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225 reviews completed this month.


Grazyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Piano Quintet 1 Juliusz ZAREBSKI (1854-1885) Piano Quintet Aleksander LASON (b1951) Chamber Music 1 Lason Ensemble rec. 2011 CDACCORD ACD 178-2 [72:33] [JS] I was uncertain what to expect when I received this disc, but it gave immense pleasure from beginning to end.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Johannes-Passion sung within reconstruction of Bach’s Passion Liturgy - Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) Matthew Brook (bass) Joanne Lunn (soprano) Clare Wilkinson (alto) Robert Davies (bass) Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord, organ preludes) Univ Glasgow Chapel Choir/James Grossmith (liturgy) rec. 2012 LINN CKD419  [69:46 + 69:00][JQ] A very fine performance of the St. John Passion, likely to become a landmark in the work’s discography.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Complete Bach Edition WARNER TELDEC 2564 66112-7 [equivalent to 153 CDs plus one DVD] [BW] A splendid bargain; if there were a category for USB of the Month, this would be it.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Anna Katharina Schreiber (violin) Freiburger Barock O/Petra Mülljeans; Gottfried von der Goltz (violin/director) rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902145 [61:35] [ST]  A delight, an aural and musical treat, and a riposte to anyone who may think we already have enough of the Bach concertos.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grand Messe des morts Barry Banks (tenor) London Phil Ch, London SO & Ch/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0729 [52:58 + 41:10] [JQ] Sir Colin Davis’s final Berlioz recording: a very considerable reading of the Grand Messe des morts. It’s magnificent. 

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Transcriptions for wind band - University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble/Scott Weiss rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573056 [63:22] [DM] Wind-band playing of the highest order; what a joyful noise!

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Rape of Lucretia Ian Bostridge, Susan Gritton, Christopher Purves, Angelika Kirchschlager, Aldeburgh Festival Ens/Oliver Knussen rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6026722 [46:35+58:38] [ST] This recording acts as a solid advocate for a problematic opera. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Turn of the Screw Miah Persson, Toby Spence, Susan Bickley, Giselle Allen, LPO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2011 FRA MUSICA FRA007 [111:00 (opera); 22:00 (extras)] [ST] Outstanding musical values and a brilliant sense of drama that will pin you to your seat.

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Concert, String quartet - Jennifer Pike (violin) Tom Poster (piano) Doric String Qt rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10754 [68.14] [PCG] An immediate choice for these works. 

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Books 1 & 2, Trois Nocturnes, Prélude à l’après-midi d’une faune Alexei Lubimov (piano) rec. 2011 ECM NEW SERIES 2241/42 [63:35 + 48:49] [DC] Very special indeed.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) American Masterworks: Koanga, Appalachia, Sea Drift Aarhus Cathedral Ch, Aarhus SO & Ch/Bo Holten rec. 2011/12 DANACORD DACOCD 732 [78:26] [IL] Another fine addition to Holten’s growing Delius discography. His Appalachia is glorious but I have some minor reservations about Sea Drift.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Choral works and part-songs - Rodolfus Choir/Ralph Allwood rec. 2009 SIGNUM SIGCD 315 [75.47] [IL] The Rodolfus Choir shine strongly in these well-loved Elgar part-songs choral works. 

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Concerto - Catherine Manoukian (violin) Staatskapelle Weimar/Stefan Solyom rec. 2011 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300429BC [57:30] [NB] Potent and exciting. 

Philipp Heinrich ERLEBACH (1657-1714) Overtures & arias Miriam Feuersinger (soprano) Franz Vitzthum (counter-tenor) Capricornus Consort Basel/Peter Barczi rec. 2012 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR 77366 [64:53] [DC] A recording to treasure.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partita; Chorales - Gordan Nikolitch (violin) Grace Davidson (soprano) William Gaunt (baritone) Tenebrae; LSO Chamber Ensemble/Nigel Short rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0728 [68:15] [ST] A definite winner.

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) 100th Anniversary set rec. 1967-1997 WERGO WER 6956 2 [3 CDs: 73:28 + 79:32+ 74:43] [BR] Of all the Françaix tribute albums in 2012, this is my top pick, thanks to the emotional depth of the two-pianos concerto and the hilarious tribute to Mozart.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Giulio Cesare Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Karina Gauvin, Romina Basso, Emöke Baráth - Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2011 NAÏVE OP30536 [3 CDs: 77:55 + 74:08 + 68:27] [ST] This Giulio Cesare is at least capable of holding its own alongside the competition.

Ivan KARABITS (1945-2002) Concertos for orchestra 1-3 Valentin SILVESTROV (b.1937) Elegie, Abschiedsserenade Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572633 [59:26] [SA] An absolutely brilliant disc that bowled me over.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Songs Without Words: Books 1-4 - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1982 [69:19] [BR] A superb period-instrument recital; Mendelssohn so well-played it’s easy to take Brautigam for granted.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Works for Piano: 1908-1938 - Roger Woodward (piano) rec. 1991 CELESTIAL HARMONIES 13292-2 [75:48] [SA] Woodward’s playing here is just breathtaking and one could never tire of hearing this disc.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet; Barcarolle - Cristina Ortiz (piano) Fine Arts Quartet rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572904 [71.12] [IL] A gorgeous programme of Saint-Saëns’ beguiling chamber music played with great authority and flair.

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Requiem - Marie Fajtová (soprano); Franziska Gottwald (mezzo); Tomislav Mužek (tenor); Albert Pesendorfer (bass) Philharmonischer Ch München; Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2012 PROFIL EDITION PH12061 [74:23] [MC] I loved every second of Suppé’s splendid Requiem a real discovery stunningly performed and so satisfyingly recorded too. 

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies 5 & 8 - Hallé O/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011/12 HALLÉ HLL CD 7533 [68:21] [MG] A consistent and sustained appreciation of the reflective aspects of these RVW symphonies.

Mediterraneo L`Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar rec. 2012 VIRGIN CLASSICS 464 5472 [CD: 66:13 + DVD: 27:00] [RB] A renewing vibrant charm. 

Martha Mödl - Portrait of a Legend Martha Mödl (soprano, mezzo) rec. 1950-82 PROFIL EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER DCD PH12006 [79:04 + 79:13] [MC] Opera-lovers everywhere will delight in this stunning voice.

Pas de Deux - French Music for Piano Duo by Milhaud, Ravel & Poulenc - Mona and Rica Bard (pianos) rec. 2011 AUDITE 92.672 [74:03] [BR] The debut of an exceptional new piano duo - a charming French treat. 

Sound The Trumpet Works by Handel & Purcell - Alison Balsom (trumpet) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Lucy Crowe (soprano) The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 4403292 [66:17] [JWh] Only the most unbending of purist zealots would fail to love this record.

Whither must I wander? Songs by Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) David John Pike (baritone) Isabelle Trüb (piano) rec. 2011/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 314 [65.09][PCG] Should draw in anyone who cares about British song and the future of British singing. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751) Flute sonatas - Mario Folena (transverse flute) Ensemble Barocco Padovano Sans Souci rec. 1995 DYNAMIC DM8032 [65:11] [JV] A new and different look at these beautiful sonatas originally composed for violin. 

Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751) Violin sonatas - Guillaume Rebinguet-Sudre (violin), Claire Gratton (cello), Jean-Luc Ho (harpsichord) rec. 2011 ENCELADE ECL1102 [54:03] [JV] A compelling musical portrait of a great composer.

Eyvind ALNÆS (1872-1932) Songs - Ann-Beth Solvang (mezzo), Erling Ragnar Eriksen (piano)rec. 2009
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0124 [63.46] [PCG] There really are some very good songs in this collection.

Jacques ARCADELT (c.1507- 1568) Sacred works: Music for the Cappella Sistina - Josquin Capella/Meinolf Brüser rec. 2010 CPO 777 763-2 [64.12] [GH] A mostly pleasing disc.

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) Symphonies 4 & 6, En värmlandsrapsodi, Suite 3 Sara Trobäck Hesselink (violin); Per Högberg (viola) Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5116 [70:14] [JF] Well-wrought, sometimes downright moving and always interesting.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) The Solo Keyboard Music Vols 19 & 20 - Miklós Spányi (tangent piano) rec. 2004/07 BIS-CD-1493/1623 [62:18 & 80:47] [JV] Spányi catches the spirit of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's keyboard music perfectly. 

Johann Ludwig BACH (1677-1731) Trauermusik & Motets - Rheinische Kantorei; Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max. rec. 1990-1994 German texts and English translations included CAPRICCIO C5080 [3 CDs: 211:54] [JQ] Ludwig Bach’s sincere and interesting music in very good performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto, French Suite 5, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue - András Schiff (piano) rec. 1989 EUROARTS 2066768 [54:00] [KM] Excellent playing, poor video. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1686-1750) Partitas, Italian Concerto, Chromatic fantasy and Fugue - Helmut Walcha (harpsichord) rec. 1957-60 DOREMI DHR7985-86 [76:43 + 79:54] [JW] This music-making lives long in the memory. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas 2 & 6; Toccata - David Fray (piano) rec. 2012 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709442 [65:32] [DC] Vanilla Spice Latte Bach - yum.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas Volume 52 - Bach Collegium, Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1981 [63:38] [MS] Three cantatas in Suzuki's nearly complete cycle for BIS are technically pleasing if a little lacking in depth and spontaneity. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Motets - St Jacobs Kammarkör; REBaroque/Gary Graden rec. 2010/11 PROPRIUS PRCD 2066 [76:35] [DC] Like a box of naughty chocolates: yummm. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonata; Partita - Miguel Rincón (baroque lute) rec. 2012 CARPE DIEM RECORDS CD-16295 [52:19] [DC] Fine recording and performance.

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710 - 1784) Keyboard Works Volume 3 - Julia Brown (harpsichord) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572814 [75:58] [JV] The evocative character of Friedemann's keyboard works is convincingly conveyed. 

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784) Keyboard Works - vol. 4 Concerto for 2 harpsichords, 3 Keyboard Sonatas - Julia Brown, Barbara Baird (harpsichords) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573027 [78:57] [Byz] A quality entry in a rewarding series.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Works for Violin and Piano - Volume 2: Sonata for solo violin, Sonata for violin and piano, Hungarian Folksongs & folktunes, Romanian Folk Dances - James Ehnes (violin), Andrew Armstrong (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10752 [78:08] [TB] Commanding in the solo Sonata and the interpretations of the duo compositions are equally assured.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Concertos Choral Fantasia - Daniel Barenboim (piano) John Alldis Choir/New Philh O/Otto Klemperer rec. 1967-68 EMI MASTERS 4332722 [3 CDs: 69:25 + 77:28 + 64:13] [ST] Still has the capacity to surprise though it’s far from perfect.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 5 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto 2 - Emil Gilels, Bruno Leonardo Gelber (piano) NHK SO/Wolfgang Sawallisch rec. 1978/80 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC2022/3 [44:01 + 48:28] [SG] Magisterial versions of two of the mainstays of the German classical concerto repertoire. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1 & 5 - Beethoven O Bonn/Stefan Blunier rec. 2012 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 937 1756-6 [57:26] [DD] Unremarkable competent versions of the most duplicated repertoire. Sadly they fall below the great. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 7, Egmont Overture and incidental music - Sharon Rostorf-Zamir (soprano) Israel PO/Kurt Masur rec. 2012 HELICON 02-9660 [PCG] A decidedly unnecessary addition to the catalogue.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 9 - Gré Brouwenstijn (soprano) Ira Malaniuk (alto) Wolfgang Windgassen (tenor) Ludwig Weber (bass) Bayreuth Fest Ch & O/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1954 ORFEO C851121B [75:11] [RMo] Not the Choral by which we should remember Furtwängler.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano sonatas Volumes 2-4: Sonatas 7-28 Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 1983/84 EUROARTS 2066488/498/508 [145:00 & 137:00 & 136:00] [SG] Beethoven performances by a master.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 4, 14 & 24 Jonathan Biss (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX4094 [70:43] [JQ] A very impressive second volume in Jonathan Biss’s Beethoven cycle.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas 1-10 - David Galoustov (violin) Caroline Sageman (piano) rec. 2010/11 LYRINX LYR2267 SACD [3 CDs: 79:57 + 76:44 + 79:57] [DC] Alas, a self-discounting release.

Hildegard von BINGEN (1098-1179) Inspiration - Lieder und Visionen VocaMe/Michael Popp rec. 2012 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300425BC [57:47] [DC] Intriguing medieval mashup.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) L'Arlésienne Suite 1, La jolie fille de Perth Suite, Roma Symphony, Patrie Overture, Melbourne SO/John Lanchbery ABC CLASSICS 476 3520 [76:06] [SV] Many virtues the engineering on this issue earns it a qualified recommendation, at best.

Antonio Maria BONONCINI (1677-1726) Messa, Stabat mater - Silvia Frigato, Raffaela Milanesi (soprano) Andrea Arrivabene (alto) Sara Mingardo (contralto) Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini rec. 2012 NAÏVE OP 30537 [79:58] [JV] This disc's main interest is the repertoire.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies 3 & 4 - London SO, London PO/Felix Weingartner rec.1938 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC334 [67:28] [JQ] Weingartner's lean and muscular Brahms in good new transfers.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano trios 1-3, Clarient trio, Horn trio - Smetana Trio, Přemysl Vojta (horn) Ludmila Peterková (clarinet) rec. 2011/12 SUPRAPHON SU 4072-2 [71:43 + 64:43] [MC] Exciting raw edged playing.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Sonata in F minor, Variations on a theme by Joseph Haydn - Marie-Josèphe Jude/Jean-François Heisser (pianos) rec. 2010 LYRINX LYR 2243 [61:09] [DC] Enjoyable, but with caveats.

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1940) Piano Quintet Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Piano Quintet 1 - Raphael Terroni (piano) Bingham String Qt rec. 1989 BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS442CD [67:02] [MC] This is playing that is sincere, vital, passionate and highly responsive to the demands of these scores. 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 4 - Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2010 ACCENTUS ACC20217 [69:36] [JQ] A very considerable account of Bruckner’s Fourth.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2011 QUERSTAND TVKJK1215 [59:21] [BW] For those content with the 3-movement version but we’re now spoiled by Simon Rattle’s 4-movement recording. 

