FEBRUARY 2010 DOWNLOAD ROUNDUP
Download of the Month
(1539/40-1623) Volume 13: Infelix ego
The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood rec. 2009
HYPERION CDA67779 [59:40] - Hyperion
(mp3 and lossless)
Finis coronat opus - the end crowns the work. This
is the final volume in the Cardinall’s Musick series of recordings
of Byrd’s Latin music, commenced by ASV and concluded
by Hyperion. It sums up in excellent fashion the qualities
whole series. I had received a hint or two that I should be
even more impressed with this final volume than I had been
10, 11 and 12, even though I made Volume 11 (CDA67653) one
of my Recordings of the Year for 2009, as also did Michael
Finis coronat opus, too, in another sense, in that the
final work, Infelix ego, which gives its name to the disc,
receives a stunning performance. Stile Antico included this work
on Heavenly Harmonies, a hybrid SACD of Byrd and Tallis,
which Michael Greenhalgh made Recording of the Month (HMU80
7463). By comparison with their time of 16:03, Carwood’s
12:53 looks implausibly fast on paper for this setting of penitential
words from the book of Job, with Jeremy Summerly and the Oxford
Camerata on Naxos also adopting a more sedate speed, at 13:54.
(8.550574, with the four- and five-part Masses).
In the event, I can only say that I was completely convinced
by the new recording. Indeed, it is possible to take this piece
even slightly faster without coming off the rails, as The Tallis
Scholars demonstrate; normally given to slightly more relaxed
tempi than most, they take just 12:20 for this work (CDGIM208,
The Three Masses and Great Service - see review).
I’m loath to choose between two such excellent performances,
especially when the Tallis Scholars’ recording of Infelix
ego is part of an essential 2-for-1 bargain on CD and download.
I can certainly say that neither sounds at all rushed to me,
whatever the comparative timings say. Listening to Stile Antico
immediately after the Tallis Scholars and Cardinall’s Musick,
I found their performance beautifully sung but a shade too fast,
while I was not troubled by the ‘earnest pace’ which
Michael Greenhalgh noted in his review of
the Tallis Scholars’ performance.
Elsewhere, the tempi of the new performances are broadly in
line with the ‘opposition’: for Hæc dies Carwood
takes 2:21 against 2:09, for Cantate Domino 2:09 against
2:08 and in Domine, non sum dignus, 3:06 against 3:33
on the Trinity College Cambridge/Chandos recording of selections
from the two books of Cantiones sacræ which I
recommended in February
Edward Higginbottom with the New College Choir, Oxford, is generally
faster than both Hyperion and Chandos recordings; he takes 2:39
for Domine non sum dignus, 2:38 for Hæc dies,
3:24 for Domine, salva nos, and 4:17 against Carwood’s
5:35 for Cunctis diebus (CRD3439).
I’m not going to withdraw my recommendation for those Chandos
and CRD recordings, especially as Higginbottom offers boys’ voices,
which many will prefer in this repertoire, but I think the
new recording pips them at the post.
The recording is excellent - go for the flac unless you must
have mp3. My personal view is that to play a recording of this
quality on an mp3 player, however good the headphones, is sacrilege,
but you can download the flac for burning to CDR or listening
via the likes of Squeezebox, and convert the tracks to mp3
or aac if you must also listen to them on mp3 in the car or
train. I’m somewhat biased, in that my mp3 player mostly
gathers dust, even though my car radio and Arcam Solo have
Don’t let the excellence of these Cardinall’s Musick
recordings overshadow Hyperion’s earlier Byrd recordings,
especially Gavin Turner’s with the William Byrd Choir
now on the budget Helios label (CDH55047)
and The Great Service (Westminster Abbey Choir, CDA67533).
