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Piano Trio Discography: Robert Schumann

Short Reviews & Second Thoughts: Spring 2020/1 - Part A ~ Part B by Brian Wilson & Johan van Veen

Beethoven 250, Philharmonia 75 and Decca 90: some recent Beulah reissues by Brian Wilson

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi - A survey by Ralph Moore

Listening Studio Report by John Quinn


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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday April 3rd

Jehan ALAIN (1911-1940) Organ Works - Thomas Monnet (organ)  HORTUS 180 [60:39] [MR] Magnificently recorded and very well played; shame about the booklet.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1, 3 & 4, Triple Concerto - Inon Barnatan (piano) Stefan Jackiw (violin), Alisa Weilerstein (cello) ASMF/Alan Gilbert rec. 2015/17 PENTATONE PTC5186817 [74.56 + 70.40] [CRa] The Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields makes its first foray into the complete Beethoven piano concertos with the classy Inon Barnatan.

Natanael BERG (1879-1957) Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto, Birgitta Suite - Jacob Moskopvicz (piano) Royal Stockholm PO/Per Borin, Swedish RSO/Stig Westerberg, Goran W. Nilson rec. 1976-91 STERLING CDS1019-2 [75:15] [EJW] It gives me pleasure to bring this unusual CD to your attention.

André Ernest Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Raoul Barbe-Bleue - Matthieu Lécroart (bass) Chantal Santon-Jeffrey (soprano) François Rougier (tenor) O Nord/Mike Fentross rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP214 [2 CDs: 87:01] [MP] An outstanding presentation of Grétry’s long-unperformed gothically-comic opera.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Symphonies Nos 2 & 3 - Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1332-5 SACD [61:40] [SB] Splendid performances of these now well-established symphonies.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot - Rebeka Lokar, Jorge de Léon, Erika Grimaldi, Ch & O Teatro Regio Torino/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2018 C MAJOR DVD 748108 [1:55:00] [WH] A fascinating staging of Puccini’s final opera, well sung and performed without Alfano’s completion.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Les Indes Gallantes - Claron McFadden, Sandrine Piau, Zaďre (soprano) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 1990 HARMONIA MUNDI HAX8901367.69 [3 CDs: 193:07] [MBu] A necessary addition to any collection of French baroque music.

Ryuichi SAKAMOTO (b. 1952) For Mr Lawrence - Jeroen van Veen (piano) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95389 [5 CDs: 344:05] [SSi] An enjoyable exploration of most aspects of Sakamoto’s music.

Richard STÖHR (1874-1967) Chamber Music Vol. 4 - Conor Nelson (flute) Mary Siciliano (piano) Velda Kelly, Priscilla Johnson, Judith Teasdle (violin) Susan Schreiber (viola) Stefan Koch (cello) rec. 2014-19 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0536 [66:39] [JW] Lyrically generous, well-proportioned and backward looking.

Thursday April 2nd

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas - Alexander Schneider (violin) rec. 1949 BIDDULPH LAB2055 [2 CDs: 143:38] [JW] A real rarity.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Leonore - Zürcher Sing-Akademie, Freiburger Barockorchester/René Jacobs rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902414.15 [70:10 + 69:57] [MSZ] Despite a few shortcomings, this Leonore is a very welcome addition to a Beethoven library.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One Who Disappeared - Pavol Breslik (tenor) Robert Pechanec (piano) rec. 2019 ORFEO C989201 [52:29] [RWe] An excellent performance of the main work, but there is no English translation of the texts.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin - Georg Zeppenfeld (bass) Piotr Beczała (tenor) Anja Harteros (soprano) Ch & O der Bayreuther Festspiele/Christian Thielemann rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0735616 DVD [209 mins] [MC] Beczała and Harteros give exceptional performances but the staging is staid and often ludicrous.

The French Romantic Experience rec. 2008-19 BRU ZANE BZ2001 [10 CDs: 732:54] [MBu] A music lover’s collection should not be without this set.

Fuoco di gioia! Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ivan Repušić rec. 2019 BR KLASSIK 900329 [79:55] [MC] This well-filled album of famous choruses is a treat for opera lovers.

Jin Yin Yihan Chen (pipa), Cynthia Yeh (percussion), Emma Gerstein (flute and piccolo), Civitas Ensemble rec. 2018/2019 CEDILLE CDR90000193 [77:19] [MR] Five outstanding works combining Chinese and Western concepts and sounds, performed with exceptional intensity and commitment.

Mateusz Kowalski (guitar) Classical Guitarist rec. 2018 CD ACCORD ACD251-2 [56:08] [GF] Lovers of guitar music should invest without delay.

Ton sur ton Vlaams Radiokoor/Bart van Reyn rec. 2019 EVIL PENGUIN CLASSICS EPRC0033 [56:09] [JQ] The singing on this disc is absolutely exemplary in every respect.

Wednesday April 1st

Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Chamber works - Jaga Klimaszewska (violin) Mateusz Rettner (piano) rec. 2019 DUX 1561 [66:46] [JW] A cleverly selected programme given youthful, invigorating performances.

Carl Heinrich GRAUN (1704-1759)/Johann Gottlieb GRAUN (1703-1771) Apollo & Dafne - Hannah Morrison (soprano) Main-Barock O rec. 2019 ACCENT ACC 24362 [68:03] [JV] There is little wrong with the playing and singing, but the dramatic aspects are seriously underexposed.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets Vol. 11 - Leipzig String Qt rec. 2019 MDG 3072141-2 [65:51] [DD] A pleasant surprise: early Haydn in fine performances.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Nos 16 & 17 - Sviatoslav Richter (piano) rec. 1956-1957 ALTO ALC1415 [78:54] [RMo] Indispensable to Richter devotees.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) & Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Double Concertos - Giuliano Carmignola (violin), Mario Brunello (violoncello piccolo); Accademia dell’Annunciata/Riccardo Doni rec. 2018 ARCANA A472 [69:57] [BW]  Music of infinite variety that works well in these very enjoyable adaptations.

Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) Street Scene - Patricia Racette, Paulo Szot, Ch & O Teatro Real Madrid/Tim Murray rec. 2018 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC162 DVD [160 mins] [MP] An excellent cast and illuminating production make the strongest case possible for Weill’s powerful score.

Alle menschen werden brüder  Uwaga!, Folkwang Kammer O/Johannes Klumpp rec. 2018 ARS PRODUCTION ARS38266 SACD [62:19] [GF] Rather impertinent treatment of Beethoven’s music executed with total professionalism.

Family Connections Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 1993 NIMBUS NI6395 [64:14] [MBu] A charming idea.

Winter Corina Marti (recorder, clavisimbalum, organetto) Marie Nishiyama (harp) Roger Helou (organetto) rec. 2016 AYROS CD04 [61.42] [GH] A very interesting and imaginative collection.

Tuesday March 31st

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas & Partitas - Tomás Cotik (violin) rec. 2019 CENTAUR CRC3755/6 [57:43 + 60:50] [RMas] Lithe and efficient Bach.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concerto No. 2, Rhapsodies Nos 1 & 2 - Baiba Skride (violin) WDR SO Köln/Eivind Aadland rec. 2017 ORFEO C950191 [57:45] [SSi] Even if this is not my first choice, it is a welcome and enjoyable performance which I will be revisiting.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets - Juilliard String Quartet rec. 1964-1970 SONY CLASSICS 19075992332 [9 CDs: 505:33] [RMo] Much to offer.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 1, Ballades - Royal Northern Sinfonia/Lars Vogt (piano) rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1330-2 [72:14] [MG] A triumphant vindication of Vogt’s courage in taking on the role of piano-conductor.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Concertos Vol. 5 -Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20137(2) [60.49 + 64.22] [CRa] These are discs to treasure, and play often.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Symphony No. 2 Asrael - Bavarian RSO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900188 [62:43] [MC] A first-rate recording.

Concertos From 19th Century Denmark Works by Barth, Gade & Kuhlau - Lisa Maria Cooper, Flemming Aksnes (French horn) Oliver Nordahl (oboe) Ian van Rensburg (violin) Aarhus SO/Jean Thorel rec. 2018 DACAPO SACD 6.220664 [53:56] [DJB] Elegant and tuneful music, the non-concerto Overture being the pick.

The Early Horn Ursula Paludan Monberg (horn) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68289 [78:32] [MR] Early examples of the horn in a concertante role, expertly delivered by a leading exponent of the natural horn.

Ignaz Friedman (piano) Complete Recordings 1923-1941 DANACORD DACOCD861-864 [6 CDs: 336 mins] [JW] All pianophiles must know they need Friedman’s discs.

Monday March 30th

Nadia BOULANGER (1887-1979) & Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918) Clairičres - Nicholas Phan (tenor) Myra Huang (piano) rec. 2019 AVIE AV2414 [53:17] [NB] The music is important but the style of singing suggests a try-before-you-buy approach.

Alma DEUTSCHER (b. 2005) From My Book of Melodies - Alma Deutscher (piano) rec. 2019 SONY CLASSICAL 19075990192 [50:36] [MBu] Confirms her undoubtedly rightful footing in the serious, contemporary classical music world.

Samuil FEINBERG (1890-1962) Piano Sonatas No. 1-6 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68233 [74:33] [JW] Hamelin powerfully resolves all the technical complications and dramatic conflicts embedded in these intense works.

Poul RUDERS (b. 1949) Piano Concerto No. 3, Cembal d’amore, Kafkapriccio - Anne-Marie McDermott (piano) Odense SO/Benjamin Shwartz, Andreas Delfs rec. 2016/18 BRIDGE 9531 [59:34] [RHa] Credit to Bridge for annotating Ruders’ every move.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphony No. 3 Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Organ Concerto - Iveta Apkalna (organ) Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2019 BR KLASSIK 900178 [60.47] [MC] Iveta Apkalna performs with sparkle and resolve.

Eric WHITACRE (b. 1970) Marimba Quartets - Joby Burgess, Sam Wilson (marimba & vibraphone), Calum Huggan, Rob Farrer (marimba) rec. 2019 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD625 [21:29] [SA] If you are a marimba fan you will love this sumptuous sounding disc.

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Der Traumgörge - Pamela Coburn, Janis Martin (soprano), Josef Protschka (tenor), Hartmut Welker (baritone), Frankfurt RSO/Gerd Albrecht rec. 1987 CAPRICCIO C5395 [48:19 + 62:39] [PCG] A reissue of a well performed Zemlinsky rarity but with woefully lacking documentation.

Escales Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5252 SACD [79:05] [SB] A delightful collection and a real winner.

Royal Brass Music Maurice André & Jean Pirot (trumpets), Thurston Dart (director), Robert Veyron-Lacroix (harpsichord continuo), Ensemble Orchestral de L’Oiseau Lyrique/Pierre Colombo rec. 1956/58 ELOQUENCE 482 8527 [73:29] [RMas] A pleasant listening experience.

Other reviews
Jón Leifs and the Musical Invention of Iceland by Árni Heimir Ingólfsson publ. 2019 Indiana University Press [DBi] Of importance because there is so little else published on Leifs.