Antonio de CABEZÓN (1510-1566) Complete Tientos and Variations - Glen Wilson (harpsichord) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572475-76 [72:23 + 69:00] [JV] A great achievement, thanks to Wilson's research and reconstruction efforts, and his engaging interpretations.

François CHAUVON (fl 1710 - 1740) Les nouveaux bijoux - Alison Melville (recorder, transverse flute), Washington McClain (oboe), Julia Wedman (violin), Michael McCraw (bassoon), Charlotte Nediger (harpsichord) rec. 2011 EARLY-MUSIC.COM EMCCD-7773 [68:28] [JV] These suites are jewels indeed.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) The Chopin Album - Lang Lang (piano) rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88725 449602 [72:20] [BR] Lang Lang has matured into an imaginative artist worthy of your attention. To prove it, I had fifteen friends listen to this without telling them who was playing.

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Violin Sonatas - Avison Ens rec. 2012 LINN CKD412 [63:06 + 70:23] [BW] A worthy successor to the Avisons’ recording of Corelli’s Op.6 concerti grossi.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Les Nations Les Ombres, Benjamin Alard (organ) rec. 2012 EDITIONS AMBRONAY AMY035 [50:58 + 54:54] [JV] Discreet, beautiful and delicate.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Messe à l’usage ordinaire des paroisses, por les fêtes solennelles (1690) [51:00] Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues (1674) [15:58] David Ponsford (organ) rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6225 [66:54] [DC] The real deal when it comes to Churchy Couperin.

Carl Ditters von DITTERSDORF (1739-1799) Complete works for solo double bass - Leon Bosch (double bass) Robert Smissen (viola) Acad of St. Martin in the Fields/Kenneth Sillito rec. 2011 MERIDIAN CDE 84610 [69:36] [BR] Double bass concertos from the 1700s! Probably not essential, but great for curious listeners.

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Variations on a Rococo Theme - Mstislav Rostropovich (cello) Czech PO/Vaclav Talich, Leningrad PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1952-61 MAJOR CLASSICS M2CD022 [39:20 + 44:31] [TB] A few caveats about recording balances apart, this Rostropovich reissue can be given an enthusiastic welcome.

Richard EILENBERG (1848-1927) Waltzes, Polkas and Marches WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln/Christian Simonis rec. 2006/10 CPO 777 342-2 [BR] One of the best waltz and polka composers not named “Strauss”. For fans of Viennese light music.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Cello Concerto Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Vyšehrad, Vltava, šárka - Zuill Bailey (cello) Indianapolis SO/Krzysztof Urbański rec. 2012 TELARC TEL34030-02 [64:22] [JQ] A slightly bemusing coupling but good things are happening in Indianapolis. 

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Elgar conducts Elgar - the complete recordings 1914-1925 - Royal Albert Hall O rec. 1914-25 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1257 [4 CDs: 316:02] [JQ] A major document, invaluable as part of our appreciation of one of England’s greatest composers. 

dward ELGAR (1857-1934) Concerto for cello and orchestra Elliott CARTER (1908-2012) Cello Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei - Alisa Weilerstein (cello) Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2012 DECCA 478 2735 [62:27][DC] Another Elgar? Yeh, why not: gwaaannn … 

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) A Land of Hope and Glory -organ music - Jean-Luc Etienne (organ)
HORTUS 103 [71:43] [HP-R] Essentially English Elgar but with strong French overtones. Elgar’s organ music is great, but the performance of these transcriptions is missable.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Longed for Light - Elgar’s Music in Wartime - Simon Callow (speaker) Susan Gritton (soprano) BBC Concert Orchestra/John Wilson rec. 2012 SOMM SOMMCD247 [75:10] [JQ] No Elgar fan will want to miss this disc.

Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1812-1865) Complete Music Vol 3: Violin and piano - Sherban Lupu (violin) Ian Hobson (piano) rec. 2011 TOCCATA TOCC 0163 [80:55] [JW] Another splendid and finely recorded Ernst disc from Lupu and Hobson.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata, Nocturne Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931) Berceuse, Poème élégiaque - Alexander Kniazev (cello) Plamena Mangova (piano) rec. 2010 FUGA LIBERA FUG587 [55:10] [AM] Remarkable playing doesn’t always make for a remarkable performance.

Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762) The Complete Sonatas, Op.1 - London Handel Players rec. 2012 SOMM SOMMCD248-2 [53:38 + 66:09] [BW] Somm plug another gap in the catalogue and do so in style.

Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956) Complete duets with cello - Martin Rummel and Alexander Hülshoff (cellos) Friedemann Eichhorn (violin) Till Alexander Körber (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572713 [72:03] [RMay] Open, adventurous ears will be struck by the composer’s gift for crafting attractive melodies.

Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) Kaleidoscope, Three Greek Dances, Concert Piece, Four Conceits, Two Nature Poems, Intermezzo from Don Juan de Mañara Melbourne SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2010-12 CHANDOS CHSA5119 [74:16] [JF] A tremendously important addition to the catalogues.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Works for Large Chorus and Orchestra - Melbourne SO and Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5121 [72.39] [IL] Extrovert Grainger, writ large and in brilliant colours.

André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813) Le Magnifique Emiliano Gonzalez Toro (tenor) Elizabeth Calleo (soprano) Jeffrey Thompson (tenor) Randall Scarlata (baritone) Opera Lafayette/Ryan Brown rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.660305 [80:00] [JS] A very welcome opportunity to get to know another work by one of the great but still little known masters of eighteenth century opera.

Mozart Camargo GUARNIERI (1907-1993) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Max Barros (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572626-27 [64:48 + 62:00] [NB] Music as delightful as it is understatedly sophisticated. 

Giovanni Antonio GUIDO (c. 1675 – after 1728) The Four Seasons - Caroline Balding (violin) The Band of Instruments rec. 2004 DIVINE ART DDA25072 [66:04] [BR] These Four Seasons aren’t at all like Vivaldi’s; they’re more like characteristic suites. They’re still a lot of fun.

Christopher GUNNING (b. 1944) Guitar concerto, Clarinet concerto, Flute concertino - Craig Ogden (guitar) Michael Whight (clarinet) Catherine Handley (flute) Royal PO/Christopher Gunning rec. 2011/12 DISCOVERY MUSIC & VISION DMV104 [67:20] [JQ] Three impeccably crafted and highly enjoyable concertos: music for pleasure.

Fredrik HAGSTEDT (b. 1975) Sinfonia per due violini, Depurazione - Duo Gelland rec. 2011 NOSAG CD 192 [73:19] [JW] Neither abrasive nor confrontational. Rooted in traditional seeming material including some folkloric elements.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Cello concertos 1 & 2 - Harriet Krijgh (cello) Vienna Kammerphilharmonie/Claudius Traunfellner rec. 2012 CAPRICCIO C5139 [51:47] [GA] The C major concerto is excellent, but the D major lacks personality.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets - Endellion String Quartet rec. 2012 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 65720-7 [73:45] [SG] A pleasing offering. 

