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Friday July 21st 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Sextets Nos 1 & 2 - Roland Glassl (viola) Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt (cello) Mandelring Qt rec. 2016 AUDITE 97.715 [71:41] Renaud Capuçon, Christoph Koncz (violins) Gérard Caussé, Marie Chilemme (violas) Gautier Capuçon, Clemens Hagen (cellos) rec. 2016 ERATO 9029 588837 [76:49] [RK] Two fine recordings, though that on Erato is surely the most likely to give lasting pleasure.

Claudio DALL’ALBERO Polyphonia in Excelsis - Ch Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge/David Skinner rec. 2016/17 RESONUS RES10190 [72:39] [RHa] Ancient modes and contemporary harmonies converge in attractive sacred choral works from a new Roman master.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Das Leiden Jesu - Solistenensemble Ex Tempore, Barockorchester Mannheimer Hofkapelle/Florian Heyerick rec. 2016 CPO 555 071-2 [68:41] [DC] Significant discoveries even for Graupner fans.

Betty ROE (b.1930) Songs - Sarah Leonard, Anne Marie Sheridan (sopranos) Robin Tritschler (tenor) Stephen Varcoe (baritone) Nigel Foster (piano) rec. 2014-16 MÉTIER MSV28566 [65:52] [JF] Convincingly performed, this is a well-produced retrospective of the songs of Betty Roe.

Camilla SÖDERBERG (b. 1953) Endless Games - Johannes Thorell (saxophone) Magnus Sköld (piano) Sverrir Guðjónsson (voice) Camilla Söderberg (tenor recorder) rec. 2007 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD181 [71.24] [MW] An excellent example of electronic music with some striking compositions.

Elgar and his Peers Works by Elgar, Beecham, O'Donnell & Vaughan Williams - London Symphonic Concert Band/Tom Higgins rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD0170 [74:33] [JQ] This disc is valuable, especially for the welcome light it sheds on a less familiar side of Elgar’s output.

Medieval Songs and Dances St George’s Canzona/John Sothcott CRD 3421 [49:47] Merry it is while Summer lasts St George’s Canzona/John Sothcott rec. 1982 CRD 3412 [47:22] New Fashions Cries & Ballads of London - Red Byrd/Nancy Hadden rec. 199 CRD 3487 [66:22] [EML] All three discs can be recommended despite the outdated presentation and slightly unprofessional appearance of the booklets.

El teatro del arpa Sara Águeda (harp) Adriana Mayer (mezzo) Víctor Sordo (tenor) Calia Álvarez (vihuela de arco) Daniel Garay (percussion) rec. 2016 DUX 1359 [70:17] [JV] This disc is the best possible case for the harp.

Thursday July 20th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2 - Frédéric Desenclos (organ) rec. 1998-2001 ALPHA 819 [4 CDs: 249:15] [DC] New clothes for the ‘Old-Testament’.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Life: A Journey Through Time - The Hague Philharmonic/Carolyn Kuan ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0116 [58.36] [MW] An enjoyable introduction to the wonderful world of Glass.

Orlande de LASSUS (1532-1594) Requiem a 5 - Ch of Girton College, Cambridge/Gareth Wilson, Historic Brass of the Guildhall, London; Lucy Morrell (organ) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0397 [60.48] [GH] A compelling disc.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Great Mass - Kammerch & Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2016 CARUS 83.284 [56:06] [RK] A good and rewarding performance, though not the very finest around.

Paul PARAY (1886-1979) Chamber works - Eliot Lawson (violin) Samuel Magill (cello) Diane Andersen (piano) rec. 2016 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC155 [66:29] [SG] Paray’s gift for melody permeates these delightful scores.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Rare Piano Transcriptions - Julia Severus (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573468 [73:26] [NB] Admirers of this composer really need not delay - this is an excellent recital in every respect.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 – 1971) Rarities - Igor & Soulima Stravinsky (piano) Beecham SO/Thomas Beecham; Royal Albert Hall O/Eugene Goossens; Berlin State Opera O/Oskar Fried; Philadelphia O/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1916/38 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC496 [78:13] [GPJ] Fascinating early performances make this a ‘must’ for Stravinsky enthusiasts.

Vale Richard Craig (flutes) Cora Schmeiser (soprano) Distractfold Ens rec. 2011/14 MÉTIER MSV28540 [60:51] [JF] An interesting exploration of modern music for flute, voice and other instruments; the performances appear to me to be brilliant.

Wednesday July 19th

Judith BINGHAM (b. 1952) Organ Works - Stephen Farr (organ & harpsichord) Jeremy Cole (organ) rec. 2011/16 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10191 [69:13 + 53:49] [DC] An invaluable collection of Bingham’s more recent organ works.

Johannes BRAHMS (1883-1897) Complete Duets & Quartets - Juliane Banse (soprano) Ingeborg Danz, Iris Vermillion (mezzo) Marianne Beate Kielland (alto) Christoph Prégardien, Marcus Ullmann (tenor) Andreas Schmidt (baritone) Helmut Deutsch, Wolfram Rieger (piano) rec. 1997-2003 CPO 777 537-2 [3 CDs: 149.25] [MW] High artistry, charm and sheer delight – a set to enjoy.

Kenji BUNCH (b. 1973) The Snow Queen - Orchestra NEXT/Brian McWhorter INNOVA 977 [49:37 + 52:56] [DC] A highly effective new large-scale ballet score.

