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[last 5 days] [Recommended recordings]

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

Francesca CACCINI (1587 – c.1641) O viva rosa Shannon Mercer (sop.) Amanda Keesmaat (cello) Sylvain Bergeron (theorbo, guitar) Luc Beauséjour (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2009 ANALEKTA AN 2 9966 [61:54] [JV]

Shannon Mercer's performances of Francesca Caccini's music are excellent, but some aspects of this recording are questionable and the production is careless.

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Poème de l’amour et de la mer, String Quartet, Chanson Perpétuelle Salomé Haller (soprano); Nicolas Kruger (piano) Quatuor Manfred rec. 2009 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT100402 [65:39] [NB]

Well recorded and produced, well thought out and in the main well performed.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1634-1704) Médée Suite see RAMEAU

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Late Masterpieces Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2009 HYPERION CDA67764 [73:08] [JW]

Artful and sympathetic, avoiding excess and celebrating measured lyricism.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto 2 see SCHUMANN

Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801) Requiem Adriana Kucerová (sop.) Terézia Kružliaková (alto) L’udovit Ludha (ten.) Gustáv Belácek (bass) Trinity & Lúcnica Ch, Capella Istropolitana/Kirk Trevor, rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.572371 [51:45] [J-PJ]

A rather flat affair ... instantly forgettable

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Clarinet Concerto see ALDRIDGE


François COUPERIN (1668-1733) L’Apothéose de Lully, Les Nations English CO/Raymond Leppard Jacobean Ens/Thurston Dart rec. 1962/6 DECCA ELOQUENCE 4802372 [75:48] [TB]

Well played performances from the 1960s of music by one of the great baroque masters still sound well today though supplanted by more recent recordings. 

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Piano Sonatas - Volume 2 Martin Jones (piano) rec. 2008/9 NIMBUS NI 5863/64 [68:45 + 65:24] [JW]

Quite simply exemplary and splendidly recorded as well

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Benjamin DALE (1885-1943) Sonata William HURLSTONE (1876-1906) Sonata Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2006 SOMM SOMMCD 097 [79:30] [JF]

Two of the greatest twentieth century British piano sonatas stunningly played and beautifully recorded.

Jean-Yves DANIEL-LESUR (1908-2002) Suite Médiévale see ROPARTZ

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata see FAURÉ

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Violin Sonatas 2 & 3 John IRELAND (1879-1962) Cello Sonata, Violin Sonata 2 Roger Chase (viola) Michiko Otaki (pno), rec. 2009 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7250 [70:06] [RB]

A harvest of touchingly successful Tertis arrangements.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) A Late Lark see FINZI

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) L’Elisir d’Amore Mariella Devia, Roberto Alagna, Tallis Chamber Ch, English CO/Marcello Viotti, rec. 1992 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 681478 [73:11 + 56:08] [JS]

Enjoyable with the special appeal of two young and fresh-sounding principals.

Pascal DUSAPIN (b. 1955) Seven Solos for Orchestra Liège Wallonie Bruxelles PO/Pascal Rophé rec. 2008-09 NAÏVE MO782180 [48:09 + 42:23] [HC]

Dusapin’s large-scale orchestral cycle in committed, superbly recorded performances.

Antonin DVORÁK (1841-1904) String Quartets 9 & 14 Wihan Qt rec. 2010 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6115 [67:30] [GD]

Impeccable refinement.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 6 Josef SUK (1874-1935) Sokol March, Serenade Czech PO/Václav Talich rec. 1938 NAXOS 8.112050 [78:35] [JW]

Talich is the fulcrum, the animating spirit that releases buoyant musicality.  

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841–1904) Symphony 9 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 4 Royal Albert Hall O/Sir Landon Ronald, rec. 1925 & 1927 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD00040 [75:41] [JW]

Historically important recordings … very well worthy of investigation

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphonies 8 & 9, The Noon-Day Witch, In Nature’s Realm Vienna PO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 1991/2 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802003 [49:50 + 59:40] [BR]

Not challenging the best, but nothing wrong here either.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Concerto William WALTON (1902-1983) Violin Concerto Salvatore Accardo (violin) London SO/Richard Hickox rec. 1991 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9173 [77:01] [RB]

Inspiring playing from Accardo and colleagues matched with a refined yet leonine recording.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Violin Sonata 1 Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Sonata 1 Jascha Heifetz (violin) Emanuel Bay (pno), rec. 1936/50 IDIS 6591 [55:29] [JW]

Shows Heifetz at his mature peak.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Dies Natalis Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Les Illuminations, 4 chansons françaises Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) A Late Lark Susan Gritton (sop.) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2009 CHANDOS CHAN 10590 [68:15] [JQ]

Something of a mixed bag

John FOULDS (1880-1939) Keltic Overture & Suite, Sicilian Aubade, Isles of Greece, Holiday Sketches, An Arabian Night, Suite Fantastique BBC Concert O/Ronald Corp rec. 2010 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7252 [68:06] [RB]

A splendid and enjoyable addition to the light music catalogue.

