Some items
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Gloria Dei Cantores
All Night Vigil

Whispering Mozart

absolutely essential release

The best recording I will hear all year

Long awaited recordings

Absolutely enthralling

Left me longing for more

A superb 90th birthday recording

A top recommendation.

Superb advocacy

Tchaikovsky Sibelius


Complete ballet

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[New] National Discography updates by Mike Herman
British Symphonies
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[New] Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Spring 2017-2 by Brian Wilson & Dan Morgan

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Listening Report April 2017 by John Quinn


English Music Festival 2017 programme

For the first time in a long time we have new releases from Arcodiva see catalogue including:

LA BÚSQUEDA Barrios, Llobet- Michal Svoboda guitar
Après un rêve: Fauré, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, de Falla, Ravel, Schubert, Casals: cello and guitar
Way To The Sun Jan Vicar: Barbora Poláková-mezzo; Jií Pibyl-bass; Czech Children'S Choir
MASTERS OF BAROQUE - Guido Segers (trumpet)
HUMORESQUE - Beethoven, Dvorák, Haas, Fiala, Skoumal, Piazzolla: Viola and cello


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Publishing schedule
Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, other music); Friday: Articles.
Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard
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Friday May 19th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion - Apollo’s Fire/Jeannette Sorrell rec. 2016 AVIE AV2369 [33:08 + 74:34] Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski rec. 2014 ERATO 9029585405 [39:34 + 71:08] Crouch End Festival Ch, Bach Camerata/David Temple rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5183(2) SACD [34:33 + 75:44] [ST] Three excellent recordings; if forced to pick just one, I’d go for Minkowski because I found his overall vision so compellingly convincing.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) Tapiola Sinfonietta/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2014/15 BIS BIS-2078 SACD [63:16] [DHu] A disappointing end to the cycle ... or is it?

Barbara HARBACH (b. 1946) Orchestral Works Vol. 3 - London PO/David Angus MSR CLASSICS MS1614 [62:54] [DJB] Stirring and well-crafted music.

László LAJTHA (1892-1963) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6, Lysistrata: Ouverture prestissimo - Pécs SO/Nicolás Pasquet rec. 1996 NAXOS 8.573646 [68:11] [RB] The Naxos Lajtha symphony project takes another confident step forward.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) La clemenza di Tito - Kurt Streit (tenor) Karina Gauvin (soprano) Ens Aedes, Le Cercle de L’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer rec. 2014 ALPHA 270 [62:54 + 70:41] [GF] Although the competition is fierce, this recording by Jérémie Rhorer has a lot in its favour.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932) Symphonies Nos 9 & 21, Serenade - Brandenburgisches Staats O/David Porcelijn rec. 2005 CPO 777 120-2 [55:37] [RB] A sympathetic and inspired guide through so much otherwise 'lost' Röntgen.

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) A Sousa Celebration - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Kristjan Järvi rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5182 SACD [68.26] [DBi] A highly recommendable pot pourri of Sousa.

Virgil THOMSON (1896‒1989) Four Saints in Three Acts, Capital Capitals ‒ Boston Modern O Project/Gil Rose, Linda Osborn (piano) rec. 2013/15 BMOP SOUND 1049 SACD [55:40 + 51:48] [NH] Four Saints is a fascinating one-off worth reviving, but I’m afraid I found Capital Capitals just plain tedious.

Music for the 100-Year’s War The Binchois Ens/Andrew Kirkman rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68170 [76.35] [GH] A very fine release; beautifully recorded and presented.

Ignacy Jan Paderewski (piano) The American Recordings rec. 1914-1931 APR 7505 [5 CDs: 311:12] [JW] There is a huge amount to discover and admire, as well as occasionally to vex, in this generous set.

Thursday May 18th

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Ulenspiegel - Marc Horus (tenor) Christa Ratzenböck (mezzo) EntArteOpera Ch, Israel CO/Martin Sieghart rec. 2014 CAPRICCIO C9006 DVD [129 mins] [SSi] Give this production time, and the fine singing and the musicality of Braunfels’s score will win you over.

Sir Nicholas JACKSON (b. 1934) The Rose and the Ring - William Morgan (tenor) Robyn Parton (soprano) Katherine Crompton (mezzo) Concertante of London/Sir Nicholas Jackson rec. 2016 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6339 [68.51] [PCG] A curious mix of text and music; not to be considered as a contribution to the realm of modern British opera.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Olga Borodina (mezzo) Münchner Phil & Ch/Valery Gergiev rec. 2015 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS MPHL0001 [80:56] [MC] Gergiev underlines his credentials as a Mahlerian of some stature with this entirely compelling live account of the Resurrection Symphony.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Flute Concerto, Clarinet Concerto, Aladdin Suite - Samuel Coles (flute) Mark van de Wiel (clarinet) Philharmonia O/Paavo Järvi rec. 2015/16 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD477 [69:22] [LW] Outstanding accounts of the concertos, but the coupling detracts.

