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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Orgelbüchlein & Chorales - Francesco Cera (organ) Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera/Diego Fasolis rec. 2011/12 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94639 [67:20 + 67:14] [JFL] If I had to reduce myself to one recording of these works it would be Cera. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Winter Words, Michelangelo Sonnets - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Sir Antonio Pappano (piano) Xuefei Yang (guitar) rec. 2013 EMI CLASSICS 4334302 [70:15] [ST] If anything else comes our way this year that is nearly as good as this then we can count ourselves very lucky indeed. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Peter Grimes Alan Oke (tenor) Giselle Allen (soprano) David Kempster (baritone) Ch Opera North & Guildhall School, Britten-Pears O/Steuart Bedford rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD348 [73:55 + 64:01] [ST] A set to invest in with confidence, and to continue enjoying long after the Britten centenary has passed. 

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballades, Preludes - Arthur Rubinstein (piano) rec. 1946/59 PRISTINE PAKM 060 [70:31] [GP-J] This is a historic CD that no lover of great piano music and unsurpassed pianism will want to miss.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Sea Drift, Cynara Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Hymn of Jesus - Roderick Williams (baritone) Hallé Ch & O /Sir Mark Elder rec. 2011/12 HALLÉ CD HLL 7535 [62:25] [JQ] A disc that maintains and enhances the very high reputation of Sir Mark Elder and his Hallé forces.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Requiem da camera Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cantata misericordium Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Two Psalms Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1991 CHANDOS CHAN 10783X [67.37] [PCG] If any lover of the music of English twentieth century composers does not have this disc in their collection, they should take steps to rectify the omission immediately.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Octet Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Quintet - Academy of St Martin in the Fields rec. 1967 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7425 [51:50] [JS] A superb disc … the pleasure it will give for a small outlay is wholly exceptional.

Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Piano works - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88765 433262 [63:03] [BR] This is truly a first-class production.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Trios - Willi Boskovsky (violin) Nikolaus Hubner (cello) Lili Kraus (piano) rec. 1954 ANDROMEDA ANDRCD 5149 [69:49 + 79:24] [SG] These wonderful trio performances have made a come-back in greatly enhanced, re-mastered sound. For me, they tick all the right boxes. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 18-21 Cristofori/Arthur Schoonderwoerd (fortepiano) rec. 2011/12 ACCENT ACC24265/24278 [57:34 & 58:18] [Byz] A double coup de maître. Mozart has been liberated. Long live Mozart!

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Capriccio, Concerto in D - Steven Osborne (piano) BBC Scottish SO/Ilan Volkov rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67870 [60:17] [LW] Hyperion has issued the best collection yet of Stravinsky’s works for piano and orchestra. 

Alexander TCHEREPNIN (1899-1977) Complete Piano Music - vol. 3 - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2011 GRAND PIANO GP635 [59:04] [SA] As thoroughly rewarding as the first two volumes.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Great Wagner Voices - Anja Silja, Elisabeth Grümmer, Josef Greindl, Theo Adam & others rec. 1963-71 BR KLASSIK 900310 [73:24] [MC] This release offers some stunning singing and remains one of the most enthralling discs I have heard for some time.

The Birth of the Violin - Le Miroir de Musique/Baptiste Romain rec. 2012 RICERCAR RIC 333 [65:26] [JV] Singing and playing at the highest level.

Twentieth Century Cello Sonatas Works by Bridge, Clarke, Delius, Ireland, Keys & Rubbra - Alexander Baillie (cello) John Thwaites (piano) rec. 2012 SOMM CD251-2 [57.37 + 71.51] [IL] Six significant British cello sonatas impeccably performed.

21st Century Spanish Guitar - Volume I Adam Levin (guitar) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573024 [62:22] [BR] A trip to Spain resulted in the commission of some exciting new guitar repertoire any fan of the instrument should hear. 

Shura Cherkassky The Complete UK World Record Club solo recordings rec. 1950s-1960s GUILD GHCD 2398/99 [79:32 + 78:46] [SG] The ‘magic’ of Cherkassky’s playing shines forth in these splendid re-masterings.

Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962) Piano Concerto, Konzertstück, Violin Concerto, Rhapsodie - Fali Pavri (piano) Christian Altenburger (violin) Bournemouth SO/Marc Andreae rec. 2012 GUILD GMCD 7394 [75:10] [GH] This disc would make be a good place to start an Andreae collection.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Michael Tsalka (clavichord) rec. 2012 PALADINO PMR0032 [67:07] [Byz] For those who wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation of this keyboard masterpiece, Tsalka has much to tell.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Saint Matthew Passion Schola Cantorum of Oxford, Maîtrise de Paris, Paris CO/John Nelson rec. 2011 EUROARTS 3079658 [177:00 + 52:00 (bonus)] [KM] An excellent performance that deserves better sound.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Sonatas - Nils-Erik Sparf (baroque violin) David Härenstam (guitar) rec. 2012 PROPRIUS PRCD2056 [50:52] [JFL] So much more than just a convenient stopgap for the missing BWV numbers in your aspiring Bach collection - a superb Bach release in its own right. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Transcriptions for solo harpsichord of concerti by Vivaldi and the Marcello brothers - Sophie Yates (harpsichord) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 0796 [76:28] [JW] The confluence of Bach, Yates’s clarity-conscious musicianship and an Andrew Garlick harpsichord makes for a refreshing disc. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete Symphonies - SWR SO Baden-Baden and Freiburg/Michael Gielen rec. 1997-2000 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD93.285 [5 CDs: 6:04:00] [MM] For Gielen, music is an ideal rather than a cultural landmark, its permeable boundaries existing in an ultimately unreachable realm, over the stars where its creator must surely dwell.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 9 - San Francisco SO & Ch/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2012 SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY 821936-0055-2 [70:41] [DC] Beethoven, more modern than ever.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 5, Variations, Bagatelles - Ingrid Jacoby (piano) Sinfonia Varsovia/Jacek Kaspszyk rec. 1991/2012 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5104 [80:46] [JQ] The second instalment of Ingrid Jacoby’s Beethoven concerto cycle fails to match the promise of its predecessor.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The 32 Piano Sonatas - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) rec. 1951-56 REGIS RRC9010 [9 CDs: 9:43:00] [JWh] A magnificent historic cycle that must be heard. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 7, 25 & 26, Eroica Variations - Emil Gilels (piano) rec. 1980 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 94.221 [75:59] [SG] A sheer delight.

Richard Rodney BENNETT (1936-2012) My dancing day & other choral works - BBC Singers/Paul Brough rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGCD293 [64.27] [EML] Something of an odd medley but contains some good works and the performances are of the very highest standard throughout.  

