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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday November 8th 

Béla BARTOK (1881-1945) Bluebeard’s Castle - John Relyea, Michelle DeYoung, Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5237 SACD [58:56] [MR] A stunning recording and a riveting interpretation but it is the orchestra which steals the show here.

Hans Werner HENZE (1924-2012) Heliogabalus Imperator - Anssi Kartunen (cello) BBC SO/Oliver Knussen rec. 2014 WERGO WER73442 [72.11] [MC] First-class performances of four fascinating and compelling examples of Henze’s characteristic sound-world.

Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825) Tarare - Cyrille Dubois, Jean-Sebastian Bou, Karine Deshayes, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP208 [3 CDs: 164:13] [SSi] This intriguing work will bring hours of enjoyment.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies Nos 2 & 4, Overture: Genoveva - London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2018 LSO LIVE LSO0818 SACD [69:04] [JQ] A desirable release to initiate a Schumann series from Gardiner and the LSO.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome - Birgit Nilsson (soprano)  Gerhard Stolze (tenor)  Grace Hoffman (mezzo)Wiener PO/Georg Solti rec. 1961  PRISTINE AUDIO PACO165 [78:35 + 66:55] [RMo] If the combination of Pristine’s enhanced sound and the Elektra bonus appeals, you need not hesitate.

Magnificat Glen Dempsey (organ) Ch of St John’s College Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD588 [58:44] [ST] Utterly praiseworthy.

Nordic Music Works by Grieg, Berwald & Nielsen - Ana-Marija Markovina (piano) Schleswig-Holstein SO/Peter Sommerer rec. 2017/18 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC17027 [63:32] [RC] There are better performances of the Grieg but the Berwald makes this attractive.

Shqipëria Në Art Albanian Piano Works - Marsida Koni (piano) rec. 2018 AULICUS CLASSICS ALC0020 [68:53] [PRB] Well worth considering for something a little different.

Thursday November 7th

Anton BRUCKNER (1824 -1896) The Nine Symphonies - Vienna PO/Claudio Abbado, Horst Stein, Karl Böhm, Lorin Maazel, Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta rec. 1964–74 ELOQUENCE 484 0204 [9 CDs: 567 mins] [RMo] Of great interest to the Bruckner enthusiast even if some of the performances here will divide judgement.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Nocturnes Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Requiem - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo-soprano), Rundfunkchor Berlin, Deutsches SO Berlin/Robin Ticciati rec. 2019 LINN CKD623 [65:01] [JQ] An unusual programme, but if the coupling appeals this disc is an attractive proposition.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) & Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Piano Concertos - Ivo Kahánek (piano) Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2017/19 SUPRAPHON SU4236-2 [59.34] [MC] Compelling performances which feel fresh and exhilarating.

Reinhard KEISER (1674-1739) Croesus - Dorothea Röschmann, Roman Trekel, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/René Jacobs rec. 2000 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM931714.16 [3 CDs: 188:09] [ST] Investigate with confidence and find your curiosity rewarded.

Michael PRAETORIUS (1571-1621) Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning - Gabrieli Consort and Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2017 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES CVS003 DVD [121 mins] [JQ] An outstanding and inspired musical reconstruction which brings the music of early seventeenth-century Germany vividly to life.

Giovanni SALVIUCCI (1907-1937) Serenade, String Quartet, Chamber Symphony - Ens Überbrettl/Pierpaolo Maurizzi rec 2017/18 NAXOS 8.574049 [83:05] [RHa] One gets the idea, but performances are serviceable at best and the sound is too dry.

Friedrich SCHNEIDER (1786-1853) Symphony No.17 Felix MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY (1809-1947) Violin Concerto, Symphony No.1 - Hiro Kurosaki (violin), Cappella Coloniensis/Sigiswald Kuijken rec. 2002 CPO 999 932-2 [77:53] [WM] A valuable reissue, both for an interesting work by Schneider and wonderful insights into Mendelssohn.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Sonatas No. 1-2, 24 Preludes - Andrey Gugnin rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68267 [79:27] [GPJ] A simply stunning recital of this wonderful repertoire.