OBRECHT (1457/8-1505) Missa
Maria Zart The
Tallis Scholars/Peter Philips rec. 1996 GIMELL CDGIM032 [69:25] - Gimell (mp3
Gary Higginson ended his recent review of
Obrecht’s Missa de Sancto Donatiano, on Fineline
Classical (FL72414) with some further recommendations of recordings
of Obrecht’s music, two of which I’m very happy
to endorse - the Gimell, as above, and Missa Caput,
sung by Oxford Camerata on Naxos 8.553210. The Naxos recording
available from classicsonline (mp3) or passionato (mp3 or lossless);
in each case, the mp3 download represents a small but useful
saving over the CD, but the passionato lossless comes at much
the same price as the physical product.
The Gimell performance of this extraordinarily long Mass setting
is excellent and the download first-class. I chose the wma
over the flac for no other reason than that it generates slightly
more disc and track information in Windows Explorer. As usual,
Gimell offer the complete documentation and artwork with the
The Fineline recording is available for download from Classicsonline -
just the contents of the CD in mp3, without the DVD material,
Matris Christi -
Music from the Choir Books of Annaberg, including Jacob Obrecht Missa
Sub tuum præsidium Capella
de la Torre COVIELLO CLASSICS COV20714 [60:15] - Classicsonline (mp3)
This is a collection including Obrecht’s best-known Mass
in an attractive performance with (fairly obtrusive) instrumental
accompaniment and contemporary
anonymous music in honour of St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary. The recording
is good but lacking the surround tracks of the parent SACD.
I recently recommended Coviello’s
CD of Christmas music, Feliz Navidad, also performed by Capella de la
Torre. This new recording is equally recommendable, except for those who dislike
instrumental accompaniments in music of this period. The lack of notes with
any of these downloads is a serious handicap - you wouldn’t even know
from the classicsonline website that not all the music here is by Obrecht.
MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) La
Favola d’Orfeo Anthony
Rolfe Johnson, Julianne Baird, Lynne Dawso, Anne Sofie von Otter, Nancy
Argenta, Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists; His Majesties Sagbutts
Cornetts/John Eliot Gardiner
rec. 1987 ARCHIV 419 250-2 [48:19
+ 57:13] - passionato (mp3)
month I’m looking at three generations of operas based on the legend
of Orpheus - from Monteverdi, whose Favola d’Orfeo is widely
regarded as the first important work in the genre, via Gluck to Offenbach.
John Eliot Gardiner’s 1987 Archiv version still holds its own as one
of the very best versions; though I also retain a strong affection for the
Rogers/Charles Medlam version on Virgin, the Gardiner is my prime download
recommendation, since passionato’s price for the Medlam is uncompetitive
for mp3, £19.99 for flac) when the CDs are available for under £9.
Two fairly recent all-Italian recordings challenge the supremacy
of the Gardiner version:
Simboli, Sara Mingardo,
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini NAÏVE
OP30439 - classicsonline (mp3)
Emanuela Galli, Mirko Guadagnini, Ensemble
GCD920913 - classicsonline (mp3)
of these seems to have been reviewed on Musicweb International. Reviewers
elsewhere were pretty evenly divided in their preference,
with good reason, since
both are immensely likeable - Alessandrini’s the more dramatic, Cavina’s
perhaps easier to live with. Both appeared in de luxe format with
hardback books originally; downloaders have to make do with penny plain
a price advantage. Both downloads sound fine in good mp3.
VON BERTOUCH (1668-1743) Trio
Sonatas and Pieces from the Music-Book of Jacob Mestmacher Bergen Barokk
rec. 2001/3 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0006 [65:50] - toccata (mp3)
I happily concur with Johann van Veen’s wholehearted recommendation
of this disc - see his review for
full programme details and analytical review. Once again we should be
very grateful to Toccata for taking us down a fascinating musical byway.
The mp3 download is more than acceptable but you may have to renumber
the tracks in order to get them to play in the right order by adding
to the titles as they appear in Windows Explorer: rename the first track
Otherwise Squeezebox plays the tracks in alpha-numerical order. If this
sounds too complex, you can order the parent CD direct from MusicWeb
International - use the Purchase link on Johann van Veen’s review.
