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February 2009

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BOOK REVIEWS

The Faber Pocket Guide to Haydn by Richard Wigmore ISBN: 978-0-571-23412-7 Publication Year: 2009 in paperback format Number of Pages: 388 Price: £8.99 Faber and Faber Ltd, London, England [MMB]

A worthy tribute in 200th anniversary year ... see Full Review

Four String Quartets by Dmitri Shostakovich by Sarah Reichardt [DC]

Can only strengthen our appreciation of these incredible pieces. ... see Full Review

Felix Mendelssohn - His Life and Music by Neil Wenborn (inc. 2 CDs) NAXOS BOOKS ISBN 978-1-84379-232-1; £13 [RW]

An ideal companion for a music student or audiophile ... see Full Review

 


LATEST CD & DVD REVIEWS

Price symbols (these ranges apply to CDs, and are approximately doubled for DVDs)
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FRIDAY February 27th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 Idil Biret (piano) Bilkent SO/Antoni Wit rec. 2008 IDIL BIRET ARCHIVE 8.571253 [67:38] [JS]

Real alternative insights ... see Full Review

York BOWEN (1884-1961) Piano Works - Volume 3 Ballade 2, Three Songs without Words, Three Preludes, Short Sonata, Three Miniatures, Three Serious Dances, Toccata, Three Pieces Joop Celis (piano) rec. 2008 CHANDOS CHAN10506 [79:20] [JF]

A great CD ... see Full Review

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683 - 1760) Partitas for Harpsichord Naoko Akutagawa (harpsichord) rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.570459 [58:32] [JV]

Technically brilliant and captivating - strongly recommended ... see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot Maria Callas, Eugenio Fernandi, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Tullio Serafin rec. 1957 NAXOS 8.111334-35 [77:26 + 41:16] [RMo]

First choice remains with the Mehta ... see Full Review

Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Gondoliers, Cello Concerto Sir Geraint Evans, Owen Brannigan, Glyndebourne Festival Ch, Pro Arte O/Sir Malcolm Sargent Julian Lloyd Webber, London SO/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 1957/86 CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 2134282 [57:56 + 56:17] [SV]

Plenty of zip and rhythmic alertness ... see Full Review

Thomas WEELKES (c.1575-1623) Sacred Choral Music Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum/Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2008 DELPHIAN DCD34070 [59.52] [GH]

Worth exploring ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Cello Diverse Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1972) Suite Italienne Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918) Cello Sonata Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897) Cello Sonata 2 Ennio MORRICONE (b. 1928) Gabriel’s Oboe Suzanne Beer (cello); Garth Hancock (piano) DIVINE ART DDV25068 [61:09] [BBr]

Some of the finest, most purposeful, cello playing I’ve heard in a long time ... see Full Review

Cherry Ripe Vocal treasures of the 18th and 19th centuries Deborah Riedel (soprano) Arcadia Lane O/Richard Bonynge rec. 2007 MELBA MR301118 [68:13] [JS]

Listening to this disc has given me great pleasure ... see Full Review

Russian Spectacular Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Hamlet Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857) Russlan and Ludmilla: Overture Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) (arr. Rimsky-Korsakov) A Night on the Bare Mountain Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Capriccio espagnol, Russian Easter Festival Overture Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) In the Steppes of Central Asia, Prince Igor: Overture Hallé O, London PO/Vernon Handley rec. 1974/88 CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 3822322 [81:26] [SV]

Hamlet’s grave dignity, controlled intensity but the rest not quite as fetching ... see Full Review

Taverner & Tudor Music II Robert FAYRFAX (1464 – 1521) Magnificat ‘Regale’ John TAVERNER (c.1490 – 1545) Missa Gloria Tibi Trinitas Robert WHITE (c.1534 - 1578) Christe qui lux es et dies William BYRD (1543 – 1623) Christe qui lux es et dies Thomas TALLIS (c.1505 – 1585) Te lucis ante terminum Ars Nova Copenhagen/Paul Hillier rec. 2005/6 DACAPO 8.226056 [73.58] [RH]

