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Captivating scores

Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear

vital imagination

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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

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This impressed me mightily

Shostakovich 5, 8 9
Great concentration

Let me tell you
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Berkeley - Authenticity

Highly Expressive

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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]

[Last month's reviews] [Earlier reviews]

Aulis SALLINEN (b. 1935) Concerto for Clarinet and Viola see EÖTVÖS

Erkki SALMENHAARA (1941-2002) Violin Sonata, Cello Sonatas, Trois Scènes de Nuit Jouni Somero (piano) Raymond Cox (violin) Laura Bucht (cello) rec. 2009 FINNCONCERT FCRCD 9727 [66:34] [Byz]

Takes us back to the heady days of late-Romanticism. Captivating stuff.

Johann Christian SCHIEFERDECKER (1679-1732) Musicalische Concerte Elbipolis Barockorchester Hamburg rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72531 [72:36] [DC]

World première recordings and superb entertainment – who could ask for more?

Daniel SCHNYDER (b.1961) Around the World ad hoc qnt, Stefan Schulz (bass trombone) Daniel Schnyder (soprano saxophone) Tomoko Sawano, Raphael Häger (piano) Berlin RSO/Michael Sanderling, Michael Helmrath rec. 2010 BIS CD-1774 [73:13] [Byz]

A mixed bag in more ways than one.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony 4 Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde Carolyn Watkinson (mezzo) John Mitchinson (tenor) BBC PO/Kurt Sanderling rec. 1988
ICA CLASSICS ICAD 5042 [95:29] [JQ]

A thoroughly musical maestro directing deeply considered performances that are the fruit of a lifetime’s experience.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto, Konzertstück, Schön Hedwig, Zwei Balladen Daniel Levy (piano) Philharmonia O/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau rec. 1998 EDELWEISS EDEM 3374 [64:10] [IL]

Unusual and imaginative … imposing interpretative flair.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto Martha Argerich (piano) Gidon Kremer (violin) Chamber O of Europe/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 1992-1994 WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564-67716-1 [62:35] [RB]

Admirably musical qualities to be found in this inexpensive disc.

Joseph SCHWANTNER (b.1943) Concerto, for percussion and orchestra, Morning's Embrace, Chasing Light Christopher Lamb (percussion) Nashville SO/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2010-2011 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559678 [68:00] [Byz]

Schwantner - something of a latter-day Aaron Copland.

Howard SHORE (b. 1946) Hugo rec. 2011 HOWE HWR-1007 [67:44] [IL]

A dream of a score for a film of enchantments.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Romances - Song Cycles for Bass and Piano Four Romances on poems by Pushkin Op.46 (1936-37) [14:00] Six Romances on verses by British poets Op.62 (1942) [16:58] Four monologues on verses by Pushkin Op.91 (1952) [14:49] Five romances on texts from 'Krokodil' Op.121 (1965) [11:36] Four verses by Captain Lebyadkin Op.146 (1975) [13:59] Peter Gluboky (bass); Natalia Rassudova (piano) rec. 1994 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9222 [71:29] [NB]

Shostakovich: master of the elusive and allusive.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Festive Overture see Nobel Prize Concert 2009

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Pohjola’s Daughter, Symphony 5 Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994) Concerto for Orchestra London PO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0057 [70:27] [WH]

Two very different twentieth-century masterpieces, with one brilliant performance and one disappointment.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 1-7 Utah SO/Maurice Abravanel rec. 1977 MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC 132 [3 CDs: 222:22] [RB]

A very good analogue set rather masterfully recorded but undermined by a Seventh where the reins at first hang loose.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Operas, music for orchestra, chamber and piano music rec. 1933-1997 MEMBRAN 223513 [10 CDs: 667:00] [RB]

The only collection of its type in the catalogue. Dip in and you are unlikely to be disappointed. An adventurer’s bargain.

Oscar STRAUS (1870-1954) Die Lustigen Nibelungen Martin Gantner (baritone) Hein Heidbüchel (tenor) Lisa Griffith (soprano) WDR Rundfunk O & Ch Köln/Siegfried Köhler rec. 1995 CAPRICCIO C5088 [65:00] [JS]

Pure delight from beginning to end.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Oboe Concerto (1945) [24:15] *Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche, op.28 (1895) [15:01] *Der Rosenkavalier - 'First' Waltz Sequence (1944) [11:32] *Der Rosenkavalier - Second Waltz Sequence (1911) [8:17] Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994) Concerto, for oboe, harp and chamber orchestra (1979-80) [19:26] Heinz Holliger (oboe); Ursula Holliger (harp) Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Michael Gielen; *Thomas Schippers rec. 11 April 1983. *1976. No venues given. DDD. *ADD. ALTO ALC 1134 [78:56] [Byz]

Thrilling and compelling.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du Printemps Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Les Biches BBC Ntl Ch & O Wales/Thierry Fischer rec. 2009 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD205 [67:48][JQ]

Two very different Diaghilev ballets in excellent performances. 

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird, Scherzo fantastique WDR SO Cologne/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 2010 PROFIL EDITION PH11041 [56:53]  [MC]

Highly impressive performances that rank with the finest accounts around. 

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Mass see BACH

Carlo STURLA (18th Century) Passio di Venerdì Santo Il Concento Ecclesiastico/Luca Franco Ferrari rec. 3-5 September 2006, church of the convent Santa Caterina, Genoa, Italy. DDD BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94184 [51:56] [JV]

An interesting unknown Passion which fully deserves being made available on disc.