GAY (1685-1732) (ed.
Frederick Austin) The Beggar’s
Dennis Noble, Argo Chamber Ensemble/Richard Austin PAST CLASSICS [67:48 + 28:00] - emusic (mp3)
is a real bargain, since it comes for the price of three tracks,
potentially less than £1, from emusic (alternatively, £2.37
from amazon). The performance is lively, the speaking voices
well matched to the relevant
and the recording is perfectly tolerable. Some of these Past Classics
issues are taken from crackly LPs, but they seem to have got
hold of a decent original
here. This was the first recording of The Beggar’s Opera that
I heard, but its value is more than merely sentimental.
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
I’m arbitrarily extending Handel’s anniversary year by continuing
to look at available versions of some of his vocal and operatic works.
English) Janet Baker; Valerie Masterson; Sarah Walker; Della Jones; James Bowman;
John Tomlinson; English Ntl Opera Ch & O/Charles
1984 CHANDOS CHAN3019 [3 CDs: 75:26 + 54:40 + 53:50] - theclassicalshop (mp3
We are blessed with a number of fine accounts
CD and DVD, but there’s a limited choice to download. Fortunately,
one of these, the 1984 Baker/ENO/Mackerras recording, is also one of
the best, not least for
Janet Baker’s wonderful singing in the title role.
An added advantage is that the mp3 theclassicalshop download costs
(£15.98 for lossless, £29.32 on CD). Classicsonline offer the same
recording more expensively, though their 75-minute offering of highlights from
it is worth considering at £7.99 (CHAN3072).
Though many of the arias are excerpted on recital recordings, Giulio Cesare does
not lend itself well to the ‘highlights’ treatment. For those
who are content with excerpts, however, Classicsonline offer
as good a selection as you are like to find in a very acceptable
mp3 download from René Jacobs’ award-winning recording (HMA195 1458 - but beware;
at £7.99, this may be more expensive than on budget-price CD);
would that this set were available to download complete.
Let me draw a 3-CD Hyperion set to your attention, on which Emma
Kirkby, partly assisted by Catherine Bott, sings arias from a range
operas - for full
details see my review of
the CDs. The download is available from Hyperion for £14.99
(the CDs cost £20.97).
Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787) Orfeo
ed Euridice Sylvia
McNair, Derek Lee Ragin, Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/John
470 4242 [52:55
+ 36:05] - passionato (mp3)
Any performance of Gluck’s Orfeo involves
awkward choices between the original Vienna version, the Paris
the two. Here Gardiner goes for the original Vienna option and,
though one misses some of the ballet music composed for Paris,
of his choice
With an excellent cast and his trusty English Baroque Soloists,
this just beats the Naxos performance, though the latter, on
CD, is by no
be dismissed (Östman, on 8.660064, from classicsonline,
mp3, or passionato,
mp3 or lossless).
Passionato’s mp3 transfer is a good one. With the parent CDs apparently
deleted, downloading is currently the only way to obtain this Gardiner/Decca
you’re looking for the 1774 Paris version of Orphée
et Eurydice, with the well-known ballet music but not
the final pantomime, you probably won’t do better than
the Naxos recording, directed by Ryan Brown, which can be downloaded
in good mp3 from Classicsonline (£9.98)
or in equally good mp3 (£6.99) and even better lossless
(8.660185-6 - see reviews by Göran
Howell and Robert
Hugill). I have just one grumble: I wish that the otherwise
excellent high tenor Orphée, Jean-Paul Fouchécourt,
had put a little more emotion into J’ai perdu mon Eurydice - pace CH,
I really don’t
want Kathleen Ferrier, but I would like a little more affective
singing. Oh, and I do prefer Italian to French as a language
download version worth considering comes from Classicsonline in
the form of Sigiswald Kuijken’s 1982 recording of
the Vienna original plus the ballets, with René Jacobs as
Orfeo and Marjanne Kweksilber as
Euridice (ACCENT ACC30023). I enjoyed this; it’s
beautifully sung, but the employment of a great deal of ornamentation
slow - often
very slow - tempi may put off some listeners. The mp3 sound (320kbps)
is good. Classicsonline pricing is usually sensible but, on this
occasion, their £15.98
is a little more expensive than many online dealers charge for
the CDs, even taking p&p into account.
