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February 28th

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203 reviews completed so far this month.

Thursday February 28th

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurkas Russell Sherman (piano) rec. 2007 AVIE 2262 [66:43 + 59:08] [BR]

Are these eccentric readings of the Chopin mazurkas interesting? Yes, they are. Are they good? I can’t be sure.

Jean-Frédéric EDELMANN (1749 - 1794) Sonatas Sylvie Pécot-Douatte (harpsichord, fortepiano) rec. 1998, PHAIA MUSIC PHU012.14 [3 CDs: 213:27] [JV]

Edelmann's sonatas are well worth investigating but this set has serious production errors.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Einstein on the Beach (highlights) Documentary: The Changing Image of Opera Philip Glass Ensemble rec. 1984 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0083 [77:00 + DVD 58:00] [KM]

If you care about Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach you simply must get this if only for the DVD documentary.

Joseph HAYDN (1732 - 1809) Die Jahreszeiten, Die Schöpfung Helen Donath (soprano) Adalbert Kraus (tenor) Kurt Widmer (bass) Süddeutsches Madrigalchor, Ludwigsburger Festspiele O/Wolfgang Gönnenwein BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94384 [4 CDs: 248:08] [GF]

As a first recording of the two oratorios one could feel satisfied with Gönnenwein but others are to be preferred. 

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Sonata, Three Petrarch Sonnets Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) Goyescas: El amor y la muerte Domenico Codispoti (piano) rec. 2011 ODRADEK 855317 003035 [62.10] [PCG]

An excellent pianist one would look forward to encountering in different repertoire which could be enjoyed without invidious comparisons. 

Jean RICHAFORT (c.1480-after 1547) Requiem Huelgas Ensemble/Paul van Nevel HARMONIA MUNDI HMA1951730 [60:53] [BW]

An attractive reissue at an attractive price.

Kurt ROHDE Chamber Music Axel Strauss (violin) Genevieve Feiwen Lee (piano) Ellen Ruth Rose, Kurt Rohde (violas) Left Coast Chamber Ens/Matilda Hofman, Empyrean Ens/Mary Chun INNOVA 839 [76:28] [DC]

Comes up with the goods. 

Glenn Gould - The Schwarzkopf Tapes Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Drei Lieder der Ophelia, Burleske Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) Glenn Gould (piano) Toronto SO/Vladimir Golschmann rec. 1955-1988 SONY CLASSICAL 88725441362 [56:37] [JQ]

This issue is strictly for Gould completists. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) The Verdi Opera Selection - Vol. 1: Il Trovatore, Don Carlos & Rigoletto rec. 1978-2006 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107524 [4 DVDs: 526:00] [RJF]

These three productions represent the ancient and the more modern, even outlandish! At the price they represent good value even if you throw one away. 

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Symphonies 6 & 7 São Paulo SO/Isaac Karabtchevsky rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573043 [68:18] [Byz]

Works that are grandly romantic and atmospheric, bursting with drama, local colour and international appeal.


Wednesday February 27th

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Billy Budd John Mark Ainsley (tenor)London PO/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2010 GLYNDEBOURNE GFOCD 017-10 [3 CDs: 164:06] [PCG]

Despite the many virtues of this new set the Hickox Chandos version is to be preferred.

Ernesto LECUONA (1895-1963) Piano music Clara Rodríguez (piano) rec. 2004 NIMBUS NI6214 [66:54] [JW]

Clara Rodríguez’s Lecuona selection is as fine as anyone’s.

John McCABE (b. 1939) Visions Iain Farrington (organ) BBC Singers/David Hill rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.573053 [71:49] [JF]

An eye-opening exploration of a facet of McCabe’s music otherwise little represented.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Arias & lieder Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Ch & O Deutschen Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles DDD DECCA 478 5189 [74:21] [JPr]

Kaufmann is intelligent enough to leave these intense, stamina-sapping and vocally demanding roles to those born to sing them.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Carl Maria von WEBER (1786 - 1826) Violin sonatas, Piano quartet Isabelle Faust (violin) Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano) Boris Faust (viola) Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt (cello) rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902108 [70:11][MS]

Music as full of substance as it is energy and nuance performed with style and sensitivity on period instruments.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The WaspsAristophanic Suite, Fantasia on Greensleeves Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations Kansas City SO/Michael Stern rec. 2011 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-129 [61:06] [JQ]

A most enjoyable disc. Fine performances and superb sound.

Chicago Moves Gaudete Brass rec. 2012 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR 90000 136 [63:00] [BR]

An excellent introduction to the latest in brass quintet music. I hope there is more to come from these composers and performers.