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique - Tonkunstler O Niederosterreich/Andrés Orozco-Estrada rec. 2012 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 869 [55:15] [BR] Proficient, professional, but in no way remarkable. 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les nuits d’été, Roméo et Juliette - Scène d’amour, La mort de Cléopâtre Karen Cargill (mezzo) Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2012 LINN CKD 421 [65:48] [JQ] All Berlioz collectors should investigate this disc. 

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Transcriptions for Wind Band - University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble/Scott Weiss rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573056 [63:22] [BR] Easy to recommend if you like Bernstein or great bands; harder to advocate if you just want to hear the music at its finest. 

Boris BLACHER (1903-1975) Der Grossinquisitor Siegmund Nimsgern (baritone) Leipzig Radio Ch, Dresden PO/Herbert Kegel rec. 1986 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9437 [59.32] [PCG] A great and stirring work commanding attention throughout. Brilliant Classics are to be congratulated in making it available at such a reasonable price - and so well presented, too. 

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2, Nigun Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Fratres Elsa Grether (violin) Ferenc Vizi (piano) rec. 2012 FUGA LIBERA FUG711 [64:52] [JW] I liked these performances.

Alexander BORODIN (1834-1887) Prince Igor - Boris Martinovich (bass-baritone) Stefka Evstatieva (soprano) Nicolai Ghiaurov (bass) Sofia Ntl Opera Ch, Sofia Festival O/Emil Tchakarovrec. 1987 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94608 [3 CDs: 210:33 [RMo] Subtler and much more affordable than Ermler’s red-blooded version.

Rory BOYLE (b.1951) A Box of Chatter Flutes en route, Illuminati Wind Ens, Fraser Langton, (clarinet) Aurea String Qt, Scott Mitchell (piano) NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6224 [51.53] [GH] None of these pieces outstays its welcome even if the sound-world of some of them does not always appeal. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein Deutsches Requiem Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Requiem Lynn Dawson (soprano) Olaf Bär (baritone) Nancy Argenta (soprano) John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Schütz Choir of London, London Classical Players/Sir Roger Norrington rec. 1991/2 VIRGIN VERITAS 9125662 [57.53 + 67.59] [PCG] An enjoyable Mozart, with plenty of character and many points of illumination. A pity it comes with such a thoroughly unrecommendable Brahms. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies 1-4 - NBC SO/Arturo Toscanini rec. 1951-52 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC349 [79:27 + 76:46] [RMo] Thanks to Andrew Rose all four Brahms Toscanini symphonies now have some air around them.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto 1 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto -Jacqueline du Pré (cello) Bruno Leonardo Gelber (piano) Berlin RSO/Gerd Albrecht rec. 1963 AUDITE 95.622 [76:29] [SG] Two youthful renditions of concertos by Schumann and Brahms. Valuable documents that should be required listening for collectors of historical instrumental performances. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker Suite Berl Senofsky (violin) Vienna SO/Rudolf Moralt rec. 1954/56 HISTORIC RECORDS HRCD01010 [62:19] [JW] Senofsky is a capable tonalist and stylist. This is a refreshingly straightforward but not unsubtle performance. 

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphonies 22-24, English Suite 1 - New Russia State SO/Alexander Walker rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572833 [65:27] [MC] Turbulent Brian played and recorded with excellent vitality, strong character and climaxes thrust home decisively. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Chamber and instrumental works EMI CLASSICS 0151492 [6 CDs: 393:53] [PCG] A valuable box with a number of items not available elsewhere. Some real masterpieces amongst the works here. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Britten 100 - The Birthday Collection rec. 1953-2002 DOCUMENTS 600047 [10 CDs: 6:52:29] [NB] Much more gold than dross.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Turn of the Screw - Samuel Linay (treble) Helen Field (soprano) Richard Greager (tenor) Stuttgart Radio SO/Steuart Bedford rec. 1990 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 303 [113.00] [PCG] A beautiful rendition with some reservations. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Spring Symphony- Elizabeth Gale (soprano) Alfreda Hodgson (contralto) Martyn Hill (tenor) London SO & Ch/Richard Hickox rec. 1990 CHANDOS CHAN10782X [58:48] The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Suite on English Folk Tunes, Suite from ‘Johnson over Jordan’, Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’ Bournemouth SO/Richard Hickox rec. 1993 CHANDOS CHAN10784X  [67:04] [JQ] Two excellent Britten anthologies. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Violin Concerto Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concerto 1 - James Ehnes (violin) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2012 ONYX 4113 [66:56] [NB] Other performances dig deeper into the souls of these two fine works. 

Elizabeth BROWN (b. 1953) Mirage NEW WORLD RECORDS 80751-2 [73:00] [DC] Fancy escaping convention and seeking out new sounds? 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 6 - Netherlands RPO/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2012 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72552 [57:14] [TB] Van Zweden paces and shapes this music brilliantly. 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 8 Otto KITZLER senior (1834-1915) & Otto KITZLER junior (1863-1931) Trauermusik Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2012 HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH13027 [61:14 + 38:15] [TB] An altogether rewarding performance of a snapshot of Bruckner's work in progress.  

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 - Columbia SO/Bruno Walter rec. 1959 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 384 [59:03] [RMo] A Ninth belonging in every Bruckner collection and heard here in a superb Pristine re-mastering.

Adolf BUSCH (1891-1952) Chamber works - Wolfgang Meyer (clarinet) Eisler Qt rec. 2012 CAVI-MUSIC 8553268 [57:20] [JW] Committed and elegant performances advance Busch’s cause as a modest but effective composer. 

André CAPLET (1878-1925) Suite persane; Two Pieces for flute and piano; Légende; Wind Quintet - Ensemble Initium and Laurent Wagschal; Quatuor Ardeo rec. 2012 TIMPANI 1C1202 [62:03] [JW] Performances are uniformly fine and sensitive.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Orchestral Works Volumes 1-3 - Martin Roscoe (piano) BBC Phil/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2009-12 CHANDOS CHAN 10605/10712/10768 [76:58 & 73:26 & 69:35]  [Byz] A composer of considerable imagination and invention and these are among Chandos's finest orchestral achievements of recent times. 

Carlos CHÁVEZ (1899-1978) Piano Concerto, Meditacíon José Pablo MONCAYO (1912-1958) Muros Verdes Samuel ZYMAN (b. 1956) Variations on an Original Theme - Jorge Federico Osorio (piano) Nacional SO de México/Carlos Miguel Prieto rec. 2011/12 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 140 [64:50] [BR] Why on earth do we not hear more of this wonderful music? 

Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842) Lodoïska - Natalie Manfrino (soprano) Hjördis Thébault (soprano) Sébastien Guèze (tenor) Les Éléments, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer rec. 2010 AMBROISIE AM209 [49:33 + 60:00] [JS] Always interesting and imaginative … makes a considerable impact. 

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Legendary Rubinstein! Complete Nocturnes and Mazurkas - Artur Rubinstein (piano) rec. 1936-39 EMI CLASSICS 730250 2 [3 CDs: 212:24] [TB] Excellent value, wonderful performances, but a health warning about the quality of the recorded sound. 

François COUPERIN (1668 - 1733) Leçons de Ténèbres André CAMPRA (1660-1744) Cantate Domino - Mathieu Dupouy (organ) rec. 2012 LABEL-HERISSON LH09 [56:17] [JV] If you don't care about the incessant vibrato of the singers you probably will greatly enjoy these performances. 

Eric COATES (1886-1957)  The Definitive Eric Coates - Eric Coates conducts his own compositions  rec. 1923-1957 NIMBUS NI 6231 [7 CDs: 8:50:00] [JF] What I would have given for this back in the early ’70s when I first discovered Coates’ music.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) The Definitive Eric Coates - Eric Coates conducts his own compositions - NIMBUS NI 6231 [7 CDs: 8:50:00] [IL] An unmissable bargain for Coates fans and, it is to be hoped, an introduction to younger generations of music-lovers, especially those who appreciate first class tunes.

Aaron COPLAND (1900 - 1990) Rodeo, Dance Panels, El Salón México, Danzón Cubano Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.559758 [70:13] [JWh] Superb … inspirational … in spectacular and beautiful sound. 

Mixed Doubles Gordon CROSSE (b. 1937) Brief Encounter, Viola concerto, Fantasia on ‘Ca’ the Yowes’ John MANDUELL (b.1928) Flutes Concerto, Double Concerto - Manchester Sinfonia/Timothy Reynish rec. 2012 METIER MSV77201 [43:05 + 55:19] [RB] Much to stimulate among this temperate, argumentative and atmospheric music.

Michael DAUGHERTY (b. 1984) Mount Rushmore, Radio City, The Gospel According to Sister Aimee - Paul Jacobs (organ), Pacific Chorale & Symphony/Carl St Clair rec. 2010/12 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559749 [77:53] [DM] A well-chosen programme that highlights Daugherty’s prodigious talent; great fun.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Preludes - Walter Gieseking (piano) rec. 1953/54 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM 061 [69.34] [PCG] This is a glorious release with a tangible sense of ecstasy and piano realistically placed in a resonant acoustic. 

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, Images, Nocturnes - Ambrosian Ch/London SO/André Previn rec. 1979/1983 EMI CLASSICS GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY 3919672 [74:43] [SV] Plays to Previn’s strengths. 

François DEVIENNE (1759-1803) Trios - Mathieu Lussier (bassoon) Pascale Giguère (violin) Benoît Loiselle (viola) Jean-Louis Blouin (cello) rec. 2012 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2583 [65:38] [JV] This disc will most certainly appeal to lovers of the bassoon and many others who just love good musical entertainment.

Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYŃSKI (1807-1867) Monbar overture, Piano Concerto, Symphony 2 - Emilian Madey (piano) Polish Radio SO/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2009 CHANDOS CHAN 10778(2) [51:26 + 45:12] [JW] Something of worth though compositional value is variable.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Caterina Cornaro Carmen Giannattasio (soprano) Colin Lee (tenor) Troy Cook (baritone) BBC Singers, BBC SO/David Parry rec. 2011 OPERA RARA ORC 48 [61.36 + 54.24] [RJF] Well up to the usual Opera Rara high standards. Essential listening for lovers of this composer’s works.

Paul DUKAS (1865-1935) Ariane et Barbe-bleu Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, José van Dam, Patricia Bardon, O & Ch Gran Teatre del Liceu/Stéphane Denève rec. 2011 OPUS ARTE OA1098D [120:00] [ST] Definitely worth a look.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 9, A Heros Song - Bavarian RSO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2010-2012 BR KLASSIK 900116 [64:17] [MC] A triumph for Nelsons and it is hard to imagine finer performances of these scores.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Dream of Gerontius - Arthur Davies (tenor) Felicity Palmer (mezzo-soprano) Gwynne Howell (bass) London SO & Ch/Richard Hickox rec. 1988 CHANDOS CHAN 241-46 [56:32 + 57:57] [RMo] Stands as a fitting memorial to the late Richard Hickox. 

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Strike Up the Band - Overture, Rhapsody in Blue, Catfish Row - Suite from Porgy and Bess - Orion Weiss (piano) John Fullam (clarinet) Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2010-2012 NAXOS 8.559750 [54:21] [JWh] Disappointing. 

Gordon GETTY (b. 1933) Plump Jack - Lester Lynch (bass-baritone) Nicolai Schukoff (tenor) Melody Moore (soprano) Susanne Metzner (mezzo) Bavarian Radio Ch, Munich Radio O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2011 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC 5186 445 [75.34] [PCG] Some intermittently beautiful passages but be prepared for disappointment too. 

Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857) Chamber Music - Bolshoi Theatre Soloists, Natalia Shameyeva (solo harp) Igor Boguslavsky (viola) Anna Litvinenko (piano) rec. 1993 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94641 [56:22] [BR] An anthology from Glinka's early years, highlighted by his tributes to bel canto opera. 

Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Popol Vuh, Cantata para América Mágica - Rayanne Dupuis (soprano) Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, Ensemble_S, Schlagzeugensemble der Musikhochschule Köln, WDR SO Köln/Stefan Asbury rec. 2007 NEOS 10918 [49:46] [DM] Popol Vuh gets a first-rate performance; the cantata isn’t so fortunate.

Wilhelm GROSZ (1894-1939) Violin Sonata, Jazzband Louis GRUENBERG (1884-1964) Violin Sonata 2 - Christoph Schickedanz (violin) Dieter Lallinger (piano) rec. 2004 TELOS MUSIC TLS 135 [63:58] [MC] A quite splendid release … music that is lesser known yet of high quality. 

Jesús GURIDI (1886-1961) String Quartets - Bretón String Qt rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 8.573036 [55:15] Rodolfo HALFFTER (1900-1987) Chamber Music Vol. 3 - John Stokes (cello) Francisco José Segovia (piano) Bretón String Qt rec. 2007/08 NAXOS 8.572420 [63:59] [Byz] The calibre of music on both discs amply justifies the Bretón Quartet's faith in 20th-century composers from their country. 

