kooij, bass Chiyuki Urano, bass Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki Recorded in March 1999 at the Kobe Shoin Womens’s University, Japan BIS BIS-SACD-1500 [81:18][ZT]

A splendid performance ... not necessarily better than favoured versions but different in a very positive and moving way. The overall performance, combined with different presentation options, make it a serious contender for first choice. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St Matthew Passion BWV 244 (1727) Christoph Prégardien (tenor) – Evangelist Max van Egmond (bass) – Jesus René Jacobs and David Cordier (counter tenors) Marcus Schäfer and John Elwes (tenors) Klaus Mertens and Peter Lika (basses) Tölzer Knabenchor Men’s Choir of La Petite Bande La Petite Bande/Gustav Leonhardt Recorded Doopsgezinde Church, Haarlem, March 1989 St John Passion BWV 245 (1724 revised 1730 and late 1740s) Christoph Prégardien (tenor) – Evangelist Harry van der Kamp (bass) – Jesus Barbara Schlick (soprano) René Jacobs (counter tenor) Nico van der Meel (tenor) Max van Egmond (bass) Choir and Orchestra of La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken Recorded Doopsgezinde Gemeente, Haarlem, March – April 1987 BMG CLASSICS DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 82876 67402 2 [5 CDs 74.40 + 51.20 + 46.32 + 59.30 + 62.49] [JW]

Neither ultimately convinces but I would argue that the Leonhardt contains a stratum of profundity that repays close listening. ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor, BWV232 (various dates, 1723-49) [108:20] Sunhae Im (soprano), Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo-soprano), Ann Hallenburg (alto), Markus Schäfer (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass-baritone) Dresden Chamber Choir; Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut Müller-Brühl recorded by Deutschlandfunk, Sendesaal Köln, November 2003 NAXOS 8.557448-49 [53:32 + 54:44] [PJL]

Well worth buying ... its ideal role is as a complement to more ‘senior’ readings which this issue, for all its strengths, cannot possibly displace. ... see Full Review

Osvaldas BALAKAUSKAS (b. 1937) Requiem in memoriam Stasys Lozoraitis (1995) [52:56] Judita Leitaitė (mezzo) Vilnius Municipal Choir ‘Jauna Muzika’/Vaclovas Augustinas Christopher Chamber Orchestra of Vilnius/Donatas Katkus Recorded at the Lithuanian Radio 6-10 February 2003. NAXOS 8.557604 [52:56] [KS]

A work that seems destined for the library shelves not to be heard much in the future. Buy this one at your own risk. ... see Full Review

Béla BARTÓK (1881 – 1945) Piano Concerto No.1 (1926)a [23:16] Piano Concerto No.2 (1930/1)b [27:04] Piano Concerto No.3 (1945)c [25:49] Krystian Zimerman (piano)a; Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)b; Hélène Grimaud (piano)c; Chicago Symphony Orchestraa; Berliner Philharmonikerb; London Symphony Orchestrac; Pierre Boulez Recorded: Orchestra Hall, Chicago, November 2001 (No.1); Philharmonie, Grosser Saal, Berlin, February 2003 (No.2) and Jarwood Hall, London, October 2004 (No.3) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 5330 [76:25] [HC]

A splendid release that is self-commending ... see Full Review

Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Concerto No. 3: (1: Allegretto: [6.57]; 2: Marcia funebre; Adagio religioso: [10.14]; 3: Scherzo; Allegro vivace: [6.53]) [24.04] Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 Titan (1: Langsam, schleppend. Im Anfang sehr gemachlich: [15.39]; 2: Kraftig: [7.07]; 3: Feierlich und gemessen: [11.17]; 4: Sturmisch bewegt: [20.08]) [54.11] Annie Fischer (piano) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti Mono: Digitally Remastered. Made in Germany Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, 16 August 1964 ORFEO C628 041 B [78:58] [AR]

Can only be recommended for the incisive and stylish playing of Annie Fischer – the rest is disappointingly dreary and unmusical. ... see Full Review

