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JANUARY, 2010, DOWNLOAD ROUNDUP
Brian Wilson

 

DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH  

Quijotes
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) Quatre Chansons de Don Quichotte (1932) [11:11]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) El retablo de Maese Pedro (1923) [26:09]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Don Quichotte à Dulcinée (1932/3) [7:12]
Jesus GURIDI (1886-1961) Una aventura de Don Quijote (1915) [11:06]
Carlos Álvarez (baritone); Eduardo Santamaria (tenor); Xavier Olaz Moratinos (boy soprano)
Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid/
José Ramón Encinar
rec.
Teatro Isabel Clara Eugenia, Madrid, 27 June–1 July 2005, DDD
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 476 3094 [55:38] – from passionato (mp3)

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51vnxMWiIpL._SS500_.jpgI’ve been fascinated by Falla’s strange mini-opera El retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s puppet show) ever since I borrowed the LP of Ansermet’s performance from Greenwich Library more than forty years ago; I later owned it on Ace of Diamonds, coupled with the better-known El Amor brujo. I don’t think that version has ever been on CD; perhaps Eloquence will include it in their Ansermet series.

Ian Bailey made this his recording of the month two years ago for all the right reasons, for which, and much more of interest, I refer you to his review.

Wouldn’t you just know that after such an enthusiastic review, here and elsewhere, for example a 4-star rating in BBC Music Magazine, the CD would seem to have bitten the deletions dust in no time at all, leaving this download the only way to obtain the recording. Read IB’s review, then go for the download – even if you’re not a regular downloader, it’s well worth making the effort. The mp3 sound is good.

 

Dreams of Andalusia
Jadaka l-ghaithu’idha l-ghaithu hama [1:36]; Yahnikum, yahnikum [4:51]; Miyyah fi miyyah [7:25] ; Macar ome per folia [8:17]; Por fol tenno quen na [3:00]; Al pasar por Casablanca [6:59]; Hal dara zabyu l-hima [2:39]; Estampida (instrumental) [3:56]; Masha s-sahar hayran [3:27]; Ayyuha s-saqi ’ilay-ka l-mushtaka [7:20]; Como poden per sas culpas [3:07]; Jarriri l-dheila ’ayuma jarri [1:11]; A Sennor que mui ben soube [6:44]; Quen bõa dona querrá [3:33]
Joglaresa: Naziha Azzouz (voice), Belinda Sykes (voice, shawm, bagpipes), Stuart Hall (oud, tar), Ben Davis (vielle), Paul Clarvis (bendir, Andalusian tar), Tim Garside (darabuka, Andalusian tar), Salah Dawson Miller (bendir, Andalusian tar); Hilary Hazard, Lucy Gibson, Wendy March, Sonia Ritter (voice, on ‘A Sennor que mui ben soube’ only).
rec. 27-29 January 2000, East Woodhay Church, UK. DDD
METRONOME METCD1062 [64:10] – from emusic.com (mp3)

 

Dreams of AndalusiaThe major disadvantage in downloading this kind of repertoire is the absence of notes: Chandos, Hyperion and Naxos’s home site, classicsonline.com, usually provide material from the CD booklet, and classicsonline have also begun to include this facility for other companies’ recordings, but eMusic still don’t. Glyn Pursglove’s generally enthusiastic review covers most of the ground; you should read that before you download. I was just as enchanted with this programme of Christian, Jewish and Arab music from medieval Andalusia as GPu, who made it one of his Recordings of the Year. It combines scholarship with enthusiastic performance.

14 tracks from emusic works out considerably less expensive than the CD – less than £3 if you’re still on the 50-track tariff at the old rate – but it would be a nice gesture if eMusic started charging, say, for an extra track and provided some notes.

Metronome.co.uk don’t list this fascinating CD on their website: I trust that it hasn’t been deleted already. If it has, you must go for the download.

 

Cançons de la Catalunya Millenaria

El Fill Del Rei [7:24] ; La Filadora [3:27] ; El Comte Arnau * [13:19] ; El Cant Dels Ocells [7:30] ; Cançó Del Lladre [4:07]; El Mestre [4:36]; El Testament d’Amèlia [17:42]; Mariagneta [3:22]; Els Segadors [10:10]
Montserrat Figueras (soprano); * Francesc Garrigosa (tenor); La Capella Reial de Catalunya/Jordi Savall
rec. St. Lambert des Bois, Yvellines, France, January, 1977. ADD.

Cançons De La Catalunya MillenariaALIA VOX (from ASTRÉE E9937) [71:37] – from emusic (mp3)

 

The lack of texts is a real problem; some of them, like Els Cant dels Ocells, are readily available online, but the version of the final song, Els segadors (The reapers) employs a text much longer than the usual version of this Catalan National Anthem, beginning Catalunya triomfant, the last three stanzas of what is sung here.