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Suites for keyboard - Daria van den Bercken (piano) rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88765 418832 [67:56] [DC] A delicious disc to have around. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Esther - Susan Hamilton (soprano) Robin Blaze (alto) James Gilchrist (tenor) Matthew Brook (bass) Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2011 LINN RECORDS CKD 397 [65:31 + 34:11] [JV] The Dunedin Consort delivers a performance which is outstanding throughout. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Suites for Harpsichord - Vols 1 & 2 - Gilbert Rowland rec. 2010-2012 DIVINE ART DDA 21219/21220 [67:22 + 66:58] [Byz] In the best possible sense, Handel was never predictable. 

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809) Dans la bibliothèque des Esterházy Yasuko Uyama Bouvard (fortepiano, organ) HORTUS 098 [57:04] [JV] The pieces for a mechanical clock seem the most interesting part of this disc.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano sonatas - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6242 [70:41 + 73:02] [SG] Performances that do not disappoint.

Jennifer HIGDON (b.1962) Sky Quartet, Viola sonata, Dark Wood, String Trio - Serafin String Qt, Charles Abramovic (piano) Eric Stomberg (bassoon) rec. 2011/12 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559752 [75:42] [Byz] Higdon’s music has wide, almost democratic appeal.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Concerto for string orchestra, Elegy, Suite - Matthew Souter (viola) City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1992 CHANDOS CHAN 10780X [67.45] [PCG] Here is an original orchestral voice. Amid other influences the Howells fingerprints are always in evidence.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Sinfonietta, The Fiddler’s Child, The Ballad of Blaník, Taras Bulba - Prague RSO/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2012 SUPRAPHON SU 4131-2 [68:31] [LW] A Janáček programme attractive for the shorter works.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854 - 1928) Glagolitic Mass, Taras Bulba - Aga Mikolaj (soprano) Iris Vermillion (contralto) Stuart Neill (tenor) Arutjun Kotchinian (bass) Iveta Apkalna (organ) Berlin RSO & Ch/Marek Janowski rec. 2010-12 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC 5186 388 [64:35] [GF] At times truly thrilling. 

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Viola Sonata Pierre De BRÉVILLE (1861-1949) Viola Sonata Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939) Suite - Steven Dann (viola) James Parker (piano) rec. 2011 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2519 [66:13] [JW] A first-rate team who have done fine service to these three works.

Antonio LAURO (1917-1986) Música Volume 1 - Carlos Pérez (guitar) rec. 2006 PRODIMUS PDM 1030 [75:50] [ZT] A diverse sample of Antonio Lauro’s music superbly played by a master guitarist. 

Lowell LIEBERMANN (b.1961) Cello sonatas - Dmitri Atapine (cello) Adela Hyeyeon Park (piano) rec. 2011 BLUE GRIFFIN BGR255 [61:27] [Byz] A must for all admirers of great cello music, doubling up as a brilliant introduction to a composer still nowhere near as well known as he ought to be. 

Eurico Tomás de LIMA (1908-1989) Collected Works Vol. 2 - Miguel Campinho (piano) rec. 2012 NUMERICA NUM1249 [73:18 + 67:07] [JF] It is hard to imagine how I can have overlooked this composer.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) & Alma MAHLER (1879-1964) Transcriptions for choir a capella by Clytus Gottwald - SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Marcus Creed rec. 2012 CARUS 83.370 [63:41] [JW] Really splendid with singing at a high level of sensitivity and dynamic control.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 2 - Emilia Cundari (soprano) Maureen Forrester (alto) Westminster Ch; New York PO/Bruno Walter. rec. 1957/8 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 385 [79:40] [RMo] Whether you buy it on Pristine or CBS, this is an essential interpretation.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 7 - Berlin PO/Michael Gielen rec. 1994 TESTAMENT SBT 1480 [80:28] [DM] A good but rather uneven Seventh; no match for Gielen’s Hänssler version. 

Marin MARAIS (1656-1728) Folies - Philippe Pierlot, Rainer Zipperling (viola da gamba) Eduardo Egüez (theorbo) François Guerrier (harpsichord) rec. 2011 FLORA 2511 [78:27] [JV] Pierlot is one of the world's most exciting gambists - as amply demonstrated in this compelling recording.

Bohuslav MARTINU (1890-1959) Early Orchestral Works - Volume 1: Little Dance Suite, Nocturne, Village Feast Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson rec. 2012 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0156 [67:34] [BR] Czech impressionism! With all the joys and colours that implies. An hour of sheer satisfaction; treat yourself. 

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Werther - Roberto Alagna (tenor) Angela Georghiu (soprano) Thomas Hampson (baritone) Patricia Petibon (soprano) Tiffin Children's Ch, London SO/Antonio Pappano rec. 1998 EMI CLASSICS 3818492 [72:16 + 55:00] [TB] A leading contender sounding better than ever in this re-mastering but again no libretto.

David MATTHEWS (b.1943) Music for Piano - Laura Mikkola (piano) O Nova/George Vass rec. 2012 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0166 [56.26] [GH] Matthews - post-romantic but also very aware of his classical inheritance.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios 1 & 2 - Trio Alba rec. 2012 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 903 1793-6 [57:32] [MC] These vital and expressive performances by Trio Alba are a sheer delight.

Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) I due Figaro Eleanore Buratto (soprano) Mario Cassi (baritone) Annalisa Stroppa (mezzo) Antonio Poli (tenor) Luigi Cherubini Youth O/Riccardo Muti rec. 2011 DUCALE DUC045-47 [3 CDs: 166:24] [TB] A lively opera by a hugely talented master of the genre in good recorded sound and a spirited performance. 

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Les Huguenots Ghylaine Raphanel, Richard Leech, Boris Martinovich, Françoise Pollet, Montpellier PO/Cyril Diederich rec. 1988 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 66212-5 [4 CDs: 230.12] [PCG] This has been generally regarded as the better of the two full recordings but the balance of advantage is far from clear-cut.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1793) Great Piano Concertos EUROARTS 2001038 [4 DVDs: 394:00] [RB] A feast for the ears and eyes. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 15 & 20 - Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano) Stuttgart RSO/Antoine de Bavier rec. 1956 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5103 [54:24] [RM] If this recording were in slightly better sound with a more accomplished orchestra, it would be a first choice. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Oboe Quartet, Oboe Concerto, Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major - Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe) Lithuanian Chamber O/Leonid Ogrintchouk (piano) rec. 2011-2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2007 [55:52] [DC] A very fine package.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 21 & 22 Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 5 - NHK SO/Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano/conductor) rec. 1975/2004 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC 2058/9 [64:59 + 46:57] [SG] A profound rapport and respect is at work between conductor and players. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 12-14 (Chamber version) - Gottlieb Wallisch (piano) Piatti Quartet rec. 2012 LINN RECORDS CKD 424 [69:13] [DC] …With only a string quartet? Brain, stop griping and enjoy. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Requiem, Clarinet Concerto - Benjamin Dieltjens (basset clarinet) Namur Chamber Ch, New Century Baroque/Leonard Garcia Alarcón rec. 2012 AMBRONAY AMY 038 [65.40] [PCG] Lovers of period instruments will find much here to give pleasure.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartets 21 & 23 - Küchl Qt rec. 1975 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7267 [47:52] [RMo] Very little not to like about this disc.

