2012_1 Download Roundup
The January 2012/1 Roundup is here,
January 2012/2 is here
and earlier Roundups are indexed here.
Reluctantly Im having to cease reviewing EMI downloads
from classicsonline.com, partly because EMI have apparently
placed an embargo on review access to their downloads from
this source, but also because I cant keep up with
the vagaries of their pricing structure no sooner
have I recommended, for example, their two 2-CD albums of
Beechams Haydn at a reasonable though not over-generous
£6.99 than the price reverts to an unfeasible £13.98
almost twice the price of the CD equivalents from
some dealers. (They are £5.99 each from amazon.co.uk,
£6.99 each from hmvdigital.com.) The same applies
to the Classics for Pleasure Previn Nutcracker, now
costing a ridiculous £13.98 when amazon.co.uk have
both the download and the CDs of this performance in a more
recent reissue for £3.99 see the note at the
foot of the Nielsen review below.
Regular readers may recall that passionato.com downloads
from the EMI catalogue exhibited the same problem, a feature
which I understood was dictated by EMIs own pricing
policy, but that doesnt explain why amazon.co.uk,
hmvdigital.com and even iTunes are able to offer these recordings
at more attractive prices.
I shall continue to include some reviews of new EMI releases
as heard from the invaluable Naxos Music Library, however.
At £7.99 (usually) from classicsonline.com they represent
much better value as downloads than the older repertoire
which comes at around the same price when the equivalent
CDs and downloads from others are less expensive.
Regular readers may also have noticed that Ive been
unable to include any downloads from passionato.com recently;
Im still waiting for my review access to be restored.
of the Month
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Sacred works for soprano and concertos
Concerto Madrigalesco, RV129, for strings and continuo
Laudate Pueri, RV601, for soprano, flute, string
and continuo [23:55]
Il Gran Mogul, RV431a, Concerto for solo flute, strings
and continuo [7:59]
Motet Nulla in mundo pax sincera, RV630, for soprano,
two violins, viola and continuo [12:14]
Concerto in B flat, RV547, for solo violin, solo cello,
strings and continuo [9:32]
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano); Ashley Solomon (flute); Bojan
Čičić (violin); Jennifer Morsches (cello)
rec. St John the Evangelist Church, Upper Norwood, London,
4-6 April 2011. DDD/DSD
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA33211 [59:01] from channelclassics.com
(mp3 and 24-bit lossless downloads)
recording is scheduled for release on hybrid SACD in the
UK in late February 2012, but is available direct from Channel
in advance as a download in a wide variety of formats:
mp3 (320kb/s), 24/44.1, 24/96 and 24/192 lossless
all, apart from the mp3 in better than CD quality. Prices
start at £7.44 for the mp3, about half the price at
which the SACD will sell, while the 24/192 version at £16.53
costs a little more than the SACD. All the downloads also
come complete with a pdf version of the booklet. Follow
the link above to the Channel Classics website and youll
find an 8-minute video trailer.
I listened to the 24/44.1 version and thought the sound
as excellent as I have found all the recordings that I have
heard from Channel Classics, in any format, thanks to the
oversight of Jared Sacks hes very much more
than a recording engineer. Hes certainly that, but
he also takes a personal interest in everything that the
label produces: he even noticed that I hadnt been
downloading the best-quality 24/192 versions and took me
to task ever so nicely for not yet having invested in a
suitable DAC to allow me to go beyond what my system will
currently cope with.
The chief interest of the new recording is the motet Nulla
in mundo pax sincera and comparisons with Emma Kirkbys
recording of this work are inevitable. Thats currently
available at budget price on a Double Decca 455 7272,
2 CDs for around £8.50: snap it up while you can
the discs in this series seem to be becoming an endangered
species. See review
of 467 7812, The World of Emma Kirkby on which
it was included no longer available, though it can
also be found on The Very Best of Emma Kirkby (download
from hmvdigital.com here.).
Regular readers will know that it takes nothing short of
a miracle to convince me that any rival version even comes
close to an Emma Kirkby recording, so Elin Manahan Thomas,
who mentions on the trailer that she first got to know the
work from that earlier recording, has a nigh-impossible
task. Nor could I omit the Hyperion recording of this motet
from consideration (CDA66779,
Deborah York and the Kings Consort see review
of complete 11-CD set on CDS44171/81.)
At 5:57 Thomas and Florilegium take the opening aria
larghetto section considerably faster than Kirkby
and Hogwood (6:43) or York and King (6:57) but without any
sense of hurry. Heard immediately after the others, York
and King do sound a trifle languid here. In the remaining
sections there is much greater agreement about tempo. More
to the point, all three solo voices cope excellently with
the florid passage-work and offer very satisfying accounts
of the whole motet, with first-class support from their
various ensembles. Comparing them collectively with the
decent but unexceptional performance on the Brilliant Classics
budget box of Vivaldis music which I reviewed some
time ago (94056, Bargain of the Month see
points up the gulf between these three exceptional performances
and the merely good, though that remains an exceptional
Elin Manahan Thomass voice shares the purity of that
of Emma Kirkby; both warrant the epithet ethereal, though
the two are hardly likely to be confused, partly because
the younger singer allows a degree more vibrato, not inappropriately
in this music. Im not likely to be jettisoning the
single CD on which the Kirkby recording was originally released
unless it be to exchange it for the 2-CD reissue. Thats
still my absolute desert island choice, but I shall certainly
also listen to both York on Hyperion and the new recording.
I greatly enjoyed the performance of Laudate pueri;
this time my comparison was with Catherine Bott and the
Purcell Quartet on a mid-price Chandos recording which also
features the Concerto madrigalesco (CHAN0714X
and with Volume 7 of the Hyperion series (CDA66819)
where its sung by Carolyn Sampson with the Kings
Consort. Incredibly, this recording, along with Volume 8,
is deleted on CD and available on a single disc only from
the Hyperion Archive Service or as a download.
The three concerto recordings are by no means negligible,
particularly as Il gran Mogul, recently discovered
(in 2010), has received only one other recording to date
(Avie AV2218: Vivaldi the French
Connection 2, La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler
and my August 2011/2 Roundup).
By coincidence, the two recordings take exactly the same
one second short of eight minutes for this work, with minimal
differences in the times taken for each movement. In fact,
apart from Avies preference for the spelling Mogol
rather than Mogul, theres very little to choose
between them; both are first class. Perhaps the new recording
has a very slight edge; Ashley Solomon is both director
of Florilegium and the solo flautist.
The Concerto madrigalesco which opens the recording
also features on the Purcell Quartet Chandos recording.
The chosen tempi are very similar, as are those on a budget
price Hyperion Helios CD where its performed by Tafelmusik
and Jean Lamon (CDH55190).
The chief attraction of the Hyperion, apart from its price,
is that the concerto is coupled with Emma Kirkby in two
vocal works: In turbato mare, RV627 and Lungi
dal vago volto, RV680, and some other fine singers in
the Magnificat, RV610b.
You will have deduced by now that I find it very difficult
to make a single Building a Library recommendation here.
If the combination of vocal and orchestral works appeals,
the new recording is as good as any and its the only
option if you want SACD or a 24-bit download. The Double
Decca, on which Emma Kirkby is joined by Catherine Bott
in three other cantatas offers superb value as well as performances
of very high quality, all at a budget price. The Hyperion
Helios also offers a vocal-orchestral combination, again
with excellent performances and at a budget price. Nor can
I fail to recommend the combination on the mid-price Chandos.
Ultimately, personal preference among the excellent solo
singers and the choice of works offered can safely decide.
If, on the other hand, you dont wish to mix the vocal
and orchestral, the two volumes which Ive mentioned
from the Kings Consort recordings of Vivaldis
complete sacred music for Hyperion maintain the very high
standard of that whole series. If you think you may be tempted
to obtain the complete set, why not save some money by buying
the complete 11-CD set or downloading it, preferably in
lossless sound? (£76 for the CDs, direct from Hyperion,
probably slightly less from some dealers; £55 for
the download, which comes complete with all the booklets.)
If its the instrumental works which chiefly appeal,
have a look at my review of the new BIS recording which
includes the Concerto madrigalesco (below).
The Channel Classics booklet is excellent, though I wonder
whether the Venetian Carnival mask on the cover is quite
the thing for an album containing two sacred works.
of the Month
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No.7 in A, Op.92
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis rec.1961.
BEULAH EXTRA 15-16BX129 [37:49] from eavb.co.uk
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Cello Concerto in b minor, Op.104, B191 (1895)
Mstislav Rostropovich (cello); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir
Adrian Boult rec. 1957. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 43-45BX12 [38:40] from eavb.co.uk
Im going to have my cake and eat it in style this
month not only two reissues of the month, both old
friends spruced up in new clothes, but a bargain of the
month as well.
knighthood was a distant dream when HMV took a chance on
a promising young conductor called Colin Davis who
had been performing Berlioz with Chelsea Opera. Unwilling
to let him loose at full price, they released his first
recordings on the Concert Classics (this Beethoven) and
World Record Club labels (Mozart Oboe Concerto with Leon
Goossens and Symphony No. 34). The Mozart met with a slightly
grudging critical reception, though not from me I
bought it on reel-to-reel tape and later on a Classics for
Pleasure LP reissue and thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Beethoven was much more of a runaway success
Edward Greenfield wrote that it was a lively sympathetic
account to rival any in the catalogue
balanced recording. A performance by Szell and the
Clevelanders, reissued that same month, hardly got a look
in and the rest is history. It was my second recording
of this under-rated symphony the first was Bruno
Walters mono recording on Philips and Im
very pleased to see that Beulah have reissued it now. It
holds its own for me against the many Beethoven symphony
recordings which Davis went on to make in the UK, Holland,
Germany the complete set with the Staatskapelle recently
reissued on Newton Classics 8802077 at an attractive price
and the USA. The recording is a touch less detailed
than we would expect now, but its come up very well
in this transfer.
