2012/1 Download Roundup
The previous Roundup, April 2012/2 is here,
April 2012/1 is here
and earlier Roundups are indexed here.
A one-day glitch on 18 April 2012 caused all classicsonline.coms
Naxos downloads to be re-priced from £4.99 to £7.99.
Fortunately the problem was put right the next day but it serves
as reminder that you should always note the price that youre
being charged and check if there seems to be an anomaly.
of the Month
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
Selva Morale e Spirituale (1641) Volume 2
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes III [4:19]
Confitebor tibi, Domine (Primo) [8:08]
O ciechi, ciechi [3:50]
Jubilet tota civitas [5:01]
Messa a 4 voci da cappella Kyrie [2:38] and Gloria
Deus tuorum militum sors et corona [2:33]
Messa a 4 voci da cappella Credo [5:52]
Sanctorum meritis (Primo) [4:43]
Messa a 4 voci da cappella Sanctus [2:28] Benedictus
[1:23] and Agnus Dei [2:14]
Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius [4:14]
Et iterum venturus est [1:32]
Ab æterno ordinata sum [6:48]
Dixit [Dominus] Primo [9:10]
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers rec. November 2011. DDD
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
CORO COR16101 [70:32] from thesixteendigital.com
(mp3, aac and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music
is a very worthy successor to Volume 1 (COR16087) which
appeared some time ago and which I hope will now also appear
in due course in a lossless download from thesixteendigital.com.
If you cant wait, its available in best-quality
mp3 from classicsonline.com, complete with the pdf booklet,
or you can stream it from the Naxos Music Library while youre
waiting for the lossless version to appear.
The Selva morale collection of 1641 marks the end which
crowns Monteverdis work finis coronat opus
in many ways its a more important collection than
the more famous Vespers of 1610. Indeed, if you own the 2-CD
Virgin budget set of the Vespers under Andrew Parrott you will
already be familiar with some of the music from this collection,
as it has been employed as a filler there. Only Confitebor
tibi I appears on both recordings (Virgin Veritas 5616622
without texts or the slightly more expensive
EMI Great Recordings version on 2126852 with texts).
The performances on the new Coro recording are first rate
every bit as good as those of the Taverner Choir, Consort and
Players on the Parrot recording of the Vespers and benefiting
from a more recent recording. Its worth obtaining one
of the 24/96 downloads in flac or alac as these
were created directly from the digital masters, but they do
take a long time to download. Im not about to ditch any
of the four volumes of Monteverdis music which The Kings
Consort recorded for Hyperion, which are also available as lossless
downloads, albeit in 16-bit form see March 2012/1 Roundup
for Volumes 3 and 4 and some other recordings of Monteverdi*
but the new Coro recording will certainly be joining
them as part of my regular listening.
also have a recommendable and inexpensive earlier recording
of Monteverdi from The Sixteen and Harry Christophers
the Messa a 4 da capella (published posthumously in 1650,
not the one from the 1641 collection on Coro) and Missa in
illo tempore from the 1610 collection: CDH55145
download from hyperion-records.co.uk
in mp3 or lossless for a very reasonable £5.99. On the
basis that you cant have too much of a good thing, this
would be a very inexpensive addition to the new Coro recording.
* including an irresistible bargain download of the 3-CD Harmonia
Mundi set of the complete Selva Morale, £7.99 from
of the Month
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cantata No.11: Praise our God [25:58]
Cantata No.67: Hold in affection Jesus Christ [16:16]
Cantata No.147: Jesu, joy of mans desiring [3:29]
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto); Ena Mitchell (soprano); William
Herbert (tenor); William Parsons (bass); Cantata Singers
Jacques Orchestra/Reginald Jacques rec. c.1949. ADD/mono
DISCOVER CLASSICAL MUSIC [45:43] from emusic.com
recordings first appeared in 1950 apparently two
different performances of No.67 are involved, one released on
78s and one on a 10" LP, and Im not sure which was
chosen for this transfer. Perhaps the Eclipse reissue of 1970,
though theres no sign of the electronic stereo
employed there. Im no great lover of Kathleen Ferriers
voice, having been a teenager in Blackburn in the 1950s when
everyone with any musical pretensions claimed to have had a
hand in her discovery and sang her praises ad nauseam,
but I heard her recording of No.67 on Radio 3 and found myself
much more attracted to the voice than before. To revise my opinion
in this way is the best tribute that I can pay to Ferrier in
her centenary year. Decca and EMI have already released a shoal
of her recordings but this download, at £1.26 or less,
is a real bargain (£2.37 from hmvdigital.com
for non-members of emusic.com).
Its for Ferrier alone that youll want this recording.
Reginald Jacques paces the music well no appoggiaturas
and slowish tempi by modern standards, though with none of the
dreary heaviness that I expected, except in the chorales of
No.11 but the supporting singing is not always of the
best and, though Kaffs voice has recorded
well, overall the sound is no better than you would expect for
its age, especially in No.11. The emusic.com bit-rate is pathetically
low; hmvdigital.com offer the full 320kb/s.
Antoine BRUMEL (c.1460-c.1515)
Missa pro defunctis (Requiem Mass) [28:57]
Libera me, Domine (plainsong) [4:22]
Thomas CRECQUILLON (c.1505-1557)
Lamentationes Jeremiæ (Lamentations of Jeremiah)
Jacobus CLEMENS non Papa (c.1510-c.1555)
Tristitia obsedit me Infelix ego [8:52]
Josquin DESPRES (c.1450-1521)
(attributed) Absalon Fili mi [3:53]
In paradisum (plainsong) [1:15]
Jackson HILL (b.1942)
Ma fin est mon commencement (My end is my beginning)
New York Polyphony (Geoffrey Williams (counter-tenor), Geoffrey
Silver (tenor), Christopher Dylan Herbert (baritone), Craig
Phillips (bass)) rec. October 2011. DDD.
Pdf booklet with texts included.
BIS-SACD-1949 [67:58] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16- and 14-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music
programme of the music of mourning may not sound exciting and
one which mixes a single work by a contemporary composer with
music from the sixteenth century may seem like a programming
mistake, but give this recording a chance and youll find
your prejudices confounded. For one thing, the tone is set by
Brumels Requiem, not as remarkable a work as his
Earthquake Mass it keeps close to the plainsong
throughout but pretty impressive and certainly not gloomy:
apart from Faurés Requiem, which sets only
part of the text, I dont think Ive ever heard such
a doom-free setting of the Dies Iræ (track 3).
All other considerations apart, its wonderful to see Brumel
at last receiving attention.
Crequillons Lamentations are pretty restrained,
too theres more decorousness than outpouring of
grief here. Clemens must have been something of a joker
anyone who could call himself Clement but not Pope Clement
couldnt have been otherwise and though the texts
which he sets came from the pen of the Florentine puritan revolutionary
Savonarola, this music, too, is restrained. The lament for Absalom,
long attributed to Josquin, may actually be by Pierre de la
Rue; either way, this work, too, is expressive of dignified
rather than anguished grief.
Jackson Hills piece which closes the programme was composed
for these singers in 2009. Based on a work by Guillaume de Machaut
the text was a favourite of Mary Queen of Scots
its by no means out of place in this programme of renaissance
The four voices of New York Polyphony offer performances to
rival the Tallis Scholars*, Hilliard Ensemble** and The Sixteen***
in the music of Brumel and his contemporaries and the recording
is excellent, even as I first heard it in mp3 from the Naxos
Music Library. Eclassical.com go not just one but two better:
their 16-bit lossless version comes at the same price as the
mp3 ($10.18) while audiophiles will want the 24/96 version for
a little extra ($16.28). The notes are very good, though there
are some careless typos in the Latin texts: in diebus antiques,
cum. Caderet pupulus eius
read in diebus antiquis, cum caderet populus eius
Strongly recommended though, surely, a better cover shot could
have been found.
* Missa et ecce terræ motus: Gimell GIMBX302
or CDGIM211 (See January 2009 Roundup,
The Tallis Scholars at 30 Roundup,
and December 2010 Roundup)
** The Eastertide Mass Victimæ Paschali laudes
and other works (COR16052 see October 2011/2 Roundup).
*** Excerpts from Missa et ecce terræ motus, etc.:
Coro COR16097 (see March 2012/1 Roundup)
Antoine BRUMEL (c.1460-1515)
Mater patris et filia [2:50]
Josquin des PREZ (c.1450-1521)
Missa Mater Patris [27:29]
Alexander AGRICOLA (c.1446-1506)
Nobis Sancte Spiritus [2:26]
Regina cli [3:50]
O crux ave [4:30]
JOSQUIN des Prez Domine,
non secundum peccata nostra [7:45]
Alexander AGRICOLA Magnificat
primi toni (short version) [9:05]
Chanticleer/Joseph H Jennings
CHANTICLEER CR-8808 [57:55] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
thrown this recording into the mix even though theres
only one short work by Brumel here. The major interest is provided
by Josquins Missa Mater Patris, based on that Brumel
motet. As the Chanticleer notes admit, the music is not from
Josquins maturity and it may not even be authentic, but
nothing that has even been attributed to him should be discarded
and thats the case here. As far as Im aware, this
is the only recording, and the CD version seems not to be generally
available in the UK. One can imagine the Tallis Scholars or
The Sixteen producing a more definitive recording but Chanticleer
certainly make a good case for it.
