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Download Roundup, August, 2009
Brian Wilson


Recording of the Month – back catalogue

 Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
War Requiem, Op. 66 (1961) [81:24]
Rehearsing War Requiem: recordings made during session rehearsals* [49:34]
Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano); Peter Pears (tenor); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
The Bach Choir; London Symphony Chorus; Highgate School Choir; Melos Ensemble; Simon Preston (organ); London Symphony Orchestra/Benjamin Britten
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, 3-5, 7, 8, 10 January 1963 Stereo/*mono ADD
DECCA - THE ORIGINALS 475 7511 [54:52 + 76:50] – from (320k mp3) it really be almost 50 years since, as an undergraduate, I heard and recorded on reel-to-reel tape the first performance of the War Requiem from Coventry? That half century has diminished the power of the music much less than it has diminished me, and my music system now is a great advance on that Grundig recorder.

I hadn’t heard this version since LP days and the re-mastered sound, even in mp3 format, was a revelation. In fact, soundwise it’s pretty well perfect, even by comparison with modern digital recordings. The only flaw is that some of the tracks do not join seamlessly; the resulting minor dropouts are annoying – though they are hardly the end of the world, download providers really must do more to overcome this problem.

As for the performance, there’s very little of value that I can add to John Quinn’s splendid and very comprehensive review. Though I’m not a great fan of Peter Pears’s voice, which I often think too watery, he is even more absolutely irreplaceable here than in the mono recording of The Turn of the Screw which I reviewed in April. Whatever other versions you may adhere to – and many of them have very real virtues – this is an essential purchase either as a download or on CD. You may well find the latter on sale for not much more than passionato’s usual asking price of £15.99 for two CDs; at the time of writing, however, all Originals were on offer from passionato at £4.99 per CD, £9.99 for a 2-CD set.

There are, of course, no notes, but the texts of the Latin Requiem and Owen’s poetry are not hard to find.


New Download of the Month

Tomás Luis De VICTORIA (1548–1611)
Missa Gaudeamus - a liturgical sequence, with organ works by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643)
FRESCOBALDI Toccata avanti la Messa * [1:15]
Chant Introit: Gaudeamus omnes - mode I [3:39]
VICTORIA Kyrie (Missa Gaudeamus) [4:26]
Gloria (Missa Gaudeamu) [7:50]
Chant Collect: Famulorum tuorum, quaesumus Domine [0:59]
Epistle: Lectio libri Sapientiae [2:24]
Gradual: Propter veritatem - mode V [2:47]
Alleluia: Assumpta est Maria in caelum - mode V [2:25]
FRESCOBALDI Canzon dopo l’Epistola * [1:13]
Chant Gospel: In illo tempore: intravit Jesus in quoddam castellum [2:01]
VICTORIA Credo (Missa Gaudeamus) [11:23]
FRESCOBALDI Recercar dopo il Credo * [2:39]
Chant Offertory: Assumpta est Maria - mode VIII [2:08]
VICTORIA Motet: Vidi speciosam, Part 1 [3:45]
Chant Preface: Vere dignum et iustum est, aequum et salutare [2:54]
VICTORIA Sanctus (Missa Gaudeamus) [3:15]
Benedictus (Missa Gaudeamus) [2:43]
Chant Pater noster [1:58]
VICTORIA Agnus Dei (Missa Gaudeamus) [5:13]
Chant Communion: Optimam partem elegit sibi Maria - mode VIII [0:44]
VICTORIA Motet: Vidi speciosam, Part 2: Quae est ista [3:19]
Chant Post-communion: Mensae caelestis participes effecti [1:43]
FRESCOBALDI Recercar: Sancta Maria * [2:24]
Thomas Wilson*; Lay Clerks of Westminster Cathedral/Matthew Martin
rec. Westminster Cathedral, London, 7-10 July 2008. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
HYPERION CDA67748 [73:20] – from iTunes


Having purchased this from iTunes as soon as it became available on July 1st, I thought it too good to wait a month for this Download Roundup and wrote an independent review of it for the main pages of MusicWeb International.

The performances offer that wonderful blend of English and Southern European styles which has become the hallmark of the Westminster Cathedral choristers, as already illustrated on earlier recordings of Victoria Missa O quam gloriosum and Missa Ave maris stella under David Hill (CDA66114) and Missa Dum complerentur, etc., under James O’Donnell (CDA66886) to name but two of the most successful. The new recording deserves to join them.

The 256k mp3 sound is very adequate and the lavish Hyperion documentation can be obtained from their website.

I don’t wish to imply that the Westminster way is the only way with Victoria and other 16th-century continental polyphonists, however, so I’ve included a recording of two of his masses by Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford, below as a reminder of that fact.


Tomas Luis De Victoria
Motet Dum Complerentur [5:42]; Missa Dum Complerentur [29:53]; Missa Simile Est Regnum
Christ Church Cathedral Choir/Stephen Darlington
rec. Dorchester Abbey, Oxon., 12-13 July 1993. DDD.
NIMBUS NI5434 [59:04] – from (variable bit mp3) or (320k mp3)


Victoria, Motet and Masses, European Choral Music 1525-1751I’ve included this download partly to serve as a reminder that the Westminster Cathedral way with Victoria is not the only way, even though their recording of one of the works here, the Pentecost Mass Dum Complerentur, under James O’Donnell is a great success (CDA66886), and partly because this is an excellent recording in its own right, quite apart from the contrast with the new Westminster recording above. In fact, the contrast is not that great: under Stephen Darlington the Christ Church Choir has become much less of an instrument solely for the Anglican liturgy than it was almost 50 years ago when I heard them as an undergraduate, and far more adaptable to the needs of renaissance polyphony.