William WORDSWORTH (1908-1988) Orchestral Music Vol. 2 - Arta Arnicane (piano) Kamila Bydlowska (violin) Liepāja SO/John Gibbons rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0526 [79:41] [WK] More Wordsworth, and very welcome it is.

Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) The First Recordings rec. 1955-59 PROFIL EDITION PH19030 [4 CDs: 247:42] [RC] Not only will Ashkenazy’s admirers covet this set but other keyboard aficionados might want to consider acquiring it as well.

Wednesday November 6th

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 2 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2019 C MAJOR 730604 Blu-ray [63 mins] [RWe] Bruckner’s Second arrives on film, and in a very fine performance.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20036 [70.39] [IL] John Wilson shows his enduring love and empathy with the uncrowned king of Light Music.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Clair de lune, Préludes book 2, Pour le piano, Deux arabesques - Katie Mahan (piano) rec. 2019? KM CLASSIC [67:33] [RCh] A vividly coloured, imaginative recital.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Samurai Marathon - The City of Prague PO/Richard Hein ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0135 [31.00] [MW] A poor value disc of tiny pieces from earlier works by Glass.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 - SO Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2007 BR KLASSIK 900179 [54.25] [MC] Warm and appealing yet overall lacking in penetration.

Bernhard MOLIQUE (1802-1869) Chamber Music (Volume 2) - Parnassus Akademie rec. 2019 MDG 303 2132-2 [72:12] [PRB] A highly engaging disc.

Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984) Gemer Dances; Down the River Vah; Pohronie Dances - Slovak RSO Bratislava/Ondrej Lenárd rec. 1989 NAXOS 8.555477 [71:12] [RB] Subtlety and fresh invention here but Slav dazzle and whirl are predominant.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Schwanengesang Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Vier ernste Gesänge - Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68288 [73:21] [JQ] A deeply satisfying disc.

From the Ground Up Luciana Mancini (mezzo) O/Modernt/Hugo Ticciati (violin) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD574 [55:25] [ST] Plenty of things that are commendable, but a potential that is not quite fulfilled.

Landscapes Works by Albéniz, Mompou, D Scarlatti & Schubert - Andrew Tyson (piano) rec. 2019 ALPHA 546 [61:55] [RHa] The seemingly bland title conceals a brilliantly conceived programme and pianism of flair and taste.

Tuesday November 5th 

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) Symphony No. 1, Capital of the World - BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20080 [70.26] [IL] Another wild, unruly, turbulent and brashly colourful Antheil collection.

Dora BRIGHT (1862-1951) Piano Concerto No. 1, Variations Ruth GIPPS (1921-1999) Piano Concerto, Ambarvalia - Samantha Ward & Murray McLachlan (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Charles Peebles rec. 2019 SOMM CÉLESTE SOMMCD273 [75:22] [PRB] SOMM should be applauded for making these undeservedly neglected works available to the wider listening public.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos. 1 & 9 - Lucerne Festival O/Claudio Abbado rec. 2012-2013 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30489 [60.12 + 63.06] [MW] A characteristic Abbado interpretation of the 9th, both sustained and deeply moving, but there are significant question-marks over the choice of edition for the 1st.

Grigori FRID (1915-2012) Double Concerto, Symphony No. 3, Two Inventions - Isabelle van Keulen (viola) Oliver Triendl (piano) Georgian CO Ingolstadt/Ruben Gazarian rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5353 [68:31] [RHa] The Symphony is formulaic Soviet-era fodder but the Concerto is of an entirely different order however and well worth hearing.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust - Benjamin Bernheim (tenor) Veronique Gens (soprano) Andrew Foster-Williams (bass-baritone) Flemish Radio Ch, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1037 [3 CDs: 174:28] [GF] A recording that should be in the collection of every admirer of this opera.

