JUNE Download Roundup - Brian Wilson
DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH
Silvestre REVUELTAS (1899-1940)
Inocente CARREÑO (b. 1919)
Antonio ESTÉVEZ (1916-1988)
Mediodia en el Llano [8:01]
Arturo MÁRQUEZ (b. 1950)
Danzón No.2 [9:45]
(1928-2007) Fuga con Pajarillo from
Suite para cuerdas (version for orchestra) [7:08]
Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983)
Estancia: Danzas del Ballet, Op. 8 I. Los trabajadores
agrícolas [2:57]; II. Danza del trigo [3:43]; III.
Los peones de hacienda [1:58]; IV. Danza final
Evencio CASTELLANOS (1915-1984)
Santa Cruz de Pacairigua (Suite Sinfónica) [16:19]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
West Side Story – Symphonic Dances: Mambo [2:29]
Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel
rec. January 2008, Centro de Acción Social por la Música, Sala
Simón Bolivar, Caracas, Venezuela. DDD.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 7457 [75:57] – from passionato.com
It’s taken me a year to catch up with this recording, which Dan Morgan
made Recording of the Month in May, 2008: ‘Definitely
one of my discs of the year’ (see review).
Better late than never, however. From the opening of Sensemayá,
which I’ve never heard sound so mysterious, on the first track,
to the exultant Mambo from West Side Story which
ends the programme, everything here is purely delightful. With
very acceptable mp3 sound for about half the price of the CD,
this download is well worth having. Some of the music is available
in other versions – Sensemayá, for example, more cheaply
on Naxos 8.555917, and as a download from classicsonline.com
and passionato.com – but these performances by the Simón Bolívar
Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel are good enough to see off any
competition. If you haven’t yet bought the CD, don’t put off
obtaining this recording for another year.
Discovery of the Month
(1911-2000) Visions of the East
Ode to the Temple of Sound; Symphony No.10 (Vahaken);
Floating World; Meditation on Zeami
Frost Symphony Orchestra/Chung Park (rec. 2006, DDD)
CENTAUR CRC2954 [58:00 DDD] – from eMusic
(6 tracks, VBR mp3) or amazon.co.uk (256k mp3)
With just six tracks, this is the sort of recording that eMusic does
best – for a total outlay of less than £1.50 you can afford
to download and decide whether or not the music appeals. If
you know anything by Hovhaness, you’ll have a fair idea of the
kind of colourful blend of Western classical music and Eastern
music on offer. The picture of Mount Fuji on the cover will
give you an extra hint but Rob Barnett’s recent review
of the parent CD will give you a more detailed indication.
Although Rob knows much more about Hovhaness than I do and gives
chapter and verse on the music, we’re both a little in the dark
when it comes to comparing the performances – three of the four
works are first recordings and the fourth, Floating World,
has never before been recorded in full, so there are no bench-marks.
The performances sound pretty good to me and the recording is
more than acceptable in the mp3 format; I very much enjoyed
it all. Full marks to Centaur and to Chung Park, who produced
the recording as well as conducting, for initiative in offering
works not available even on the Crystal label.
If you wish to explore Hovhaness further, classicsonline have
a number of recommendable single CD and 2-CD recordings on the
Delos label – more next month.
Heinrich ISAAC (c.1450-1517)
Missa de Apostolis; Motets – Optime pastor; Total
pulchra es; Regina cæli; Resurrexi; Virgo prudentissima
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips (rec. 1991. DDD)
GIMELL CDGIM023 [74:50] – from gimell.com
(320k mp3 or lossless versions)
Isaac was highly thought of in his own day and, though his reputation
has diminished since, this recording shows us why his contemporaries
held him in high esteem. He’s certainly too good to be remembered
only for short pieces such as his setting of Innspruck, ich
muß dich lassen, the tune of which is surprisingly similar
to Bach’s oft-used setting of O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden.