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Miraculous Mandarin (complete ballet) (1926) Dance Suite (1923) Hungarian Pictures (1931) Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra/Marin Alsop Recorded at the Lighthouse Concert Hall, Poole, Dorset, July 2004 NAXOS 8.557433 [62’12] [TH]

Solti’s earthiness and energy carry the day, easily preferable to Alsop’s softer-grained reading. ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827) The Symphonies, Leonore Overture, No. 1, Op. 138 (1807) Leonore Overture, No. 2, Op. 72a (1805) Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72b (1806) Fidelio Overture, Op. 72c (1814) Soile Isokoski (soprano); Rosemarie Lang (alto); Robert Gambill (tenor); René Pape (bass) Chorus of the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim. Rec. May – July 1999, Grosser Sendesaal, Berlin. DDD WARNER CLASSICS 2564-61890-2 [6 CDs: 73.42 + 71.56 + 72.07 + 67.16 + 67.34 + 76.40] [JPh]

Snap this up whilst it is still available at this price or at least until someone at Warner Classics realizes what they have done. ... see Full Review

Koussevitzky à Paris Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 Op.125 Janine Micheau (soprano) Solange Michel (mezzo) Georges Jouatte (tenor) Charles Cambon (baritone) RTF Choir Orchestre National de France/Serge Koussevitzky Live recording in the Theatre Champs-Elysées, 25th May 1950 Rehearsal; First movement of the Symphony No. 9 [extract 10.27] Boston Symphony Orchestra/Serge Koussevitzky Recorded live in 1949 TAHRA TAH549 [76.38] [JW]

Immensely exciting but also immensely approximate. ... see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Op.60 (1806) [33:37] Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op.67 (1807) [32:36] Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä rec. Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 30 April 2004 (Symphony No. 4); 1 May 2004 (Symphony No. 5) BIS SACD 1416 [67:03] [PJL]

As good as any in the catalogue - as long as you don’t want your Beethoven breaking records! ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Overtures Coriolan, Op.62 [8’10] Creatures of Prometheus, Op.43 [7’15] Ruins of Athens, Op.113 [5’53] Fidelio, Op.72 [7’27] Leonore 1, Op.138 [10’17] Leonore 2, Op.72 [13’40] Leonore 3, Op.72 [13’59] Egmont, Op. 84 [8’13] Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Nikolaus Harnoncourt Recorded ‘live’ (except Coriolan) in the Stefaniensaal, Graz, June 1993, in the Musikverein, Vienna, November 1993 and in the Concert Hall, Athens, April 1996 WARNER ELATUS 2564 61779-2 [76’09][TH]

There’s some great music here, so go and treat yourself. ... see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Works - Volume 8 Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor Op.90 (1814) [12:24] Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Op.101 (1816) [19:17] Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat Op.106 Hammerklavier (1818) [40:48] Artur Schnabel (piano) Rec. EMI Abbey Road Studio No 3, London, Jan-Feb 1932 (op.90), April 1934 (Op.101), Nov 1935 (Op.106) ADD NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110762 [72:49] [PCW]

I can’t believe that anyone would now listen to this Hammerklavier for pleasure in preference to almost any modern reading … see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)Complete Beethoven Sonata Society Recordings - Volume 9 Piano Sonatas – No. 30 in E, Op. 109a (1820) [20’21]; No. 31 in A flat, Op. 110b (1822) [18’25]; No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111c (1822) [26’00]. Artur Schnabel (piano). From HMV aDB1822-24, bDB1957-59, cDB1656-59. Rec. Abbey Road Studio No. 3 on aMarch 22nd, bJanuary 21st, cJanuary 21st, March 21st-22nd and May 7th, 1932. ADD NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110763 [65’04] [CC]