Hans HUBER (1852-1921) Works for Violin and Piano Sonata no.2 , Sonata Graziosa (Sonata no.7), Poetic Pieces, op.99, nos. 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 17-20 - Agnieszka Marucha (violin) Tomasz Pawlowski (piano)
rec. 2010/2011. ACTE PREALABLE AP0266 [68:23] [Byz] The three sonatas heard here lie somewhere between Brahms and early Strauss.

Heinrich ISAAC (c.1450-1517) Ein Frölich Wesen - Els Janssens-Vanmunster, Michael Feyfar (chant)
Les Flamboyants/Michael Form rec. 2010 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77360 [62:14] [MS] A delightful and expertly-performed collection of music by unjustly overlooked Renaissance luminary, Isaac.

Hans KOX (b.1930) Dorian Gray Philip Langridge, Timothy Nolen, Lieuwe Visser, Roberta Alexander, Radio CO/Hans Kox rec. 1982 ATTACCA 2012-130-131 [66.30 + 45.48] [PCG] Preserves a document of some historical importance, but unfortunately no more than that.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE (1657-1726) Choral Music for Versailles - Ex Cathedra Chamber Ch & Baroque O/Jeffrey Skidmore ALTO ALC 1216 [56:04] [MS] A welcome re-issue of works from the French Baroque sung and played with style and care by the Ex Cathedra group.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) String Quartets Vol. 1 - Nightingale Str Qtet rec. 2010-2011 DACAPO 6.220575 [70:18] [Byz] Inventive fecundity, manifold sense of humour … memorable music without recourse to gadgetry, affectation or cliché. 

Orlando di LASSO (1532 - 1594) Hymnus - Die Singphoniker rec. 2011 CPO 777 751-2 [63:54] [MS] Enjoyable, atmospheric, technically flexible and inspiring. The sacred music of the oft-neglected Lassus deserves attention. 

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697 - 1764) Violin Concertos - Luis Otavio Santos (violin) Les Muffatti/Peter Van Heyghen rec. 2010 RAMÉE RAM 1202 [77:38] [JV] This disc bears witness to Leclair's greatness as a composer of instrumental music.

Franz LISZT (1811 - 1886) Via Crucis, La notte Reinbert de Leeuw (piano) Vera Beths (violin) rec. 2012 ETCETERA KTC1458 [53:39] [DC] A shaving from the Messiah’s own bench.

Zdeněk LUKÁŠ (b. 1928) Requiem Antonín TUČAPSKÝ (b. 1928) Veni Sancte Spiritus; Five Lenten motets György ORBÁN (b. 1947) Stabat mater; Cor mundum - Dresden Motet Ch/Matthias Jung rec. 2008/09 QUERSTAND VKJK 1232 [58.10] [PCG] Tricky harmonies and superlative tonal blend. These are admirable performances.

Paweł ŁUKASZEWSKI (b.1968) Musica Sacra 3: Carols and Motets - Polish Chamber Ch & Schola Cantorum Gedanensis/Jan Łukaszewski. rec. 2002 DUX 0440 [49:57] [SA] A wonderfully powerful example of this sound-world.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) L'amour medicin, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Les Amants magnifiques, Phaëton Ensemble Vocal Sagittarius/Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski rec. 1987-1993 WARNER APEX 2564 62184-2 [74:11 + 73:49] [SV] Given the quality of the performances this is a must for scholars and enthusiasts. 

Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (1913-1994) Symphony 1, Partita, Chain 2, Preludia taneczne - Michael Collins (clarinet) Tasmin Little (violin) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5108 [71:02] [DC] A fine conclusion to a distinguished series. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphonies 1-10, Totenfeier, Das Lied von der Erde Royal Concertgebouw O rec. 2009-11 RCO LIVE RCO12102 [11 discs: 14:22:00] [DM] This is a very decent survey, with some top-notch performances; presentational issues are a let-down though.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1951 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5091 [66:01] [JQ] A notable addition to the discography of Mahler’s Fifth symphony.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - New Philharmonia O/Sir John Barbirolli rec. 1969 EMI CLASSICS 4332902 [74.27] [PCG] I would like to feel that it is more than nostalgia which makes me love this version so much despite its failings.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Don Quichotte - José van Dam (bass) Silvia tro Santafé (mezzo) O & Ch de La Monnaie/Marc Minkowski rec. 2010 NAÏVE DR2147 [112:00 (opera) + 61:00 (bonus)] [ST] Charm, affection and an ear for detail, phrase with a spark of delight. 

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b.1934) Piccolo Concerto, Trumpet Concerto, Maxwell's Reel, Five Klee Pictures- Stewart McIlwham (piccolo) John Wallace (trumpet) Royal PO, Royal Scottish Ntl O, Philharmonia O/Peter Maxwell Davies rec. 1990-98 NAXOS 8.572363 [68:28] [Byz] In most cases these remain - rather surprisingly - the only recordings of these major late-20th-century works.  

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES ( b.1934) Symphony 2, St Thomas Wake BBC PO/Peter Maxwell Davies rec. 1991-1993 NAXOS 8.572349 [76:40] [Byz] The seascape-inspired mainly atonal Second matched with the modernist credentials of St Thomas Wake. 

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Concerto Bergamasco; Keyboard Concerto; Trio Concertante - Natalie Schwaabe (flute, piccolo) Andrea Steinberg (clarinet, basset horn) Antonio Spiller, Yi Li, David van Dijk (violins) Bavarian Classical Players/Franz Hauk (harpsichord) rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.570927 [53:36] [Byz] Late-Classical music of elegance and invention.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Organ Works - Yuval Rabin (organ) rec. 2012 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 9061786 [74:58] [JFL] Delightfully, charmingly and elegantly done.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 4 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 8 - Park Avenue Chamber Symphony/David Bernard PARK AVENEUE CHAMBER SYMPHONY PACSNAXOS 0023 [57:52]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1 - Park Avenue Chamber Symphony/David Bernard PARK AVENEUE CHAMBER SYMPHONY PACSNAXOS 0021 [54:33] [DM] Strictly for the orchestra’s friends and devotees.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Concerto for violin & piano and Strings, Octet - Polina Leschenko (piano) Richard Tognetti (violin) Australian CO rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-1984 [66.58] [DBi] Mendelssohn at his best and most appealing in performances and recordings that equal or better all the competition.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Complete Works for String Quartet Vol. 1 - Maggini Qt rec. 2012 MERIDIAN CDE 84618 [58:21] [SG] A promising start to a new Mendelssohn Quartet cycle. 

Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950) The complete piano music & works by his English and Irish contemporaries - Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2012 EM RECORDS EMR CD012-013 [76:19 + 78:40] [DJ] Lovers of British music and indeed lovers of piano music generally will want to have this CD.

