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Friday February 23rd

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Symphonies (transcr. Liszt) - Yury Martynov (piano) rec. 2011-15 ALPHA 374 [6 CDs: 366:34] [RHa] A monumental achievement.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Children’s Corner, Suite Bergamasque, L’isle joyeuse - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4798308 [72:49] [SG] Seong-Jin Cho’s is a natural Debussy player, his myriad pastel shades and artful musicianship are arresting.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Music for Chorus & Orchestra - Brighton Festival Ch, BBC Concert O/Barry Wordsworth rec. 2016 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD267 [77:07] [NB] For a unique and valuable programme of Elgar that is sometimes vintage and never less than impressive this is a disc hard to resist.

Johann Peter KELLNER (1705-1772) Sacred Cantatas - Cantus Thuringia, Capella Thuringia/Bernhard Klapprott rec. 2015 CPO 555 159-2 [72:07] [JV] This disc offers the first opportunity to hear Kellner's cantatas, and I am quite impressed by their quality.

Robin de RAAFF (b.1968) Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 1 – Tasmin Little (violin) Radio Filharmonisch O/Jaap van Zweden ET’CETERA KTC1593 [63.53] [MW] A major contribution to the violin concerto repertoire, performed with insight and commitment.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Leonard Warren (baritone) Bidù Sayão (soprano) Jussi Björling (tenor) - O & Ch Metropolitan Opera/Cesare Sodero rec. 1945 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO143 [56:24 + 62:20] [RMo] Truly a souvenir of a bygone age.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Arias - Nina Stemme (soprano) Ch & O Wiener Staatsoper/Franz Welser-Möst & Seiji Ozawa rec. 2003-13 ORFEO C937171B [76:17] [ST] A collection of great Wagner singing done the way it should be.

Bach to the Future Works by Bach and transcriptions by Busoni, Siloti & Saint-Saens - Sabine Weyer (piano) rec. 2017 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38245 [61:38] [SSi] An interesting juxtaposition of Bach with three of his transcribers performed well by Sabine Weyer.

A Garland for John McCabe Linda Merrick (clarinet) John Turner (recorder) Alistair Vennart (viola) Peter Lawson (piano) rec. 2017 DIVINE ART DDA25166 [79:35] [JF] McCabe would have been delighted with this heartfelt tribute from his friends, fellow composers and former pupils.

Luctus Dorota Całek (soprano) Marietta Kruzel-Sosnowska (organ) rec. 2014-16 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0378 [51:19] [GPu] An accomplished recital by soprano and organ which testifies to the flourishing state of sacred music in post-communist Poland.

Thursday February 22nd

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas No. 30-32 - Mitsuko Uchida rec. 2005 PHILIPS 475 6935 [66:50] [RMo] Steely fingering and rhythmic buoyancy serve Beethoven’s propulsiveness well.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Triple Concerto, Symphony No. 5 - Isabelle Faust (violin) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Martin Helmchen (piano) Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2017 ACCENTUS ACC20411 DVD [78:15] [ST] It’s perfectly fine, but is that really enough?

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Stabat mater Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet No. 16 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Salve Regina - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Salagon Qt, Miriam Shalinsky (double bass) rec. 2016 CARUS 83.470 [72:08] [JV] Even if you already have a good performance of Boccherini's Stabat mater, this will surpass it.

Péter EÖTVÖS (b. 1944) Seven, Levitation, CAP-KO - Akiko Suwanai (violin), Richard Hosford (clarinet), John Bradbury (clarinet), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Gothenburg SO, BBC SO/Péter Eötvös rec. 2001-8 BUDAPEST MUSIC CENTER BMCCD170 [62:35] [LW] A varied programme of Eötvös concertos recommended especially for fans of the composer.

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Violin Sonata, Piano Quintet - Quintette Syntonia rec. 2016 TIMPANI 1C1241 [72:40] [SG] The Quintette Syntonia’s performances of these alluring scores are fired with enthusiasm and consummate musicianship.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) María de Buenos Aires - Valentina Montoya Martinez (soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Victor Villena (bandoneon) Mr McFall’s Chamber,  rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34186 [44:27 + 43:45] [RH] A fabulous outing for Piazzolla’s ambitious operita in an inspired collaboration between Scottish and South American forces.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Complete Piano Works - Sandro Ivo Bartoli (piano) rec. 2017 SOLAIRE RECORDS SOL1007 [46:19] [NB] A curious disc with considerable musical and technical merit, but will it get multiple listens?