A reminder of Schnabel’s true greatness … Magnificent. ... see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Serkin Plays Beethoven: The 1945-1952 Solo Piano Recordings for Columbia Piano Sonatas: No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2a (1801) [15’54]; No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, ‘Pathétiqueb (1798) [18’05]; No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, ‘Appassionatac (1805) [23’50]; No. 26 in E flat, Op. 81a, ‘Les adieuxd (1810) [15’01]; No. 21 in C, Op. 53, ‘Waldsteine (1804) [26’06]; No. 30 in E, Op. 109f (1822) [21’53]; No. 24 in F sharp, Op. 78g (1809) [10’28[. Fantasy, Op. 77g (1809) [8’52]. Rudolf Serkin (piano). From Columbia originals. Rec. aMay 28th-30th, 1951, bJune 5th, 1945, cJuly 14th and 29th, 1947, dMay 1st and 28th-30th, 1951, eSeptember 8th-10th, 1952, fJuly 22nd, 1952, gDecember 1st, 1947. ADD MUSIC & ARTS CD-1141(2) [141’25: 73’10 + 68’15][CC]

Great to be reminded of the stature of Rudolf Serkin’s Beethoven … A veritable treasure trove. ... see Full Review

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 – 1835) Norma (1831) Maria Callas (soprano) – Norma Mario Filippeschi (tenor) – Pollione Ebe Stignani (mezzo-soprano) - Adalgisa Nicola Rossi-Lemeni (bass) – Oroveso Paolo Caroli (tenor) – Flavio Rina Cavallari (soprano) – Clotilde Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, Milan/Tullio Serafin Recorded from 23rd April to 3rd March 1954 in the Cinema Metropol, Milan Reissue Producer and Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn Appendix: Highlights from Norma performed by Legendary Singers (1927 – 1936) Ezio Pinza (bass); Francesco Merli (tenor); Rosa Ponselle (soprano); Irene Minghini-Cattaneo (mezzo-soprano);Marion Telva ; Ezio Pinza (bass); Gina Cigna (soprano); Tancredi Pasero (bass) ; Giovanni Breviario (tenor)Recorded from 25th August to 7th September 1937 at the Teatro Nuovo, Turin Reissue Producer and Restoration Engineer: Ward Marston NAXOS 8.110325-27 [62:34 + 62:06 + 73:42] [RJF]

Overwhelming in its emotional impact ... see Full Review

Luciano BERIO (1925-2003) Epifanie (1965) [29:23]¹ Coro (1976) [47:26]² Cathy Berberian (mezzo) ORF-Chor, ORF-Symphonieorchester/Leif Segerstam recorded Salzburg Festspiele, 18 August 1974¹, 8 August 1977². DDD ORFEO C 626 041 B [77:12] [AO]

An unsurpassable live Epifanie with Berberian in stunning form ... see Full Review

Herman BERLINSKI (1910-2001) Avodat Shabbat, Friday Evening Service (1958, rev 1963) Robert Brubaker, ten; Constance Hauman, sop; Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo Ernst Senff Chor. Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz Recorded Berlin, April 2000 NAXOS 8.559430 [72:19] [JL]

This first recording of a Jewish choral work is a major addition to the Naxos American Classics series ... see Full Review

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 (1830) Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71A (1892) Cleveland Orchestra/Lorin Maazel Recorded Ohio 1982 (Berlioz); 1981 (Tchaikovsky) TELARC SACD-60650 [69:27][JL]

Brilliant sound and playing from this re-issue that may not, for some, get to the passionate heart of the Berlioz masterpiece. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Luciano BERIO (1925 – 2003) Naturale (1985)a [18:40] Chemins II (1967)b [13:18] Morton FELDMAN (1926 – 1987) Rothko Chapel (1971)c [23:12] The Viola in My Life II (1970)d [9:46] Christophe Desjardins (viola); Jacqueline Ott (percussion)a; Basler Madrigalistenc: Collegium Novum Zürichbcd; Jonathan Nott (conductor)bcd Recorded: DRS Radiostudio 1, Zürich, March 2004 AEON AECD 0425 [65:14] [HC]