For the traditional conflation of the Italian text from the Vienna
version and the dances from the Paris version, there’s the performance
conducted by Peter
Maag, with Ewa Podles as Orpheus, on the Arts Red Line label
(475362), available in mp3 or lossless sound from passionato.
This has recently been reissued in SACD format on the more expensive
Arts Blue Line label; as I close this roundup, I’ve just received this for review,
but for download purposes the original issue is all that is necessary. Robert
Farr ‘strongly recommend[ed] this performance to all those not concerned
about original version or period instrument performance’ - see review.
I’m slightly less enthusiastic about Ewa Podles, whom I find a little too
plummy, but that’s a problem shared with other mezzos or contraltos in
this role. Janet Baker is an exception, but her recording with Raymond Leppard
doesn’t seem to be available for download.
HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony
88 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony
PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler DG 474 9882 [52:14] - passionato (mp3)
I’ve placed the Haydn first for chronological reasons
and because it’s
my prime reason for recommending this recording, though the Schumann,
which plays first, is pretty good, too. And the coupling combines
a 2009 anniversarian
a 2010 birthday boy.
As with The Beggar’s Opera, there are sentimental
reasons for choosing this recording, which I first encountered
on the Heliodor
label, but that’s not my main motive in recommending it. Like Beecham with
the ‘London’ Symphonies, Furtwängler gets to the heart of this
symphony without the benefit of modern scholarship and I prefer his performance
to any other which I have heard, with the exception of Jochum - also DG, currently
available only as a bonus recording with his set of the ‘London’ Symphonies.
The mp3 transfer of the mono sound is more than acceptable.
The Schumann recording is also available on a 2-CD DG Originals
set, coupled with Furtwängler’s own second symphony (457 7222 -
and the Haydn with Schubert’s No.9 (DG Originals 447 4392 - from passionato).
SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Stephen Hough
rec. 1999 HYPERION CDA67027 [75:15] - Hyperion (mp3
SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano
Sonata 21 Stephen
Bishop Kovacevich rec. 1984 HYPERION CDA66004 [41:42] - Hyperion (mp3
Listening to the Radio 3 broadcast of Imogen
third and final Schubert recital from the Royal Festival Hall,
due for release
on Avie, sent
for that elusive thing, the perfect recording of the posthumous
sonata, D960, with a tremendous performance of which she ended
Stephen Kovacevich, then still at the halfway stage in reclaiming
his surname, made an excellent performance for Hyperion. That
it has been
to the Special Archive Service is no fault of the performance
or recording, both of
which are admirable; presumably it’s due largely to the short playing time,
which is taken into account in fixing the price of the download at just £4.99.
Among the many virtues of this recording is the fact that the first-movement
repeat is taken, extending it to a weighty 20:25, which is appropriate in view
of the extent to which the sonata’s emotional tone is established
by this movement.
Hyperion’s other recording, from Stephen Hough, is equally fine
and contains much more music, including, appropriately, the other late
sonata which Imogen
Cooper included in that final recital, D784.
Honours are about even among all three recordings of D960 and
between the two versions of D784. When Avie release the RFH
recording, the couplings may well
be the deciding factor - the Impromptus, D899, and 12 German
from Cooper, against the unfinished sonata from Hough or D960
alone at an attractive
price from Stephen Kovacevich.
Don’t forget the classic Clifford Curzon recording, available only
as part of a limited edition multi-CD set (475 0842) unless you download
relevant tracks from passionato for £6.19.
