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Recordings of the Month


piano music Vol 4


Songs of Love and Sorrow

Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN
Cello Concerto

The female in Music




From Ocean’s Floor



[New] Cello Concerto Project: 1971-80 - a new timeline by Patrick Waller

Vocal Retrospective: 2. Trial of the Titos by Ralph Moore & Mike Parr

Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben - a survey by Ralph Moore

Jonathan Leshnoff - an interview with the American composer by Lee Denham

Cello Concerto Project: 1961-70 - a new timeline by Patrick Waller

Passiontide and Easter 2021 - a survey by Brian Wilson


NEW from Acte Prealable
AP0500 Ride to a marvellous country - Katarzyna Dondalska, soprano
AP0479 Jerzy Gablenz - Songs 4

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Friday April 9th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul van Kempen rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC623 [67:20] [DD] Epic performances from a Golden Age restored in sound that enables us to enjoy them unabated.

Richard FLURY (1896-1967) Der magische Spiegel, Kleine Ballettmusik - Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra/Paul Mann rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0552 [65:23] [RB] A traditionalist well advocated in these works written with a melodious palette for lighter palates.

Jonathan LESHNOFF (b 1973) Piano Concerto, Symphony No 3 - Joyce Yang (piano) Stephen Powell (baritone) Kansas City SO/Michael Stern rec. 2016/19 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-739 SACD [60:21] [MW] Music which is both approachable and exciting from a significant composer.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Alimelek oder Wird und Gast - Jan Kobow (tenor) Lars Woldt (bass) Irene-Britta Stallmeister (soprano) Chamber Ch Europe, Württemberg Philharmonie Reutlingen/Ola Rudner rec. 2010 STERLING CDO1125/1126-2 [55:48 + 46:59] [MP] A valuable and reasonably solid premiere recording of Meyerbeer’s interesting first opera.

Per NØRGÅRD (b. 1932) Cello Sonatas Poul RUDERS (b. 1949) Bravourstudien - Wilhelmina Smith (cello) rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE1381-2 [62:21] [RHa] A compelling and surprisingly accessible collection by a pair of modern Danish masters.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) The Snow Queen - Scottish Ballet O/Jean-Claude Picard rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7284D [99 mins] [RMay] An inventive new production that might benefit from the odd tweak but still offers a highly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures - Quintetto a Plettro “Giuseppe Anedda” rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95904 [62:32] [MZ] Anyone looking for a different take on familiar classics will be interested in these vividly rendered works of frothy fun.

Margaret Marshall (soprano) Songbird - Rediscovered recordings from my career rec. 1974-79 Private release [76:13] [RMo] I urge all devotees of fine singing to enjoy this previously unheard testimony to the enduring appeal of Margaret Marshall’s lovely voice.

Music of the Four Realms Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonia of London HERITAGE HTGCD169 [77:26] [JF] A delightful exploration of favourite and forgotten British music culled from the Four Realms of the still-United Kingdom.

Sacred Treasures of Spain London Oratory Schola Cantorum/Charles Cole rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68359 [69:49] [JV] The pieces recorded here are treasures indeed, especially in these excellent performances.

Thursday April 8th

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Violin Concerto, Seven Early Songs, Three Pieces for Orchestra - Gil Shaham (violin) Susanna Phillips (soprano) San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2015/18 SFS MEDIA SFS0080 SACD [67:09] [MC] A valuable album to be savoured from start to finish.

Ernest BLOCH (1880–1959) Suite Hébraïque, Schelomo, Violin Concerto  - André Navarra (cello) Hyman Bress (violin) Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ančerl rec. 1964/66 SUPRAPHON SU3169-2 [69:02] [RB] Approachable music grippingly recorded and performed.

Daniel JONES (1912-1993) Symphonies Nos 3 & 5 - BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra/Bryden Thomson rec. 1990 LYRITA SRCD.390 [68:03] [JQ] Those who are collecting Lyrita’s Jones symphony cycle can add this latest release to their shopping list with confidence.

Orlande de LASSUS (1532-1594) Le nozze in Baviera - Ensemble Origo/Eric Rice rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.579063 [61:04] [MS] A joyful, lively and thoughtful collection.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1974-1951) Verklärte Nacht, String Trio - Donal McInnes (viola 2), Jonathan Pegis (cello 2), LaSalle Quartet rec. 1982 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 423 250-2 [46:28] [RMo] A reading of Verklärte Nacht sadly lacking in starlit magic paired with … something else.

