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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.

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  Len Mullenger

William ALWYN (1905-1985) Symphony No. 5 Hydriotaphia (1973) [14:27] Symphony No. 2 (1953) [27:22] Lyra Angelica - concerto for harp and orchestra (1954) [28:12] Suzanne Willison (harp) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones rec. Philharmonic Hall. Liverpool, 4-6 Jan 2005. DDD NAXOS 8.557647 [69:52]

2005 is an auspicious year as it is the Centenary of the birth of William Alwyn and the 10th anniversary of MusicWeb. The origin of MusicWeb was the William Alwyn website. Ten years ago he was little known but Andrew Palmer founded the William Alwyn Society and I created the web pages for it. It was a very successful little site and spawned a number of other British composer sites all of which are now incorporated into MusicWeb International. When Mary Alwyn (Doreen Carwithen) died in 2003, Andrew Palmer closed the Alwyn Society and things were quiet for a while but the Alwyn cause has been taken up with great enthusiasm by Andrew Knowles of the William Alwyn Foundation and the Centenary year has seen many performances of Alwyn's compositions. William Alwyn did conduct a number of very fine recordings of his symphonies still available on the Lyrita label, obtainable from Harold Moores at premium price. Hickox also recorded a fine cycle for Chandos but I feel Alwyn has finally come of age with the ongoing cycle of releases on the superbudget Naxos label which will raise the awareness of his music accross the world and I particularly welcome the coupling above with the magnificent, if brief, 5th symphony and the most beautiful harp concerto. Well done David Lloyd-Jones and this has to be my Recording Of The Year.LM

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1906-7) [66.13] London Symphony Orchestra/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 10-11 March 1988, All Saints Church, Tooting, London. DDD REGIS RRC 1210 [66.13]

I guarantee that this will rekindle that first fresh shimmer of discovery, that tremor of the heart, that spine-tingling indicator that tells you what it was to live the creation and recreation of this music. RB
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde (1865) Nina Stemme (sop) ... Isolde Plácido Domingo (ten) ... Tristan Mihoko Fujimora (mezzo) ... Brangäne René Pape (bass) ... King Marke Olaf Bär (bar) ... Kurwenal Jared Holt (ten) ... Melot Ian Bostridge (ten) Shepherd Rolando Villazón (ten) ... Young Sailor Matthew Rose (bar) ... Steersman Royal Opera House Chorus, Covent Garden Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano rec. Nov 2004–Jan 2005, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road Studios, London. DDD Plus bonus DVD EMI CLASSICS 558006-2 [3 CDs: 78:57 + 73:54 + 73:38 = 227:00]

With dynamics taken as widely as possible, the sheer beauty of this recording becomes self-recommending. There is no question that this is an important and compelling performance. MB

  Arthur Baker

Johann STRAUSS (II) (1825-1899) Valses, Polkas, Ouvertures Tritsch-Tratsch Polka; Ouvertüre, Die Fledermaus; Csardas, Die Fledermaus; Nordseebilder, Walzer; Im Sturmschritt, Polka schnell; Neue Pizzikato Polka; Perpetuum mobile; Frühlingsstimmen, Walzer; Ouvertüre zu Der Zigeunerbaron; An der schönen blauen Donau, Walzer; Egyptischer Marsch; Éljen a Magyar, Polka; Furioso Polka, quasi Galopp; Orchestra Anima Eterna / Jos van Immerseel Recorded in La Grande Salle de L’Arsenal à Metz, April 2000 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT 060601 [TT : 70'32]

This is an altogether remarkable CD, which using the original scores excellently played on original instrumentation, presents a view of the music of Strauss that most would find revelational. The recording is first rate and the production values high including copious fascinating notes written by the conductor. Strongly recommended. AB

  Terry Barfoot

Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953) Die Csárdásfürstin (1915) [85.19] Sylva Varesco ... Yvonne Kenny (soprano) Edwin Ronald ... Michael Roider (tenor) Countess Stasi ... Mojca Erdmann (soprano) Count Boni ... Marco Kathol (tenor) Feri von Kerekes ... Karl-Michael Ebner (tenor) General Rohnsdorff ... Hellmuth Klumpp (speaker) The Prince ... Heinz Holecek (baritone) The Princess ... Yvonne Kálmán (speaker) Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Chorus/Richard Bonynge Recorded 9-17 December 2002, Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava Orchestral selections: Dorfkinder; Vive le Roi (Der Zigeunerprimds) Hollaho (Die Fascingsfee) Lockend soll ertönen Dir (Das Höllandweibchen) Grand Palotás de la eine (Der Teufels reiter) Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Richard Bonynge Recorded 22-23 September 2003, Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava SACD/CD hybrid format
     NAXOS 6.110075-6 [56.20 + 57.17]

Anyone coming to Kálmán for the first time should find this pair of discs immensely rewarding. As well as an appealing recording of one his best known operettas, there are several attractive orchestral items drawn from other compositions, and these are excellent too. Die Csárdásfürstin contains a succession of appealing and vivacious numbers, and the passages of melodrama – spoken dialogue above music – are particularly well done. TB

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un ballo in maschera (1859) Gustavo III Placido Domingo (tenor) Anckarström Leo Nucci (baritone)
Amelia Josephine Barstow (soprano) Ulrica Florence Quivar (mezzo soprano) Oscar Sumi Jo (soprano) Cristiano Jean-Luc Chaignaud (bass) Horn Kurt Rydl (bass) Ribbing Goran Simic (bass) A Judge Wolfganag Witte (tenor) Amelia’s servant Adolf Tomaschek (tenor)
Vienna State Opera Chorus Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Directed by John Schlesinger Recorded 28th July 1990, Großes Festpielhaus, Salzburg TDK DVD-CLOPUBIM [137.54]

This version of Verdi’s masterly opera is special in every way. The conducting, the cast, the production, the recording (the video/DVD direction by Brian Large) are all remarkable. As for the occasion, the live performance from the Salzburg Festival, that was as remarkable as the circumstances. For this was to have been a crowning moment – in 1989 – as part of Herbert von Karajan’s Verdi odyssey for Salzburg, but alas he died that year. The following season the same cast and production returned, conducted by another great Verdi conductor, Sir Georg Solti. TB

Rob Barnett
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Vers la Voûte Étoilée - nocturne pour orchestre dédié à la mémoire de Camille Flammarion (1923-33, rev. 1939) [12:31] Le Docteur Fabricius - poème symphonique d’après la nouvelle de Charles Dollfus Op. 202 (1941-44 orch. 1946) [51:09] Christine Simonin (ondes martenot) Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR/Heinz Holliger Rec. SWR, Stadthalle Sindelfingen, Konzertsaal, 24-26 Feb 2003. DDD HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.106 [63:40]

These pieces represent real and deeply rewarding discoveries requiring a little persistence in the case of Fabricius but instantly attractive in Vers la Voûte . RB