Some conductors seem to delight in seeing how fast they
can take the finale without losing the orchestra. Davis
is fairly fast at 6:42 all the recordings which I
list below are noticeably slower but the RPO never
come off the rails as the NYPO almost threaten to do for
Walter at just a few seconds faster. (Now on Archipel, with
the Emperor Concerto).
Beethovens apotheosis of the dance has,
of course, received many excellent recordings in recent
years, not least from Carlos Kleiber on DG Originals, coupled
with No.5 (447 4002 see December 2008 Roundup
and March 2010 Roundup
or, for those seeking better-than-CD sound, Vänskä
on BIS (BIS-SACD-1816 see March 2010 Roundup.
Download preferably from eclassical.com
in 16- or 24-bit lossless sound). Those who prefer smaller-scale
Beethoven may wish to turn to the complete symphonies conducted
by Sir Charles Mackerras on Hyperion (CDS44301/5
see March 2010 Roundup)
or Emmanuel Krivine on Naïve (V5258 see
July 2011/1 Roundup)
or to Nos. 4 and 7 conducted by Douglas Boyd on Avie (AV2169
see March 2010 Roundup).
From an earlier period Beulah have released Erich Kleibers
1950 mono recording an excellent performance but
the sound inevitably sounds dated by comparison with the
Davis. (9-12BX6 see March 2011/1 Roundup).
recorded the Dvořαk concerto many times. Though he
regarded his Supraphon recording with Talich as the best,
this stereo recording with Boult is far superior to the
dated mono of that earlier version, available coupled with
Othello and The Noon Witch from emusic.com
for £2.10 or less or on a Regis CD with the Piano
Concerto (RRC1368: Bargain of the Month
I listened to the Regis transfer from the Naxos Music Library
and found it dim but much more tolerable than I remembered
certainly far better than on the 10/- LP from Woolworths
on which I first heard it.
Though the balance of the HMV recording is not ideal
a problem inherent in the original and though Rostropovich
went on to make recordings with Giulini (HMV again) and
Karajan (DG) and theres also a BBC Legends recording
with Svetlanov, performed at the Proms in 1968 as the Soviet
tanks were invading Prague, theres much to be said
for this 1957 recording with Boult. The recording is much
more truthful than the Regis transfer of the recording with
Talich and the dynamic range is much greater. The performance
is only marginally less magical though I cant quite
bring myself to agree with Trevor Harvey who thought that
Rostropovichs interpretation had matured in the interim
between the two recordings.
Classicsonline.com offer the most recent EMI transfer of
the Rostropovich/Boult recording, coupled with the Brahms
Double Concerto for £7.99 but for those requiring
only the Dvořαk, the Beulah is a better bargain at
£2.00 (£0.75 + £0.50 + £0.75).
Bargain of the Month
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aïda: Zinka Milanov (soprano)
Amneris: Fedora Barbieri (mezzo)
Radames: Jussi Björling (tenor)
Amonasro: Leonard Warren (baritone)
Ramfis: Boris Christoff (bass)
The King of Egypt: Plinio Clabassi (bass)
A Messenger: Mario Carlin (tenor)
Priestess: Bruna Rizzoli (soprano)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Opera House, Rome/Jonel Perlea
DISCOVER CLASSICAL MUSIC [3 CDs: 40:44 + 41:18 +
32:47 + 33:10] from emusic.com
£1.68 or less from emusic.com (or even at £3.56
from amazon.co.uk*), this is a splendid bargain. Though
Björling and Milanov were both past their superb best,
they still out-perform most of the competition and they
are very well supported, not least by Perlea, with whose
recording of Berliozs Symphonie Fantastique,
reissued on Beulah Extra, I recently failed to engage. The
recording (mono only) still sounds fine and the emusic.com
transfer comes at a higher bit-rate (around 230 kb/s) than
most of their offerings. Theres no libretto, but what
do you expect for the price and its easily
available online. If, like me, you have problems with Callass
voice on the main rival from this period, this is the classic
1950s version to go for. Otherwise, only highlights from
this recording are generally available in the UK.
* But dont pay £24.99 for it from it from Tunes.
The Language of Love: Songs of the troubadours
Anonymous Por coi me bait mes maris? [2:23]; Dansse
Gaucelm FAIDIT (c.1150-c.1220)
Lo rossinholet salvatge [9:50]
Anonymous La Tierche Estampie Roial [3:08]; En
un vergier [6:56]; La Quarte Estampie Royal [2:50];
En ma forest [3:12]
Bernart de VENTADORN (1125-1195)
Can lerba fresch [6:18]
Colin MUSET (fl.1200-1250)
Volez oir la muse Muset? [6:50]
Anonymous Bele Doette [9:04]
La Prime Estampie Royal [3:40]
Guiraut de BORNELH (c.1140-1200)
Reis glorios [7:32]
Duo Trobairitz (Faye Newton (soprano), Hazel Brooks (viell))
rec. February 2005. DDD.
Pdf booklet with texts and translations.
HYPERION CDA67634 [64:48] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
discouraging to see such a fine and recent recording already
in the doldrums of poor sales, but Hyperions loss is your
potential gain its currently on offer at half price,
£5.60, for the CD and the mp3 or lossless download. If
its still in their please buy me section,
snap it up while you can. If not, go for it anyway its
still excellent value for £7.99.
The theme of the programme is fin amor or Courtly
Love as featured by the troubadours of Provence and the trouvères
of Northern France; only the opening lament of the beaten wife
falls slightly outside that tradition, to which C.S. Lewiss
Allegory of Love is still a fine introduction, though
many of its details are now disputed. The music and performances
are immediate in appeal less purist than the likes of
Gothic Voices, who eschew instrumental accompaniment, and more
likely to appeal to the general listener though I hasten
to add that the manner of Gothic Voices, who have made many
excellent recordings for Hyperion, now mostly reissued on the
budget Helios label, is a taste well worth acquiring.
Reviewing the CD here
Mark Sealey hoped for more recordings of this high calibre
from the Duo Trobairitz; I trust that the inexplicable failure
of this recording to sell wont mean that we dont
hear from them again. Im always very surprised to see
what fine recordings end up among Hyperions waifs and
strays, but they are always worth checking out for real bargains
see the Berwald review below.
As I was about to close this Roundup, another batch of £5.60
knock-downs appeared, including Volume 3 of Hyperions
complete Sacred Music of Vivaldi (CDA66789 here).
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in C, RV114 [5:55]
Sonata a 4 in E flat, Al Santo Sepolcro,
Concerto in g minor, RV152 [6:21]
Concerto in d minor, RV128 [5:28]
Concerto in d minor, Concerto madrigalesco,
Sinfonia in C (from La Senna festeggiante, RV 693) [7:06]
Concerto in f minor, RV143 [6:22]
Concerto in g minor, RV157 [6:17]
Concerto in e minor, RV134 [6:06]
Concerto in A, RV158 [7:49]
Arte dei Suonatori/Aureliusz Goliński (leader) rec.
October 2009. DDD.
Pdf booklet included.
BIS-CD-1845 [61:53] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and 16- and 24-bit lossless)
was impressed by Arte dei Suonatori in the Handel Op.6 Concertos
(BIS-SACD-1705/6 see September 2011-2 Roundup
by Dominy Clements) and in Vivaldis Op.4, La stravaganza
(Channel Classics CCSSA19503 see November 2011/1
by Michael Cookson). Deserving label-pluralists that they are,
they now pop up again on BIS and Im impressed again. If
youre looking for a version of the Concerto madrigalesco
and dont want the mixed vocal/instrumental programme on
offer on my Download of the Month, you can go for this new recording
with confidence. Otherwise, its such a short work that
you could buy both or even add the inexpensive Hyperion
Helios recording which Ive listed in that review
without feeling short-changed.
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Viola Concerto in G [14:06]
Recorder Overture (Suite) in a minor, TWV55:a2 [24:37]
Concerto in F for three violins in F, TWV53:F1 (from Tafelmusik)
Concerto for two horns in E flat, TWV54:Es1 (from Tafelmusik)
Jiři Strivín (recorder); Ladislav Kyselak (viola);
Zdeněk and Bedřich Tylar (horns); Anna Hoelblingova,
Quido Hoelbling, Alexander Jablokov (violins)
Capella Istropolitana/Richard Edlinger rec.1988. DDD
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.550156 [66:27] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library.
may seem perverse to be reviewing a recording which first appeared
when Naxos CDs cost £3.99 and were available only from
Woolworths take or leave what remained of the selection
which the sales rep had left but three quarters of these
performances have recently resurfaced as the musical accompaniment
to a Naxos DVD: Germany: A Musical Tour of Bavaria (2.110537),
reviewed by Robert J Farr here.
