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RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652) Miserere Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Stabat Mater, Missa Papae Marcelli, Tu es Petrus Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 2005 GIMELL GIMBD641 [CD + BD-A: 76:00] [DM] Gimell’s first BD-A is a resounding success; a landmark in every way.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Katherine Watson (soprano) Iestyn Davies (countertenor) James Gilchrist (tenor) Mathew Brook (bass) Ch of Trinity College Cambridge, O Age of Enlightenment/Stephen Layton rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68031/2 [79:31 + 72:18] [JQ] A stylish and committed performance that renews again one’s awe at the genius of Bach.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 28-32 - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICS 88883 703872 [63:09 + 66:01] [DC] Beethoven 2.11, a remarkable reboot for the 21st century.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano concertos 1 & 2 - Hélène Grimaud (piano) Bavarian RSO, Vienna PO/Andris Nelsons DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1058 [50:38 + 51:44] [DJB] Stands proudly above all others … except one.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Litanies de la Vierge - Motets for the House of Guise - Ens Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé rec. 2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902169 [60:33] [JV] This disc is a treasure because of the repertoire and the performances.

Petr EBEN (1929-2007) Chamber Music for Oboe - Marlen Vavříková (oboe) Radana Foltýnová (piano) Ivana Dohnalová (harp) Václav Vonášek (bassoon) Grand Valley Winds rec. 2013 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0195 [78:54] [SA] Magnificent … as much a tribute to oboist Vavříková as it is to composer Eben.

Georges ENESCU (1881-1955) Allegro, Cello sonatas - Valentin Radutiu (cello) Per Rundberg (piano) rec. 2013 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.021 [46:35 + 41:28] [SG] These are richly rewarding works, beautifully realized. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Famous Choruses from Messiah - Barock Vokal, Mainz Neumeyer Consort/Michael Hofstetter rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 884 [54:28] [JB] An absolutely exquisite performance, and a must-have for any collection - brava!

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete Works for Viola Vol. 1 - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Deutsche SO Berlin/Hans Graf rec. 2012 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR010 [79:59] [MC] Heartfelt passion and a robust edge blow away the cobwebs and bring these works very much to life.

Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948) Giuditta Edda Moser, Nicolai Gedda, Martin Finke, Günter Wewel - Münchner Konzertchor & Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Willi Boskovsky rec. 1983/84 EMI 6150902 [57.56 + 71.17] [IL] An impressive and expressive Giuditta.

Luca MARENZIO (1553-1599) Primo Libro di Madrigali a cinque voce - La Campagnia del Madrigale rec. 2010/11 GLOSSA GCD922802 [67.37] [GH] Passionate, beautifully balanced with perfect intonation and clear diction. Superb.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies 35 & 38 - Danish Natl CO/Adam Fischer rec. 2012 DACAPO 6.220545 [53:05] [MG] A fresh perspective on chamber orchestra Mozart symphonies.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte Alfred Reiter, Norman Reinhardt, Ana Durlovski, Dénise Beck, Daniel Schmutzhard - Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Patrick Summers rec. 2013 C MAJOR 713708 [150:00] [JWh] A simply brilliant Magic Flute.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots Allan Clayton (tenor) Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Sophie Bevan (soprano), Orchestra of Classical Opera/Ian Page rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGCD343 [52:52 + 31:50] [JS] A remarkable demonstration of the very considerable virtues of the composer’s very early works.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto 3 Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Concerto 2 - Lang Lang (piano) Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 732262 [60:40] [MC] Stunning performances of real gravitas.

John TAVERNER (c.1490-1545) Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, Magnificats - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM045 [79:03] [JQ] An exceptionally fine disc and a fitting celebration of the fortieth anniversary of The Tallis Scholars. 

Peteris VASKS (b. 1946) Flute Concerto, Sonata for flute and alto flute solo, Aria e danza, Landscape with Birds - Michael Faust (flute, alto flute) Sheila Arnold (piano) Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/Patrick Gallois rec. 2010/12 NAXOS 8.572634 [64:55] [SA] A wonderful disc of the most compelling music.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) On Wenlock Edge; Ten Blake Songs Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959) The End Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) The Curlew - Mark Padmore (tenor) Nicholas Daniel (oboe/cor anglais) Huw Watkins (piano) Britten Sinfonia/Jacqueline Shave rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807566 [72:35] [JQ] One of the finest discs of English song to have come my way in a long time. I urge you to hear it.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Three impressions for orchestra, Songs of Travel, Four hymns, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Prelude on an old carol tune Roland Wood (baritone) Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Daniel ALBION RECORDS ALBCD016 [60:28] [DJB] This is a major undertaking by Albion Records, and deserves to succeed as it is a triumph.

