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Vocal Retrospective: Les Introuvables du Chant Français - Vol. 1 by Ralph Moore & Mike Parr

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Friday September 17th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Revelation: Alto Arias - Zvi Emanuel-Marial (countertenor) Shalev Ad-El (direction/organ) rec. 2020 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC21028 [54:58] [MC] An admirable collection of Bach alto arias performed with dedication and sincerity yet there are compelling alternatives.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Sonatas, Five Lieder - Ron Selka (clarinet) Aviram Reichert (piano) rec. 2020 TYXART RECORDS TXA20152 [56:05] [DD] A sheer joy from start to finish - autumnal works in first class performances and beautifully recorded.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Sinfonietta 1953, Adios Nonino, Tangazo - Variations on Buenos Aires, The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires - Lothar Hensel (bandoneon) Neue Philharmonie Wesfalen/Rasmus Baumann rec. 2021 HD-KLASSIK SC-862102 [65:16] [DC] A less familiar side of Piazzolla.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Prokofiev on the Air - Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Vedernikov (piano) rec. 1937 PARNASSUS PACD96073 [72:23] [JW] A rare Prokofiev broadcast and an ardent proponent of his music conjoined. 

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring, Petrushka, The Firebird - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2010-2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2905342.43 [68:44 + 59:57] [BW] High on my list of recommendations, with the added appeal of getting back as close as possible to the original performances.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre: Act 3 - Helen Traubel (soprano) Herbert Janssen (baritone) Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York/Artur Rodziński rec. 1945 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO180 [61:52] [RMo] Janssen might not be the ideal Wotan but this is a superbly sung and conducted account of Act 3 of Die Walküre.

A Tribute to Nicolas Kynaston Works by Karg-Elert & Widor - Nicolas Kynaston (organ) rec. c.1982-1984 SELBY ABBEY ORGAN MASTERS SAOM007 [75:38] [MR] A reminder of the sheer power of Nicolas Kynaston’s extraordinary musicality, given fresh life in some glorious new aural and visual packaging.

Thursday September 16th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No 4, Piano Sonatas - Pietro Scarpini (piano) RAI Roma/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1952-78 RHINE CLASSICS RH-020 [74:56 + 79:37] [SG] Performances which certainly do honour to the music.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Books 1 & 2 - Christopher Howell (piano) rec. 2018-2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00424 [78:42] [JF] A worthy addition to the many recordings of this wonderfully evocative music.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Perfect Fool - BBC Northern Singers, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1967 LYRITA REAM.1143 [62:24] [JW] Holst at his most quixotic and non-conformist in his pastiche opera.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Barbe-Bleue - Yann Beuron (tenor) Héloïse Mas (soprano) Chorus & Orchestra Opéra de Lyon/Michele Spotti rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE OABD7290D Blu-ray [181 mins] [DBi] A most enjoyable two hours of tuneful silliness.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 - B’Rock Orchestra/René Jacobs rec. 2019/20 PENTATONE PTC5186 856 [59:24] [CCC] A Sturm und Drang approach to Schubert brings moments of inspiration, but hit and miss performances overall.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Moldau, Overtures and Dances - The Cleveland Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi rec. 1993-1994 DECCA 444 867-2 [56:59] [RMo] A pleasing anthology of Smetana’s best orchestral music including a choral bonus.

Paula SZALIT (1886-1942) Works for Piano and Song - Elżbieta Tyszecka (piano), Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano), Michał Landowski (piano accompanist) rec. 2021 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0496 [42:35] [PRB] A lasting relationship or a one night stand – that is the question.

Variations Clare Hammond (piano) rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2493 SACD [70:59] [RHa] Crisp and committed readings of seven neatly contrasted sets of variations in impeccable BIS sound.

Wednesday September 15th

George GERSHWIN (1898–1937) The First Recordings rec. 1924–49 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC637 [73:58 + 76:50] [JW] A foundation stone of pioneering Gershwin on 78s.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1971) The Soldier’s Tale, Duo Concertant, Élégie - Isabelle Faust (violin), Alexander Melnikov (piano) and ensemble rec. 2019-2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM992671 [76:57] [DMD] A beguiling period instrument version brings Stravinsky vividly to life.

Ad Illam Susana Gómez Vázquez (piano) rec. 2020 EUDORA EUD-SACD-2104 [59:56] [NB] A competent but ultimately uncompelling recital.

Crépuscule British music for flute, viola and harp - Aurora Trio rec. 2020 EM RECORDS EMRCD069 [76:52] [JF] The performance and production cannot be faulted: each work is played perfectly, with skill, thought and enthusiasm (when appropriate).