The performances are excellent and the 1988 recording is also
good, so the CD and download can continue to hold their place
in the catalogue with pride.
Concerning the DVD, however, I have some reservations:
The music takes second place to the visual images
nowhere on the front or back covers are any details given and
they appear only in tiny print in the booklet;
The opening Viola Concerto is omitted, so the playing
time of the DVD is only 53:38;
Both my review copies had a short but very annoying dropout
in the music but not the picture and not present on the
CD soon after the beginning of the second movement of
the Recorder Concerto. I emailed Naxos to ask if they could
supply a better copy but received no reply, so I had assumed
that the fault was generic until I read RJFs review;
The picture is in 4:3 ratio, not 16:9;
The scenes from the glass factory which accompany the
eight movements of the Recorder Suite, lasting 24:37 in all,
are repetitive for once Im glad that the repeats
are omitted in the outer movements;
The images of the Abbey at Weltenburg are mostly of the
exterior; very little of the gorgeous interior is shown;
Played on the same equipment (Cambridge Audio Blu-ray
650BD player), the sound of the CD is marginally preferable
to the DVD.
It may well be that none of my reservations about the DVD worry
you but I do strongly recommend the CD or download in preference.
Ive never felt let down by any of the recordings which
the Capella Istropolitana made for Naxos modern instruments
played with a sense of period style and this is one of
their very best. The Recorder Suite is probably Telemanns
best-known and most-recorded work 20 versions listed
in Naxos Music Library alone but this is one of the best
versions that Ive ever heard unless you demand period
instruments or require all the repeats to be taken in the outer
movements. The download is available for £4.99
very good value when Naxos CDs now seem to retail in the UK
for up to £6.99, with amazon.co.uk charging £5.99
for Naxos downloads, and the DVD costs over £10. HMV digital
are even charging a ridiculous £7.99 for Naxos downloads
of the Maggini Quartet!
Naxos have another fine and stylish recording of the Recorder
Suite, in company with other Telemann recorder concertos (8.554018
[64:33], Daniel Rothert; Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut
Müller-Brühl see review)
for those who prefer an all-recorder programme and/or wish (just)
to hear the harpsichord continuo which seems too often to be
swamped these days.
Fans of period instruments will be well served by the Hyperion
budget-label Helios recording (CDH55091 [65:17], Peter
Holtslag and the Parley of Instruments/Roy Goodman, with two
recorder concertos and the Sinfonia in F). Download in mp3 or
lossless from hyperion-records.co.uk here.
and May 2010 Roundup.
Georg Philipp TELEMANN Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst
(1726) Volume 4: Six Cantatas
The cantatas for middle voice, transverse flute and basso continuo
Third Sunday of Advent Vor des lichten Tages Schein
(TVWV 1: 1483)* [10:24]
Epiphany Cantata Ihr Völker hört (TVWV
1: 921) [12:13]
Cantata for the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary
Erscheine, Gott, in deinem Tempel (TVWV 1: 471)
Sexagesima Sunday Was ist mir doch das Rühmen
nütze? (TVWV 1: 1521) [10:46]
Oculi Sunday Wandelt in der Liebe (TVWV
1: 1498)* [10:28]
First Day of Easter Weg mit Sodoms giftgen Früchten
(TVWV 1: 1534) [12:15]
Bergen Barokk (Franz Vitzhum (counter-tenor); Peter Holtslag
(transverse flute); Hans Knut Sveen (harpsichord and organ);
Markku Luolajan-Mikkola (baroque cello and viol) rec.
April 2007. DDD.
* first recordings
Pdf booklet included, with texts and translations.
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0084 [67:20] from toccataclassics.com
enterprising record companies we have access to nowadays
and Toccata is by no means the least among them. In this Roundup
alone Im reviewing their recordings of Telemann at one
end of the time scale and Reiner and Raykhelson (below) at the
modern end of that scale. All three recordings contain premières
and, even more to the point, all three do justice to the music.
Weve already had the first three volumes in this series
and the fourth is as fine as its predecessors, all of which
have received praise from myself and my colleagues. The six
cantatas here appropriately span the period from Advent IV,
the Sunday before Christmas, via Epiphany, Candlemas, Sexagesima,
Lent III and Easter in liturgical order. If youve started
collecting the series, dont hesitate to buy the new recording;
those new to the series would do well to start here too, with
the proviso that they will want the earlier volumes as soon
as they hear this. Even those who are surprised to find the
music quite different from Bachs cantatas will, I think,
find it a pleasant surprise.
The recording captures all the clarity of the solo voice and
instruments, though it never rises above 192kb/s. We have to
put up with that or less from BBC Radio 3 but Toccata should
be raising their game to 320kb/s and lossless downloads. You
could wait until classicsonline.com add this to their 320kb/s
downloads of Volumes 1-3 unless you are a member of Toccatas
very worthwhile discount club.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No.1 in F, BWV1046 [22:52]
Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G, BWV1048 [9:55]
Helen Kwalwasser (violino piccolo, No.1); Eugenia Earle (harpsichord,
No.1), Franz Rupp (harpsichord, No.3); New York Sinfonietta/Max
Goberman rec.1960. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 7-10BX112 and 6BX112 [times as above]
must confess that I hadnt expected to hear such stylish
and modern-sounding Bach from 1960, four years before Harnoncourt
and from a conductor better known for his performances of Haydn
after all, that was the year in which most of us were
listening to Karl Münchingers 1950 mono recordings
of the Brandenburgs, reissued on Ace of Clubs, which now sound
very dated. I should have remembered that the Columbia/CBS 2-LP
set is quite a collectors item, with sets on offer on
ebay for $30. The tempi in No.3 are a particular revelation
overall Goberman is even slightly faster than John Eliot
Gardiner in his recent recording on his own SDG label. Surprisingly,
I see that Münchinger in 1950 was quite speedy in this
Perhaps Goberman tries to squeeze a little too much emotion
out of the second movement of No.3, at a slow tempo*, but that
and some less than ideal ensemble in places are my only small
reservations. The recordings, too, are very good for their age
if Lili Krauss Beethoven (below) really does date
from the same year, there is no comparison.
* 5:04 against Harnoncourts (1964) 4:31 and John Eliot
Gardiners (2009) 3:51.
Johann Sebastian BACH Cantatas
Cantata No.48, Ich elender Mensch (Trinity 19, 1723)
Cantata No.49, Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen (Trinity
20, 1726) [25:41]
Cantata No.50, Nun ist das Heil (incomplete) (St Michael,
date, 1728 ?) [3:42]
Concentus Musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Cantata No.51: Jauchzet Gott (Trinity 15, 1730) [18:02]
Leonhardt Consort/Gustav Leonhardt
WARNER TELDEC [63:29] from amazon.co.uk
reasons for this review: I wrote some time ago that Id
try as often as possible to include a Bach recording; the download
is incredibly inexpensive (£2.79) and, most importantly
I understand that Gustav Leonhardt, who shared this complete
pioneering series of period-performance Cantatas with Nikolaus
Harnoncourt, has decided quietly and without fuss to lay down
his baton (he has since passed away). You dont need to
think about any of those reasons just to enjoy the performances.
The recording has transferred well, albeit only at 256 kb/s
and, though there are no texts, these are easily available online.
We have moved on in the interim but this whole series still
stands up well even against the two modern front-runners, Gardiner
and Suzuki (latest release of the latter below), though its
a shame that they appear simply in numerical order according
to the Schmieder catalogue (BWV), mixing cantatas from different
dates and for parts of the church year; as it happens, all the
works here were written for the autumn period. The whole series
is available, mostly at this low price some cost £6.99:
why? and downloading is now the only way to obtain the
individual albums as opposed to the whole boxed set of cantatas
or the Teldec complete Bach on 150 CDs due for release shortly.
Alternatively, the 6-CD set downloads from amazon.com are also
excellent value at £13.49.
Johann Sebastian BACH Cantatas
Volume 50 (Leipzig 1726-29)
Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg, BWV149 (St Michael,
Ich lebe, mein Herze, zu deinem Ergötzen, BWV145
Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte, BWV174
(Whit Monday, 1729) [20:57]
Ich geh und suche mit Verlangen, BWV49 (Trinity 20, 1726)
Hana Blaíková (soprano); Robin Blaze (counter-tenor);
Gerd Türk (tenor); Peter Kooij (bass); Masamitsu Sannomiya
(oboe); Yukiko Murakami (bassoon); Ryo Terakado (violin &
violoncello da spalla)
Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki (organ) rec. February
Pdf booklet included with texts and translations
BIS-SACD-1941 [74:57] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless)
are now coming into the home straight with this latest Bach
cantata release. Having listened to it in mp3 from the Naxos
Music Library, I was eagerly awaiting its appearance in lossless
sound from eclassical.com; fine as it sounds in mp3, which suggests
that the classicsonline.com version should be more than acceptable,
the eclassical.com flac version is even better, especially in
24-bit format. At the time of writing there was a special offer
the 24-bit version for the same competitive price as
the 16-bit and mp3 and 30% off an earlier recording in the series.
Watch out for these regular offers, but even at the normal price,
eclassical.coms 16-bit lossless comes at the same price
as the mp3 at $11.21 thats more than competitive
with the £7.99 which classicsonline.com and others charge
for the mp3. The 24-bit is normally a little more expensive.