Energico Works by Paganini, Takemitsu, Llobet & Boyle Marco Ramelli (guitar) rec. 2012 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6218 [58:48] [SA]

A young guitarist about whom I’m sure we’ll hear a great deal more.

A European Odyssey London Schubert Players and friends rec. 2010-11 various locations NIMBUS NI6195 [3 CDs: 226:56] [JW]

Despite the odd looking package I’m glad I listened.

Irvin_Epoque Irvin Venyš (clarinet), Epoque Qt, David Pavelka (bass) rec. 2011 ARCO DIVA UP 0147-2 131 [56:25] [JW]

A handful of works by Czech and Slovak composers across two generations with three works from the Americas.


Tuesday February 26th

Alexander BERNE (b. 1969) Self Referentials - Vols 1 & 2 Alexander Berne and the Abandoned Orchestra INNOVA 838 [54:38 + 44:55] [DC]

A remarkable journey.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 8, The Golden Spinning Wheel, Scherzo Capriccioso Malaysian PO/Claus Peter Flor rec. 2010-2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1976 [79:28] [TB]

With imaginatively chosen couplings, this strong performance of Dvořák's Symphony No. 8 is well worth hearing. 

Jewish Spirits Osvaldo GOLIJOV (b.1960) The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Jewish Life, Abodah Michel Lethiec (clarinet) Itamar Golan (piano) Artis Quartet rec. 2008-2011 SAPHIR PRODUCTIONS LVC 1175 [47:32] [SA]

An opportunity to get to know the magic of klezmer in a classical music framework. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Organ Concertos Vol. 2 Paolo Grazzi (oboe) La Davina Armonia/Lorenzo Ghielmi (organ) rec. 2012 PASSACAILLE PAS990 [74:16] [BW]

This impressed me greatly right out of the box. 

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778 - 1837) Violin Sonatas Michael Jarvis (fortepiano), Paul Luchkow (violin, viola) rec. 2011 MARQUIS MAR 81419 [62:53] [JV]

Intimate and sensitive performances of three sonatas by Hummel. 

Alla PAVLOVA (b.1952) Symphonies 7 & 8 Saule Rinkeviciute (violin) Lithuanian State Symphony/Gintaras Rinkevičius rec. 2012 NAXOS 9.70183 [54:19] [RB]

Have you given up on modern symphonies as sources of melodic reward? Pavlova will restore your faith. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Oberto Giovanni Parodi (bass) Francesca Sassu (soprano) Fabio Sartori (tenor) O Ch of the Teatro Regio, Parma/Antonello Allemandi rec. 2007 C MAJOR 720104 [124:00 + 10:00] [RJF]

In the intimate setting of the small theatre in Verdi’s hometown, in period costume znd with simple sets, this performance and staging have many virtues. 

Leo Blech Overtures and Dances London SO rec. 1931 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 354 [77:48] [JW]

Blech as conductor unshackled from the confining best accompanist role. 

Lieder zur Weihnacht in der Dresdner Frauenkirche Peter Schreier (tenor), Hansjorg Albrecht (piano, organ) rec. 2000 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300428BC [61:64] [MC]

Schreier sounds fresh and spontaneous, demonstrating a fine feeling for the texts. 

Miserere A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and The Annunciation Ch of Westminster Cathedral/Martin Baker Peter Stevens (organ) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67938 [79:15] [JQ]

A beautifully performed, discerningly chosen programme. 


Monday February 25th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion Ian Bostridge (tenor) Neal Davies (bass) Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Roderick Williams (bass) Polyphony; O Age of Enlightenment/Stephen Layton rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67901/2 [53:45 + 64:25] [JQ]

This desirable new recording deserves a place in the front rank. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Overture A Midsummer Night’s Dream Chicago SO/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1971 ICA CLASSICS ICAD 5089 [68:00] [CF]

Warmth, romanticism, love and tenderness. 

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Tara Hugo sings Philip Glass Tara Hugo (mezzo) various accompanists, Trevor Gureckis (conductor/pianist) rec. 2012 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM 0084 [50:41] [MC]

Those who enjoy the music of Philip Glass should not hesitate. 

Andrés ISASI (1890-1940) String Quartets 0 & 2 Isasi Qt rec. 2010 NAXOS SPANISH CLASSICS 8.572463 [55:00] [Byz]

Elegance, wistfulness, folk influences, memorable melodies, minor keys and a lack of pretentiousness. 