Ildebrando PIZZETTI (1880-1968) Symphony, Harp Concerto - Margherita Bassani (harp) National SO/Damian Iorio rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573613 [65:14] [RB] Unusual, provocative and satisfying ... a step into the open air.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber symphonies Nos 1-4, Piano quintet - Yulianna Avdeeva (piano) Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer (violin) Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla rec. 2015 ECM NEW SERIES 2538/39 [79:42 + 79:33] [DC] Very good indeed.

Władysław ŻELEŃSKI (1837-1921) Secular Choral Works - Zespół Wokalny Simultaneo/Karol Kisiel; Art'n'Voices, Podkarpacki Chór Męsk/Grzegorz Oliwa rec. 2016 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0363 [68:32] [JW] The choral forces are on fine form and are excellently drilled and directed in a pleasing acoustic.

Calvet Quartet Works by Debussy, Milhaud, Ravel & Samazeuilh rec. 1946/48 MELOCLASSIC MC4005 [79:43] [SG] I may be a first-timer to the Calvet Quartet’s playing, but I now count myself a convert.

Heimat Benjamin Appl (baritone) James Baillieu (piano) rec. 2016/17 SONY CLASSICAL 88985393032 [66:54] [ST] This comes as a slight disappointment after the singer’s previous recording.

Limelight and Limestone: A Singing Journey - Margareta Dellefors (soprano) STERLING CDA1693-2 [79:15] [GF] A very enjoyable retrospect of the art of Margareta Dellefors.

Wednesday May 17th

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) String Quintets, String Octet - Nash Ens rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68168 [62:48] [BSt] This new Hyperion disc provides the most appropriate coupling of these late works, and I shall return to it with much pleasure.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Works for piano and orchestra - Jan Lisiecki (piano) NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Kryzysztof Urbański rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4796824 [64:43] [SB] Splendid new versions of Chopin’s shorter concertante works.

Geoffrey HANSON (b. 1939) Odyssey - London Ripieno Society/Geoffrey Hanson; London Mozart Players/Geoffrey Simon rec. 2016 CALA CACD77026 [74:00] [JW] This is an excellent if belated showcase for Hanson’s compositional talents.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Monteverdi Ch, London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0795 SACD/BD-A [55:09] [JQ] An enchanting experience in both the audio and video options.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cinderella, 4 Pieces Kirill ZABOROV (b. 1970) Apparitions - Jenny Lin (piano) rec. 2015 STEINWAY & SONS STNS 30055 [62:56] [DM] Intelligent and imaginative music-making, coupled with first-rate sound; a few grumbles, though.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Complete Songs for Soprano & Piano - Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano) Maria Prinz (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573501 [46:39] [GF] A valuable collection of rarely heard songs excellently sung by Krassimira Stoyanova.

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882) Orchestral Works - Tobias Ringborg (violin) Tra Nguyen (piano) SO Norrlands Opera/Roland Kluttig, Andrea Quinn rec. 2007/9 STERLING CDS 1075/85/89-2 [76.52 & 77.46 & 79.52] [EML] I can applaud Sterling for its intentions rather more than for the finished product.

Kazimierz SEROCKI (1922-1981) Piano works - Adam Kośmieja (piano) rec. 2015 DUX 1284 [48:46] [DC] Well worth acquiring.

Jan ZACH (1713-1773) Requiem solemne, Vesperae de Beata Virgine - Musica Florea Collegium Floreum/Marek Štryncl rec. 2016 SUPRAPHON SU4209-2 [57:48] [JW] Excellent performances of worthwhile sacred works by a lesser-known Bohemian composer.

Samuel Barber: Absolute Beauty A film by H. Paul Moon ZEN VIOLENCE FILMS DVD [130:00] [RB] A rewarding documentary moving things along yet staying still long enough to inform, surprise and please.

Tuesday May 16th 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard works - Rafał Blechacz (piano) rec. 2012-15 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4795534 [65:54] [SG] This will probably go to the top of my list of Recordings of the Year.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Piano Concertos, Rondo Brillant - Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68138 [73:09] [BSt] Czerny has real limitations as a composer, but it is difficult to imagine a very much better performance or recording of this kind of music than is to be found on the present disc.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Roberto Devereux - Mariella Devia (soprano) Mansoo Kim (baritone) O & Ch Teatro Carlo Felice/Francesco Lanzilotta rec. 2016 DYNAMIC CDS7755.02 [64:27 + 66:24] [GF] I can admire Mariella Devia for her wholehearted intensity, but for a more solid performance go for the Naxos.