The performances and recording are fully commensurate with the
high expectations encouraged by Gimell’s other recordings.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
The Musical Offering, BWV1079
Ensemble Sonnerie (rec. 2003, DDD)
VIRGIN VC5 45139-2 [72’ DDD] – from passionato.com
(lossless flac and 320k mp3)
When reviewing the recent
version of the Musical Offering by Concertante of London/Nicholas
Jackson (SOMMCD077 – see review),
I was about to sum up by saying that the new version was very
enjoyable but that Neville Marriner with the Academy of St Martin
(Philips Duo 442 5562, with the Art of Fugue) offered
better value, when I decided to throw this Virgin recording
into the ring for comparison.
Ensemble Sonnerie offer only the Musical Offering, but,
with varied instrumentation, including alternative takes for
some of the movements, they run to 72 minutes. There’s no organ,
as on the ASMF version, just Gary Cooper on the harpsichord,
so some of the magic of Kraemer’s opening ricercar on
Philips is lost, but this is a very sensitive opening and my
ear didn’t crave anything more colourful. The promise of the
opening is kept throughout the recording.
Not content to stay with the instrumentation required for the
Trio Sonata at the heart of the Offering, Ensemble Sonnerie
employ flute, two violins, viola, oboe d’amore, oboe da caccia,
harpsichord, bassoon and viola da gamba. The players are all
distinguished: Wilbert Hazelzet, Paul Goodwin, Frances Eustace,
Monica Huggett, Pavlo Beznosiuk, Sarah Cunningham and Gary Cooper.
They place the Trio Sonata on tracks 12-15 out of 17, with just
the repeat of the canon perpetuus and the ricercar
a 6 to round off the performance. They allow that final
ricercar even more time than the ASMF players, at 8:28,
and the result is most impressive. I’m now inclined to rate
this the best version of the Musical Offering that I’ve
ever heard; it raises all the music to a level of enjoyment
that I’d derived only from the Trio Sonata before.
The Virgin recording is first-rate, placing all the instruments
clearly, but not over-analytical. I downloaded the lossless
flac version from passionato.com
and found it excellent; there’s also a less expensive 320kbps
At full price, then, or as a download, my recommendation is
Ensemble Sonnerie on Virgin. The new Somm version is well worth
having at mid price, especially if you find the two extra works
attractive. The Marriner/Academy version on Philips Duo is
less of a bargain as a download – more expensive than the parent
Two main themes this month:
Haydn recommendations, mainly on the Naxos label;
- Some of the
recordings which Chandos has chosen for its 30th
Most collectors probably begin with the two sets of London symphonies,
Nos. 93-104. My own first LP of Haydn was the mono Beecham
version of Nos.93 and 94, a Columbia recording reissued on the
Philips Classical Favourites label. The classic modern versions
of these symphonies come on two Philips 2-CD Duo sets, from
the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Colin Davis (442 611-2
and 442 614-2). You can obtain these as downloads from passionato.com
but, at £15.99 each, they’re considerably more expensive than
their CD equivalents, widely on offer from online dealers for
around £9 each. Otherwise, the recommendations below contain
several of the London symphonies.
Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 11
Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)/Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (rec. 2000,
EMI 5 56590-2
[53:39] – from passionato.com
(320k mp3 and flac lossless)
We don’t normally think of Haydn as a composer
of keyboard concertos – indeed, not all the works that have
masqueraded as such are authentic Haydn – but this award-winning
CD of three genuine works demonstrates that they are well worth
hearing. Andsnes plays with the utmost delicacy without making
Haydn sound like a fragile precursor of Mozart and Beethoven.
Everything is just right here and the flac download is excellent.
The only problem is that this recording has recently been reissued
on the mid-price EMI Recommends series, on offer from some online
dealers for less than the £7.99 which passionato charge for
the mp3 and much less than the £9.99 for the flac download.
This account of Concerto No.11 was chosen for inclusion in full
on Leif Ove Andsnes – a Portrait (5 74789-2, 2 CDs, no
longer available?), which John Philips recommended
as ‘an excellent issue’.