Martin SCHERBER (1907-1974) Symphony No. 1, Lieder - Thomas Heyner (tenor) Bratislava SO/Adriano rec. 2009/16 STERLING CDS1113-2 [71:05] [MW] A sub-Bruckner Symphony, not without interest, but the real joy of this recording is in the wonderful miniatures of Scherber’s exquisite songs.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal - Christopher Ventris, Petra Lang, Royal Concertgebouw O/Iván Fischer rec. 2012 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72619 DVD/Blu-ray [248 mins] [ST] A production which will really give you something to get your teeth into.

Rolando Villazon (tenor) & Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) Duets - O Métropolitain de Montréal/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 6901 [61:22] [GF] Despite some reservations, this is an attractive recital.

Wednesday February 21st

Rutland BOUGHTON (1878-1960) For Joyance: The Complete Chamber Music for Oboe - Mark Baigent (oboe) Eva Cabellero (flute) Michael Jones (piano) Sophie Barber (violin) Chian Lim (viola) Stephen Orton (cello) rec. 2017 OBOE CLASSICS CC2034 [57:00] [JF] A beautifully recorded and played exploration of Rutland Boughton’s contribution to chamber music for the oboe.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824 – 1896) Complete Symphonies, Mass No. 3, Psalm 146, Organ Works - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2007-16 PROFIL MEDIEN PH17024 [18 CDs: ca 17 hrs] [RMo] Worth hearing and buying whether you're a Bruckner tyro or tyrannosaurus.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Books 1 & 2, L’isle joyeuse - Angela Brownridge (piano) rec. 2016 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72727 SACD [77:16] [DC] Very highly recommended indeed.

Simon MAYR (1763 – 1845) Miserere, Litaniae Lauretanae - Concerto de Bassus, I Virtuosi Italiani/Franz Hauk rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573782 [57:45] [GF] Readers who have followed this series can with confidence invest in this latest addition.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No.1 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Symphony No.4 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No.4 - Jan Ekier (piano), Warsaw PO/Witold Rowicki rec. 1967 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD15/2016 [71.46] [DBi] A live recording of a superbly exciting concert from 1967; the sound is remarkably good.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Coco Collectief, Maurice Lammerts van Bueren (piano) rec. 2017 ETCETERA KTC1592 [73:53] [RWe] No matter how many recordings of this work of you have, this one is worth investigating.

Mady Mesplé (soprano) - A Portrait rec. 1967-89 ERATO 9029577098 [4 CDs: 296:45] [PSt] Mady Mesplé is undoubtedly well worth getting to know; this compilation gives a very comprehensive cross-section of her work.

Modinha Pauline Oostenrijk (oboe/oboe d’amore), Enno Voorhorst (guitar) rec. 2017 COBRA RECORDS COBRA0060 [60.30] [MW] Elegant, charming arrangements – perfect late-night listening.

Sappho, Shropshire and Super-Tramp: A Collection of Modern English Art-Song - Sarah Leonard (soprano), Johnny Herford (baritone), Nigel Foster (piano) rec. 2015/6 DIVINE ART DDA21230 [77:36 + 79:05] [EJW] An interesting and enterprising set, celebrating English Art Songs by less well-known composers.

Viola Appassionata Ensemble Art d’Echo rec. 2017 QUERSTAND VKJK1710 [61:10] [SG] A programme which offers so much variety in terms of mood, emotion and instrumental focus makes for a most enjoyable release.

Tuesday February 20th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 6-8 - O de Paris, Vienna PO, Cleveland O/Rafael Kubelik rec. 1973/75 PENTATONE PTC5186250 SACD [45.42 + 65.31] [MW] An opportunity to hear Kubelik’s masterly Beethoven in state-of-the art sound.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Symphony No.1, Dance Symphony, Statements - BBC Phil/John Wilson rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5195 SACD [68:17] [BW] Don’t overlook Marin Alsop on Naxos in the two main works here but SACD and 24-bit download add to the strong appeal of the new Chandos.