There’s no first-movement repeat from Curzon, but his still has a claim
to be the best performance ever. There are so many good things on offer in this
Curzon set - I particularly like the Dvořák Quintet - that
you may well find yourself buying the whole thing.
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Violin Concerto
Renaud Capuçon, Mahler CO/Daniel Harding VIRGIN CLASSICS 5456632 [58:26] - passionato (mp3
This unusual (possibly unique?) coupling neatly combines one
birthday boys with one of 2010’s. More importantly, it’s one of only
a handful of recordings of Schumann’s under-valued Violin Concerto.
There is any number of fine performances of the Mendelssohn, but this
merits a place
among the best; indeed, performance and recording - especially the lossless
version - do both works justice.
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Concertos 1 & 2 Martha Argerich, Montréal SO/Charles
Dutoit EMI CLASSICS 5567982 [69:02] - passionato (mp3
Piano Concertos 1 & 2 Polish Festival O/Krystian Zimerman rec. 1999 DG 459 6842 [45:52 + 35:48] - passionato (mp3)
Piano Concerto 1, Four Nocturnes, Ballade 1 &
Polonaise 6 Maurizio Pollini, Philharmonia O/Paul Kletzki
rec. 1960-8 EMI CLASSICS 5675492 [72:57] - passionato (mp3
It’s Chopin’s turn this year, the 200th anniversary
of his birth. Expect a stream of new recordings and reissues,
including, I expect,
of the piano concertos, singly or together.
Whatever the record companies have in store is not likely to
change my top recommendations: Rubinstein,
beautifully refurbished - and how those RCA LPs needed to be
refurbished - Zimerman on
DG Originals or in his remake for the same label, Argerich and
Dutoit (EMI) and, in No.1 alone, Pollini (also EMI).
Maurizio Pollini still heads my list for the First Concerto
and his 1960s ADD recording still sounds very well in the flac
transfer. Passionato have both
the UK and US versions of this recording; make sure that you
go for the
version with the catalogue number as above and with the Recording
Angel on the cover.
The UK version, with Nipper on the cover, had a huge drop-out
early in the first movement when I tried it. I’ve notified passionato and I’m
sure that it will be put right, but the US version is safer.
Krystian Zimerman’s second version has its advocates,
but, with tempi often so slow that the recording wouldn’t quite fit
on one CD, I must marginally prefer Martha Argerich on
EMI. All my choices come in good mp3 downloads from passionato,
the added option of
lossless flac for
the two EMI recordings.
OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Orphée
aux Enfers Vann
Beuro, Natalie Dessay, Lyon Ntl Opera Ch & O/Marc Minkowski
rec. 1998 EMI CLASSICS 5567252 [2 CDs: 110:00] - passionato (mp3
My third opera based on the Orpheus legend is actually an operetta.
also one of the very few exceptions to my failure to enjoy the genre
(see review of Die Fledermaus below), especially when
performed with gusto, as it mostly is in this recording. The cast, especially
the female singers,
a foretaste of artists who were very much to come to the fore in the
There is rather a lot of dialogue, so Anglophones may prefer
the highlight from the 1960s Sadler’s Wells recording which introduced me to
Offenbach. They now come coupled with excerpts from La Vie Parisienne and La
Belle Hélène on Classics for Pleasure 5759992,
two CDs for around £8.50
or less, which makes them less expensive than any download of this recording
which I’ve been able to find.