Cello Concertos No.1 in C; No.2 in D; No.4 in D (spurious)
Gautier Capuçon (cello); Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Harding
(rec. 2002, DDD)
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5 45560-2 [65:47] – from passionato.com
(320k mp3 and flac lossless)
My colleague Don Satz wrote that this was ‘a fine alternative to the
full-bodied Rostropovich performances. Both Capuçon and Harding
offer lean and incisive performances of Haydn’s vibrant concertos.
With the added virtues of an exceptional period cello and crisp
soundstage, the disc is heartily recommended to all Haydn and
period instrument enthusiasts’. (See review).
There’s little that I need to add, except to say that the flac
download sounds as entirely truthful as DS found the CD to be,
apart from some slightly off-putting occasional ‘breathing’
sounds, especially in the second concerto, which I take to be
emanating from the soloist or his instrument. No problems price-wise,
either, since both the mp3 and flac downloads are significantly
cheaper than the parent CD – excellent value, in fact. I might
have preferred the Boccherini concerto which has frequently
been the companion to one or other of the Haydn concertos on
record - preferably not in the version bowdlerised by Grutzmacher
which du Pré on EMI and Kanta on Naxos offer - instead of the
spurious ‘Haydn Fourth Cello Concerto’ here, but it’s an attractive
Symphonies Nos. 43 (Merkur), 46 and 47
Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut Müller-Brühl - rec.2000, DDD
NAXOS 8.554767 [64:07] – from passionato.com
(flac and 320k mp3) and Classicsonline
Symphonies Nos. 45 (Farewell) and 64 (Tempora mutantur)
Schlierbacher Chamber Orchestra/Thomas Fey - DDD
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 98.357 [53:38] – from Classicsonline
Symphonies Nos. 70, 73 (La chasse) and 75
Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Fey – rec.2007, DDD
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 98.517 [62:30] – from Classicsonline(320k
Symphonies Nos. 83 (Hen), 94 (Surprise) and 101
Capella Istropolitana/Barry Wordsworth rec.1988, DDD.
NAXOS 8.550114 [72:32] – from classicsonline.com
Symphonies Nos. 85 (La Reine); 92 (Oxford) and
103 (Drum Roll)
Capella Istropolitana/Barry Wordsworth - rec.1990, DDD.
NAXOS 8.550387 [76:33] – from classicsonline.com
Symphonies Nos. 23 in G; 24 in G and 61 in D
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward – rec.1993, DDD
NAXOS 8.550723 [56:13] – from passionato.com
(320k mp3 or flac lossless)
I’ve tried to include a cross-section of Haydn’s symphonies
here – impossible, of course, because they are all so individual,
but this could be the start of a worthwhile collection. Barry
Wordsworth’s contributions with the Capella Istropolitana
are among the best of the now complete Naxos series. I’ve included
named symphonies from the Sturm und Drang period, the
visit to Paris and the two visits to London, in order to offer
variety. I’m not going to quibble about the use of named symphonies
as convenient pegs on which to hang the programme – very few
of these nicknames emanated from Haydn himself – or the description
of No.96 as the Miracle, though modern scholarship inclines
to No.102 as the symphony which the audience moved forward to
applaud, thus avoiding the crashing chandelier. Nor is No.94
the only work by Haydn to employ a surprise – listen to und
es war Licht (and there was light) from The
Creation for an even bigger crash; this one was apparently
designed to make the ladies in the fashionable London audience
wake up and resort to their smelling salts.
Nicholas Ward also
made some excellent contributions to the Naxos complete edition,
of which this version of Nos. 23, 24 and 61 is a fine example.
Just try the adagio second movement of No.24 (tr.2) for
some beautifully delicate music, very sensitively performed.
The flac recording is good. I hope to include some more of
these NCO/Ward recordings next month.
the two recordings which I’ve included from Thomas Fey’s
complete Hänssler set are even better. If you can go for only
one, make it the CD of Nos. 70, 73 and 7, a Musicweb International
Recording of the Month – see review.