The eclassical.com price offers excellent value at $6.95 for
mp3 or lossless, but comes without the booklet, which contains
informative notes, texts and translations and even a facsimile
of the first edition. Classisconline.com offer the booklet but
at £7.99 for mp3 only. Subscribers to the Naxos Music
Library can listen and obtain the booklet there.
Geld macht Musik : Money powers music Music
for the Fugger family
by Petrus ALAMIRE, Ludwig SENFL,
Benedictus APPENZELLER, Noel BAULDEWYN, Antoine BRUMEL, Josquin
DESPREZ, Jean RICHAFORT, Paul van HOFHAIMER and
Johannes Weiss (tenor); bFIVE Recorder Consort (Markus Bartholomé,
Katelijne Lanneau, Thomas List, Silja-Maaria Schütt, Mina
Voet) rec. 2010. DDD.
COVIELLO COV21105 [59:34] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless no booklet) or classicsonline.com
(mp3 with booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library
three tracks involve the vocalist, the rest are for recorder
consort only, arrangements of chansons and dance music of one
kind or another, all from manuscripts associated with the rich
banking family, the Fuggers. Its all very entertaining
and well performed and recorded, though none of the music is
of quite the same standard as Prætoriuss Terpsichore
or Arbeaus Orchésographie. Now that I mention
it, we need a more complete recording of the latter than the
short extracts on Alto ALC1076 a fine recording
at a budget price, with equally fine extracts from Prætorius,
Demantius and Holborne*, but we need more of Arbeaus music
to replace the LP that once existed on the Turnabout label.
If you need only the mp3, classicsonline.coms £7.99
and eclassical.coms $10.76 are about equal. Eclassical.com,
however, offers lossless sound for the same price, while the
Naxos Music Library and classicsonline.com include the booklet.
* The hmvdigital.com downloads is over-priced at £7.99,
as is that from amazon.co.uk at £7.49 when the CD can
be obtained for just over £5 and classicsonline.com charge
Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676)
Vespro della beta Vergine (Venice, 1656)
Barbara Borden, Emily van Evera (sopranos), Rodrigo del Pozo
(alto), Gerd Türk, Mark Padmore (altos/tenors), Markus
Brutscher (tenor), Harry van der Kamp, Peter Zimpel (basses)
Concerto Palatino/Bruce Dickey and Charles Toet rec.
No booklet brief notes available from glossamusic.com.
GLOSSA GCD922509 [2 CDs: 56:28 + 64:07] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
[lossless version anticipated from eclassical.com]
Messa Concertata, canzonas and motets (1644?)
Canzona à 6 [4:25]
O quam suavis et decora [3:26]
Canzona à 4 [3:54]
Sanctus and Benedictus [3:01]
O bone Jesu, O Jesu amabilis [4:49]
Canzona à 3 [5:06]
Agnus Dei [3:17]
Canzona à 8 [3:51]
The Parley of Instruments/Peter Holman rec. 1997. DDD
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55193 [64:08] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
has this wonderful Glossa recording been kept under wraps
for so long? Cavallis secular music is well known, though
not well represented in the current catalogue, but his religious
works from Musiche sacre, whence these Vesper settings
are derived, far less so.
Cavallis Vespers, in fact, enjoy an even more
tenuous existence than Monteverdis famous 1610 set
neither was probably intended for performance in toto
but that doesnt stop us from enjoying both in modern
concert form. Thats especially true when they receive
as glorious a set of performances as they do here. Only the
lack of texts prevents my making this Download of the Month
and you will find most of what you want by typing the
first lines into Google, albeit that the process is a bit onerous:
Deus in adiutorium
Domine ad adiuvandum
Maria virgo semper letare (if searching for text, try spelling
Canzon à 3
O quam pulchra es
Canzon à 4
Sonata à 6
Oculi tui sancta Dei genitrix
Canzon à 8
In prole mater in partu virgo
Canzon à 10
Ave Maris Stella
The mp3 recording from classicsonline.com sounds fine but you
may wish to wait for the lossless version which Im sure
eclassical.com will release soon and, on past form, little
if anything more expensive than the classicsonline.com version.
The Hyperion recording is already available in lossless
form as well as mp3 and complete with booklet, too, for
just £5.99. The Mass, another work from the 1656 collection,
the first item there, indeed, is performed here in the contemporary
Venetian manner interspersed with vocal and instrumental items.
With very good performances and recording, this would make an
excellent purchase either on its own or as a supplement
to the Glossa Vespers.
Other Cavalli downloads:
o Artemisia: La Venexiana/Claudio Cavina Glossa
GCD920918 (3 CDs) (September 2011/1 Roundup)
o Ercole Amante: Nederlandse Opera, Concerto Köln/Ivor
Bolton Opus Arte OA1020D (see DVD review)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in d minor, BWV903 [12:07]
George Malcolm (harpsichord by Thomas Goff) rec. 1954.
BEULAH EXTRA 20BX24 [12:07] from eavb.co.uk
Italian Concerto in F, BWV971 [12:43]
George Malcolm (harpsichord by Thomas Goff) rec. 1954.
BEULAH EXTRA 1-3BX24 [12:43] from eavb.co.uk
two recordings were released in tandem on a Decca 10" mono
I must admit to some feelings of ambiguity when it comes to
George Malcolms Bach: we owe much of what we now think
of as authentic performance to him and Thurston Dart, but the
instruments which he employed would now be regarded as inauthentic.
The miracle is that he was able to produce a performance of
such subtlety as this of the Italian Concerto plenty
of virtuoso playing and forward momentum, though not clockwork-sounding
and with real delicacy where its called for. The recording
has come up sounding well.
With such fine performances, my likes easily outweigh my reservations
in the final analysis.
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Bagatelles and other short pieces.
Seven Bagatelles Op.33 [20:04]
Eleven Bagatelles Op.119 [13:39]
Six Bagatelles Op.126 [19:17]
Allegretto quasi andante in g minor WoO61a [0:31]
Bagatelle in C WoO56 [2:25]
Bagatelle in c minor WoO52 [4:08]
Bagatelle in B flat WoO60 [1:08]
Allegretto in b minor WoO61 [2:35]
Klavierstück in a minor Für Elise
Steven Osborne (piano) rec. July 2011. DDD.
Pdf booklet included
HYPERION CDA67879 [67:19] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
was about to write up my thoughts on this when I received Geoff
Molyneuxs review, which says all that I wanted to. Fifty
years ago I could manage some of the easier Beethoven Bagatelles
and Ecossaises after a fashion the likes of Steven
Osborne serve to remind me how badly but a recent attempt
to return to where I left off then has been less than successful,
so I leave you with Geoffs thoughts:
Steven Osbornes performance of the Beethoven Bagatelles
makes us realise that these pieces are no mere trifles. He shows
us that these little gems are the work of a master, full of
invention, variety and interest from first note to last. The
Bagatelles were written throughout Beethovens life. Some
of the early ones were revised later, and Op. 126 was the composers
final offering in terms of piano music.
Osborne responds to the grazioso marking at the head
of Opus 33 No.1 with a light and charming performance. He neatly
contrasts the staccatos with graceful legato passages, particularly
in the ever-increasing complexity of the varied returns of the
main theme. Glenn Gould gives a somewhat dry account with rather
aggressive and charmless playing.
Osborne captures the humour of the second piece in the set.
It is a scherzo with an abrupt, staccato motif in the
first bar followed by loud notes in the low register of the
keyboard. I am reminded of Schnabel here but I prefer Osborne
and of course he is much better recorded. I like Jenö Jandós
opening better because he maintains the pulse without clipping
the staccato notes.
Osborne gives a very stylish performance of Opus 33 No.3, a
gentle piece in pastoral mood. Glenn Gould has other ideas!
He turns into a fast and trivial number. You can hardly catch
your breath. In No.4, Osborne gives a fine performance balancing
the music well when the main theme returns in the bass. Jenö
Jandó is always reliable, but as on so many of his recordings,
his playing is a little dull and unimaginative and the recording
A striking feature of Osbornes performance is clarity
of texture and a good example of this is the fast-moving semiquavers
in No.5 of Opus 33. I love his phrasing in the minor key middle
section. John Lill plays a little more quickly here, but Osborne
treats us to a more subtle and expressive rubato.