By coincidence, Ive chosen a Teldec recording above to
illustrate the pioneering Harnoncourt-Leonhardt series which
includes Cantata 49, also included on the new BIS recording.
Two differences are immediately apparent: Harnoncourt employs
boy trebles and his tempi are noticeably slower than the new
recording; though theyre not unbearably sluggish, Suzuki
sounds more joyful, especially in the soprano aria Ich bin
herrlich. The ratio of timings for the opening Sinfonia
6:13 against 6:44 is typical for the whole work, though
Harnoncourt is actually slightly faster in the first bass aria.
The question of the soloists will be largely a matter of taste
his treble has an unmatchable innocence and purity of
tone but cannot match the assurance and more operatic
tone of Hana Blaíková. Its right to
use the word enjoyable of Bachs cantatas.
They were designed to provide a period of respite in the long
up to four hours and intense Lutheran Sunday morning
Hauptgottesdienst. Both these recordings are enjoyable.
Im not about to throw out older recordings: Richter on
DG Archiv and Teldec, the Harnoncourt-Leonhardt series, Rilling
on Hänssler and Gardiner on his own SDG label, but if forced
to plump, my desert-island single choice would have to be Suzuki.
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Music for the Royal Fireworks, HWV351 (arr. Sir Hamilton HARTY)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/George Weldon rec.1960.
BEULAH EXTRA 1-3BX180 [14:45] from eavb.co.uk
If you like Handel to sound slow and stately, this should appeal,
but for most listeners its something of a musical dinosaur.
The opening of the Overture is extremely off-putting; though
things warm up as it progresses, the following Alla Siciliana
(la Paix) takes us back into the doldrums and even
the Bourrée fares little better. The final minuet
is better, but did we really enjoy Handel like this in 1960?
I fear that we did, for no less a luminary than Edward Greenfield,
though noting the slow opening, thought the whole LP of the
Fireworks and Water Music alert and wonderfully sympathetic.
Not for me, though the recording has come up well. Beulahs
reissue of Thurston Darts Handel (Water Music, 1-3BX69
see December 2010 Roundup)
has worn much better and is much more recommendable.
If youre looking for classic recordings of the Hamilton
Harty suites from the Water Music and the Royal Fireworks, van
Beinums early 1950s Decca recording is livelier, though
still a little on the portly side and less well recorded. (Download
for £4.99). Best of all from this period is the classic
Pye/Mackerras recording from 1959, reissued on Testament SBT1253
with Concerto a due cori. Amazon.co.uk have two download
versions of this, each costing £3.99; I cant vouch
for the quality of the transfers, though the samples from both
NB: though I received this recording with my review batch
for February 2012, it doesnt seem yet to have appeared
on the Beulah website, so I imagine that its release has been
Christoph GLUCK (1714-1787)
Iphigenia en Aulide Overture (rev. Richard WAGNER)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer rec.1960. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 11BX114 [11:24] from eavb.co.uk
complained that George Weldons Handel (above) was too
grand and spacious, but this overture lends itself well to the
same treatment from Klemperer, especially in Wagners arrangement.
Like Jeremy Noble, reviewing the original LP in 1962, the word
ponderous sprang to mind, then I put that thought
to rest and enjoyed the performance. The (UK) Columbia recording
has worn well and Beulahs transfer brings it to life.
The original release placed the Gluck at the end of a series
of Weber overtures and the Dream sequence from Hänsel
und Gretel perhaps we may have those, too in due
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto No.4 in G, Op.58 [32:16]
Rondo in B-flat for piano and orchestra* [9:48]
Lili Kraus (piano); Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Victor Desarzens
rec. c.1959. ADD/mono
BEULAH 1-3BX179, 4BX179* [32:16 + 9:48] from eavb.co.uk
performance begins with one of the most delicate openings that
Ive ever heard for this concerto and the delicacy continues
in Lili Krauss playing when the soloist enters, showing
pianist and conductor to be at one in their view of the music.
On that score alone this recording was worth reviving and, though
the VSOO was hardly the worlds greatest, they were a good
workaday bunch and they prove reliable accompanists. In the
finale delicacy is still apparent but soloist and orchestra
blend that with a free-wheeling performance.
So far so good, but it appears that there was little that Beulah
could do to remedy the rather ragged recording its
not just that its mono only, which is unusual for a recording
made as late as 1959, but it distorts at anything much louder
than mf, with clangy piano sound, and doesnt begin
to match the kind of sound that Decca achieved more than a decade
earlier in the latter ffrr days of 78s. In fact, since
Kraus recorded Beethovens Third Piano Concerto with the
VSOO under Rudolf Moralt for Vox in 1952 or 1953, Im left
wondering if Beulahs date is accurate; what I hear is
more like the Vox recordings of that period which I remember,
such as Klemperers Bruckner Romantic Symphony.
Matters improve somewhat sound-wise in the Rondo and the performance
is as good as that of the concerto, so this would be a recommendable
I recently gave a strong recommendation to the Chandos release
of the complete Beethoven piano concertos with Howard Shelley,
not just the standard five, and Im pleased to see that
others have also given strong endorsements to that set. (CHAN10695(4):
Recording of the Month see review
and November 2011/2 Roundup).
Im currently watching a blu-ray recording of veteran pianist
Rudolf Buchbinder as soloist and conductor with the Vienna Philharmonic
in the five regular piano concertos; I havent yet reached
No.4 but the first two concertos encourage me to think that
this will also be worth having no exceptional revelations
but thoroughly likeable and reliable performances, all set in
the splendour of the Golden Hall and available at an attractive
price. Best of all, its clear than Buchbinder is enjoying
the whole thing immensely even in the slightly grim picture
on the cover theres the ghost of a smile. (Unitel Classica
C Major 708904, around £23 also on DVD 708808,
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La scala di seta Overture [6:39]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger Prelude [9:42]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent rec.1960.
BEULAH EXTRA 25BX13 and 24BX13 [times as above]
could always be relied on to provide competent performances
often much more than that of a wide range of repertoire
and so it is with these two very different opera openings. Edward
Greenfield called the original LP a cracking good bargain
the kind of language only Wallace and Grommit use nowadays,
but it fits and the same applies to the Beulah reissue.
One thing that both works have in common is a sense of fun and
Sargent brings that out well. The Wagner also has greater depth,
however, and Sir Malcolm captures that, too. For all the joke
rivalry between Sargent and Beecham told that Sir Malcolm
was touring the Far East, Sir Thomas, who referred to his rival
as Flash Harry, joked that would be Flash in Japan
both could be trusted to turn in thoroughly idiomatic
performances, especially as Sargent is here at the helm of Beechams
RPO. The recording is more than adequate.
More overtures, mostly from that same cracking good bargain
LP, are available on a Beulah album, available from iTunes,
7PD13, Sargents Overtures details
from eavb.co.uk. I havent
yet had time to hear that programme more next Roundup
but it should be possible to purchase with confidence
on the basis of these transfers.
Franz BERWALD (1796-1868) Symphonies
CD 1 [70:53]
Overture to Estrella de Soria [7:56]
Sinfonie singulière: Symphony No 3 in C [27:53]
Overture to The Queen of Golconda [7:41]
Sinfonie capricieuse: Symphony No 2 in D [27:20]
CD 2 [74:28]
Symphony in A fragment, completed by Duncan Druce
Sinfonie sérieuse: Symphony No 1 in g minor [30:38]
Symphony No 4 in E flat major Sinfonie naïve
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Roy Goodman rec. May/October
Pdf booklet included.
HYPERION DYAD CDD22043 [2 CDs for price of one: 70:53
+ 72:48] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
a composer who died when Sibelius was only three, Berwald was
a remarkable phenomenon whose music sounds well ahead of his
time. My prime recommendation for his symphonies remains the
BIS recording which I recommended in the November 2011-2 Roundup
(BIS-CD795/96, Malmö SO/Sixten Ehrling) in the download
(mp3 and lossless). The Hyperion twofer (CD
review) runs it pretty close, however, even though this
is not the sort of repertoire that I associate with Roy Goodman,
and the price is attractive, especially as the set was on offer
for £5.60 on CD and as a download at the time of writing
its one of the casualties that havent been
bought for a long time which Hyperion offer in their please
buy me section.
It wont remain at that price when you read this, but its
still good value at the regular £7.99, as against a very
reasonable $15.43 for the BIS from eclassical.com, and this
review serves as a reminder to look out for Hyperion bargains
in that section they are changed about once a week and
the prices of downloads are now reduced as well as CDs.
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata in D, D850 [38:49]
Piano Sonata in G, D854 (Fantaisie) [39:49]
4 Impromptus, D899 [27:26]
Piano Sonata in C, D840 (Reliquie) [25:35]
3 Klavierstücke, D946 [25:29]
Paul Lewis (piano) rec.2011? DDD.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902115/6 [2CDs: 78:38 + 78:31]
Piano Sonatas are for me as much at the peak of the genre as
Beethovens and Paul Lewis is generally, but not universally,
acknowledged as a fine interpreter of both. Its what he
doesnt do that attracts both admiration and criticism
and its exemplified by his performance of D850 at the
start of this 2-CD recital: as Melanie Eskenazi noted when Lewis
performed this sonata at the Wigmore Hall in 2001, he doesnt
either make it a tour de force or over-emphasise the poetry.