 

Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474) Missa Puisque je vis [34:08]
Loyset CompÈre (c.1445-1518) Omnium bonorum plena [10:25]
Anonymous – traditional Concede nobis, Domine [7:11]; Salve maris stella [7:50]
Guillaume Dufay Ave regina caelorum [7:50]
The Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman
rec. July 2002, All Saints, Tooting, London. DDD.
HYPERION CDA67368 [67:24] – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

 

Click again to hide large versionI’ve included this recording for a number of reasons. We don’t seem to have reviewed it when it was released in 2003; it divided reviewers then, though most recommended it, and it now finds itself unjustly unloved, since it recently appeared among Hyperion’s ‘please someone buy me’ waifs and strays. I hope that it doesn’t reappear there; if it does, it’s a bargain at £5.60, but I should like to think that this review will give it a new lease of life.

I’m not going to get into the question of whether the main work is actually by Dufay: Hyperion’s notes say ‘almost certainly’ and that represents the consensus of modern scholarship, though there are other possible claimants. Whoever composed it, it stands high among the rich musical legacy of the 15th century and it comes in Compère’s excellent company. With first-rate performances and recording – but no notes or texts for the downloader on this occasion – I recommend purchasing this recording in one form or another.

Even the great C.S. Lewis used to write off the arts of the ‘long fifteenth century’. We’ve since begun to realise the strengths of the literature of the period and recordings like this are helping to ensure that its music is becoming even less neglected.

 

More Divine than Human: Music from the Eton Choirbook (c.1500-1505)
John Fawkyner Gaude rosa sine spina [16:44]
William CORNYSH Salve Regina [15:50]
Walter LAMBE Magnificat [13:03]
Richard DAVY In honore summe matris [17:49]
John BROWNE Stabat mater [15:29]
Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington
AVIE2167 [78:55] – from classicsonline.com or emusic.com (mp3)

 

More Divine Than Human - Music from the Eton ChoirbookThis well-filled recording offers one work by each of the five principal composers represented in that miraculous survivor from reformation fervour, the Eton Choirbook. The Sixteen offer a much fuller selection on their 5-CD Coro recordings but not everyone will want such a comprehensive collection and it is good to hear the music sung by a choir not unlike that for which the music was composed – Christ Church choir is still constituted as it was in the days when John Taverner, in the generation following the music in the Eton book, was their first choirmaster. They may not offer quite such a finished sound as The Sixteen or The Tallis Scholars on their recording of the music of John Browne – see my comparative review – but there is room for all three.

If you download from classicsonline you will get the highest possible bit-rate (320kbps) and a booklet of notes comes with the purchase; emusic give you a variable bit-rate (just two tracks at 320kbps, the rest at 192k, but no complaints) and no notes but, with just five tracks, you could be paying less than £1.50, depending on the tariff to which you subscribe.

 

Antonio CESTI (1623–1669)
Le disgrazie d’Amore - dramma giocoso morale; opera in 3 Acts (1667) [153:32]
libretto by Francesco Sbarra (1611–1668)
Allegria - Cristiana Arcari (soprano); Venere - Maria Grazia Schiavo (soprano); Vulcano - Furio Zanasi (baritone); Amore - Paolo Lopez (male soprano); Sterope - Enea Sorini (bass); Bronte - Antonio Abete (bass); Piragmo - Luigi De Donato (bass); Inganno - Carlos Natale (tenor); Adulazione - Gabriella Martellacci (contralto); Avarizia - Martin Oro (counter-tenor); Amicizia - Elena Cecchi Fedi (soprano); Cortigiano - Francesco Ghelardini (counter-tenor); Amante - Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani (tenor)
Auser Musici/Carlo Ipata
rec. Pisa, February, 2009. DDD.
HYPERION CDA67771/2 [76:51 + 77:43] – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless, available from 1 January 2010)

Click again to hide large version

This is a real discovery, which I liken to my first encounter with Cavalli, many years ago: the two were, in fact, near contemporaries on the Venetian musical scene. This set offers two-and-a-half hours of delight; it’s likely to be one of my Recordings of the Year next year and it encourages me to try the other recordings which Auser Music have made for Hyperion, especially of Porpora’s Soprano Cantatas (CDA67621), which we don’t seem to have reviewed on MusicWeb International.

Porpora’s reputation may have proved far less durable than that of his rival, Handel, but his music is well worth hearing and the performances of these cantatas are excellent. I might have preferred a slightly more affirmative performance than that offered by the soloist, Elena Cecchi Fedi – she is rather more suited to the role of Amicizia on the Cecchi recording – but there is lot to give pleasure here and very little to criticise.

Both Hyperion recordings come with the usual high level of documentation – if anything, there’s too much to print out with the new recording – and both sound excellent in lossless downloads.

If you want to compare Handel and Porpora, together with other contemporaries, Albinoni, Alessandro Scarlatti and Rossi, try Andreas Scholl in Arias for Senesino (Decca 475 6569), available from passionato (mp3). For details, see review by Em Marshall: “highly recommended”.

 

Jean Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687)
Grands Motets I: Te Deum; Miserere; Plaude lætare Gallia
Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Nicquet. rec. 1998. DDD.
Texts and translations from naxos.com.
NAXOS 8.554397 [58:24] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) and passionato.com (mp3 and lossless)  

This first CD in a series licensed by Naxos from the French company FNAC pre-dated the birth of MusicWeb International, but Colin Clarke’s welcome for Volume 3 (four stars out of five) would apply equally well to this and to Volume 2.