Year’s Day Concert 2002 Vienna
PO/Seiji Ozawa PHILIPS 468 9992 [68:52] - passionato (mp3)
Year’s Day Concert 2008 Vienna
PO/Georges Prêtre DG [32:05 + 78:04] - passionato (mp3)
STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Die Fledermaus Eberhard
Erich Kunz, Walter Berry; Vienna PO/Herbert
Karajan rec. 1960 DECCA ORIGINALS 475 8319 [69:57 + 72:45] - passionato (mp3)
Having listened to the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna,
I decided to give Die Fledermaus another try - not a
work that I’ve ever warmed
to, despite my love of the Strauss family’s dance music.
to report that, for all the virtues of this Karajan Gala version,
not least its price - a mere £9.99 when I downloaded
it, but still worth having at its regular price of £15.99
- it didn’t convert me. I remain
a lost cause as far as most operetta is concerned. (But see Orphée
I was much more taken with the 2002 New Year’s Day
By the time that you read this, DG will have released the 2010
Prêtre, but this 2002 version, with Seiji Ozawa at the
helm, remains very attractive. Prêtre’s equally
fine 2008 New Year’s
Day Concert is
also available from passionato.
All three passionato downloads come in good mp3 sound. Don’t
forget the 1987 Karajan concert (477 6336) which I recommended
SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Violin
Concerto 1 Antonín
DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Romance,
Violin Concerto Arabella
Steinbacher (violin); Berlin RSOMarek Janowski PENTATONE CLASSICS 5186353 [71:25] - Classicsonline (mp3)
excellent modern challenger to the classic Josef Suk/Karel
of the Dvořák Concerto and Romance, generously
coupled with a fine performance of the Szymanowski. The recording
is good, as is the mp3 download
- recommended to all but those who require the original SACD’s
If you’re looking for the Suk/Ančerl - one of the first Supraphon
LPs that I bought in the early 1960s, for 17/6 - you’ll find that coupled
with Suk’s Fantasy in g minor for violin and orchestra, still sounding
well in mp3 format, on Supraphon Ančerl Gold Edition Volume
8 from emusic.
Stepanovich ARENSKY (1861-1906) Egyptian
SO/Dmitry Yablonsky MARCO
POLO 8.225028 [50:41] - passionato (mp3
and lossless) and Classicsonline (mp3)
Attractive music, heavily influenced by Arensky’s mentor
Tchaikovsky, well performed and recorded. Ian Lace called it ‘an
enjoyable bit of escapism’ -
The lossless transfer may be strongly recommended and mp3s
from both providers, at 320kbps, have always proved equally
I’m indebted to my colleague Patrick Waller for having
winkled out a real bargain in the form of Arensky’s Violin Concerto for
a mere £0.69
in his recent blog on the Joy
of Downloading (Irina Medvedeva, soloist and conductor,
with the Moscow RTV SO on Digital Music Group from Amazon).
The recording is not of the very best, but the ear soon adjusts,
and the performance is good.
If you want better quality recording with equally fine performances,
need to spend a little more for the Chandos recording (Alexander
Trostiansky with I Musici de Montreal/Yuli Turovsky, CHAN9528
with Glazunov Piano Concerto,
etc., from theclassicalshop or passionato,
mp3 or lossless) or the Hyperion version (Ilya Gringolts and
BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov, with Taneyev Suite de Concert,
CDA67642, from Hyperion,
mp3 or lossless - see review).
DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Prélude à l’Après-Midi
Faune, Images, Printemps Cleveland
O/Pierre Boulez rec. 1991 DG 435 766-2 [59:45] - passionato (mp3)
Why do I recommend a 20-year-old recording,
still at full price, when there are plenty of other versions
of the Prélude and Images?
Firstly, because Boulez adopts a non-nonsense approach to Debussy’s ‘impressionism’,
though without losing any of the music’s magic; secondly,
because this is one of the few recordings of Printemps,
an early work but well worth hearing, and, finally, because
mp3 sound, represents
a considerable saving on the (full) price of the CD. If you
have versions of the main works and just want Printemps,
you can buy that separately.