Joby TALBOT (b.1971) Alice in Wonderland Lauren Cuthbertson, Sergei Polunin Royal Opera O, Covent Garden/Barry Wordsworth rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1056 D [120:00 + 30:00] [RJW]

A stimulating production. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe TARTINI (1692 - 1770) Violin concerto, Violin sonata see Italia


Sir John TAVENER (b. 1944) Choral Ikons The Choir/James Whitbourn rec. 2000 OPUS ARTE OACD9007D [58:34] [JQ]

There are quite a number of collections of Tavener’s choral music in the CD catalogue but this is as good as any.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 2 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Night on the Bare Mountain, Pictures at an Exhibition Bournemouth SO/Kiril Karabits rec. 2011 ONYX 4074 [81:55] [GD]

All round an enjoyable recording, with fine playing and interesting interpretive ideas.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerto 1 Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Concerto Simon Tedeschi (piano) Queensland O/Richard Bonynge rec. 2005 ABC CLASSICS 476 8071 [66:49] [SV]

Despite some flaws, should please newcomers and veterans alike.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concerto 2 Valeriy Sokolov (violin) Tonhalle O Zurich/David Zinman rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6420170 [73:59] [JW]

One’s response must be somewhat muted. 

Anna THORVALDSDOTTIR (b.1977) Rhízōma, Hrím, Hidden, Dreaming, Streaming Arhythmia John DeHart (piano interior) CAPUT Ensemble, Iceland SO/Daniel Bjarnason INNOVA 810 [59:19] [Byz]

Subtle, rich, atmospheric, meditative - almost transcendental - music of uncommon beauty.

Federico MORENO TORROBA (1891-1982) Sonatina (1953) see Stefanizzi

Erkki-Sven TÜÜR (b.1959) Awakening; The Wanderer’s Evening Song; Insula Deserta Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Sinfonietta Riga/Daniel Reuss rec. 2011 ONDINE ODE 1183-2 [64:33] [DC]

Compelling and magical.

Giovanni VALENTINI (1582/3-1649) Musiche Concertate 1619 La Capella Ducale, Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson rec. 2009 CPO 777 533-2 [58:38] [Byz]

Musica Fiata and La Capella Ducale can safely be said to live and breathe this kind of repertoire.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasy see MATHIAS

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Jérusalem Ivan Momirov, Verónica Villarroel, Federica Bragaglia, Alain Fondary, Teatro Carlo Felice/Michael Plasson rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 329 [166:00] [RF]

Some reservations but do not hesitate adding this rarely performed opera to your Verdi collection.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Five Preludes (1940) Choros No 1 (1920) see Stefanizzi

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Cello Concertos, Cello Sonata in G minor Leonardo LEO (1694-1744) Cello Concerto Giovanni Benedetto PLATTI (1697-1763) Cello Concerto Sol Gabetta (cello) Cappella Gabetta/Andres Gabetta rec. 2011 SONY CLASSICAL 88697932302 [71:13] [JW]

Things may well hinge on reactions to Gabetta’s expansive rubati.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Farnace Max Emanuel Cencic (counter-tenor) Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) Daniel Behle (tenor) I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis rec. 2010 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709142 [3 CDs: 191:35] [DBi]

Another excellent addition to the growing Vivaldi operatic canon.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Violin concertos, Nulla in mundo pax sincera see Italia


Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Excerpts Schorr - Marherr-Wagner – Hutt – Schützendorff Berlin State Opera Orchestra and Chorus/LeoBlech rec. 1928 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 065 [79:50] [RMo]

Schorr’s clear, bright, strong bass-baritone at its zenith.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre Frank van Aken, Terje Stensvold, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Susan Bullock; Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2010 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 936 [4 CDs: 237:46] [GD]

A very fine Walküre.

William Vincent WALLACE (1812-1865) Maritana Majella Cullagh (soprano) Lynda Lee (mezzo) Paul Charles Clarke (tenor) RTÉ Philharmonic Ch, RTÉ Concert O/Proinnsías Ó Duinn rec. 11995 NAXOS 8.660308-09 [64:19 + 44:55] [CH]

If a string of excellent musical numbers guarantees an excellent opera, then this is an excellent opera.

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (Moishei VAINBERG) (1919-1996) Complete Violin Sonatas - Volume 1 Violin Sonata No.1 Op.12 (1943) [21:59] Sonata No.1 for violin solo Op.82 (1964) [24:41] Violin Sonata No. 4 Op.39 (1947) [13:44] Sonatina for violin and piano Op.46 (1949) [14:45] Yuri Kalnits (violin) Michael Csányi-Wills (piano) rec. 2008 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0007 [78:08] [JW]

An extremely good start to the projected series.

Judith WEIR (b. 1954) Choral music Choir Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2010 DELPHIAN DCD34095 [59.26]  [RH]

Purity and austerity which feels rather Calvinist yet is always approachable. 

Matthew WHITTALL (b.1975) Leaves of Grass Risto-Matti Marin (piano) rec. 2011 Risto-Matti Marin (piano) rec. 2011 ALBA ABCD 333 [63:13] [Byz]

Whittall's Leaves of Grass is a stunning work.

Hugh WOOD (b.1932) Paraphrase on Bird of Paradise Op. 26 see The Thurston Connection

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]

[Last month's reviews] [Earlier reviews]

























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