 

 

Dieterich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) The Complete Organ Works – 2

Praeludium in G minor BuxWV149 [7:35]; Canzona in C major BuxWV166 [4:39]; Chorale Fantasia Te Deum BuxWV218 [14:08]; Chorale Prelude Mensch, willt du leben seliglich BuxWV206 [2:13]; Praeludium in A minor BuxWV153 [5:46]; Chorale Prelude Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott BuxWV199 [3:23]; Chorale Variations Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott BuxWV207 [6:45]; Toccata in G major BuxWV165 [5:13]; Ciaccona in E minor BuxWV160 [4:35]; Chorale Prelude Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit BuxWV222 [2:13]; Chorale Prelude Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ BuxWV224 [1:13]; Toccata in D minor BuxWV155 [7:46]; Chorale Variations Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren BuxWV213 [5:54]; Praeludium in C major BuxWV138 [4:25]
Christopher Herrick (Organ of Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway)
rec. January, 2009. DDD.
HYPERION CDA67809 [76:21] – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless, available from 1 January 2010)

 

Volume 1 appeared in 2008, just a little late for the Buxtehude tercentenary celebrations in 2007. This second volume is even more belated, which is unfortunate in view of the fact that several other series of Buxtehude’s organ music have been completed. You’ll find my review of the final volume in Bine Bryndorf’s series for DaCapo here, with links to reviews of earlier volumes in the series. Similarly, my review of Julia Brown on Volume 7 of the Naxos series, here, also contains links to reviews of earlier volumes in that series. There is also a series with Ton Koopman as organist, on Challenge Classics, which has received praise in some quarters, though Chris Bragg on MusicWeb International was decidedly less than enthusiastic about the first two volumes – see review.

Having heard Christopher Herrick’s performances of two Buxtehude organ works on Organ Fireworks XII (CDA67612 – see review) I was expecting to enjoy his playing here at least as much as that of Bryndorf and Brown and I was certainly not disappointed.

The organ of Trondheim Cathedral is a 1980s restoration of an early 18th-century Wagner organ, therefore of the North German type with which Buxtehude would have been familiar and it proves an ideal instrument for Herrick’s excellent performances. The booklet, available as a pdf document, contains a full specification and details of the registration of each piece.

With very good recording, as conveyed in the lossless flac download, this is strongly recommended. When may we expect the remaining volumes?

 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046 [19:03]; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F major, BWV 1047 [10:38]; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048 [11:58]; Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049 [14:48]; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050 [20:31]; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, BWV 1051 [15:26]
The English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner (nos. 1-2); directed by Kati Debretzeni (nos. 3-6)
SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG707 [41:41 + 50:46] – from classicsonline (mp3)

 

We now have at least two recent recordings of the Brandenburg Concertos on period instruments which deserve to be considered among the best of these popular works that have ever been recorded. Two years ago Jens F Laurson thought the Avie recording by the European Brandenburg Concert under Trevor Pinnock among the best (AV2119 – see review) but hesitated to commend it at the expense of several other versions. I rated that version even more highly than JFL then (see review) and it has become my version of choice since, to the extent that my old Archiv/Pinnock CDs have finally departed. Hearing it again in good 320k mp3 sound from passionato.com confirms my feeling that this is probably the best all-round recommendation among period recordings.

Now along come John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists to challenge that assumption. In fact, it’s a matter of swings and roundabouts: Gardiner offers consistently more defensible tempi and wisely steps down from the podium after directing the first two concertos, affirming his belief that the other four are best directed by the soloists themselves, especially the leader Kati Debretzeni, whose lead in Nos. 3-6 amply justifies the decision. Pinnock’s players, on the other hand, especially his horns, seem to have mastered their period instruments in a manner somewhat kinder to the modern ear. After some very ripe horn playing at the very opening of No.1, matters improve considerably on the SDG set, but that opening is a little difficult to forgive or forget. Both recordings sound well in 320k mp3 format.

I can – and doubtless shall – live happily with both, or with Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini on Warner Classics - most recently reissued on 2564 98123 for around £9, much less expensive that the £15.40 which warner.freshdigtal were charging when I last checked - for those times when you want a little more punch than either Gardiner or Pinnock provides.

 

The Bach Cantata Pilgrimage - Volume 9 (Trinity XVII and XVIII)
BWV 148 - Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens [16:13]; BWV 114 - Ach, lieben Christen, seid getrost [24:12]; BWV 47 - Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedriget werden [21:47]; BWV 226 - Motet: Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf [7:47]
rec. live, Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, 14 October 2000, Allhelgonakyrkan, Lund, Denmark
BWV 96 - Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottessohn [19:22]; BWV 169 - Gott soll allein mein Herze haben [23:39]; BWV 116 - Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ [15:29];BWV 668 - Chorale: Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich hiermit [9:29]
rec. live, Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, 22 October 2000, Thomaskirche, Leipzig, Germany
Katharine Fuge (soprano), Frances Bourne (alto), Robin Tyson (alto) Charles Humphries (alto), Mark Padmore (tenor) Stephen Loges (bass), Nathalie Stutzmann (alto), Christoph Genz (tenor), Gotthold Schwarz (bass); Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
Notes, but not texts, available.
SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG159 [70:22 + 68:19] – from classicsonline (mp3)