Steven Osborne gives a delightful performance of Opus 119 No.1.
There is great clarity and beautiful phrasing in the semi-quaver
triplets of the main theme. Brendel has a more romantic approach
with a slower second section, but his return to the first theme
seems rather fussy, making too much of something which is delightful
in its simplicity. In No.2 Brendel is a little quicker than
Osborne, but the recording is less clear. No.5 is a dramatic
affair and No.6 begins with an improvisatory section followed
by a light-hearted allegretto. Osborne captures the spirit
of these pieces perfectly. No.7 is the most interesting of the
set. Osborne builds the music to a virtuosic climax with a huge
accelerando towards the end. He is rather more wild and exciting
than Brendel. No.9 is a tiny, tranquil and wistful piece played
beautifully by Osborne. Brendel is in a different mood. He gives
a quicker but more solid performance with dramatic, subito pianos
(crescendos immediately followed by a sudden soft chord). No.11,
the final piece of the set is a simple, beautifully rounded
composition exquisitely played by Osborne.
In Op. 126 No.1 Osborne, like Brendel gives a nicely flowing
performance. Friedrich Gulda is very effective too, though his
interpretation is a more solemn and slower affair. In No.2,
Osborne captures the contrasting moods. Brendel is a bit lighter
in the vigorous forte sections. Osborne plays with serenity
and poise in his account of the third bagatelle, and I also
like Schnabels reading in a performance of great clarity
of texture. Osborne gives a vigorous performance of No.4 but
sometimes there is a lack of clarity in the fortes. Sviatoslav
Richter is the fastest performer, and he gives a thrillingly
virtuosic account. I think Beethoven would have liked this and
I forgive him for catching a few wrong notes here and there.
In No.5, Gulda is again a little slower than Osborne but both
give sensitive performances of this charming piece. Jenö
Jando is a little dull and less expressive in comparison. In
No.6, Osborne makes much of the contrast between the Presto
and the Andante which follows. He captures the elegiac
mood of this final piece of the set. Brendel plays with even
greater depth of expression with a beautiful sense of balance.
Perhaps Brendel is still the master, especially when it comes
to profundity of expression.
The final pieces in this recording range from very short trifles
such as WoO61 to more extensive pieces such as the Bagatelle
WoO52, originally intended to be part of the Sonata Opus 10
No.1. All are characterfully played and it is good to hear Für
Elise played as it should be.
I will be hanging on to my Brendel recording, which is my first
choice, but this is a very welcome album collecting together
all the Bagatelles and other short pieces. They are all beautifully
played by Steven Osborne and the recording is excellent.
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No.7 in E, D729 (drafted 1821, orch. Paul
Felix von WEINGARTNER)
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Franz Litschauer rec. 1952.
BEULAH EXTRA 1BX188-91 [35:21] from eavb.co.uk
is a reconstruction of Schuberts real seventh
symphony, not Joachims orchestrated version of the Grand
Duo which was once thought to be the lost Gmunden-Gastein
symphony, as recorded among others by Michael Halász
on Naxos (reviewed in the April 2012/2 here)
and, with greater success by Claudio Abbado on DG (September
Schubert drafted this but orchestrated only a small part
its one of several symphonies that deserve the appellation
unfinished, perhaps more than the eighth which usually
goes by that title. He seems to have somehow lost his nerve
for completing symphonies around this time but Weingartners
completion demonstrates that the work was good enough to have
been rescued and it receives a sympathetic performance; though
the VSOO were hardly the equals of their more famous neighbours
the Vienna Phil, theres nothing much amiss with their
playing here and Litschauer proves himself an accomplished Schubertian.
So why did I find the whole thing enjoyable but unmemorable?
This recording, though made in 1952, was not released in the
UK until several years later, on the Vanguard label. Many Vanguard
recordings from the 1950s still sound fine, but this has not
worn too well. In Beulahs transcription it still sounds
thin, though perfectly acceptable and mercifully free from surface
There is a more recent completion by Brian Newbould, included
in a set of all the symphonies plus several fragments by the
ASMF and Neville Marriner and recently reissued on Newton Classics
8802033. On CD for around £25 or download the earlier
Philips release from hmvdigital.com.
* ignore the defunct passionato.com link and download from hmvdigital.com
or go for the complete set, five CDs for a bargain £11.99,
again from hmvdigital.com.
Fantasie in C, D934 [20:56]
Adolf Busch (violin); Rudolf Serkin (piano) rec. 1931.
BEULAH EXTRA 31BX152 [20:56] from eavb.co.uk
Fantasie deserves to be much better known and Adolf Busch
and Rudolf Serkin form a dream partnership in the music; each
was famous in his own right, the former as leader of the eponymous
Busch Quartet, while Serkin was to go on until well into the
stereo era as a renowned soloist, especially in Mozart, Beethoven
Only last month I fell in love with a cello-and-piano transcription
of the Fantasie, performed by Pieter Wispelwey and Paolo
Giacometti (ONYX4046) more authentic in their
use of period instruments, but less so in employing a transcription
but Busch and Serkin are even more intense in their performance
of the andantino variations on Sei mir gegrüsst.
Its unfortunate that Regis have recently reissued a 3-CD
set of Busch and Serkin performances of Schubert chamber music
at super-budget price (RRC3012). You may well want that
for the classic account of the Piano Trio No.2, with Hermann
Busch on cello, but the Beulah release is ideal for those who
dont want to go the whole hog.
The recording sounds surprisingly well for its age, thanks,
no doubt to the care taken with the transfer. Theres a
good frequency- and dynamic range and only very light surface
noise. The Regis release had not yet appeared for streaming
from the Naxos Music Library at the time of writing, so I havent
been able to compare their transfer; I doubt that it could be
Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D118 [3:37]
Im Frühling, D774 [4:31]
Du bist die Ruh, D776 [4:48]
Gretchen am Spinnrade (Meine Ruh ist hin),
Lisa della Casa (soprano); Carl Hudez (piano) rec. 1956.
BEULAH EXTRA 1-4BX187 [16:54] from eavb.co.uk
selections are taken from a Decca LP released in 1957. Lisa
della Casa had a small but very beautiful voice and she uses
it to good effect here in these four Schubert lieder, four of
the very best works that he composed for the female voice. By
comparison with the likes of Gerald Moore, her accompanist,
whom I had never even heard of, is efficient but no great shakes.
Whether through his influence or from her own inclination, the
rallentandi complained of in 1957 do sound artificial,
though they didnt spoil my enjoyment. I could have wished,
too, that she had shown the same sympathy for Du bist die
Ruh as Busch and Serkin for the same tune in their
recording of the Fantasie (above). Gretchen am Spinnrade
is sung superbly, with real feeling for the music.
The recording is good, though, surprisingly for John Culshaw,
both della Casa and Hudez sound rather distant; turning up the
volume inevitably increases the otherwise hardly noticeable
The original LP contained songs by Brahms and Richard Strauss;
may we have these, too, please?
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Symphony No.5 in D, Op.107 (Reformation) [24:16]
Paris Conservatoire Orchestra/Charles Munch rec. 1947.
BEULAH EXTRA 17-19BX32 [24:16] from eavb.co.uk
recording is also available on a Beulah CD, Munch in London
(1PD31). There is also a transfer on Dutton, with the
Italian Symphony and Piano Concerto No.1 (CDBP9781)
The Reformation Symphony, composed in 1830 for the tercentenary
of the Augsburg Confession but not performed until 1832, was
neglected in Mendelssohns own day and is still less frequently
performed and recorded than its predecessors, the Scottish
and Italian symphonies. Unsurprisingly, then, this recording
was hailed as a welcome rarity in 1948.
The recording is not great, even for its age, and theres
a fair amount of surface noise, though it didnt prevent
me from enjoying the performance. The variations on Ein
feste Burg in the finale go with a real swing the
highlight of an idiomatic performance of the whole symphony.
Munch made a later recording of this symphony with the Boston
Symphony Orchestra, first released in the UK in 1968 on RCA
Victrola VICS1293, currently available only as part of an 8-CD
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphony No.1, Op.68 in c minor [45:30]
Haydn Variations, Op.56a (St Anthony) [19:04]
Symphony No.2, Op.73 in D [46:20]
Tragic Overture, Op.81 [13:35]
Academic Overture, Op.80 [10:36]
Symphony No.3, Op.90 in F [39:12]
Symphony No.4, Op.98 in e minor [46:25]
Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Manze rec. 2009/2010.
