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LATEST REVIEWS

Friday January 20th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets op. 50 - London Haydn Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68122 [75:35 + 73:16] [CC] A simply stunning release.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Daniel JONES (1919-1993) Symphonies Nos 1 & 10 - BBC Welsh SO/Bryden Thomson rec. 1990 LYRITA SRCD358 [69:44] [JQ] Two important scores available for the first time on CD and in excellent performances.

Joseph JONGEN (1873-1953) Symphonie Concertante, Passacaglie et Gigue, Sonata Eroica - Christian Schmitt (organ) German Radio PO Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern/Martin Haselböck rec. 2012 CPO 777 593-2 SACD [66.16] [GH] A worthy tribute all-round to a much neglected figure.

Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874) Copenhagen Tivoli Music Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Graduation Ball - Copenhagen SO/Lavard Friisholm, New SO/Anatole Fistoulari - rec. 1953/60 BEULAH 1PDR36 [71:50] [BW] A very attractive reissue.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Gerhild Romberger (contralto) Augsburger Domsingknaben, Bavarian Radio Women's Ch & RSO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900149 [35.49 + 65.39] [MC] The vastly experienced Haitink presides over a quite magnificent rendition of an awe-inspiring work.

George Frederick PINTO (1785-1806) Violin Sonatas Nos 1-3 - Elizabeth Sellars (violin) Kemji Fujimura (piano) rec. 2015-2016 TOCCATA TOCC0366 [57:24] [JW] A chance to hear chamber works by one of the great what-ifs of British music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Gurre-Lieder - Bergen PO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5172(2) SACD [56.12 + 46.46] [DBi] A top class performance and magnificent recording of this vast piece.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker, Symphony No. 4 - O Mariinsky Theatre/Valery Gergiev rec. 2015 MARIINSKY MAR0593 SACD [62:08 + 66:54] [ST] A disc for Nutcracker fans; the symphony doesn’t stand up to comparisons.

Amplified Soul Works by Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Bates, Visconti & Szymanowski - Gabriela Martinez (piano) rec. 2014 DELOS DE3526 [54:50] [GPJ] Playing of enormous poetry and commitment from this young pianist in a challenging and unusual programme.

Romantic Journey Haoli Lin (violin) Hai Jin (piano) rec. 2015/16 MSR CLASSICS MS1613 [51:35] [JW] Attractively reminiscent of older violin masters, but the performances themselves don’t quite bear such comparisons.

Thursday January 19th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Toccatas (arr. Reger) - Christoph Schoener (organ) rec. 2016 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM SACD 949 1981-6 [74:40] [DC] Plentiful rewards.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintets - Mandelring Qt, Roland Glassl (viola) rec. 2016 AUDITE 97.724 [54:55] [SG] Played with conviction and authority.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Divertimento per Fulvia Franco DONATONI (1927-2000) Musica Giorgio Federico GHEDINI (1892-1965) Concerto grosso Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882-1973) Oriente immaginario - O della Svizzera italiana/Damian Iorio rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573748 [63:41] [RB] Four varied works for small orchestra by Italian composers in performances that are alert and caring.

Francois COUPERIN (1688-1733) Trois Leçons de Ténèbres Sébastien de BROSSARD (1655-1730)
Trio Sonatas, Stabat Mater - La Nuova Musica/David Bates (organ) rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807659 SACD [70:32] [ST] Interesting and less familiar repertoire which deserves to find a wide audience.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Mitologia - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88875199812 [70:00] [GF] Rarely heard Handel is still Handel and rarely disappoints.

August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902) & Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) Orchestral works - Anhaltische Philharmonie/Manfred Mayrhofer; SWR Radiofunkorchester Kaiserslauten/Klaus Arp rec. 1995/2002 STERLING CDS1096-2 [51:07] [JW] It's the rarity value that gives this disc its cachet.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde - Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) Set Svanholm (tenor) PSO New York /Bruno Walter rec. 1948 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO137 [58:20] [RMo] I have little doubt that this Pristine remastering is the one to have now.