Captures the rhythmic vitality of this brilliant but tricky music ... see Full Review

THURSDAY February 26th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1739) Erschallet, ihr Lieder BWV172, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV182, Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV21 Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, Purcell Qt rec. 2007 CHANDOS CHAN0752(2) [49.04 + 38.55] [RH]

There is much to enjoy on this set ... see Full Review

Sofia GUBAÏDULINA (b. 1931) Complete Works for Solo Piano Marcela Roggeri (piano) rec. 2007 TRANSART TR161 [52:52] [MS]

Insistence, caustic emotion and tidiness ... see Full Review

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) A Tribute to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy 9 Songs without Words, Rondo Capriccioso, Variations Sérieuses, Piano Concerto in A minor Liebrecht Vanbeckevoort (piano) Camerata Con Cor(d)e String O/Alain Roelant rec. 2008 PHAEDRA CLASSICS 292019 [70:27] [MC]

Splendid playing promises much for a future that looks exceedingly rosy ... see Full Review

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Bohème Giuseppe Di Stefano, Maria Callas, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Antonino Votto rec. 1956 NAXOS 8.111332-33 [79.02 + 76.23] [RMo]

A lot of great music on offer here ... see Full Review

Nikolai RIMSKY–KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908) Russian Easter Festival Overture Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873 – 1943) Symphony 1 Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891 – 1953) Ode to the End of the War BBC SO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1978/79 BBC LEGENDS BBCL42332 [68:46] [BBr]

He brought out the very best in his players ... see Full Review

Edwin ROXBURGH (b. 1937) Oboe Music Study 1, Aulodie, Images, Eclissi, Antares, Elegy, Cantilena Christopher Redgate (oboe, oboe d’amore); Stephen Robbings (piano) Ensemble Exposé/Roger Redgate rec. 2008 METIER MSV28508 [66:08] [HC]

A very fine disc ... see Full Review

The Double Life of Franz Schubert - A dramatization of Schubert’s Last Years  Simon Russell Beale, Jason Fleming, Peter Webber (Director) NVC ARTS 50-51865-0798-2 [50:00] [JS]

Seems much longer than its fifty minute duration ... see Full Review

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Forza del Destino (1869 version) Violetta Urmana, Marcello Giordani, Carlo Guelfi, Ch & O Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Zubin Mehta rec. live, 2007 TDK DVWW-OPFORZA [189:00] [ST]

Now leads the field … one of the great Verdi DVDs ... see Full Review

John McCormack (tenor) - Vol. 7: 1916-18 Acoustic Recordings Fritz Kreisler (violin) unknown orchestra/Joseph Pasternack, Victor Herbert NAXOS 8.112018 [79:52] [GF]

You can hardly find this music better performed ... see Full Review

La Nilsson Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Åke Levén (organ) Royal Opera House O/Sir Edward Downes rec. 1963 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 0901 [72:21] [ST]

Highly recommendable bargain price compilation of the great soprano’s work ... see Full Review

 

WEDNESDAY February 25th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Six Suites for solo cello (1717-1723) Wolfgang Boettcher (cello) rec. Wyastone, Monmouth, October 2001 NIMBUS NI 5834/5 [59.58 + 79.48] [GH]

Little in the way of ‘wow’ factor ... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Bach on the Italian Lute (Gottfried) Heinrich STÖLZEL (1690-1749) Bist du bei mir from Clavier-Büchlein für Anna Magdalena Bach (arranged for solo lute by Peter Croton) [3:18] Peter Croton (lute) rec. Basel City Studios, Switzerland, 23-26 January 2008. DDD. GUILD GMCD7321 [61:57 ] [BW]

Good performances but outshone by very strong competition ... see Full Review


RECORDING OF THE MONTH Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) La Sonnambula Melodramma in two acts (2004 Critical Edition by Alessandro Roccataglia and Luca Zappelli) (1831) Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo);
Juan Diego Florez (tenor); Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (bass); Liliana Nikitenau (mezzo); Gemma Bertagnolli (soprano); Peter Kálman (bass) Chorus of Zurich Opera House; Orchestra La Scintilla/Alessandro De Marchi rec. June-July 2007, September 2008, Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirchemeinde Zurich-Oberstrass. DDD DECCA 478 1087 DH02 Limited Edition [59:10 + 75:01] [RJF]