I wouldn’t rate this recording quite as highly as their award-winning performance of music by de Monte which I included in my March 09 Download Roundup, but it’s certainly worthy to be mentioned in the same breath. With just 15 tracks, too, the eMusic download could cost less than £4, depending on your monthly tariff. The variable-bit download (most tracks at around 192k, one at 320k) is good enough to do justice to the performance but those with keen hearing may prefer to pay a little more for the 320k classicsonline download.


Discovery of the Month

Howard Ferguson (1908-1999)
Overture for an Occasion Op.16 [8:20]; Partita Op.5a [24:52]; Two Ballads for baritone and orchestra, Op.1 [8:34]; The Dream of the Rood for soprano, chorus and orchestra, Op.19 [32:59]
Anne Dawson (soprano); Brian Rayner Cook (baritone); London Symphony Chorus; London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
rec. St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead, London, 23, 26 January 1992. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9082 [75:13] – from (mp3 and lossless)


Discovery: Selected Chamber Works of Howard Ferguson
Violin Sonata No. 1 Op. 2 [17:35]; Three Mediaeval Carols Op. 3 [8:40]; Four Short Pieces [5:10]; Love and Reason [1:40]; Discovery Op. 13 [8:12]; Three Sketches Op. 14 [4:37]; Five Irish Folksongs Op. 17 [12:28]; Violin Sonata No. 2 Op. 10 [18:43]
Clifford Benson (piano); Lydia Mordkovitch (violin);
Sally Burgess (mezzo); John Mark Ainsley (tenor);
Janet Hilton (clarinet); David Butt (flute); Reiner Schneider-Waterberg (counter-tenor)
rec. Snape Maltings Concert Hall on 13 November 1993); 18-19 April 1994
CHANDOS CHAN9316 [78:05] – from (mp3 and lossless)


Three things led me to this music, none of which I had ever heard before: the tenth anniversary of the composer’s death, my continuing examination of the recorded legacy of Richard Hickox and the inclusion on CHAN9082 of Ferguson’s affecting setting of the Old English poem The Dream of the Rood, a masterpiece which I esteem even above Beowulf.

The music is enthralling – unfailingly tuneful, which is why Ferguson gave up composing, feeling himself to be moving against the trend of history – the performances first-class and the recording demonstration-worthy in the .wav lossless format. Played directly via Squeezebox, without burning onto CDR, this download is a memorable experience.

Perhaps because Ferguson is so little known, this recording seems to have been deleted on CD – all the more reason to obtain the download. I’m sure that the mp3 version is fine – Chandos mp3s usually are – but it’s worth spending a little more for the lossless version (£9.99 against £7.99)

I chose to sample the mp3 version of CHAN9316 and found it more than acceptable. This CD is actually entitled Discovery, so is even more appropriate for this slot of my Roundup. The music is less appealing than on the earlier recording, some of which almost qualifies as Light Music, but it is equally rewarding; the performances and recording are just about perfect.


Josquin des PRÉS (c.1440-1521): Praeter rerum seriem [7:27]
Cipriano de Rore (c.1515-c.1565) Missa Praeter rerum seriem [37:18]
Infelix ego [12:15] ; Parce mihi [11:09] ; Ave Regina caelorum [5:56]; Descendi in hortum meum [5:35]
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
rec. St Peter and St Paul, Salle, Norfolk, UK, 1993. DDD.
GIMELL CDGIM 029 [72:10] – from (mp3 and lossless)


Sacred Garland: Devotional Chamber Music from the Age of Monteverdi
Nicolo Corradini (d. 1646) Spargite flores (Venice, 1613) [4:19];
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) Venite, sitientes ad aquas (Venice, 1624) [4:09]; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/26-1594) Pulchra es amica mea (Milan, 1620) [4:34]; Alessandro Grandi (1586-1630) Jesu, mi dulcissime (Venice, 1625) [3:20]; Michelangelo Rossi (c. 1602-1656) attrib. Partite sopra la Romanesca (Rome, 1657) [2:43] ; Tarquinio Merula (1594/95-1665) Nigra sum (Venice, 1624) [3:53]; Alessandro Piccinini (1566-c. 1638) Toccata XII - from Intavolatura di liuto, et di chitarrone, libro primo (Bologna, 1623) [2:34]; Ignatio Donati (c. 1570-1638) O gloriosa Domina (Milan, 1626) [3:30]; Giovanni Battista Bovicelli (fl. 1592-1594) Angelus ad pastores (Venice, 1594) [4:05]; Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi (1583-1643) Canzona ‘La Bernardinia’ (Rome, 1628) [3:03] ; Giovanni Picchi (fl. 1600-1625) Toccata [4:31]; Benedetto Re (fl. early 17th c.) Tulerunt Dominum (Venice, 1618) [3:19]; Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi Canzona ‘La Capriola’ (Rome, 1628) [3:29]; Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c. 1580-1651) Toccata VII (Rome, 1640) [3:58]; Archangelo Crotti (fl. 1608) Congratulamini (Venice, 1608) [3:52] ;
Girolamo Alessandro Frescobaldi Toccata I (Rome, 1637) [3:46];
Tarquinio Merula Gaudeamus omnes [3:23]
The Gonzaga Band (Faye Newton (soprano); Jamie Savan (treble cornet, mute cornet); Richard Sweeney (theorbo); Steven Devine (harpsichord, organ))
rec. Church of St Andrew, Toddington, 2-4 April 2008. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN0761 [63:24] – from (mp3 and lossless)


Palestrina, Gombert, Lassus, Victoria, etc. ‘Song of Songs’
Ego flos campi [6:05]; Osculetur me [3:24]; Antiphon: Cum esset rex [0:44]; Surge, propera amica mea [6:07]; Quam pulchra es [6:11] ; Antiphon: Nigra sum [0:41]; Veni, dilecte mi [4:19]; Vadam et circuibo [10:41]; Alleluia: Tota pulchra es [2:41]; Ego flos campi [3:18]; Nigra sum [5:34]; Antiphon: Læva eius [0:37]; Hortus conclusus [5:33]; Nigra sum [3:58]; Antiphon: Speciosa facta es [0:42]; Veni, dilecte mi [4:22]; Trahe me post te [5:16]; Antiphon: Iam hiems transiit [0:49]; Vidi speciosam [6:39]
Stile Antico
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU80 7489 [77:28] – from (mp3, variable bit-rate) of time prevents detailed reviews, but I just wanted to lay down brief markers on these three delightful recordings, to which I hope to return next month.

