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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+ Download

Roman MACIEJEWSKI (1910-1998) Complete Piano Mazurkas Mazurka nos. 1-39 and 21bis [137:11] Anna Brozek (piano) rec.2009. DDD SARTON RECORDS 003-4.2 [67:02 + 70:09] [Byz]

Should be acquired by all admirers of quality piano music.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Kiss on Wood, A Different World, Fourteen Little Pictures, in angustiis…I & II Gregory Harrington (violin) Simon Mulligan (piano) Caroline Stinson (cello) rec. 2009 ESTILE RECORDS 391651 [63:56] [WH]

A disc of contrasts, sweet and lilting, austere and challenging, all brilliantly played.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Choral Music Jonathan Vaughan (organ) Wells Cathedral Choir/Matthew Owens rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67867 [78:44] [MC]

Repeated hearings were essential to fully uncover the many delights of this beautiful music.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 8 Soloists, London PO/Klaus Tennstedt rec. 1991 LPO 0052 [26:19 + 60:42] [JQ]

This extraordinary, visionary reading of the Eighth is an unforgettable experience.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4, Des Knaben Wunderhorn Margaret Ritchie (soprano) Concertgebouw O/Eduard van Beinum rec. 1950/2 MAGDALEN METCD 8004 [75:23] [CH]

Van Beinum’s Mahler 4 takes its place in the Concertgebouw orchestra’s history.

Mahler: Autopsy of a Genius A film by Andy Sommer EUROARTS 2058838 [88:00] [ST]

It’s difficult to know who this film is aimed at, or what it’s trying to do. Neither a biography of Mahler nor an analysis of his works.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Wesendonck-Lieder Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) 3 Mörike-Lieder Waltraud Meier (mezzo) Orch de Paris/Daniel Barenboim rec. 1988 WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 675392 [56:12] [MC]

A fine collection that I will play again often but the competition in Wesendonck-Lieder and Kindertotenlieder is extremely fierce.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo) Siegfried Jerusalem (tenor) SWR SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg/Michael Gielen rec. 1992 HÄNSSLER CLASSICS CD 93.269 [63:31] [WH]

A marvellous reading overall, though not without the occasional passing weakness, and with one curious and questionable characteristic. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 9 see Giulini in America

Bruno MANTOVANI (b.1974) Concerto for two violas, Time Stretch (on Gesualdo), Finale Tabea Zimmermann, Antoine Tamestit (viola) Liège Royal Philharmonic/Pascal Rophé rec. 2009 AEON AECD1102 [69:18] [Byz]

Fine performances and recordings of what is often demanding music. 

William MATHIAS (1934-1992) Violin Sonatas Sara Trickey (violin) Iwan Llewellyn-Jones (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572292 [53:05] [JF]

Likely to become definitive for many years to come. 

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b. 1934) Linguae Ignis, Vesalii Icones, Fantasia on a Ground and Two Pavans Vittorio Ceccanti (cello) Contempoartensemble/Mauro Ceccanti rec. 2004 NAXOS 8.572712 [60:41] [MS]

Highly idiomatic, pleasing, convincing and fresh performances of works central to Maxwell Davies’ output

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Overture see Romantic Wind Serenades

Gian Carlo MENOTTI (1911-2007) The Medium; The Telephone Evelyn Keller (soprano) Marie Powers (contralto) Frank Rogier (baritone) Marilyn Cotlow (soprano) unnamed O/Emanuel Balaban rec. 1947 NAXOS 8.111370 [77:51] [GF]

The playing and singing in both works is good and the sound is very good.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Les Huguenots Joan Sutherland (soprano) Australian Opera Ch & O/Richard Bonynge rec. 1990 OPERA AUSTRALIA OPOZ56007CD [3 CDs: 181:26] [JS]

An exciting souvenir of an historic occasion.

Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) Piano Concerto 1 see RAVEL

Ludwig MINKUS (1826-1917) Don Quixote Dutch Nat Ballet, Holland Symf/Kevin Rhodes rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101 561 [122:00 + 30:00] [RMay]

Generally excellent artistic standards and with an individual twist.

