OF THE MONTH
Dvorak Opera Premiere
Log April/May 2009
Reviewer: Patrick C Waller
time I mentioned the Haydathon which
was about to take place, an attempt to perform all Haydn’s symphonies
in one event for charity. As I have since reported on Seen
and Heard, it turned out to be a considerable success.
I also mentioned the Nimbus release of the complete symphonies
on 8 CDs containing mp3 files, saying that I thought
it a good idea but that I had too many of the originals
contemplate buying the set. Well, reading Dominy Clements’s review changed
that and for pennies per symphony I have being enjoying
the flexibility that the format brings. Since the Nimbus
Haydn discs I already owned were of the middle works, I
have started at the beginning working forwards and also
at the end working backwards.
There are quite a few other Haydn bargains around and the
one that appealed to me most, taking into account gaps in the collection,
the Angeles Quartet’s 21 CD box of all the String Quartets on Philips (4646502).
I had largely collected Haydn quartets working backwards, mostly the Kodaly
Quartet on Naxos, but had none of the early works before Opus 50. So I have
had quite a few pleasant surprises – not realising before how innovative
some of the early works were. I haven’t quite heard it all yet but enough
to say that I am very impressed with both the performances and the recording.
For the next couple of months this box is available for about £3 per disc
or half the normal price from various mail order outlets. This is rather
less than the recently issued Naxos set and, aside from price considerations,
it seems a more desirable acquisition.
other big box I should mention is the Chandos 30th anniversary
box – a tour de force indeed. A brief list of the
30 discs can be found in this press
release, many of them are ground-breaking and/or
award winners and there’s not a dud among them. Purchasing such
a mixed collection in a large box was quite a different
experience from my norm but it has turned out to be a very
positive one. At hardly more than a pound a disc and being
a limited edition, I would advise against tarrying. Don’t
think of it that you already have x of these discs – 7
in my case – rather that you don’t have 30 minus
x of the discs. The only downside is lack of documentation
although it can all be found on the Chandos website.
The box is particularly strong on vocal works, for example
the choral works of Lili Boulanger, Grechaninov’sPassion
Week, Janáček’sGlagolitic Mass conducted
by Mackerras and Stanford’sSongs of the
Sea. There are several Hickox discs but, surprisingly,
none of Handley’s. Overall, it is very imaginative programming
and this would be an ideal box to take away on holiday.
on the subject of boxes I should mention a couple of
smaller ones. In both cases the composers were names
I had heard
of but I couldn’t recall having heard their music. First,
CPO has collected together the symphonies of Egon
Wellesz, a powerful series of works that
belie the composer’s rather academic reputation. Secondly
a Brilliant box (93439) of works by Italian romantic
composer Martucci including
the two symphonies and two piano concertos. These derive
from less than ideal ASV recordings made 20 years ago and
there is some competition emerging, so they may not be
the best but this set is almost worth buying just for La
canzone dei ricordi, a wonderful cycle sung by Rachel
haven’t downloaded a great deal recently but I did come
across the cello concerto of Minna Kealin that
format on the NMC
website and was so impressed that I have since also
bought the Lorelt disc of her music entitled A
Life in Reverse. This is remarkable music from a lady
who gave up composing for 46 years before writing a varied
oeuvre of compelling works. I have also downloaded the
First Piano Sonata of Charles Ives played
by Herbert Henck on Wergo from Classicsonline and Tippett’sRose
Lake conducted by Colin Davis on RCA from Amazon UK.
The latter is a marvellous performance but disappointing
in this format in that there seems to be no way of avoiding
the joins between the sections, so it would be better to
get this on disc. Beethoven’s Horn Sonata
played by Dennis Brain and Denis Matthews in 1944 is
the opposite – one file for all three movements and thus
available on Amazon
UK for just 69p!
on the subject of Beethoven, I should mention
the Nimbus Alliance issue of the late
quartets played by the Wihan Quartet. Recorded live
with “warts and all” this is nevertheless worth exploring,
especially for the three larger works in which the Wihan
Quartet seem particularly at home.
was delighted to see that Dutton have recorded Arthur
Butterworth’s marvellous Fourth symphony and viola
concerto. This is a two disc set and also includes Barbirolli
conducting the First Symphony in 1958 and some reflections
from the composer. Also on Dutton, the six symphonies of Richard Arnell have
proved well worth exploring with the Third perhaps
being the best place to start.
gatherings of MusicWeb reviewers are becoming regular events.
The latest one just last weekend was rather special as
it took place at the headquarters of Nimbus in the beautiful Wye Valley. As
well as a pleasant lunch, we were treated to a tour of
the facility and a recital in the concert hall which
has a fabulous acoustic. Carla Rees on alto and bass
with David Black on guitar performed a varied and delightful
programme which enchanted all those present. Carla is
living a crusade for the alto flute and, if you’re interested
in finding out about that, visit the Rarescale website.
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