(Seen and Heard review here.
See also her review of the programme which included D840 here.)
I still want the likes of Kempff, Brendel and Curzon* in Schuberts
piano sonatas, but theres also a place in my collection
for Lewiss plainer but by no means faceless manner.
The recording is a trifle hard, whether because of the piano
itself, the inherent nature of the recording or the emusic.com
transfer Im not sure. Piano recordings are notoriously
intolerant of any shortcomings in the process wow and
flutter used to be quite a problem so I suspect that
emusic.coms lowish bit-rate of around 220kb/s is to blame.
Its not a major problem: the ear adjusts and it fits Lewiss
manner of playing, but it might be better to wait for classicsonline.com
to add this to their Harmonia Mundi recordings at 320kb/s, though
that will probably cost twice as much as emusic.coms price
of £7.14 or less. Amazon.co.uk have the set for £7.49
but their downloads usually come at a maximum of 256kb/s, which
may not represent much of an improvement on the emusic.com version.
As I was finalising this Roundup, John Quinn made this Recording
of the Month see review.
* Incredibly, available now only as multi-disc downloads from
passionato.com or hmvdigital.com.
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.73
Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer rec. 1956. ADD/stereo
BEULAH EXTRA 2-5BX114 [39:04] from eavb.co.uk
with Klemperer there are moments when you want to get out and
give him a push and, though I very much like his craggy approach
to Brahms, this symphony is perhaps not the best place to experience
it: the Third was my LP version of choice and its largely
for that and the equally fine Fourth that I recommended the
complete EMI set of the symphonies, etc., some time ago
see May 2009 Roundup.
The download from amazon.co.uk
is now a little dearer than the £3 that I mentioned then,
but still ridiculously inexpensive at £4.39. The version
from classicsonline.com is uncompetitively priced, though you
may wish to sample the streamed version from their siblings
at the Naxos Music Library. I can guarantee that version to
be free of the troublesome dropout at the start of the St
Anthony Variations which afflicted the amazon.co.uk download
Dont take my comments about the slow tempi too seriously
this recording was made before that final period when
Klemperer really slowed down and there are compensating felicities,
moments when he brings out the beauty of the music. The recording
has come up very well indeed in Beulahs transfer, hardly
sounding its age at all though in mp3 only, all Beulah
downloads are at the full 320kb/s and comparison shows the sound
to be little, if any, inferior to the lossless download of Symphonies
2 and 3 from passionato.com which, in any case, is no longer
available. Get it instead from classicsonline.com
Johannes BRAHMS Violin Concerto
in D, Op.77 [39:09]
Commentary by Alan Gilbert on Pelleas and Melisande [11:15]
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1971)
Pelleas and Melisande, Op.5 [43:30]
Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin); New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Alan
Gilbert rec. live, September 2009. DDD.
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC 2009/10: 3 [93:56] from
combination of Brahms and Schoenberg is not as arbitrary as
you may think the latter was an admirer of his predecessor
and is now acknowledged to owe much of his development to him,
even though his subsequent career took him in a very different
The programme opens with a good performance of the first movement
of the Brahms unless, that is, like me, once youve
heard Heifetz play this concerto on the classic RCA recording
with Reiner, everyone else sounds too slow, so that you end
up with two slow movements, with too little attention to the
allegro marking and too much to the non troppo.
Im afraid that for all his deserved virtuoso reputation,
Zimmermann here falls into the slow and dull category too: 22:25
against the Heifetz/Reiner time of 18:37. That apart, those
attuned to the mainstream view of this concerto will find much
to enjoy here.
Regular readers will be aware that Im no great fan of
later Schoenberg but his earlier neo-romantic works like Pelleas
and Verklärte Nacht but not the Gurrelieder,
better dubbed the dreary-lieder for me are a very different
matter. If Im slightly lukewarm about the Brahms, I really
enjoyed this performance of the Schoenberg as much as any that
Ive heard. I could wish that the Pelleas tracks had been
available separately they come only as part of the album
but the download is worth its modest price for this alone.
I could have done without Alan Gilberts commentary for
repeated hearing, especially as it adds a track to the cost
of the download but look at the total timing and youll
see that you can skip it and still have a recording thats
too long to burn on one CDR.
The emusic.com recording comes at £2.94 or less for subscribers;
alternatively amazon.co.uk have it for £7.49. ($8.99 from
amazon.com). iTunes charge £7.99 but include a pdf booklet.
The emusic.com download comes at around 230kb/s and sounds fine;
I cant imagine that the other two providers, whose normal
bit-rates are around 256kb/s, offer significantly better sound.
If you want the Heifetz/Reiner Brahms, Naxos Classical Archives
have a very decent transfer, available for £1.99 from
classicsonline.com or £1.26 from emusic.com.
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOSKY (1840-1893)
Suite No.3 in G. Op.55 [37:30]
Paris Concervatoire Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult rec.1955
BEULAH EXTRA 39-42BX12 [37:30] from eavb.co.uk
also available on CD 4PD12, with Symphony No.3 - from
or amazon.co.uk or download from iTunes..
unhelpfully a recent BBC Radio 3 Building a Library recommendation
was for a Boult recording thats currently unavailable.
Very entrepreneurially Beulah offer to come to the rescue with
an earlier Boult recording, albeit one that I understand the
Radio 3 reviewer placed on a lower level. On the whole Im
more inclined to side with Trevor Harvey one of the gurus
of my early LP collecting days who thought the performance
extremely good and the recording (even in its original mono
format) excellent. Its certainly come up well in this
Beulah transfer and there arent too many recommendable
modern alternatives Järvi on Chandos, Sanderling
on Decca and, perhaps best of all, Jurowski on PentaTone. See
also John Phillips review
of the Maazel reissue on Eloquence now also available
from dealers in the UK.
Johan (Jean) SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.43 (1901-02) [46:14]
Symphony No. 5 in E flat, Op.82 (1914-15, rev. 1916 & 1919)
Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä rec. June 2011.
Pdf booklet included. Short video on eclassical.com website
BIS BIS-SACD-1986 [78:04] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
two most popular and most approachable symphonies in a new performance
directed by an acknowledged master with a string of Sibelius
recording credits to his name for the same label a label
with no mean track record in the field of Scandinavian music
and expectations are bound to be very high. I really
thought I might have a ready-made Download of the Month.
In fact my benchmarks for the new recording have to be the earlier
BIS recordings of these two symphonies with Osmo Vänskä
and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, available as part of a set
of Sibeliuss orchestral music in decent mp3 sound at an
unbelievably inexpensive price from amazon.co.uk, as reviewed
by me in the June 2011/2 Roundup.
That set offers over seven hours of music for just £5.99
[now £7.99, but still good value] and it includes the
original version of the Fifth Symphony as well as the revised
Im going to reverse the usual order of consideration and
deal with the recording first. If youre just looking for
mp3 versions of these symphonies, I cant imagine that
youd be disappointed with the amazon.co.uk downloads;
even those with golden ears wont find too much wrong with
the transfers, none of which is at less than 220 kb/s, with
some at the full-cream 320 kb/s. The two symphonies come at
the lower end of that range but sound much more than acceptable.
I listened to the new recording in 24-bit format, however, and
even my septuagenarian ears noticed a subtle but distinct improvement
in sound over the earlier recordings less analytical
I got to know both these symphonies in recordings made for World
Record Club by Tauno Hannikainen. Unfortunately, Hannikainen
erroneously excised several bars from the finale of the Second
Symphony and, instead of opting for a re-take, tried to pass
off the result as a revision by Sibelius. As he was a close
friend of the composer, the excuse was taken at face value at
first. That recording of the Second Symphony is extant as a
download from amazon.co.uk (Hallmark label, at £2.76)
and Hannikainens recording of the Violin Concerto, with
Tossy Spivakovsky (CD
review), and Tapiola (CD
review) on Grammercy Classical looks like a good bargain
for £1.68 or less from emusic.com.
That apart, Hannikainens versions of the Second and Fifth
served me well as introductions to this immediately appealing
music as, subsequently, did Anthony Collins on Decca Ace of
Beulah, from iTunes) and, perhaps best of all, Colin Davis
in recordings for Philips (still available on two 2-CD sets
at budget price: 1-2 and 4-5 on 446 1572; Nos. 5 and 7 also
now in SACD on PentaTone PTC5186177), RCA (not currently
available in UK) and LSO Live (No.2 and Pohjolas Daughter
on LSO0605; Nos.5-6 on LSO0537; complete symphonies
Vänskäs tempi for the Second Symphony have evolved
since he made the earlier Lahti recording: in particular, the
second movement has now broadened considerably on paper (16:30
against the earlier 14:30). I cant say that I was aware
that the new recording sounded too slow on first hearing, which
is all that matters in the long run and the reason why Im
sometimes chary about making comparisons.
