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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Alphabetical Listing

PART 2
A-B

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 week] [Recommended recordings]


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

Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909) Selections from Iberia Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Variations Sérieuses Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Sonata 3 Matthew Bengtson (piano) ROMEO RECORDS 7280 [63:42] [Byz]

A very intelligent recital, imaginative and analytical in equal measure.

William ALWYN (1905-1985) Violin Concerto, Miss Julie Suite, Fanfare for a Joyful Occasion Lorraine McAslan (violin) Royal Liverpool PO/David Lloyd Jones rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.570705 [58:19] [JF]

Some very impressive and often very romantic music.

Samuel ARNOLD (1740-1802) Polly Laura Albino (soprano) Aradia Ens/Kevin Mallon rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.660241 [78:37] [GPu]

Slight but charming music which entertains and is of genuine historical interest.

Charles AVISON (1709 - 1770) Harpsichord Sonatas, Opp. 5 & 7 The Avison Ensemble: Gary Cooper (harpsichord) Pavlo Beznosiuk, Carolien Balding (violin) Robin Michael (cello) rec. 2008 DIVINE ART DDA21215 [65:33 + 46:36] [JV]

Almost two hours of first-rate musical entertainment.

Charles AVISON (1709-1770) Concertos see D SCARLATTI

Grazyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Piano Quintets 1 & 2, Piano Sonata 2 Krystian Zimerman (piano) Kaja Danczowska, Agata Szymczewska (violin) Ryzsard Groblewski (viola) Rafal Kwiatkowski (cello) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8332 [65:09] [GD]

This music does not play itself; it requires and receives committed interpretation. The results are magnificent with playing as passionate as it is precise.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Johann Ludwig BACH (1667-1731) Trauermusik Anna Prohaska (soprano) Ivonne Fuchs (alto) Maximilian Schmitt (tenor) Andreas Wolf (bass) RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik/Hans-Christoph Rademann rec. 2010 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902080 [77:27] [JQ]

A revelation. Johann Ludwig Bach’s masterpiece has been splendidly served in this superb performance.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St. John Passion Katharine Fuge, Joanne Lunn (soprano) Bernarda Fink (alto) Mark Padmore (tenor) Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Peter Harvey (bass) Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2003 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG712 [35:25 + 79:24] [JQ]

A splendid new account of the St. John Passion, which all devotees of Bach’s vocal music should try to hear.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Easter Oratorio, Ascension Oratorio Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) James Gilchrist (tenor) Peter Harvey (bass) Retrospect Ens/Matthew Halls rec. 2010 LINN CKD373 [70:26] [JQ]

An effervescent disc of Bach’s vocal music, containing distinguished and stylish performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos Giuliano Carmignola (principal violin) Orch Mozart/Claudio Abbado rec. 2007. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 8908 [47:26 + 44:00] [MG]

Bach on the quiet side but refreshingly different.


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
 

Béla BARTÓK
(1881 - 1945) Sonata for solo violin see GRIEG

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Miraculous Mandarin Suite Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 London SO/Jonathan Pasternack rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.572448 [68:29] [WH]

A young American conductor with one of the world’s finest orchestras fails to convince in Bartók and Brahms.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) 2 Portraits, First Rhapsody see KODÁLY

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 7-9 Wiener Singverein, Annette Dasch (soprano) Mihoko Fujimura (contralto) Piotr Beczala (tenor) Georg Zeppenfeld (bass) Vienna PO/Christian Thielemann; Discovering Beethoven commentary rec. 2008-2010 UNITEL/CMAJOR 705204 [306:56] [RC]

Among the best Beethoven cycles available today …In fact, this would probably be my top choice … an historic musical event. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano) Elína Garanča (mezzo) Michael Schade (tenor) Franz-Josef Selig (bass) Sächischer Staatsopernchor Dresden, Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2010 UNITEL CLASSICA 705504 [90:00] [BW]

On DVD this is already Recording of the Month and the Blu-ray is worth paying extra.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 2 & 8 Royal PO/Hermann Scherchen rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 198 [52:32] [MG]

Performances of considerable panache which wear their years lightly.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 5, Piano Concerto 4 Emanuel Ax (piano) San Francisco SO/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2009 SFS MEDIA 821936-0037-2 [68:17] [GD]

A turbulent, in-your-face Fifth and a very fine concerto.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 1 & 3 Emil Gilels (piano) New Philh O/Adrian Boult rec. 1967 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5000 [70:26] [JW]

Real rapport between Gilels and Boult.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) 33 Variations in C major on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Andante favori Gerard Willems (piano) rec. 2010 ABC CLASSICS 476 4113 [69:13] [DC]

Dive for cover – lethal weapon turned up to 11.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Bei Männern variations, Kreutzer sonata, Cello sonata Ivan Monighetti (cello) Pavel Gililov (piano) rec. 2008 DUX 0704 [71:37] [OL]

The music is full of optimism, and the performance is fittingly buoyant.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 4 & 5 Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2009/2010 BIS BISSACD1758 [70:27] [MB]

