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RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations Burkard Schliessmann (piano) rec. 2007 BAYER RECORDS BR100326 [38:06 + 45:00][MSJ] 

For those adventurous enough to enjoy hearing an old favourite transformed into something new ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Matthew Passion Dunedin Consort & Players/John Butt rec. 2007 LINN RECORDS CKD313 [3 CDs: 67:41 + 50:24 + 43:11] [PB]

A deeply satisfying and superbly recorded one-to-a-part recording of Bach’s ‘Great Passion’ ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Duke Bluebeard’s Castle Kolos Kováts (bass); Sylvia Sass (soprano); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1981 DECCA 0743254 [56:00][DM] This Bluebeard is as gripping as it gets ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Tone Poems - Vol. 2 Northern Ballads 1 & 2, Prelude for a Solemn Occasion, Nympholept, Red Autumn, The Happy Forest, Into the Twilight BBC PO/Vernon Handley  rec. 2006/7 CHANDOS CHAN10446 [76:44] [RB]

Into the Twilight reflects Bax's almost life-long love affair with the poetry of W.B. Yeats ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Nine Symphonies Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 2006 HYPERION CDS44301/5 [5 CDs: 59:28 + 78:40 + 71:33 + 64:40 + 61:34][OW]

A Beethoven cycle for our times ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis, Violin Concerto Jussi Björling, Zinka Milanov, Alexander Kipnis, Jascha Heifetz, Westminster Ch, NBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1940 GUILD GHCD2248/9 [66:04 + 55:24] [JW]

One of the greatest, if not the greatest accounts of the Miss Solmenis ever committed to disc ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Puritani Valerian Ruminski, Anna Netrebko, Eric Cutler, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet/Patrick Summers rec. live 2007 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0734421 [2 DVDs: 149:00 + 22:00] [RJF]

Anna Netrebko’s acted and sung interpretation of one of bel canto’s most demanding roles in a traditional production is a must for all lovers of the genre ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 moderntimes_1800 rec. 2006 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72194 [64:08][TP] 

Korol and Grigorieva give us the best that HIP can bring to Brahms’ violin sonatas ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Benjamin DALE (1885-1943) Music for Viola Roger Chase (viola); Michiko Otaki (piano) rec. 2007 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7204 [67:43][MC]

Outstandingly performed and recorded … richly rewarding scores that deserve to be heard ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Sigmund von HAUSEGGER (1872-1948) Natursymphonie WDR Rundfunkchor Köln; WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Ari Rasilainen rec. 2005 CPO 7772372 [56:37][RB]

A full-blown philosophical symphony alive in grandeur and Mahlerian magnificence ... see Full Review 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Polyptyque, Maria-Triptychon, Passacaille Muriel Cantoreggi (violin) Juliane Banse (soprano) German RPO/Christoph Poppen rec. 2006 ECM 2015 (173 3930) [57:57] [DC]

Looking for that elusive ‘tingle factor’? ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Lionel MONKTON (1861-1924) Songs from the Shows Catherine Bott (soprano); Richard Suart (baritone); New London Light Opera Chorus; New London Orchestra/Ronald Corp rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67654 [77:31][IL]

A wonderful old-fashioned treat ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No 24 in C minor K491 (1786) [30:42] Piano Concerto No 25 in C K503 (1786) [32:25] Fantasia in D minor K397 (1782) [6:22] Imogen Cooper (piano & director)/Northern Sinfonia; Bradley Creswick rec. 2007 AVIE AV2175 [70:00] [JS]

One of my favourite discs of these concertos ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHMIDT (1874-1939) Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln Wiener Singverein; Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich/Kristjan Järvi rec. 2005 CHANDOS CHSA5061(2) [64:04 + 48:55][RB]

Stunning as a work, as a performance and as a recording. For all practical purposes the leading version of Schmidt's masterpiece ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) En Saga, Tapiola, Finlandia, Valse Triste, Violin Concerto, Four Lemminkainen Legends Jan Damen (violin), Concertgebouw O, London PO/Eduard van Beinum, Danish RO/Thomas Jensen rec. 1952-57 DECCA ELOQUENCE 442 9487 [50:28 + 75:38] [RB]

A box of delights and discoveries for Sibelians ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Traviata Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón, Los Angeles Opera O & Ch/James Conlon rec. live, 2006 DECCA 0743215 [141:00] [RJF]

With the benefit of the latest picture technology, this performance goes to the top of the list for those preferring a traditional production ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH The Feast of the Ascension at Westminster Abbey Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell rec. 2007 HYPERION CDA67680 [66:18] [JQ]

Everything about this disc is first class ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Fiesta REVUELTAS Sensemayá CARREÑO Margariteña ESTÉVEZ Mediodia en el Llano MÁRQUEZ Danzón No.2 ROMERO Fuga con Pajarillo GINASTERA Estancia CASTELLANOS Santa Cruz de Pacairigua BERNSTEIN West Side Story -- Mambo Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel rec.2008, DG 477 7457 [75:57] [DM]

An utterly irresistible programme ... see Full Review


BARGAIN OF THE MONTH George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue, Songbook, Piano Concerto Peter Donohoe (piano) London Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham SO/Simon Rattle. rec. 1986-90 EMI ENCORE 5089952 [67:02] [OW]

A fantastic bargain … all-round exceptional performances, beautifully recorded ... see Full Review

Boxed set La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1965-1969) Visions de l’Amen (1943) Des canyons aux étoiles .. etc. NAÏVE - DISQUES MONTAIGNE MO 782179 6CDs [531:07] [DC]

Some of Messiaen’s biggest and best, brilliantly performed, at bargain price. ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) The Collector’s Edition: Symphonies, Concertos, Overtures, Choral works and piano solos EMI CLASSICS COLLECTORS EDITION 5194292 [7 CDs: 521:07] [RB]

Go for it: splendid performances radiating an aptly wild and woolly imagination coupled with great attention to mood and instrumental detail ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Joaquín RODRIGO (1902-1999) Concierto de Aranjuez Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) To the Edge of Dream Malcolm ARNOLD (1931-2006) Guitar Concerto Julian Bream (guitar); City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle rec. 1990-2 EMI CLASSICS CDC 7546612 [58:16][OW]

Bream’s input pushes this disc way into the category of ‘sublime’... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) Song of the Soul, Four Mediæval Latin Lyrics, Inscape, Veni, creator Spiritus, Advent Cantata Stephen Varcoe, ASMF Ch, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1999 CHANDOS DOWNLOAD (CHAN9847) [56:21] [BW]

Even if you have never yet downloaded anything, do make the effort to obtain this wonderful recording ... 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


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