Desjardins is a formidable musician. Faultless technique hand in hand with generous musicality. A marvellous release ... see Full Review

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Mass, A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers (1971) Olle Persson (celebrant) Katarina Choir Members of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Lars-Ewe Nilsson Recorded ‘live’ in the Katarina Kyrka, Sweden, 22-25 October 1998 NOSAG CD x04 [64’08+55’08] [TH]

Do acquaint yourself with this magnificently bizarre, infectious, glorious mish-mash of a piece, but get the real article with the man himself at the helm. ... see Full Review

Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704) Harmonia artificioso-ariosa: diversi mode accordata, 1712 CD 1 Partia I for two violins and b.c. in d minor [17:35] Partia II for 2 violini piccoli and b.c. in b minor [10:36] Partia III for two violins and b.c. in A [10:25] Partia IV for violin, viola and b.c. in E flat [09:32] CD 2 Partia V for two violins and b.c. in g minor [10:54] Partia VI for two violins and b.c. in D [17:41] Partia VII for two viole d'amore and b.c. in c minor [19:49] Musica Antiqua Köln: Reinhard Goebel, Stephan Schardt, violin, violino piccolo, viola d'amore; Karlheinz Steeb, viola; Klaus-Dieter Brandt, cello; Léon Berben, harpsichord rec. November 2003, Studio of Deutschlandfunk, Cologne, Germany. DDD ARCHIV 474 965-2 [48:46 + 48:53] [JV]

An outstanding achievement ... will be very difficult to find a performance which better and more convincingly explores the content of these brilliant compositions. ... see Full Review

Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704) The Rosary Sonatas Pavlo Beznosiuk, violin; Richard Tunnicliffe, viola da gamba, violone; Paula Chateauneuf, theorbo, archlute; David Roblou, harpsichord, organ Timothy West, reader (*) Recorded in November and December 2003 at St Andrew's Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, UK DDD AVIE AV0038 [79:47 + 77:18]
Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704) The Mystery Sonatas
Sonnerie: Monica Huggett, violin; Emilia Benjamin, viola da gamba, lirone; Elizabeth Kenny, archlute, theorbo, guitar; Frances Kelly, harp; Matthew Halls, harpsichord, organ Recorded in May and December 2003 and January 2004 in St Silas's, Kentish Town, London, UK. DDD ASV GAUDEAMUS CD GAU 350 (Vol. 1), CD GAU 351 (Vol. 2) (only available separately) [60:27 + 57:18] [JV]

Two strongly different approaches to Biber's brilliant Mystery Sonatas. Unfortunately both have major flaws ... see Full Review

Sir Harrison BIRTWISTLE (b. 1934) The Axe Manual (2000) [22:11]; Oockooing Bird (c. 1950) [3:26]; Sad Song (1971) [2:20]; Berceuse de Jeanne (1984) [3:11]; Précis (1960) [3:23]; Hector’s Dawn (1987) [1:27]; Ostinato with Melody (2000)* [5:07]; Betty Freeman: Her Tango (2000)* [2:08]; Saraband: The Kings Farewell (2001)* [2:58]; Harrison’s Clocks (1997-8) [24:45] Nicolas Hodges (piano), Claire Edwardes (percussion on The Axe Manual), Recorded 5-9 July 2004 in Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, Funkhaus Wallrafplatz Köln DDD *First recordings. METRONOME MET CD 1074 [70:58] [BH]

One of the most adventurous young pianists on the scene today ... see Full Review

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Cello Concertos - Volume 3 Cello Concerto No. 9 in B flat G.482 [18:19] Cello Concerto No. 10 in D G.483 [21:17] Cello Concerto No. 11 in C G.573 [17:25] Cello Concerto No. 12 in E flat G.deest [14:53] Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward Rec. St. Thomas’s Church, Stockport, UK, May 2004 DDD NAXOS 8.557589 [71:54][PCW]