Like the Wordsworth recordings, these two may be taken as typical
of a very fine series from which I hope to hear and report on
more in future Download Roundups. All the mp3 transfers, Naxos
and Hänssler alike, are very good.
|INFORMATION For £20
post-free World-wide, MusicWeb also offers the complete
Haydn symphonies with a few bonus works played by the Austro-Hungarian
Haydn Orchestra conducted by Adam Fischer. These are presented
on 8 CDS as 320k mp3 files see full details and review.
These have been a consistent best-seller
Op.76, Nos. 1, 2 (Fifths) and 3 (Emperor)
Kodály Quartet - rec,1989, DDD.
NAXOS 8.550314 [66:39] – from passionato.com
(flac and 320k mp3) classicsonline.com
String Quartets, Op. 76, Nos. 4 (Sunrise), 5 and 6
Kodály Quartet - rec.1989, DDD
NAXOS 8.550315 - from classicsonline.com
String Quartets, Op.77, Nos. 1 and 2 (Lobkowitz)
Kodály Quartet - DDD
NAXOS 553146 [51:23] – from classicsonline.com
Naxos also have complete recordings of the Haydn String
Quartets from the Kodály Quartet, available separately or recently
reissued as a box set (8.502400 see review).
These three discs of his late masterpieces are fully recommendable,
apart from the rather mean playing time of the Op.77 pair.
You’ll note that I’ve sampled some downloads from passionato.com
(flac lossless) and some from Naxos’s own site classicsonline.com
(320k) and both are good.
There are a number of ways to download these and other Naxos
owned by Naxos but also offering music from other labels, currently
in 320kbps mp3 but with lossless flac as an alternative coming
in 320k mp3 and flac versions;
in 320k mp3 format;
and iTunes in 256k mp3 format;
in mp3 at variable bit-rates.
All have advantages.
Classicsonline’s 320k recordings (£4.99) are more than adequate
and, with Naxos’s more recent recordings, the booklet and insert
come as part of the deal. When flac becomes available, audiophiles
will find it worth going for, though at a premium, which I understand
will be one US dollar/euro or 90p.
Passionato already offers audiophile-friendly flac versions,
though, at £5.99, this makes them at least as expensive as the
CD equivalent and a little dearer than classicsonline. Their
mp3s (£4.74) come at the same bit-rate as those from classicsonline,
at a small but significant saving over all their competitors.
Theclassicalshop’s downloads at £5.20 seem over-priced by comparison
with the two other providers at this bit-rate.
Amazon and iTunes downloads automatically transfer themselves
to the iTunes jukebox if you have it installed. Their 256k
bit-rate is already beginning to look outdated when others offer
320k and when passionato offer 320k for £4.74. Amazon’s standard
charge ranges from £4.89 to £5.99, but some albums are much
cheaper – for example, the Kodály Quartet’s version of Haydn’s
Op.71/1-3 comes at a very inexpensive £2.96. iTunes charge
£4.74 for their limited selection of Naxos; some albums are
not available in complete form and none of these Haydn recordings
are on offer from them.
The Seven Last Words from the Cross
(String Quartet version)
Fitzwilliam String Quartet – rec. 2000, DDD
[61:51] – from linnrecords.com
(mp3 or lossless)
Haydn originally composed this music, for performance in Holy Week in
Madrid, for chamber orchestra, with spoken interjections before
each of the musical responses. It’s best known nowadays in
its string quartet arrangement, of which there are numerous
good recordings, not least that by the Kodaly Quartet on Naxos,
available to download from classicsonline.com. This version
from the Fitzwilliam Quartet has the advantage of using authentic
instruments and employing slightly faster tempi than usual,
for reasons explained in the fine booklet of notes, available
to download in pdf format and to print out, with some striking
Missa in tempore belli (Paukenmesse); Missa
Sancti Bernardi von Offida (Heiligmesse) (1796);
Insanæ et vanæ curæ (1809)Soloists; Monteverdi Choir;
English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner – rec. 2003, DDD.