Beata MOON Saros - Arash Amini (cello) Cyrus Beroukhim, Patricia Davis (violins) Patrick Durek (guitar) Benjamin Fingland (clarinet) Lisa Flanagan (soprano) Jessica Meyer (viola) Wai-Chi Tang (marimba) rec. 2012 BIBIMBOP [56:01] [RB] Criticise this disc because it runs for under an hour but the music assuredly pleases: a tirelessly sincere and touching combination of song, drama and dance.

Paul MORAVEC (b.1957) Northern Lights Electric, Clarinet Concerto, Sempre Diritto!, Montserrat David Krakauer (clarinet), Matt Haimovitz (cello) Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose rec. 2007-10 BMOP SOUND 1024 [70:42] [SA] An altogether wonderfully satisfying disc of glorious music.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin sonatas - Christian Tetzlaff (violin) Lars Vogt (piano) rec. 2011/12 ONDINE ODE 1204-2 [65:31] [MC] No admirer of Mozart's chamber music should hesitate with this Ondine release.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni - Werner van Mechelen (baritone) Harry van der Kamp (bass) Elena Vink (soprano) Collegium Compostellanum, La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken rec. 1995 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94389 [3 CDs: 152:41] [ST] This super-bargain price set can’t really compete but might be a good “entry level” Don Giovanni for someone who doesn’t want to spend too much.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze Di Figaro - Patrizia Ciofi (soprano) Giorgio Surian (bass-baritone) Lucio Gallo (baritone) O & Ch Maggio Musicale Florence/Zubin Mehta rec. 2003 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 277 [2 DVDs: 181:00] [RJF] Lacks the vitality and punch of the best performances of this operatic masterpiece.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonatas 10-12 - Noriko Ogawa (piano) rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1985 [76:00] [DC] Mozart of the highest calibre. 

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Chamber works for oboe - Nicholas Daniel (oboe) Chilingirian Quartet; Joy Farrall (clarinet) Emma McDonough (flute) James Turnbull (oboe) Huw Watkins (piano) rec. 2011, HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907568 [72.39] [GH] Captivating. A composer with the ability to project a real sense of drama. Her sound-world I really appreciate.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Album for the Young, Echo rustique, Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2002 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6211 [67:46] [JW] Strongly argued, consistent, well characterised, surmounting a somewhat clangy, unsympathetic recorded.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525 - 1594) Lamentations of Jeremiah I-III: Book IV - Pro Cantione Antiqua rec. 1988 DDD ALTO ALC 1142 [74:31] [MS] A welcome re-issue of music by Palestrina unavailable elsewhere; and most beautifully sung.

Andrzej PANUFNIK (1914-1991) Symphonic Works Vol. 5 Michael Oberaigner (timpani) Jörg Strodthoff (organ) Konzerthausorchester Berlin/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2010 CPO 777 684-2 [67:13] [MC] Magnificently played, Panufnik’s music could not have finer advocates and the sound is cool, crystal clear and well balanced.

Peter PHILIPS (1561-1628) Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus Ch of Royal Holloway/English Cornett and Sackbut Ens/Rupert Gough rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67945 [71.59] [GH] A fine CD that will speak strongly to anyone with an interest in the rarefied world of late renaissance church music.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Sacred and Secular Choral Works - Nederlands Kamerkoor/Eric Ericson rec. 1998/99 GLOBE RECORDS GLO 5254 [72:03 + 69:13] [MC] I would be extremely content if these were the only recordings I had of these marvellous Poulenc works such is their quality.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Four Etudes, Four Pieces Opp. 3 & 32,Two Sonatinas, Sonata 5 - DongKyu Kim (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572826 [62:45] [BR] These Prokofiev pieces are all true rarities, so this recital is a very useful and well-played supplement to your collection. 

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2; Cinq Mélodies - Isabelle van Keulen (violin) Ronald Brautigam (piano) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72580 [60:59] [SA] A disc of beauty and superb musicianship; a winning combination.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Preludio Sinfonico, Messa di Gloria, Crisantemi Roberto Alagna (tenor) Thomas Hampson (baritone) London SO & Ch/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2000 EMI CLASSICS 4333012 [60:53] [JS] An impressive issue. 

Daniel PURCELL (c. 1670 - 1717) The Unknown Purcell - Hazel Brooks (violin) David Pollock (harpsichord) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN 0795 [73:32] [WK] Chamber music by the brother of the great Purcell. A must for explorers of Baroque byways.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Dido and Aeneas Dame Janet Baker, English Chamber Orchestra/Sir Anthony Lewis rec. 1961 ALTO ALC 1210 [65.45] [PCG] All lovers of this opera should have Baker’s performance of Dido, and this is an excellent way to acquire it.

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882) Choral Works - Susanna Andersson (soprano) Karlstad Kammerchör/Stockholm Singers/GöteborgsOperans Orkester/Henrik Schaefer; Bo Aurehl rec. 2011-12 STERLING CDS 10982 [79:59] [RB] Another portal opened on Raff’s dust-covered heritage.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928) Choral Works - Finnish Radio Chamber Ch/Timo Nuoranne rec. 1995-2010 ONDINE ODE1186-2Q [4 CDs: 279:18] [JQ] A compelling release that continues Ondine’s doughty championship of Finland’s leading living composer.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Gaspard de la Nuit, Piano Concerto, Valses Nobles et Sentimentales Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Children’s Corner - Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano) Philharmonia O/Ettore Gracis rec. 1952/60 PRAGA PRD/DSD 350 091 [72:54] [BR] This is the legendary Ravel concerto from EMI Classics, but paired with three much rarer live solo turns, including one of ABM’s most blistering accounts of Gaspard.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Petite Messe Solenelle Ch & O Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Roma/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 4167422 [58:26 + 26:53] [JQ] A fine and very enjoyable new Rossini recording from Antonio Pappano.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures - Uppsala Kammarorkester/Paul Mägi rec. 2006/7 SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD1155 [49:22] [JS] I can see little reason to favour this disc over the many earlier discs of this repertoire.

Ludomir RÓZYCKI (1883-1953) Piano Works Volume I - Valentina Seferinova (piano) rec. 2012 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0263 [71:50] [SA] Proves yet again that there is so much wonderful music to be heard beyond the output of the biggest names.

Ludomir RÓZYCKI (1883-1953) Piano Quintet, Rhapsody for violin, cello and piano, Cello Sonata- Jerzy Godziszewski (piano) Wilanów String Quartet rec. 2007 2008 2010 ACTE PRÉALABLE APO253 [72:43] [SA] I hope that these works will find their way back into the repertoire where they belong.

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Symphony 4 - State SO of Russia/Igor Golovchin rec. 1993 DELOS DRD2012 [65:24] [Byz] Hugely lyrical, moderately melancholic and eminently likeable.

Sharon RUCHMAN (b.1950s) Chamber Music/Arrival of Spring Mary Costanza (cello) Janet Boughton (violin)
Sharon Ruchman (piano) PRIVATE ISSUES [70:35] and [64:56] [Byz] Thoughtful, unpretentious with an emotional depth reminiscent of early 20th-century late-Romanticism.

Frederic RZEWSKI (b.1938) The People United Will Never Be Defeated! Ole Kiilerich (piano) rec. 2009 BRIDGE 9392 [59:46] [SA] Superb music-making of the highest order.

