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[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z]
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[last 5 days] [Recommended recordings]

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concerto 2 Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Themes Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Elisso Bolkvadze (piano) Tbilisi SO/Jansug Kakhidze rec. 1993/4 CASCAVELLE VEL 3151 [65:52] [JW]

Probably time these performances were given an ‘honourable retirement’. 

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphony 3 see POULENC

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Sonata 1 see French Impressions

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pablo SARASATE (1844-1908) Music for Violin and Piano - Volume 3 Tianwa Yang (violin); Markus Hadulla (piano) rec. 2007, 2010 NAXOS 8.570893 [78:55] [JWh]

An amazing violinist does wonders with Sarasate.

Maurice SAYLOR (b. 1957) The Hunting of the Snark, Publicity Pays Phil CARLUZZO (b. 1980) Stolen Goods Andrew Earle SIMPSON (b. 1967) Too Many Mammas Cantate Chamber Singers, Holton-Arms Lower School Ch, Snark Pit-band/Gisčle Becker; Snark Ens rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572685 [73:59] [PCG]

Even more fun than del Tredici’s Alice pieces.

Tibor SERLY (1901-1978) Concerto for violin and wind orchestra with percussion see Vardi

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Wanderer Fantasie; Complete Impromptus Viviana Sofronitsky (fortepiano) rec. 2010 C-AVI MUSIC 8553250 [77:40] [DC]

Worth it for a staggering ‘Wanderer Fantasie’.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Complete Symphonies The Hanover Band/Roy Goodman, Camerata Salzburg/Sándor Végh BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94218 [4 CDs: 254:44] [JZ]

A good choice … fine interpretations and excellent sound. This collection has much to offer.


(1797-1828) Symphonies 8 & 9 see Günter Wand

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus see Peter Katin

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Sonata 2, Carnaval Op.9 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9029CD [62:53] Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Scherzi 1-4, Fantasie, Piano Sonata 3 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9028CD [74:00] Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de Pélerinage - Deuxième Année (Italie), Piano Sonata Angela Brownridge (piano) rec. 2011. Great Pianist Composers Vols 1-3 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9045CD [71:16] [JW]

Sympathetic performances. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony 1 see Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Songs Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Five Mystical Songs, Songs of Travel Robbert Muuse (baritone) Micha van Weers (piano) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72527 [64:53] [JW]

The Scott songs offer a valuable slice of repertory. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies 2 & 15 Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572708 [67:03] [JQ][DM]

This is another fine instalment in this important Shostakovich symphony cycle and I hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next release. [JQ] Outwardly bright, inwardly dull; not remotely competitive.  [DM]

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 8 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi: Overture Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils Royal Concertgebouw O/Andris Nelsons rec. 2011 C MAJOR UNITEL CLASSICA 709908 [100:00] [JQ]

A remarkable concert, splendidly captured on DVD. 
also Bu-ray review

Joseph SCHWANTNER (b. 1943) Percussion Concerto; Morning’s embrace; Chasing light Christopher Lamb (percussion) Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2010/11 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559678 [68:00] [PCG]

Very worthwhile.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Jazz suite 2 see Fellini, Jazz & Co

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Symphonies 7 & 9, Festmarsch O della Svizzera Italiana/Howard Shelley rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67939 [69:07] [JW]

Numerous felicities.

DOWNLOAD OF THE MONTH Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 (1895-1896) [29:56] Gustav HOLST (1874-2934) The Planets, Op. 32/H.125 (1914-1916) [45:58] Boston Symphony Orchestra/William Steinberg rec. 1970-1971, MP3, 16-bit lossless and 24-bit Studio Master Pdf cover art; no booklet LINN/UNIVERSAL UNI016 Download [75:54] [DM]

A fine Zarathustra and a distinguished Planets, presented in analogue sound of rare subtlety and presence.

Johann STRAUSS II (1825–1899) Die Fledermaus Hilde Gueden (soprano) Waldemar Kmentt (tenor) Erika Köth (soprano) Walter Berry (bass-baritone) Vienna St Op Ch/Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1960 PRISTINE PACO 068 [57:03 + 60:02] [RM]

A dashing performance with breathless, heady excitement.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Metamorphosen; Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier; Divertimento Bamberg SO/Clemens Krauss rec. 1953/54 PRISTINE CLASSICAL PASC311 [76:20] [GA]

Real authority and total commitment if rather variable sound quality.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome Kim Begley, Doris Soffel, Alan Held, Angela Denoke, Deutsches SO Berlin/Stefan Soltesz rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108 037 [112:00] [DM]

Some fine singing; pity the production is so perverse.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche see MAHLER

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring Philharmonic SO New York/Igor Stravinsky rec. 1946/50 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.112070 [73.40] [PCG]

Stravinsky’s interpretations of his own music while he was in his prime.