Volume 13 (Cantatas for Advent, etc.)
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland I, BWV 61 (1714, Advent I) [15:06]; Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland II, BWV 62 (1724, Advent I) [19:33]; Schwingt freudig euch empor, BWV 36 (1731, Advent I) [30:26] 
Joanne Lunn (soprano); William Towers (alto); Jan Kobow (tenor); Dietrich Henschel (bass)
The Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
rec. St. Maria im Kapitol, Köln, 3 December 2000
Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!, BWV 70 (1723, Advent IV) [22:59]; Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn!, BWV 132 (1715, Trinity XXVI) [17:40]; Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 (1723, Visitation) [28:07]
Brigitte Geller (soprano); Michael Chance (alto); Jan Kobow (tenor); Dietrich Henschel (bass)/ The Monteverdi Choir/English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
rec. Michaeliskirche, Lüneburg, 13 December 2000. Notes, but not texts, available.
SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG162 [65:19 + 69:03] – from classicsonline (mp3)

 

Bach Cantatas Volume 9“The thing that really sets Gardiner’s Bach cycle apart from its rivals is that, to my mind, he gets to the heart of the music’s spirituality much more profoundly than others, and this volume does it every bit as successfully as its companions.” (Simon Thompson on Volume 9 – see review).

Bach Cantatas Volume 13 (Koln/Luneburg)“This evolving series of recorded performances seem so often to penetrate to the heart of what this wonderful music is about.” (John Quinn on Volume 9 – see review).

“This latest instalment, which as usual ... benefits from very good engineering, is another fine addition to Gardiner’s excellent cantata cycle on disc.” (John Quinn on Volume 13 – see review).

I need only add that the mp3 sound is good. The excerpts from Gardiner’s diary come as part of the downloads; there are no texts, but these are easily found on the web.

A word of caution is in order, however: at £15.98, these 2-CD SDG sets are actually a few pence more expensive as downloads than the price at which some dealers offer the discs.

 I’m taking a month out from recommendations of Handel operas and oratorios to be renewed, DV, next month.

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Complete String Quartets: Volume 2
String Quartet No.14 in G, K387 [29:02]; String Quartet No.15 in d minor, K421 [27:07]; String Quartet No.16 in E-flat, K428 [28:16]; String Quartet No.17 in B-flat, K458 (‘Hunt’) [27:29]; String Quartet No.18 in A, K464 [33:42]; String Quartet No.19 in C, K465 (‘Dissonance’) [31:50]
Quartetto Italiano - rec. c.1966. ADD.
PHILIPS 475 7344 [3 CDs: 56:09 + 55:45 + 65:32] – from passionato.com (mp3)

 

Though reissued as recently as 2005, these classic performances appear to have been deleted on CD, making the passionato download desirable, even though, at £23.99, these quartets come rather more expensively than when they were last listed on CD. Quartets Nos. 18 and 19 from this set have long been my versions of choice and the other works receive equally fine performances. Though the recording is now a little long in the tooth, it still sounds well enough in mp3 sound.

In August, 2009, I welcomed the 3-CD set which completed the American String Quartet’s complete Mozart Quartets recording (Nimbus NI2533-5). I promised then to include the Italian Quartet recordings in a future Download Roundup. I can – and shall – happily live with both: the Nimbus is inexpensive, but I think these Philips performances have a slight advantage.

 Mass in C ‘Krönungsmesse’, K317 [24:40]; Vesperæ Solennes de Confessore, K339 [25:15]; Epistle Sonata in C K278/271e [3:48]
Emma Kirkby (soprano); Catherine Robbin (mezzo); John Mark Ainsley (tenor); Michael George (bass); Winchester College Quiristers; Choir of Winchester Cathedral; The Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood. rec. 1992. DDD.
DECCA 436 585-2 [53:44] – from passionato.com (mp3)

 

Mass in c minor, K.427 ‘Grosse Messe’, K427
revised and reconstructed by Alois Schmitt & John Eliot Gardiner
Sylvia McNair (soprano); Diana Montague (mezzo); Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor); Cornelius Hauptmann (bass); The Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
rec. 1987. DDD.
PHILIPS 420 210-2 [54:01] – from passionato.com (mp3)

“My favourite recording of Mozart’s frequently recorded ‘Great’ Mass in C minor is the interpretation from John Eliot Gardiner with his Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists.” (Michael Cookson, reviewing the Eloquence reissue of Colin Davis’s Philips recording). Taking my cue from MC, I downloaded the Gardiner version and am sold on it – it now replaces the Davis and an older version from Fricsay in my collection.

Christopher Hogwood’s recording of the Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers is equally desirable, not least for the quality of his soloists, particularly Emma Kirkby. Both recordings still sound well in very acceptable mp3 sound.