PHILIPS 470 8192 – from passionato.com
an earlier Roundup I recommended the Chandos/Hickox recordings
of all Haydn’s Masses. There are, however, alternatives to
be considered, not least the DG Archiv recording of the ‘Nelson’
Mass which I recommended last month, an ADD recording which
still holds its own against all comers. More recently John
Eliot Gardiner recorded the last six masses for another branch
of the Universal Classics empire. His version of the Mass in
time of war, usually known by its German nickname Paukenmesse,
and the almost equally rewarding Heiligmesse are well
worth considering. The coupling is a motet, Insanæ et vanæ
curæ, rescued from the oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia
(see below) with Latin words replacing the Italian. Don’t be
put off by Philips’ note that this is spurious – there’s no
sound reason not to believe that Haydn himself adapted the music.
Excellent performances all round and very acceptable mp3 sound.
Il ritorno di Tobia, oratorio in two parts, Hob.XXI/1
(1775, rev. 1784)
Roberta Invernizzi (sop), Sophie Karthäuser (sop); Ann Hallenberg
(alto); Anders Dahlin (ten); Nikolay Borchev (bass); Volksensemble
Köln; Capella Augustina/Andreas Spering – rec.2006, DDD.
NAXOS 8.570330-2 [3 CDs 55:28+58:16+55:20] – from classicsonline.com
Like the pastiche oratorio Tobit, composed after his
death from various pieces of music by Handel, which I included
in my April,
2009, Download Roundup, Haydn’s first work in this genre
tells the story of Tobias’s journey to find a cure for his blind
father, his return and his father Tobit’s subsequent cure. Though it’s something of a Cinderella among Haydn’s
works, it has received two recent recordings, this and one from
Hungaroton (HCD11660-2), also available from classicsonline.
The Naxos recording does the music full justice, with no really
weak performances, apart from minor reservations about Anders
Dahlin. It’s well recorded and well transferred in 320k format.
Roberta Invernizzi’s Raffaele steals the show, as one might
expect from her singing on the Glossa recordings of Handel’s
Italian cantatas (see March,
2009, Roundup) but nothing is ever less than very satisfactory,
including the chorus in the two additions which Haydn made in
the revised score of 1784. Download from Naxos’s home site
at classicsonline and you’ll get the booklet to download and
print out; it contains the full Italian text but no translation
is offered. For further details see review
MILESTONES: 30 Years of CHANDOS
There’s no download equivalent of the bargain box of 30 CDs, superb
value for the price of 3 discs, but readers who have some of
the recordings already may like to be reminded of the virtues
of some of the individual recordings which they don’t own.
I’ve taken most of these downloads from Chandos’s own theclassicalshop.net,
where they are all available in 320k mp3 and in a variety of
lossless formats, wav, wma, aiff and now flac. Passionato.com
also have many of these recordings in 320k mp3 and flac versions,
so I’ve included some of these. Both suppliers charge £7.99
for mp3 and £9.99 for lossless, but only theclassicalshop.net
allows you to download and print the booklets. For an overview
of the complete set, see Rob Barnett’s review.
I’ve already recommended some of these recordings in download
Bax Symphony No.4/Tintagel:
CHAN8312: Ulster Orchestra/Bryden Thomson – see review
Delius Sea Drift/Songs
of Farewell/Songs of Sunset: CHAN9214: Bryn
Terfel; Bournemouth SO and Chorus/Richard Hickox – Download
Prokofiev Symphony No.6:
CHAN8359: SNO/Neeme Järvi – Download Roundup, 12/2008
Purcell Dido and Æneas:
CHAN0521 or CHAN8306: Emma Kirkby, etc.; Taverner
Choir and Players/Andrew Parrott - Download Roundup, 02/2009
Walton Henry V Scenario:
CHAN10437X: Christopher Plummer/ASMF/Neville Marriner – see
Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL
(1778-1837): Mass in D, Op.111; Alma virgo;
Mass in B-flat, Op.77
Susan Gritton (sop.); Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox (rec.
Texts included as pdf. document.
CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN0881 [76:19] – from theclassicalshop.net
(320k mp3 and lossless)
This was the first of a highly successful series of recording
of the masses of Hummel. If you like Haydn’s masses, you’ll
also enjoy those of his successor at Esterháza in these excellent
performances. The very good recording sounds very well in the
lossless transfer and Chandos also offer the excellent book
of notes and texts to print out. Don’t be surprised if this
recording makes you want to move on to the other volumes in
the series and/or a fine Naxos recording of the Missa solemnis.
Johann Baptist VANHAL
Symphonies g2, D4 and c2
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert – rec.1998, DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9607 [60:35] – from passionato.com
or theclassicalshop.com (320k mp3 or lossless versions from
This was one of the earliest recordings (1998) in this excellent
series – I recently recommended two of the latest volumes, of
Leopold Mozart and Vogler in last month’s Roundup. Vanhal is
one of the most distinguished contemporaries of Haydn and Mozart;
had I heard the opening g minor symphony on the radio and guessed
at the composer, I might well have thought it one of Haydn’s
Sturm und Drang symphonies or even early Mozart. LMP
and Matthias Bamert make an excellent case for these three symphonies
– good enough to tempt anyone downloading it to try one or more
of the Naxos CDs of Vanhal’s music, available to download from
classicsonline.com or passionato.com. Passionato’s flac version
of the Chandos recording is excellent.
Vanhal is known to have performed quartets with Haydn and Mozart.
The fourth member of that ensemble, Carl Dittersdorf, is also
worth getting to know – try his Six Symphonies after Ovid’s
Metamorphoses from Cantilena/Adrian Sheppard on Chandos
CHAN8564. Download these from theclassicalshop.net;
for some inexplicable reason, passionato charge as if for a
3-CD set, whereas theclassicalshop offers each of the two CDs
separately for £7.99 (mp3) or £9.99 (lossless).
Music from the novels of Louis de Bernières
Craig Ogden (guitar); Alison Stephens (mandolin) – rec.1999,
CHANDOS CHAN9780 [71:55] – from theclassicalshop.net
(320k mp3 or lossless)
I thought this the least enjoyable of the recordings which
I downloaded from the Milestones set. The music is all very
enjoyable and the performances and recording are admirable,
but I found the whole thing just too bitty, apart from the opening
arrangement of a Vivaldi concerto. I’d have liked to hear the
whole of the Hummel concerto, for example, instead of just the
one movement. There would (just) have been room to include
(1873-1943): ‘Elegiac’ Piano Trios Nos.1 and
The Borodin Trio: Rostislav Dubinsky (violin); Luba Edlina (piano);
Yuli Turovsky (cello) - rec.1984, DDD
CHANDOS CHAN8341 [59:34] – from theclassicalshop.net
(320k mp3 and lossless)
Don’t be put off by the similarity of the first trio to Tchaikovsky’s
better-known Piano Trio. There certainly is a large degree
of imitation but there is also more than a hint of the Rachmaninov
to come; though this student work was not published until after
the composer’s death, it’s certainly worth hearing. Trio No.2,
composed as a lament on the death of Tchaikovsky, is a more
accomplished work. Both receive eloquent performances from
the Borodin Trio and the recording sounds very well in lossless
form. There is a rival Hyperion version from iTunes; it’s more
generously filled, but that would be the only reason not to
go for this Chandos download.
Chandos themselves also have a rival version from the Bekova
Sisters, deleted on CD but available to download from theclassicalshop.net.
I haven’t heard this but I can recommend the Bekova Sisters’
coupling of Ravel’s Piano Trio in a, Sonata for violin and cello
and Martinů’s Piano Trio and Duo (CHAN9452 and downloads
in mp3 and lossless formats). I recommend this more for the
sake of the Martinů – another of this year’s anniversary
boys – than for the Ravel, of which there are more obviously
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
(1872-1958) Film Music (1) – Scott of the Antarctic;
The People’s Land; Coastal Command
BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba – rec.2002, DDD
CHANDOS MOVIES CHAN10007 [78:30] – from the classicalshop.net
(320k mp3 or lossless).