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Quintet 1 for flute, harp & string trio see ROPARTZ

Carlo Giorgio GAROFALO (1886-1962) Violin Concerto; Romantic Symphony Sergei Stadler (violin), New Moscow Symphony/Joel Spiegelman rec. 1999 NAXOS 8.570877 [70:27] [NB][RB]

So with inadequate notes, acceptable engineering, uninspiring interpretations (Sergei Stadler honourably excepted) and music of modest quality this is not a must buy [NB]. - This disc is not to be overlooked though the Symphony is not the reason for chasing this one down [RB]

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gershwin by Grofé: Symphonic Jazz Lincoln Mayorga (piano) Al Gallodoro (alto saxophone/ clarinet/bass clarinet) Harmonie Ens New York/Steven Richman rec. 2007 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907492 [54:46] [JQ]

A hugely entertaining and historically informed CD that’s a mandatory purchase for all Gershwin fans

Armstrong GIBBS (1889-1960) Oboe Concerto Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Oboe Concerto Christopher WRIGHT (b.1954) Oboe Concerto Elis PEHKONEN (b.1942) Amor Vincit Omnia Jonathan Small (oboe/oboe d’amore) Royal Liverpool PO/Martin Yates rec. 2010 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7249 [66:35]  [RB]

A most affecting disc from Dutton. 

Armstrong GIBBS (1889-1960) Complete works for violin and piano Robert Atchison (violin) Olga Dudnik (piano) rec. 2010. DDD GUILD GMCD7353 [72:08] [RB]

This is a lovely disc which will appeal to anyone who has any feeling for Delius or pastoral Finzi or Milford or RVW in Lark Ascending mode.

Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Estancia, Suite de Danzas Criollas, Panambí, Ollantay, Popol Vuh London SO, Jerusalem SO, BBC Ntl O Wales/Gisèle Ben-Dor rec. 1997-2006 NAXOS 8.570999 [72:51] [HC]

A generously filled release with fine performances. 

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) String Quartets 1-4 Carducci String Qt rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.559636 [64:16] [NB]

The comfy-armchair school of contemporary music.

Philip GLASS (b.1937) Music in Similar Motion, How Now, Music in Fifths Steffen Schleiermacher (organ, piano) rec. 2008 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG6131600-2 [67:22] [DC]

One of the best of its kind. 

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Violin Concerto Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concerto 1 Sasha Rozhdestvensky (violin) State Symphony Capella of Russia/Gennady Rozhdestvensky rec. 2007 NIMBUS NI6123 [60:22] [WH]

One fine performance and one great one from a father and son team

Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787) Blessed Spirit: A Gluck Retrospective Sophie Bevan, Ailish Tynan (sop.), Anna Stéphany (mezzo), Classical Opera Co./Ian Page rec. 2010 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0037 [79:44] [GD]

A document of a performance to make you wish you'd been there.

André GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Ballet Music see RAMEAU

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Tommie HAGLUND (b.1959) Hymns to the Night, Daughter of the Voice,To the Sunset Breeze Elizabeth Pitcairn (violin); Helsingborg SO/Hannu Koivula, John Mills (guitar); Stephen Fitzpatrick (harp); Lysell Qt rec. 2009/10 PHONO SUECIA PSCD184 [79:48] [NB]

What a restoration of faith in the power of new music this disc gives me – contemporary music that is complex, rewarding, moving and above all human. My disc of the year without a doubt.

Naji HAKIM (b. 1955) Påskeblomst, Organ concertos 1 & 3, Esquisses Grégoriennes Jan Lehtola (organ) St. Michel Strings/Petri Komulainen rec. 2008 ALBA ABCD285 [76:43] [HC]

An excellent introduction to Hakim’s attractive and accessible music.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Utrecht Te Deum, Utrecht Jubilate see Music for St Paul’s

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Harpsichord Concerto, Violin Concerto, Double Concerto Stefano Montanari (violin); Ottavo Dantone (harpsichord/dir) Accademia Bizantina rec. 2009 L’OISEAU-LYRE 478 2243 [59:20] [J-PJ]

The two musicians are clearly as one in their appreciation of this music.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 6-8 ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 1980 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802006 [59:21] [JS]

Lively and well considered

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Trios 18, 23, 28 & 39 Jean Fournier (violin); Antonio Janigro (cello); Paul Badura-Skoda (piano) rec. c.1957 PRISTINE AUDIO XR PACM070 [53:56] [JW]

This welcome retrieval brings back to the catalogue an unjustly overlooked trio whose collaborations merit admiration. 

Hans Werner HENZE (b. 1926) Apassionatamente plus Alban BERG (1885-1935) Lulu-Suite Julia Bauer (soprano) Essener Philharmoniker/Stefan Soltesz rec. 2009/10 CYBELE 860.801 [54:54] [DC]

A fine disc, though a cooler Berg than some

Recomposed by Matthew HERBERT (b.1972) Mahler Symphony X with Michael Trabesinger (solo viola) Using: Philharmonia Orchestra/Giuseppe Sinopoli DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 2734438 [37:30] [DC]

Interesting, but well flawed innit.