A Vision of Eternity Otto OLSSON (1879-1964) Credo Symphoniacum Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Symphonie Romane - Georges Athanasiadès (organ) rec. 2011 TUDOR 7190 [77:58] [WK] Sincere and skilful, if not overly exciting performances of two contrasting organ symphonies. 

Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840) La Lanterna Magica Keiko Yamaguchi (violin) Rosario Conte (guitar) rec. 2012 CARPE DIEM CD-16297 [68:53] [JWh] Professionally delivered but far too cautious. 

C. Hubert H. PARRY (1848-1918) String Quartet 3; String Quintet - Bridge Qt, Robert Gibbs (viola) rec. 2013 EM RECORDS EMRCD016 [63:27] [JF] Moving and stimulating performances that exploit Parry’s intentions to a high degree. You will not be disappointed.

Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Stabat Mater - Thia Genova (soprano) Neli Bozhkova (mezzo) Bodra Smyana Manécanterie/Lilyana Bocheva, Studio Concertante/Vassil Kazandjiev rec. 1994 JADE 699785-2 [48:03] [GPJ] A singular and ultimately disappointing version of this charming choral work. 

Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Lo frate ’nnamorato Nicola Alaimo, Elena Belfiore, Patrizia Biccirè, Europa Galante/Fabio Biondo rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108 066 [160:00] [DBi] The string of successes from the 2011 Festival of the Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini goes on still further!

John PICKARD (b.1963) Piano Concerto, Sea-Change, Tenebrae Fredrick Ullén (piano) Norrköping SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2010/2011 BIS BIS-CD-1873 [74.02] [PCG] This CD is well worth a close listen.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) The Gambler - Sergei Aleksashkin, Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2010 MARIINSKY MAR0536 [126:00] [MC] Musically, this performance is very strong. 

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) String Quartets 1 & 2; Visions fugitives Quartetto Energie Nove rec. 2012 DYNAMIC CDS 726 [69.31] [PCG] I have not heard the currently available competitors but they cannot possibly be any better than this.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932) Symphonies 5, 6 & 19 - Marcel Beekman (tenor) Consensus Vocalis/Klaas Stok Netherlands SO/David Porcelijn rec. 2008 CPO 777 310-2 [61:02] [Byz] Symphonies that are melodious, stylistically colourful, conservatively dramatic, elegantly unpretentious.

Johann ROSENMÜLLER (1617/19-1684) Sonates - Ens Masques/Olivier Fortin rec. 2011 ATMA ACD2 2660 [72:11] Sonatas 1682 - Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson CPO 777 688-2 [67:59] [JV] Due to the different approaches these two discs are complementary rather than competitive.

Walter ROSS (b. 1936) Through The Reeds - Michal Sintal (oboe d'amore) Roman Mesina (bassoon) M. Turner (flute) Radka Kubrova (guitar) Igor Fabera (oboe) Adriana Antalova (harp) Slovak RSO/Kirk Trevor rec.2002 RAVELLO RECORDS RR7854 [69:00] [RB] Well worth seeking out if you have a taste for new intelligent melodic-dynamic music.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Stabat Mater - Helen Field (soprano) Della Jones (mezzo) Arthur Davies (tenor) Roderick Earle (bass) London Symphony Ch, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1989 CHANDOS CHAN10781X [59:37] [ST] This is a perfectly good recording of the Stabat Mater, and something you can be happy with at this bargain price.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La Cenerentola - Ruxandra Denose (mezzo) Maxim Mironov (tenor) Glyndebourne Fest Ch/O of the Age of Enlightenment/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2007 GLYNDEBOURNE GFOCD 018-07 [75.12 + 78.00] [PCG] The singing is really very good indeed. 

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Complete Overtures Vol. 2 - Prague Sinfonia O/Christian Benda rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.570934 [58:21] [JS] If you want more than the composer’s best known overtures this series would provide a very satisfactory way of obtaining them. 

Alec ROTH (b. 1948) Sometime I Sing Mark Padmore (tenor); Morgan Szymanski (guitar) rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD332 [65:37] [JQ] A delightful disc containing Music for Pleasure. Some highly accomplished and very imaginative music given superb performances. 

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Symphony 5, Dmitry Donskoy Overture, Faust George Enescu PO/Horia Andreescu rec. 1988 NAXOS 8.557005 [71.30] [PCG] Lacks the colour and variety of contemporary Russian composers such as Borodin or Rimsky-Korsakov

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Cello Concerto 2 Édouard LALO (1823-1892) Cello Concerto Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette Pieter Wispelwey (cello) Flanders SO/Seikyo Kim rec. 2012 ONYX 4107 [63:32] [MC] As distinguished as it is sensitive. 

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas - Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord) Michelangalo Carbonara (piano) Luigi Attademo (guitar) Godelieve Schrama (harp) Mie Miki (accordion) rec. 1997-2009 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94613 [5CDs: 5:03:50] [ZT] A unique and spell-binding adventure into the sonatas of Scarlatti.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas - Siempre Nuevo (Matêj Freml, Patrick Vacík (guitars)) rec. 2011 ARCODIVA UP 0154-2 131 [48:11] [GP] A disc of interest and value which also makes one think again about Scarlatti’s remarkable sonatas.

R Murray SCHAFER (b.1933) String Quartets 1-7 Quatuor Molinari rec. 1999/2000 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22188 [69:38 + 56:51]   String Quartets 8-12 Quatuor Molinari rec. 2002-13 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22672 [65:17 + 39:16] [Byz] Even Schafer’s more uncompromising material is entirely accessible and, with appropriate commitment, enjoyable. 