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 1 in E minor (1899) [34:17] Leopold Stokowski conducts his Symphony OrchestraSymphony No. 2 in D major (1902) [42:02] NBC Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski Rec. New York, 11, 13 July 1950 (Symphony 1); 15-16, 23 Sept 1954 (Symphony 2). ADD mono CALA RECORDS CACD 0541 [76:25]

Stokowski's reading is notable for its highly idiosyncratic brand of spontaneous self-indulgence - a romantically gorgeous First Symphony. It's important that all Sibelians have recording. Comes with a monumental Second Symphony. RB

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]

The Marx revival continues with a tempestuous second recording of the Romantic Concerto and the world premiere of the bejewelled andwarmly impressionistic Castelli Romani. Don't miss it. Next let's have the world premiere recording of Marx's epic Herbstsymphonie. RB

Joseph-Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955) Symphony No. 1 Sur un choral Breton (1895) [41:27] Symphony No. 4 (1910) [29:36] Orchestra Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy/Sebastian Lang-Lessing rec. Nancy, Salle Poirel, France. Sept 2004. DDD World premiere recordings TIMPANI 1C1093 [71:03]

A grand success bringing out into the light two fine romantic symphonies that will appeal to those who enjoy their Delius, Louis Glass, Rachmaninov and Korngold. This is a major addition to the catalogue.RB

Patrick LARLEY (b. 1953) A Mass of a Thousand Ages (2000) Sarah Castle (mezzo) Richard Strivens (bass) Andrew Mildinhall (organ) Nantwich Choral Society Nantwich Youth Choir Millennium Winds/Patrick Larley rec. live, 8 April 2000, St Mary's Parish Church, Nantwich, Cheshire, premiere PATRICK LARLEY PLCD003 [69:43]

Like a cooling breath over a world frantic with gaining and losing; spending and knowing. I strongly commend this major piece of writing. Do seek out this CD. Keeps faith with audiences dry for music that offers accessible and mystical intercession. RB

  Colin Clarke

Frank Braley (piano) Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage, Book 2, Italie (1837-49) – No. 6, Sonetto 123 del Petrarcha [7'27]; No. 5, Sonetto 104 del Petrarcha [5'59]. La lugubre gondola II, S200 No. 2 [7'43]. Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes: Book 1 (1910) – No. 10, La cathédrale engloutie [5'57]; No. 9, La sérénade interrompu [2'31]; No. 5, Les collines d'Anacapri [2'52]; No. 4, Les sons et les parfumes [3'06]; No. 12, Minstrels; No. 7, Ce qu'a vu le vent d'Ouest [3'14]; Book 2 (1913) – No. 3, La Puerta del Vino [3'25]; No. 7, La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune [4'21]; No. 6, Général Lavine – eccentric [2'35]. George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue (1924, version for solo piano) [15'24]. Frank Braley (piano). Rec. Live at La Roque d'Anthéron on August 11th, 2004. Director Yvon Gérault. Region 0. Picture format 16:9 (4:3 compatible). PAL. NAÏVE DR2114 [69'27]

A DVD to work wonders for Frank Braley's reputation. A varied programme that brings out the very best from this young pianist. Liszt, Debussy and Gershwin (the solo version of Rhapsody in Blue) are all represented in performances that are always convincing. Beautifully shot, too. CC

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Complete Works for Violin and Piano Phantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment (1949)[9'03]. Piece for Violin and Piano (1893/4) [1'23]. Sonata after the Wind Quintet, Op. 26 (1923/4, arr. Felix Greissle, 1926) [48'42]. Fragment for Violin and Piano (1927) [4'23]. Ulf Wallin (violin); Roland Pöntinen (piano). rec. Bybrokajen 11 (former Academy of Music), Stockholm, Sweden in March 2001 (Phatasy) and August/November 2003 (other works). DDD BIS CD-1407 [64'26]

The Complete Works for Violin and Piano by Schoenberg, on the face of it maybe a rather austere disc, generates pure excellence from Ulf Wallin, Roland Pöntinen and the BIS engineers. I wrote at the time that, 'The musicality of Wallin and Pöntinen make his into a valuable and involving musical experience that far outreaches the purely musicological' and I can see no reason to change that judgement.CC

Christine Brewer Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser (1845) - Great hall of song [4'55] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni (1787) - He threatened my honour (Or sai chi l'onore)b [6'14] Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)Alceste (1776) - Almighty gods of death! (Divinités du Styx) [4'41] Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Oberon (1826) – Ocean! Thou mighty monster [8'49]. Euryanthe (1823) - Fading is the star that guides me a [3'59] Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Golden Legend - The night is calm and cloudless c [5'09] Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953) Countess Maritza (1924) – Where is love's kingdom? c [6'54] Richard RODGERS (1902-1979) Carousel (1945) – You'll never walk alone c [4'01] Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948) Giuditta (1934) – On my lips ev'ry kiss is like wine (Meine Lippen sie küssen so heiss) c [5'45] Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Stabat mater (1832) – Blessed virgin, may the flame of love c [4'19] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Ah! perfido (1795/6) [13'16] Bob MERRILL (b.1921) Carnival (1961) - Mira – can you imagine that? [4'26] Christine Brewer (soprano); aJanice Watson (soprano); bBarry Banks (tenor); cGeoffrey Mitchell Choir; Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry. Rec. Blackheath Concert Halls, London, on March 7th, 9th and 10th, 2005. DDD Notes and text included.

Finally, the great Christine Brewer. Her disc of arias on Chandos reveals her in all her magnificence. Admittedly the orchestra is not wholy involved all the time, but as a showcase for one of the finest living sopranos, this takes some beating. CC

  Dominy Clements

Lepo SUMERA (1950-2000) Concerto per voci e strumenti (1997) [14:21] Kui tume veel kauaks ka sinu maa (Though your homeland may be in dark for long) (1985) [3:20] Seenekantaat (Mushroom Cantata) (1979-1983) [20:52] Saare piiga laul merest (Island maiden’s Song from the Sea) (1988) [29:31] Janeke Lentsius (flute) Kadri-Ann Sumera (piano) Madis Metsamart (percussion) Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir Talinn Chamber Orchestra/Tõnu Kaljuste (Concerto) Rec. 10th-13th May 2004 Talinn Methodist Church, and 3rd June, First Studio of Estonian Radio, Talinn, Estonia. BIS BIS-CD-1560 [68:32]

If being haunted by a recording is a definition of greatness, then this is a strong candidate. Have you found that you are obliged to return to a CD to find out if the dreams it has created in your mind are a reality, or just something from your own imagination which has been set in motion by hearing it? Then the chances are you already own this disc...DC

  Michael Cookson

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) The Complete String Quartets Henschel Quartet Recorded: March 11-14, 2004, Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, German Republic DDD ARTE NOVA 82876 64009 2 [3 CDs: 74:16+ 63:29 + 75:40]