Marco STROPPA (b. 1959) Miniature Estrose: Primo Libro, per pianoforte d’amore - Erik Bertsch (piano) rec. 2020 KAIROS 0015071KAI [63:00] [RHa] Demanding and invigorating – new music for a new kind of piano.

Francesco VENTURINI (1675-1745) Concerti di camera, Op 1 Nos 2, 9, 11 etc. - la festa musicale rec. 2019 AUDITE 97.775 [63:32] [JV] It is regrettable that the excellent playing is compromised by an unfounded addition of percussion.

Gems of the Polish Baroque Ensemble Giardino di Delizie/Ewa Anna Augustynowicz rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95955 [49.20 + 48.39] [MW] These are true, if unfamiliar, gems; a joy for anyone who loves Baroque music.

Wednesday April 7th

Claudio AMBROSINI (b. 1948) Chamber Music - Sonia Visentin (soprano) Ex Novo Ens rec 1988-1999 KAIROS 0015084KAI [65:51] A remarkable juxtaposition of the lush and the spartan.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) String Quartets - New Budapest String Quartet rec. 1992 HYPERION CDD22003 [157:03] [DMD] One of the best cycles of this endlessly fascinating music, still sounding great and an outrageous bargain as a download.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) König Stephan, Overtures: Fidelio & Leonora 1-3 - Bernd Tauber (speaker) Czech PO Ch Brno, Cappella Aquileia/Marcus Bosch rec. 2019 CPO 777 771-2 [70.57] [MW] König Stephan is worth exploring, but the overtures disappoint.

Marius CONSTANT (1925-2004) Orchestral works - Turner: 3 Essays, Brevissima, 103 Regards dans l’eau - Olivier Charlier (violin) Riverside SO/George Rothman rec. 2001/2006 DIVINE ART DDA25216 [64:36] [RB] Not for faint hearts but those who persist will hear a lyrical impulse given expression amongst the thrawn and thorn.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das klagende Lied - Brigitte Poschner-Klebel (soprano) Marjana Lipovšek (mezzo) David Rendall (tenor) Manfred Hemm (baritone) Wiener Singakademie, ORF Vienna Radio SO/Michael Gielen rec. 1990 ORFEO C210021 [62:10] [JQ] A valuable supplement to Michael Gielen’s existing Mahler discography.

Žibuoklė MARTINAITYTĖ (b. 1973) Saudade, Millefleur, Horizons, Chiaroscuro Trilogy - Gabrielius Alekna (piano) Lithuanian Ntl SO & Ch O/Giedrė Šlekytė rec. 2020 ONDINE ODE1386-2 [69:25] [HC] A fine composer’s portrait.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Works for 2 Pianos Vol 3 - Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) & Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano sonatas (arr. Saint Saens) - Hiro Takenouchi, Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2019 NIMBUS NI5997 [55:29] [RCh] Interesting arrangements in fantastic performances.

Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978) String Concertos - Georgi Badev, Dina Schneidermann, Emil Karmilarov (violin) Ventseslav Nikolov (cello) Bulgarian Ntl Radio SO/Alexander Vladigerov, Bulgarian Ch O/Pancho Vladigerov rec. 1970-75 CAPRICCIO C8064 [65:33 + 61:35] [JW] Brilliantly punchy and colourful performances of Vladigerov’s string concertos.

Lise Davidsen (soprano) Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi - London PO/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2020 DECCA 4851507 [63:28] [RMo] Often mightily impressive vocally but interpretively unvaried singing.

Galop! Orchestral transcriptions - Rachmaninov, Godowsky, Liszt & Stanhope - David Stanhope and his Orchestra TALL POPPIES TP265 [73:24] [NB] Interesting and effective arrangements compromised by sampled orchestra.

Tuesday April 6th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort II - Phantasm rec. 2020 LINN CKD657 [70:05] [PBr] Superlative chamber transcriptions, outstandingly well recorded - this second volume is an even greater triumph than the first.

