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Captivating scores

Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear

vital imagination

A harum-scarum springboard

Always expect the unexpected

Berg Wozzeck
This is a triumph!

Bruckner Symphony 3
Revelatory and awe-inspiring

For immediate purchase!

Sibelius 3, 6, 7 Vanska
Outstanding performances

burns with a steady, beckoning light

Vadim Gluzman - A quite extraordinarily good disc

This impressed me mightily

Shostakovich 5, 8 9
Great concentration

Let me tell you
Stratospheric Barbara Hannigan
Birmingham and BBC Proms

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Highly Expressive

NØRGÅRD Stunning

Superbly played

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Alphabetical Listing


Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[last 5 days] [Recommended recordings]

Superbudget £5.99 or less Budget £6-7.99 Medium £8-10.99 Full price £11+

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphonies, Piano and Violin Concertos Ulf Hoelscher (violin) Gabriel Tacchino (piano), Ntl O l’ORTF/Jean Martinon, New PO/Pierre Dervaux, Radio O Luxembourg/Louis de Froment rec. 1972-77 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92777 [6 CDs: 449:45] [RB]

Much pleasure is to be derived from these inexpensive discs.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso see LALO

Camille SAINT-SAËNS Clarinet Sonata see A Touch of France

Philip SAWYERS (b. 1951) The Gale of Life, Symphonic Music for Strings and Brass, Symphony 1 Grand Rapids Symphony/David Lockington rec. 2002-8 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6129 [63:38] [WH]

Something out of the ordinary – brilliantly written and brilliantly performed.

Melchior SCHILDT (1592-1667) & Peter MORHARD (d. 1685) Complete Organ Works Friedhelm Flamme (organ) rec. 2007 CPO 777 343-2 [69:35] [JvV]

The complete organ works by two masters from the North-German organ school - the performances are good, but could do with a little more freedom.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Suite for Klavier, Klavierstücken Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Fantasien, Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel Shai Wosner (piano) rec. 2010 ONYX 4055 [70:43] [GD]

Wosner has done both composers a service with this recording, but in the long run Schoenberg is going to come off better for his attentions. 

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) String Quartets 3 & 4, Phantasy Fred Sherry String Qt, Rolf Schulte (violin) Christopher Oldfather (piano) rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.557533 [74:51] [GD]

A worthy addition to the Schoenberg discography and another demonstration of the extent to which American instrumentalists dominate the performance of Schoenberg’s chamber music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG Gurrelieder, orchestral works see Second Viennese School

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus Andrea Lucchesini (piano) rec. 2009 AVIE RECORDS AV2179 [67:55] [BR]

A true keyboard poet returns from obscurity for this superb recital.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Dunkel oder Licht Cornelius Hauptmann (bass); Eric Schneider (piano) rec. 1996 CARUS-VERLAG 83.359 [59:34] [WH]

Schubert reflecting on mortality, in this sombre but highly satisfying recital. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies 5 & 8, Rosamunde O Age of Enlightenment/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. 1992 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6286052 [74:01] [BR]

Superb performances, in a redundant reissue.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Trout Quintet, Wanderer Fantasy Sviatoslav Richter (pno), Borodin Qt, George Hörtnagel (double-bass), rec. 1963/80 EMI CLASSICS 6318102 [64:57] [RMo]

A classic performance to live with, combining elegance with profundity.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus & Dances Vassily Primakov (piano) rec. 2009 BRIDGE 9327 [76:22] [OL]

The disc is good but not extraordinary.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Fantasia, Variations, Rondo, Duo Irena Kofman, André de Groote (piano) rec. 2008 TALENT DOM 2911 119 [64:43] [OL]

Not everything comes alive.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Arpeggione sonata see Cello Rhapsody

Clara Wieck SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Concerto Movement see Robert SCHUMANN

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Carnaval, Davidsbündlertänze Alessandra Ammara (piano) rec. 2010 ARTS 47755-8 [69:22] [DC]

Eternally fascinating and really rather special.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto, Introduction & Allegros Clara Wieck SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Concerto Movement Oleg Marshev (piano) S. Jutland SO/Vladimir Ziva rec. 2009 DANACORD DACOCD688 [73:41] [JF]

Extremely successful.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Papillons, Waldszenen Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Klavierstücke Dejan Lazic (piano) rec. 2007 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA27609 [67:32] [JW]

This is a paradoxical recital.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Violin sonatas Ensemble Villa Musica, rec. 2009 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 304 1647-2 [76:09] [DC]

Superb musicality, showing plenty of light and shade, a deep sense of commitment and communication.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585 - 1672) Schütz Edition - Vol. 4 Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten, Musikalische Exequien, Musicalia ad chorum sacrum, das ist Geistliche Chor-Music Cappella Augustana/Matteo Messori rec. 2008 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93972 [5 CDs & CD-ROM: 260:17] [RH]

At Brilliant’s prices it is easy enough to buy the set and dip in. The performances may sometimes be ordinary, but the music never fails to astonish.

Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b.1932) Concertos for Orch. 4 & 5, Kristallene Gusli Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits, rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572405 [58:51] [OL]

You will be glad that you took this endless Russian road.

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 10 Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572461 [52:11] [JQ]

Another fine instalment in what is shaping up to be a distinguished cycle of the Shostakovich symphonies.

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District Maria Ewing (soprano) Aage Haugland (bass) Philip Langridge (tenor) Ch & O de l’Opera Bastille/Myung-Whun Chung rec. 1992 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4779118 [79:13 + 76:19] [GF]

Chung with his more sober approach is convincing and misses nothing of the raw power of this patchy but fascinating work. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Cello sonata see Cello Rhapsody

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Karelia Suite, Four Legends from the Kalevala, The Bard, En Saga, The Tempest Overture, The Oceanides, Nightride and Sunrise Helsinki RSO/Okko Kamu, Bayerischen RSO/Eugen Jochum rec. 1955-75 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON ELOQUENCE 480 3297 [61:06 + 54:00] [RB]

Will appeal to LP era nostalgiacs and the wider constituency of Sibelius fans. 

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto, The Bard, The Wood Nymph Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Helsinki PO/John Storgårds rec. 2008/10 ONDINE ODE1147-2 [62:57] [RB]

A good mix and a very good recording of the concerto.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) The Sibelius Edition - Vol. 11: Choral Music YL Male Voice Ch, Orphei Drängar, Akademiska Sångföreningen, Jubilate Ch, Dominante Ch, Florakören, Folke Gräsbeck, Ilmo Ranta (piano) rec. 1996-2009 BIS BISCD1930-32 [6 CDs: 437:34] [RB]

A full musical experience - some modest and some much more - but all the music is aptly, and even fervently, communicated.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 4 & 6, Luonnotar Helmi Liukkonen, Finnish Ntl O/Georg Schneevoigt rec. 1934 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD0006 [69:27] [RB]

Bullion indeed from Schneevoigt, that fabled Sibelius champion of the 1930s

Emil SJÖGREN (1853-1918) Songs Katarina Pilotti (sop.) Kristina Balstedt Tyrenius (piano) rec. 2009-10 STERLING CDA1669-2 [71:37] [RB]

A professionally presented recital disc of unusual and engaging repertoire which in years to come will be recognised as a classic.

Leo SMIT (1900-1943) & Alexander TANSMAN (1897-1986) Chamber music Rachel Talitman (harp) Marcos Fregnani-Martins (flute) Jean-Luc Votano (clarinet) Trio Abocalips, Qt Ardente rec. 2010 HARP & COMPANY CD-5050-21 [72:42] [JW]

These near contemporaries share a gravitational pull toward Paris.

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) Works for Wind Band - Vol. 8 Royal Artillery Band/Keith Brion rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.559248 [58:48] [RW]

Good performance and excellent sound to match the colour of these sturdy pieces

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Paul STANHOPE (b. 1969) Songs for the Shadowland - Vocal Music Southern Cross Soloists; Cantillation, Sydney Chamber Ch/Paul Stanhope; Gondwana Voices/Lyn Williams rec. 2005-9 ABC CLASSICS 476 3870 [66:27] [WH]

Real music, brilliantly written for voices, beautiful and moving; not to be missed. 

The best of Josef STRAUSS Slovak State PO/Alfred Walter, Michael Dittrich, Christian Pollack NAXOS 8.556846 [78:09] [JS]

Naxos have done both composers a real service by issuing these discs.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ariadne on Naxos, Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Christine Brewer (soprano) Scottish CO/Sir Richard Armstrong rec. 2010 CHANDOS OPERA IN ENGLISH CHAN3168(2) [75:11 + 77:43] [ST]

Unless you’re entirely allergic to opera in English this set will give you a great deal of pleasure. 

Richard STRAUSS (1864 - 1949) Great Strauss Scenes (from Salome, Elekta, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Capriccio) Christine Brewer (soprano); Eric Owens (bass-baritone) Atlanta SO/Donald Runnicles rec. 2009 TELARC 31755-02 [59:10] [DH]

Brewer’s main success here is to evoke Elektra’s brief transition from mental anguish to hope. This she does with total security and tonal beauty, even as she digs into the darkest colours. 