 

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 1 – Goethe & Schiller Settings
Der Jüngling am Bache, D30 ‘An der Quelle sass der Knabe’ [3:46]
Thekla ‘Eine Geisterstimme’, D73 ‘Wo ich sei, und wo mich hingewendet’ [3:53]
Schäfers Klagelied, D121 First version ‘Da droben auf jenem Berge’ [2:47]
Nähe des Geliebten, D162 ‘Ich denke dein, wenn mir der Sonne Schimmer’ [2:15]
Meeres Stille, D216 ‘Tiefe Stille herrscht im Wasser’ [2:05]
Amalia, D195 ‘Schön wie Engel voll Walhallas Wonne’ [3:18]
Die Erwartung, D159 ‘Hör’ ich das Pförtchen nicht gehen?’ [13:09]
Wandrers Nachtlied I, D224 ‘Der du von dem Himmel bist’ [1:35]
Der Fischer, D225 ‘Das Wasser rauscht’, das Wasser schwoll’ [2:10]
Erster Verlust, D226 ‘Ach, wer bringt die schönen Tage’ [2:04]
Wonne der Wehmut, D260 ‘Trocknet nicht, trocknet nicht’ [0:48]
An den Mond, D296 ‘Füllest wieder Busch und Tal’ [4:19]
Das Geheimnis, D250 ‘Sie konnte mir kein Wörtchen sagen’ [3:02]
Lied, D284 ‘Es ist so angenehm, so süss’ [1:07]
Der Flüchtling, D402 ‘Frisch atmet des Morgens lebendiger Hauch’ [5:24]
An den Frühling, D587 ‘Willkommen, schöner Jüngling!’ [2:19]
Der Alpenjäger, D588 ‘Willst du nicht das Lämmlein hüten?’ [4:53]
Der Pilgrim, D794 ‘Noch in meines Lebens Lenze’ [4:34]
Sehnsucht, D636 ‘Ach, aus dieses Tales Gründen’ [4:29]
Janet Baker (mezzo); Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. 1987, no specific date given
HYPERION CDJ33001 [67:57] – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

Click again to hide large versionWhen I produced the list of my choice of the top 30 Hyperion recordings, to celebrate the inauguration of their download facility, I was very justifiably taken to task by a friend for not including anything from the Schubert or Schumann Song Editions. I shall try to put matters right in forthcoming Download Roundups, beginning with Janet Baker’s wonderful volume which inaugurated the Schubert series back in 1987.

Janet Baker’s voice may have been a little past its wonderful best by then, but the way in which she characterises each song more than makes up and the partnership with Graham Johnson, a constant throughout the series, augured well for the whole enterprise. The lossless flac version sounds very good; as it comes at the same price as the mp3, you should go for it, unless you need to download to an mp3 player or your hard drive is getting short of space. Flac files are much larger than mp3, but you could consider the purchase of an external hard drive to accommodate a serious download collection – 500Gb for around £50 or even a Terabyte for around £80.

There are no texts with the download, or, indeed, with any volumes from the series – most other Hyperion recordings offer the booklet as a pdf – but the texts are not hard to find on the net.

 

Vol. 9 – Schubert & the Theatre
Misero pargoletto, D42 No. 2 [2:24]
Didone abbandonata, D510 ‘Vedi quanto t’adoro ancora ingrato’ [4:28]
Gott, höre meine Stimme, D190 No. 5 [4:49]
Hin und wieder fliegen die Pfeile, D239 No. 3 [1’20]
Liebe schwärmt auf allen Wegen, D239 No. 6 [1’16]
Ich schleiche bang und still herum, D787 No. 2* [3:02] arr. Fritz Spiegl (1926-2003)
Romanze ‘Der Vollmond strahlt’, D797 No. 3 [3:50]
Blanka, D631 ‘Wenn mich einsam Lüfte fächeln’ [2:02]
Daphne am Bach, D411 ‘Ich hab’ ein Bächlein funden’ [2:23]
Lambertine, D301 ‘O Liebe, die mein Herz erfüllet’ [3:19]
Thekla ‘Eine Geisterstimme’, D595 ‘Wo ich sei, und wo mich hingewendet’ [5:35]
Zwei Szenen aus dem Schauspiel ‘Lacrimas’, D857 – No. 1: Lied der Delphine ‘Delphine’ ‘Ach, was soll ich beginnen’ [4:51]
Vier Canzonen, D688 Nos 1 & 2 – No. 1: Non t’accostar all’ urna [3:00]
No 2: Guarda che bianca luna! [3:04]
Vier Canzonen, D688 Nos. 3 & 4 - No. 3: Da quel sembiante appresi [2:00]
No 4: Mio ben ricordati [2:26]
La pastorella al prato, D528 [2:07]
Der Sänger am Felsen, D482 ‘Klage, meine Flöte, klage’ [3:21]
Der gute Hirt, D449 ‘Was sorgest du? Sei stille, meine Seele!’ [3:12]
Lilla an die Morgenröte, D273 ‘Wie schön bist du, du güldne Morgenröte’ [1:39]
Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D965 ‘Wenn auf dem höchsten Fels ich steh’’* [12:19]
Thea King (clarinet)*; Arleen Auger (soprano); Graham Johnson (piano) – rec. 1989. DDD.
HYPERION CDJ 33009 [72:27] – from hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

 

Click again to hide large versionThe Lieder on this volume may not be as well known as those on Janet Baker’s recording (above) or Fischer-Dieskau’s (below), but it is well worth having for that minor masterpiece which concludes the programme, The Shepherd on the Rock. In fact, like Bach’s cantatas, there’s hardly a single dud anywhere in Schubert’s song output and it’s well worth experimenting with the less well known when it’s well sung and even better accompanied and recorded. Auger sounds a little squally at times; these are dramatic Lieder, but I didn’t warm to her rendition of some of them and it’s mainly for that final track that I recommend the CD. Thea King’s accompaniment, there and in D787 is a further attraction.