The Gimell may be strongly recommended, but I’d like to compare it with the rival recording on Harmonia Mundi, with different couplings.

Initial reactions to the Chandos and Harmonia Mundi recordings are also very favourable but I need a little more time to articulate a more detailed response.


John Dowland (c.1563-1626) First Booke of Songes (1597)
Unquiet thoughts [4:05]; Whoever thinks or hopes [2:28]; My thoughts are wing’d with hopes [2:57 ]; If my complaints could passions move [3:23]; Can she excuse my wrongs [3:01]; Now, O now I needs must part [4:25]; Dear, if you change [3:27]; Burst forth my tears [3:51]; Go crystal tears [3:40]; Think’st thou then [1:50]; Come away, come sweet love [2:25]; Rest awhile you cruel cares [3:22]; Sleep wayward thoughts [3:42]; All ye whom love or fortune [4:26]; Wilt thou unkind [2:08]; Would my conceit [7:10]; Come again: sweet love doth now invite [4:33]; His golden locks [4:06]; Awake, sweet love [2:43]; Come heavy sleep [4:29]; Away with these self-loving lads 02:49
The Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley
rec. 1976. ADD.
Decca L’Oiseau Lyre 475 9114 [75:08] – from (320k mp3) was the low estate of Dowland performances and recordings when this was originally issued in 1976 that one reviewer thought it unlikely that anyone would have noticed that it was being released for the 350th anniversary of the composer’s death. That things are much healthier now is due in no small part to this recording and its successors, released in successive years. In fact, the only reason I can think of not to go for this download is the availability of the complete set – no longer, apparently, to be had on CD, but as a download from passionato for £79.99. I hope to include some of the other parts of that recording in later Roundups.

Passionato’s price of £7.99 for their decent download – marred only by one small dropout – is (just) competitive with the Oiseau Lyre CD at around £8, but most dealers still have the earlier release of this recording in the British Composers series, with a less attractive cover, for less than £7.


Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Early Cantatas (c.1701-1705)
Ach Herr, strafe mich nicht (2vv) [9:30]
Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes [8:40]
Passions-Actus [7:43]
Ich freue mich im Herrn (Cantata for Epiphany) [9:50]
Sei getreu bis in den Tod [24:02]
Gela Birckenstaedt, Soprano; Frederic Meylan, Altus; Martin Krumbiegel, Tenor; Wolf Matthias Friedrich, Bass; Sächsisches Vocalensemble/Matthias Jung
rec. November 1998. DDD. First recording.
CANTATE C58102 [59:44] – from (variable bit-rate mp3, 194-224kbps)


Telemann, Georg Philipp: Early CantatasThe music here, all apparently dating from Telemann’s earliest time at the University of Leipzig, may not be quite on the level of his Brockes- Passion, the new Harmonia Mundi recording of which I reviewed in last month’s Roundup, but it is remarkable for a composer still in his early twenties and the mature Telemann style is already apparent. The longest work, Sei getreu bis in den Tod – be faithful unto death and I shall give thee a crown of Life – is well worth the minimal cost of the five tracks alone (less than £2, depending on your tariff). The performances are stylish and sensitive and the mp3 sound, though only at 192k or a little above, is fully acceptable.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Siehe zu, daß Deine Gottesfurcht, Cantata BWV 179; Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, Cantata, BWV 199; Herr Jesu Christ, Cantata BWV 113
Magdalena Kožená (sop); William Towers (c-ten); Mark Padmore (ten); Stephan Loges (bass); English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
DG ARCHIV 463 5912 [63:55] – from (320k mp3)

 Cantata: Alles nur nach Gottes Willen, BWV 72; Cantata: Herr, wie du willt, so schick’s mit mir BWV 73; Cantata: Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit BWV 111; Cantata: Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe BWV 156
Sara Mingardo; Julian Podger; Joanne Lunn; Stephen Varcoe; The Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
DG ARCHIV 463 5822 [56:49] – from (320k mp3)

The success of John Eliot Gardiner’s own SDG label in bringing us the complete series of recordings which he made with the English Baroque Soloists in their round-the-world tour in 2000 must not obscure the earlier issues from the same series which DG Archiv made before, sadly, they dropped the project. Their loss, of course, was our gain in that it gave rise to the SDG label, but some of the DG issues are very valuable. The two which I have chosen here may be taken as representative of the quality of the whole series, though, with the exception of the Ascension cantatas, most of the other recordings offer rather short value. The virtues of the performances are well enough known for me not to need to rehearse them here and the recordings do full justice to them. No texts or translations, but a myriad sites on the web offer these.


Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Coronation Anthems: Zadok the priest [5:21]; The King shall rejoice [10:54]; My heart is inditing [12:02]; Let thy hand be strengthened [8:54]; Concerti a due cori, No.2 [15:49]; No.3 [18:11]
Choir of Westminster Abbey/Simon Preston; The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
DG ARCHIV MASTERS 447 280-2 [72:29] – from (320k mp3)

Handel: Coronation Anthems; Concerti a due coriStrongly favoured as an alternative to the recent Coro recording of the Coronation Anthems for those who prefer the coupling: two of Handel’s three attractive Concerti a due cori – spot the ‘borrowings’ from his other works here. Good performances and recording in a most acceptable mp3 transfer. Only the inappropriate cover – several centuries too early for Handel – lets this down.


Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No.91 [27:23]; Scena di Berenice [11:52]; Symphony No.92 (‘Oxford’) [30:03]
Bernarda Fink (mezzo); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/René Jacobs
Harmonia Mundi HMX296 1849 [69:14] – from (9 tracks, variable bit-rate) or (256k mp3) 

Haydn: Symphonies No. 91 & 92 "Oxford" / Scena di BereniceThe recent reissue of this recording on the Harmonia Mundi Gold mid-price label makes the download a slightly less enticing bargain at 9 tracks from eMusic, but it’s still good value at a little over £2, or even at £6.99 from Amazon. The performances are preferable both to Simon Rattle’s big-band versions of these symphonies and to those of the ‘Oxford Symphony and Berenice which I recently reviewed on the Phoenix label and the mp3 sound more than acceptable; the Amazon download comes at a consistently higher bit-rate than the eMusic which varies from track to track, from 192k to 320k.


Piano Trios: No.25 in G (‘Gypsy’) [14:56]; No.29 in E-flat [16:50]; No.18 in A [15:14]; No.24 in D [13:02]
Vienna Piano Trio – rec. 1996. DDD.
NIMBUS NI5535 [60:00] – from (12 tracks, variable bit-rate) or (320k mp3) 

Haydn: Piano Trios Hob.XV - 18, 24, 29 & 25 'Gypsy'If you are experimenting with Haydn’s chamber music in his anniversary year, but haven’t yet got beyond the string quartets, this recording of four of the best piano trios should be on your shopping list – either in CD format or as a download. The performances are excellent and the mp3 recording fully acceptable – as usual, classicsonline guarantee 320k quality whilst eMusic’s tracks vary from 192k to 320k. The ‘Gypsy’ trio, which opens the programme, has been much recorded since the days of 78s (Cortot, etc.), but the other works are also well worth hearing.

Die Schöpfung (The Creation, sung in German)
Sylvia McNair; Donna Brown; Michael Schade; Gerald Finley; Rodney Gilfry
The Monteverdi Choir; The English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
rec. 1997. DDD.
DG archiv grand prix 477 6327 [2CDs 52:02+46:42] – from (320k mp3) month I gave slightly qualified support to the Oiseau Lyre recording in English, with Emma Kirkby and directed by Christopher Hogwood. Only the extremely quiet recording of the narration leading up to an exaggerated contrast at the words Let there be Light reduced that endorsement. John Eliot Gardiner’s version, sung in German, has most of the virtues of that Hogwood recording, though not, alas, Emma Kirkby; Sylvia McNair almost makes up for the loss. In fact, all the soloists are excellent and the level of performance throughout is very high. This recording also starts with the opening recitative at too low a level in order to provide more of a bang at the word Licht, but the effect is much less exaggerated than on the Hogwood version. The mp3 sound gives a very good approximation of the quality of the original recording. If you don’t mind the use of the German text – both texts have equal claims to originality – this would be a good version to have. The German text is also much easier to obtain online than the English.

Just one reservation – passionato’s price of £15.99 for the two CDs is no longer competitive now that the CDs have been reissued on the DG Archiv Grand Prix label and are widely available for around £10, complete with notes and texts. This is the second issue that I want to highlight this month alongside the occasional dropouts between tracks that sometimes mar downloads; it really isn’t logical to offer everything at the same price regardless of the cost of the equivalent CDs.


Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
CD1: Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959 [43:17]; 12 Ecossaises, D. 781: Nos. 1-11 [4:31]; 3 Klavierstücke, D. 946 [23:48]
CD2: Piano Sonata No. 16 in a minor, Op. 42, D. 845 [37:56]; Piano Sonata No. 17 in D major, Op. 53, D. 850, ‘Gasteiner Sonate’ [39:10]
Imogen Cooper (piano)
rec. live, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 15 April and 25 November 2008. DDD.
AVIE AV2156 [71:41 + 76:36] – from (320k mp3)


It’s very encouraging to note that this recording, emanating from a BBC broadcast of live performances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, is labelled ‘Volume 1’. Bob Briggs spoke very highly of the concert on April 22nd, 2009, which contained two other mature sonatas, D894 and D858. I missed his recommendation to hear these performances when they were broadcast on May 1st., so I’m very much looking forward to hearing Volume 2.

I was a little disappointed with the performance of the opening of D959 which opens the first CD, finding it, surprisingly, just a little prosaic at times by comparison with the likes of Brendel and Schiff. Perhaps the failure to take the repeat, which reduces the movement to 13:44 against Schiff’s weightier 16:20 is largely to blame, but I didn’t feel the same with Brendel’s even shorter account of this movement (12:30 on his ADD recording of the last sonatas). Thereafter, however, matters improved and I was able to enjoy what I’m sure will come to be regarded as a set of vintage performances. Now when can we have Ms Cooper’s account of the great D960?

The recording, like the performances, is a little understated, but none the worse for that.

Very generously classicsonline offer this well-filled 2-CD set for £11.99, a considerable discount from their usual price of £7.99 per CD and an example of sensible, flexible pricing for other providers to note and emulate; simply double their usual price and charge £13.98 for the lower bit-rate of 256k.

Bear in mind, however, that Universal’s offers the 2-CD Brendel and Schiff sets of the late sonatas (438 7032 and 475 1842 respectively) as downloads for £9.99 each. offers the Brendel set even more economically for £7.78.