Overriding exuberance - spontaneous, never merely studied.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 4, 5 & 7, Violin concerto Erich Röhn (violin) Berlin PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. live, 1943/4 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC267/71 [74:12 + 77:41] [MC]

These two exceptional discs have real historical significance and capture the true greatness of these live performances. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 17 & 31 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonata Jill Crossland (piano) rec. 2003 DIVINE ART DIVERSIONS DDV24147 [76:06]  [OL]

A consistent and well thought-out recital that grew on me with each listening.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Cello sonatas, Magic Flute variations Jan Páleníček (cello), Jitka čechová (piano) rec. 2010 ARCODIVA no number [63:51] [GA]

Straightforward but sensitive performances let down by a recessive balance for the cello in the sonatas.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 8 see KODALY

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Violin Concerto, Lulu-Suite, Three Orchestral Pieces, Piano Sonata, String Quartet, Lyric Suite, Seven Early Songs Franz Peter Zimmermann (violin) Arleen Augér (soprano) Peter Donohoe (piano) Alban Berg Qt, CBSO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 1987-2004 EMI CLASSICS 9072112 [79:14 + 75:14] [LW]

A fine collection of Berg that should have wide appeal.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918 - 1990) Divertimento for Orchestra, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Chichester Psalms Barbara Hendricks (soprano) Thomas Hampson (baritone) Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury, CBSO/Paavo Järvi, London Sinf/John McGlinn rec. 1990-7 EMI CLASSICS 6411212 [65.33] [RH]

A good reminder of what an interesting and varied composer Bernstein could be. 

Carl Heinrich VON BIBER (1681-1749) & Heinrich Ignaz Franz VON BIBER (1644-1704) Sonatas for trumpets, strings and continuo Gabriele Cassone (natural trumpet) Roberto Falcone (violin) Ens 'Pian & Forte'/Antonio Frigé rec. 1998 DYNAMIC DM8001 [68:47] [JV]

The playing of Gabriele Cassone is this disc's main attraction but the strings are rather bland.

Thomas BLOCH (b. 1962) Missa Cantate Jorg Waschinski (counter-tenor) Thomas Bloch (glass harmonica, cristal Baschet, crystal bells, keyboards, waterphone, ondes martenot) David Coulter (musical saw) Paderewski PO/Fernand Quattrocchi rec. 2002/5 NAXOS 8.572489 [66.13] [RH]

This disc appealed mainly for Bloch’s interesting use of unusual instruments.

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) String Quintets Vol. IX La Magnifica Comunità BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93977 [54:31 + 59:44] [RC]

Very desirable and worthwhile … a very good way of getting to know and understand a fascinating and relatively unfamiliar body of work. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Wach auf, meins Herzens Schöne Anne Le Bozec (piano) Vocalensemble Rastatt/Holger Speck rec. 2009 CARUS 83.448 [63:52] [OL]

Warm and elegant.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97) Symphonies 2 & 3 SO Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2006/10 BR KLASSIK 900111 [79:05] [MC]

Excellent performances in live recordings. These rank up there amongst the finest available versions.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet 1 Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Amsterdam Sinf rec. 2007/10 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CCSSA30411 [63:23] [DC]

Very fine indeed. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 see WAGNER

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 see BARTÓK

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cello symphony, Symphonic Suite from Gloriana, Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes Robert Murray (tenor) Paul Watkins (cello) BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN10658 [76:22] [LW]

Gardner and the BBC Philharmonic do Britten proud.

Prospero’s Isle James Francis BROWN (b. 1969) Piano Quartet, Violin Sonata, Prospero’s Isle, String Trio Tamás András (violin) Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) Gemma Rosefield (cello) Katya Apekisheva (piano) Jack Liebeck (violin) Nicola Eimer (piano) rec. 2008 GUILD GMCD7354 [74:30] [WH]

Four compelling and highly individual chamber works brilliantly performed by six outstanding young instrumentalists.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 2 Aachen SO/Marcus Bosch rec. live, 2010 COVIELLO COV31015 [66:21] [GD]

It all comes together in a way that few manage with this work. 

Gavin BRYARS (b.1943) After Handel’s Vesper, Ramble on Cortona, Piano Concerto Ralph van Raat (piano) Capella Amsterdam, Netherlands Radio Ch P/Otto Tausk rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572570 [52:42] [JW]

Wistful, often romantic and without flourish, and deeply intimate in reach.

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) Complete Organ Works Volumes 1-3 Hans Davidsson (organ) rec. 2006 LOFT RECORDINGS LRCD1090-96 [7 CDs: 507:25] [BW]

Amid the wealth of currently available sets, this is well worth considering.

BARGAIN OF THE MONTH William BYRD (1539?/43?-1623) Masses: For 3, 4 and 5 Voices Christ Church Cath Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington rec. 1989/1991 REGIS RRC1336 [72:11] [BW]

Despite the strong competition, this is a superb bargain.


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 week] [Recommended recordings]


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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