Pdf excerpts from booklet included
CPO 777 720-2 [3 CDs: 3:40:22] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
specialists in romantic repertoire dont always make a
good mix, but theres likely to be little controversy over
Andrew Manzes Brahms. Part of the secret is his refusal
to hurry, often taking even longer than Klemperer, my benchmark
for these symphonies, as in the opening movement of No.1 where
the music is given time to breathe. In the finale, too, an extra
few seconds give the big Beethoven-like tune time to breathe
and expand. Simon Rattle, whose recording John Quinn counted
a conspicuous success* (Recording of the Month
is even more expansive here; I think that Manze achieves an
ideal tempo breadth without lethargy but I liked
Rattle very much, too.
One review which Ive read suggests that Manze is fleet
of foot in the outer movements; the timings tell a different
story, though the presence of the first movement repeat, omitted
by Klemperer, partly explains the difference. In any case, its
Manzes ability to keep the music moving that makes his
tempo seem fast. CD1 is completed with an excellent account
of the St Anthony Variations.
The first movement of No.2 is also spacious by comparison with
Klemperer and Rattle, yet here again I never felt that the music
was being allowed to drag. Beecham famously used to bring the
house down in the finale; Manze doesnt quite do that.
At 8:50, however, he shaves almost a minute off Beechams
BBC Legends recording (9:42) and matches his EMI version, newly
restored to us in The Later Tradition (9186112
and March 2012/1 Roundup.
Unfortunately classicsonline.com have raised the price for that
temporarily, I hope; Im assured that they are getting
their EMI prices in order to a ridiculous £43.99
since I recommended it. hmvdigital.com
have it for £14.99).
Manze makes a good case for the Tragic Overture and closes
CD2 with a rip-roaring version of the Academic Festival.
Its in the Third and Fourth Symphonies the third
CD in this set that the best performances shine: Otto
Klemperer in both, Stanislav Skrowaczewski and James Loughran,
both with the Hallé, in the Fourth, to name my favourites
and of these only the Klemperer remains extant. The opening
of the Third is less craggy, more lyrical than Klemperer and,
for that reason, its with the older recording that my
loyalty still mainly lies. On the other hand, I do sometimes
want a more comfortable Brahms experience than Klemperer offers,
and Andrew Manze is likely to be the man to provide it. In that
respect he replaces my CD of the 1964 BPO/Karajan recording
on DG. If Manzes account of the second movement seems
a little dreamy certainly slow, at 10:18 by comparison
with Klemperers 8:17 thats part of the more
gemütlich Brahms who emerges from this performance.
The remaining two movements were so enjoyable that I didnt
feel constrained to make detailed comparisons and the same is
true of the Fourth a rare achievement when there are
so few versions of this symphony that I have ever heard that
I have found up to the mark. The second movement is slow
slower than Klemperer again but not objectionably so.
The pdf booklet is rudimentary it contains only the front
and rear covers and the track details and timings and
those listed on the rear insert are way off beam, with Symphony
No.1 given as lasting 30:45! (recte 45:30 exactly
the wrong way round, like Eric Morecambes assertion to
André Previn that he was playing the right notes in the
Grieg Piano Concerto, but not necessarily in the right order).
The recording is good, but theres no surround sound as
there is with the SACDs, which are currently on sale from more
than one dealer for only a few pence more than the classicsonline.com
download. Alternatively, you could wait for the lossless version
which will presumably soon be issued by eclassical.com.
Michael Cookson thought that he had found his ideal modern challenger
to Klemperer in the Rattle set, a judgement with which I might
concur from having dipped into it via Naxos Music Library, but
I also think that the new Manze set fits that description. The
proviso, however, is that I shall also want to listen to Klemperer,
still my no.1 choice and still available for just £4.39
though I cant confirm that the dropout on track 1 has
been corrected see May 2009 Roundup.
If theres a problem, you could always obtain this track
singly from hmvdigital.com (£0.99) or classicsonline.com
(£0.79). The lossless version from passionato.com is no
longer available they are no longer in the download business.
If forced to choose one set of symphonies for my exile to the
legendary desert island, I might be tempted to choose Haydn
or Mozart for the sheer numbers of their output and Beethoven
would clearly enter the equation, but the final choice would
have to be Brahms. Manze or Rattle would do very nicely but
the ultimate choice would have to be Klemperer.
* Michael Cookson was also impressed see review.
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
Symphony No.2 in b minor [25:43]
London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates rec. 1929 and
BEULAH EXTRA 5-8BX124 [25:43] from eavb.co.uk
a full orchestra was still a hazardous business in 1929 and
1931, so its hardly surprising that the recording shows
its age, though by a good deal less than I had expected. Theres
far less distortion, for example, than on the much later recording
of Kathleen Ferrier in Bachs Cantata No. 67 (above), largely
because I suspect that Beulah take a great deal more care with
their transfers than Discovering Classical Music. Theres
some inevitable 78 rpm light frying noise in the background,
though its not really troublesome Ive heard
some of the poorer efforts from Saga and Supraphon on 1960s
LP that sounded worse.
The performance was worth perpetuating: an exciting account
of the first movement is punctuated by occasional rubato
to a greater extent than is now usual. It wasnt commented
on at the time, not merely because it was then usual practice,
but because the reviewer didnt actually say anything about
the performance. Delighted to have the music recorded, he concentrated
on telling his readers what to expect from the music; perhaps
we dont do that enough nowadays. After the first movement
I didnt notice anything that wouldnt pass muster
nowadays or perhaps I was becoming more attuned to Coatess
manner. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed hearing this blast from
the past, though its hardly likely to supplant more modern
choices, such as Gerard Schwarz on Naxos, with Symphonies 1
and 3 (8.572786 see August 2011/2 Roundup
and Bargain of the Month review).
The symphony is in b minor, not B flat as stated on the Beulah
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Symphony No.8 in G, Op.88 (1889) [37:01]
Symphony No. 7 in d minor, Op.70 (1884/85) [37:35]
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Myung-Wha Chung rec. 1987
and 1989. DDD.
Pdf booklet included
BIS-CD-452 [74:36] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless)
Symphony no. 7 in d minor Op.70 (1884/85) [38:32]
Suite in A, (American), B190 (Op.98b) (1894, orch.
Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer rec.
July 2009. DDD/DSD
Pdf booklet included
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA30010 [59:00] from channelclassics.com
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless and DSD).
Symphony No.7 in d minor, Op.70/B141 (1884/5) [37:04]
Symphony No.8 in G, Op.88/B163 (1889) [37:17]
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop rec. January
2008 and March, 2009. DDD
NAXOS 8.572112 [74:20] from classicsonline.com
[first reviewed in June 2010 and July 2010 Roundup]
Symphony No. 7 in d minor, Op.70/B141 (1884/5) [37:06]
Symphony No. 8 in G, Op.88/B163 (1889) [36:51]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras rec. live,
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD183 [73:52] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
[[T]hese spirited, authoritative and, above all, highly
enjoyable readings are a match for the finest in the field.
See full review
by John Quinn.]
Symphony No.7 in d minor Op.70 (1884/85) [38:17]
Nocturne for string orchestra, Op.40 [9:16]
Vodník (The Water Goblin) Op.107 [21:26]
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Ji·í Belohlávek
rec.1992 and 1994. DDD.
Pdf booklet included
CHANDOS CHAN9391 [69:13] from theclassicalshop.net
(mp3 and lossless)or stream from Naxos Music Library
[referred to in July 2010 Roundup]
The new BIS recording of No.7 which Dan has reviewed
below sent me back for comparison to a number of older recordings.
In the event I discovered that Id opened a veritable can
of worms every single one of the recordings under consideration
is good enough for a top recommendation or comes very close.
recordings which couple No.7 with No.8 offer very good value,
with playing times of 70 minutes plus. If price is a major factor,
Marin Alsop on Naxos can be yours for just £4.99
and the download includes the pdf booklet. Her version of No.7
caught my attention more than No.8 but this is a strong competitor.
have a soft spot for Sir Charles Mackerras in Dvořák
and I think he sweeps the board for versions which couple these
two symphonies. Even in the Seventh he never allows the clouds
of gloom to descend too far and his Eight is gloriously free-wheeling
yet theres trenchancy, too, in both symphonies. The Signum
recording costs more than the Naxos (£7.99 from classicsonline.com
or £6.32 from hmvdigital.com.) and theres no booklet,
but I think that this version makes it worth accepting both
downloads of the Signum come at the top mp3 bit-rate but BIS
and eclassical.com offer the Myung Wha Chung recording
in 16-bit lossless as well as mp3, for no extra price, complete
with a pdf booklet. Like the Jiři Bělohlávek
version on Chandos, this has been around for a while and would
benefit from a price reduction at $11.99 its a
dollar more than the new recording. The performances are a touch
lightweight by comparison with the competition but still worth
still think that Iván Fischer offers the best
performance of No.8, coupled with No.9 and his recording, formerly
Philips, is now available from Channel Classics in a
variety of formats up to 24/192. Those who followed my recommendation
of his Eighth and are still looking for a version of No.7 should
head straight to the channelclassics.com website here
for his recording of No.7, coupled with a recording of
the American Suite not one of the best-known Dvořák
works but well worth getting to know. It comes with an excellent
pdf booklet and can be downloaded in a variety of formats, from
an inexpensive mp3 (£7.44) right up to Studio Master 24/192
(£16.53) and DSD (£24.79). This version offers the
shortest value of any here but the quality of performance and
recording more than makes up I listened to the 24/96
version which seems to me a reasonable compromise between quality
and cost at £14.05, though Im told that the 24/192
format is their best seller. The YouTube video on the page which
youll find by following the link
will give you some idea of the quality of the performance.
leaves the new BIS recording from Flor and the
Chandos recording from Jiři Bělohlávek.