Pascal DUSAPIN (b. 1955) Item - Arne Deforce (cello) Benjamin Dieltjens (clarinet) rec. 2015/17 AEON AECD1756 [59:37 + 40:59] [SSi] This most valuable release confirms Dusapin as a leading French composer of his day.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) String Quartets - Meccore Qt rec. 2016 MDG 903 1998-6 SACD [57:09] [RK] Intensity and precision make for a notable performance of Grieg’s wonderful first - and only complete - string quartet.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Tommie HAGLUND (b.1959) Flaminis Aura, Il Regno degli Spiriti, Sollievo, Serenata per Diotima - Ernst Simon Glaser (cello), Julia Kretz–Larsson (violin), ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen, Gothenburg Symphony/David Afkham, Malmö SO/Joachim Gustaffson rec. 2012/15 BIS BIS–2025 SACD [83:46] [NB] Unique and powerful music, stunningly played and recorded.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Opera Omnia Vols 4 & 5 - NFM Wroclaw PO & Ch/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Jacek Kaspszyk rec. 2012/3 CD ACCORD ACD197-2 [66:54] [SB] Two more in this luxuriously produced series of Lutoslawski’s complete works.

Music of the Night: American Nocturnes Cecile Licad (piano) rec. 2017 DANACORD DACOCD783/4 [65:10 + 53:39] [JF] Cecile Licad is impeccable, absolute master of these diverse styles.

Tuesday July 18th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas Nos 6 & 9 - James Ehnes (violin) Andrew Armstrong (piano) rec. 2015/16 ONYX 4170 [61:57] [DHu] Impeccably executed performances, if not entirely for those who like their Beethoven with a little more cut-and-thrust.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4, Haydn Variations - Philharmonia O/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1952 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC377 [57:10 + 43:29] [SV] Important documents, and the performances they enshrine are first-class.

Leonid DESYATNIKOV (b. 1955) Sketches to sunset, Russian seasons - Brno PO, Lithuanian CO/Philipp Chizhevsky rec. 2014/16 QUARTZ QTZ2122 [58:50] [SA] Performances that do a marvellous job in bringing this composer’s music thrillingly to life.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets op. 20 Vols 1 & 2 - Chiaroscuro Qt rec. 2015 BIS BIS2158/68 SACD [74:34 & 75:08] [DJB] Good enough to convert non-believers to the authentic instrument side.

Franz LISZT (1811–1886) 12 Grande Etudes - Wenbin Jin (piano) rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573709 [72:28] [JWe] A magnificent recording of a formidable set of works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder Vol. 3 - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2014 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0088 [79:31] [JQ] A highly distinguished Schubert recital: artistry at the highest level.

Flemish Baroque Treasures Unveiled Works by Drymans & Kennis - Utopia, Euterpe Baroque Consort/Bart Rodyns rec. 2015/6 PHAEDRA PH92093 [53:54] [JV] Well worth investigation, despite the rather short playing time.

Véronique Gens (soprano) Visions - Munich RSO/Hervé Niquet rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 279 [55.43] [MC] With Gens in quite sensational form, this is an eminently desirable album of rarely heard French arias.

Monday July 17th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Franz Alexander PÖSSINGER (1767-1827) Violin Concertos - Anton Steck (violin) L’arpa festante/Matthew Halls rec. 2016 ACCENT ACC24320 [62:01] [CC] A most refreshing take on a well-known favourite, while piquing one’s interest in the coupling.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Heinrich Ignaz Franz von BIBER (1644-1704) Missa Alleluja, Nisi Dominus, Pastorella in A, Hic est panis - St. Florianer Sängerknaben, Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunar Letzbor (violin) rec. 2014/15 ACCENT ACC24325 [59:08] [JV] This disc is a treasure. Don't miss it.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12, String Quintet - Škampa Qt rec. 2015 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD110 [61:19] [LW] The Škampa Quartet delivers exceptional accounts of Dvořák’s ‘American’ works.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Vienna PO/Bruno Walter rec. 1936-1938 OPUS KURA OPK2118/9 [64:34 + 39:00] [SG] Newly remastered, Walter’s Mozart recordings sound vital and fresh, with depth and perspective.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Proserpine - Véronique Gens (soprano) Flemish Radio Ch, Munich RO/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2016 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1027 [55:32 + 39:18] [GF] A quality product indeed!

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Preludes - Sam Haywood (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68183 [69:41] [MR] The 48 Preludes in all keys bring Bach to mind, but stylistically Stanford is very much his own man. Sam Haywood masterfully handles these mighty miniatures.

Georg Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767) & Johann WALTER (1496-1570) Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott - Concerto Melante/Raimar Orlovsky rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985347982 [70:31] [GPJ] The brilliant young German ensemble Concerto Melante have come up with a delightful disc celebrating both Martin Luther and Telemann.

Pauline VIARDOT (1821-1910) Deutsche Lieder - Miriam Alexandra (soprano) Eric Schneider (piano) rec. 2016 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1878 [71:17] [SSi] A good disc, let down by the engineers in a few songs, but indispensable for those who want to delve into the musical art of Pauline Viardot.

Other reviews
Strings & Bass Florian Willeitner, Johannes Dickbauer (violins), Matthias Bartolomey (cello) Georg Breinschmid (double bass, bass guitar) rec. 2016 GRAMOLA 99140 [76:56] [DJB] Fine music across a number of genres, and brilliantly performed – just ignore the bonus track.