For a Schubert recital by a soprano on top form, including The Shepherd on the Rock, you may prefer Margaret Price on Classics for Pleasure 5726942, available from passionato.com. At £7.99 (mp3) or £9.99 (lossless) this is more expensive than the parent CD, but the CD seems to be unavailable in the UK. To keep the cost down, I sampled the mp3 version and found it more than acceptable.

 

Goethe Lieder
Wandrers Nachtlied, D. 224 [1:47]
Wandrers Nachtlied II, D.768 (Op.96/3) [2:33]
Ganymed, D. 544 (Op.19/3) [4:42]
Jägers Abendlied, D. 368 [2:32]
An Schwager Kronos, D. 369 [3:06]
Meeres Stille, D. 216 (Op.3/2) [2:25]
Prometheus, D674 [5:34]
Harfenspieler 1, D. 478 Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt [4:28]
Harfenspieler 3, D. 480 Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß [4:57]
Harfenspieler 2, D. 479 An die Türen will ich schleichen [2:10]
An den Mond, D. 296 [4:53]
Auf dem See, D. 543 [3:32]
Erster Verlust, D. 226 [1:56]
Der Musensohn, D.764 (Op.92/1) [2:02]
Rastlose Liebe, D. 138 (Op.5/1)* [1:22]
Nähe des Geliebten, D. 162* [3:27]
Heidenröslein, D. 257 (Op.3/3) Sah ein Knab’ ein Röslein steh’n* [1:46]
Wonne der Wehmut, D. 260* [1:05]
Erlkönig, D. 328 (Op.1) Wer reitet so spät* [4:19]
Der König in Thule, D. 367* [3:00]
Geheimes, D719 (Goethe)* [1:48]
Grenzen der Menschheit D 716* [8:06]
Am Flusse D 766* [1:13]
Willkommen und Abschied D 767* [3:17]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone); Jörg Demus (piano); *Gerald Moore (piano)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON ORIGINALS 457 7472 [76:00] – from passionato (mp3)

 

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61t0lWBS4rL._SS500_.jpgJanet Baker’s Hyperion recording offers over an hour of delight. If anything, this even longer Fischer-Dieskau recital of Goethe Lieder is more essential still. If you have no or very few Schubert Lieder in your collection, this is the place to start. There are other equally fine Schubert recordings by Fischer-Dieskau in the DG catalogue, not least the 3-CD set of Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang and I hope to return to some of these in future months, but I place this Originals recording first because it offers examples of both his major accompanists, Demus and Moore, and it was on special offer at £4.99 at the time of writing. It will still be worth having at the regular £7.99, but that’s only a few pence less than the CD, which comes with notes.

Good mp3 sound completes the bargain.

 

Mass in E flat major, D950 [52:54]
Susan Gritton (soprano); Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo); Mark Padmore (tenor); James Gilchrist (tenor); Matthew Rose (bass)
Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox
rec. St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London; 26-27 July 2007. DDD.
Texts and translations available as pdf document.
CHANDOS CHAN0750 [52:54] – from theclassicalshop (mp3 or lossless)

 

http://www.theclassicalshop.net/HiResArt/chan%200750.jpgMy recent experience reviewing Schubert’s Masses No.2 and No.4 and his Deutsche Messe (The Immortal Bach Ensemble/Morten Schuldt-Jensen, Naxos 8.570764), a recording about which I had no serious criticisms but equally no great enthusiasm, led me back to Wolfgang Sawallisch’s performances of Mass No.2, Deutsche Messe and shorter works, available on a 7-CD budget set or as a single disc from passionato.com, in good mp3 or even better lossless sound (7474072). The single CD is deleted in physical format.

Sawallisch’s versions of the last three Masses, Nos.4-6, remain available on a budget-price Gemini 2-CD set (3815192, around £8.50). That budget compilation offers really good value but the Chandos version, directed by the late and much missed Richard Hickox, with a fine team of soloists and Collegium Musicum 90 in support, is even better. The fact that he offers just the single work makes this rather short value at full price, but the download price of £7.99 (mp3) or £9.99 offers compensation. The lossless version reproduces very well.