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) Tenebrae Responsories Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD344 [72:01] [JB] The sheer beauty and power here almost defy description.

Arias for Caffarelli Franco Fagioli (counter-tenor) Il pomo d’oro/Riccardo Minasi rec. 2012 NAÏVE V5333 [78:00] [GF] Masterly, masterly, masterly.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1786) Empfindsamkeit! Symphonies & Concertos - Alfredo Bernardini (oboe) Christian Kjos (harpsichord) Barokkanerne rec. 2012 LAWO CLASSICS LWC 1038 [58:00] [BR] After two centuries of neglect, CPE Bach is coming into his own. As long as the albums are this good, it’s great news.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sacred Cantatas Vol. 55 - Hana Blažíková (soprano) Robin Blaze (counter-tenor) Gerd Türk (tenor) Peter Kooij (bass) Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2031 [67:14] [DJB] One of the most important recording projects of the last few decades reaches its triumphant conclusion.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Michael Tsalka (clavichord) rec. 2012 PALADINO PMR0032 [67:07] [JB] A refreshing, exquisite balance between academic literature and master musicianship. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos 1-6, Orchestral suite 3 - Hamburg CO/Wilhelm Schüchter rec. 1954-55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR838-39 [68:46 + 56:27] [JW] The more I hear of Schüchter, the more I respect him.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for violin & piano - Michelle Makarski (violin) Keith Jarrett (piano) rec. 2010 ECM NEW SERIES 2230/31 [43:07 + 51:39] [DC] Market leaders by default, but very fine as well. 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites - Richard Tunnicliffe (cello) rec. 2010/11 LINN CKD396 [61:56 + 75:56] [CR] Thoroughly engaging, demonstrating mastery of the instrument and of the chosen repertoire.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Weihnachts Oratorium Agnes Giebel, Charlotte Wolf-Matthäus, Helmut Krebs, Walter Hauck, RIAS CO & Ch/Karl Ristenpart rec. 1950 AUDITE 21.421 [3 CDs: 155:55] [JQ] Sixty-three years on, Karl Ristenpart’s recording is a most welcome addition to the discography of Bach’s Christmas masterpiece.

Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) String Quartets 1-6 Zoltan KODÁLY (1882-1967) String Quartets 1-2 - Alexander Quartet rec. 2012 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2009 [3 CDs: 205:55] [DC] A set to acquire for long-term appreciation.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 31 & 32 Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Prelude, Variations, and Fugue, Fantasia and Rondo - Cameron Watson (piano) rec. 2011 MSR CLASSICS MS 1409 [79:37] [BR] If you can recognize that the Beethoven is not the main draw, you’ll enjoy this CD a lot.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 5 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto 20 - Clara Haskil (piano) Philharmonia O/Otto Klemperer, Robert Casadesus (piano) Vienna PO/Dmitri Mitropoulos rec. 1957/1959 AUDITE 95.623 [69:02] [JQ] Two compelling concerto performances launch an important new series of Lucerne Festival archive recordings. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios Vol. 2 - European Fine Arts Piano Trio rec. 2009 GUILD GMCD7396 [69:11] [DD] Good performance of the early Piano Trio but a patchy Archduke. Sadly not competitive in the light of other recordings.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 1 & 5 - Geza Anda (piano) Camerata Academica Salzburg, SWR SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1956/60 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 94.223 [73:05] [SG] Two Beethoven concerto recordings, new to the Anda discography. A must for completists, yet I found them generally disappointing.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Romances 1 & 2 Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Poème Christian Ferras (violin) Hamburg PO/Leopold Ludwig, Radiodiffusion Française SO/Eugène Bigot rec. 1948/55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR570 [45:33] [JW] The nugget of gold here is obviously the Chausson and Ferras admirers will certainly find it attractive, despite the sonics.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin sonatas - Ivo Stankov (violin) Ivan Donchev (piano) GEGA NEW GR18 [60:52] [GF] A refreshing disc … I hope to hear more of this duo.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) La Sonnambula - Eglise Gutierrez (soprano) Antonio Siragusa (tenor) O & Ch of the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari/Maurizio Benini rec. 2008 DYNAMIC 55616 [141:00] [RJF] Lovely sets and a wonderfully sung Amina by Eglise Gutierrez are marred by vocal weakness elsewhere.

