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[New] Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov - a survey by Ralph Moore

[New] Second Thoughts & Short Reviews Winter 2019-2 by Brian Wilson & Dan Morgan

[New] Martin Dalby - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

Berlioz's Les Troyens - a survey by Ralph Moore

Wagner's Ring cycle - a survey by Ralph Moore

A revival of Parry's Judith by John Quinn

Stanfordian Thoughts 9: His most played work by Christopher Howell


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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday February 15th

Samuel ANDREYEV (b. 1981) Music With No Edges - HANATSUmiroir rec 2016/18 KAIROS KAI0015025 [77:47] [RHa] Andreyev’s music is communicative yet challenging; it’s also rather unusual.

Louis AUBERT (1877-1968) Works for violin & piano - Stéphanie Moraly (violin) Romain David (piano) rec. 2018 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC166 [74:59] [SG] Captivating scores by a neglected composer.

John BUCKLEY (b. 1951) To the Northeast - Mornington Singers/Orla Flanagan rec. 2018 DIVINE ART DDA25187 [59:29] [JF] It is already shaping up to be one of my major discoveries of the year.

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Hummel Edition rec. 1995-2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95792 [20 CDs:] [SSi] An excellent collection which is sure to bring anyone interested in this period of music many hours of enjoyment.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Cello Concerto Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Tout un monde lointain - Johannes Moser (cello) Rundfunk-SO Berlin/Thomas Sřndergĺrd rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186689 SACD [53:52] [LW] Superb accounts of Lutosławski and Dutilleux cello concertos on a disc of short measure.

Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (1819-1872) Songs -Leszek Skrla (baritone) Anna Mikolon (piano) rec. 2018 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0435 [60:45] [GF] The programme is pleasing, but I am less enthusiastic about the singing.

Percy SHERWOOD (1866-1939) Suite & Sonata for 2 pianos Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Grosses Duo - Parnassius Piano Duo rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD.368 [79:01] [JW] There’s nothing to dislike here and much to admire.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung - Gun-Brit Barkmin (soprano) Daniel Brenna (tenor) Hong Kong Philharmonic Ch & O/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.660428-31 [4 CDs: 263:42] [PCG] At its super-budget price, it has much going for it, though some shortcomings in the singing means that it is not competitive against the best.

Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1872-1942) Eine florentinische Tragödie - Heidi Brunner (soprano) Wolfgang Koch (baritone) Charles Reid (tenor) ORF Vienna RSO/Bertrand de Billy rec. 2010 CAPRICCIO C5325 [52.18] [MC] A dramatic and suitably decadent depiction.

Roger Sayer (organ) The Grand Organ of Temple Church - rec. 2018 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100090 [74:15] [MR] Roger Sayer has achieved the near-impossible of rendering this heavyweight programme accessible.

Thursday February 14th

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Chamber Music with Harp and Guitar - Karolos rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573857 [81:57] [WH] Finely crafted music in performances that could not be bettered.

Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812) The Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 4 - Tuija Hakkila (fortepiano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95604 [61:24] [RHa] Well-played accounts of sonatas encompassing the under-rated Dussek’s entire career.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-47) & Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-76) Violin Concertos Peter Ilich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-93) Sérénade mélancolique - Sebastian Bohren (violin) Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2017 RCA RED SEAL 19075871142 [70.21] [PCG] Admirers of the soloist will rush to acquire such a superb representation of his art.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Phoenix Rising, Loch Ness, Poets in Love - BBC Ntl O Wales/William Boughton rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD372 [62:49] [JQ] The whole disc is rewarding but Phoenix Rising is something special.

Franz REIZENSTEIN (1911-1968) & Berthold GOLDSCHMIDT (1903-1996) Cello Concertos - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Konzerthausorchester Berlin/Nicholas Milton rec. 2016/17 CPO 555 109-2 [56.06] [MC] Definitely worth exploring; the Reizenstein is a real discovery.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958), Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) & André PRÉVOST (1934-2001) Violin Sonatas - Hélčne Collerette (violin) Anne Le Bozec (piano) rec. 2016 RADIO FRANCE SIG11107 [64:11] [SG] Convincing performances of remarkable works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) A Lost World - Susanna Phillips (soprano), Shenyang (bass), Brian Zeger (piano) rec. 2017 DELOS DE3544 [66:25] [GF] Both singers have good insights but neither of them have really attractive voices.

Jennifer Pike (violin) The Polish Violin - Petr Limonov (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20082 [75:16] [MR] Remarkable variety and quality from both composers and performers.

George Szell Conducts Czech Music Works by Dvořák & Smetana - NBC SO George Szell rec. 1941 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC543 [76:37] [JW] This exciting but uneven concert preserves Szell’s virtues as well as his occasional weaknesses.

The Wagon of Life Mark Rowlinson (baritone) Peter Lawson (piano) rec. 2003 DIVERSIONS DDV24168 [79.24] [JF] This reissue will be of great interest to all those enthusiasts of song who missed this disc first time around.

Wednesday February 13th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin - Dénes Zsigmondy (violin) rec. 1995 PALADINO PMR0093 [68:01+77:26] [SG] A thoroughly enriching experience.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Works for piano & orchestra - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Gregor Bühl rec. 2017/18 CAPRICCIO C5345 [65:35] [JQ] Admirers of the composer should not hesitate.