It’s fascinating to hear the building blocks of the Sinfonia
Antartica, which grew out of the film music for the film
Scott of the Antarctic, especially the leitmotiv
of the film and symphony, though it’s a little frustrating when
it isn’t developed as fully as it came to be in the symphony.
This was the first recording of some of the music from the film
and, to the best of my knowledge, there’s still no complete
rival, which makes this download more recommendable than the
otherwise fine Marco Polo version of Coastal Command
from passionato.com. Ian Lace thought this Gamba recording
“an excellent introduction to the evocative film music of Vaughan
Williams, especially important for presenting the full score
of Scott of the Antarctic. Thrilling, evocative performances
captured in the best Chandos sound.” (see review).
The Milestones box also contains Richard Hickox’s superb
recording of the original version of VW’s London Symphony,
an urgent recommendation in one form or another – see review.
The CD is superb and I have no doubt that Chandos’s own lossless
version from theclassicalshop.net is its equal, with the less
expensive 320k mp3 a very acceptable alternative.
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
: Concertos for Violin and Orchestra Nos.1 and 2
Lydia Mordkovich; Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi –
CHANDOS CHAN8820 [69:22 DDD] – from passionato.com
(320k mp3 and flac lossless)
Though my allegiance to David Oistrakh’s various recordings
remains undiminished, this 1989 recording offers very fine performances
in unquestionably better sound. I’ve even seen it claimed that
Lydia Mordkovich’s performance of the second concerto makes
it sound almost the equal of the first. I wouldn’t go that
far, but she and Järvi, ably abetted by the RSNO before they
earned the ‘Royal’ tag, certainly made me take much more notice
of a work which can seem something of an anti-climax after the
powerful first. Supplement this recording with an incredible
3-CD bargain on the Documents label, 7620, with Oistrakh playing
the two violin concertos, coupled with very decent versions
of the cello concertos (Alexander Ivashkin) and piano concertos
(Cristina Ortiz), all for less than £9.
Music from the Brussels 5557 Manuscript
(d.1475) Missa Flos Regalis; Alas,
alas; So ys emprentid
(1422-1460) Fortune alas; Mi very joy
John PLUMMER (d. c.1487)
Missa Sine nomine
The Clerks’ Group/Edward Wickham – rec. 1999, DDD
SIGNUM SIGCD015 [68:42] – from classicsonline.com
The music contained in MS Brussels 5557 seems to have been connected
with the lavish marriage of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and
Margaret of York, sister of the English King Edward IV, in 1468.
Hyperion have recorded two masses by Walter Frye contained in
the manuscript, together with music by his Burgundian contemporary
Antoine Busnois, a splendid CD, which I can recommend very highly
(CDA67129, The Binchois Consort – see review).
This Signum recording of two other masses from the collection,
by Frye again and his contemporary John Plummer, together with
some shorter secular pieces, is equally recommendable; indeed,
I’m not sure which I’d go for first. Perhaps you should begin
with the Hyperion, which has the usual lavish booklet of notes
about the Brussels MS, before downloading this Signum CD which,
of course, comes without notes. Short of a lossless version,
not currently available, though classicsonline are about to
offer some downloads in flac format, this mp3 recording could
hardly be bettered.
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
: Ten Sonatas in Four Parts (pub. posth., 1697)
Retrospect Trio - rec. June, 2008, DDD
LINN CKD332 [73:16] – from linnrecords.com
(320k mp3, lossless and studio master)
I ended last month with a brief postscript and the promise
to return with a more considered opinion when I had test-driven
the recording a little longer:
“My initial reactions are very favourable; where the Purcell Quartet
on Chandos (deleted on CD; download only – see review)
bring out the liveliness of the fast movements better, the new
recording stresses the more thoughtful aspects of the music.
The wma transfer is excellent (mp3, flac and studio quality
also available) and there’s generous playing time (73:16). More
details next month when I’ve had more time to analyse my reactions.”
In fact, I can now confirm those first impressions and recommend
this as an alternative to the Purcell Quartet on Chandos.