Balys DVARIONAS (1904-1972) Complete Works For Violin & Piano - Justina Auškelyté (violin) Cesare Pezzi (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573673 [64:24] [RB] Winning miniatures - some emotionally complex, some less so.

John JOUBERT (b.1927) Complete Organ Music - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0398 [58.39] [GH] A very useful and fascinating release especially for anyone with an interest in modern organ music.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Madrigali & Selva morale - Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 1908-1992 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908772.75 [4 CDs: 223:42] [SSi] A wonderful set, one which brought back many a happy memory and one that will bring many hours of enjoyment in the future.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze Di Figaro - Huang Ying (soprano) Li Ao (bass-baritone) O & Ch China Ntl Centre Arts/Lü Jia rec. 2014 ACCENTUS ACC20207 [2 DVDs: 193 mins] [RJF] In a highly competitive marketplace this performance is a non-starter.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Chamber Symphonies Nos 1 & 2, 5 Pieces for Orchestra -Matteo Fossi, Marco Gaggini (pianos) rec. 2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94957 [59:17] [DC] A surprisingly good disc for Schoenberg fans to explore.

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Concert Overture, Slopiewnie, Symphony No.4, Nocturne & Tarantella - Marisol Montalvo (soprano) Ewa Kupiec (piano) Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Karl-Heinz Steffens rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5280 [61:44] [MR] Despite poor sound and notes, this is a disc which all who have yet to experience the exotic wonders of Szymanowski’s music should hear.

Guillaume Le Dréau (organ) Works by Faure, Delvincourt, Rabaud, Emmanuel, Roger-Ducasse & Schmitt rec. 2016 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR37LD [65:55] [JW] A well programmed disc of French repertoire.

Monday May 15th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 3 (transcr. Liszt), Bagatelles - Gabriele Baldocci (piano) rec. 2015 DYNAMIC CDS7771 [71:52] [DC] Excellent performances and an interpretation for long-term listening.

Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955) Le Roi David - Lucie Chartin (soprano) Thomas Walker (tenor) Ens Vocal de Lausanne, O Suisse Romande/Daniel Reuss rec. 2016 MIRARE MIR318 [71:37] [JQ] A recording and performance that do full justice to Honegger’s highly original and very communicative score.

Hans HUBER (1852-1921) Symphonies 1-8 - Stuttgart PO/Jörg-Peter Weigle rec. 2001/02 STERLING CDS5000-2 [5 CDs: 335:55] [JW] Full marks all round.

László LAJTHA (1892-1963) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4, Suite No.2 - Pécs SO/Nicolás Pasquet rec. 1995 NAXOS 8.573645 [74.15] [BSt] We are unlikely to see better alternative versions of the symphonies for a while so this bargain-price disc can be welcomed, in spite of my continuing reservations.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Einsamkeit - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Markus Hinterhäuser (piano)
rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902243 [51:13] [ST] A remarkably successful and intimate experience.

John SHEPPARD (c1515-1559) The Collected Vernacular Works Vol. 2 - Academia Musica Ch/Aryan O. Arji rec. 2013/14 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1108 [77:00] [JV] Despite some reservations I commend anyone interested in English renaissance polyphony to investigate this disc.

Boris TISHCHENKO (1939-2010) Symphony No. 5, Concerto for Flute & Piano - Valentin Zverev (flute) Alexey Nasedkin (piano) USSR Radio & Television O/Maxim Shostakovich, USSR State O/Edward Serov rec. 1978 NORTHERN FLOWERS NF/PMA99111 [77:48] [CC] Wonderfully interesting music.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un Ballo in maschera – Piotr Beczała, George Petean, Anja Harteros, Bavarian State O/Zubin Mehta rec. 2016 C MAJOR 739504 Blu-ray [149.11] [MC] Compellingly performed with Piotr Beczała in masterly form.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wanda Luzzato (violin) Unreleased Recordings - rec. 1955/79 RHINE CLASSICS RH-002 [8 CDs: 510:00] [SG] Valuable recorded documents from the Wanda Luzzato Archive. I would encourage all violin afficionados to explore this compelling collection.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH The Masque of Moments Theatre of the Ayre/Elizabeth Kenny, Salisbury Cathedral Ch, Lay Clerks rec. 2015 LINN CKD542 [68:18] [GH] This beautifully recorded disc will no doubt be one of my highlights of 2017.

Other reviews
John IRELAND (1879-1962) Green Ways, Piano Sonata, Chelsea Reach, Ballade - Richard Masters (piano) Youtube [49:22] [JF] Masters controls the turmoil, intensity and tentative repose well.