Arthur SULLIVAN (1842 - 1900) The Mikado Richard Alexander (bass) Kanen Breen (tenor) Opera Australia Ch/O Victoria/Brian Castles-Onion rec. 2011 OPERA AUSTRALIA OPQZ56015BD  [144:00] [MG]

A rip-roaring, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Mikado and a lot of fun.

Joseph TAWADROS (b. 1983) Concerto of the Greater Sea Joseph Tawadros (oud); Richard Tognetti (violin); James Tawadros (req and bendir); Christopher Moore (viola); Matt McMahon (piano); Australian Chamber Orchestra rec.2006 and 2011 ABC CLASSICS 476 4745 [74:04] [PCG]

Interesting, often rewarding, and generally pleasant.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Complete Symphonies Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Yuri Simonov, Vladimir Fedoseyev rec.1983-98 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94307 [7 CDs: 442:00] [RMo]

A bargain box of extraordinary quality and desirability … could hardly be bettered.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Ray Chen (violin) Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2011 SONY 88697984102 [63.50] [PCG]

Technically irreproachable but more romantic fervour is called for.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Eighteen Piano Pieces, Op.72 Konstantin Shamray (piano) rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572225 [67:09] [SA]

These little gems sparkle with light and are simply delightful.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 1, March Slave Russian Ntl O/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 2011 PENTATONE PTC 5186 381 [55:21] [GD]

A distinct lack of drama and drive.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Egmont Overture Boston SO/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1963/69 ICA CLASSICS ICAD 5059 [57:00] [CH]

Leinsdorf belatedly enters the select list of the greatest Tchaikovsky performances on record.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) My First Tchaikovsky Album NAXOS 8.578214 [74:47] [Byz]

Enough here to keep children entertained. What happens then is up to parents.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst - Vol. 4 Bergen Barokk (Franz Vitzthum (alto), Peter Holtslag (transverse flute), Markku Luolajan-Mikkola (cello), Hans Knut Sveen (harpsichord, organ)) rec. 2007, DDD TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0084 [67:20] [JV]

Every reason to be thankful for this project even if this disc doesn't deliver the ideal.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Complete Violin Concertos Vol. 3 Overture for violin, strings and bc in D (TWV 55,D14) Overture for violin, strings and bc in A (TWV 55,A7) Concerto for 2 violins, strings and bc in G (TWV 52,G2) Elizabeth Wallfisch, Susan Carpenter-Jacobs (violin) The Wallfisch Band/Elizabeth Wallfisch rec. 2009 CPO 777 473-2 [60:42] [JV]

No collector of Telemann recordings will want to miss this disc.

Christopher TYE (c.1505-1573) Missa Euge bone, Western Wynde Mass Ch of Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67928 [73:49] [DMcC]

Exhilarating music that receives excellent advocacy from choir, conductor and label.

Viktor ULLMANN (1898-1944) Piano Sonatas 5-7 Lala Isakova (piano) rec. 2010 CRYSTAL CLASSICS N67070 [53:05] [SA]

Leaves us with an extremely satisfying feeling of a composer well served.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Five Mystical Songs, Songs of Travel see SCOTT

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth Simon Keenlyside, Liudmyla Monastyrska, Raymond Aceto; Ch & O Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Antonio Pappano rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1063D [170:00] [ST]

An excellent release, altogether, and something that any fan of the opera would enjoy.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Complete Ballet Music from the Operas Bournemouth SO/José Serebrier NAXOS 8.572818-19 [54:09 + 61:13] [DM]

Two hours of pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Luisa Miller Giorgio Tozzi, Richard Tucker, Montserrat Caballé, Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Thomas Schippers rec. 1968 SONY CLASSICAL 88691 909942 [66:54 + 62:54] [RMo]

Some great singing here and Sony makes a very good case for the work’s dramatic impact.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Ernani Carlo Bergonzi, Leontyne Price, Metropolitan Opera Ch & O/Thomas Schippers rec. 1965 SONY CLASSICS 88691 909962 [37.53 + 65.51] [RJF]

With savage cuts, mono sound and questionable recording quality, this is hardly recommendable despite the presence of Bergonzi and Price. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth Leo Nucci, Shirley Verrett, Samuel Ramey, Veriano Luchetti, Teatro Communale Bologna/Riccardo Chailly rec. 1986 DECCA 4783470 [63.31 + 73.19] [RJF]

Hardly a recommendable reissue given the quality of rivals also at mid-price.