Stefano GERVASONI (b. 1962) Muro di Canti - Aldo Orvieto (piano) Monica Bacelli (mezzo) Alvise Vidolin (live electronics, sound direction) Marco Luni (computer music design) rec. 2017-2020 KAIROS 0015082KAI [62:07] [RHa] Haunting and playful, this vocally infused electroacoustica from Kairos impressed this reviewer even without a translation.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets - The London Haydn Quartet rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68335 [77.04 + 76.25] [MW] A triumphant set of profound performances of six of the greatest quartets ever written.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE(1657-1726) Les fontaines de Versailles, Grande Pièce en G-Ré-Sol, Le Concert d’Esculape - Boston Early Music Festival Vocal & Chamber Ensembles/Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs rec. 2019 CPO 555097-2 [72:55] [SB] A delightful entertainment by the French baroque master, in an exemplary performances and presentation.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) & Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Violin sonatas - Fredell Lack (violin) Leonid Hambro (piano) Stadium Concerts SO New York/Alexander Smallens rec. 1949/1953 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1740 [62:33] [SG] The Hindemith and Copland make a welcome appearance on CD.

Johann Peter MÜLLER (1791-1877) Woodwind Quintets - The Richards Wind Quintet rec. 1976 CRYSTAL RECORDS CD252 [47:04] [GPu] Sensitive and technically assured readings.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Sonatas - Elina Christova (piano) rec. 2020 Private Release [63:41 +75:02] [RCh] Not my top choice but an impressive set nonetheless.

Alexander Afanasyevich SPENDIAROV (1871–1928) Complete Piano Works & Chamber Works with Piano - Mikael Ayrapetyan (piano); Yulia Ayrapetyan (piano); Vladimir Sergeev (violin); Demian Fokin (cello) rec. 2019 GRAND PIANO GP852-53 [2 CDs: 130:39] [RB] Grand Piano continue their strong Armenian line.

Sergio Fiorentino (piano) Live in USA rec. 1996-98 RHINE CLASSICS RH-015 [9 CDs: 673:02] [JW] A comprehensive and olympian overview of Fiorentino’s American concerts.

Visions of Childhood April Fredrick (soprano) English Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Woods rec. 2020 NIMBUS NI6408 [79:30] [DC] An unusual but entirely engaging production.

Monday April 5th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 9 - Christina Landshamer (soprano) Jennifer Johnson Cano (mezzo) Werner Güra (tenor) Shenyang (bass-baritone) Mendelssohn Ch & Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2019 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-741 SACD [62:44] [LD] A Beethoven’s Ninth of our times.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) & Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Clarinet Concertos Sir James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) Tuíreadh - Maximilian Martín (clarinet) O Sinfónica Tenerife/Lucas Macías Navarro rec 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34250 [62:49] [PBW] Fine playing but lacking in edginess where it is needed.

Claire COWAN (b. 1983) Hansel and Gretel, Ballet Music - New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Hamish McKeich rec. 2020 Private Release [2 CDs: 115:34] [PS] Fun-filled escapism at its best.

Giovan(ni) Battista GERVASIO (c.1725-1788) Sonate a mandolino e basso - Inchordis Ensemble rec. 2017 TACTUS TC720701 [55:12] [GPu] Will appeal to those with a fondness for the mandolin or a love of Naples and its music.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Songs - Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo) Bengt Forsberg (piano) rec. 1992 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 476 1815 [67:32] [JQ] This recital is as rewarding as it is enjoyable.

Jurgis KARNAVIČIUS (1884-1941) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 - Vilnius String Quartet rec. 2020 ONDINE ODE1351-2 [76:25] [JW] The first two string quartets by one of the foundational figures in Lithuanian music.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Complete Tone Poems - SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2012-15 SWR CLASSIC SWR19426CD [5 CDs: 357:16] [GPJ] Brilliant and often inspired performances of these great works, in outstanding modern recordings.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) The Freischütz Project. Highlights from the opera - Accentus/Frank Markowitsch, Insula/Laurence Equilbey rec. 2019 ERATO 9029510954 [79:35] [MC] Top marks for the audio version but the staging on the DVD is uncompetitive.

Joseph WÖLFL (1773-1812) Piano Concertos Nos 1, 5 & 6 - Yorck Kronenberg (piano) SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten/Johannes Moesius rec. 2006/7 CPO 777 374-2 [76:06] [RB] Amiable stuff: chipper, poetic and suffused with charm and calm.

French Duets.  Works by Faure, Poulenc, Debussy, Stravinsky & Ravel - Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne (pianos) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68329 [68:28] [RWe] Two fine pianists enjoy themselves in enchanting repertoire.