Bellini’s lovely melodies into a new perspective. ... see Full Review

Aaron COPLAND (1900 – 1990) Music for the Theater (1925) [22:13] Quiet City (1940) [10:02] Music for Movies (1942) [16:57] Clarinet Concerto (1947/1948) [16:36] William Blount (clarinet), Stephen Taylor (cor anglais), Chris Gekker (trumpet), Orchestra of St Luke’s/Dennis Russell Davies rec. details not given but c. 1988 DDD Re–issue of MusicMasters MMD 60162L NIMBUS NI 2522 [66:56] [BBr]

Fine music-making ... see Full Review

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38 (1900) [94:21] CD 1 Part I [37:20] CD 2 Part II [57:01] Alice Coote (mezzo) - The Angel; Paul Groves (tenor) – Gerontius; Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone) - The Priest and The Angel of The Agony Hallé Choir; Hallé Youth Choir Hallé Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder rec. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 15-19 July 2008 English text included HALLÉ CD HLD 7520 [37:20 + 57:01] [JW]

Lays bare the orchestral writing, choral strands and architectural spine ... see Full Review

Antonio FERRADINI (1718-1779) Six Sonatas for Harpsichord  (c.1760) [78:39] Silvia Rambaldi (harpsichord) rec. Studio Monari, July 2007  TACTUS TC 713101 [78:29] [JW]

Charming and highly effective ... see Full Review

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Mr Henry Purcell’s Most Admirable Composures James Bowman (counter-tenor) The King’s Consort/Robert King rec. Radley College, Oxfordshire, England, 9-10 April, 1988. DDD. Texts included. HYPERION HELIOS CDH55303 [57:55] [BW]

Hard to imagine this music better interpreted ... see Full Review

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Henry Purcell (1659-1695) Complete Sacred Music – Anthems, Services and Devotional Songs Full contents at the end of the review Booklet with notes and texts. HYPERION CDS44141-51 [11CDs: 72:34 + 65:31 + 65:13 + 70:52 + 71:00 + 67:56 + 69:43 + 65:07 + 64:57 + 61:01 + 65:02] [BW]

An essential purchase for Purcell year and well beyond ... see Full Review

Max STEINER (1888-1971)She (1935) complete film score Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William Stromberg Rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow; November 2007 TRIBUTE FILM CLASSICS TFC-1003 [71:07][IL]

A must for all Max Steiner enthusiasts. ... see Full Review

Regionals 2009 Gilbert VINTER (1909-1969) Salute To Youth (1961) [11:47]; Graham COLE Pentacle [13:39]; Dan PRICE New World Sketches [10:47]; Andrew BAKER The Once and Future King [12:11]; Frank HUGHES The Talisman [10:00] Williams Fairey Engineering Band/Major Peter Parkes (Vinter); Foden’s Richardson Band/Michael Fowles (Cole); Black Dyke Band/Nicholas J. Childs (Price); Cory Band/Robert Childs (Baker and Hughes) rec. Morley Town Hall and St. Teilo’s Church School, July and August 2008. DDD DOYEN DOY CD246 [58:29]

Five quality performances of test-piece works ... see Full Review

 

TUESDAY February 24th

Georges BIZET (1838–1875) The Pearl Fishers (Highlights: sung in English) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Brad Cohen rec. 2007 CHANDOS CHAN3156 [79.00][AS]

One of the most enjoyable highlights CDs I have heard for a long while ... see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein deutsches Requiem Edinburgh Festival Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1978 BBC LEGENDS BBCL42462 [74:21][JQ]

A performance of stature ... see Full Review

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 4 (Original Version) Philharmoniker Hamburg/Simone Young rec. 2007 OEHMS CLASSICS OC629 [70:01][JQ]