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra; Don Juan; Till Eulenspiegel; Metamorphosen; Tod und Verklärung Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 1987/89 DAL SEGNO DSPRCD050 [51:19 + 68.16] [TB]

This set contains much of Strauss’s finest orchestral music, and these reissues from the 1980s find the Dresden orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt at the peak of their form.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Fairy's Kiss, Scènes de ballet BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov, rec. 2008 HYPERION CDA67697 [58:35] [SV]

A strong Scènes de ballet, with Craft's Naxos album of The Fairy's Kiss as a low-cost supplement.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882 - 1971) The Rake’s Progress Robert Lloyd (bass) Dawn Upshaw (soprano) Jerry Hadley (tenor) Samuel Ramey (baritone) Grace Bumbry (mezzo) Ch & O l’Opera National de Lyon/Kent Nagano rec. 1995/6 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 681380 [69:40 + 67:45] [GF]

A highly recommendable recording and now that it has been issued in the super-budget price range it would be close to criminal not to purchase it. 

Igor STRAVINSKY Le sacre du printemps see York2

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Meditation on the Old Czech Hymn St. Wenceslas

Alexander TANSMAN (1897-1986) Chamber music see SMIT

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Georg Kulenkampff (violin) Berlin Deutsches Opernhaus O/Artur Rother Berlin PO/Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt rec. 1935/9 DUTTON CDBP9800 [67:53] [JW]

An eminently reliable artist who seldom had an off-day in the studio. 

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) 12 Fantasias; Suite Heinz Holliger (oboe) Klaus Thunemann (bassoon) Christiane Jaccottet (harpsichord) REGIS RRC1343 [70:00] [GD]

A masterly Telemann programme.

Stevan Kovacs TICKMAYER (b.1963) Eight Hymns in memoriam Andrei Tarkovsky see Hymns and Prayers

Calliope TSOUPAKI (b. 1963) St Luke Passion (2008) Egidius Kwartet; Ioannis Arvanitis Byzantine Choir; Nieuw Ens/Ed Spanjaard rec. live, 2008 ET’CETERA KTC1402 [76:40] [HC]

A deeply felt and sincere work that deserves to be heard.  

Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949) Piano Music - Vol. 6 Jordi Masó (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572141 [71.01] [GH]

Especially revealing, enjoyable and interesting.

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The Collector’s Edition Various artists rec. 1965-95 EMI CLASSICS 2066362 [30 CDs: 34 hrs] [RB]

There is nothing like this anywhere and hardly a single dud in the collection. Any serious explorer who has not amassed many of these works already should get this and begin a journey of discovery.

Ian VENABLES (b.1955) Songs Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Iain Burnside (piano) Richard Hosford (clarinet) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572514 [66:04] [JF]

An ideal presentation of Ian Venables’ music that is essential to all enthusiasts of English music in general and English lieder in particular.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff Christopher Purves, Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2009 OPUS ARTE OA1021D [136.00] [MM-B]

An exceptionally fine cast and truly great performance.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Arias Sondra Radvanovsky (soprano) Academy of Vocal Arts, Moscow; Philharmonia of Russia/Orbelian rec. 2008 DELOS DE3404 [61:38] [RMo]

This incredible voice recalls the glory days of Verdi sopranos of the 1950s. 

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548 - 1611) 18 Tenebrae Responsoria Musica Ficta/Raúl Mallavibarrena rec. 2009 ENCHIRIADIS EN2029 [58:00] [JV]

Emotional and sometimes dramatic reading of Victoria's Tenebrae Responsories.

Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (1548–1611) Salve Regina and other sacred music Pro Cantione Antiqua, London Cornett and Sackbut Ens/Bruno Turner rec. 1978 DAS ALTE WERK 2564 68361-7 [65.12] [RH]

Do try this. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881) Violin Concerto 5 see LALO

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Mandolin and Lute Concertos L’Arte dell’ Arco/Federico Guglielmo rec. 2009, DDD. BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93810 [68:46] [MG]

Fresh, direct, closely recorded virtuoso interpretations.

Anton WEBERN Orchestral Pieces see Second Viennese School

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Chansons de mer and other songs Michael Bundy (baritone) Jeremy Filsell (piano) rec. 2003/5 NAXOS 8.572345 [62:53] [WK]

Interesting, if not fascinating music, from an obscure corner of the composer’s workshop. Very sensitively performed overall. 

The best of Carl Michael ZIEHER Slovak State PO/Alfred Walter, Michael Dittrich, Christian Pollack NAXOS 8.5556848 [80:13] [JS]

Naxos have done both composers a real service by issuing these discs.

Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
[last 5 days] [Recommended recordings]



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