 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Ich schwing mein Horn ins Jammertal Op. 41/1 (1861-2) [4:23]
Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang Op. 17/1 (1859-60) [3:19]
Nachtwache I Op. 104/1 (1888) [3:06]
Einförmig ist der Liebe Gram Op. 113/13 (?1860-3) [2:40]
Gesang der Parzen Op. 89 (1882) [11:15]
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op.. 90 (1883) [33:30]
Nänie Op. 82 (1880-1) [12:01]
The Monteverdi Choir; Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner
rec. live, Salle Pleyel, Paris, 16 November 2007; Royal Festival Hall, London, 4, 5, 8 October 2008 .
DDD. Notes, but not texts, available.
SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG704 [70:16] – from classicsonline (mp3)

 

Brahms Symphony 3In his review John Quinn notes that he found the opening movement of the symphony a little disconcerting at first, but that he came to relish the directness. Having cut my teeth on this symphony in Klemperer’s version, I can take directness here; although there are many individual differences, I felt as thoroughly at home with Gardiner as with Klemperer here and throughout the symphony. Though the Klemperer recording sounds much better now than it did, Gardiner’s is much better, even comparing mp3 with lossless (flac) in Klemperer on EMI 5670302 (with Symphony No.2, from passionato.)

 

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, TrV 227d (1911) [23:47]
Symphonic Fantasy on Die Frau ohne Schatten, TrV 234a (1946) [20:41]
Symphonic Fragment from Josephs-Legende, TrV 231a (1947) [23:49]
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
rec. Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, USA, 31 March – 1 April 2008
NAXOS 8.572041 [68:34] – from classicsonline (mp3)

Rob Maynard praised this “hugely enjoyable and bargain-priced disc” – see review. I agree, but my preference for the Rosenkavalier music remains with an earlier Naxos version (8.550342, Second Suite, coupled with fine versions of Aus Italien and Die Liebe der Danaë Symphonic Fragments, also available from classicsonline).

 

Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934)
Symphony No. 1 in A flat, Op. 55 [51:57]
Sonata for Organ in G, Op. 28, transcribed Gordon Jacob (1895–1984) [26:05]
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox
rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea; 22 and 23 May 2006. DDD.
CHANDOS CHSA5049 [78:12] – from theclassicalshop (mp3 and lossless)

 

In the South (Alassio), Concert Overture, Op. 50 [22:04]
Symphony No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 63 [55:09]
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox
Rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea; 10 & 11 May 2005
CHANDOS CHSA5038 [77:13] – from theclassicalshop (mp3 and lossless)

These two Richard Hickox performances, both generously and aptly coupled, probably represent the safest current recommendations for the Elgar symphonies, certainly as downloads, where Andrew Davis’s budget-price Apex version of No.2 is available only from Warner.freshdigital and at no saving over the physical CD. Handley’s excellent version of No.2 is available from passionato, but at £7.99 it costs much more than the budget-price CD.

Dominy Clements – see review – knew from the start that this was the Elgar first for him. I wasn’t quite so sure – for me Hickox takes just a little too long to warm up – but I was soon completely convinced.

I was even more taken with the second – my favourite of the two, in any case – and with Alassio which, sensibly, opens the recording. We don’t seem to have reviewed this on MusicWeb International but you can take my word that it’s excellent.

Both recordings reproduce very well in the lossless download.

 

Herbert Howells (1892–1983)
Concerto No. 1 in c minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 4* [38:55]
Concerto No. 2 in C major for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 39** [27:29]
Penguinski [4:19]
Howard Shelley (piano)*; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
*/** premiere recordings, *completed by John Rutter (b.1945)
rec. Watford Colosseum, UK, 22-23 May 2000. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9874 [70:52] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless) and passionato.com (mp3 and lossless).

 

“Howard Shelley plays with assurance and affection, and receives a superb support from the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox. So I do not hesitate in recommending this most welcome addition to Howells’ steadily expanding discography, mainly thanks to enterprising record companies such as Chandos and Hyperion.” – see review by Herbert Culot. That sums up my feelings, too.

The lossless recording is very good. The booklet of notes is available from the Chandos website, whichever download provider you choose.

 

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
A Severn Rhapsody, Op. 5 (1923) [6.14]
Nocturne, Op. 7 (c.1925) [10.23]
Three Soliloquies for small orchestra (1946): (Grazioso [1.40]; Adagio [1.40]; Allegretto [1.19])
Romance for string orchestra, Op 11 (1928) [8.08]
Prelude for string orchestra, Op 25 (date uncertain) [5.16]
Introit for small orchestra and solo violin, Op 6 (1925) [9.48]
The Fall of a Leaf - Elegy for Orchestra Op 25 [9.14]
Eclogue for piano and orchestra (1956) [10.33]
Grand Fantasia and Toccata for piano and orchestra (1953) [15.14]
Rodney Friend (violin)
, Peter Katin (piano); London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult or New Philharmonia Orchestra/Vernon Handley (Eclogue, Fantasia)
rec. 1978 (Boult); 1977 (Handley), venues not given. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.239 [79:26] – from emusic.com (mp3)

 

Gerald Finzi: Nocturne, Severn Rhapsody, Eclogue, etc.This is a generous selection of beautiful music, excellently performed, well recorded, and sounding well in mp3 format. There are some fine recordings of the Eclogue, including that coupled with Ferguson’s Piano Concerto and other pieces on Somm, SOMMCD241, which I recently reviewed, but none to excel the performance here – it avoids the slightly over-placid nature of Mark Bebbington’s performance on that newer recording.

See also reviews by Rob Barnett and Gary Higginson.