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Symphony No.3 (Scottish); Symphony No.4 (Italian);
Overture The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave).
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan – rec.1971,
DG ORIGINALS 449 743-2 [78:34] – from passionato.com
Classic performances from a boxed
LP set which appeared in the 1970s, still sounding well in this
mp3 transfer, though I recommend setting your listening level
slightly lower than usual: the ADD transfer is at rather a high
level and, if played too loud, shows up a slight tendency to
sound less than ideal at climaxes. Karajan is cavalier with
repeats, hence the generous coupling, but the performances more
than atone. This is the only version of the Scottish
which I’ve ever heard that didn’t make a distinct and disconcerting
gear-change at the beginning of the coda to the finale. Like
Rob Barnett, I felt that charm suffered in parts of the Italian
(see his review
of that symphony and The Hebrides on a 2-CD Panorama
set) but I thought that overall the merits outweighed the slight
Symphony No.4 (Italian) and Symphony No.5 (Reformation)
La Chambre Philharmonique/Emmanuel Krivine – rec. 2006, DDD
NAÏVE V5069 [54:10] – from eMusic (8 tracks, VBR mp3)
Even if you buy the Karajan recordings of the Scottish and Italian
symphonies, there’s room for this Naïve recording, though it
involves duplication. Krivine offers really lithe playing from
his original-instrument ensemble – tempi are brisk but never
unduly so. On paper, Krivine’s 10:06 for the opening movement
of the Italian looks staid by comparison with Karajan’s 8:09,
but Krivine is more generous in the matter of repeats and he
captures the charm better than Karajan. No other recording
of the second movement has ever reminded me so much of the pilgrims’
music in Berlioz’ Harold in Italy. Like Michael Greenhalgh,
I recommend this as the authentic version to go for. Like him,
too, I prefer original instruments in this music – see review
– though I wasn’t sure what the chairs on the cover signified.
This recording is also available from iTunes.
Ferdinand HILLER (1811-1885):
Piano Concertos 1-3
Howard Shelley (piano); Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra – rec.2008,
HYPERION CDA67655 [76:21 DDD] – from iTunes (256k mp3)
Though I’m not the greatest fan of the large-scale romantic
piano concerto, I enjoyed this recording very much; Shelley
stresses the delicate moments as much as the bigger statements
and the iTunes 256k mp3 transfer is very acceptable. I’ve recommended
this recording at greater length in the main pages of Musicweb
International – see review.
William STERNDALE BENNETT
Symphony in g minor; Overtures: The May Queen, The
Wood Nymphs, The Naïades,
London Philharmonic Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra/Nicholas
Braithwaite – rec. c.1990? ADD?
LYRITA srcd.206 [64:31] – from eMusic (8 tracks, VBR
I wasn’t quite as bowled over as my colleague Raymond Walker by this
recording of music by an English composer whom Mendelssohn took
under his wing (“Wow! What an enjoyable disc” – see review).
Rob Barnett was a little more subdued, but also very appreciative
– see review.
This is very attractive music with palpable echoes of Mendelssohn
– albeit a slightly sober Mendelssohn – and his contemporaries.
RW warns against being put off by the stern picture of the composer
on the cover, with cane-sized baton in hand; maybe I was a little
too influenced by it, but the experience was sufficient to tempt
me now to sample Lyrita’s two CDs of Sterndale Bennett’s piano
concertos. The recording in mp3 format is not quite up to the
high standards of the CD, as reported by RB’s and RW’s reviews,
but it is very acceptable.
(1918-1990) West Side Story
Mike Eldred, Betsi Morrison; Nashville Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth
Schermerhorn – rec.2002, DDD
NAXOS 8.559126 [75:05] – from classicsonline.com
If the performance of Mambo
which ends Gustavo Dudamel’s recording Fiesta, my Download
of the Month, has inspired you to listen to the whole of West
Side Story and you find the DG version directed by Bernstein
himself too operatic, try this inexpensive Naxos download from
classicsonline. There are no big names here, but I don’t think
you’ll be disappointed.