Once started down that comparative path, however, I note that
most conductors adopt something close to or slightly faster
than Vänskäs Lahti tempo: Collins took 12:39,
Hannikainen 14:14, Davis (Philips) 14:38, Davis (LSO) 14:52,
Karajan (EMI) 14:32. I therefore listened again to this movement
from Vänskäs Lahti recording and found myself
completely won over by his earlier view of what Andante,
ma rubato should sound like. The musics immediacy
of appeal is much more apparent in this earlier version; though
the new recording makes it sound much more mysterious, my final
vote must be for the faster tempo and more urgent movement of
its predecessor. In the other movements tempi are a little faster
than before and here I thought the new recording easily as good
as any that Ive ever heard.
If the broader tempo for this movement on the new recording
doesnt appeal, you could do much worse than to turn to
Vänskäs earlier (1997) version. If you must
have that recording is lossless sound, as opposed to the amazon.co.uk
mp3, eclassical.com ride to the rescue again: its coupled
with the Third Symphony on BIS-CD862 download
from eclassical.com here
in mp3 or lossless for $8.98. The Third may be a tougher proposition
than the Second, less immediately appealing, but its a
work thats well worth persevering with.
That would mean choosing an alternative version of the Fifth
Symphony perhaps the Lahti/Vänskä from eclassical.com:
original and final versions on BIS-CD-863 here
(mp3 or lossless, $7.94). The comparison between the two versions
is fascinating but, if you just want the final version, theres
Karajan on DG Originals 457 7482 (2 CDs, Symphonies 4-7, etc.:
download available from hmvdigital.com in 320k mp3 for £7.49
Vänskäs new Fifth doesnt contain as many
new thoughts about tempi: all movements are within fifteen seconds
of their predecessors. Its a fine performance and I shall
be returning to it, though it wont convince me to choose
it in preference to Vänskä Mark I where the Lahti
orchestra have the music more in their blood, Davis (any version)
or Collins, though the Collins, for all Beulahs fine work,
is hardly the equal of the new BIS. If you wish to hear the
Hannikainen version to which I referred, coupled as it originally
was, both on World Record Club and later on HMV Concert Classics,
with the Karelia Suite, amazon.co.uk offer the Emkay
reissue as a download for £3.99 here.
At the time of writing the 24-bit/96kHz version was on short-term
offer for the same price ($11.69) as the 16-bit and mp3 versions.
That probably wont still obtain when you read this review
but its worth watching the eclassical.com website for
regular limited-period offers.
Dan Morgan has also been listening to this recording:
I first encountered Osmo Vänskä not in orchestral
Sibelius which he has already recorded with the Lahti
Symphony but in the endlessly fascinating scores of his
Aho. Those pioneering BIS CDs have pride of place on my
shelves, such is the consistency of this conductors vision,
the unswerving commitment of orchestra and soloists, and the
quality of the recordings themselves. Sadly, Vänskä
has since decamped to Minnesota, where he and his new band have
garnered much praise, notably for their Beethoven symphonies
But given the unequivocal success of the Vänskä/Lahti
Sibelius cycle it seems strange that BIS have decided to record
these symphonies all over again. Indeed, they will have to be
very special to eclipse those earlier recordings. And, on the
strength of this first offering, is there any sign of that?
Initial impressions of the Second Symphony are quite favourable,
Vänskä opting for clarity rather than amplitude, emphasising
inner voices and shaping the whole most admirably. As a recording
its not forensically detailed or dynamically exaggerated,
and Im sure many listeners will like the warm, haloed
sound. As a performance its also quite self-effacing,
grand gestures subtly executed, the brass in the closing pages
thrilling in its nobility and breadth.
So, a good start, if not an overwhelming one. I suspect this
is a slow burner, and that repeated hearings will enhance ones
admiration for this music and maestro. As for the American orchestra,
they play well enough, but they just dont have the character
of the Finnish band, which Vänskä built into such
a formidable ensemble. And that, I suppose, is the main reason
I didnt take to this new performance as readily as Id
hoped; and theres fierce competition out there, with rivals,
old and new, available as downloads. That said, audiophiles
will relish the fact that this new release is available in 24bit/96kHz,
although those without high-res sound cards or DACs will find
the 16-bit flacs more than adequate.
And if theres a symphony that could benefit from the extra
air and unforced amplitude of a well set up high-res
recording its Sibeliuss Fifth. Certainly, the ear-pricking
introduction has weight and atmosphere, the first climax expanding
impressively. But its the amount of inner detail, extracted
with such care, that strikes one most. Some may feel this is
achieved at the expense of overall momentum, but theres
a wonderful translucency to both the playing and recording that
cant fail to impress. Rhythms are pleasing too, even if
instrumental edge is slightly blunted by the well-upholstered
The Minnesota brass are suitably imposing in Sibeliuss
trade-mark tuttis, offering somewhat sophisticated thrills rather
than atavistic ones. But then thats Vänskäs
way, the oh-so-civilised Andante glowingly done. Perhaps thats
why I was slightly underwhelmed by the performance; its
beautifully sculpted and yet, paradoxically, it never quite
assumes the solid, three-dimensional presence one
expects from this great symphony. A combination of the halls
acoustics and the recording set-up, perhaps. In any event, I
was left feeling curiously deflated by these two readings; make
no mistake, theyre not bad performances, theyre
just not truly memorable ones.
THE SIBELIUS EDITION Vol.5
Orchestral Music for the Theatre
Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
Göteborgs Symfoniker/Neeme Järvi
6 CDs for the price of 3
BIS-CD-1912/14 [465:27] from classicsonline.com
the new BIS recording of the two suites from The Tempest
a fortnight ago from the Lahti SO and Okko Kamu, I promised
to cover this fifth volume of the earlier Vänskä and
Järvi recordings, which includes a complete version of
the incidental music to The Tempest, occupying the whole
of Volume 3 with the revised version of Kuolema. The
performance is idiomatic a shade more so than the new
recording where the two overlap, as in the Overture: eerily
dramatic in both versions but a little faster and slightly more
dramatic in the older version.
The only question is whether one really wants a complete version
with dialogue in Finnish. By coincidence, as I was listening
to the new recording of the Suites I heard a complete performance
on BBC Radio 3 with dialogue in English and came to the conclusion
that it wouldnt do for repeated hearing. Mercifully, theres
much less spoken material here very little, in fact,
but it is in Finnish, as are the vocal sections. The other complication
arises from the fact that the two Suites are also included in
this set, though with six well-filled CDs for the price of three
you may think that the overlap doesnt much matter.
With so much excellent music on these six CDs at such a reasonable
price, overall its impossible to quarrel with Rob Barnetts
very high opinion of this set. (See review
with complete listing of contents.) Classicsonline.com mirror
the generosity of BIS in offering a reduced price in very good
mp3 (£23.97 as against around £30, the cheapest
price Ive found for the CDs), but if you want lossless
downloads youll need to buy the discs separately from
eclassical.com all at keen prices, but its a shame
that they dont offer the set at reduced price. Perhaps
they may be encouraged to do so? Meanwhile, dont forget
that ludicrously inexpensive set of essential Sibelius in BIS-derived
performances from amazon.co.uk which was my Download of
the Month in the June 2011/2 Roundup;
its now gone up to £7.99, but that still means seven
CDs for the price of one. iTunes also have that album for £7.99
but their price of £49.99 for the Theatre Music set is
ridiculous twice as much as the classicsonline.com and
likely to be offered at 256kb/s rather than 320kb/s.
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No. 1, Op.7 (1889-1894) [35:25]
Saul and David: Prelude to Act II (1902) [5:20]
London Symphony Orchestra/André Previn rec. London,
RCA LP-LSC-2961 [40:45] from HDTT
(24/96 & 24/192 lossless flac)
I havent yet heard this, so Im passing the baton
to Dan Morgan. I merely note that the RCA Gold label
CD is a collectors item, with asking prices of £22+
on the web as I write.
buying classical LPs in the late 1960s and 1970s will have come
across discs from Previn and the LSO. Indeed, my very first
purchase was their complete EMI Nutcracker, in a gaudily
decorated pink box. [Still one of my favourite versions: download
from classicsonline.com see September 2011/2 Roundup.
BW]* They recorded for RCA as well their Vaughan
Williams is still very competitive this Nielsen selection
copied direct from an RCA LP. I must confess to some trepidation
when I saw this, as the Jean Martinon/Florent Schmitt download
I reviewed en passant last year was a major disappointment;
the performances havent worn well, but whats most
distracting is the bright, overloaded sound, which makes it
almost unlistenable. HDTT, who usually copy from reel-to-reel
tapes, must be congratulated for persisting with LP transfers,
a daunting task when one considers the age of these originals.
Happily, the first movement of the symphony couldnt be
more of a surprise; first, its an arresting introduction
from a conductor one doesnt readily associate with Nielsen
and, second, the sound has a warm, analogue-like glow thats
most beguiling. This recording has all the hallmarks of a Previn/LSO
collaboration fine, incisive playing and an abiding freshness,
the music persuasively shaped and powerfully projected. I much
admired Michael Schønwandts reading when I reviewed
it for the main site (Naxos
8.570737) but Previns has much more thrust and
sparkle, the recording itself remarkably detailed and lifelike.
The final pages of the Allegro orgoglioso blaze with
the kind of conviction one remembers from the classic Ole Schmidt
performances also with the LSO and I was struck
anew by the firmish bass, smooth strings and vaunting brass.