Lively and sympathetic performances ... see Full Review

Hakon BØRRESEN (1876-1954) Den kongelige gaest (The Royal Guest) - opera in one act (1919) [79:20] Comedy to music in one act - Libretto by Svend Leopold after Henrik Pontopiddan’s short story Stig Fogh Andersen, tenor ... Arnold Høyer Tina Kiberg, soprano ... Emmy, his wife Edith Guillaume, alto ... Ane, the Høyers’ maid Lise-Lotte Nielsen, soprano ... the servant girl Guido Paevatalu, baritone ... the guest Odense Symphony Orchestra/Tamás Vetö Recorded at Odense Concert Hall on 10-13 and 16-17 June 2003 With the financial support of Komponist Hakon Børresen og hustru Nanna Børresen, født Berg’s legat Rec. Odense Concert Hall, 10-13, 16-17 June 2004. DDD DACAPO 8.226020 [79:20] [RB]

Fans of romantic opera - and even of operetta - wanting a day out in an unfamiliar place must hear this. Recommended strongly. A success in every way. ... see Full Review

Sergei BORTKIEWICZ (1877-1952) Violin Sonata in G minor op. 26 (1930s) [32:43] Suite for violin and piano op. 63 (1940s) [13:28] Three Piano Pieces (transcribed by the composer for violin and piano) [8:32] Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Morceaux de Salon op. 6 [8:39] Cristian Persinaru (violin) Nils Franke (piano) Rec. Parry Hall, Eton College, 23-25 Oct 2002 (sonata, suite); 3-4 June 2004. DDD WARNER APEX 2564 61990-2 [66:21] [RB]

A strong late-romantic Russian contender among this month’s batch of new releases. ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony no.1 in c, op.68 (1876) [43:40] Symphony no.2 in D, op.73 (1877) [37:32] NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini Recorded in Carnegie Hall, New York, November 6th 1951 (no.1) and February 11th 1952 (no.2) BMG-RCA RED SEAL 82876 62322 2 [79:23] [CH]

Not all aspects of the myth are borne out by this reissue, but these are performances that need to be heard. ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor Op.15 Arthur Rubinstein (piano) Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner Recorded at Orchestra Hall, April 17th 1954 RCA RED SEAL LIVING STEREO SUPER AUDIO CD 82876 66378 2 [46.20] [JW]

Profoundly impressive, and constitutes Rubinstein’s greatest recording of this concerto. ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Trio No. 3 in C minor, Op. 101 (1886) [21.37] Piano Trio No. 4 in A, Op. posth.* (1856?) [34.12] Trio Fontenay rec. Teldec Studio, Berlin, November 1987 and *May 1989 WARNER APEX 2564 61690 2 [55.49] [SV]

The members of the Trio Fontenay ... know how to meld into a unified, responsive ensemble without losing their distinctive timbres ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Four-Hand Piano Music Vol. 13 String Sextet No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 18 (arranged for piano duet) (1859-60) String Sextet No. 2 in G major, Op. 36 (arranged for piano duet) (1864-65) Silke-Thora Matthies (piano) Christian Kohn (piano) Rec. Clara-Wieck-Auditorium, Sandhausen, Germany, 2-4 Nov 1999. DDD NAXOS 8.554817 [74:35][MC]

Another collectable volume in Naxos’s impressive series of Brahms’s four hand piano music.... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Lieder: Complete Edition Vol. 8 7 Lieder op.95 [10:42], 4 Lieder op.96 [10:16], 6 Lieder op.97 [10:40], 5 Lieder für eine tiefere Stimme op.105 [13:23] Juliane Banse (soprano, op.95/1,2,4,5,6; op.96/2; op.97/4,5,6, op.105/2,3), Andreas Schmidt (baritone, op.95/3,7; op.96/1,2,4; op.97/1,2,3; op.105/1,4,5), Helmut Deutsch (piano) Recorded October/November 1997 and January/June 1998 in the Kleiner Sendesaal (Radio Berlin Brandenburg) CPO 999 448-2 [45:13] [CH]