A splendid performance of a fascinatingly different version ... see Full Review

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Nocturnes etc. Leipzig Orchestre National de Lyon/Jun Märkl rec. 2007-8 NAXOS 8.570993 [74:09][KS]

A worthwhile collection of what is and what might have been ... see Full Review

Guillaume DUFAY (1397-1474) The Court of Savoy The Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman rec. 2008 HYPERION CDA67715 [71:58][MS]

Superb and convincing ... see Full Review

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets (Complete) Kodály Quartet rec. 1989-2000 NAXOS 8.502400 [25:42:24][GPJ] 

Companionable … deeply enjoyable … brilliantly inventive ... see Full Review

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Le nozze di Figaro Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra/Vittorio Gui rec. 1953 EMI CLASSICS GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY 2126812 [3 CDs: 70:43 + 73:08 + 76:14][GF]

A classic set that is worth anyone’s money ... see Full Review

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 Leif Ove Andsnes (piano); Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Antonio Pappano rec. 2005 EMI CLASSICS 5181842 [58:30][JW]

Powerfully shaped readings – rewarding and enticing ... see Full Review

Alma Nova: Debut Alma Nova: Jessica Pearce (flute); Almer Imamovic (guitar) rec. 2006 ALMA NOVA 5631 [50:19][CR] 

Enjoyable … adds an interesting dimension to the flute and guitar repertoire ... see Full Review

Josef Hofmann: Acoustic Recordings 1916-1923 Josef Hofmann (piano) rec. 1916-23 NAXOS 8.111326 [75:05][JW]

Serves purist and generalist well ... see Full Review

 

MONDAY February 23rd

Charles AVISON (1709-1770) 12 Concerti Grossi (1744) after Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) The Avison Ensemble/Pavlo Beznosiuk rec. 2007 DIVINE ART DDA21213 [78:14 + 76:38][JW]

Technically first class and thoroughly enjoyable ... see Full Review

Elliott CARTER (b.1908) Complete Piano Music Ursula Oppens (piano) rec. 2008  CEDILLE RECORDS 90000108 [70:53][JW]

Very strong claims on Carter adherents ... see Full Review

Reinhard KEISER (1674–1739) Fredegunda Munich Neue Hofkapelle/Christoph Hammer rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.660231-32 [77:35 + 64:34][BW]

A performance good enough to enjoy this little-known opera ... see Full Review

Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Polyptyque Six Images de la Passion du Christ; Maria-Triptychon; Passacaille German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra/Christoph Poppen rec. 2006 ECM NEW SERIES ECM2015 1733930 [57:57][BW] 

Frank Martin would be justly proud ... see Full Review

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Simon Boccanegra Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro San Carlo, Naples/Mario Rossi rec. 1958 ISTITUTO DISCOGRAFICO ITALIANO IDIS 6552/53 [74.02 + 60.30][RJF]

A welcome legitimate addition to Gencer’s live recordings ... see Full Review

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762) Concerti Grossi Christina Day Martinson (violin); Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman rec. 2008 TELARC SACD60698 [59:26][MSJ]  

Very piquant ... see Full Review

American Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 by Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES (1884-1920), Roger SESSIONS (1896-1985) and Charles IVES (1874-1954) Peter Lawson (piano) rec. 1991 EMI AMERICAN CLASSICS 2344692 [72:16][DM]

A decent disc, but EMI could learn a thing or two from Naxos here ... see Full Review

Classical Beatles The Songs of Lennon & McCartney & George Harrison Various artists rec. 1966–2007 EMI CLASSICS 2167842 [73:14 + 73:58][GF]

Something for everyone here – except those with long ears ... see Full Review

The King’s Singers Live at the BBC Proms The King’s Singers rec. 2008 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD150 [64:09][JS] 

An essential purchase for confirmed fans ... see Full Review

Resonanser Swedish Choral Music – New Perspectives Allmänna Sången/Cecilia Rydinger Alin rec. 2008 BIS-CD-1714 [56:54][GF]

New wine in old bottles – and already matured ... see Full Review

 

 


Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
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[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[Last 5 days] [Recommended recordings]


 



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