Download Roundup December 2009
I’m pleased to be
able to announce that Hyperion’s
own download site is now active. I include hyperlinks to the
relevant URLs in this roundup; those recordings which I have
included in previous months should be found fairly easily from
Hyperion’s home page via the search engine. Downloads are
available in mp3 and lossless (flac) formats for the same basic
price. Unlike the practice of many other providers, the budget
label Helios is offered more cheaply than premium issues and
shorter recordings come with a £1 or £2 price reduction.
I’ve had access to the facility for several weeks now
and am happy to report that everything has downloaded very
roundup of my own 30 favourite Hyperion recordings.
DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The
Crown of India, Imperial March,
The Coronation March,
The Empire March Sheffield
BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis
rec. 2009 CHANDOS
CHAN10570 from The
Classical Shop (mp3
I’m sticking my neck out in making
this my Download of the Month, as I suspect that Chandos are
by issuing it. This
music won’t be popular in many quarters - its jingoism
is certainly not pc, and I suspect that some of the sentiments
stuck in Elgar’s craw as he set them - but the music
was too good to leave undiscovered. Chandos already had a very
recording of the Suite which Elgar made from The Crown of
India, but there’s much more here than found its
way into the Suite.
Chandos have generously provided us with two versions for the
price of one. The first CD offers the full original pageant
with spoken parts, the second omits those spoken sections and
us hear just the musical sections. I suspect that it’s
the second option that I shall be taking in future, with, perhaps,
an occasional listen to the first. The speakers certainly do
their part well, as do all those involved in the musical parts.
Who better, in particular, than Andrew Davis, newly acquired
by Chandos, to oversee all this?
If you prefer to stay with just the Crown of India Suite,
that’s available with the Pomp and Circumstance Marches and Cockaigne from
the RSNO and Alexander Gibson at budget price on CHAN8429 as
an mp3 or lossless download (the parent CD is deleted).
Dances from Terpsichore
The Parley of Instruments; Renaissance Violin Band/Peter Holman
HYPERION CDA67240 from Hyperion (mp3
If, like me, you got to know the music
from Terpsichore from
David Munrow’s colourful versions, you’ll probably
think these Hyperion performances rather penny-plain. But Peter
Holman offers convincing evidence for not including the crumhorns
and the other renaissance panoply to which Munrow introduced
us. I still want to hear that extraordinary recording, also
Philip Pickett’s Oiseau-Lyre version - in fact the Munrow
would be one of my desert-island discs - but the Hyperion recording
has the advantage of authenticity not achieved at the expense
of enjoyment; indeed, it’s often as rousing as Munrow,
for example in the Ballet des coqs (tr.31) and the closing La
The Munrow version is available on CD (5612892 or download
the original LP coupling, with motets) and the Pickett on 475
9101, also from Passionato.
The Dances from Terpsichore are also available with
a further delightful collection of Munrow performances on a
Virgin twofer (3500032). The twofer is also available as a
download from passionato but, at £15.99 or £19.99 (flac),
it costs about twice as much as the 2-CD set. The other Munrow
download and the Pickett are comparable with the price of the
equivalent CD at £7.99.
STRADELLA (1639-1682) San
Giovanni Battista Academia
Montis Regalis/Alessandro De Marchi rec. 2007 HYPERION
CDA67617 from Hyperion (mp3
month’s recommendation of the Academia and De Marchi in Scarlatti’s Davidis
pugna - see review -
led me back to their earlier recording. Tony Haywood had some small reservations
about the singing - see review -
but these need not deter anyone from purchasing this recording. The earlier
Minkowski recording on Warner Elatus is available from Amazon for £4.29
(mp3 only); that would be the only reason not to go for the Hyperion, but this
hardly breaks the bank at £7.99 - and it comes with texts and in excellent
lossless .flac as well as mp3.
There’s also a recommendable Harmonia Mundi recording of Stradella’s
Chamber Cantatas and Sinfonias, available from emusic (mp3);
the parent CD appears to be deleted, so the download is all the more welcome.
VIVALDI (1678-1741) The
French Connection Adrian
Chandler (violin); Katy Bircher (flute); Peter Whelan (bassoon) La Serenissima/Adrian
rec. 2009 AVIE
AV2178 from Classicsonline (mp3)
recording is billed as Vivaldi’s French Connection - a fairly
slender peg on which to hang some excellent performances of mostly first-rate
music, all sounding well in good mp3 sound (see review by
John-Pierre Joyce). All in all, this is a worthy successor to the three-volume Rise
of the North Italian Concerto by these same artists, the third volume
of which I made Recording
of the Month last year (AV2154).