Kaija SAARIAHO (b. 1952) Mirage; Cloud Trio; Cendres; Je sens un deuxième coeur; Serenatas Pia Freund (soprano) Ernst Kovacic (violin) Steven Dann (viola) Mikael Elasvuo (alto flute) Florent Jodelet (percussion) Tuija Hakkila (piano) Ansi Karttunen (cello) rec. 2011 ONDINE ODE 1189-2 [77:25] [HC] An important addition to Saariaho's discography.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Complete Organ Works - Ben van Oosten (organ) rec. 2012 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 316 1767-2 [3 CDs: 166:09] [DC] An impressive and delightful set from one of the great names of French music. This is going to be hard to beat.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas (in arrangements) - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2011 ONYX CLASSICS 4106 [62:40] [BR] 19th- and 20th-century Scarlatti “re-compositions” that prove to be fascinating novelties. Sometimes they don’t sound like Scarlatti at all.

Johann Hermann SCHEIN (1586-1630) Israelsbrunnlein - Dresdner Kammerchor/Hans-Christoph Rademann rec. 2012 CARUS 83.350 [47.07 + 47.25] [JW] Binds madrigalian and polyphonic strands - a powerful and exciting semi-hybrid.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet No.15 in G major, D. 887 (1826) [52.20] String Quartet No.12 in C minor, D.703 Quartettsatz (1820) [9:45] Wihan Quartet rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6221 [62:12] [MC]  The strong and positive Wihan certainly deserve to be heard.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas 13 & 21, Impromptu - Sviatoslav Richter (piano) rec. 1956-1972 PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 350 063 [79:04] [BR] If you want to hear Richter playing Schubert live, there are better places to start.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) Die schöne Müllerin plus 5 Bonus Lieder Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Gerald Moore (piano (tr. 1-20), Jörg Demus (piano) (tr. 21-25) rec. 1961/1962 ALTO ALC 1207 [77:51][GF] No one will regret buying this disc.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies 1-4; Schumann at Pier 2 - Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Järvi rec. 2012 C MAJOR 711908 [3 DVDs 271:00] [IL] A fine set of these four glorious symphonies … also for those new to classical music. The message is conveyed in an exciting, no-nonsense and straightforward manner. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasiestücke, Kreisleriana Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Theme and Variations in D minor - Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10755 [75:32] [SG] The first volume of a projected Schumann cycle. Given this high quality I hope that there are many more to follow. An exciting prospect.

Bernhard SEKLES (1872-1934) Chamber Music - Solomia Soroka (viola; violin), Noreen Silver (cello), Phillip Silver (piano) rec. 2012 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0147 [67:55][SA] Flawless playing makes this disc a really valuable discovery.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos, Three Fantastic Dances - Cristina Ortiz (piano)
Bournemouth SO/Paavo Berglund rec. 1975 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9412 [45:32] [DC] Nice to see, but not quite 1st choice.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 8 - London PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1983 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO0069 [59:40] [WH] Fabulous orchestral playing in an overwhelming live performance of a great symphony.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má Vlast Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Slavonic Dances - NHK Symphony Orchestra/Václav Neumann rec. 1978/90 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC2037-38 [77:18 + 78:53] [JW] Neumann in unfamiliar circumstances in ancillary recordings of canonic Czech repertoire. 

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) Music for Wind Band Volume 11 - The Royal Swedish Navy Band/Keith Brion rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.559690 [68:06] [JS] Another desirable addition to a very desirable series.

Ronald STEVENSON (b.1928) Piano Music - Murray McLachlan (piano) rec. 2009/10 DIVINE ART DDA21372 [3 CDs: 217:00] A monument to the achievement of Ronald Stevenson.

David Nisbet STEWART (b. 1941) Piano Concerto; Suite for piano-brass quartet George GERSHWIN (1898-1932) Porgy and Bess suite - rec. 1993-2012 NAVONA NV 5892 [55.33] [PCG] Quite enjoyable and approachable in musical terms and extremely well performed.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Quixote, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Alban Gerhardt (cello) Lawrence Power (viola) Gürzenich O Köln/Markus Stenz rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67960 [55:11] [JQ] Despite the rather short playing time there’s a great deal to commend this disc.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du Printemps, Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Apollon Musagète Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2007-12 EMI CLASSICS 7236112 [75:36] [JQ] Simon Rattle marks the centenary of Le Sacre du Printemps in style.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) L’Oiseau de Feu, Le Sacre du Printemps Ntl O Capitole de Toulouse/Tugan Sokhiev rec. 2011 NAÏVE V5192 CD+ [CD: 54:59 + DVD: 37:00] [JQ] This release from Toulouse gets the centenary of Le Sacre off to a strong start.

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Overtures and Marches - Royal Scottish Natl O/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA 5110 [79:42] [GH] I have much enjoyed this disc. 

Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621) Sweelinck and the Art of Variation Brisk Recorder Quartet Amsterdam; Camerata Trajectina rec. 2012 GLOBE GLO 5253 [56:32] [JV] Sweeliinck's genius is amply demonstrated here.

Aleksander TANSMAN (1897-1986) Children at play and other piano pieces Elzbieta Tyszecka (piano)
rec. 2012 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0270 [77:29] [SA] Raise a cheer for all concerned.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (1893) [49:23] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Overture to Manfred, London Symphony Orchestra/Yondani Butt rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6222 [62:36][DC] Good performances.

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker Mariinsky Ballet and O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2012 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 656309 [103:00] [RMay] A disappointingly unremarkable new Mariinsky offering. 

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony 5 Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Cockaigne Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia - Oregon SO/Carlos Kalmar rec. 2012 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC 5186 471 [77:29] [JQ] A disc of no little distinction. 

Ian VENABLES (b.1955) On the Wings of Love & other songs Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Iain Burnside (piano); Richard Hosford (clarinet) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572514 [66:04]   Ian VENABLES Invite to Eternity & other songs, String Quartet - Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Dante Qt rec. 2009 SIGNUM SIGCD204 [58:04] [JQ] Two fine collections of the expressive music of Ian Venables.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Verdi Heroines Maria Callas (soprano) Philharmonia O, O de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire/Nicola Rescigno rec. 1958-1964 EMI CLASSICS 4332912 [79:12] [RMo] A voice made to express scorn, rage and despair. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rolando Villazon sings Verdi Munich RSO & Ch/Marcello Viotti & Michel Plasson; Saint Cecilia O, Rome/Antonio Pappano rec. 2003-09 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6357112 [37.59] [RJF] The short measure is only partly compensated for by the low price. It is, however, a good memento of a singer in his vocal prime in repertoire in which he, for too brief a period, excelled. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Attila Giovanni Battista Parodi (bass) Susanna Branchini (soprano) Ch & O of the Teatro Regio, Parma/Andrea Battistoni rec. 2010 C MAJOR 721608 [128.00] [PCG] Testifies to today’s high standard of Verdi performance and the results are often stunning. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Il Corsaro Bruno Ribeiro, Irina Lungu, Silvia Dalla Benetta, Ch & O Teatro Regio Parma/Carlo Montanaro rec. 2008 C MAJOR 722504 [108:00 + 11:00 (bonus)] [RJF] This early Verdi is full of the typical vigour of the genre and is well staged and sung in this production from the small theatre of Verdi’s hometown.  