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1875) Suites: Checkmate, Miracle in the Gorbals, Things to Come; Theme and Cadenza, March: Welcome the Queen - Alfredo Campoli (violin) London SO, Sinfonia of London, Philharmonia O, London PO/Sir Arthur Bliss rec. 1954/60 HERITAGE HTGCD220 [72.08] [JWh] Great performances conducted by Bliss.

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) The Beatitudes, Introduction and Allegro, Things to Come Suite, Lie Strewn the White Flocks, A Colour Symphony, The Phoenix Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano) Richard Lewis (tenor) BBC SO, London SO/Sir Arthur Bliss, Jacques String O/Reginald Jacques, Philharmonia O/Constant Lambert rec. 1946-62 DUTTON CDBP 9818 [76:47 + 70:01]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem Heather Harper (soprano) Peter Pears (tenor) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Melos Ens, City of Birmingham SO/Meredith Davies rec. 1962 TESTAMENT SBT 1490 [80:48] [JQ] Live recordings of two notable 1962 premières in Coventry, including an essential addition to the discography of War Requiem. 

Ernest BLOCH (1808-1959) Symphony; Poems of the Sea London SO/Dalia Atlas rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573241 [68:26] [Byz] Makes runners-up of the competition in practically all regards. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 8 - Czech PO, Swiss Festival O/George Szell rec. 1962/69 AUDITE 95.625 [81:06] [JQ] George Szell in two excellent and charismatic live performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Sinfonia Concertante Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Capriccio Espagnol Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Leonore Overture 3 - Ilya Konovalov (violin) Roman Spitzer (viola) Israel PO/Zubin Mehta rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI6229 [117:00] [PCG] This will not have much wider appeal than as a souvenir of a concert in the surroundings of a dimly glimpsed Grand Palace in Bangkok. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 4 Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1849) Symphony 4 - BBC SO, Royal PO/Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1972/75 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5093 [64:12] [DD] Another splendid release of live performances of two 19th century masterpieces conducted by a Grand Old Man of British music. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) String Quartets 1-3 - Takács Qt rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68004 [75:55] [ST] The Takács contribution to the Britten centenary is able to look the best performers in the face.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Spring Symphony - Prague Philharmonic Ch, Czech PO/Karel Ančerl rec. 1958/66 SUPRAPHON SU 4135-2 [80:36 + 60:45] [JQ] An unexpected Britten centenary issue featuring performances by a great conductor.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem - Susan Gritton (soprano) John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Christopher Maltman (baritone) Wrocław Philharmonic Ch, Gabrieli Consort and Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2012 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD340 [37:20 + 46:45]
War Requiem - Anna Netrebko (soprano) Ian Bostridge (tenor) Thomas Hampson (baritone) Ch & O dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 6154482 [80:05]
War Requiem - Emily Magee (soprano) Mark Padmore (tenor) Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Tölzer Knabenchor, Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2013 BR KLASSIK 900120 [48:20 + 39:02] [MC]  Of these three excellent recordings I found Jansons the most compelling.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Festival of Britten National Youth Choirs of Great Britain/Ben Parry rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34133 [70:36 + 41:49] [JQ] A very fine collection of Britten’s choral music from the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.

Leo BROUWER (b. 1939) Beatlerianas, String Quartet 5, Micropiezas, Guitar quintet - Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Larry Del Casale (guitars) Havana String Qt rec. 2012 ZOHO CLASSIX ZM 201304 [71:00] [GF] Guitar and string quartet aficionados with a taste for 20th century should revel in this disc. 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 2 - O de la Suisse Romande/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE PTC 5186-448 [54:55] [CC] Enthusiasts of SACD sound will not be disappointed; avid Brucknerians might be harder to please.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7 Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Songs - Renée Fleming (soprano) Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OABD7127D [106:00] [MC] Beautifully filmed and recorded … worthy of special praise.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Mass 3 (rehearsals & performance sequences) - Margaret Price (soprano) Peter Straka (tenor) Munich PO & Ch/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1993 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101678 [65.00] [SG] Some good insights into Celibadache’s rehearsal technique, but many will feel short-changed at the end of this DVD. 

Fritz BRUN (1878-1959) Symphony 1; Overture to a jubilee celebration - Moscow SO/Adriano rec. 2012 GUILD GMCD 7395 [47:15] [RM] Very attractive discoveries in first rate performances all played with utter conviction and great skill.