Isolation Songbook Helen Charlston (mezzo) Michael Craddock (baritone) Alexander Soares (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34253 [65:04] [JQ] A vivid and varied musical souvenir of the pandemic emergency.

Northern Lights Christopher Herrick (organ) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68376 [71:58] [GH] An entertaining and stirring organ recital on one of Europe’s most northern and most modern cathedral organs.

Sommernachtskonzert 2021 Igor Levit (piano), Wiener Philharmoniker/Daniel Harding rec. 2021 SONY CLASSICAL 19439904912 [80:44] [RMo] A thoroughly enjoyable, entertainingly eclectic programme but no audiophile’s dream

Tuesday September 14th

Ina BOYLE (1889-1967) Songs - Paula Murrihy (mezzo) Robin Tritschler (tenor) Ben McAteer (baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34264 [77:23] [JQ] These excellent performances give a fine overview of a song composer of genuine worth.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 3 - Bergen PO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2019 BIS SACD BIS-2464 [56:35] [RMo] Is this Bruckner for people who don’t like Bruckner?

Stanisław MONIUSZKO (1819–1872) Halka - Dominik Sutowicz (tenor); Magdalena Molendowska (soprano); Łukasz Goliński (bass-baritone); Poznań Opera/Gabriel Chmura rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.660485-86 [60:26 + 56:32] [GF] Any opera lover, Polish or not, should derive a lot of pleasure from this recording.

Johann ROSENMÜLLER (1617/19–1684) Magnificat and other Sacred Concertos - Ensemble 1684/Gregor Meyer rec. 2019 CPO 555174-2 [70:56] [BW] As good a way as any to begin to explore this fine music.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Karajan Sibelius - Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1964-1984 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4860651 CD/BD-A [5 CDs: 271:12 & BD-A: 196:47] [CSa] Quite outstanding state-of-the-art remastering.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) Symphony No. 1, Crown Imperial Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Suite for 4 Hands - Lynn Arnold, Charles Matthews (piano duet) rec. 2021 ALBION RECORDS ALBCD047 [61:50] [JF] This will strongly appeal to enthusiasts of both composers, and should be an essential addition to their collections.

Rafael Kubelík (conductor) Complete Decca Recordings rec. 1954-79 ELOQUENCE 484 1452 [12 CD: 789:10] [JW] Kubelík’s Deccas collected for the first time in handsome style.

Omegah 9 Horses rec. 2020/21 ADHYÂROPA RECORDS AR0001 [76:00] [DMD] An intriguing fusion of jazz, rock and classical.

Monday September 13th

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 7 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No 4 - Emanuel Ax (piano) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Haitink rec. 2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802304 [116:00] [ST] Bernard Haitink’s final concert in Salzburg: an essential document.

William BYRD (c.1540-1623) & John BULL (c.1562-1628) - Visionaries of the Piano - Kit Armstrong (piano) rec 2020 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0583 [70:53 + 64:09] [DMD] A sumptuous banquet of keyboard extravagance.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Mathis der Maler - Wolfgang Koch (baritone) Manuela Uhl (soprano) Slovak Philharmonic Choir, Wiener Symphoniker/Bertrand de Billy rec. 2012 NAXOS 2.110691-92 DVD [2 discs: 190 mins] [SB] Hindemith’s impressive opera well performed in a rather strange production.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921) & Adelheid WETTE (1858-1916) A German Children’s Songbook (excerpts) - Klaus Mertens (baritone), Hanover Boys Choir/Jörg Breiding rec. 2020 RONDEAU ROP6202 [71:03] [MP] Pleasant performances of unrecorded songs which are enjoyable as background music rather than intensive listening.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ - Chœur de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Myung-whun Chung rec. 2001 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 471 569-2 [35:05 + 64:46] [JQ] This tremendous performance, captured in superb sound, is fully worthy of Messiaen’s great vision.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Folk Songs Vol. 3 - Mary Bevan (soprano) Nicky Spence (tenor) Roderick Williams (baritone) William Vann (piano) rec. 2018-21 ALBION RECORDS ALBCD044 [60:01] [JW] Another superbly accomplished folkloric release from Albion.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Júlia Várady (soprano), Alexandrina Milcheva (mezzo-soprano), Alberto Cupido (tenor), Nicola Ghiuselev (bass), ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Leif Segerstam rec. 1980 ORFEO C210232 [47:49 + 39:31] [RMo] Várady shines in a fine Verdi Requiem rather compromised by muddy sound.

Henryk Szeryng (violin) Live in USA Works by Chausson, Hahn & Paganini - Boston Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Louis Lane rec. 1974/87 RHINE CLASSICS RH-022 [78:48] [SG] A fiddle player of sovereign instrumental mastery, refinement and artful musicianship.