Alun HODDINOTT (1929–2008) Landscapes Claire Booth (soprano) Nicky Spence (tenor) Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone) Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) Michael Pollock (piano) rec. 2010 BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS437CD [60:07] [HC]

A most welcome addition to Hoddinott’s discography with a number of very fine, often overlooked song-cycles

Vagn HOLMBOE (1909-1996) The Complete String Quartets Kontra Qt rec. 1992-2000 DACAPO 8.207001 [7 CDs: 472:00] [RB]

Holmboe’s quartets are one of the great treasures of the last century and one that should endure for as long as audiences have even the slightest of grip on an attention span.

Gustav HOLST (1874–1934) The Planets Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844–1908) Mlada – Suite Philharmonia O/Yevgeny Svetlanov rec. 1991 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94044 [74:22] [RB]

An iconoclastically expansive Planets which allows for analytical clarity and invites careful study.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets, A Choral Fantasia etc. EMI CLASSICS 6278982 [75:22 + 70:55] [BBr]

An important re-issue which serves to show us just how fine a composer Holst was.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH William HURLSTONE (1876-1906) Sonata see DALE


John IRELAND (1879-1962) Piano Music Vol. 3 Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2008 SOMM SOMMCD099 [75:48] [JF]

Bebbington is essential listening

John IRELAND (1879-1962) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2, Cello Sonata Lucy Gould (violin) Alice Neary (cello) Benjamin Frith (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572497 [79:05] [JF]

A strong sense of place.

John IRELAND (1879-1962) Cello Sonata, Violin Sonata 2 see DELIUS

John JEFFREYS (1927-2010) The Far Country: 26 English Songs James Gilchrist (tenor); Anna Tilbrook (piano) rec. 2005 DIVINE ART DDA25049 [69:28] [JQ]

English songs in the best traditions of the genre, excellently performed.

Joseph JONGEN (1873–1953) Concertino for viola and piano, Introduction et danse, Andante espressivo; Allegro appassionato see KOECHLIN

Viktor KALABIS (1923-2006) Orchestral and chamber works Zuzana Ružicková (piano, harpsichord) Josef Suk (violin) Prague Chamber Soloists; Vlach Qt; Suk Trio; Czech PO/Jirí Belohlávek; Zdenek Košler; Václav Neumann; Karel Šejna rec. 1957-84 MSR CLASSICS MS1350 [3 CDs: 71:47 + 69:33 + 58:59] [RB]

This set of rare recordings of rewarding music is marked as a limited authorised edition so do run it to ground before it disappears.

Charles KOECHLIN (1857–1950) Viola Sonata, Quatres Petites Pièces Joseph JONGEN (1873–1953) Concertino for viola and piano, Introduction et danse, Andante espressivo; Allegro appassionato Roger Benedict (viola) Ben Jacks (horn) Timothy Young (piano) rec. 2009 MELBA MR 301126 [68:36] [BBr]

A very desirable issue.

Jaroslav KRCEK (b. 1939) Symphony 5 see BRAHMS

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Selected Organ Works see NIELSEN

Jean LANGLAIS (1907-1991) Musique Vocale Maîtrise des Bouches-du-Rhône/Samuel Coquard Marie-Louise Langlais (organ) rec. 2007 SOLSTICE SOCD241 [56:40] [JQ]

Lovers of French choral music should investigate this enterprising issue.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) Symphony 1, Piano Concerto 3 Howard Shelley (piano) (Concerto) BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2009 CHANDOS CHAN10608 [73:03] [JF]

Well done Chandos - I waited for 36 years and you have not disappointed me!

Peter LIEBERSON (b. 1946) Piano Concerto 2, Rilke Songs, Bagatelles, Piano Quintet Peter Serkin (piano) Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo) New York Phil/ James Conlon, Orion String Qt rec. 1985-2007 BRIDGE 9317 [68:20] [LW]

Recommended for the Piano Concerto and Rilke Songs

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) A Faust Symphony Alexander Young (tenor) Beecham Ch Soc, Royal PO/Thomas Beecham rec. 1956 SOMM SOMMBEECHAM 25 [70:06] [JW]

The frisson of a live performance with tension set high.  

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Works - Vol. 31: Bellini Operas William Wolfram (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572241 [70:06] [JS]

Well filled, well arranged and good notes. If you are collecting the Naxos Liszt series there is every reason to add this too. 

Sergei LYAPUNOV (1859-1924) Violin Concerto, Symphony 1 Maxim Fedotov (violin) Russian PO/Dmitry Yablonsky rec. 2007 NAXOS DIGITAL 8.570462 [64:06] [BR]

A very Russian symphony, but the concerto is the star. 

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[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
[Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
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