William Sterndale BENNETT (1816-1875)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 1 (1832) [24:12]; Caprice in E, Op. 22 (1838) [13:22];
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 9 (1834) [27:15]
Malcolm Binns; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
rec Walthamstow Assembly Hall, Henry Wood Hall, 1986. DDD.
LYRITA SCRD.204 [65:43] – from (7 tracks, variable-bit mp3) 

Piano Concertos: No. 2 in E flat, Op. 4 (1833) [26:16]; No. 5 in F minor (1836, finale ed. Geoffrey Bush) [33:21]. Adagio (ed. Cope) (c.1837) [7:05]
Malcolm Binns; Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite.
Rec. Abbey Road Studios and Henry Wood Hall, 1986. DDD
LYRITA SRCD.205 [66:42] – from (7 tracks, variable bit-rate mp3)


I’ve already reviewed the eMusic download of Lyrita’s recording of Bennett’s Symphony in g, etc (SRCD.206 – June 09). Now I’m even happier to endorse my colleague Collin Clarke’s strong support for the two CDs offering four of the five piano concertos – SRCD.204 and SRCD.205. The mp3 sound is good enough to do justice to the recording and, with seven tracks each of your monthly allocation, the downloads are inexpensive. You won’t, however, get the informative and scholarly notes to which CC refers, though the website adds the recording information, which CC was not able to obtain from the booklet. I’m pleased to note that the young composer, as depicted on these two sleeves, looked a good deal less ferocious than the strict pedagogue of his older self, as seen in the photograph on SRCD.206.


Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Songs from des Knaben Wunderhorn
Matthias Goerne; Barbara Bonney; Sara Fulgoni; Gösta Winbergh; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly – rec. 2002. DDD.
DECCA 467 3482 [65:44] – from (320k mp3)

Mahler: Des Knaben WunderhornWith fine performances and good recording, well transferred to mp3, this is probably the most recommendable recent alternative to the classic EMI recording with Schwarzkopf, Fischer-Dieskau and Szell, which passionato also offer in mp3 and lossless formats. I hope to compare the two in a future Roundup.

If you’re looking for a bargain and don’t mind the versions of these songs with piano accompaniment, look no further than Thomas Hampson and Geoffrey Parsons for a mere £2.79 from


Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No.3 [27:51];
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Violin Concerto [20:46]
SIBELIUS Symphony No.6 [25:42]
Northern Sinfonia/Thomas Zehetmair (violin and conductor)
rec. 19-22 April 2007 (Stravinsky); 4-5 August 2007 (6); 20-21 September, 13 November, 2008, Hall One, The Sage, Gateshead. DDD
AVIE AV2150 [74:20] – from (320k mp3)

These performances come close to replacing my favourite versions of these works – Colin Davis in Sibelius (Nos. 3 and 7 with the LSO on LSO Live LSO0051; Nos.3, 6 and 7 with the Violin Concerto, Swan of Tuonela, etc., with the Concertgebouw on a Philips Duo which, incredibly, seems to be no longer available, though its companion twofer with the other symphonies is) and Kyung Wha Chung and Andre Previn in Stravinsky (another incredible deletion, apparently – last seen in the company of the two Prokofiev concertos). The Concertgebouw recordings are available to download on 446 160-2 from, but at £15.99, which is rather more than the original Duo set cost latterly. They also have the Chung/Previn recording on 476 7226 for £7.99.

In the absence of two out of three of these classics of the recorded repertoire, I can only endorse Rob Barnett’s support for these fascinating new readings – see review. Zehetmair’s reading of the Stravinsky, in particular, revealed details which I had never registered before, while the two Sibelius works emerge from these recordings as sunnier works than in other readings.

The 320k mp3 transfer is good, but I found that the Sibelius Third benefited from a small volume boost. If you don’t want to download, follow the link to RB’s review and click the purchase button – the CD will cost you £12.49, including postage, against classicsonline’s £7.99 for the download.


Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Violin Sonatas (Complete)
Violin Sonata in B major (1892), Op. posth. [26:22]; Violin Sonata No. 1 (1905-15) [21:12];
Violin Sonata No. 2 (1923) [11:38]; Violin Sonata No. 3 (1930) [18:02]
Susanne Stanzeleit (violin); Gusztáv Fenyö (piano)
rec. St Silas, Camden Town, London, 14-16 February 1994. DDD.
NAXOS 8.572261 [77:13] – from (320k mp3)


If the 1994 recording date is really correct, I’m not at all sure why Naxos have ‘sat’ on this recording for so long – perhaps it was the existence of excellent versions from Tasmin Little and Piers Lane and from Ralph Holmes and Eric Fenby – but I’m glad that they have issued it now. Played here in chronological order, the four violin sonatas, beginning with the withdrawn No. ‘0’, may not be the most characteristic of Delius’s works, but they make an attractive programme when they are as well played and recorded as they are here.

You may wish to note, however, that the Little/Lane version has just been reissued on the new BMG Sony Essential Masterworks label for around the same low price as the Naxos CD or download (88697532142).


John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Phantasie Trio in a minor (1908)* [11:26]; Piano Trio No.2 in E (1917)* [12:52]; Piano Trio No.3 in E (1938)* [24:39]; Berceuse for violin and piano (1902) [3:08]; Cavatina for violin and piano (1904) [2:25]; Bagatelle for violin and piano (1911) [3:01]; The Holy Boy, arr. for violin and piano (1913/19) [3:03]
The Gould Piano Trio (Lucy Gould (violin); Alice Neary (cello)*; Benjamin Frith (piano))
rec. 13-15 June 2008, Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk. DDD.
NAXOS 8.570507 [60:34] – from (320k mp3)


John France wrote that ‘all Ireland enthusiasts will insist on adding this CD to their collection’ – see review. With first-rate performances of this darkly attractive music, excellent recording and a fully acceptable mp3 transfer, I can only echo his recommendation. My only real criticism is that the shorter pieces, apart from The Holy Boy, sound rather small beer after the trios.

As always with recent Naxos recordings, the classicsonline download comes complete with the booklet to download in pdf format and print.