Very impressive, especially as its an LP transfer. As
for the Andante, its a wonderful blend of inwardness
and ardour; and, not surprising for a conductor so closely associated
with Tchaikovsky ballets, Previn floats the jaunty rhythms of
the Allegro comodo in great style, climaxes expanding
without hint of stress or strain. Jukka-Pekka Saraste and his
Finnish radio orchestra (Apex) are even more engaging here,
but theres no doubt the Previn/LSO partnership is a special
one, their music-making noted for its spontaneity and general
joie de vivre.
In the Allegro con fuoco the upper strings are a tad
steely, but theres a compensating ballast and body elsewhere.
Previn maintains a sense of proportion throughout, those vaulting
tuttis never sounding crude or overblown. As for the very brief
prelude from Nielsens biblical epic Saul and David,
its an exhilarating snippet, the LSO brass really showing
their mettle. I was amazed by just how well the weight and detail
of Kenneth Wilkinsons original recording has been preserved.
Indeed, theres a Wagnerian amplitude here that cant
fail to please.
Hats off to HDTT for this remarkable transfer (also
on CD), which makes a vintage recording sound newly minted;
and for those of us who remember the Previn/LSO partnership
in its halcyon days this will rekindle that excitement and interest.
The pdf booklet is very basic, but otherwise this
download is well worth the few shekels it will cost you.
* but choose the version on 5099996769454 now for £7.99;
the Classics for Pleasure version now costs an unfeasible £13.98.
Better still, download or purchase on CD from amazon.co.uk for
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Le festin de laraignée (The spiders
banquet): Ballet-pantomime, Op.17 (complete) (1912) [32:26]
Padmâvatî: Opera-ballet in two acts (1914-1918)
Suites 1 and 2 [22:27]
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Stéphane Denève
rec. October 2010. DDD.
Pdf booklet included.
NAXOS 8.572243 [54:53] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 (complete) [36:14]
Le festin de laraignée (The spiders
banquet): Ballet-pantomime, Op.17 (complete) (1912) [31:50]
BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. March 1996.
Pdf booklet included.
CHANDOS CHAN9494 [67:49] from theclassicalshop.net
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
is the fifth and final recording in the Naxos survey
of Roussel. As Nick Barnard wrote in his review
of Volume 4, there is stiff competition, though only in the
case of Le festin. Again, however, theres nothing
to compete at the price and, as there seems to be only one other
recording of Padmâvatî currently available
in the UK, and thats of the complete work on an inexpensive
2-CD Gala set (GL100573, LSO/Jean Martinon rec.1969),
there are ample reasons for recommending the new recording.
(For a download of the EMI/Plasson complete Padmâvatî,
good playing and recording and theres only one reason
not to go for the Naxos recording the existence of the
Chandos version. If you havent got a recording
of Bacchus et Ariane, Id advise spending a little
extra (the mp3 costs £7.99); if you must have lossless
recording the Chandos becomes mandatory. Though the lossless
version at £9.99 costs twice as much as the Naxos in mp3,
that still represents a worthwhile saving over the CD. The performance
is even more idiomatic, the lossless recording has the edge
on the classicsonline.com mp3, good as that is, and the coupling
will probably appeal to more potential listeners. Enjoyable
as I found Padmâvatî, Bacchus et Ariane
is a more important work. Both recordings come with useful booklets.
Try out both recordings and their booklets if you have access
to the invaluable Naxos Music Library, where youll also
find an EMI budget-price twofer of Roussels music, including
the complete Bacchus et Ariane and symphonic fragments
from le Festin, together with Symphonies 2-4 (idiomatic
performances directed by Messrs. Prêtre, Dervaux and Cluytens
download from amazon.co.uk)
and a complete recording of Padmâvatî conducted
by Michel Plasson download in mp3 from classicsonline.com.
Evencio CASTELLANOS (1915-1984)
Santa Cruz de Pacairigua (1954) [17:02]
El Río de las Siete Estrellas (1946) [14:55]
Suite Avileña (1947) [24:26]
Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela/Jan Wagner rec.
July 2010. DDD.
Pdf booklet included.
NAXOS 8.572681 [56:23] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
have we not heard more of this Venezuelan composer? We already
had a fine recent recording of Santa Cruz (from Gustavo
Dudamel, Fiesta, DGG 477 8337 or 477 7457: Recording
of the Month see review);
now may we please have more of his music, preferably brought
to us as inexpensively and attractively as this Naxos download?
I have just one small complaint both Santa Cruz and
the Suite Avileña feature a number of Latin American
Christmas carols, so it would have been more appropriate if
the album had appeared a little earlier. Other than that, I
simply recommend sitting back to enjoy three works which now
rank for me alongside the music of such better known Latin American
composers as Villa-Lobos, Ginastera and Revueltas.
Karel REINER (1910-1979) Music for Cello
Cello Concerto, Op.34 (1941-43)* [33:03]
Sonata Brevis, Op.38 (1946) [10:02]
Elegy and Capriccio (1957/60) [11:31]
Verses for viola and piano** [15:24]
Sebastian Foron (cello)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Zdenek Mácal
Matti Raekallio (piano)
first recordings rec. December 2010 and June 2011. DDD/DSD
*live recording of world-premiere performance, December 2010.
**played on cello at original pitch
Pdf booklet included
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0083 [71:31] from toccataclassics.com
claim Reiner as a major missing voice in Czech music and he
certainly deserves to be much better known, though I beg to
be excused from agreeing that his Cello Concerto, here performed
and recorded for the first time, is the greatest of its kind
since that of Dvořαk, as Toccata claim in magazine ads.
Its certainly a powerful work and it receives a suitably
My reticence is largely due to the fact that, like most of us,
I just dont know enough about late 20th-century Czech
music. Id never encountered anything by Reiner before
hardly surprising when everything here is a first recording
so, as Im entirely reliant on Toccata for information,
Ill simply repeat what they offer:
[he] suffered under both of twentieth-century Europes
major tyrannies. As a Jew he was imprisoned by the Nazis, miraculously
surviving a series of atrocities: Terezín, Auschwitz,
a camp near Dachau and a death march. Then, back in Prague after
the War, he was accused of formalism by the Communists.
This first CD of a series reviving Reiners music presents
the large-scale Concerto he completed just before his internment
in Terezín and first heard, in this live performance,
only in 2010 and three chamber pieces which evolve though
echoes of Janαček and Martinů to the brittle humour
of the Stravinskyan Verses, one of his last works.
As the notes suggest, if you warm to the music of Janαček,
Martinů and Stravinsky, to which I would add Bartók,
you shouldnt have too much trouble taking Reiners
music on board. I have to take on trust that the performances
are idiomatic they certainly sound as if they are
and the detailed notes in the booklet, keyed to the tracks of
the recording, are very helpful.
The sound is good but, as these performances were recorded in
24/192 quality and the album will be available on disc in SACD
format, it seems a pity that Toccata are still offering their
downloads at the minimum acceptable 192kb/s. You may prefer
to wait for classicsonline.com to add this to their offerings
from the Toccata catalogue at 320kb/s.
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Violin Concerto [30:32]
Double Concerto [20:36]
Anthony Marwood (violin), Lawrence Power (viola)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov rec. January
Pdf booklet included.
HYPERION CDA67801 [64:16] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
Geoff Molyneux got to this before me, so Im going to let
him have the first word:
is a while since I last heard Brittens Violin Concerto,
completed in 1940, and I had forgotten what a beautiful and
moving work it is. This excellent performance is given by Anthony
Marwood with Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
There are many interesting features of musical form and structure
as well as innovative instrumentation. Listen to the passage
about halfway through the second movement with two piccolos
and deep tuba. I have never heard that sound anywhere else.
The scherzo drives forward as in a whirlwind, and Marwood gives
a brilliant performance. The cadenza leads directly into the
final Passacaglia, an extraordinarily innovative movement
in the history of the violin concerto. There are some very powerful
moments in this movement, but the work ends quietly with a sense
of ambiguity. Just a few minor quibbles. I am not sure I always
like the recorded balance. For example, in the first movements
opening, the solo violin seems a bit too much to the fore, and
in the recapitulation the soloists accompaniment is rather
obtrusive when accompanying the strings in the beautiful, soft
restatement of the first subject. A better balance here is achieved
in the Naxos recording with Lorraine McAslan as soloist. I also
prefer her marginally slower tempo in the first movement. But
both performances are excellent and my complaints about the
Hyperion are very minor! The recorded sound is so good and the
performers are virtuosic and beautifully lyrical as required.
The Double Concerto was written in 1932 towards the end of Brittens
time as a student at the RCM, but it was not performed until
1997 following Colin Matthews realization of the orchestration.
This is a very fine piece of music, quite amazing for someone
aged only 19. I find it hard to understand why Britten put the
work away and why it took so long to be performed. Again this
is an excellent performance rivalling those conducted by Nagano
and Jurowski. Anthony Marwood is joined by Lawrence Power, and
both demonstrate playing not only of great virtuosity but also
of subtlety and sensitivity.
The original version of Lachrymae for viola and piano
was written in 1950, but on this recording we hear the arrangement
for viola and string orchestra that Britten completed just before
his death in 1976. Stunning virtuosity is required in this set
of 10 Variations on a song by Dowland, and this is provided,
together with beautiful phrasing and expressive playing, in
this performance by Lawrence Power. Particularly noteworthy
in Variation 2 are the soft, sustained chords in the string
orchestra, contrasting with dazzling pizzicato playing from
the soloist. There is high drama in Variations 4 and 6, and
what a wonderful moment it is when we hear the full statement
of Dowlands melody towards the end of variation 10.