Jean CRAS (1879-1932) Violin sonata No.1, String Trio, Quintet - Marie-Christine Millière (violin), Chantal Riou (piano), Trio Millière, Catherine Michel (harp), Thomas Prevost (flute) rec. 1988/2012 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR18M [70:19] [SG] French chamber music with a seafaring flavor.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Gerald Finley, Franz-Josef Selig, Bernarda Fink, Joshua Bloom, Elias Mädler, London SO & Ch/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0790 SACD/BD-A [165:47] [ST] Worthy to stand alongside any Pelléas of the stereo era.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Complete Piano Music Vol. 5 - Michael Korstick (piano) rec. 2016 SWR MUSIC SWR19044CD [76:32] [RWe] Those collecting Korstick’s Debussy series will surely want this final disc.

Christopher FOX (b.1955) Headlong - Heather Roche (clarinets) rec. 2017 METIER MSV28573 [74:02] [JF] Fox’s musical vocabulary is largely modernist deriving from the post-war Darmstadt movement.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) & Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812) Sonatas Vol. 1 - Minna Pensola (violin) Antti Tikkanen (violin/viola) Tuomas Lehto (cello) Niek de Groot (double bass) rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2317 SACD [68:33] [JWh] A lovely disc, well played and naturally recorded.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Manfred Overture, Symphony No. 4 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No.3 - Swiss Festival O/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1953 AUDITE 23.441 [66:10 + 30:39] [JW] A substantial sonic improvement on previous releases of this material.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 10 - Prague SO/Václav Smetáček rec. 1968 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD14/2011 [47.44] [DBi] An exciting performance recorded at a particularly tense time in East-West relations.

Vladimir Horowitz: Live At Carnegie Hall Vol. 2 rec. 1948 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM072 [79:27] [DC] Hesitate not – another unique Carnegie Hall date.

Monday February 19th

Paul CARR (b. 1961) Crowded Streets - Sussex SO/Mark Andrew-James rec. 1998 CLAUDIO CC4833-2 [69:54] [JF] A hugely enjoyable CD.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurkas - Eugene Mursky (piano) rec. 2015/16 PROFIL PH16100 [72.39 + 69.24] [MC] An uncommon music sense of phrasing, together with an abundance of rhythm and style.

Chaya CZERNOWIN (b.1957) Hidden, Adiantum Capillus-Veneris, Etudes - Inbal Hever (mezzo) Jack Qt rec. 2016 WERGO WER73552 SACD [70:55] [SG] Not for the faint-hearted, but perseverance brings rewards.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Rodelinda, Regina de’ Longobardi - Joan Sutherland (soprano), Raimund Herincx (bass-baritone), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Philomusica of London/Charles Farncombe rec. 1959 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO144 [63:24 + 72:02] [RMo] Lovers of great singing of baroque music who are tolerant of pre-period style need not hesitate.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Trittico Botticelliano, Il tramonto, Vetrate di chiesa - Liège Royal PO/John Neschling rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2250 SACD [66:26] [JQ] If you’ve been following this series, then don’t delay in adding this fine SACD to your collection.

George Frideric HANDEL (8685-1759) Rodelinda, Regina de’ Longobardi - Joan Sutherland (soprano), Raimund Herincx (bass-baritone), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Philomusica of London/Charles Farncombe rec. 1959 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO144 [63:24 + 72:02] [RMo] Lovers of great singing of baroque music who are tolerant of pre-period style need not hesitate.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1798-1828) Winterreise - Florian Boesch (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68197 [70:55] [ST] Altogether superb.

Orazio SCIORTINO (b. 1984) Diario di un poeta, Piano Trio, Piano Quartet, Piano Quintet - Ambra Piano Trio, Swiss Music Ensemble ‘New Wave’ rec. 2013 CLAVES 50-1724 [57:26] [JW] Music that is not always gracious, but it is serious and involving.

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Der Zigeunerbaron - Alfred Poell (baritone) Vienna PO/Clemens Krauss rec. 1951 ELOQUENCE 482 7371 [55:28 + 40:31] [GF] An established classic.

Midnight at St Etienne du Mont Works by Briggs, Duruflé, Tournemire & Vierne - Joseph Nolan (organ) rec. 2015 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD470 [78:31] [DC] Glorious sound and a well-chosen programme – proficiat!