The latter offers a fine performance, coupled with the terrifying
Vodník the green apparition on the cover
of the old Supraphon LP recording still makes me shudder
but it would be more competitive with Fischer among recordings
of the Seventh without the Eighth if Chandos were to reduce
it to mid price: at £9.99 for 16-bit lossless its
more expensive than the new BIS from eclassical.com.
Claus Peter Flor offers the most generous coupling of
all those which contain the Seventh and not the Eighth. Like
the Channel Classics, this is available in mp3, 16-bit and 24-bit
versions. The first two formats cost a very reasonable $10.90
each and the 24/44.1 is a little more expensive at $15.26. Theres
a pdf booklet and its possible to return for the mp3 version
at no extra cost once you have downloaded one of the lossless
formats. His Seventh is certainly a major contender, unlike
his recording of the Eighth some years ago with the RPO for
RCA which received a panning for its slow tempi and sluggish
playing. Hes the slowest overall by a small margin, but
not sluggish: as Dan writes, its an uncompromising account
but theres plenty of life in it.
Finally, at the risk of muddying the waters still further, theres
a superb bargain in the form of recordings of Nos. 5, 7-9 and
Vltava from Smetanas Má Vlast from
Mariss Jansons and the Oslo PO on an EMI 3-CD budget
set. Ive dipped into this via the Naxos Music Library
and fully endorse the welcoming reviews from Rob Barnett
and Tim Perry here
(5008782: Bargain of the Month). I especially
enjoyed this version of the neglected No.5. I havent been
able to find a download thats much less expensive than
the parent CDs, which cost around £7, though that may
well change when classicsonline.com get their EMI pricing policy
in order, as promised at the moment it costs more than
twice as much as the CDs, but keep watching.
If you go for the Jansons, that leaves only No. 6 among the
mature symphonies try Marin Alsop on Naxos 8.570995
or Sir Charles Mackerras on Supraphon SU37712
see January 2011 Roundup
for both. The Mackerras can be had for just £2.10 from
emusic.com but theres an even better bargain: My Life
with Czech Music (Supraphon) offers Mackerrass versions
of Nos. 6, 8-9, both sets of Slavonic Dances, the Legends, the
symphonic poems, Scherzo capriccioso, and Smetanas
complete Má Vlast, over seven hours, all for an
unbelievably inexpensive £7.99 from hmvdigital.com.
The hmvdigital.com download is at 320kb/s; that of Symphony
No.6 from emusic.com averages just over 200kb/s, while their
version of the symphonic poems falls on one track to 181kb/s.
Symphony No. 7 in d minor, Op.70 (1884-1885) [38:39]
Othello overture, Op.93 (1891-1892) [14:09]
Holoubek (The Wild Dove), Op.110 (1896) [18:50]
Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra/Claus Peter Flor
rec. September 2010 (Othello, Holoubek), July 2011 (symphony),
Dewan Filharmonic PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Pdf booklet included
BIS-SACD-1896 [72:42] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
new releases from BIS, reviewed here in their 24-bit form; a
Dvořák Seventh and Ahos three Chamber
Symphonies. Regular readers will know Im a great admirer
of the Malaysian Philharmonic and Claus Peter Flor, whose recording
of Smetanas Má Vlast was a deserving Download
of the Month (review).
Under Kees Bakels theyve also recorded a fine set of Rimsky-Korsakovs
orchestral pieces and the Kalinnikov
symphonies, the latter in CD form one of my
picks for 2011. Both are available for download from eclassical,
the Rimsky as separate issues.
The Seventh, a Royal Philharmonic commission, is uncommonly
gaunt, but as Jean-Pascal Vachon points out in his excellent
liner-notes the recent death of Dvořáks mother
and Smetanas ill-health were very much on the composers
mind at the time. The Allegro maestoso gets a strong,
incisive outing here, the orchestra as focused and disciplined
as ever; Flor brings out the movements fleeting, dance-like
elements but doesnt shrink from the imposing tuttis. Compared
with the beautifully judged Smetana recording I found this one
a little unforgiving at times hard-edged, even
but one could argue that suits this most trenchant work.
The Poco adagio offers some respite, but really theres
no escaping the symphonys equivocal mood; even those impassioned,
swelling passages are darker of hue than usual, and as much
as the music tries to take wing it seems cruelly tethered. Indeed,
this must be one of the most uncompromising versions of the
Seventh on record; that said, Flor finds plenty of mobility
and lift in the Scherzo, rhythms suitably emphatic and climaxes
nicely scaled. As a reading its a little bluff, as if
the works true intent were being kept from our gaze; again,
one could argue this isnt a carefree, open-hearted symphony,
and that Flor simply underlines that at every turn. Certainly
the Finale is as taut and sinewy as Ive ever heard it.
Of the fillers the Othello overture stands on more familiar
ground; emotionally its more pliant, textures are richer
and theres a compelling narrative as well. The playing
is wonderfully alert, the timps and cymbals especially impressive.
Rafael Kubelik (DG) is perhaps more poetic, but for sheer drama
Flor is hard to beat. As for The Wild Dove, based on
a ballad by the influential Czech poet Karel Jaromír
Erben, its a folk tale of love, loss, guilt and madness
artfully condensed into just under twenty minutes. This is the
composer at his most engaging and atmospheric, all sections
of the orchestra acquitting themselves very well indeed.
Another fine release from this hugely talented combo, although
not quite in the same league as that fabulous Má Vlast,
which I listen to and marvel at often. Of the
three items here Id probably choose the overture and tone
poem both excellent and look elsewhere for a more
revealing version of the symphony. One oddity worth mentioning;
the timings in the pdf booklet and on the flac files are different;
for instance, The Wild Dove is listed at 18:50 but actually
plays for 19:21. Timings for the other tracks are also at variance,
albeit less so.
Kalevi AHO (b. 1949)
Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1976) [13:13]
Chamber Symphony No. 2 (1991-1992) [16:05]
Chamber Symphony No. 3, for alto saxophone and string orchestra
John-Edward Kelly (alto saxophone) (No. 3)
Tapiola Sinfonietta/Stefan Asbury (Nos. 1 & 2) Jean-Jacques
Kantorow (No. 3)
rec. April 2009 (Nos. 1 & 2), October 2005 (No. 3), Tapiola
Concert Hall, Finland
Pdf booklet included
BIS-SACD-1126 [56:40] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Finnish composer Kalevi Aho is a fresh and invigorating presence
in music today, as these chamber symphonies so aptly demonstrate.
Twenty years separates the first and third, yet all celebrate
a singular talent. As the composer explains in his very detailed
liner-notes, the Chamber Symphony No. 1 was written at
the same time as his his Fifth Symphony, the latter also
available from eclassical
and reviewed in CD form here.
The extreme string sounds of the first piece create a false
sense of security, for these cool, contrasting lines are interspersed
with powerful, slashing figures that simply take ones
breath away. This is hugely incisive writing and playing
that for all its divergence allows one to hear precisely
how each strand unfolds and develops. This may be just a 44.1kHz
original, but it has extraordinary impact and transparency;
in particular the lower strings have a dark, sinuous purr thats
thrillingly tactile. But its the sheer energy and bite
of the Tapiola band ably directed by Stefan Asbury
that impresses most. The work builds to a big, multi-stranded
climax and soulful/restless finale.
Goodness, what a pithy piece this is so much incident
packed into just 13 minutes and how assured. The second
piece, cast in three linked movements, is perhaps even more
demanding of its string players. For such a gnarled soundscape
its curiously compelling, now louring now reflective,
Aho creating great swells of string sound along the way. Initially
this work promises to be abstruse opaque, even
but as Ive discovered with this composer theres
a richly worked seam of music to be found behind these otherwise
intimidating façades; the short second movement is a
strange but refreshing hiatus before were plunged into
a fierce, declamatory furioso. Once again theres
that familiar Aho trademark, a contrasting and seemingly
tangential conclusion that makes one want to hear the
entire piece again.