Meredith MONK (b. 1942) Songs of Ascension Meredith Monk, Vocal Ens; Todd Reynolds Qt; The M6; Montclair State University Singers rec. 2009 ECM NEW SERIES 2154 [67:37] [DC]

Highly commended.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze di Figaro, Bastien und Bastienne Rita Streich, Walter Berry, Christa Ludwig, Ilse Holweg, Vienna SO/Karl Böhm, John Pritchard rec. 1953/6 GUILD GHCD2373-5 [3 CDs: 208:05] [WH]

Beautifully sung in more than acceptable mono but not the most dynamic Figaro available.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Requiem Jonty Ward, James Swash, Guy Cutting, Jonathan Howard, Choir of New College Oxford, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Edward Higginbottom rec. 2010 NOVUM NCR1383 [48:46] [JQ]

A reading of the Mozart Requiem that, for all its positive points, doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of repeated domestic listening.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin sonatas, Variations on the air Come un agnello Nap de Klijn (violin) Alice Heksch (fortepiano and piano) rec. 1951-5 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR392/93 [58:58 + 61:16] [JW]

These performances are attractive and sensitive. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet see HAYDN

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Divertimento see BACH

Nico MUHLY (b.1981) Seeing is Believing, Motion, By All Means, Step Team Thomas Gould (electric violin) Aurora O/Nicholas Collon rec. 2010 DECCA 478 2731 [73:21] [DC]

Very fine, but to what exactly are we connecting? 

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Boris Godunov Orlin Anastassov (bass) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Torino/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2010 OPUS ARTE OA1053D [147:00] [RJF]

I am sure the young Bulgarian bass Orlin Anastassov will grow into one of the great interpreters of Boris. In the meantime his young man’s interpretation in this production is worth seeing.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839- 1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata 7, Piano Concerto 1 Sviatoslav Richter (piano) Prague SO/Karel Ančerl rec. 1954/1958 REGIS RRC1373 [62:31] [JW]

With decent transfers and at super budget price, what’s not to like?

Modest Petrovich MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition see Giulini in America

Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846-1909) Chamber Works – vol. 3 Trois pičces pour violon et piano Op.24 (c.1890) [12:59] Chansonnette d’Ukraine Op.26 No.2a (1890) [1:01] Berceuse Op.11 (1880) [3:10] Violin Sonata in A minor (before 1875) [39:47] Jolanta Sosnowska (violin) Donát Deáky (piano) rec. 2009/ 2010 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0248 [57:01] [JW]

Keen, warm performances and decent recording though I doubt Noskowski will make much real headway in this selection.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gösta NYSTROEM (1890-1966) Sinfonia breve, Sinfonia del mare Malena Ernman (mezzo) Malmö SO/Christoph König rec. 2006/2007 BIS-CD-1682 [57:04] [RB]

Neo-romantic music-making with a dramatic spine.

Ole OLSEN (1850-1927) Asgaardsreien, Trombone concerto, Symphony 1 Christian Lindberg (trombone) Arctic PO/Rune A. Halvorsen rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1968 [62:56] [RB]

Olsen fascinatingly brought to our ears. Much in common with Grieg perhaps spliced with Saint-Saens and even Bizet.

Nigel OSBORNE (b. 1948) The Birth of Naciketas see KORDE

Following On Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Flute sonata, Oboe sonata, Mélancolie Tim EWERS (b.1958) Flautando, Rainy Days and Holidays, Following on The Fibonnacci Sequence rec. 2009 GUILD GMCD7344 [73:27] [CR]

Magical and spacious harmonies.

Camille PLEYEL (1788-1855) Piano works Masha Dimitrieva (piano) rec. 2010 GRAMOLA 98884 [59:30] [Byz]

Elegant, witty, varied, virtuosic … demonstrating painstaking, intelligent pianism.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Visions Fugitives, Five Sarcasms, Piano Sonatas 3 & 7, Tales of an Old Grandmother see Sofronitsky

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony 1 see Giulini in America

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly Raffaella Angeletti, Massimiliano Pisapia; Fondazione Orch Regionale delle Marche/Daniele Callegari rec. 2009 UNITEL CLASSICA 706208 [137:00] [NB]