Orazio COLOMBANO (c1554-after 1595) Psalms for six voices - Cappella Musicale della Cattedrale di Vercelli/Denis Silano rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95839 [77:48] [JV] Very fine music, very well performed.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848) Messa di Requiem - Ch & O Donizetti Opera/Corrado Rovaris rec. 2017 DYNAMIC CDS7813 [69:59] [GF] An attractive work that should be heard more often, and given an excellent performance here.

Erik Gustaf GEIJER (1783-1874) & Andreas RANDEL (1806-1864) String Quartets - Norrköpingskvartetten rec. 1977 STERLING CDA1829-2 [65:55] [SSi] Let us hope that Sterling mine Swedish Radio’s archives further to come up with more gems like this.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 5 - Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902366 [73:23] [ST] Very good, but not quite up there with the best.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies, Concertos & Serenades - Südwestfunk-O Baden-Baden/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1951-62 SWR MUSIC SWR19066CD [9 CDs: 570 mins] [JW] A successful and valuable collection.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Woodwind Quintet György LIGETI (1923-2006) Bagatelles Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12 - Ens Ouranos rec. 2018 NOMADMUSIC NMM056 [61:55] [MC] One of the finest albums of wind music I have had the pleasure of hearing for some time.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies No. 2 & 3 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2016 LPO LPO0109 [77:03] [RC] Here’s a case where live performances clearly stand with the best studio efforts.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung - Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Hans Hopf (tenor) Metropolitan Opera Ch & O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1962 PRISTINE CLASSICAL PACO156 [4 CDs: 245:15] [RMo] The cycle closes with what is in many ways the best performance of all.

Tuesday February 12th

Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897) Complete Opera Transcriptions - Anca Vasile Caraman (violin), Alessandro Trebeschi (piano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95674 [5 CDs: 307:06] [SSi] A lot here to enjoy.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Quartets - The Dvořák Piano Qt rec. 2018 SUPRAPHON SU42572 [72:48] [NB] For all its undoubted qualities, it would be hard to suggest that this supplants other versions in either piece.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KING’S COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE KGS0025 [67:40] [ST] This marvellous recording has helped me become a Messiaen convert.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria  - Furio Zanasi, Lucile Richardot, Monteverdi Ch & English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2017 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG730 [3 CDs: 185:10] [SG] Music-making of the highest order.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) & Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Fratres - Hein Wiedijk (clarinet) Camerata RCO/Jörgen van Rijen (trombone) rec. 2016/17 BIS BIS-2316 SACD [58:32] [RHa] Fine playing, if perhaps somewhat niche appeal.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No.2, The Isle of the Dead - Castilla y León SO/Andrew Gourlay rec. 2017/18 OSCYL OSCLY001 [75:12] [NB] A really excellent calling card for this orchestra and their talented musical director.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Lombardi alla prima crociata - Giuseppe Gipali (tenor) Lavinia Bini (soprano) O & Ch Teatro Regio, Parma/Michele Mariotti rec. 2018 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57826 [140 mins] [RJF] Fine singing from the principals and good orchestral support, but there are problems elsewhere.

Thomas Athanaselos (guitar) In Memoriam rec. 2017 Private release [51:02] [JW] Plenty of enjoyable things on board.

Messa per Rossini Ch & O del Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2017 DECCA 483 4084 [59:48 + 40:56] [JQ] An ideally red-blooded Italian performance of a work that is anything but a musical curiosity.

Elisa Netzer (harp) Toccata rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573835 [51.49] [MW] An outstanding debut recital from an exciting young Swiss artist: a must-buy for lovers of the harp.

Monday February 11th 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantata No. 21 - Bach Ch of Bethlehem, Bach Festival O/Greg Funfgeld rec. 2018 ANALEKTA AN29540 [49:03] [MR] Comfortable, relaxed and affectionate.

Pascal DUSAPIN (b. 1955) Wenn du dem Wind, Aufgang, À quia - Natascha Petrinsky (mezzo soprano), Nicolas Hodges (piano), Carolin Widman (violin), O Ntl de Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé rec. 2017 BIS SACD BIS2262 [78:58] [GH] The experience of hearing this disc lives with you for some time afterwards.

Miriam HYDE (1913-2005) Songs - Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano), Adrian Farmer (piano) rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD378 [63:02] [PCG] These songs require a greater variety of delivery to realise their strengths.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 15 & 16, Piano & Wind Quintet - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20035 [71:03] [RBe] Worthy to sit alongside the great Mozart concerto recordings.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4 - Daniil Trifonov (piano) Philadelphia O/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2015/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5335 [70:17] [MC] This has been a near permanent fixture in my CD player.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake - State Academic SO of Russia "Evgeny Svetlanov"/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186640 SACD [2 discs: 151.46] [DBi] A lovely performance, beautifully recorded, but there is strong competition from Bergen and Jarvi on Chandos.

Jörg WIDMANN (b. 1973) Arche - Hamburg State Opera Ch, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg/Kent Nagano rec. 2017 ECM 2605/06 [74:55+26:09] [RHa] Provocative, sometimes diffuse, often overwhelming, always absorbing.

Devy Erlih (violin) Volume 2: Works by Paganini, Bartok, Jolivet & Stravinsky - rec. 1973 DOREMI DHR-8071/2 [70:57 + 71:33] [SG] Violin fanciers will welcome these wonderful, musically informed performances back to the calatogue.

French Music for String Orchestra Ciconia Consort/Dick van Gasteren rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95734 [79:45] [SB] A valuable collection of lesser-known works.

 Carla Maffioletti (voice and guitar) Sentimental rec. 2017 Private release [38:12] [JW] A calling card for nice arrangements, deft performances and genial stylistic breadth.