According to the composer, the third piece scored for
alto saxophone and strings was inspired by the music
of a Tunisian film, The Silences of the Palace, and a
collection of Japanese tanka poetry. Its the strophes
of the latter
frozen are the restless waters,
... oh, I have heard the wild geese calling, ...
the long nights are melting and ... towards the
open sea rows a fire-red boat that describe the
four movements. Its a haunting work of calls and echoes
that has more focus and distils more feeling than one might
expect from a disparate mix of cultures and idioms. But such
seamless assimilation is another Aho characteristic, the exotic
loveliness of the third movement due in no small measure to
the sometimes pan-pipe-like playing of saxophonist John-Edward
But Aho doesnt indulges in prettified mood music
and modulates into and out of something much more forthright,
drawing rich, fulsome tones from his soloist in the process.
The conductor Jean-Jacques Kantorow holds it all together very
well, and I suspect the Tapiola Concert Hall acoustic has a
significant part to play in the warmth and spaciousness of these
recordings. The final movement has a mesmeric beauty and, as
expected, ends on a note of radiant quietude.
A most welcome addition to the Aho discography, tautly argued
and commandingly played. And despite its forbidding exterior,
this music is deeply human and hugely rewarding. Indeed, if
I were reviewing this for the CD section of the MusicWeb International
site Id be tempted to make it a Recording of the
Month. As with the Dvo·ák, printed playing
times and actual track lengths dont tally, which is puzzling.
Taras Bulba Rhapsody (1918) [24:57]
Lachian Dances (1889-90) [20:32]
Moravian Dances (1891) [9:09]
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.572695 [54:38] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
already had a recording of Taras Bulba and the Lachian
Dances dating from 1988 and 1990, but they are coupled with
a version of the Sinfonietta which Ive always thought
to be underpowered (8.550411). The new recording may
be less logically coupled, but it has the oomph that the older
one lacked. The playing time is short, but thats taken
care of by eclassical.coms policy of charging by the second.
The recording as streamed from the Naxos Music Library is good
but the eclassical.com lossless version has the edge, sounding
very well indeed and not costing much more than the classicsonline.com
download, which is in mp3 only.
For the Janáček Sinfonietta and Glagolitic
Mass, another recording directed by Wit for Naxos offers
a good choice: 8.572639
see December 2011/1 Roundup.
Yet another Naxos recording of Janáček Suites
from the operas, 8.570555
received a Recording of the Year accolade
in 2009: see review
and January 2010 Roundup.
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Cello Concerto in e minor, Op.85* [26:30]
Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and String Orchestra,
Elegy, Op.58, an Adagio for String Orchestra [3:55]
Military Marches Pomp and Circumstance, Op.39/1-5
Paul Watkins (cello)*; Daniel Bell (violin), Steven Bingham
(violin), Steven Barnard (viola), Peter Dixon (cello)**
BBC Philharmonic/Andrew Davis rec. October 2011. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10709 [74:44] from theclassicalshop.net
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.
recording was a very strong contender for Download of the Month.
If you find the du Pré/Barbirolli recordings of the Cello
Concerto* too intense, you may well prefer this more lyrical
account as, indeed, I do. My wife, who loves everything
else by Elgar, hates the Cello Concerto with an inveterate hate;
I had hoped that the new version would do the trick as, indeed,
long ago I tried with the Lynn Harrell/Lorin Maazel recording,
another fine recording, currently coupled with the Enigma
Variations on Eloquence 450 0212, but to no avail.
Its still her only Elgar bête noire.
The Cello Concerto is the main work but the rest of the programme
has strong appeal, too. If you were to make a list of favourite
Elgars works apart from the symphonies and concertos,
Im sure that the Introduction and Allegro and the
Pomp and Circumstance Marches all five of them
here would be at or near the top. Memories of Barbirollis
classic account of the former** are not erased, though, as with
the Cello Concerto, those who dont wish their heart strings
to be tugged quite so hard will be grateful for the new version.
For many years another Chandos recording has been my preferred
version of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches Alexander
Gibson and the SNO on CHAN8429 with Cockaigne
and the Crown of India Suite: download at mid-price from
but the new recording will supersede that for most listeners.
With excellent recording I listened to the 16-bit lossless
version; audiophiles will want the 24-bit download and
valuable notes, this deserves to sell like the proverbial hot
cakes. Lovers of the classical pops who buy it for
the stirring performances of the Marches will, I hope, find
much more that they will come to like.
* the least expensive download, of the Great Recordings version
coupled with Cockaigne and Sea Pictures (Janet
Baker), is from hmvdigital.com
at £4.99. Both they and classicsonline.com have the more
recent EMI Masters same coupling for £5.99.
** recently (re)reissued on EMI Masters, with the Serenade in
e minor, Delius and Vaughan Williams download from classicsonline.com.
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No.1 in g minor, Op.7 [33:20]
Symphony No.6 (Sinfonia Semplice) [34:51]
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis rec. live May,
June and October 2011. DDD/DSD
LSO LIVE LSO0715 [68:11] from iTunes.com or classicsonline.com
(both mp3). Booklet included with purchase from both suppliers.
Colin Davis has developed a late-life interest in Nielsen; the
only surprise is that with his advocacy of Sibelius he has come
so late to performing and recording the symphonies of this other
great Scandinavian composer. I havent heard the earlier
recording, of Nos. 4 and 5, but I very much enjoyed this version
of the first and last symphonies, neither of which is exactly
in the Nielsen mainstream. The Sixth is not easy to come to
terms with that subtitle is extremely misleading; in
many ways its music that doesnt try to be liked
but Daviss performance rivals the Blomstedt version
which I recommended in the April 2012/1 Roundup.
For Previn with the LSO in No.1, as resuscitated by High Definition
Tape Transfer, see review
by Rob Barnett, Dan Morgans review in the February 2012/1
and mine in the subsequent edition.
This latest release in the LSO/Davis series of Nielsen recordings
comes in an enhanced format from iTunes. Apparently there has
been disquiet in the highest circles of Apple about the quality
of their downloads but, rather than do the obvious and offer
downloads in flac or Apples own lossless alac, the attention
has been transferred from the final product to the quality of
the original, now no longer mastered from CD but from special
studio masters. Half of that seems logical to me there
are dark rumours in some quarters about 16-bit CDs being upgraded
and sold as 24-bit recordings, so attention to the original
seems sensible but it seems illogical to go to all that
trouble for a download offered in less than lossless CD quality.
Nevertheless, I decided to try the result and the new Nielsen
recording seemed a good place to start. The sound is good but
not outstanding about on a par with the CD-quality streamed
version from the Naxos Music Library. Its been transferred
in variable-bit format, with the tracks averaging somewhere
between 262 and 264 kb/s, but Im sure it would benefit
even more from being offered in alac, the format which Apple
themselves have developed. Why develop alac and leave it to
others, such as Hyperion, to offer it?
This recording is just £5.99 from iTunes whereas the classicsonline.com
version comes at £7.99; though its offered in 320kb/s
format, thats not a huge saving over the cost of the hybrid
SACD one online supplier was even offering that at £6.75
at the time of writing. At least its more competitive
than hmvdigital.com, also £7.99 for a 320kb/s download,
but without the booklet. Amazon.co.uk rather shoot themselves
in the foot by charging just pence more for the SACD than for
the download no booklet and presumably at 256kb/s only.
Both iTunes.com and classicsonline.com offer a booklet but whereas
the latter give us a pdf version of the one which comes with
the SACD, complete with rear insert, and can be printed out
for insertion in a CD case, the iTunes.com version is apparently
taken from the Barbican programme and is the wrong size for
a CD case. The CD-size booklet can also been downloaded from
the Naxos Music Library.
LAlbum des Six: The complete works for flute
Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Sonata
for flute and piano [12:28]
Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983)
Georges AURIC Imaginées
Album des Six A short collection of solo piano pieces
Georges AURIC Prélude
Louis DUREY (1888-1979)
Romance sans paroles Op.21 [3:24]
ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892-1955)
DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974) Mazurka
Francis POULENC Valse
Germaine TAILLEFERRE Pastorale
Louis DUREY Sonatine
ARTHUR HONEGGER Danse
de la chèvre for solo flute [4:11]; Romance [2:33]
Germaine TAILLEFERRE Forlane
Louis DUREY Deux Dialogues
Op.114 for solo flute [6:44]
DARIUS MILHAUD Sonatine
Emily Beynon (flute); Andrew West (piano) rec. 2000.
Pdf booklet included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55386 [73:22] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
can think of more essential music by members of
Les Six, including some other Hyperion recordings, but nothing
more attractive. As with the Beethoven Bagatelles, Geoff
Molyneux has said all that need be said, except that, at £5.99,
this reissue, which Terry Barfoot recommended so highly in its
original full-price form review
also represents a wonderful bargain:
Poulencs Sonata for Flute and Piano is one of the most
popular sonatas in every flautists repertoire and one
of this composers best and most characteristic pieces.