Serviceable overall, with some fine performances of individual songs. ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Choralvorspiel und Fuge uber 'O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid' [8'16] Praludium und Fuge in a moll [5'50] Fuge in as-moll [7'41] Praludium und Fuge in g-moll [7'24] Elf Choralvorspiele [32'57] François Menissier, organ, Rec. Sint Maartenskerk, Zaltbommel, (The Netherlands) and St Maria, Schramberg, (Germany), 20th August 2000 and 24-25th September 2003. DDD EDITIONS HORTUS 031 [62'08] [CB]

This recording of the complete Brahms organ works is a model of its kind and is unlikely to be superseded any time soon. Make sure you add it to your collection. ... see Full Review
This hard-to-find recording may be purchased from MusicWeb

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954)Phantastiche Erscheinungen eines Themas von Hector Berlioz Op. 25 (1914-17) [48:43] Serenade Op. 20 (1910) [25:39] Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Dennis Russell Davies rec. Grosser Sendesaal, Funkhaus ORF, Dec 2001; March 2001. DDD CPO 999 882-2 [75:15] [RB]

These two rather backward-looking works are enthusiastically performed and will provide romantic rewards for the curious the Serenade rather more so than the Berlioz Erscheinungen ... see Full Review

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) String Quartet No.2 in G minor (1914-15) [23:54] Phantasy Piano Quartet in F sharp minor (1909-10) [12:14] String Quartet No.4 (1937) [23:24] Martin Roscoe (piano) Maggini Quartet Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk, June 10-12, 2003 NAXOS 8.557283 [59:33] [TH]

Naxos continues its valuable Bridge series with yet more superbly performed chamber works. ... see Full Review

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Serenade, Op.31 (1943) [22:57]: (Prologue [1:23]; Pastoral [3:14]; Nocturne [3:36]; Elegy [4:09]; Dirge [3:21]; Hymn [1:58]; Sonnet [3:44]; Epilogue [1:32]); Nocturne, Op.60 (1958) [26:35]: (On a poet’s lips I slept [3:18]; Below the thunders of the upper deep [2:56]; Encinctured with a twine of leaves [2:49]; Midnight’s bell goes ting, ting, ting, ting [2:31]; But that night on my bed I lay [2:56]; She sleeps on soft, last breaths; but no ghost looms [4:09]; What is more gentle than a wind in summer [3:41]; When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see [4:15]); Phaedra, Op.93 (1975) [14:57]: (Prologue – In May, in brilliant Athens [1:32]; My lost and dazzled eyes [1:02]; Venus resigned her altar to my new Lord [0:43]; Phaedra in all her madness stands before you [1:42]; The wife of Theseus loves Hippolytus [1:28]; Oh Gods of wrath [2:26]; Death to the unhappy’s no catastrophe [1:46]; My time’s too short, your highness [1:42]; Chills already dart along my boiling veins [2:38]) Philip Langridge, (tenor); Ann Murray (mezzo); Frank Lloyd (horn). English Chamber Orchestra/Steuart Bedford (Serenade, Phaedra),
Northern Sinfonia/Steuart Bedford (Nocturne) rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, July 1994. DDD NAXOS 8.557199 [64.29] [EM]

Overall a superlative disc, with flawless and very characterful performances. I cannot recommend this CD highly enough. ... see Full Review

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Serenade for tenor, horn and stings, Op. 31 (1943) [22:57] Nocturne, Op. 60 (1958) [26:35] Phaedra, Op. 93 (1975) [14:57] Philip Langridge, tenor Ann Murray, mezzo Frank Lloyd, horn English Chamber Orchestra/Steuart Bedford (Serenade and Phaedra) Northern Sinfonia/Steuart Bedford (Nocturne) Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London (Serenade and Phaedra) and St. Nicolas Newcastle, UK in July 1994. NAXOS 8.557199 [64:29][KS]

Superb sound quality ... a must-have for any lover of fine singing. Recommended without a moment’s hesitation. ... see Full Review