Lydia KAKABADSE (b. 1955) Ithaka - Cecily Beer (harp) Clare McCaldin (mezzo) Paul Turner (piano) Sara Trickey (violin) Ch Royal Holloway/Rupert Gough DIVINE ART DDA25188 [67:56] [RB] Thoroughly approachable yet not facile.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Méditations sur le mystčre de la Sainte Trinité - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573979 [73:47] [SB] The latest in Tom Winpenny’s Messiaen series offers a commanding performance on a splendid instrument.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Ricciardo e Zoraide - Pretty Yende, Juan Diego Flórez, O Nazionale della RAI/Giacomo Sagripanti rec. 2018 C MAJOR 752608 DVD [2 DVDs: 176 mins] [CRa] A feast of first-class singing lifts a forgotten opera to the heights.

A Baroque Christmas rec. 1976-2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908984.87 [4 CDs: 308:41] [ST] A bargain, but it’s more than just a stocking filler.

The Godfather Masters of the German & Italian Baroque - La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler rec. 2019 SIGNUM SIGCD602 [64:08] Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681–1767) Grand Concertos for Mixed Instruments Vol. VI - La Stagione Frankfurt/Michael Schneider rec. 2018 CPO 555239-2 [73:13] [BW] Very fine additions to the discography by two first-rate ensembles.

Monday November 4th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750), Johann Bernhard BACH (1679-1749) & Johann Ludwig BACH (1677-1731) Ouvertures - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord) rec. 2018 NAĎVE OP30578 [2 CDs: 130:12] [DJB] Concerto Italiano have opened my ears afresh to these glorious works.

Jimmy López BELLIDO (b. 1978) Symphony No. 1, Bel Canto - Fort Worth SO/Miguel Harth-Bedoya rec. 2018/1918/19 MSR CLASSICS MS1737 [75:47] [RB] Draws you back for repeat hearings.

Nancy DALBERG (1881-1949) String Quartets - Nordic String Quartet rec. 2018 DA CAPO SACD 6.220655 [71.08] [MW] Three superb and deeply moving quartets in outstanding performances.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Symphonies Vol. 3 - Margot Oitzinger (alto), L’Orfeo Barockorchester/Michi Gaigg rec. 2017 CPO 555 202 [68:58] [RHa] Don’t let Michi Gaigg’s lovingly turned accounts of Mendelssohn’s youthful experiments pass you by.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Boris Godunov - Alexander Tsymbalyuk, Göteborg Opera Ch, Gothenburg SO/Kent Nagano rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2320 SACD [62:24 + 62:50] [LW] Nagano’s Boris is well sung and played, but is it good enough?

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphony Urbs Roma, La jeunesse d'Hercule, Danse macabre - Malmö SO/Marc Soustrot rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573140 [67:25] [SV] Splendid performances in fine sound, though the Urbs Roma symphony may not be everybody’s essential Saint-Saëns.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Ian Bostridge (tenor), Thomas Adčs (piano) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186764 [72:26] [RC] An essential addition to your Winnterreise collection.

Lola Bobesco (violin) The SWR Recordings - Suddeutschen Rundfunks SO/ Hans-Muller-Kray rec. 1957-61 SWR MUSIC SWR19067CD [3 CDs: 185:01] [SG] Remastered archive recordings, well-served in this compilation.

Hugo Kolberg & Michel Schwalbé (violin) Legendary Concertmasters of the Berlin Philharmonic rec. 1952-65 MELOCLASSIC MC2039 [78:01 + 73:05] [JW] A valuable historical document.

Scintillate, amicć stellć Christmas in the Convents of 16th- and 17th-Century Italy - Cappella Artemisia/Candace Smith rec. 2011 TACTUS TC280003 [79:12] [BW] Let this recording of music chiefly by female composers, for Christmas but enjoyable at any time, lead you to other similar collections by this ensemble.

Other reviews
Bow to Baton - A Leader's Life by John Georgiadis publ. 2019 CREATESPACE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING PLATFORM [TF] A very entertaining read, providing a deep insight into the orchestral scene in London.