DEBUSSY (1862-1918) String
Quartet Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) String
Quartet, Violin Sonata 2 Dante
Qt; Krysia Osostowicz (violin); Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)
rec. 2009 HYPERION CDA67759 [71:40] - Hyperion (mp3
I’ve recently praised the Dante Quartet’s
earlier recording of Fauré and
Franck (CDA67664); in comparison with the recent Naxos/Fine
Arts Quartet version of Franck I gave them a slight edge, so
I had high expectations
of their new
Having first heard the Debussy and Ravel Quartets in the Holywell
Music Rooms in Oxford on a perfect summer’s evening almost fifty years ago, they always
retain a summery haze for me, as did the first recording which I owned, a Supraphon
LP, bought the next day in Blackwell’s music shop. The previous most recent
new recording, that of the Quatuor Ébène on Virgin,
also retains that summery haze, combined with strength; I praised
it in my
May, 2009, Roundup
and I retain a high opinion of it (5190452).
The new recording opens with a much more positive performance
of the first movement of the Debussy which I found a little
disconcerting at first -
not so much a
summer haze as a springtime freshness of vision, which continues
the second movement. The third movement does bring the summery
mood, as required
the marking doucement expressif, and the finale, too,
evokes summertime. I completely warm to the last two movements,
the new recording
Boulez, listed above, in reminding us that there are more positive
views of Debussy; only time will tell whether the Dante Quartet’s
first two will grow on me.
I’m pleased that Hyperion have separated the two quartets with the performance
of the Ravel Violin Sonata - the two can sound remarkably similar when heard
one after the other. It’s a good performance, too, which
I rate with the best - Grumiaux and Hajdu on Philips Solo 454
1342, sadly no
on CD, but available for download from passionato,
with the Piano Trio (Beaux Arts Trio) and String Quartet (Quartetto
The Dante Quartet’s Ravel is much mellower from the start than their Debussy
and I took to it immediately, apart from a brief spell around five minutes into
the second movement where the spell was briefly shattered. With good recording
and excellent documentation available as a pdf document, this new version should
find many friends among those who can take a more forthright account of the opening
of the Debussy. I’m completely convinced by 9 of the 11 tracks. 82% isn’t
bad, but I’m pretty well 100% sold on the Quatuor Ébène.
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
The Dance Album
DECCA 452 5972 [72:58] - passionato (mp3)
The Film Album Royal
Concertgebouw O/Riccardo Chailly rec.1999 DECCA 460 7922 [78:05] - passionato (mp3)
The Jazz Album Ronald
Brautigam (piano) Royal Concertgebouw O/Riccardo Chailly DECCA
433 7022 [58:37] - passionato (mp3)
These three albums offer a very different
view of Shostakovich from the usual one obtained from his symphonies
of such high calibre as to be recommended without reservation
- except that some suppliers are offering the original CD of
for much the
as these downloads and that there’s an even better performance
of the Piano
Concerto No.1, more generously coupled than here, on budget-price
Classics for Pleasure 3822342 - see review.
The mp3 sound from passionato is very good.
ARNOLD (1921-2006) (arr.
John Longstaff) The Three Musketeers Northern
Ballet Theatre O/John Pryce-Jones QUARTZ MUSIC QTZ2056 - Quartz (mp3)
Chandos recently gave us a recording of Malcolm
own Ballet Music, conducted by Pierino Gamba (CHAN10550, see November
2009 Download Roundup). Now Quartz offer us David Nixon’s
Three Musketeers, for which John Longstaff has arranged
from various sources, much in the manner of Respighi’s
Rossini confections. It’s all very enjoyable, though
I kept finding myself trying to remember where particular individual
items came from.
I wrote of the Chandos collection that if you like Arnold’s
film music, you’ll enjoy his ballets; that’s even
more true of The Three Musketeers,
where some of the music is actually taken from his film scores.
These are lively performances and the mp3 sound is good. An
added incentive to download is the very competitive price of £4.99.
SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies
3 & 5 Royal
PO/Vernon Handley rec. 1994 HYPERION CDA66728 [72:19] - Hyperion (mp3
I’m sure that the Editor was absolutely
right in his review of
Hyperion’s complete set of the Simpson symphonies (CDA44191-7)
to single out this, the third CD in that set, as the place
to begin - it couples his best
known work, the third, with the very powerful fifth. Simpson’s
always immediately approachable, but it is well worth persevering,
and you won’t
find more persuasive advocacy that Handley and the RPO. The
recording is excellent, especially as heard in the lossless
flac download - Hyperion’s
mp3s are usually pretty good, too, if you must have that format.
So why has the CD recently been languishing among those that
selling at all well? If it ever re-appears in the ‘please buy me ...’ category
for £5.60, snap it up; otherwise the download is almost as good a bargain
at £7.99. Do try it - or go for the box set of CDs, which
works out even less expensively per disc.
Last July I recommended the Chandos recording of Albinoni’s
Op.7 Oboe Concertos (Anthony Robson; Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage, CHAN0579 -
I ought really to have listed the whole Chandos series of Albinoni recordings,
available as mp3 or lossless downloads from Chandos’s own theclassicalshop.net
or from passionato.com or, in mp3 only, from classicsonline.
• 12 Concerti a cinque, Op.5: CHAN0663 - theclassicalshop or passionato or Classicsonline
• Op.7/1, 2, 4 & 5; Op.9/1, 3, 4 & 6; Sinfonia in g minor: CHAN0602 - theclassicalshop or passionato or Classicsonline
• Op.7/7, 8, 10 & 11; Op.9/7, 9, 10 &12: CHAN0610 - theclassicalshop or passionato or Classicsonline
the double oboe concertos on CHAN0610, Anthony Robson is joined by Catherine
These excellent recordings have convincingly replaced good, earlier versions
by Maurice Bourgue and I Musici (Decca Originals), Heinz Holliger (DG Archiv
and Philips) and Pierre Pierlot with I Solisti Veneti (formerly on Erato)
in my collection.
Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) Symphony BBC
Scottish SO/Jerzy Maksymiuk rec. 1998 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55351 [74:13] - Hyperion (mp3
“A must-have for anyone who enjoys grand late-romantic symphonies: epic,
romantic and, the most challenging of all, often memorable.” See the Editor’s review of
the original issue. At the new price, it’s even less resistable.
Karlovich MEDTNER (1880-1951) Piano
Concerto 2 Sergei
RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano
Concerto 4 Yevgeny
Sudbin (piano); North Carolina Symphony/Grant Llewellyn
rec. 2008 BIS BIS-SACD-1728 [73:53] - classicsonline (mp3)
“Both [Yevgeny Sudbin’s] playing and the liner-notes that he wrote for this
issue show us a brilliant musician with a very perceptive and intelligent mind
... A great career in the making.” - see review by
Siebe Riedstra. The 320kbps mp3 sound is good, though lacking the surround
channels of the SACD.
String Quartets Vol. 6: Nos.1
& 12, Piano quintet Sorrel
Qt, Martin Roscoe (piano) CHANDOS CHAN10329 [76:56] - theclassicalshop (mp3
“The Sorrel Quartet play with exceptional technical security coupled with
a real feeling for the music … Martin Roscoe … does not disappoint, and
his ‘tidiness of finger’ really impresses in the finale.” (See review by
Colin Clarke). The lossless download sounds fine. The set of all
the Quartets and the Piano Quintet is also available but, illogically,
at £19.98, the
mp3 or lossless download is more expensive than the CD set - £15
direct from Chandos.
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasia
on Christmas Carols, On Christmas
Night, The First Nowell Joyful
Company of Singers,
City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
rec. 2005 CHANDOS CHAN10385 [69:36] - theclassicalshop (mp3
This is one for next Christmas: I came across it
too late for inclusion in the 2009 Christmas Roundup. ‘These
are beautifully sensitive performances atmospherically recorded;
irresistible to the growing
clan of RVW enthusiasts ... There’s
even a sprig of holly on the CD!’ - see the Editor’s review.