The Lyrita recording which JF marginally continued to prefer is available from  The first CD, containing the three Piano Trios, will cost a very reasonable 6 credits (£1.50 or less, depending on your tariff); the second and third discs run to 8 and 6 tracks respectively, so the whole 3-CD set could be obtained for less than £5. The iTunes equivalent costs £24.99 – better to buy the CDs @ 3 for the price of 2, £23, from Musicweb.


William Grant STILL (1895-1978)
In Memoriam [7:22]; Africa (Symphonic Poem) [28:00]; Symphony No.1 (‘Afro-American’) [24:56]
Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter - rec. Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 28-29 February 2004. DDD.
NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559174 [60:08] – from (mp3 and lossless) 

Symphony No. 1 (‘Afro-American’) [24:10]
‘Duke’ Ellington (1899-1974) Suite from The River (orchestrated Collier) [26:50]
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Rec. Orchestra Hall, Detroit, 29 September and 3 October 1992. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN9154 [51:00] 

William Grant STILL Symphony No.2 (‘Song of a New Race’) in g minor [29:22]
William Levi DAWSON (1899-1990) Negro Folk Symphony [28:26]
‘Duke’ ELLINGTON Harlem (orch. Luther HENDERSON) [15:48]
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi – rec. 1992 and 1993. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9226 [73:54] – from (mp3 and lossless)


STILL: In Memoriam / Africa / Symphony No 1, 'Afro-American'The inclusion of a short organ piece by William Grant Still on a recital which I reviewed (Variations on America, Chandos CHAN10489) reminded me of his more substantial works, especially the two symphonies, the first to be written by an African-American.

On Chandos the two symphonies are coupled with music by Duke Ellington, including the Suite from his marvellous The River on the first disc and Harlem on the second, along with William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony. Surprisingly, Chandos have chosen to duplicate the Dawson and Ellington works in an alternative coupling on CHAN9909, so you may prefer to go for the Naxos version of the First Symphony, which is almost as well performed and recorded as on Chandos – see John France’s review. Whichever coupling you choose, you must have the music from The River, even though jazz purists will deplore the fact that Ron Collier’s arrangements make it sound more conventionally ‘classical’ than the original.

I’ve owned CHAN9154 on CD for some time and can confirm that the other Chandos lossless downloads are the equal of that hard copy. The passionato lossless version of the Naxos also leaves little to be desired.


Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 [25:09]
Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Violin Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Op. 28 [36:17]
Vera Tsu (violin); Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra/Yu Long
rec. 1996. DDD.
NAXOS 8.553579 [61:27] – from (320k mp3 and lossless) and (320k mp3) 

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35 [23:49]; Schauspiel Overture, Op. 4 [13:31]; Much Ado about Nothing Suite [16:13]
Philippe Quint (violin); Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria/Carlos Miguel Prieto
rec. Sala Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico City, August, 2007. DDD.
NAXOS 8.570791 [53:18] - from (320k mp3) now have two fine versions of the very approachable Korngold Violin Concerto. Forget the old gag about there being more corn than gold here; this is a well crafted as well as a very enjoyable work. You may not have heard of any of the performers on these two recordings, but everyone concerned gives of their best and there’s no reason to go for better-known names.

The coupling may well decide the issue. The Goldmark concerto is not in the same league as his Rustic Wedding Symphony, but it’s well worth having – but so are the Korngold couplings on the newer recording. Quint’s slightly faster version of the Korngold concerto has a marginal edge on the older version but either would do very nicely.

The passionato flac download of the earlier version has a slight edge on the classisconline mp3 of the more recent recording, but there’s not much in it; both are very acceptable. The classicsonline download of the new recording comes with the booklet; that of the older version allows you to cut and paste the notes. There are no notes with the passionato download.


Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
Concerto for Clarinet and Strings in C minor, Op.31 [27:31]
5 Bagatelles for clarinet and piano, Op.23 [15:25]
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Clarinet Concerto in A minor, Op.80 [21:04]
3 Intermezzi for clarinet and piano, Op.13 [8:35]
Emma Johnson (clarinet); Malcolm Martineau (piano); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves
rec. 1992. DDD.
ASV CDDCA787 [72:36] – from (320k mp3) 

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto; 5 Bagatelles / Stanford: Clarinet Concerto; 3 IntermezziThere are other fine versions of the wonderful Finzi Clarinet Concerto, notably by Robert Plane (Naxos 8.553556), also coupled with the Bagatelles, but in their orchestrated version, and by Thea King, one of the earliest Hyperion recordings, now on the budget Helios label (CDH55101) and also coupled with the Stanford Clarinet Concerto. There is also a very fine version from Alan Hacker on Nimbus (NI5665), coupled with the marvellous Eclogue for Piano and Orchestra and Love’s Labour Lost, available on CD, or as a download from Emma Johnson can hold her head high in this distinguished company; if the coupling appeals, don’t hesitate to download this excellent version in very good mp3 sound.


Albert William KETÈLBEY (1875-1959):
In a Monastery Garden [6:20]; The Adventurers [4:35]; Chal Romano [10:11]; Suite Romantique: No. 1 Romance [6:49]; No. 2 Scherzo [3:06]; No. 3 Valse Dramatique [5:00]; Caprice Pianistique [3:36]; The Clock and the Dresden Figures [4:11]; Cockney Suite (excerpts): V. Bank Holiday [2:38]; III. At the Palais de Danse [2:55]; In the Moonlight [5:12]; Wedgewood Blue [4:15]; Bells across the Meadows [5:12]; The Phantom Melody [3:58]; In a Persian Market [5:33]
Slovak Philharmonic Male Chorus; Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Leaper
rec. 1993. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223442 [73:31] – from (320k mp3)