The aristocratic playing of the Henschels is so sparkling, exhilarating and consistently expertly performed throughout the complete String Quartets that this super budget priced Arte Nova set is now my premier recommendation of all the available sets in this terrifically competitive market. The talented Henschels clearly have a special affinity for these scores and their interpretations are masterly illustrations of humane, old world music making. The set is a considerable achievement! MC

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1973) CD 1 String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 25 (1941) [26:13] String Quartet No. 2 in C Major, Op 36 (1945) [31:47] CD 2 String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94 (1975) [25:44] Three Divertimenti for String Quartet (1936) [10:31] Belcea Quartet Recorded: String Quartet No. 3, July 2003 and remaining works 28 June to 3 July 2004 at Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. EMI CLASSICS 5 57968 2 [58:10 + 36:24]

This EMI Classics release of Britten’s three officially numbered String Quartets plus the Three Divertimenti is an exciting event and will provide considerable pleasure. Britten is exceptionally well served by this recording and I feel truly privileged to have this spectacular release from the Belceas in my collection. My advice is to obtain it immediately. A Stunning set! MC

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) The Complete String Quartets and Octet for Strings CD 1 String Quartet (No. 2) in A minor, Op.13 (1827) [29’40] Fuga in E flat major, Op.81/4 (1827) [04’51] String Quartet (No. 1) in E flat major, Op.12 (1829) [23’32] CD 2 String Quartet (No. 4) in E minor, Op.44 No.2 (1837) [27’01] String Quartet (No. 5) in E flat major, Op.44 No.3 (1838) [33’08] CD 3 String Quartet (No. 3) in D major, Op.44 No.1 (1838) [30’47] Capriccio in E minor, Op.81/3 (1843) [05’45] String Quartet (No. 6)in F minor, Op. posth. 80 (1847) [23’49] Andante (Tema con Variazioni) in E major, Op.81/1 (1847) [05’38] Scherzo in A minor, Op.81/2 (1847) [03’26] CD 4 Octet for strings in E flat major, Op.20 (1825) [30’20] String Quartet in E flat major (1823) [23’51]
CD 4 is also a CD-ROM featuring a video documentary: ‘Recording the Octet’
Emerson Quartet: (Eugene Drucker (alternating as 1st and 2nd violin); Philip Setzer (alternating as 1st and 2nd violin); Lawrence Dutton (viola); David Finckel (cello)) rec. American Academy of Arts and Letters , New York, USA, Oct 2003; Apr 2004 DDD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4775370 [4 CDs: 57:47 + 60:17 + 69:46 + 54:18].

This highly praised four disc set of the complete Mendelssohn String Quartets from the Emerson Quartet is included in my ‘Records of the Year’ not for the String Quartets, as good as they are, but for the wonderful account of Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings. The Emersons with the assistance of recording studio technology decided to record the Octet themselves, rather than engage four additional players. Make no mistake, this is no coiffeured performance from the Emersons, but a highly electrifying and beguiling musical experience. Simply superb! MC

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) 5 Violin Concertos Concerto in D major for violin, strings and basso continuo "Il Grosso Mogul", RV208 Concerto in B minor for 4 violins & cello, RV580a Concerto in C major for violin, strings and basso continuo, RV187 Concerto in D major for violin, strings and basso continuo "L'Inquietudine", RV234 Concert in E minor for violin, strings and basso continuo, "Il Favorito", RV277 Viktoria Mullova (violin) Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini Stefano Barneschi (violin)a Marco Bianchi (violin)a Riccardo Masahide Minasi (violin)a Marco Testori (cello)a Recorded at the Pieve di Palazzo Pignano, Cremona, Italy in June 6-9, 2004. DDD ONYX 4001 [53:06]

Using gut strings with a baroque bow it feels that Mullova has convincingly achieved a real closeness to Vivaldi’s period and style of performance. These are intensely committed, expressive and exhilarating accounts performed with extraordinary precision by Mullova with the advantage of her exceptional tone and rock-steady technique. MC

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) String Quartet no.1 in G op.44 (1891) [29:01] String Quartet no.2 in A minor op.45 (1891) [27:03] Fantasy for Horn and String Quartet* (1922) [11:47] RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, with Stephen Stirling (horn)* Recorded 22nd-24th September 2003 in the Henry Wood Hall, London HYPERION CDA67434 [68:09]

This is music that once heard makes one demand to know why these works have not been recorded before; such is the quality of the scores and standard of these performances from the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet. This is a 'must obtain' purchase for all serious chamber music lovers. I look forward to more volumes of Stanford chamber music from Hyperion. Highly recommended.MC

  Evan Dickerson
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, op 20 (1888) [18'27"] Die Heiligen drei Königen, op 56, no.6 [6'10"] Waldseligkeit, op 49, no 1 [3'06"] Wiegenlied, op 41, no 1 [4'46"] Morgen!, op 27, no 4 [4'03"] Das Rosenband, op 36, no 1 [3'07"] Meinem Kinde, op 37, no 3 [2'40"] Befreit, op 39, no 4 [5'20"] Macbeth, op 23 (1887) [19'48"] Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Hallé/Mark Elder Rec. BBC Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester: 12-13 July 2004 (Macbeth), 22-23 September 2004 (Don Juan and lieder). Texts and translations included. DDD. HALLE CD HLL 7508 [67'31"]

How superb to hear the Hallé on such wonderful form with Mark Elder in full command of the sweep and passion that the music contains. Schwanewilms delights in the lieder too. Will there be further Strauss from this source? I do hope so. ED

Ernest Tilkin Servais: Arias and Songs Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) La Favorite – Leonore viens [3:31] Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Guillaume Tell – Reste immobile [4:29] Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto – Tous deux egaux [4:13]; Au temple ou ma priere [4:23] (a); Vengeance eclatante [2:13] (a) Le Trouvère – Tout est desert, et l’hymne accoutumée... Son regard, son doux sourire [4:37]; C’est l’ordre! Que le fils soit puni [4:32] (b); Sauvé! Sauvé! Bonheur divin [2:41] (b) La Traviata – Lorsqu’a des folles amours [4:19] La Bal masqué – Et c’est toi qui déchire mo name [3:52] Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) Paillasse – Prologue: Bonjour, c’est moi [4:31]; Prologue: Pardon, pardon [4:14] Giuseppe GIORDANI (1744-1798) Chère beauté (Caro mio ben) [3:35] Edouardo di CAPUA (1865-1917) Maria Mari [2:24] Richard BARTHELEMY (?-?) Chi se ne scorda [o]cchiu [2:36] Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) L’Africaine – Adamastor, roi des vagues profondes [3:42]; L’avoir tant adorée [4:02] Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) La Damnation de Faust – Chanson de la puce [2:55]; Esprit des flammes [2:22]; Devant la maison [2:07] Georges BIZET (1838-1975) Carmen – Je suis Escamillo, torero [3:24] (c) Leo DELIBES (1836-1891) Lakmé – Lakmé, ton doux regard se voile [4:02] Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896) Hamlet – O vin, dissipé la tristesse [3:58] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe – J’ai pardonné (no. 7) [2:29] Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Pourquoi, Six romances, op 6, no 5 [2:37] Charles BOHM (1844-1920) Comme la nuit [2:20] H J WOOD (?-?) Resignation [4:08] Gaston KNOSP (1874-1953) La Kahena – L’Emir d’amour [3:05] Fernand GOEYENS (1892-1965) Maitresse aimée [2:59]; Pecheur napolitain [2:25] Daniel-Francois-Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) La muette de Portici – Amour sacré de la patrie [3:24] (c, d) Robert PLANQUETTE (1848-1903) La Régiment de Sambre et Meuse [2:32] Francois-Auguste GEVAERT (1828-1908) Vers l’Avenir [2:40] Ernest Tilkin Servais (baritone) with anonymous orchestras and Yvonne Brothier (soprano); Marguerite Roger (soprano); Fernand Ansseau (tenor); Piero Coppola (conductor) Original recordings made 1920-1931. DDD MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW 0419-20 [56:59 + 56:12]