Baron Hans von BÜLOW (1830-1894) Piano works Vol. 2 - Mark Anderson (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI 5907 [61.16] [PCG] Bülow is no Liszt. His compositions remain firmly in the realm of imitation rather than innovation.

Adolf BUSCH (1891-1952) Chamber Music Volume 1: Clarinet and strings - Bettina Beigelbeck (clarinet) Busch Kollegium Karlsruhe rec. 2012/13 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0085 [75:26] [JW] Charming, occasionally droll and without much real depth.

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Etudes - Mordecai Shehori (piano) rec. 2011 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD170 [67:52] [JW] Imbued with Shehori’s typically bracing musicianship but …

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballades, mazurkas & other works - Jean Muller (piano) rec. 2010 FONDAMENTA FON 1005008 [62:48] [BR] The playing is well worth hearing even without the novelty of appearing on two differently-engineered CDs for price of one.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Rodeo, Dance Panels, El Salón México, Danzón Cubano - Detroit S O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS NBD0037 BD-A [70:11] [DM] Sonically this Naxos BD-A is a worthwhile improvement over the CD; it’s reasonably priced, too.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Messe proper pour les couvents de relgieux, et religieuses Pierre Du MAGE (1674-1751) 1erLivre d’orgue contenant une suite du premier ton David Ponsford (organ) rec. 2012 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6213 [63:18] [HPR] A tremendous instrument for this exciting repertoire.

Edward COWIE (b.1943) Gesangbuch & other choral works - Endymion Ensemble/Simon Joly, BBC Singers/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2003/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 331 [64.40] [GH] Music of consummate imagination and craft. 

Jean CRAS (1879-1932) Violin Sonata 1, String Trio, Quintet for harp, flute and strings - Trio Milliere Marie-Christine Milliere (violin) Chantal Riou (piano) Catherine Michel (harp) Thomas Prevost (flute) rec. 1988/2012 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR18M [70:19] [JW] I’d urge Cras admirers to investigate this disc.

Sparky DAVIS And One Last Waltz, Symphony, Fantasy Sonata - Karolina Rojahn (piano) Moravian PO/Vít Micka, Petr Vronský rec. 1998/2012 NAVONA NV5897 [66:35] [Byz] These are polite, slightly naive works, but lovingly crafted and melodious.

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 HALLE CD HLL 7535 [62:25] [PCG] Not quite in the same league as Elder’s Apostles but good and this Cynara is something quite special.

Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYŃSKI (1807-1867) Piano Trio, Souvenir de Dresde, Les Larmes, Introduction et Variations - Les Explorateurs rec. 2012/13 ACTE PREALABLE AP0278 [75:01] Władysław ŻELEŃSKI (1837-1921) Piano Trio, Romanze, Lyrischer Walzer - Les Explorateurs rec. 2011/13 ACTE PREALABLE AP0277 [55:37] [Byz] Genial, committed performances to reveal another batch of forgotten gems from seriously neglected composers. The Dobrzyński disc in particular is outstanding. 

Theodor DÖHLER (1814-1856) Piano Concerto Alexander DREYSCHOCK (1818-1869) Morceau de concert; Salut à Vienne Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67950 [56:07] [JW] No doubting the performers’ commitment and Shelley’s splendid pianism. 

From the New World Antonín DVOŘAK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Chant du rossignol Charles IVES (1874-1954) The Unanswered Question John ADAMS (b. 1947) Slonimsky’s Earbox - Bavarian RSO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2010 C MAJOR 713408 [95:00] [LW] A most enjoyable concert by Nelsons and the BRSO. 

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Sonata Philip SAWYERS (b. 1951) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2 - Steinberg Duo rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6240 [61:37] [JF] Respectable, honest, down-to-earth serial music … a subtle balance between dissonance and consonance, controlled structure and moments of sheer inspiration. 

Edward ELGAR (1854-1934) Enigma Variations - BBC SO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1982 ICA CLASSICS ICAD5098 [39:07 + 25:16 (documentary)] [JWh] Thought-provoking, cringe-worthy, entertaining and uplifting. A must see for the musicianship and the confrontation.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Symphony 2 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser Overture & Venusberg Music - BBC Ch & SO/Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1966/1977 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5106 [73.45] [PCG] Full of quite unexpected erotic passion and excitement in the Wagner but something seems to be missing in the Elgar. 