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Complete Original Works for Piano Duet and Duo Vol. 3 - Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2011/12 GRAND PIANO GP 623 [59:51] [DM] Enchanting repertoire, sensitively played and recorded; a must for all pianophiles.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Orchestral and Choral Music - Cologne RO & Ch, WDR SO/Peter Gülke rec. 1990s BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94237 [71:23 + 59:31] [RB] An inexpensive and handy set encapsulating Schreker's late-romantic and expressionist tendencies in smoke and flame.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Die schöne Müllerin Karol Kozłowski (tenor) Jolanta Pawlik (piano) rec. 2011 DUX 0588 [62:59] [GF] Beautiful, considered singing without exaggerations. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) / Wilhelm MÜLLER (1794-1827) Winterreise Xaver Hutter (narrator) Martin Rummel (cello) Norman Shetler (piano) rec. 2008 PALADINO PMR0018 [45:56 + 37:22] [JFL] Another curiosity-trophy happily added to my Winterreise collection. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus, Wanderer Fantasy Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Arabeske, Piano Sonata 1 - Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) rec. 1987 ICA CLASSICS ICAD 5101 [79:12] [SG] Devotees of Ashkenazy’s art, will be pleased with the release of this visual and aural document.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 8 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Leonore Overture 3; Symphony 2 - Berlin PO/Fritz Lehmann rec. 1952-54 MAGDALEN METCD 8020 [76:35] [JW] Overlooked Lehmann receives classy attention from Magdalen. 

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Piano Works Volume 2 - Caroline Weichert (piano) rec. 2012 GRAND PIANO GP631 [66:05] [SA] This is a fascinating disc of music that is rarely heard here lovingly played. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasiestücke, Blumenstück, Études symphoniques - Freddy Kempf (piano) rec. 2012 BIS-SACD-2010 [69:46] [DC] Yes, it really is that big.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony 40 Gerhard Oppitz (piano) NDR SO/Günter Wand rec. 1983/90 PROFIL EDITION PH13030 [57:07] [MC] Admirers of Wand’s conducting will be in their element. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony 4 Hans GÁL (1890-1987) Symphony 2 - O of the Swan/Kenneth Woods rec. 2011 AVIE RECORDS AV2232 [73:11] [SA] Woods has done the ‘music world’ of the 21st century a huge favour in making the Gál known to us.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Preludes - Javier Negrín (piano) rec. 012 ODRADEK 855317 003059 [63.48] [PCG] Not essential Scriabin but it is enjoyable enough. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 7 - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573057 [79:15] [JWh] I’m not a huge fan of the Leningrad but I will certainly return regularly to this CD. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartet 3 Samuel BARBER (1910-1981) String Quartet Adam POUNDS (b. 1954) String Quartet 2 - Bingham Qt rec. 2005 CAMBRIDGE RECORDINGS CAMREC001 [67:15] [JF] A good investment for any string quartet enthusiast.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Ten Poems on texts by Revolutionary Poets, Ten Russian Folk Songs - Ch Moscow Academy of Choral Art/Victor Popov Tatyana Kravchenko (piano) rec. 1998 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9414 [62:41] [SA] Wonderfully sung with a clarity that enables the music to weave its magic.

Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937) Sacred Songs - Kiev Chamber Ch/Mykola Hobdych rec. 2008 ECM NEW SERIES 2279 [74:55] [DM] Nourishing repertoire, ravishingly sung; a balm for the heart and soul.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Piano Works - Vols 5 & 6 - Jiktka Čechová (piano) rec. 2011-2012 SUPRAPHON SU3845/6-2 [77:41 & 76:17] [Byz] Čechová's attractively romantic pianism applies to melodious music to unwind to. 

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Josephslegende, Love scene from Feuersnot, Festmarsch Royal Scottish Ntl O/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5120 [70:38] [RMay] Any lover of Strauss’s orchestral music will certainly enjoy making its acquaintance in this welcome new release. 

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Pétrouchka, Le Sacre du Printemps - Ntl O France/Daniele Gatti rec. 2011 SONY CLASSICAL 88725 442552 [69:54] [JQ] Gatti reveals a lot about these great scores but doesn’t by any means have the last word on either.

Joseph SUMMER Shakespeare’s Memory Kalmia Qt; Miroslav Sekera (piano) Andrea Chenoweth, Maria Ferrante (sopranos) Kellie Van Horn (mezzo) Justin Vickers (tenor) Chad Sloan (baritone) Lydie Martelove (harp) rec. 2002/11 NAVONA NV5899 [61.32] [GH] An intriguing concept but I do have a few reservations. 

Dobrinka TABAKOVA (b.1980) String Paths Kristina Blaumane (cello) Maxim Rysanov (viola, conductor) Janine Jansen (violin) Torleif Thedéen (cello) Lithuanian CO rec. 2011  ECM NEW SERIES 2239 [72:22] [SA] This disc is full of music to delight and wonder at. 

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Rare Transcriptions and Paraphrases - Vol. 2: Music from the Ballets - Anthony Goldstone (piano) rec. 2011 DIVINE ART DDA25106 [75:55] [NB] A disc of real quality and one bound to give great pleasure to all - guilty or otherwise.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Orchestral Suites - Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin rec. 1997-2001 HARMONIA MUNDI HMG 508396.97 [71:05 + 79:50] [JV] This set hardly can fail to entertain.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un Ballo in Maschera - Francesco Meli, Vladimir Stoyanov, Kristin Lewis, Elisabetta Fiorillo, O & Ch Teatro Regio di Parma/Gianluigi Gelmetti rec. 2011 C MAJOR 724304 [138.00] [DBi] A top class production of Un Ballo in Maschera which satisfies in all respects.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Luisa Miller - Fiorenza Cedolins (soprano) Marcelo Álvares (tenor) O & Ch of the Teatro Regio of Parma/Donato Renzetti rec. 2007 C MAJOR 722808 [157.00] [PCG] If you don't care about the incessant vibrato of the singers you probably will greatly enjoy these performances. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Simon Boccanegra Leo Nucci (baritone) Tamar Iveri (soprano) Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass) Simone Piazzola (baritone) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Parma/Daniele Callegari rec. 2010 C MAJOR 724104 [137:00 +11:00 bonus] [RJF] An adequate performance and staging, but not up to the standard of the recent Rigoletto in this series.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Attila - Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) Vladislav Sulimsky (baritone) Anna Markarova (soprano) Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2010 MARIINSKY MAR0534 [106:00] [ST] An excellent performance. Don’t be scared to give it a try.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Otello (highlights) rec. 1914-1961 MAGDALEN METCD 8019 [77:17] [ST] I will be returning to it again and again.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff - Donald Gramm (bass) Kay Griffel (soprano) Nucci Condò (alto) Benjamin Luxon (baritone) Glyndebourne Festival Ch, London PO/Sir John Pritchard rec. 1976 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 315 [123.00] [PCG] This production must be counted among the best.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Sacred Verdi Quattro pezzi sacri, Libera me - Donika Mataj (soprano) Maria Agresta (soprano) Ch & O Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2012-2013 WARNER CLASSICS 9845242 [56:55] [MC] Intensely cohesive and deeply reverential. High in sacred drama. Thrilling listening.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Scenes from the operas, Wesendonck Lieder - Astrid Varnay (soprano) Bavarian RSO, Bamberg SO/Leopold Ludwig, Hermann Weigert, Ferdinand Leitner rec. 1954/59 ELOQUENCE 480 7283 [80:37 + 80:38] [MC] Varnay’s Wagner is always an exciting prospect and this double set certainly does her proud. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der fliegende Holländer - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Marianne Schech (soprano) Gottlob Frick (bass) Fritz Wunderlich (tenor) Berlin State Opera Ch, Berlin Staatskappelle/Franz Konwitschny rec. 1960 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94664 [73.43 + 66.28] [PCG] One can commend this set to fans of Fischer-Dieskau, Frick or Wunderlich but it will not do as a version for the library shelf.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der fliegende Holländer - Franz Grundheber (baritone) Hildegard Behrens (soprano) Raimo Sirkiä (tenor) Matti Salminen (bass) Savonlinna Festival Ch & O/Leif Segerstam rec. 1989 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 647608 [139.00] [PCG] If you want a production which sticks closely to Wagner’s original scenario, this is your only option and it’s not a bad one.   