Tilkin Servais has been the year's vocal discovery for me - the freshness and pliability of his voice in the French language every bit the equal of Tito Gobbi' in Italian. But what a stylist he also is -
and a technical model too. Bravo Musique en Wallonie for this release! ED

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1971) Complete piano works for four hands CD 1: Sonata in D major, K. 448 [23.44] Fugue in G minor, K.401 [3.26] Variations in G major, K.501: Andante [7.57] Sonata in F major, K.497 [34.41] CD 2: Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 426 [6.56] Sonata in B-flat major, K. 358 [16.47] Sonata in C major, K. 19d [11.30] Fantasia in F minor for musical clockwork, K. 608 (arr. Busoni) [8.51] CD 3: Fantasia in F minor, K.594 [8.31] Sonata in C major, K. 521 [23.19] Sonata in D major, K. 381 [17.41] Sonata in C major, K. 545 (arr. Grieg) [12.12] Misha and Cipa Dichter (piano) Recording dates and locations unspecified. DDD. MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY 5379317 [3CDs: 69.48 + 44.04 + 61.49]

Intimacy, spontaneity and fun abound throughout the Dichters' complete set of Mozart's four-handed piano works - a still under-appreciated area of his compositional legacy. The inclusion of two curiosities adds to the adventure and discovery. ED

In The Shade of Forests George ENESCU (1881-1955) Impressions d’enfance Op.28 (1940) [22.01] Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Tzigane – Rapsodie de concert for violin and luthéal (original version) (1924) [10.41] Sonata Op. posthumous (1897) [12.37] Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata (1916-17) [13.14] Nocturne et Scherzo (1882) – re-adaptation by Phillipe Graffin [4.11] Il pleure dans mon Coeur – transcribed Arthur Hartmann in 1908 and 1943 [3.04] La fille aux cheveux de lin - transcribed Arthur Hartmann in 1910 [2.27] Minstrels - transcribed by Claude Debussy in 1914 [2.22] Beau Soir - transcribed Arthur Hartmann in 1941 [2.14] Phillipe Graffin (violin) Claire Désert (piano and luthéal) Recorded at Doopsegezinde Kerk, Deventer and Musical Instrument Museum (Tzigane) September 2004 AVIE AV2059 [73.11]

Both artists secure praise for their performances, and with them the ability to shed new light on familiar works. In the fiftieth anniversary of his death it was heartening to hear Enescu's music taken up with such passion as it is here. Ravel with the luthéal also proves to be a haunting experience. ED

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rake’s Progress (1948-51) Tom Rakewell: Leo Goeke (tenor) Anne: Felicity Lott (soprano) Nick Shadow: Samuel Ramey (bass-baritone) Trulove, Anne’s father: Richard Van Allan (bass) Baba the Turk: Rosalind Elias (mezzo) Glyndebourne Chorus and London Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Haitink Stage production: John Cox Set design: David HockneyRec. Glyndebourne Festival Opera 1975 by Southern Television. DVD Region 0. ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 093 [146:00]

A sublime jewel in Glyndebourne's crown this production might be called - certainly a classic - a fabulous reminder too of some great young voices in fine form. Haitink's conducting and Hockney's reworking of Hogarth both add to the experience. ED

  Robert Farr

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)Moïse et Pharaon. Grand opera in four acts. Libretto by Luigi Balocchi and Joseph-Etienne de Jouy, based on Andre Leone Tottola’s libretto for Mosé in Egitto. First performed at the Paris Opéra, 26th March 1827 Moïse, Hebrew lawgiver, Ildar Abdrazakov (bass); Pharaon, King of Egypt, Erwin Schrott (bass); Aménophis, Pharaoh’s son, Giuseppe Filianoti (ten); Éliézer, Moïse’s brother, Tomislav Muzek (ten); Osiride, High Priest of Isis, Giorgio Giuseppini (bass); Sinaïde, Pharaoh’s wife, Sonia Ganassi (mez); Marie, Moses’ sister, Nino Surguladze (sop); Anaï, Marie’s daughter, Barbara Frittoli (sop)Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala, Milan/Riccardo MutiRecorded live at the Teatro Arcimboldo, Milan, 21st December 2003 Sound format, DD 5.1. DTS 5.1. LPCM stereo. Picture format 16:9 Introductory essay in English, German and French Subtitles in Italian (original language), English, German, French and Spanish TDK DVD Video DVWW-OPMEP [2DVDs: 181min]

This year I have spent much time focussing on Rossini and his operatic works (LINK). Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon is a DVD of the carefully prepared production which opened the 2003-2004 La Scala season. The sound is first class, there are no weaknesses in the singing cast and the chorus are outstanding. The production tells the story clearly although the parting of the Red Sea could have been more of a coup de theatre. As there is no audio recording in the catalogue this issue fills a big void in the availability of Rossini’s operas on disc. RJF

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Le Comte Ory - An opera in two acts. Libretto by Eugene Scribe and Charles Gaspard Delestre-Poirson. First performed at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique, Paris on 20th August 1828 Count Ory, a young and licentious nobleman ... Marc Laho (ten); Countess Adele ... Annick Massis (sop); Isolier, page to Count Ory and in love with the Countess Adele ... Diana Montague (mezzo); Raimbaud, friend to Count Ory ... Ludovic Tézier (bar); Governor, tutor to Count Ory ... Julien Robbins (bass); Ragonde, companion to Countess Adele ... Jane Shaulis (mezzo); Young Nobleman, friend of Ory ... Colin Judson (ten); Alice, a young peasant ... Stella Woodman (sop) The Glyndebourne Chorus. London Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Davis Recorded at the Glyndebourne Festival, 1997 Director: Jérôme Savory; Designer: Ezio Toffolutti; Lighting Designer: Alain Poison; Lighting Director: Brian Turner. Directed for video by Brian Large Picture format NTSC 4:3. Colour. Sound in linear PCM stereo. Subtitles in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese WARNER MUSIC VISION DVD VIDEO 0630-18646-2 [141:00]