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
As last month, I’m grateful for the additional input on Handel
from my friend and former colleague Maurice Thunder (hereafter MT).
Sixteen Ch & O/Harry Christophers rec. 1986 HYPERION
DYAD CDD22019 from Hyperion (mp3
writes: When I started at grammar school, music lessons in the autumn
term consisted of practices of the choruses from parts I and
II of Handel’s Messiah.
This culminated in a performance in a local parish church by 600 girls
and boys accompanied by a Victorian organ - hardly authentic
but it introduced
me to this
masterpiece. (In the other terms we also sang - more Handel, Purcell, Beethoven
and Coleridge Taylor are the ones I recall). Fifty years later it is still
difficult to listen to the work without joining in (croakily); equally
difficult is reading
passages from the Holy Bible (such as “wonderful, counsellor, the mighty
God” etc) without singing them! There are so many recordings available
that I have not been able to listen to many of them, but I am very happy
with my copy of Harry Christopher’s version with The Sixteen on Hyperion.
Two words of warning; firstly, be careful when selecting your recording
are a number sung in German; secondly, Mozart re-orchestrated the work
and some recordings (Mackerras for example) use this version.
Having reviewed three recent versions of Messiah, BW has not had time
to listen to this Hyperion recording but recommends the Linn recording with
the Dunedin Consort and John Butt to those who wish to hear the original
(CKD285 - see November 2009 Download
Roundup), the more recent version by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers
on Coro as probably the best all-round ‘authentic’ version
now on offer (COR16062 - see December 2008 Download
Roundup) and a new release from Hyperion, offered at 2-for-1 like their
version by The Sixteen, from Polyphony (CDA67800) - a modern-instrument
an ideal compromise between authenticity and the heavier old-fashioned
style. I’ve reviewed this last on CD; the review will probably have
appeared on the main Musicweb pages by the time that you read this Roundup.
Kirkby, James Bowman, John Mark Ainsley, Ch New College, Oxford/Edward Higginbottom,
The King’s Consort/Robert King
HYPERION CDA66461/2 from Hyperion (mp3
Whereas the Hyperion set offers the generally accepted
revised version, there is also a Somm recording (SOMMCD240-2) which presents
as performed at the London Handel
Festival last year, probably for the only time since its first Covent Garden
BW is more than happy with the Hyperion - much more so than with a recording
by English-speaking soloists and a German choir and orchestra directed
Budday on the K&K label last year - see review.
I concluded that review by saying that the best (King) outshone the good
(Budday), an opinion reinforced now by hearing the Hyperion download in very
Recorded live at the 2008 London Handel Festival in St George’s,
Hanover Square, the Somm recording features young singers, supported by
Handel Orchestra and Singers, conductor Lawrence Cummings. The singing
is of a high
standard throughout (the original 1748 version is used), while the orchestra
and chorus contribute to a set which can be warmly recommended. (MT) Most
Somm recordings are available as downloads from theclassicalshop.net, but
appears not to be available there yet.
Harper, Helen Watts,
John Shirley-Quirk, Wandsworth School Boys Ch,
English CO/Johannes Somary ALTO
ALC2002 available from emusic.com (but see below)
Bowman, Ch New College, Oxford/Edward Higginbottom, The King’s Consort/Robert
King rec. 1992 HYPERION
CDA66641/2 from Hyperion (mp3
MT writes: I first heard Judas Maccabeus at
the 1970 Macclesfield Arts Festival; I was bowled over by this wonderful
work and it remains a firm favourite.
I am sticking to the rather dated Somary version, despite its lack of modern
performance practice, because the singing (Heather Harper, Alexander Young,
John Shirley-Quirk and, sadly, the recently deceased Helen Watts) is of such
quality. (I also have a German version conducted by Helmut Koch with a stellar
cast.) For more very stylish singing of a past era, try Richard Lewis “Handel
Arias and Folksongs”.
BW also owns the Somary version, in an earlier incarnation on its parent
label, Vanguard. Amongst its many virtues is the fact that these two well-filled
are very inexpensive - less than £9 from most dealers. That means that
there would be little point in going to the trouble of downloading the set
(56 tracks) from eMusic - more than the 50-track allocation that most subscribers
take out and considerably more expensive than the CDs.
For some reason I was sure that Somary offered the original version of Judas,
without the conquering hero, and said so in my review of his Semele -
a classic example of memory playing tricks: Somary does include
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno Deborah York, Gemma Bertagnolli, Sara Mingardo,
Nicholas Sears, Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
rec. 2000 NAÏVE OP30440 from Classicsonline (mp3)
Triumph of Time and Truth Emma
Kirkby, Stephen Varcoe, London Handel Ch & O/Denys
HYPERION DYAD CDD22050 from Hyperion
(mp3 and lossless)
Johan van Veen has outlined the history of Handel’s
works on this theme, beginning with the Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (1705)
via the Trionfo
del Tempo e della Verità (1737/9) and culminating in The Triumph
of Time and Truth (1757/8), here presented in its 1757 form but with
some of the 1758 omissions observed - see review.