Albert William KETÈLBEY (1875-1959):
The Grand Passions of Albert W. Ketèlbey
In the Moonlight: Poetic Intermezzo (1919) [4:17]; In a Persian Market Place: Intermezzo-Scene (1920) [6:55]; Bells Across the Meadows: Characteristic Intermezzo (1921) [4:11]; he Cockney Suite: Cameos of London Life (1924) [16:17]; Wedgewood Blue: Intermezzo (1920) [4:15]; The Clock and the Dresden Figures (1930) [3:55]; Suite: In a Lover’s Garden (1925) [12:32]; In a Chinese Temple Garden: Oriental Fantasy (1923) [6:08]; Sanctuary of the Heart: Meditation religieuse (1926) [4:48]; Jungle Drums: Patrol (1926) [4:56]
Palm Court Theatre Orchestra/Anthony Godwin
rec. Winter Gardens, Bournemouth, 27-28 October 1996. DDD.
CHANDOS COLLECT CHAN6676 [68:58] – from (320k mp3 and lossless)


KETELBEY: In a Monastery Garden / Chal RomanoI wanted to feature some recordings of British Light Music this month – what better month to do so than August? For my money Ketèlbey reigns supreme in this area and the 50th anniversary of his death is likely to get lost in such grand company as Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn. The Slovak performers under Adrian Leaper do him proud – a surprisingly idiomatic set of performances of this evocative music, combining the better-known and the lesser-known works. With very decent mp3 sound, this recording deservedly heads my Light Music list. The only thing that’s a little po-faced about it is the omission of the usual title of the fifth item in the Cockney Suite, ’Appy ’Ampstead. You’ll find very detailed notes on the music on the Naxos website. Marco Polo recording features only excerpts from the Cockney Suite. The Chandos alternative offers the whole suite and gives ‘Appy ‘Ampstead its usual nomenclature. With several items here which are not included on the Marco Polo recording, this inexpensive recording is better regarded as a complement to, rather than as a substitute for Adrian Leaper’s programme. Good mp3 and lossless sound, too, but no notes at all, not even to download, which is unusual for Chandos recordings from


Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)
A May-Day Overture [6:58]; Soliloquy [5:55]; Variations on a Once Popular Humorous Song [9:52]; Suite: Paris - I. Waltz: Apache Life [3:38]; II. Meditation: In the Tuileries Garden [5:54] ; III. March: Montmartre [4:05]; Roses of Picardy (Song Intermezzo) [5:57]; A Manx Rhapsody [9:52]; Suite: Frescoes: Sea Shanties [5:21]; March: The Bandstand [4:37]; An Evening Song [4:13]; Dance of a Whimsical Elf (from Suite: A Day in Fairyland) [2:35]; March: The Horseguards, Whitehall (from Suite: London Landmarks) [3:48]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra-Orchestra/Ernest Tomlinson
rec. 1997. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223605 [72:45] – from (320k mp3)


Sketch of a Dandy [3:28]; Serenade to Youth [2:51]; Mannin Veen [9:29]; London Cameos: No. 1 The City (Miniature Overture) [4:39]; No. 2 St. Jame's Park in Spring (Intermission) [4:45]; No. 3 A State Ball at Buckingham Palace (Finale) [6:40]; Rhapsody Mylecharane [9:28]; Moods Suite: No. 6, Joyousness, Concert Waltz [4:57]; A Brown Bird Singing [5:20];
Apollo: Overture [7:59]; The Seafarer [9:23]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Leaper
rec. 1992. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223402 [68:59] – from (320k mp3)

Haydn Wood is another unjustly almost forgotten light music composer who died in 1959. Once again Marco Polo and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra ride to the rescue under the direction of eminent conductor Ernest Tomlinson and the equally fine Adrian Leaper. As with Ketèlbey, the performances are thoroughly idiomatic, immensely enjoyable and well recorded, with the mp3 sound doing good justice to the original. You may find these recordings decked out in the standard dark blue Marco Polo livery or in the British Light Music format with the white background, so I’ve illustrated both to aid recognition if you’re looking for the original CDs. Again there are detailed notes on the music on the Naxos website, but ignore the misspelling, in the track listing there and on of A Sketch of a Dandy as A Sketch of a Daddy.

Billy Joseph MAYERL (1902-1959)
Marigold [3:31]; A Lily Pond [4:43]; Ace of Clubs [3:10]; Ace of Diamonds [2:51]; Ace of Hearts [3:29]; Ace of Spades [3:59]; From a Spanish Lattice [4:45]; Minuet by Candelight [3:51]; Aquarium Suite - No. 1 Willow Moss [3:45]; No. 2 Moorish Idol [3:53]; No. 3 Fantail [3:18]; No. 4 Whirlgig [4:10]; Autumn Crocus [3:31]; Bats in the Belfry [2:46]; Pastoral Sketches - No. 1 A Legend [2:39]; No. 2 Lovers’ Lane [2:37]; No. 3 A Village Festival [4:00]; Fireside Fusiliers [3:32]; Parade of the Sandwich - Board Men [2:42]; Waltz for a Lonely Heart [3:55]; Busybody [2:47]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gary Carpenter
rec. 1993. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223514 [73:54] – from (320k mp3) was something of an annus horribilis for British light music composers: Billy Mayerl is the third of them to have died 50 years ago. Once again Marco Polo brings Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra to the rescue, this time under the able direction of Gary Carpenter. This is yet another set of idiomatic performances of enjoyable music, well recorded. This is not just for the over-60s, though the nostalgic appeal is obvious. Detailed notes are available on the Naxos website and by clicking on the About this album tab on the classicsonline website.