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-76) Les Illuminations, Op 18 (1940) [22:15] Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op 10 (1937) [26:28] Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op 31 (1943) [24:02] Toby Spence (tenor) Martin Owen (horn) Scottish Ensemble/Clio Gould (violin) recorded at the Caird Hall, Dundee, 28-30 July 2003 LINN CKD 226 [72:45] [PL]

there are no competitors: this coupling is unique, and the immediacy of Linn’s recording puts this disc in a class of its own. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH John Browne (fl. c. 1490) Music from the Eton Choirbook Salve regina I [13:25] Stabat iuxta [12:25] Stabat mater [15:56] O Regina mundi clara [13:55] O Maria salvatoris [15:44] The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips Recorded in the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Salle, Norfolk, England. [No date given] GIMELL CDGIM 036 [71:25] [JF]

Near perfect music from the late fifteenth century sung in glorious style. A most moving and satisfying disc. ... see Full Review

Dave BRUBECK (b. 1920) The Gates of Justice (1969) [50:13] Dave Brubeck Trio Kevin Deas, baritone Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, cantor tenor Baltimore Choral Arts Society/Tom Hall Russell Gloyd, conductor rec. Kraushaar Auditorium/Goucher College, Baltimore, MD, USA, 25 March 2001 DDD NAXOS 8.559414 [50:13][PG]

A triumph. The positives far outweigh the flaws. Can be recommended to jazz and classical fans alike without apologies ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) The Nine Symphonies and Helgoland Symphony No. 1 in C minor (1866 Linz version, Nowak edition) [49:44] Helgoland* (1893) [11:13] Symphony No. 2 in C minor (1877, Nowak edition as revised by Bornhöft and Carragan) [62:25] Symphony No. 3 in D minor (1877 version) [59:36] Symphony No. 4 in E flat (1878/1880 version) [68:23] Symphony No. 5 in B flat (Original version, 1878) [72:02] Symphony No. 6 in A (1881) (Nowak/Haas edition) [54:45] Symphony No. 7 in E (1883) [70:40] Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890, Haas edition) [77:02] Symphony No. 9 in D minor (1896) [63:30] *Male voices of the Rundfunkchor, Berlin und Ernst Senff-Chor Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim Rec. Philharmonie, Berlin and Deutsches Schauspielhaus Berlin (Symphonies Nos. 5, 7 only), 1990-1997. DDD WARNER CLASSICS 2564 61891-2 [9 CDs: 589:20: 60:57 + 62:25 + 59:36 + 68:23 + 72:02 + 54:45 + 70:40 + 77:02 + 63:30][PCW]

Barenboim’s set is the best value “complete” Bruckner around at the moment ... see Full Review

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.5 in B flat WAB 105 edited Haas (1935) and Nowak (1951 and 1989; revisions 1985) Excerpts from the rehearsals Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt Recorded in the Musikverein, Vienna, 7-14th June, 2004 RCA RED SEAL 82876 60749 2 [73.08 + 74.49] [JW]

Many will welcome Harnoncourt’s leaner and more jittery Bruckner 5 but it felt to me like a case of too many side chapels and not enough cathedral. ... see Full Review

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.5 in B flat WAB 105 edited Haas (1935) and Nowak (1951 and 1989; revisions 1985) Excerpts from the rehearsals Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt Recorded in the Musikverein, Vienna, 7-14th June, 2004 RCA RED SEAL 82876 60749 2 [73.08 + 74.49] [TB]

Harnoncourt’s the remarkable vision of this great symphonic master ... see Full Review

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) complete works for organ volume 2 see review for details Byne Bryndorf, organ Rec: St Mary's Church, Elsinore, Denmark, 11-12 Feb 2003. DDD DA CAPO 8.226008 [51'04] [CB]

Bryndorf: phenomenally relaxed and efficient technique on the most challenging of organs ... leaves a big impression. She plays with fluidity and style ... 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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