The two recordings here offer the Italian original and the final English
versions; both performances are very good and both are well recorded -
though I must
stress that we have heard the Naïve only in CD form.
Robert Hugill thought the Alessandrini a lively and vivid account which all
should hear - see review -
a view which we would support.
Classicsonline also have the Naxos recording of the intermediate Trionfo
del Tempo e della Verità (8.554440-42,
mp3), including a very informative note by the conductor, Joachim Martini.
Passionato have the recent Emanuelle Haïm version of the Trionfo
del Tempo e del Disinganno (Virgin
3634282, mp3 or lossless).
We haven’t heard this or the Hyperion recording directed by Alessandro
De Marchi (CDA67681/2) which Glyn Pursglove recommended.
There’s material here, perhaps, for a future roundup; meanwhile you really
won’t go wrong with our two recommendations.
Finally, some recitals recommended by one or both of us:
Kozená, Venice Baroque O/Andrea Marcon ARCHIV 4776547 from Passionato (mp3)
“Handel is wrenched into the world of stark, expressionist music theatre.
a phenomenal, gripping experience... So clear away preconceptions and be prepared
for one of the most extraordinary vocal displays to have been issued in recent
years.” (see review by
Christopher Howell). With the sole caveat that this album won’t be
to all tastes, BW was also impressed. Good sound, though mp3 only.
Dessay; Le Concert d’Astrée/Emanuelle Haïm
rec. 2005 VIRGIN CLASSICS 3326242 from Passionato (mp3
A short extract from this recording appears on a
2-CD compilation The Miracle of the Voice (363332) which Göran Forsling recommended,
but you really should hear the original recital in full. It sounds very well
in lossless format but, as with all these passionato downloads, the lack
of availability of texts is a serious handicap by comparison with the Hyperion
the booklet with notes and texts is available as a pdf document except, oddly,
in the case of The Triumph of Time and Truth.
Daniels (countertenor); Ensemble Orchestra de Paris/John Nelson VIRGIN CLASSICS 5454972 from Passionato (mp3
Daniels (countertenor); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/ Roger Norrington VIRGIN
CLASSICS VERITAS 5453262 from Passionato (mp3
Apart from some oddities in the balance, with strings
to the left, continuo to the right, and Daniels in the centre - which didn’t
trouble BW - Kirk McElhearn was carried away by this selection of Oratorio
Arias - see review.
Strongly recommended. The lossless (flac) download is very good. KM selected He
was despised from Messiah as his favourite track, but the whole
recital is first-class. The Opera Arias album is equally desirable; with
the Orchestra of the Age of
Enlightenment and Sir Roger Norrington providing the accompaniment, perhaps
even more so.
SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String
Quartets 13 & 14 Takács
rec. 2006 HYPERION CDA67585 from Hyperion (mp3
“These expertly recorded and brilliantly played performances are
for greedy ears. It just doesn’t get any better than this.” (Tim
Perry - see review).
When I reviewed the reissue of the Belcea Quartet’s version of the Rosamunde Quartet,
I hadn’t heard this Hyperion recording. That recording remains a splendid
budget-price recommendation (EMI Classics Encore 2357382 - see review)
but its coupling is less logical than that offered by the Takács Quartet
on Hyperion. Quartets Nos. 13 and 14 go naturally hand in hand, and that’s
how Hyperion presents them.
There may not be much to choose between the Takács and Belcea versions
of Rosamunde, but the Takács Death and the Maiden is preferable
to the Viennese performance which I recommended chiefly as the coupling for the
superb Clifford Curzon/Vienna Octet Trout Quintet - and, in any case,
that Eloquence CD seems to have bitten the dust, as I warned it might be about
to do: the Trout is available now only as part of a 7-CD set.
I’m grateful to BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library for introducing
me to this splendid Hyperion recording. As always, the excellent Hyperion booklet
comes as part of the download deal; the notes, by Misha Donat, are splendid
- and what a knockout of a cover picture!