A close second is the issue on DVD of Rossini’s penultimate opera and his only comic work in French, Le Comte Ory. Deriving from the Glyndebourne production of 1997 it is a recording of a properly prepared and rehearsed production, vital if the comic timing is to come over in a realistic manner. RJF

Jennifer Larmore - Bravura Diva Sir Michael COSTA (1806-1884) Eloisa, Scene and aria. Suon profondo London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonello Allemandi Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Bianca e Falliero, Aria. Tu non sai London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Parry Elisabetta Regina d'Inghilterra, Cavatina. Quant'e grato Geoffrey Mitchell Choir. London Philharmonic Orchestra/Giuliano Carella Giuseppe Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) Andronico, Duet. Vanne se alberghi in petto (with Majella Cullagh, sop) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonello Allemandi Luigi ARDITI (1822-1903) Il Desio, Duet. Quanto al cor mi parlo. Il cantar tuo gentil (with Majella Cullagh, sop) David Harper, piano Lauro ROSSI (1810-1885) Amelia, Cavatina. L'alma mia che in Adolfo (with Majella Culagh, sop) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonello Allemandi Giovanni PACINI (1796-1867) Carlo di Borgogna, Duet. Lombra mira di colei (with Bruce Ford, ten) Academy of St Martin in the Fields/David Parry Temistocle, Cavatina. Tacete! ohime, quei cantici Geoffrey Mitchell Choir London Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonello Allemandi Jennifer Larmore (mezzo)
Recorded at St Clements Church, London and Henry Wood Hall, London. Various recording dates
OPERA RARA ORR 231 [78.13]

Whilst new opera recordings are rare, recitals by singers are fortunately less so. Two such discs have been highlights of my year. The first by the mezzo Jennifer Larmore is a compilation of new arias together with others drawn from her recordings for Opera Rara. It is appropriately called Bravura Diva and has some stunning singing to match the title. RJF

Susan Graham - Poèmes de L’Amour Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Poème de l'amour et de la mer (I La Fleur des eaux; Interlude; II La Mort de 1'amour) Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Shéhérazade (I Asie; II La Flûte enchantée; III L'Indifférent) Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918), orchestrated by John Adams (b. 1947) Le Livre de Baudelaire (I-IV from Debussy's Cinq Poemes de Charles Baudelaire) (I Le Balcon; II Harmonie du soir; III Le jet d'eau; IV Recueillement) Susan Graham (soprano) BBC Symphony Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier Recorded at Studio 1, Maida Vale Studios, London, December 2004 WARNER 2564 61938-2 [62.38]

The second recital disc is of another mezzo, but one of utterly different style and one pushing at the soprano repertoire. The delectable Miss Graham’s sings these pieces with purity of tone, variation of dynamics, smooth legato and consummate expression. RJF

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Rosmonda D'lnghilterra - Opera seria in two acts. Libretto by Felice Romani. First performed at the Teatro della Pergola, Florence, on February 27th 1834 Enrico II, King of England, Bruce Ford (ten); Leonora di Guienna wife of Enrico II, Nelly Miricioiu (sop); Rosmonda, Enrico's mistress and daughter of Clifford, Renée Fleming (sop); Gualtiero Clifford, former tutor of the king, Alastair Miles (bass); Arturo, Enrico’s page, Diana Montague (mezzo) Geoffrey Mitchell Choir London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Parry Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London. July 1994 OPERA RARA ORC13 [77.55 + 72.39]

The quality of singing of Susan Graham is matched by another soprano in a back catalogue issue that came my way and which only just misses out as my disc of the year. For any opera lover who has Donizetti’s Lucia di Lamermoor and L’Elisir d’amore in their collection, they should make this Opera Rara performance of Rosmonda D'lnghilterra their next purchase of one the composer’s works. In the eponymous role Renee Fleming is a bel canto coloratura to die for. RJF

  Göran Forsling

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 – 1809) Die Schöpfung (The Creation) Sunhae Im (soprano) – Gabriel, Eva); Jan Kobow (tenor) – Uriel; Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass) – Raphael, Adam; Christine Wehler (alto) VokalEnsemble Köln/Max Ciolek; Capella Augustina/Andreas Spering Recorded by Deutschlandfunk, Sendesaal, Köln, July 2003. DDD SACD NAXOS 6.110073-74 [55:09 + 49:13] also available as CD 8.557380-81

A marvellously fresh and attractive recording of this eternal masterpiece, which still, after more than 200 years sounds surprisingly modern. Played on period instruments with choral singing on the highest possible level and three excellent soloists, all presented in state-of-the-art SACD sound, this is a version to challenge the best in the catalogue. Premium performance at super-budgetprice. GF

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: Kjel 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]

The power, the inventiveness, the sheer beauty and the melodiousness of this opera was something of a revelation. For this production the Norrlands Opera chose young, fresh singers at the beginning of their careers, some of them taking their first professional role. Afraid of 20th century opera? No need to be – this is highly approachable music and any lover of late-romantic opera will feel at home. Afraid of the language? No need to be – Swedish is a highly singable language and the translations are excellent and easy to follow.GF

Kingám - New Swedish Flute Music. 1. Stellan SAGVIK (b. 1952) Kingám (flute and percussion) [9:06]; 2. Tommie HAGLUND (b. 1959) Fragile (flute and percussion) [3:06]; 3. Stellan SAGVIK Vampire State Building (flute and piano) [8:17]; 4. Martin LARSON (b. 1967) Boughs (flute and marimba) [11:13]; 5. Stellan SAGVIK Flute Concerto #1 (flute and strings) [14:20]; 6. B Tommy ANDERSSON (b. 1964) Impromptu (flute and vibes) [4:27]; 7 – 17 Stellan SAGVIK Solar Plexus (flute solo) [24:16]; 18. Nocturne (flute and vibes) [4:51] Kinga Práda (flute), Markus Leoson (percussion) (1, 2, 4, 6, 18), Ilona Jánky Práda (piano) (3), Filarmonica de Cluj Strings/Stellan Sagvik Recorded June 9th 1997 in Filarmonica Concert Hall, Cluj-Napocan, Transylvania (5), July 20th 1999 in Bygdeå Church, Sweden (7 – 17), November 25th 2002 in Gäddviken, Stockholm, Sweden (1, 2, 4, 6, 18), March 9th 2003 in Studio 2, Swedish Radio, Stockholm (3) NOSAG CD 029 [79:38]

A truly fascinating disc, far from the beaten track, far from the wall-paper music that so often surrounds us. It is well worth anyone’s money and time to follow the wonderful Kinga on an expedition through "the undiscover’d country from whose bourn each traveller returns" uplifted, renewed? The musical sceneries to which she will guide you are full of surprises, beauty, rhythms, changes, meditation – always alive, always thrilling, like life itself! GF