Emily Beynon and Andrew West give a beautifully balanced performance.
I particularly like Beynons sustained tone on the longer
notes in the soft passages in the slow movement, although for
me, there is too much vibrato in the first theme of her first
movement. Emanuel Pahud uses less vibrato and plays the opening
with sensitive rubato, but his tone is lighter and less full
than Beynons. In the second movement, some may prefer
the much more flowing tempo of Jean-Pierre Rampal, and as he
is accompanied at the piano by the composer himself, we can
assume that this was Poulencs preferred speed. In the
final movement marked presto giocoso, Beynon and West
acquit themselves with great virtuosity. Sometimes I feel that
Andrew West could be a bit more characterful to match the flautists
variety of colour.
Aurics Aria is a rather inconsequential but charming little
piece but it is nicely played. His Imaginées 1
is one of the more interesting works in this album and it must
have sounded very modern to its first audience. Tailleferres
Pastorale is very attractive, and her Forlane
is rather melancholy and reminiscent of Ravel, this composers
mentor. Emily Beynon once again demonstrates her lovely tone.
Tailleferres Pastorale for solo piano is charming
Honeggers Danse de la chèvre for flute solo
inevitably reminds us of Debussys Syrinx. It begins
with a sad melody based on a discordant interval, but the music
soon becomes more lively and dance-like. The piece provides
the flautist with plenty of opportunities to display her skills
and musicianship, and it is executed with great virtuosity by
Emily Beynon. Honeggers Romance is very well-played with
sensitive accompaniment from the pianist.
We rarely hear the music of Durey so it was good to hear his
Sonatine Opus 25. This is an impressive and enjoyable
work and in the first movement, Nonchalant, an attractive
melodic line is elaborated. There is some delicious and subtle
piano playing here. I really enjoyed the sustained and characterful
second movement. This is a well-composed short sonata, always
interesting, with the flute and piano parts having equal importance
and sharing musical material. Dureys Deux Dialogues
for solo flute also provide much food for thought.
Milhauds Sonatine Op. 76 is one of the best works
in the album. The substantial first movement begins with a wistful
opening which develops into more dramatic music before returning
to the opening melody. The finale provides plenty of showy opportunities
for the players to demonstrate their mettle, and there is an
exciting climax followed by a return to the main theme of the
The Album des Six consists of six pieces for solo
piano by each composer of the group. Aurics Prélude
is witty with its discordant effects, whilst Honnegers
Sarabande and Milhauds Mazurka are perhaps
the two most characterful works in the set. Dureys Romance
sans paroles is a more substantial piece and all are stylishly
played by Andrew West.
This is an innovative and very attractive album, exquisitely
played and well recorded. Highly recommended and well worth
Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) By Footpath
Romance, Op.11 (arr. for string quartet by Christian Alexander)
By Footpath and Stile, Op.2, for baritone and string quartet
Prelude (arr. for string quartet by Christian Alexander)
Interlude, Op.21, for oboe and string quartet [11:47]
Elegy, Op.22 (arr. for string quartet by Christian Alexander)
Five Bagatelles, Op.23 (arr. for clarinet and string quartet
by Christian Alexander) [15:36]
Finzi Quartet (Sara Wolstenholme (violin 1); Natalie Klouda
(violin 2); Ruth Gibson (viola); Lydia Shelley (cello)) with
Marcus Farnsworth (baritone); Robert Plane (clarinet); Ruth
Bolister (oboe) rec. February 2012. DDD.
pdf booklet with texts included
RESONUS CLASSICS RES10109 [73:05] download only,
(mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music
is only the ninth release from Resonus but they have already
established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, filling
gaps in the catalogue by offering adventurous recordings of
contemporary composers and neglected music by their predecessors.
By offering download versions only, they are able to get their
recordings online with commendable rapidity recorded
in early February 2012, the recording was in my in-tray on 24
April the day after St Georges Day, a very appropriate
time to release music by such an archetypically English composer.
Its due for general release on the first of May. Not only
is most of the music new to the catalogue in its present form,
its also beautiful and highly enjoyable.
Not everything here is as Finzi wrote it, but you would hardly
realise it, so idiomatic are Christian Alexanders arrangements.
The central work, which gives the recording its title, though
early, is pure Finzi with words by his favourite poet, Thomas
Hardy, but not well enough known apart from his setting of The
Oxen, which sometimes gets trotted out at Christmas. It
receives a stylish performance from baritone Marcus Farnsworth,
a young man from whom we shall surely hear much in future. He
appears to have specialised in singing Bach, but his voice is
well suited to Finzis manner as is the playing of the
eponymous Finzi Quartet, both here and in the other works. With
equally fine assistance from Robert Plane and Ruth Bolister,
good recording and excellent notes, this deserves a strong recommendation
to match its eight Resonus predecessors.
There is just one rival recording of By Footpath and Stile,
on a CD which couples the work with Earth and Air and Rain
and To a Poet (Naxos 8.557963: Roderick Williams
and the Sacconi Quartet download from classicsonline.com,
reduced from £4.99 to £3.99 as I write). Thats
a fine recording and highly recommendable if you prefer the
coupling see review,
but the new version gives it a very good run for its
money; the tempi on the new recording are slightly more relaxed,
but not so that they seem too slow. Theres an excellent
budget-price Hyperion Dyad twofer including Earth and Air
and Rain from Stephen Varcoe (CDD278020)*,
but the idiomatic arrangements of Finzis music by Christopher
Alexander are unique to the new Resonus download.
A recent correspondent to a music magazine chid the editor for
including a review of an earlier Resonus download, preferring
to go to the stake rather than soil his hands with downloading.
That correspondent is missing a great deal, including the probable
future of obtaining music recordings. If you must have an object
in your hands, its easy enough to burn the mp3 or wav
versions to CDR the flac files are a bit too large unless
you can burn them to DVD and print out the booklet.
* in view of the slight disagreement between Rob Barnett
and Em Marshall here
on this one, I cant resist promising to review
it in the next Roundup.
William WALTON (1902-1983)
Piano Quartet (1918-21, revised 1973/4) [29:16]
Anon in Love, for tenor and guitar (1959) [10:49]
Valse (from Façade, arranged for piano
solo (1923)) [4:26]
Passacaglia, cello solo (1979/80) [6:14]
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1947-49, revised 1949/50) [24:42]
The Nash Ensemble (Marianne Thorsen (violin), Lawrence Power
(viola), Paul Watkins (cello), Ian Brown (piano))
John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Craig Ogden (guitar) rec.
Pdf booklet included
HYPERION CDA67340 [75:56] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
String Quartet in a minor [28:49]
Piano Quartet in d minor [28:37]
Maggini Quartet (Lawrence Jackson, David Angel (violin), Martin
Outram (viola), Michal Kaznowski (cello)
Peter Donohoe (piano) rec. 1999. DDD
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.554646 [57:38] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Hyperion recording had temporarily fallen into the half-price
please buy me category at the time of writing
at £5.60 an already desirable recording was thereby rendered
an absolute bargain and brought into line with the price of
the Naxos version. Naxos CDs are no longer selling at super-budget
price, so the classicsonline.com and Hyperion downloads offer
very good value.
Both these competing recordings of the Piano Quartet are excellent,
both come with informative booklets and both are offered in
good mp3, but the Hyperion coupling is more varied and more
generous especially attractive if you already have a
version of the String Quartet and lossless sound can
be yours for the same price as the mp3.
Silent Noon [4:17]
Now sleeps the crimson petal [2:32]
Drink to me only with thine eyes [2:54]
If there were dreams to sell [2:20]
O Waly Waly [3:43]
The Salley Gardens [2:33]
Let us wander not unseen [1:39]
Well gather lilacs [4:24]
Think on Me [2:53]
Come to me soothing sleep [4:38]
Ill walk beside you [2:56]
Tom Bowling [4:08]
When other lips and other hearts [3:09]
Bells across the Meadow [3:45]
OperaBabes (Rebecca Knight (soprano), Karen England (mezzo soprano))
rec. April 2011. DDD.
Booklet includes texts.
WARNER CLASSICS AND JAZZ 2564661403 [45:51] from
[details and video sample from warnerclassics.com.]
years after they were discovered busking at Covent Garden and
made their first chart-topping recording, Warner have signed
Like their earlier albums, Silent Noon is best described
as good crossover, combining Ivor Novello and Albert Ketèlbey
with more serious material. The programme is varied,
but, though the Babes sing well, they tend to make all the music
sound rather similar. Most of the material is not gender-specific,
but the text of The Salley Gardens clearly relates to
a male singer and sits uneasily with a female duo. At 46 minutes
this album is even shorter than their earlier release, Beyond
The booklet contains the texts rather extravagantly spread
but little else: we dont even have the name of
the capable accompanist. For all my minor reservations, however,
Im sure that this should and will sell well.