Natalia Andreeva (piano) Works by J. S. Bach, Franck, Rachmaninov & Shostakovich - rec. 2011/13 DIVINE ART DDA25139 [57:25] Works by Beethoven, Debussy, Prokofiev & Scriabin - rec. 2014 DIVINE ART DDA25140 [63:01] [JF] I look forward to hearing much more of Natalia Andreeva.

Juilliard String Quartet Works by Bartók, Dvořák & Mozart rec. 1965 ORFEO C927161B [77:01] [JW] Performances are heard in the best possible light.

Music of the Spheres Part-Songs of the British Isles - Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2010/15 BENE ARTE SIGCD904 [65:04] [JQ] A discerning and enterprisingly chosen programme of English part-songs, superbly delivered.

Wednesday January 18th

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le nozze di Figaro - Victoria de los Angeles (soprano) Christa Ludwig (mezzo) Walter Berry (baritone) Ch & O Teatro Colón/István Kertész rec. 1964 VAI AUDIO 1282-3 [3 CDs: 193:52] [GF] This Nozze, warts and all, has a great deal to offer opera lovers but there is also a fantastic bonus.

Ole OLSEN (1850-1927) Orchestral works - Latvian Ntl SO/Terje Mikkelsen rec. 2009 STERLING CDS1086-2 SACD [68:31] [JW] A fine showcase for these individual, enjoyable works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Johan Reuter (bass-baritone) Copenhagen String Qt rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD759 [76:00] [JF] Johann Reuter’s performance is stunning, and Krug’s arrangement for string quartet is a revelation.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 1-7, Kullervo - London SO/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2002-08 LSO LIVE LSO0675 [331:22] [BW] A very competitive reissue, but earlier Colin Davis recordings on Decca and RCA are also well worth considering.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má Vlast - Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2015/16 TUDOR 7196 SACD [81:11] [JQ] A very fine achievement.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie, Tod und Verklärung - Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2014/16 BR KLASSIK 900148 [75.10] [MC] A highly desirable album performed by an orchestra who knows this music so well.

Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585) The Tallis Edition Vol. 7 - The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68156 [76:59] [DC] Expose your inner monk.

Jessye Norman (soprano) Salzburg recital - James Levine (piano) rec. 1991 ORFEO C926161B [79:57] [RMo] Norman recorded in her absolute prime.

Pictures Works by Beethoven, Liszt & Mussorgsky - Yuko Batik (piano) rec. 2015 GRAMOLA 99083 [73:25] [DHu] Sumptuous piano sound, but playing that often verges on the robotic.

Straight from the Heart The Chansonnier Cordiforme - Ens Leones rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573325 [70:20] [SA] The songs provide a fascinating insight into the concerns of 15th century men and women.

Tuesday January 17th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 1 Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Oberon overture - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Staatskapelle Dresden/Bernard Haitink rec. 2002 PROFIL PH09036 [50:25 + 46:09] [MC] Beautifully played and recorded, these valuable live performances under Haitink have genuine authority.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Capuleti e I Montecchi - Clara Polito, Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) Federico Sacchi (bass) Danilo Formaggia (tenor) Bratislava Chamber Ch, O Internazionale d'Italia/Luciano Acocella rec. 2005 DYNAMIC DVD 33504 [136:00] [RF] This modern costumed staging does little for this opera of passion, sadness and sublime elegiac melody.

Michael FINNISSY (b. 1946) Singular Voices - Clare Lesser (soprano) David Lesser (piano) Carl Rosman (clarinet) rec. 2005/6 METIER MSV28557 [63:05] [CC] A superb release.

Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893) Cinq-Mars - Mathias Vidal (tenor) Véronique Gens (soprano) Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks/Münchner Rundfunk O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2015 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1024 [76:49 + 61:28] [GF] A bunch of roses to all concerned.

László LAJTHA (1892-1963) Symphony No.2, Variations - Pécs SO/Nicolás Pasquet rec. 1995 NAXOS 8.573644 [70:27] [SA] Pasquet’s knowledge and respect for the orchestra is mirrored in these performances.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Aubade, Sinfonietta Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Masques et Bergamasques, Pavane - Västerås Sinfonietta/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2013/14 dB PRODUCTIONS dBCD177 [66:15] [TB] Excellent performances and sound.

George Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Works for recorder - Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini (recorder & tenor chalumeau) rec. 2012-2013 ALPHA 254 [2 LPs: 74:09] [SG] Captivating performances, displaying flair and imagination.

András Schiff (piano) 5th International Tchaikovsky Competition - Moscow Radio SO/Dmitry Kitaenko rec. 1974 MELODIYA MELCD1002386 [66:08 + 78:41] [MR] The 20-year-old András Schiff giving glimpses of his true potential at the 1974 Tchaikovsky International Competition.

Baiba Skride (violin) Works by Grieg, Nielsen, Sibelius & Stenhammar - Lauma Skride (piano) rec. 2015 ORFEO C913161A [71:49] [JW] A most enjoyable recital with an interesting programme and played with both finesse and commitment.

A Tribute to J.S. Bach Works by Bach, Liszt & Reger - Kristian Krogs (organ) rec. 2016 DANACORD DACOCD773 [64:41] [JF] A rewarding disc of organ tributes to the greatest organ composer of them all.

Monday January 16th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto Edouard LALO (1823-1892) Symphonie espagnole Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Viola Concerto - Christian Ferras (violin) Joseph de Pasquale (viola) O Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet Boston SO/Charles Munch rec. 1958-1960 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1173/1181 [64:51 & 61:20] [SG] Valuable additions to the Ferras discography.

George ENESCU (1881–1955) Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2, Impressions d'enfance - Stefan Tarara (violin) Lora Vakova-Tarara (piano) rec. 2016 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38212 SACD [64:30] [SSi] These musicians prove themselves fine Enescu interpreters.

Heinrich von HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900) String Quartets Nos 1-3 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet No 1 - Minguet Qt rec. 2009-13 CPO 777 084-2 [72:12 + 56:28] [SSi] An excellent reading of three string quartets by one of Austria’s leading romantic composers.

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Guglielmo Ratcliff - Gianluca Buratto (bass) Mariangela Sicilia (soprano) O & Ch Wexford Fest Opera/Francesco Cilluffo rec. 2015 RTE LYRIC FM CD152 [60.28 + 54.51] [RJF] This is the first recording from the innovative Wexford Festival in Eire to come my way. Its presentation of this rarely heard work could hardly be bettered.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No.19, Symphonies Nos 29 & 35 - Maurizio Pollini (piano) Wiener PO/Karl Böhm rec. 1980 ORFEO C891141B [79:07] [MG] Late Böhm, with Pollini, has more spontaneity than the crafted polish of their earlier recordings.

Lille Bror SÖDERLUNDH (1912–1957) Kosteliga ting - Torsten Mossberg (tenor) Anders Karlqvist (piano) rec. 2000 STERLING CDA1657-2 [58:16] [GF] Excellent advocates for Söderlundh and his music.

Boris TISHCHENKO (1939-2010) Complete Works for Piano Vol. 3 - Boris Tishchenko (piano) Alexander Mikhailov (bells) rec. 1977/1983 NORTHERN FLOWERS NF/PMA99115 [67:20] [JW] Playing which shows flair and precision.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1873-1958) The Solent, Fantasia, Suite, The Lark Ascending - Jennifer Pike (violin) Sina Kloke (piano) CO New York/Salvatore Di Vittorio rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573530 [62:25] [JF] Excellent playing which reflects a great sympathy towards English music by this New York orchestra.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Le Quattro Stagioni Roxanna PANUFNIK (b. 1968) Four World Seasons - Tasmin Little (violin)/BBC SO rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5175 SACD [62:38] [JW] The two Seasons form a most attractive contrast and reflect well on all concerned.

Local Objects Zsófia Boros (guitar) rec. 2015 ECM NEW SERIES 2498 [42:23] [DC] Almost a crossover concept-album.

Other reviews
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - From 1893 to the World
by Andy Martin publ. 2016 BOURNEMOUTH DAILY ECHO [IL] A fascinating history in pictures of the world-renowned orchestra.