Another Hyperion recording of Schubert brings music of less quality, but
Brian Newbould’s completion of the ‘tenth’ symphony, D936a,
and another symphony in D, D708a, plus several incomplete fragments, is well
The music is never less than interesting and the performances, conducted
by Sir Charles Mackerras, and recording do it full justice. (CDA67000,
available as a download for just £5.99)
Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937) Violin
Concertos 1 & 2, Scènes de la Csárda Chloë Hanslip,
Bournemouth SO/Andrew Mogrelia rec. 2008 NAXOS
8.572078 from Classicsonline (mp3)
of the reviews of this recording, reproduced on the web page, led me to
expect music of higher quality than I found to be the case,
here is attractive and the performances, recording and mp3 sound do it
Not an essential purchase, but a likeable one. At this price you can afford
to experiment; you may even agree with the claim that the music is comparable
that of Bruch and Mendelssohn.
HONEGGER (1892-1955) Symphonies
2 & 3 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Concerto
Fritz Wesenigk (trumpet) Berlin
PO/Herbert von Karajan
rec. 1972 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON
4474352 from Passionato (mp3)
classic performances have been so universally praised that they need almost
no further recommendation. Don’t expect to warm immediately
to all the music here; let it grow on you. The two Honegger symphonies date
and just after the Second World War and can seem tough nuts to crack at first.
The early-70s recordings still sound well in good mp3 format and DG Originals
were still on offer for a generous £4.99 from passionato when I wrote
HONEGGER (1892-1955) Horace
Cello Concerto, Prélude, Fugue et Postlude, Une
Cantate de Noël Alban
Gerhardt (cello) BBC
Ntl Ch & O Wales/Thierry Fischer rec. 2007/8 HYPERION
CDA67688 from Hyperion (mp3
Honegger’s Christmas Cantata is hardly
the most exultant seasonal music that you’ve ever heard and it’s
coupled here with music not linked to the season at all, which is why
placed this with the other reviews in the Christmas
Download Roundup. Give
yourself a chance to get to know it, however, and it’s likely
to figure regularly in your Christmas listening, as it has in mine
I first heard
it on a Decca LP from Ansermet.
KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Spartacus, Gayaneh Alexander
GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) The
PO/Aram Khachaturian, Suisse Romande O/Ernest Ansermet
rec. 1962/6 DECCA
4603152 - from Passionato (mp3)
When the Khachaturian items on this CD were released in 1963, Spartacus,
then a comparatively recent work, was described by the reviewer in The
brash and facile. He had even harsher words for the Gopak which concluded
the Gayaneh suite.
I understand that the LP languished in the catalogue, generally unloved,
until the BBC decided to use the Spartacus music for a popular
TV series, The
Onedin Line. Though the original has nothing to do with the sea,
it seemed to lend itself very well to the opening images of a sailing
ship and sales
Yes, the music is rather brash, but I must admit to being taken along
with it, and the composer’s own recording still sounds extremely well in good mp3
sound. An added incentive for buying the download is that the CD has disappeared
from the catalogue - perhaps to reappear on Australian Eloquence, where Ansermet’s
receording of Glazunov’s Seasons has already appeared
and been welcomed by
me (480 0038, 2 CDs, music by Glazunov and Glinka).
GINASTERA (1916-1983) Glosses
sobre temes de Pau Casals, Variaciones
SO, Israel CO/Gisele Ben-Dor rec. 1994/5 NAXOS 8.572249 from Classicsonline (mp3)
must thank my colleague Brian Reinhart, whose review pointed
me in the direction of this recording.
As BR predicted, I found the Variaciones immediately most
attractive, the smaller-scale version of the Glosses less
so and the orchestral Glosses a tough nut to crack - indeed, I
haven’t cracked it yet,
but the download is worth having for the other two items. The notes
by Rudy Ennis, which are available from the classicsonline
website, offer a very satisfactory alternative.
Year’s Concert in Vienna Kathleen
Battle; Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1987 DEUTSCHE
GRAMMOPHON 477 6336 from Passionato (mp3)
By the time that you read this, you may well, like me, be
looking forward to the annual New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna.
Whatever the quality of this year’s music-making, Karajan’s
1987 version is a hard act to follow. It’s recently been
reissued at mid price (477 6336); my only complaint about the Passionato
download is that they still offer it at £7.99,
around the same price as the CD and the price at which they also
offer full-price recordings. It’s a little too long to burn
to one CDR.
DUBRA (b.1964) Hail,
Queen of Heaven Royal
Holloway Ch/Rupert Gough rec. 2009 HYPERION
CDA67799 from Hyperion (mp3
I passed up the chance to review this on CD, thinking
that I might be ill-attuned to the idiom of a composer
born in 1964,
expected to be astringent.
Then curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try the
completely sold: this is my Discovery of the Month. If
you like the music of John Tavener, you’ll almost certainly
like this; in fact, my only complaint is that it’s a little
too sweet and could do with a touch more astringency in places.
The recording is excellent; go for the lossless flac unless you
have mp3 - both are offered at the same very reasonable £7.99.