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Hans Knappertsbusch Conducts Wagner - Vienna PO rec. 1950-59 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7093 [79:12 + 75:16] [GPJ] Classic Wagner from one of the very greatest Bayreuth maestros. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Arias from the operas - Jess Thomas (tenor) Berlin PO/Walter Born, Herbert von Karajan rec. 1962-69 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON ELOQUENCE 480 7065 [71.19]  [PCG] The performances here have a value of their own which makes their reissue most desirable. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde Torsten Kerl, Anja Kampe, Sarah Connolly, London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2009 GLYNDEBOURNE GF0CD 019-09 [3 CDs: 227.09] [PCG] One would certainly have enjoyed this performance immensely in the opera house, but for home listening without the benefit of the stage presence one might look elsewhere.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - René Kollo (tenor) Gwyneth Jones (soprano) Hanna Schwarz (mezzo) Robert Lloyd (bass) Ch & O Deutsche Oper Berlin/Jiři Kout rec. 1993 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 317 [84.32 + 148.28] [PCG] Just how very great a singer Gwyneth Jones could be when things went right. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen Ch & O Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1950 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 089-093 [13 CDs:13:55:40] [RMo] Wagnerians everywhere have reason to be grateful to Pristine for resurrecting these justly celebrated performances. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Transcriptions from Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg & Parsifal Zoltan Kocsis (piano) rec. 1980 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7401 [44:28] [SG] Kocsis delivers a captivating programme of Wagner transcriptions by both himself and Liszt. 

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der Freischütz Christine Brewer, Simon O’Neill, Lars Woldt, LSO/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0726 [64:20 + 58:23] [GF] A laid-back and lyrical Der Freischütz.

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Organ Symphonies 1 & 2 - Joseph Nolan (organ) rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD319 [78:09] [DC] This looks like shaping up to be the Widor Organ Symphonies cycle of the decade.

The Belyayev Project - Works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Lyadov & Blumenfeld - Miki Aoki (piano) Andrey Baranov (violin) Alexey Zhilin (cello) rec. 2013 PROFIL EDITION PH12033 [73:50] [MC] Containing both celebrated and unfamiliar works this CD proves a great success: enjoyable from start to finish.

British Music for Oboe and Strings - Works by Britten, Joubert, Leighton, McCabe & McDowall - Jinny Shaw (oboe) O Nova/George Vass; Sara Trickey (violin) Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) Bozidar Vukotic (cello) rec. 2011 GUILD GMCD 7383 [77.24] [GH] Another fascinating and generously filled Guild disc showcasing some quite intimate and diverse works that add wonderfully to the repertoire. 

Anthony Burgess: The Man and his Music Works by Burgess, Marshall, Rawsthorne & others - John Turner (recorders) Harvey Davies (piano) rec. 2012 METIER MSV77202 [69:43 + 53:45] [JF] A major success. I am totally impressed.

Chaconne Ida Haendel (violin) Yukari Arai, Walter Delahunt (piano) rec. 2008 RCA RED SEAL 88883 744502 [69:59] [SG] Ida Haendel at the age of eighty - one can only say ‘Great Lady, Great Violinist’.

The Edison Legacy Vol. 2 MARSTON 53014-2 [3 CDs: 232:30] [JW] An outstanding historic retrieval of major interest to vocal collectors.

Electrola Retrospect Schöne Nacht, du Liebesnacht EMI CLASSICS 9283032 [7 CDs: 368:38] Mir ist die Ehre widerfahren EMI CLASSICS 9283242 [7 CDs: 398:39] Rudolf Schock - Original Opera Highlights 1952-61 EMI CLASSICS 9283112 [10 CDs: 562:30] Edda Moser - Electrola Recitals, Opera and Lieder EMI CLASSICS 9282812 [9 CDs: 510:40] [JW] A lot of CDs with much to interest, entertain and on which to ponder.

Elegiac Stories Josef SUK (1874-1935) Elegy Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Piano Trio Sylvie BODOROVÁ (b.1954) Prefigurations Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Piano Quartet - Eben Trio rec. 2012 ARCODIVA UP 0143 2 211 [54:56] [SA] I’m sure we will hear more from these talented musicians. 

The English Oboe: Rediscovered Works by Vaughan Williams, Holst, Rubbra, M Berkeley, Casken, Longstaff & Walmisley - James Turnbull (oboe/cor anglais), Libby Burgess (piano), Matthew Featherstone (flute), Dan Shilladay (viola) rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD051 [68:34] [DJ] This is a splendid release.

Entr’acte Works by Rameau, Fauré, Satie & others - Dinah Pounds (flute) Adam Pounds (guitar) CAMBRIDGE RECORDINGS CAMR005 [60:00] [JF] My impression of this CD was a wee bit mixed.

Exiles' Café Lara Downes (piano) rec. 2012 STEINWAY & SONS 30016 [60:00] 90016 [29:48] [Byz] An abundance of unhurried, lilting charm.

Insects, Bugs and Other Species - Ensemble Clarinettissimo rec. 2011 ORLANDO OR 0004 [75:30] [Byz] A low retail price will not tip the balance, because there isn't one. Sound quality is very good, though.

In the South Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Italian Serenade Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Crisantemi Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) String Quartet Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949) La oración del torero Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Four, for Tango Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) From 24 Capricci - Brodsky Qt rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10761 [66:02] [GF] An attractive buy for string quartet lovers-in particular those with a taste for Mediterranean sun.