Giuseppe VERDI (1830-1901) Il Trovatore Luciano Pavarotti, Antonella Banaudi, Shirley Verrett, Leo Nucci, O & Ch of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Zubin Mehta rec. 1990 DECCA 478 3478 [65:31 + 65:21] [PCG]

Not a natural sound and given the state of some of the voices here it does the singers no great favours either.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Il Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione Opus 8 Avison Ens/Pavlo Beznosiuk (violin) rec. 2009 LINN RECORDS CKD 365 [57:54 + 56:16] The Four Seasons - Violin Concertos, Concerto in B flat, Concerto in e minor 'Il favorito', Concerto in E 'L'amoroso' Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin) Philh Baroque O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2010 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PRODUCTIONS PBP-03 [75:30] [JV]

Both recordings have nice things to offer, but they fall short in fully exploring the character of Vivaldi's concertos.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons Op. 8 nos. 1-4 [38:01] Concerto in D major for violin and double orchestra The Assumption of the Virgin Mary RV 582 [11:52] Concerto in C major for violin and double orchestra RV 581 The Assumption of the Virgin Mary [12:14] The London Mozart Players/David Juritz (violin/director) rec. 1999 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6149 [62:39] [DC]

Highly recommendable – dynamic and dramatic.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi: Overture Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 8 Royal Concertg O/Andris Nelsons rec. 2011 C-MAJOR UNITEL 710004 Blu-ray [100:00] [DM]

Fine Wagner, good Strauss, inspired Shostakovich.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre – music-drama in three acts (1870) The Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec.2011 DDD. Booklet with synopsis included. Text and translation on CD5. HALLÉ CDHLD7531 [4 CDs: 71:32 + 68:13 + 30:59 + 77:13 + CD 5: libretto and translation] [BW]

A very welcome alternative to existing recordings – and at a competitive price.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung Kirsten Flagstad (soprano) Set Svanholm (tenor) Op Ch/Oslo PO/Norwegian St Radio O/Řivin Fjeldstad rec. 1956 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.112066-69 [4 CDs: 52:10 + 59:59 + 69:37 + 77:56] [JWh]

A welcome reminder of Flagstad’s art. Magnificent – needs to be heard.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Robert Dean Smith (tenor) Edith Haller (soprano) Albert Dohmen (bass-baritone) Berlin RSO & Ch/Marek Janowski rec. live, 2011 PENTATONE PTC5186402 [4 CDs: 253:15] [ST]

The game needs to be upped if this project is going to attract listeners to invest. We shall see.

Richard WAGNER (1813 - 1883) Tristan und Isolde Kirsten Flagstad, Ludwig Suthaus, Josef Greindl, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Philharmonia O/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1952 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 067 [4 CDs: 256:24] [RMo]

This Pristine re-mastering is a revelation.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Opera scenes & excerpts see BRUCKNER

William WALTON (1902-1983) Viola Concertosee Vardi

Raymond WARREN (b. 1928) A Lough Neagh Sequence, Piano Sonata 2 In My Childhood Phillip Mead (piano) Seamus Heaney (speaker) Olivia Robinson (soprano) UH Chamber Ensemble/Robin Browning rec. 2010 UH RECORDINGS 02001 1023 [65:01] [NB]

Fascinating music with one real discovery. I trust that this will prove to a herald of many more discs.

Judith Lang ZAIMONT (b. 1945) Sonata, Nocturne, A Calendar Set Christopher Atzinger (piano) rec. 2010 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559665 [65.55] [PCG]

Those who have already discovered the composer will need no incentive to invest in this disc. 

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745) Cantatas for Holy Sepulchre: Immisit Dominus pestilentiam; Attendite et videte; Deus dux fortissime Hana Blažiková, David Erler, Tobias Hunger, Tomáš Král, Collegium Marianum/Jana Semerádová rec. 2011 SUPRAPHON SU 4068-2 [65:33] [JW]

Splendid, incisive, rhythmically well sprung.

Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871–1942) Clarinet trio Olivier MESSIAEN (1908–1992) Quartet for the End of Time Ens Liaison; Wilma Smith (violin) rec. 2010 MELBA RECORDINGS MR 301132 [77:38] [DC]

A fascinating coupling … plenty of drama, but less ferocity and fury at the extremes.

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