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un Giorno di Regno Guido Loconsolo, Andrea Porta, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Ch & O Teatro Regio di Parma/Donato Renzetti rec. 2010 C MAJOR 720208 [129:00] [ST] This Giorno can easily be recommended, though more for lovers of bel canto or for Verdi completists.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Giovanna d’Arco Svetla Vassileva (soprano) Evan Bowers (tenor) O & Ch of the Teatro Regio di Parma/Bruno Bartoletti rec. 2008 C MAJOR 721208 [138.00] [PCG] A fully worthy representation of a frustratingly uneven work. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Viva Verdi - Overtures and Preludes - Filarmonica della Scala/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2012 DECCA 478 3559 [73.55] [IL] Thrilling - even electrifying - performances of these overtures. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Requiem, Te Deum - Zinka Milanov (soprano) Bruna Castagna (mezzo) Jussi Björling (tenor) Nicola Moscona (bass) Westminster Ch, NBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1940 MUSIC AND ARTS CD4240(2) [56.58 + 42.51] [PCG] The full-blooded Italian approach with plenty of drama and passion.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde, Die Walküre (excerpts) Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Fritz Uhl (tenor) Vienna PO/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1957/60 MAJOR CLASSICS M5CD501 [5 CDs] [PCG] Solti’s Tristan still sounds very good and has come up well in this re-mastering.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Scenes from the operas, Wesendonck-Lieder Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Ch & O Deutschen Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles DECCA 4785189 [74:21] [ST] A high profile treat that reminds us of the greatness of both the singer and the composer.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Extracts from operas - Klaus Florian Vogt (tenor) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Bamberg SO/Jonathan Nott rec. 2012 SONY 88765445152 [57.25] [PCG] Vogt uses a lighter voice than usual in Wagnerian roles generally regarded as the preserve of more heavyweight singers.

Helmut WALCHA (1907-1991) Chorale Preludes Vols. 1-3 - Wolfgang Rübsam, Delbert Disselhorst (organ) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572910-12 [181:25] [Byz] A certain uniformity of form and expression: short, generally sober, even-paced, reflective.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Complete Piano Works Vol. 4 - Allison Brewster Franzetti (piano)
rec. 2009/10 GRAND PIANO GP611 [64:36] [SA] A wonderful rounding off of the complete piano works of this incredible musical personality.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Symphony 19, The Banners of Peace St Petersburg State SO/Vladimir Lande rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572752 [55:36] [Byz] The exciting Nineteenth Symphony coupled with the uplifting, almost patriotic The Banners of Peace. 

Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810 - 1876) Sacred choral works - Choir of St John's College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha; John Challenger (organ) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10751 [77:10] [JV] As an introduction to the oeuvre of Wesley this disc is an unequivocal success.

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948) Serenade for Strings, Violin Concerto - Laura Marzadori (violin) Orch Città di Ferrara/Marco Zuccarini rec. 2012 TACTUS TC 872303 [60:39] [JW] An attractive early work coupled with one of the most inchoate concertos you will ever hear.

Paul WRANITZKY (1756-1808) String Trios - Ensemble Cordia rec. 2010 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94339 [56:02] [JV] Substantial contributions to the genre of the string trio.

Eugene ZÁDOR (1894-1977) Elegy and Dance, Oboe Concerto, Divertimento for strings, Studies for orchestra - László Hadady (oboe) Budapest SO MÁV/Mariusz Smolij rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572549 [68.21] [PCG] Give Zádor a chance.

After Grand Hotel Works by Sarola, Adler & others - Ananda Trio PIERIAN 0021 [68:33] [JW] An enjoyable and enterprising selection paying tribute to the days of the Palm Court.

American Brass London Symphony Brass/Eric Crees ALTO ALC 1209 [63.37] [DM] A welcome return for this Collins collection; brass fans need not dally.

Asian Music for String Quartet New Zealand String Qt rec. 2010. NAXOS 8.572488 [58.09] [GH] Worth investigating.

British Opera Overtures - Victorian Opera O/Richard Bonynge rec. 2011 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMM0123 [74.36] [RB] Somm are once again a pathfinder - this time for some grandly romantic overtures which need no special pleading.

Brundibár Music by composers in Theresienstadt Hans KRASA (1899-1944) Suite from Brundibár Viktor ULLMANN (1898-1944) String Quartet 3 Gideon KLEIN (1919-1945) String Trio Pavel HAAS (1899-1944) String Quartet 2 Nash Ensemble rec. 2012. HYPERION CDA67973 [74:03] [SA] The Nash Ensemble turn in superb performances of these valuable works.

Cantus Angelicus - Heldur Harry Põlda (boy soprano) Tallinn Sinfonietta/Risto Joost rec. 2011 ESTONIAN RECORD PRODUCTIONS ERP 5312 [51:02] [DC] Choirboy hits from the Baltics.

Cembalo Paradiso Works by Scarlatti, Bach & D'Angelbert - Anna Paradiso (harpsichord) Josef Cabrales, Jonas Lindgård (violins) Henrik Frendin (viola) Mats Olofsson (cello) Tomas Gertonsson (double bass) rec. 2011-2012 BARNCOTTAGERECORDS BCR007 [67:36] [JV] This interesting and well-played programme should be attractive to all lovers of the harpsichord. 

A Ceremony of Carols Choral works by Britten, Bruckner & Gallus - Elisabeth Bayer (harp) Chorus Viennensis, Wiener Sangerknaben/Anton Neyder; Hans Gillesberger rec. 1971 ACANTA 233602 [41:12 + 47:53] [HP-R] These two CDs are a real snapshot of 1970s performance style.

Chansons, Madrigali and Villanelle Works by Willaert & contemporaries - Romanesque/Philippe Malfeyt rec. 1994 RICERCAR RIC 331 [65.18] [GH] The joy of this disc is its variety.

Classical Caffeine DELOS DE1628 [65:24] [Byz] This aural version of a coffee fix.

Czech Contemporary Music The Novák Trio rec. 2011 ARCODIVA UP 0032-2 231 [51:00] [SA] This is a disc to savour ... a group of composers little known to most listeners but whose music will reward anyone who discovers it.

English Recorder Works by Arnold, Bowen & Lennox Berkeley - Jill Kemp (recorder) Aleksander Szram (piano) Brodowski Qt rec. 2010 MUSIC MEDIA MMC103 [70:58] [JF] This CD will appeal to all recorder enthusiasts.

French Fantasy - Works by Debussy, Franck & Saint-Saëns - Maria Bachmann (violin) Adam Neiman (piano) rec. 2011 BRIDGE 9394 [68:49] [JW] Admirers of these two musicians can acquire this disc without any concerns: performances that remain consistent and strongly argued.

The Frescobaldi Legacy - Sandro Ivo Bartoli (piano) rec. 2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9417 [57:08] [JW] An interesting panorama of Frescobaldian influence through the centuries.