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 – 1868) La Cenerentola (1817) Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) – Angelina, known as Cenerentola; José Manuel Zapata (tenor) – Don Ramiro; Paolo Bordogna (baritone) – Dandini; Bruno Praticò (bass-baritone) – Don Magnifico; Patrizia Cigna (soprano) – Clorinda; Martina Borst (mezzo) – Tisbe; Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone) – Alidoro Prague Chamber Choir
SWR Radio Orchestra Kaiserslauten/Alberto Zedda rec. live, 13 Nov 2004, co-production: Rossini in Wildbad Festival/SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten
NAXOS 8.660191-92 [79:53 + 74:50]

Naxos have done it again! A wonderfully spirited live recording of what is probably Rossini’s masterpiece. With an ensemble of mostly young singers, where American mezzo-soprano
Joyce DiDonato in the title role could hardly be bettered and veteran buffo Bruno Praticò as Don Magnifico this is a performance that I suspect that Rossini himself, somewhere up there in his gourmet heaven, salutes with a glass of spumante.GF

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Die schöne Müllerin D 795 Jan Kobow (tenor) Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) rec. St. Andreaskirche, Berlin, 3-6 Nov 2003 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2315 [60:56]

The young German tenor Jan Kobow, who also was the tenor soloist in Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, another of my “Recordings of the year” has come up with one of the freshest and most uplifting interpretations of Die schöne Müllerin for a very long time. The excellent accompaniments on a forte-piano by Kristian Bezuidenhout contribute to the feeling of hearing the songs as it were fresh as dew directly from the pen of the composer.GF

  Tony Haywood
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Piano Fantasy (1955-57) [29’19] Piano Sonata (1939-41) [21’56] Piano Variations (1930) [11’53] Benjamin Pasternak (piano) Recorded at the Toronto Arts Centre, Toronto, Canada, 19-20 August 2003 NAXOS 8.559184 [63’08]

This excellent disc contains some of Copland's best music, gritty, fiercely dissonant and original but with the traits we love in his other music. Played with real flair but a feeling for the composer's rigorous structures, this really is a bargain. TH

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre (1851-6) Siegmund – Poul Elming (tenor) Hunding – Matthias Hoelle (bass) Wotan – John Tomlinson (bass) Sieglinde – Nadine Secunda (soprano) Brünnhilde – Anne Evans (soprano) Fricke/Siegrune – Linda Finnie (mezzo) Gerhilde – Eva Johansson (soprano) Ortlinde – Ruth Floeren (soprano) Waltraute – Shirley Close (mezzo) Helmwige – Eva-Marie Bundschuh (soprano) Rossweisse – Hebe Dijkstra (mezzo) Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim Directed for the stage by Harry Kupfer Directed for video by Horant Hohlfeld Recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival Theatre, June/July 1992
WARNER CLASSICS UNITEL 2564 62319-2 [2 DVDs: 237:00]

Kupfer's supremely intelligent staging allied to Barenboim's muscular yet flexible conducting make this one the most rewarding opera DVDs I can remember. The cast has no weak links and sound and picture quality are first rate. Definitely worth investigating, as this is professional Wagner at its very best.TH.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Works for Solo Piano – Vol. 2 Piano Sonatas: No.1 in F minor, Op.2 No.1 (1793-95) [16’10]; No.2 in A major, Op.2 No.2 (1793-95) [22’33]; No.3 in C major, Op.2 No.3 (1793-95) [26’44]; No.19 in G minor, Op.49 No.1 (1797) [6’55]; No.20 in G major, Op.49 No.2 (1795) [7’47] Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano by Paul McNulty, 2001 after Walther & Son c.1840) Recorded in Österåker Church, Sweden, August 2004 BIS SACD 1363 [81’04]

Brautigam can be a fiery, volatile artist but those are exactly the qualities these sonatas need. Add to that a fortepiano that doesn't sound like a pub upright and you have a disc that positively brings the young Beethoven into your living room.TH

Esa-Pekka SALONEN (b. 1958) Foreign Bodies (2001) (Part 1: Body Language [9:52]; Part 2: Language [6:03]; Part 3: Dance [3:39]) Wing on Wing (2004) [25:56] Insomnia (2002) [21:14] Anu Komsi; Piia Komsi (sopranos) Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen Recorded Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki, Finland, September 2004. DDD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 00289 477 5375 [66:54]

I didn't review this disc but went out and bought it immediately. It is quite simply stunning, both in terms of the quality of the music and the performances, which are definitive. Contemporary music at its most original yet approachable and my overall Disc of the Year.TH

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Selection of Études with transcriptions by Leopold GODOWSKY (1870-1938) Op.10 No.1 in C major – Godowsky transcription ‘Diatonisch’ [4’14] Op.10 No.2 in A minor – Godowsky’s second transcription ‘Ignis Fatuus’ [3’22] Op.10 No.4 in C sharp minor – Godowsky transcription for left hand [4’37] Op.10 No.5 in G sharp major – Godowsky transcriptions in C major ‘Study on White Keys’ and in A minor ‘Tarantella’ [5’40] Op.10 No.6 in E flat minor – Godowsky transcription for left hand [7’23] Op.10 No.12 in C minor – Godowsky transcription for left hand in C sharp minor [5’36] Op.25 No.1 in A flat major – Godowsky’s second transcription [5’16] Op.25 No.5 in E minor – Godowsky’s second transcription in C sharp minor ‘Mazurka’ [6’35] Godowsky transcription of Op.10 No.5 and Op.25 No.9 combined in G flat major ‘Badinage’ [1’34] Godowsky transcription of Op.10 No.11 and Op.25 No.3 combined in F major [2’46] Godowsky: Alt-Wien (Triakontameron, No.11) [2’00] Godowsky transcription of Waltz Op.64 No.1 in D flat major ‘Minute’ [3’19] Boris Berezovsky (piano) Recorded live at the Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, 19-20 April 2005 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 62258-2 [54’32]

Berezovsky is one of a number of real keyboard lions of our age, a modern equivalent to the Godowskys of the past. The playing is truly transcendental and the fact that it is live only adds to the achievement.TH

