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RECORDING OF THE MONTH York BOWEN (1884-1961) Piano Concertos 3 & 4 Danny Driver, BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67659 [60:49] [IL]

Derivative but delightful. A wonderful romantic wallow ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Elgar: A Self-Portrait Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Overture: Froissart, op.19 [13:29] Dream Children, op.43 [6:50] The Music Makers, op.69 [38:41] Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750), orch. Elgar Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537/op.86 [8:58] Jane Irwin (mezzo) Hallé Choir and Orchestra/Mark Elder rec. 2005 HALLÉ CD HLL 7509 [68:24] [GPJ]

High standards … a fascinating programme ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Parnasso in Festa The King’s Consort and Choir/Matthew Halls rec. 2008 HYPERION CDA67701/2 [72:25 + 59:26][BW] 

A very important discovery, excellently performed and recorded ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Acis and Galatea Susan Hamilton, Nicholas Mulroy, Dunedin Consort and Players/John Butt rec. 2008 LINN CKD319 [41:19 + 53:59] [BW]

Already a strong contender for the 2009 Recording of the Year ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Live in Rome - Celebrating Palestrina’s 400th Anniversary The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL GIMDP 903 [81:34 + 51:20][BW] 

The CD is excellent, the DVD even better ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Tandem Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Sonata for 2 violins Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955) Sonatine for 2 violins Eugène YSAŸE (1858 - 1931) Sonata for 2 violins Frédéric Angleraux, Raphaël Oleg (violins) rec. 1999 No label/number [58:05] [MC]

Beautifully produced and performed … A tremendous success ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Die Winterreise Hans Hotter (baritone); Michael Raucheisen (piano) rec. 1942 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1061 [75:50] [GF]

Belongs among the Desert Island Disc recordings of Winterreise ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie, Don Juan Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. live, 2007 RCO LIVE RCO08006 [70:22] [IL]

A stunning Alpine ascent and a robust and opulent Don Juan ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Emily Beynon: flute & friends Hilary TANN (b.1947) From the Song of Amergin Amy BEACH (1867-1944) Theme and Variations Sally BEAMISH (b.1956) Words For My Daughter Thea MUSGRAVE (b.1928) Impromptu Louise FARRENC (1804-1875) Trio Emily Beynon (flute), Henk Rubingh, Marijn Mijnders (violins), Roland Krämer (viola), Daniël Esser (cello), Sepp Grotenhuis (piano), Alexei Ogrintschouk (oboe), Petra van der Heide (harp) rec. 2007 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA26408 [68:15] [CR]

Unmissable ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Diversity - Amrywiaeth John METCALF (b.1946) Light Music Alun HODDINOTT (1929-2008) Sonata Brian HUGHES (b.1938) Arithmetical Bagatelles Jeffrey LEWIS (b.1942) Night Fantasy John HEARNE (b.1937) Solemn and Strange Music Pwyll ap SION (b.1968) Emyn Helen and Harvey Davies (piano, four hands) rec. 2007 CAMPION CAMEO 2073 [73:40] [DC]

World class, in every regard ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Artur Rubinstein Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata 23 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Intermezzo 2 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Carnaval Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballade 1, Etude Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Hungarian Rhapsody Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) O polichinelo rec. live, 1963 MEDICI ARTS MM029-2 [80:45] [JW]

I can’t recall a live performance by Rubinstein to equal it ... see Full Review



RECORDING OF THE MONTH Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) The Complete Works Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 1989-2000 HYPERION CDS44351/66 [16 CDs: 1155:35] [PL]

A rewarding bargain no Chopin-lover should resist ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Sir John TAVENER (b.1944) Ex Maria Virgine – A Christmas Sequence for Choir and Organ (2005)* 1[37:57] Birthday Sleep (1999) [5:27] O, Do Not Move (1990) [2:00] A Nativity (1985) [2:14] Marienhymne (2005)* [4:42] O Thou Gentle Light (2000)2 [4:41] Angels (1985/96)3 [6:45] James McVinnie (organ)1; Stefan Berkieta (baritone)2; Simon Thomas Jacobs (organ)3 Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Timothy Brown rec. Norwich Cathedral, England, 6-8 July 2008.  DDD. Texts and translations included. * World Première Recording. NAXOS 8.572168 [63:46] [BW]

Major new music, well worth coming to terms with ... see Full Review

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]

Over a period of three years from December 2003, I have spent a lot of time in the company of Harry Partch – not literally, of course, as he died in 1974, but working my way though an article and some eight reviews that can all be found on MusicWeb. Then, at the MusicWeb annual lunch (January 2007), the name of John Cage caught my ear. For reasons that my subconscious was not prepared to divulge, my curiosity was tickled. Partch and Cage have on occasion been paired off, as a sort of American "Debussy and Ravel" – was there any real connection between them?

This may come as a bit of an anticlimax but, other than them both being American originals with "far-out" ideas, I can’t really think of one. In fact, they are more on the lines of diametric opposites: with my tongue ever-so-slightly in my cheek, I could say that Partch was a seminal genius who got branded as a crackpot, and Cage was a crackpot who got branded as a seminal genius.

John Cage (1912-92) was nothing if not controversial. With his rise to prominence, an obliging World split into two opposing camps. His supporters saw him as a prime mover in the fields of experimental and electronic music, with abiding interests in "chance music", new ways of using traditional instruments, and practical application of his Zen Buddhist beliefs.

His detractors, the more radical of whom would have preferred the "nothing" option, complained that he just made a lot of silly noise, did unspeakable things to the private parts of otherwise perfectly respectable musical instruments, and came up with a load of airy-fairy claptrap to justify his bizarre buffoonery.

Partch, who was renowned for his considered and candid conclusions, didn’t have too high an opinion of Cage: "When he was younger, I found him rather charming, albeit shallow. Then later, when he was famed for the opening of doors to musical insight, I found myself obliged to use the word ‘charlatan’ . . . Pretty sounds do not necessarily make significant music, and serious words frequently cloak hokum . . . I’m all for common sounds as valid materials [but] one has to have control, so that his common sounds will mean something. . . I feel that anyone who brackets me with Cage is bracketing actual music with metaphysical theories, and what I think is a serious effort with exhibitionism." [Letter to Ben Johnston, 1952, reproduced in Innova Enclosure 3]

Who is right – the "pro" camp or the "anti"? You tell me. The only opinions I can voice with rceiver, he fashioned 4’33" supposedly to demonstrate that fact to the rest of us. P


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