 

Philip SPRATLEY (b.1942) Music for string orchestra
Sinfonietta op. 6 (1987) [26:30]; Clarinet Concertino – Byard’s Leap op. 27 (1980s) [16:16];
Recorder Concertino - A Gallery of Cats op. 26 (1983 rev. 2008) [13:00]; In Outlaw Country - Suite for Harp, Strings and Trumpet (1971 rev. 2007?) [15:52]
Linda Merrick (clarinet); John Turner (recorder); Tracey Redfern (trumpet); Eira Lynn Jones (harp); Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Barry Wordsworth; Manchester Sinfonia/Philip Spratley
rec. 16 March 2007, Angel Studios, London; 15 September 2008, St Thomas’ Church, Hillgate, Stockport.
TOCCATA TOCC0088 [71:11] – from toccataclassics (mp3)

 

Like Rob Barnett, I had never even heard of Philip Spratley – see review – but I’m grateful to Toccata for the opportunity to hear his music. It’s all easy on the ear – often much more than that, with a distinctive and distinguished voice – and the performances and recording do it justice. What an enterprising label Toccata Classics is.

 

Alexander PRIOR (b.1992)

Velesslavitsa – Concerto for Piano, Two Violins and Cello (2008) [46:35]
Zhang Xiao Ming (piano); Simone Porter (violin); Michael Province (violin); Nathan Chan (cello); Northern Sinfonia/Alexander Prior
rec. live, The Sage, Gateshead, 29 April 2009. DDD
TOCCATA TOCC0109 [46:35] – from toccataclassics (mp3)

 

http://www.toccataclassics.com/images/uploads/cds/TOCC-0109-Alexander-Prior.jpgYou’ll find this music by the sixteen-year-old Alexander Prior derivative, pretentious or very promising – I found it all three. Rob Barnett thought it exciting and with its own intrinsic attractions – see review. (NB, Rob’s ‘b.1995’, making him seem even more precocious, is off by two years.) I’m not sure that I’m quite as impressed as he was but I’m sure that this young composer is more than a nine-days wonder. The recording is good and the mp3 version does it justice.

 

RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR

 

Finally my personal endorsement of some of the discs which my colleagues chose as their Recordings of the Year for 2009 and links to online versions of them.

 

Lamentations - Works by Victoria, Gesualdo, White & Palestrina
Nordic Voices rec. 2009
CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN0763

This was one of Dominy Clements’ choices; I recommended the download in my November, 2009, Download Roundup.

 

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854–1928) Orchestral Suites from the Operas - Vol. 1
Jenůfa – Suite* (arr. Peter Breiner) [31:06]
The Excursions of Mr Brouček –Suite (1918) (arr. Peter Breiner) [39:01]
Vesa-Matti Leppanen (violin)*; New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Peter Breiner
rec. 2007. DDD.
NAXOS 8.570555 [70:20] – from classicsonline (mp3) eMusic (mp3) and passionato (mp3 and lossless)

Janáček without tears – the first of a welcome series which has already run to three volumes. Dominy Clements though this a very strong contender indeed – see review – and Len Mullenger chose it as one of his Recordings of the Year. The lossless (flac) download from passionato offers the best quality, but only classicsonline offer the booklet and CD liners.

 

William MATHIAS (1934-1992) Choral Music
Jonathan Vaughn (organ) Wells Cathedral Ch/Matthew Owens; rec. 2008. DDD
HYPERION CDA67740 [75:32] – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

David Barker exercised his right as compiler of the list to nominate this recording. I’m sorry to have missed it on release, when Glyn Pursglove lauded it – see review – but very pleased to catch up with it now. Notes and texts come with the download.

 

Of my own choices, the following are available as downloads:

 The Golden Age of English Polyphony
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers rec. 1982-1992
HYPERION CDS44401/10 – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

A wonderful 10-disc set, available on CD (£50) and as a download (£40). See my review and Ralph Moore’s review.

 

William BYRD Hodie Simon Petrus: Vol. 11 - The Cardinall’s Musick Byrd Edition
The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood rec. 2007. DDD.
HYPERION CDA67653 – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

Both Michael Greenhalgh and I chose this – I actually sneaked in Volume 10, too, via the back door. See review.

 

John DOWLAND Lute Music Vol. 4: The Queen’s Galliard
Nigel North (lute) rec. 2007
NAXOS 8.570284 – from classicsonline (mp3)

See my review.

 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1789) Parnasso in Festa
Diana Moore (mezzo); Carolyn Sampson (soprano); King’s Consort and Choir/Matthew Halls. rec. 2008
HYPERION CDA67701/2 – from Hyperion (mp3 and lossless)

See my review of the CDs.

 

Howard FERGUSON (1908-1999)
Overture for an Occasion, Partita, Two Ballads, The Dream of the Rood
Anne Dawson (soprano); Brian Rayner Cook (baritone); London SO & Chorus/Richard Hickox. rec. 1992
CHANDOS CHAN9082 – from theclassicalshop (mp3 and lossless)

This is deleted on CD, so it’s available as a download only. I reviewed it, with another Chandos recording of Ferguson’s music, in my August, 2009, Download Roundup

 


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