An honourable and solid reading of a magnificent score but lacking the last twist of the emotional knife of greatness.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Three Symphonies BBC NOW / Otaka rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, Wales. 5-6 September 1992, 8-9 September 1991. NIMBUS NI1786 [3 CDs: 74:05 + 65:31 + 63:55] [RB]

Stunning and idiomatically Russian in the grandest of traditions. A rather underestimated presence in the catalogue.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos 1-4, Piano Sonata 2, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini John Lill (piano) BBC Ntl O Wales/Tadaaki Otaka rec. 1993-6 NIMBUS RECORDS NI 1720 [3 CDs: 207:47] [DC]

Not perfect, but will still do very nicely thank you.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Piano Concerti 2 & 3 Shura Cherkassky (piano) Gothenburg SO/Sergiu Comissiona/Sten Frykberg rec. 1968/1970
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD155 [76:44] [JW]

Cherkassky breathing new and quixotic life into these concertos.

Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata 7 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Three Scenes from Petrushka Shura Cherkassky (piano) Cologne RSO/Zdenek Mácal rec. 1951-1970 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5020 [76:28] [CH]

The Rachmaninov Polka is the stuff of legends. But the rest?

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Preludes and Melodies Alessio Bax (piano) rec. 2010 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD264 [77:06] [DC]

Marvellous in every regard.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Complete Preludes Peter Katin (piano) rec. 1971 SOMMCD 0110 [79:10] [RB]

The silences between notes are weighted to perfection; the rhetoric extremely well judged.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1843) Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini see DOHNÁNYI

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Les Surprises de l’amour - transcriptions de Monsieur Hesse Monique Zanetti (soprano) Stephen MacLeod (baritone) Jonathan Dunford and Sylvia Abramowitz (basses de violes) Pierre Trocellier (clavecin) rec. 2009 ALPHA 176 [66.43] [GH]

Attractive and charming music, well presented, superb performances but this is a disc for specialists.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Concerto Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) Piano Concerto 1 Marguerite Long (piano) unnamed SO/Pedro de Freitas Branco, Société des Concerts du Conservatoire O/Georges Tzipine rec. 1932-52 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC285 [72:56] [JW]

A well transferred and engaging disc.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Complete Works for Piano Duet Ingryd Thorson, Julian Thurber (piano duo) rec. 1987 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94176 [45:00 + 43:36] [PK]

A set worth having, especially for those interested in how Ravel, the master orchestrator, moved among instrumentations.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Fantasia see LISZT

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Pines of Rome; Fountains of Rome; Roman Festivals Royal PO/Josep Caballé-Domenech rec. 2010 ONYX 4083 [62:49] [DM]


Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Shéhérazade Op.35 (1888) [46:37] Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) Polovtsian Dances Prince Igor (1869-1887) [12:07] Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) A Night on the Bare Mountain (1867) [12:22] Choeur de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo/Yakov Kreizberg rec. 2010 OPMC CLASSICS OPMC 003 [61:06] [NB]

Cherished music receiving loving performances.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade, Tsar Saltan Samuel Magad (violin) Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim rec. 1993 WARNER APEX 2564 67429-0 [67:09] [BR]

Buy it and turn up the volume and you’ll have a good time. But this is only the second-best budget Scheherazade of 2011.

George ROCHBERG (1918-2005) Violin Sonata, Caprice Variations Peter Sheppard Skćrved (violin) Aaron Schorr (piano) rec. 2000/2004 METIER MSV 28521 [63:17 + 52:52] [Byz]

A quality release.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il Viaggio a Reims - Comic Opera in One Act (1825) [164:00] Soloists Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu/Jesús López-Cobos ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 135 [164:00] [JS]

There is much to be said for this. It gives a fair representation of one of Rossini’s most extraordinary concoctions.

Miklós RÓZSA (1907-1995) Variations on a Hungarian Peasant Song for violin and orchestra, Op. 4 (1929) [10:01 The Vintner's Daughter - Twelve Variations on a French Folk Song, Op. 23a (1953) [16:36] Notturno Ungherese, Op. 28 (1964) [8:30] Cello Concerto, Op. 32 (1967-68) [30:01] Paul Watkins (cello); Jennifer Pike (violin) BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba rec. 2009/ 2010 CHANDOS CHAN 10674 [65:40] [RB]

High hopes fulfilled.

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[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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