All that I need add is to remind you of the earlier Hyperion
recording of the Piano Concerto with Young Apollo and Diversions,
with Stephen Osborne and, once again the BBCSSO and Ivan Volkov
on CDA67625 (Recording of the Month
Alan SCHMITZ (b.1950) Nineties
Allegro for Wind Quintet [4:49]
Dance and Dream Sequence for guitar [6:29]
String Trio [15:34]
March and Serenade for trombone and piano [5:14]
Spiritual Excursion for viola, vibraphone and timpani [7:59]
Bassoon Trio [11:00]
Song and Dance for violin and marimba [12:12]
Love in the Western World for voice and piano [1:33]
David Rachor, Florin Loghin, Franck LeBlois (bassoon)
Concordia String Trio
Todd Seelye (guitar)
Randy Hogancamp (marimba)
Lee Schmitz, Robin Guy (piano)
Leslie Morgan, Leslie (soprano)
Eric Schmitz (timpani)
Christopher Schmitz (trombone)
Randy Hogancamp (vibraphone)
Leslie Pema (viola)
Therese Fetter (violin)
Originally released on Capstone Records in 2001.
RAVELLO RECORDS RR7821 [64 :50] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
composed (1990s) music from a contemporary composer that manages
to be approachable without sounding banal? If that sounds like
squaring the circle, heres proof that it isnt impossible.
The cover shot, striking and immediate in its appeal really
indicates what lies within.
I listened to a CD-quality review download. Classicsonline.coms
mp3 downloads always come at the full bit-rate and, as they
offer this recording for £4.99, that would seem a better
option than to follow Ravellos links to iTunes or Amazon,
whose mp3 downloads are usually at 256kb/s and who charge £7.99
(iTunes) £6.99/$8.99 (Amazon) for other Ravello downloads.
Better still, you may wish to wait until this appears in lossless
format from eclassical.com.
Theres no booklet but there are extensive interactive
notes on the Ravello website here.
Igor RAYKHELSON (b.1961) Concertos
for Violin and Viola
Violin Concerto in c minor (2007)* [30:54]
Viola Concerto in a minor (2005)** [29:17]
Nikolay Sachenko (violin); Yuri Bashmet (viola)
Novaya Rossiya Orchestra/Claudio Vandelli*, Alexander Slatkovsky**
rec. November 2007 and October 2009. DDD.
first recordings; ** live recording
pdf booklet included
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0130 [60:27] from toccataclassics.com
to the enterprising work of Toccata, Id already encountered
Raykhelsons music in the form of the Jazz Suite
and other small-scale works see November 2010 Roundup.
Unlike Carla Rees, who thought the music not hardcore
enough, I found the earlier recording extremely approachable
and enjoyable, if not very memorable. Now we have two more substantial
works, with Raykhelsons friend Yuri Bashmet again to the
fore in presenting one of them.
Here again the music is very approachable the Toccata
notes rightly speak of the unashamed romanticism of the Violin
Concerto and the Viola Concerto is darker in tone but only a
little tougher, with a jazzy finale. The performances have to
be taken on trust there are no recordings of either to
use as benchmarks, but sound thoroughly idiomatic.
The downloads of both this and the Reiner recording (above)
are available in advance of the release date of the CD. The
sound, though at only 192kb/s, is very acceptable.
Los Pajaros Perdidos The South-American
Anonymous Popular Argentinian/Quito
GATO Duerme Negrito [2:54]
Ariel RAMÍREZ/Félix LUNA/Quito
GATO Alfonsina y el Mar (Zamba) [4:57]
Anonymous Popular Venezuelan Montilla [3:16]
Anonymous Popular Paraguayan Pájaro Campana
Astor PIAZZOLLA/Mario TREJO/Quito GATO
Los Pájaros perdidos (Canción) [3:45]
Anonymous Popular Venezuelan Pájarillo Verde
Anonymous Popular Paraguayan Isla Sacá
Constantino RAMONES La
embarazada del viento (Gaita Margariteña)
Hamlet Lima QUINTANA/Noberto AMBROS/Alfredo
ROSALES/Quito GATO Zamba para no morir (Zamba)
Pancho CABRAL/Quito GATO/Christina
PLUHAR Ay! este azul [3:03]
Juan Bautista PLAZA/Quito GATO
El Curruchá [2:38]
Anonymous Popular Venezuelan Caballo Viejo (Pasaje)
Alma Llanera (Joropo) [4:57]
Luis Mariano RIVERA/Quito GATO/Christina
PLUHAR La Cocoroba (Joropo oriental)
Antonio Nella CASTRO/Hilda HERRERA/Quito
GATO Zamba del Chaguanco (Zamba) [3:37]
Adela GLEIJER/Diana RECHES/Quito GATO/Christina
PLUHAR Como un pájaro libre [3:33]
Maria Elena WALSH/Quito GATO/Christina
PLUHAR Como la Cigarra [3:36]
Otarolo DOMÍNGUEZ Ojito
de Agua [2:50]
Anonymous Popular Venezuelan/Quito
GATO/Christina PLUHAR Polo
Padre Antonio SOLER/Christina PLUHAR
Consuelo VELASQUEZ Besame
mucho (Bolero) [3:44]
Raquel Andueza, Lucilla Galeazzi (soprano); Philippe Jaroussky
(counter-tenor); Luciana Mancini (mezzo); Vincenzo Capezzuto
LArpeggiata/Christina Pluhar (harp)
VIRGIN CLASSICS 5099907095054 [75:23] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
many pieces of music inspired by birds (Spanish pájaros)
can you name apart from Respighis Gli Uccelli?
There are plenty of them on my fun recording for
this Roundup described as a fusion of musical styles,
Spanish and Latin American music from the baroque to the present
day, arranged by harpist and director Christina Plujar. The
centre piece which gives its name to the collection, the
lost birds is a canción by Astor Piazzolla.
I imagine that his name alone will be enough to convince many
If you want to know more about the music or listen to a sample,
youll find details on the EMI Classics website
I no longer have review access to EMI and Virgin downloads from
classicsonline.com, so I had to make do with hearing this from
the Naxos Music Library; the recording is good enough in that
form to make me believe that the 320kb/s version from classicsonline.com
will sound very good.
received an advance copy of Resonus Classics next
release, the Debussy and Ravel String Quartets performed
by the Eroica Quartet just as I was closing this Roundup. (RES10107).
These are works to die for in my book after hearing the
Ravel for the first time in the Holywell Music Rooms in Oxford
on a balmy Summer evening many years ago, I rushed out the next
day to buy the two works on a Supraphon LP. My first reaction
to the new recording is not as seminal an event as that
the sort of response that happens only once and Im
slightly less impressed than I expected to be on the strength
of the Eroica Quartets very special first appearance on
the Resonus debut recording in the Mendelssohn Octet (RES10101).
The magic of the music is all there but theres slightly
less power than on some recordings of the Ravel, which opens
Perhaps my slight disappointment is due to the fact that Ive
heard these works so many times in modern-instrument performances
whereas the Eroica play with gut strings and employ late-19th.century
playing styles, still in use when these quartets were composed
in the 1920s, which I would normally applaud. Dont take
my reservations too seriously; maybe by the next Roundup Ill
have had time to find more of the undoubted strengths of this
recording Im already finding more to admire than
to criticise even as my first run-through progresses.
Resonus downloads come in a variety of formats from mp3 to 24/96
flac the latter sounds excellent. Their releases are
available direct from resonusclassics.com
in all formats, from eclassical.com in mp3 and 16-bit flac and
from a variety of download sites in mp3 only, including classicsonline.com.
Im afraid that Jonathan Harveys Bird Concerto
with Pianosong (2001) (NMC NMCD177 from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library) was too much for
me but I did try. Perhaps I was expecting something that
lived up more to the hint of Messiaen implicit in the title.
It is, however, worth £1.68 to sample the emusic.com download.
Michael Slattery (tenor and shruti box) and La Nef offer a very
idiosyncratic Dowland in Dublin (Atma Classique ACD22650
[49:10]). If you like Dowland jazzed up and made to sound like
Celtic folk music you may like this one. I didnt and the
short playing time did even less to attract me. I can well believe
the revelation in the booklet that this album arose from a prank
dreamed up at a Christmas party! Classicsonline.com
are currently offering the first track free try it
or listen to the whole album from Naxos Music Library and make
your own judgement.
I cant recommend paying even £2.52 for the emusic.com
download of Roy Harriss Seventh Symphony as conducted
by Eugene Ormandy for the simple reason that its an empty
file; at a ridiculously low 31kb/s, its just not playable.
Even the other works on this download by Piston (Symphony
No.6) and Schuman (Symphony No.4) are at such low bit-rates
that you are much better downloading this Naxos Historical recording
(9.82039) from its parent site, classicsonline.com
for £1.99 (or stream from Naxos Music Library). The sound
is dated but the performances are well worth the small asking
Naxos have also made a recent and recommendable recording of
the Seventh Symphony (coupled with the Ninth on
8.559050, Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra/Theodore
Kuchar see review
also available from classicsonline.com
and Naxos Music Library.