The Klemperer Legacy Twentieth Century Music - EMI CLASSICS 4044012 [4 CDs: 271:59] [PCG] Not just a matter of superlative playing but also of deeply-felt involvement. 

Rafael Kubelík Complete Masterpieces rec. 1948-59 DOCUMENTS 600038 [10 CDs: 555:17] [JS] An admirable introduction to the work of one of the most humane and instinctively musical conductors of his time.

Landscapes Works by Torke, Ticheli & Copland - Ji Hye Jung (marimba) Steve Leisring (trumpet) Margaret Marco (English horn) Kansas U Wind Ens/Paul W. Popiel rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573104 [59:44] [SA] A most enjoyable hour of gorgeous music.

Lord of the Proms - Unique recordings of the great British conductor Sir Adrian Boult DOCUMENTS 600045 [10 CDs: 6:14:39] [NB] Presentation is an issue again but for the music alone there is much to appeal here. 

Musica al tempo del Guercino e dei suoi allievi - Works by Monteverdi, Stradella, Bononicini, Legrenzi and others Alena Dantcheva (soprano) Michele Andalò (alto) Animantica/Saverio Villa rec. 2010 STRADIVARIUS STR33932 [43:56] [JV] Strongly gestural performances of 17th-century Italian music - the only disappointment is the short playing time. 

My Heart is Like a Singing Bird Song settings of poetry by Christina Rossetti - Elisabetta Paglia (mezzo) Elena Lunghi (horn) Christopher Howell (piano) rec. 2012 SHEVA SH076 [59:41] [JF] A fascinating CD presenting a splendid selection of English Song. 

Mystery Variations on Giuseppe Colombi’s Chiacona Anssi Karttunen (cello) rec. 2011-12 TOCCATA TOCC 0171 [79:57] [JW] Vital, various and played with astonishing command of idioms, this is a beacon of new music for the solo cello.

Nureyev as Dancer and Choreographer Léon MINKUS (1826-1917) Don Quixote, La Bayadère Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - O de l’Opéra National de Paris/Vello Päh rec. 1972-95 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 646990 [3 discs: 406:00] [RMay] Nureyev’s legacy deserves somewhat better recognition than is offered by this particular box set.

Over Hill, Over Dale English works for strings by Elgar, Arnold, Ireland, Purcell & others Chamber Ensemble of London/Peter Fisher rec. 2012/13 EM RECORDS EMR CD017 [69.33] [PCG] A most enjoyable recital of some generally unfamiliar English string music. The Darke Fantasy is a real discovery.  

Le Piano Français Jean RIVIER (1896-1987) Concerto Brève Robert CASADESUS (1899-1972) Capriccio Jean WIENER (1896-1982) Concerto 1 Jacques CASTEREDE (b.1928) Concerto - Timon Altwegg (piano) Toulouse CO/Gilles Colliard rec. 2012 GUILD GMCD 7391 [68:59] [Byz] Altwegg is formidable in this would-be-should-be repertoire.

Piano Phantoms Works by Schumann, Grieg, Bolcom & others - Michael Lewin (piano) rec. 2012 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92168 [65:56] [JF] Fabulous - a delight for anyone who has wondered about ‘scary’ music. 

My precious manuscript - Fantastic sonatas from England to Germany - La Sainte Folie Fantastique rec. 2012 ALPHA 191 [67:01] [JV] This highly captivating programme is performed with great dedication by the artists. 

Recorder Fireworks - John Turner (recorders) Ian Thompson (harpsichord) rec. 2011 PRIMA FACIE PFCD010 [73:30] [GPJ] A CD of recorder and harpsichord music, performed with outstanding musicality and technique by two masters of their instruments.

The Romantic Cello Volumes 1 & 2 - Philip Handy (cello) Robert Markham (piano) rec. 2011-2012 VIF RECORDS VRCD076/082 [66:45 & 60:20] [JF] I enjoyed all the music on these two CDs: taken as a pair they make an excellent compendium. 

The Rose Tree - Music in Memory of Basil Deane Works by Hedges, Poston, Joubert & Poole - Lesley-Jane Rogers (soprano) Richard Simpson (oboe) Richard Howarth (violin) Jonathan Price (cello) Ian Thompson (harpsichord and piano) rec. 2010 PRIMA FACIE PFCD005 [68:40] [JF] Superb. I was impressed by virtually every work. 

Sonograms Works by Pärt, Steffens, Xenakis & others - Benedikta Bonitz (recorders), Ventzislav Kindalov (bass recorder) rec. 1974-97 LABOR RECORDS LAB 7090 [78:11] [SA] Anyone interested in contemporary music will find much to enjoy here.

Tell Me The Truth About Love Songs by Brahms, Britten, Wolf & others - Amanda Roocroft (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2011 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD 040 [76.00] [PCG] An imaginatively constructed recital.

Trois siècles d’orgue Olivier Latry (organ) Emmanuel Clark, Florent Jodolet (percussion) rec. 2013 NAÏVE RECORDS V5338 [77:00] [DC] Go on, treat yourself. 

Variation Amrywiad John Hosking (organ) rec. 2012 REGENT RECORDS REGCD402 [76:56] [HPR] A mouth-watering array of sounds and styles executed on a surprisingly versatile instrument.

A Violin’s Life Music for the ‘Lipiński’ Stradivari - Works by Tartini, Röntgen, Schumann & Lipinski - Frank Almond (violin) William Wolfram (piano) rec. 2012 AVIE AV2279 [67:37] [JW] For those keen to hear the sound of the ‘Lipiński’. 

16th Century Music for Viols Works by Tallis, Dowland & others - Fretwork, The Rose Consort of Viols REGIS RRC1333 [66:43] [JV] This disc could serve as an introduction to the genre of English consort music.

Sir Henry Wood - Volume 2 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) A Midsummer Night’s Dream overture Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Finlandia Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concerto 6 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) 1812 Overture - New Queen’s Hall O rec. 1926-34 HISTORIC RECORDS HRCD00028 [73:04] [JW] Those who want to fill gaps in their Wood collections will enjoy this astute selection.

Other reviews

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Explorations Peter Bassett (speaker) DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 7311 [4 CDs: 257:28] Springs from a deep love and familiarity and a desire to communicate the richness of this music accessibly to a wider public. 

Songs from America’s Heartland Mormon Tabernacle Ch & O/Jerold Ottley rec. 1990 ABC CLASSICS 480 7778 [61:57] [JW] A popular, pleasing recital now getting on for a quarter-of-a-century old. 

Articles & notices

Download News 2013/11 by Brian Wilson

A discography of Vaughan Williams's symphonies prepared by Mike Herman (an extract from his British symphonies discography)