Ronald BINGE (1910-1979)
Elizabethan Serenade [3:39]; Scottish Rhapsody [6:27]; Saxophone Concerto [12:42]; Venetian Carnival [3:49]; Faire Frou-Frou [2:24]; High Stepper, ‘The Aggie Theme’ [2:43]; Las Castanuelas [3:14]; Madrugado [3:44]; Miss Melanie [2:49]; Prelude: The Whispering Valley [4:22]; Scherzo: Allegro molto [4:03]; String Song [3:48]; The Dance of the Snowflakes [3:32]; The Red Sombrero [2:45]; The Watermill [3:47]; Trade Winds [4:56]; Sailing By [2:38]
Sylvia Kapova; Kenneth Edge; Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Ernest Tomlinson
rec. 1993. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223515 [72:22] – from (320k mp3 and flac lossless) and from (320k mp3)

 Robert FARNON (1917-2005)
Portrait of a Flirt [2:44]; How Beautiful is Night [3:21]; Melody Fair [2:51]; A la Claire Fontaine [7:28]; The Peanut Polka [3:07]; In a Calm [2:43]; Gateway to the West [3:13]; Jumping Bean [2:31]; Pictures in the Fire [5:01]; Little Miss Molly [3:28]; March [3:08]; A Star is Born [2:47]; The Westminster Waltz [2:58]; Manhattan Playboy [2:47]; Lake in the Woods [10:09]; Derby Day [2:48]; State Occasion [3:08]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Leaper
rec. 1991. DDD.
MARCO POLO 8.223401 [64:12] – from (320k mp3 and flac lossless) and from (320k mp3)

FARNON : Colditz March / State OccasionBINGE: The Watermill / Scottish RhapsodyMy final two, slightly younger, composers from the Marco Polo Light Music series, Ronald Binge and Robert Farnon – the latter died as recently as 2005 – cannot claim the distinction of having been dead exactly fifty years, but their music is just as much in need of – and worthy of – rediscovery as the anniversarians. I suspect that some of the music will be more familiar than that of Ketèlbey, et al., even to the younger generation, especially Binge’s Elizabethan Serenade and Sailing By and Farnon’s Colditz March. Not for nothing was Farnon known among fellow musicians as ‘The Guv’nor’ and Binge’s music is equally attractive. With performances and recording to match (especially the flac download from passionato) these also are admirable.


Samuel Barber (1910 - 1981) Adagio for Strings, Op.11 [8:46]
Charles Ives (1874 - 1954) Symphony No.3 – ‘The Camp Meeting’: 1. Old Folks Gatherin' (Andante maestoso) [7:49]; 2. Children’s Day (Allegro moderato) [7:18]; 3. Communion (Largo) [6:12]
Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990) Quiet City for Cor Anglais, Trumpet and Strings1,2 [8:40]
Henry Cowell (1897 - 1965) Hymn and Fuguing Tune No.10 (1955) for oboe & strings [6:50]
Paul Creston (1906 - 1985) A Rumor [5:51]
Celia Nicklin (oboe)1, Michael Laird (trumpet)2, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner
DECCA ORIGINALS 475 8237 [51:29] – from (320k mp3) 

Ives has gained something of a reputation for writing ‘difficult’ music but the Third Symphony, as interpreted by the ASMF and Marriner on this recording, is no more difficult than the well-known Barber Adagio which opens the programme. It’s not that Marriner is untrue to the composer, far from it, merely that he shows us a side of Ives sometimes missing from other interpretations. Scott Mortensen, in his survey of available recordings of this symphony, thought the performance lacking in a sense of vitality to be found in other recordings; paradoxically, I think it’s that sense that Marriner isn’t trying too hard that I like most. De gustibus ...

Copland’s Quiet City also receives an excellent performance, as do the two less well-known works which round off the programme. The mp3 sound is more than acceptable. If this and other DG/Decca/Philips originals are still on offer from at £4.99 when you read this, you should snap up the download as soon as possible. Even at the regular price of £7.99 it’s (just) competitive with the equivalent CD.


Brian Wilson



 Francisco Guerrero (1528–1599)
Missa Surge propera [31.12]; Usquequo, Domine [5.24] ; Ave Maria [4.15] ; Hei mihi, Domine [4.21] ; Surge propera [7.21] ; Beata Dei genitrix [6.22] ; Ave virgo sanctissima [3.57] ; Regina cæli lætare [4.25]
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Philips
Recorded in Temple Church, London, 8th September, 2004. DDD.
GIMELL CDGIM 040 [66.57] – from (mp3, lossless or 24-bit)

It wasn’t until after this Roundup was complete that I discovered how to play Gimell’s 24-bit Studio Quality downloads on the Squeezebox without having iTunes convert them to 16-bit recordings. The trick is to add a ‘Gimell’ folder to the folder ‘My Music’ (pre-Windows Vista) or ‘Music’ (Vista), then another sub-folder with a short title for the recording and to copy the 24-bit wma or flac recording there; it will automatically come up in the Squeezebox ‘Music Folder’ directory.

The performances of the music on this Guerrero recording are of the usual high Tallis Scholars quality and the recording is excellent. It comes in very decent 320k mp3 form, as lossless flac or wma, and in wma or flac 24-bit format. If you have a 24-bit soundcard, Windows Media Player will play these larger files, but few computers have speakers which will do the music justice. Squeezebox, which is rapidly becoming my favourite way of listening to music, will recognise and play them to perfection, on more than one system simultaneously if you have two or more units set up.

Gimell don’t think this is one of their most successful 24-bit downloads; they point instead to their recent Josquin Missa Fortuna desperata and Missa Malheur me bat (CDGIM042) and Gombert Magnificat recordings (CDGIM037 and 038). I’ve already reviewed these in their ‘ordinary’ lossless formats respectively and thought them very good – I even suggested burning the Gombert onto Audio CDRs rather than the standard versions – so I’m looking forward to trying and reporting on them in 24-bit form. (See my review of CDGIM042; the Gombert recordings were reviewed in my November, 2008, Download Roundup).


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