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[Click here for the most recent reviews (last five days)]
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RECORDING OF THE MONTH Nicolae BRETAN (1887–1968) Sacred Songs Requiem etc. see review for details Ludovic Konya (baritone) Phyllis Bryn-Julson (soprano)rec 1973/74 Texts with English and French translations and German summaries enclosed. NIMBUS NI 5584 [76:06] [GF]

A strong candidate for my Recordings of the Year – for the quality of the music as well as the accomplished singing ... see Full Review

My Lieder-Land: The Songs of Nicolae Bretan - Vol. 2
Ludovic Konya (baritone), Ferdinand Weiss (piano); Martin Berkovsky (piano) rec. live, 1973-1976 Texts and translations enclosed NIMBUS NI 5640 [75:10] [GF]

Marvellous songs, melodious and expressive, congenially executed by the eloquent Ludovic Konya. ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Eric COATES Sound and Vision Music for Orchestra and Songs with Orchestra BBC Concert Orchestra/John Wilson. rec. 2007 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7198 [71:03] [RB]

Fills gaps with a consummate sweep and mastery ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Creation Chetham’s Chamber Choir; Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2006 ARCHIV PRODUKTION 4777361 [79:27 + 29:29][JQ]

Haydn’s great masterpiece makes its full effect in this exceptional performance ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Charles IVES (1874-1954) Romanzo di Central Park (songs) Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) Magnus Johnston (violin) rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67644 [62:28] [DM]

A glorious disc ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4 Luba Orgonášová, Tonhalle O Zurich/David Zinman rec. 2006 RCA-BMG 88697 168522 [57:21] [DM]

A performance full of wonder from a Mahlerian of real stature ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies Nos. 38-41 Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 2007 LINN CKD308 [66:49 + 72:29][TH]

A set worthy to stand as a benchmark for our time ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Luigi NONO (1924-1990) Prometeo, Tragedia dell’ascolto (1984-6) Petra Hoffman, Monika Baer (sopranos); Susanne Otto, Noa Frankel (altos); Hubert Meyer (tenor); Sigrun Schell, Gregor Dalal (speakers) Solistenchor, Freiburg; Ensemble Recherche; Solistenensemble des Philharmonischen Orchesters Freiburg; Solistenensemble des SWR Sinfonieorchesters Baden-Baden und Freiburg; xperimentalstudio für akustische Kunst; former Experimentalstudio der Heinrich-Stobel-Stiftung des Südwestrundfunks; Andre Richard (director); Peter Hirsch, (conductor 1); Kwame Ryan, (conductor 2) rec. 16-19 May 2003, Konzerthaus Freiburg. COL LEGNO WWE 2SACD 20605 [66:38 + 64:54] [AO]

The thieves who stole 1000 copies of this disc certainly had excellent taste! ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Heavenly harmonies Music by Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585) and William BYRD (1539/40-1623) Stile Antico rec. 2007 HARMONIA MUNDI USA HMU807463 [78:51][MG]

You won’t find a better demonstration of just how beautiful and powerful these pieces are  … see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH To Music - An anthology of English 20th century choral music Chamber Choir of Birmingham Conservatoire/Paul Spicer, David Saint (organ) rec. 2007 REGENT REGCD274 [74:53] [JQ]

This is a splendid disc in every way and earns a resounding Bravo! ... see Full Review


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 4 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 9 Berlin PO/Klaus Tennstedt rec. 1980/83 EMI CLASSICS ENCORE 5090222 [77:01] [TP]

Tennstedt’s fans will be glad to be able to snap this disc up ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La donna del lago Maxim Miranov, Sonia Ganassi, Prague Chamber Ch, SWR Radio O Kaiserslautern/Alberto Zedda rec. live 2004 NAXOS OPERA CLASSICS 8.660235-36 [73.29 + 73.26] [RJF]

This recording should allow newcomers to enjoy this most melodic and romantic of Rossini’s opera seria ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Incidental Music Pelléas et Mélisande suite; Karelia Overture & Suite; King Christian II Suite Philharmonia Orchestra/Enrique Batiz & London Symphony Orchestra/Loris Tjeknavorian rec. 1982 & 1994 REGIS RRC1272 [78:14][RB] 

An atmospheric, generous and inexpensive helping of Sibelius's most instantly engaging incidental music ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Andrés Segovia: 1950s American Recordings - Volume 3 Andrés Segovia (guitar) rec. New York, 1952-56 NAXOS 8.111091 [77:33] [JW]

Really first class ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Michael Studer - The Legacy Michael Studer (piano) rec. 1972-90 CLAVES 50-2713-18 [6 CDs: 439:59] [DC]

An amazing bargain – buy it for the Bach, and become enthralled by the rest ... see Full Review

[Click here for the most recent reviews (last five days)]
Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[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]
[Recommended recordings]

An excellent reissue by Hyperion on their Helios label, this disc opens with that astonishing work Rejoice in the Lamb. The piece was commissioned by St Matthew’s, Northampton, to celebrate the church’s fiftieth anniversary. Britten chose words by Smart, an eccentric eighteenth century mystical poet, who wrote his Jubilate Agno - which includes the famous “For I shall consider my Cat Jeoffrey” - in a mental asylum. Most of the words are heavily concerned with animals and nature and music or instruments. The resulting combination of rather odd but intriguing text and stunning music is completely unique. There is nothing else like this amazing work! 

All the soloists here are of the highest standard. Soprano Mary Seers has a very pure voice, quite boy-like and crystalline, with almost no vibrato. This is an excellent choice as her voice works perfectly for this sort of music, and is very beautiful. All other soloists – Michael Chance, Philip Salmon and Quentin Hayes - are similarly well-suited to their roles, and perform with great clarity and beauty of voice. Even the sopranos in the Corydon Singers are wonderfully pure-toned, resulting in a performance that is incredibly clear and fine. Yet although the singing is quite delicate at times, the performers are able to invest it with spirit and fire when necessary: listen to the incredibly dramatic, chilling and effective rendition of For I am under the same accusation with my Saviour

On the whole, this is a very fine performance. It is fairly measured – possibly even a little on the slow side, but we consequently get the full benefit of the beautiful singing and good enunciation. The resonant acoustic of St Albans Church in Holborn conveys an ethereal quality, yet does not detract from the clarity of the sound. 

The Wedding Cantata was composed to celebrate the wedding of the Earl of Harewood to Marion Stein, both of whom were friends of Britten. The words were written for the occasion by Ronald Duncan. Again, the soprano, Janet Coxwell this time, has a very pure and clear voice that suits the music, and the piece is given a wonderfully joyful performance. The Festival Te Deum follows, with some radiant singing. The disc then concludes with A Boy was Born – yet again, a remarkable piece given that Britten was only 19 when he composed it. This despite the fact that we know from even earlier works - such as the Quatre Chansons Françaises - that he had found and developed his own voice even early in his teens. 

All in all, a splendid disc – superb performances of excellent works, and well worth getting hold of.



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