Szymon Goldberg: The Centenary Collection - Vol. II: Commercial Recordings - rec. 1932-1951 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1225 [8 CDs: 593:02] [JW]

Barbara Hendricks - My Favourite Opera Don Pasquale Les chœurs du festival, Sinfonietta de Varsovie/Gabriele Ferro rec. 1991 EUROARTS 2001818 [58.27] [RF] Presents an appealing person and a committed professional singer in her favourite opera and role.

The Klemperer Edition Romantic symphonies and overtures - Philharmonia & New Philharmonia O/Otto Klemperer EMI CLASSICS 4043092 [10 CDs: 746:07] [PCG] An unusual sidelight on a conductor whose interpretations may be controversial but are always interesting.

Latin American Classics Venezuela SP/Theodore Kuchar rec. 2011 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9262 [55:43] [BR] A gem, fun and free-spirited Latin classics played with swagger and excitement.

Sir Philip Ledger - A Musician’s Legacy Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Piano Quintet Antonin DVORAK (1841-1904) Piano Quintet No. 2 - Sir Philip Ledger (piano) Alberni Quartetrec. 2001 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6220 [68:05] [SG] A very welcome release, and a worthy tribute to a great musician.

Lost Generation Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Double Concerto for Flute & Piano, Flute Sonata, Three Pieces for String Orchestra Viktor ULLMANN (1898-1944) String Quartet 3 Vilem TAUSKÝ (1910-2004) Coventry Ulrike Anton (flute); Russell Ryan (piano) English CO/David Parry rec. 2012 GRAMOLA 98964 [65:25] [RB] Happy music but never inane and clouds do scud across the horizon.

Love, Revelry and Dance In Medieval Music Millenarium rec. 1998-2007 RICERCAR RIC 328 [7 CDs: 7:56:18] [GH] A good value and extraordinary box set well worth investing in but one you must take warts and all.

Music from the Eton Choirbook Tonus Peregrinus/Antony Pitts rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572840 [79:00] [GPu] Outstanding, even revelatory recording of great English polyphony.

Musici da Camera Chamber Music from Eighteenth-Century Prague Sergio Azzolini (bassoon); Lenka Torgersen (violin); Helena Zemanová (violin); Jana Semerádová (flute); Collegium Marianum rec. 2003-12 SUPRAPHON SU 4112-2 [64:50 + 46:54] [BR] A fascinating compendium of baroque chamber music; Well worth investigating.

Nocturnes Works by Mirto, Manca & Signorile - Giorgio Mirto (guitar) rec. 2011-2012 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9258 [63:10] [OL] A lovely disc: submerge into the twilight world. 

Novecento Guitar Preludes Works by Asafyev, Ponce, Badings, Sauguet & Farkas - Cristiano Porqueddu (guitar rec. 2010/12 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9292 [3 CDs: 117:38] [RB] What a pleasure to come across an unhackneyed collection of guitar music ... lovely music and playing.

O Rex Orbis: Officium in Festo Sancti Karoli First Vespers and Compline for the feast of Charlemagne - Exsultemus/Shannon Canavin (soprano) Eric Rice (tenor) rec. 2008 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1267 [78:32] [BW] An attractive venture into unknown realms of 16th-century polyphony. 

POLISH SONGS Tadeusz BAIRD (1928-1981) Trouveurs’ Songs Zygmunt KRAUZE (b.1938) Malay Pantuns Joanna BRUZDOWICZ (b. 1943) Harbour drawings (1967) Juliusz LUCIUK (b. 1938) Lyrical portraits Liliana Górska (mezzo), rec. 2011 ACTE PRÉALABLE APO 274 [42.51] [PCG] Presentation lacking - a great shame, because the performances themselves are excellent.

Le Rossignol et la Rose - Chen Reiss (soprano) Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX 4104 [71.48] [GH] A true recital voice, crystal clear and very expressive. 

Jörg Schneider Sings World famous Operetta Arias and Scenes Wiener Salonorchester rec. 2010 CAPRICCIO C5109 [60:16] [OL] The smiling, sparkling spirit of Vienna.

Il Tesoro di San Gennaro - Sacred music in early 18th-century Naples by Scarlatti, Caresena, Fago & Veneziano I Turchini/Antonio Florio rec. 2012 GLOSSA GCD 922605 [63:22] [JV] Interesting disc of Neapolitan sacred music around 1700, but some of the voices are not well suited to the repertoire.

Thomaskantoren vor Johann Sebastian Bach Hartmut Becker (cello) Daniel Beilschmidt (organ) Kammerchor Josquin des Préz/Ludwig Böhme rec. 2012 CARUS 83.342 [66:58] [BW] Of much more than scholarly interest. 

Toscanini at the Queen’s Hall The June 1935 BBC Symphony concerts - BBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1935-1939 WEST HILL RADIO ARCHIVES WHRA6046 [4 CDs: 255:22] [JQ] A splendid set containing Toscanini’s exceptional 1935 London performances in fine new transfers. 

Maxim Vengerov live at Wigmore Hall Itamar Golan (piano) rec.2012 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0056 [79:52] [RMo] A triumphant return to form. 

Venezia - Opera arias of the Serenissima - Max Emanuel Cencic (counter-tenor) Il Pomo d’Oro/Riccardo Minasi rec. 2012 VIRGIN CLASSICS 4645452 [63:26] [JW] Virtuosic but full of colour, a command of divisions that sounds absolute and a theatrical musicality that is everywhere apparent.

Virgins, Vixens and Viragos Susan Graham (mezzo) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX CLASSICS 4105 [74:39] [MC] A fine recital. 


Other reviews

British Composer Profiles: a biographical dictionary of past British composers 1800-2010 by Gerald Leach, revised and edited by Ian Graham-Jones 3rd Edition, 2012 The British Music Society [JF]

Fire in the Blood The International Staff Band Staff/Dr. Stephen Cobb rec. 2012 SP&S 252 [66:42] [BMcC] The ISB demonstrates its excellence and dedication to the ministry and to their musicianship.

Great Day Spirituals - Indra Thomas (voice) Sandra Lutters (piano) rec. 2012 DELOS DE3427 [53.10] [GH] I shall be glad to put this disc to one side for an extended period.

Messiaen’s Final Works by Christopher Dingle. Ashgate Publishing ISBN: 9780754606338, 369 pages £65.00 Hardcover [DC] Neither overcomplicated nor condescending .. sensible and founded on evidence. A significant, useful and inspiring education on this subject.

Trollfågeln - The Magic Bird Emilia Amper (nyckelharpa, vocals); Strings of Trondheim Solistene rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2013 [59:42] [DC] A dose of Nordic fresh air into your Hi-Fi.


Articles and notices this month

British Light Music: A personal gallery of 20th-century composers
2013 2nd edition
by Philip L. Scowcroft

Hubert Parry: Mr Punch’s Sketchy Interview from 1903 edited by John France

From contributor Kirk McElhearn's own blog Kirkville, reviews of the movie A late quartet and the avant-garde work November by Dennis Johnson

Download News 2013/6 by Brian Wilson

Sir Colin Davis - a recorded legacy by John Quinn