  Christopher Howell

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Munch Conducts Berlioz Roméo et Juliette op.17 (1838) (A) (B) [2 versions: 91:27, 91:31], Les Nuits d’Été op.7 (1838, orchestral version 1856) (C) [30:14], Les Troyens (1856-58): Chasse royale et orage (D) [10:59], La Damnation de Faust op.24 (1845-6) (E) [121:52], Béatrice et Bénédict (1862): Overture (F) (G) [2 versions: 07:18, 07:17], Le Corsaire op.21 (1844-55) (H) [07:58], Benvenuto Cellini op.23 (1834-1837): Overture (I) [10:26], L’enfance du Christ op.25 (1850-54) (J) [93:26], Harold en Italie op.16 (1834) (K) [37:44], Le carnival romain op.9 (1843) (L) [08:01], Grande messe des morts op.5 (1837) (M) [83:33], Symphonie fantastique op.14(1830) (N) (O) [2 versions: 46:20, 48:54] Victoria de los Angeles (soprano) (C), Suzanne Danco (soprano) (E), Rosalind Elias (mezzo-soprano) (B), Margaret Roggero (mezzo-soprano) (A), Florence Kopleff (contralto) (J), Leslie Chabay (tenor) (A), David Poleri (tenor) (E), Léopold Simoneau (tenor) (M), Cesare Valletti (tenor) (B) (J), Lucien Oliver (baritone) (J), Martial Singher (baritone) (E), Gérald Souzay (baritone) (J), Donald Gramm (bass) (E), McHenry Boatwright (bass) (E), Yi-Kwei Sze (bass) (A), Giorgio Tozzi (bass) (B) (J), William Primrose (viola) (K), Harvard Glee Club (A) (E), New England Conservatory Chorus (B) (J) (M), Radcliffe Choral Society (A) (E) Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch (all items) Recorded 1949 (F), 22nd-23rd February 1953 (A), 21st-22nd February 1954 (E), 14th-15th November 1954 (N), 12th-13th April 1955 (C), 23rd-24th December 1956 (J), 1st December 1958 (G) (H) (L), 6th April 1959 (D) (I), 26th-27th April 1959 (M), 23rd-24th April 1961 (B), 9th April 1962 (O) in the Symphony Hall, Boston BMG RCA RED SEAL 82876-60393-2 [10 CDs: 67:24 + 66:06 + 74:26 +74:04 + 72:50 + 66:52 + 60:26 + 69:50 + 73:14 + 75:06]

A wonderful way to snap up at one fell swoop all the Berlioz performances recorded by one of the composer’s greatest interpreters during his vital years in Boston. CH

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 1 in E minor (1899) [34:17] Leopold Stokowski conducts his Symphony Orchestra Symphony No. 2 in D major (1902) [42:02] NBC Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski Rec. New York, 11, 13 July 1950 (Symphony 1); 15-16, 23 Sept 1954 (Symphony 2). ADD mono CALA RECORDS CACD 0541 [76:25]

I was so overwhelmed I hardly knew how to write about this! CH

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) String Quartet no.1 in G op.44 (1891) [29:01] String Quartet no.2 in A minor op.45 (1891) [27:03] Fantasy for Horn and String Quartet* (1922) [11:47] RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet, with Stephen Stirling (horn)* Recorded 22nd-24th September 2003 in the Henry Wood Hall, London HYPERION CDA67434 [68:09]]


Urgently recommended, and not only to lovers of British music. CH

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Orlando Furioso (1727) [182:40] Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Orlando, contralto), Jennifer Larmore (Alcina, mezzo-soprano), Veronica Cangemi (Angelica, soprano), Philippe Jaroussky (Ruggiero, counter-tenor), Lorenzo Regazzo (Astolfo, bass-baritone), Ann Hallenberg (Bradamante, mezzo-soprano), Blandine Staskiewicz (Medoro, mezzo-soprano), Choeur "Les Éléments", Ensemble Matheus/Jean-Christophe Spinosi Recorded in June 2004 in the Eglise Abbatiale de Daoulas, Bretagne, France NAÏVE OP 30393 [3 CDs: 70:38 + 66:21 + 45:41]


A recording which is not afraid to take risks. CH

Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano): Opera Proibita Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Cantata per la Notte del Santissimo Natale: All’arme sì accesi guerrieri - Aria della Pace [02:38], Il Giardino di Rose (Oratorio La Santissima Vergine del Rosario): Mentre io godo in dolce oblio – Aria della Speranza [04:48] George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno: Un pensiero nemico di pace – Aria della Bellezza [03:55] Antonio CALDARA (c.1670-1736) Il Trionfo dell’Innocenza: Vanne pentita e piangere – Aria di Santa Eugenia [08:46], La Casitità al Cimento (Il Trionfo della Castità): Sparga il senso lascivo veleno – Aria di Flavia [02:58] A. SCARLATTI Sedicia, Re di Gerusalemme: Caldo sangue – Aria di Ismaele [05:26] HANDEL Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno: Come nembo che fugge col vento – Aria del Piacere [05:10] A. SCARLATTI Il Giardino di Rose (Oratorio La Santissima Vergine del Rosario): Ecco negl’orti tuoi … che dolce simpatia – Recitativo ed aria della Carità [02:14], San Filippo Neri: Qui resta … L’alta Roma - Recitativo ed aria della Carità [04:12] HANDEL Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno: Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa – Aria del Piacere [05:53] A. SCARLATTI Sedicia, Re di Gerusalemme: Ahi! Qual cordoglio … Doppio affetto – Recitativo ed aria di Ismaele [02:31] CALDARA Oratorio per Santa Francesca Romana – Si piangete pupille dolente – Aria di Santa Francesca [07:35], Il Martirio di Santa Caterina: Ahi quanto cieca … come foco alla sua sfera – Recitativo ed aria dell’Imperatrice Faustina [03:04] HANDEL Oratorio per la Resurrezione di Nostro Signor Gesù Cristo: Disserratevi, o porte d’Averno – Aria dell’Angelo [04:41], Notte funesta … Ferma l’ali – Recitativo ed aria di Santa Maria Maddalena [07:30] Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo-soprano) Les Musiciens du Louvre – Grenoble/Mark Minkowski rec. 27-29 Aug 2004, 11, 16-22 Feb 2005, Salle Wagram and Eglise du Liban, Paris DECCA 475 6924 [72:05]

Bartoli has done it again. In an age well-endowed with mezzo-sopranos she still stands out as a phenomenon.CH


  Robert Hugill

Michael HAYDN (1737–1806) Requiem pro defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismundo (Requiem for Archbishop Siegmund) (1771) [40.12]Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae (1793) [43.38] Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Hilary Summers (alto) James Gilchrist (tenor) Peter Harvey (bass) Choir of the King’s Consort The King’s Consort/Robert King Recorded at St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 7-9 May 2004 2 CDs priced as a single CD HYPERION CDA67510 [40.12 + 43.38]

A remarkable discovery, beautifully performed; Michael Haydn's Requiem has such striking pre-echoes of Mozart's Requiem that you cannot help but be curious, but Robert King and his forces reveal it to be a profoundly moving work in its own right.RH