For time to time a batch of Regis budget-price CDs comes my
way and the quickest way to get my thoughts online is to include
them in a Download Roundup. Regis recordings are, indeed, available
as downloads from classicsonline.com, but the savings are small
£4.99 as against a typical £5.50 for the
CDs. Amazon.co.uk are actually asking more for the downloads
(£6.49) than most dealers are charging for the CDs. Caveat
Subscribers to the Naxos Music Library may find it useful to
preview them there, complete with the booklet of notes
in most cases short but to the point.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 17 in G, K453* [30:06]
Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra No. 10 in E flat, K365*/**
Sonata for 2 pianos in D, K448** [21:37]
Alfred Brendel (piano) with Walter Klien (piano)**
Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Paul Angerer*
REGIS RRC1388 [76:31]
delighted to see Brendels Vox and Vanguard recordings
of Mozart and others being restored to the catalogue, not least
because I remember the stir that they caused when they were
first released in the early 1960s. Im less happy, however,
that various labels are reissuing them with conflicting couplings.
This recording of No.17 duplicates another budget-label release
on the Alto label, ALC1114, where its coupled with
No.27 as on the original Vox LP. The Alto coupling offers a
slightly less generous timing of 62 minutes; otherwise your
preference between the couplings must decide. If you go for
the Alto, the 2-piano Concerto and Sonata are available on a
2-CD Vox set with Concertos 19 and 20 (CDX5177
on CD, or download from classicsonline.com).
Jeremy Noble in 1960 recognised the virtues of this performance
of No.17, though he had a reservation about the tempo of the
third variation in the finale, a criticism repeated by Stephen
Plaistow reviewing the Turnabout reissue not something
that struck me on first hearing, though it sent me back to listen
again. After a repeated hearing, Im still with Brendel
on this one, not JN and SP.
The VSOO give of their best and both Paul Angerer and Walter
Klien offer excellent support. As for the recording, that has
come up extremely well indeed. I didnt hear the original
Vox release but I do remember some of the Turnabout reissues
of Brendels Mozart sounding less than ideal, so the engineers
have clearly worked some magic here.
A typo in the Regis booklet, label and rear insert has given
the 2-piano concerto the Köchel number K535. Even worse,
Walter Klien has shrunk in stature as Walter Klein. At the price
you really cant go wrong even when these recordings
were reissued on Turnabout at 19/11 (£0.99) they cost
at least twice as much in real terms as their current price
and contained less music: theres 1.5 LPs here.
For those who wish to explore Brendels early Mozart recordings
further, you may find my earlier review of Concertos Nos.9 and
14 and Sonata No.8 on Alto ALC1047: Bargain of
the Month here.
Brendels recording of the Piano and Wind Quintet, as reissued
on Beulah Extra 1-3BX165 was reviewed in my November
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Rhapsody in Blue [15:08]
Eugene List (piano); Eastman Rochester Symphony Orchestra/Howard
An American in Paris [16:06]
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Antal Doráti
Piano Concerto in F [30:18]
Eugene List (piano); Eastman Rochester Symphony Orchestra/Howard
REGIS RRC1386 [61:45]
two piano works first appeared on a Mercury LP in 1958, performances
characterised as brilliant and fluent, adjectives which still
serve very nicely to describe the reissue. They are now separated
by another Mercury recording from a year later, of An American
in Paris, conducted with characteristic flair and some jazzy
tweaks by Antal Doráti, originally coupled with the Porgy
and Bess symphonic picture, then re-coupled with Rhapsody
At around the same price as this reissue theres a recent
Naxos recording of the Piano Concerto, coupled with Rhapsody
No.2 and I got rhythm Variations (8.559705: Orion Weiss
and JoAnn Falletta reviewed here
and in the April 2012/1 Roundup.)
Both are good, so choice may safely be left to preference of
The obvious alternative to the Regis coupling comes from Earl
Wild with the Boston Pops and Arthur Fiedler on RCA, another
late-1950s recording that has come up well apparently
no longer available on CD in the UK but as a download from amazon.co.uk
for £5.34. The classic Bernstein recordings of Rhapsody
and American are available for a mere £1.78* or,
with the West Side Story Dances and the Suite from On
the Waterfront, for £5.97 from amazon.co.uk
* £1.98 from hmvdigital.com
in 320kb/s format.
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat, Op.107 [27:37]
Violin Concerto No. 1 in a minor, Op.99 [36:29]
Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)
Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy rec. 1959. Stereo/ADD
David Oistrakh (violin)
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra/Evgeny Mravinsky rec.
REGIS RRC1385 [64:14]
Symphony No. 11 in g minor, Op.103 The year 1905
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra/Yevgeny Mravinsky rec.
REGIS RRC1387 [60:22]
very welcome super-budget releases of Shostakovich, both featuring
(Y)evgeny Mravinsky its a pity that Regis didnt
decide on one spelling and stay with it. Theres only one
even greater bargain that you may prefer, a 3-CD set of all
six Shostakovich concertos from EMI Classics which I made Bargain
of the Month in the January 2012/2 Roundup.
Ignore the classicsonline.com link until they get their EMI
prices sorted its gone up from £6.99 to £23.98,
three times the cost of the CDS, but Im assured that it
will be reduced in due course. Nor is the amazon.co.uk price
of £7.49 very competitive. Stream from Naxos Music Library
or purchase the CDs for around £7.20.
David Oistrakh recorded the first Violin Concerto several times,
first of all with Mitropoulos in mono; this is his second recording,
with the Leningrad PO and Mravinsky, originally issued on a
10" Parlophone LP and also available coupled with the Second
Violin Concerto (Oistrakh and Rozhdestvensky), both Cello Concertos
(Ivashkin and Polyansky) and both Piano Concertos (Ortiz and
Berglund) on Brilliant Classics 7620 (3 CDs for around
The Cello Concerto was recorded, in tandem with the First Symphony,
very soon after its premiere. Its easy now to point to
the quality of the music and the performance but its remarkable
that Jeremy Noble was able to praise both in the highest terms
and to offer such a perceptive analysis, still well worth reading
even though the score had not yet been published. The original
CBS coupling is available on CD for around £7 (Sony 88697858322)
but the Regis release will have greater appeal for most of us.
Rostropovich is less intense than many other performers but
the compensation comes in the blending of the intense and the
lyrical in this performance; for a more detailed comparison
with Enrico Dindo and Gianandrea Noseda on a recent Chandos
version of Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 (Chandos CHAN5093),
please see the January 2012/2 Roundup.
Both concertos are more immediate in their appeal than their
successors, though there are good reasons to have the first
and second together in each case, having the First Violin and
First Cello Concerto together is likely to have greater appeal.
Nor could there be better advocates in each case than their
dedicatees. When Ormandy re-recorded the Cello Concerto with
Yo Yo Ma there was a general feeling that the voltage had been
slightly turned down by comparison with the earlier Rostropovich
The symphony was released on the MK (Melodiya) label in 1961.
Even now its probably the least appealing of the symphonies
to Western ears, though its now believed that Shostakovich
intended the Eternal Memory adagio as a threnody
as much for the Hungarian victims of Soviet oppression as for
those of the Tsarist soldiers in 1905. Mravinsky was not one
to eschew the party line he refused to conduct the premiere
of No.13 and he gives a performance which helped to restore
the composers standing with the authorities.
The tempi adopted are on the fast side by comparison with my
benchmark recordings, Vasily Petrenko on Naxos (8.572082)
and in the first two movements with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (Olympia
OCD152, no longer available) but Semyon Bychkov (Avie
AV2062) is marginally even faster in the outer movements.
Petrenko and Rozhdestvensky (if you can find a copy of the latter
still kicking around) remain my favourite interpreters; I enjoyed
hearing the Mravinsky but I doubt if it will find a permanent
place in my collection.
The sound for the Violin Concerto is mono, though Regis dont
say so anywhere that I could see. That apart, the recording
has come up very well for its age a trifle shrill, but
no real complaints. The Cello Concerto sounds even better. The
Symphony also sounds somewhat shrill but that suits this work
in many respects. When first released on LP it came with crackly
surfaces a speciality of the MK, Supraphon
and Saga labels at the time, some of which sounded as if recorded
in a chip shop, but which need no longer worry us on CD
and a technical fault that caused a drastic drop in volume just
before the climax of the third movement, no longer apparent.
Both CDs come with some fine notes, from Gavin Dixon.
If youre still looking for more Mravinsky in Shostakovich,
his recording of the Eighth Symphony, reviewed here
by Rob Barnett alongside his BBC Legends version, has transferred
from Regis to Alto (ALC1150) in the same super-budget