David JENNINGS (b.1972) Piano Sonata, Sonatinas 1-3, Prelude and Fugue, Three Lyrical Pieces, Miniature Suite, Harvest Moon Suite James Willshire (piano) rec. 2012 DIVINE ART DDA 25110 [78:10] [JW]

A composer admirably equipped in writing for the piano. 

Daniel PURCELL (c.1670-1717) The Unknown Purcell - Sonatas David Pollock (harpsichord) Hazel Brooks (violin) rec. 2011 CHANDOS CHAN 0795 [75:32] [JV]

This project of putting Daniel Purcell into the spotlight has turned into a rather tame affair. 

Johann STRAUSS I (1804-1849) Strauss Edition - Vol. 22 Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina/Christian Pollack rec. 2011 MARCO POLO 8.225342 [78:09] [Byz]

It is hard to object to such effortlessly tuneful and jauntily rhythmic music. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un giorno di regno Guido Loconsolo (baritone) Andrea Porta (buffa bass) Anna Caterina Antonacci (mezzo) Ch & O Teatro Reggio, Parma/Donato Renzetti rec. 2010 C MAJOR 720304 [119:00 +10:00 (bonus)] [RJF]

A joy to watch and to hear. An absolute must for all Verdi lovers. 

Israel Philharmonic 75th Anniversary Concert Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concerto 1, Scherzo 2 Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Poème Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 8 Julian Rachlin, Vadim Repin (violin) Evgeny Kissin (piano) Israel PO/Zubin Mehta rec. 2011 EUROARTS 2059098 [concert: 95:00; documentary: 52:00] [DC]

A celebration and a warm invitation. 

Russian Trumpet Concertos by Arutiunian, Vasilenko, Shakhov, Goedicke & Böhme Reinhold Friedrich (trumpet) Göttingen SO/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2011/12 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 901 1770-6 [61:26] [SA]

A little box of absolute delights with a real power to surprise. 


Friday February 22nd

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1826) / Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Symphonies 1 & 6 (transcr. for piano) Gabriele Baldocci (piano) rec. 2012 DYNAMIC CDS 731 [71:10] [Byz]

Should entertain and satisfy in equal measure.

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von BIBER (1644 - 1704) Mystery Sonatas Julia Wedman (violin), Felix Deak (cello, viola da gamba), Lucas Harris (archlute, theorbo), Julia Seager Scott (harp), Charlotte Nediger (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2010 DORIAN SONO LUMINUS DSL-92127 [73:26 + 55:20] [JV]

Certainly not middle-of-the-road.

Josquin DESPREZ (1440-1521) Psalm Settings Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2009 CPO 777 588-2 [70:26] [MS]

Beautiful singing of colourful and charged Psalm settings - a winner.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Horn Concertos 1 & 2; Divertimento Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Romance for Horn and String Quartet; Adagio and allegro molto for Horn and Trombone Jasper de Waal (horn) Concertgebouw CO/Henk Rubingh rec. 2009 CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSSA30210 [55:00] [BW]

If the coupling suits, go ahead - but consider alternative couplings.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) Sinfonye/Stevie Wishart rec. 2012 DECCA 476 5117 [52:36] [DC]

Nice moments, but something of a halfway house.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH  Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, Royal Opera House O/Antonio Pappano rec. 2011 EMI CLASSICS 4040639 [120:00] [JQ]

A stunningly good account of Puccini’s “shabby little shocker”. Bravo!

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) L’occasione fa il ladro Elizaveta Martirosyan, Fanie Antonelou, Württemberg PO/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2005 NAXOS 8.660314-15 [45:22 + 42:11] [GF]

A lovely opera well served by the performers.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Complete Works for Piano Pina Napolitano (piano) rec. 2011 ODRADEK 855317003004 [55.09] [PCG]

Communicates the “expressive and romantic force” of the music.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier Cheryl Barker, Catherine Carby, Manfred Hemm, Opera Australia/Andrew Litton rec. 2010 OPERA AUSTRALIA OPOZ56026DVD [200:48] [TB]

This live recording recaptures the atmosphere of what must have been a special occasion.

Gino Marinuzzi Opera Overtures and Intermezzi O del Teatro alla Scala/Gino Marinuzzi rec. 1936-42 PREISER PR93486 [78:45] [JW]

Marinuzzi should be far better known than he is.


Click for alphabetical listings by composer:
[Part 1 New] [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L] [Part 4 M-R] [Part 5 S-Z] [Part 6 Misc A-L] [Part 7 Misc M-Z]
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