Edvard Hagerup GRIEG (1843-1907) and Henrik IBSEN (1828-1906) Peer Gynt (1874/75) [112.42] Concert version of Henrik Ibsen’s play prepared by Svein Sturla Hungnes Peer Gynt – Håkon Hagegård (baritone), Svein Sturla Hungnes (actor) Solveig – Marita Solberg (soprano and actor) Anitra – Ingebjørg Kosmo (mezzo), Andrea Bræin Hovig (actor) 1st Herd Girl – Kari Postma (soprano)2nd Herd Girl – Kilde Haraldsen Sceen (soprano) 3rd Herd Girl - Ingebjørg Kosmo (mezzo), Thief - Ikka Leppänen (baritone) Receiver – Torbjørn Gulbrandsøy (baritone) Ingrid/Woman in Green - Andrea Bræin Hovig (actor) Hegstad Farmer / Mountain King / Captain – Bjørn Willberg Andersen (actor) Boyg /Monsieur Ballon / Stranger / Begriffenfeldt / Button Moulder – Ståle Bjørnhaug (actor) KorVest (Bergen Vocal Ensemble) Arve Moen Bergset (Hardanger Fiddle) Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Ole Kristian RuudRecorded June 2003, Grieg Hall, Bergen, Norway BIS BIS-SACD-1441/42 [53.29 + 60.01]

Putting Grieg's familiar music in the unfamiliar (to us) context of Ibsen's play helps re-focus our attention on works which are in danger of becoming hackneyed. RH

Georgian Journey – Secular and Sacred Vocal Music Antchis Chati Choir/Malchaz Erkvanidze Tsinandali Choir Three elderly singers (Karlo Urushadze, Guri Sikharulidze, Tristan Sikharulidze) Recorded Summer 2003 on location in Georgia RAUM KLANG RK 2304-1/2 [78.43 + 67.45]

A revelation, Georgian sacred and profane music, showcasing the remarkable Georgian polyphonic tradition. RH

  Bill Kenny
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde (1865) Nina Stemme (sop) ... Isolde Plácido Domingo (ten) ... Tristan Mihoko Fujimora (mezzo) ... Brangäne René Pape (bass) ... King Marke Olaf Bär (bar) ... Kurwenal Jared Holt (ten) ... Melot Ian Bostridge (ten) ... Shepherd Rolando Villazón (ten) ... Young Sailor Matthew Rose (bar) ... Steersman Royal Opera House Chorus, Covent Garden
Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano rec. Nov 2004–Jan 2005, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road Studios, London. DDD Plus bonus DVD
EMI CLASSICS 558006-2 [3 CDs: 78:57 + 73:54 + 73:38 = 227:00]

I have been captivated by Nina Stemme's Isolde ever since seeing her in Stockholm last year. Said to be the very last studio-based opera recording with a truly all star cast, this EMI set ends an era in the grand manner.There is a bonus DVD with the set complete with text and multi-lingual subtitles which is worth having and sounds fine. BK

Ian Lace

Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944) Piano Music Vol. 1: Chaconne Op. 8; Autrefois No. 4 of Pièces humoristiques Op. 87; Callirhoë – Air de Ballet (no opus number); Solitude No. 2 of Poèmes provençales Op. 127; Romance in D major Op. 137; L’Ondine Op. 101; Scherzo in C major No. 1 of Études de concert Op. 35; Automne No. 2 of Études de concert Op. 35; Thème varié in A major Op. 89; Sérénade in D major Op. 29; Souvenance No. 1 of Romances sans paroles Op. 76; Élévation in E major No. 2 of Romances sans paroles Op. 76; Étude mélodique in G flat major Op. 118; Étude pathétique in B minor Op. 124; La Lisonjera (no opus number);Valse romantique Op. 115; Pêcheurs de nuit No. 4 of Poèmes provençales Op. 127; Deuxième valse Op. 77; Études scholastique Op. 139 Peter Jacobs (piano) rec. 24-25 June 1991. location undisclosed. DDD HYPERION HELIOS CDH55197 [71:20]

For too long Cécile Chaminade’s charming, enchanting music has lain forgotten simply because she composed tuneful and undemanding salon pieces and, second, because she was a woman. This is an undemanding and tuneful collection that will enchant all but the strictest classicists and the hardest-hearted. IL

Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953) Die Csárdásfürstin (1915) [85.19] Sylva Varesco ... Yvonne Kenny (soprano) Edwin Ronald ... Michael Roider (tenor) Countess Stasi ... Mojca Erdmann (soprano) Count Boni ... Marco Kathol (tenor) Feri von Kerekes ... Karl-Michael Ebner (tenor) General Rohnsdorff ... Hellmuth Klumpp (speaker) The Prince ... Heinz Holecek (baritone) The Princess ... Yvonne Kálmán (speaker) Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Chorus/Richard Bonynge Recorded 9-17 December 2002, Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava Orchestral selections: Dorfkinder; Vive le Roi (Der Zigeunerprimds) Hollaho (Die Fascingsfee) Lockend soll ertönen Dir (Das Höllandweibchen) Grand Palotás de la eine (Der Teufels reiter) Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Richard Bonynge Recorded 22-23 September 2003, Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava SACD/CD hybrid format
     NAXOS 6.110075-6 [56.20 + 57.17]

If I had to choose only one album from 2005 it would have to be this wonderful Naxos release – it’s a sheer delight. A delicious continual outpouring of memorable melodies that defies the listener not to hum or toe-tap along with them. Hugely enjoyable. IL

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Wonderful Town (1953) Excerpts from the Musical Comedy in Two Acts Ruth Sherwood/Violet ... Kim Criswell Eileen Sherwood ... Audra McDonald Robert Baker ... Thomas Hampson Wreck/Guide/First Editor/Frank Lippincott ... Brent Barrett European Voices/Simon Halsey) Berlin Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. live, Philharmonie, Berlin, 30-31 December 2002 EUROARTS DVD 2052299 [76:00]

Bernstein’s exuberant, jazz-based score is big and breezy. Three cheers for Lenny and Simon Rattle. This is wonderful light entertainment for a summer’s evening. It really is a Wonderful Town. IL

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Concert waltz: Footlights (1939) The Three Men Suite (1935) The Selfish Giant (1925) London Again Suite for Orchestra (1936) Cinderella – A Phantasy (1929) Summer Days Suite (1919) Television March (1946) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/John Wilson rec. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England, 7-8 October 2003. DDD AVIE AV2070 [79:14]

John Wilson has a magical empathy with the world and music of Coates. Another Coates programme full of happy nostalgia and joie de vivre. Sweet tuneful nostalgic delight – a must for Eric Coates admirers. IL

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Gianni Schicchi - Opera in one act (1917/18) Gianni Schicchi…Alessandro Corbelli Zita, Buosco’s cousin…Felicity Palmer La Ciesca, Marco’s wife…Marie McLaughlin Rinuccio, Zita’s nephew…Massimo Giordano Lauretta, Schicchi’s daughter…Sally Matthews London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski rec. live at GlyndebourneOpera House, 11 July 2004Directed by Annabel Arden DVD includes extras: cast gallery, illustrated synopsis and interviews OPUS ARTE OA 0918 D [74:00]

What a joy this live 2004 Glyndebourne production is. A delightful humorous and warm production of the final part of Puccini’s Il trittico. IL


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