Michele ESPOSITO (1855-1929) Violin Sonatas 1-3; Cello Sonata - Mia Cooper (violin) William Butt (cello) Lance Coburn (piano) rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD066 [79:44] [RB] An eloquent, generously-timed and valuable summation of the work of an all-but unknown Irish composer.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano music - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67875 [72:51] [DC] Magical sounds. 

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Quartet 2 Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Sérénade BEA - Jean Françaix (piano) Pasquier Trio/Sextet rec. 1951/3 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR 857 [48:13] [JW] The Pasquiers are superbly equipped ambassadors for this repertoire. 

Grzegorz FITELBERG (1879-1953) Lieder, Piano trio - Ewa Biegas (soprano), Katarzyna Makowska (piano), Adam Mokrus (violin), Natalia Kurzac (cello) rec. 2013 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0287 [70:00] [SA] The trio was a revelation and is sure to become a favourite of mine. 

Gerhard FROMMEL (1906-1984) Piano Sonatas 1-3 - Tatjana Blome (piano) rec. 2009 GRAND PIANO GP606 [65:01] [Byz] Listeners whose tastes sit primarily within the core repertoire need not fear.

Pierre GUÉDRON (c.1565 - c.1620) Airs de cour Claudine Ansermet (soprano) Paolo Cherici (lute) rec. 1995 GLOSSA GCD C80007 [70:22] [JV] Music of great beauty: every single air is a gem. 

Kimmo HAKOLA (b.1958) Guitar Concerto Toshio HOSOKAWA (b.1955) Voyage IX, Awakening, Blossoming II Timo Korhonen (guitar) Oulu SO/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2012 ONDINE ODE 1219-2 [65:00] [Byz] Rouvali has full command of these demanding scores and the sound quality is very good indeed. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Opera Seria - Sandrine Piau (soprano) Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Roussetrec. 2004 NAÏVE NC40026 [67:10] [JW] Passion and lyrical elegance: the florid and the sensitive. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Dixit Dominus Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Dixit Dominus Elin Manahan Thomas (sopranos) Queen's College Ch Oxford, The Brook Street Band/Owen Rees rec. 2013 AVIE AV2274 [62:28] [JV] Scarlatti's little-known work is the best selling point of this disc.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Water Music Suites 1-3; Overture to the Occasional Oratorio Haydn Sinfonietta Wien/Manfred Huss rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2027 [61:42] [BW] Competitive with the best - a must if you want SACD or 24-bit sound. 

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Der Messias (arr. Mozart) Donna Brown (soprano) Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo) Roberto Saccà (tenor) Alastair Miles (bass) Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD098.022 [55:33 + 76:00] [JS] Every Handel enthusiast should have at least one recording of Mozart’s arrangement and this would be a very satisfactory way of achieving that as well as giving considerable pleasure.

Heinrich von HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900) Lieder - Hélène Lindqvist (soprano) Philipp Vogler (piano) rec. 2009 CPO 777 586-2 [64:43] [GF] Aimez-vous Brahms? If you do, this disc could certainly be something for you. 

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Choral Symphony, The Mystic Trumpeter - Susan Gritton (soprano) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5127 [69.20] [PCG] A superb release, in excellent sound. By far the best recording of the Choral Symphony available.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Rhapsodies, Organ Sonata 2 - David Newsholme (organ) rec. 2012 REGENT REGCD407 [76:46] [JF] Wisely chosen, balancing the more popular with the less-well-known. David Newsholme gives definitive accounts of these pieces.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921) Königskinder - Amanda Majeski (soprano) Julia Juon (mezzo) Daniel Behle (tenor) Nikolay Borchev (baritone) Magnus Baldvinsson (bass) Ch, Children’s Ch & O Frankfurt Opera/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2012 OEHMS OC943 [3 CDs: 166:01] [JS] Many solid virtues but price and lack of English libretto are likely to tell against it in some quarters.

Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933) The Complete Organ Works Volume 10 - Stefan Engels (organ) rec. 2011 PRIORY PRCD 1074 [78:07] [JW] This series goes from strength to strength.

Johann Philipp KRIEGER (1649-1725) Musicalischer Seelen-Frieden - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Hamburger Ratsmusik/Simone Eckert rec. 2012 CARUS 83.372 [58:54] [JW] A conspicuously admirable disc.

Edouard LALO (1823-1892) Cello Concerto Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Cello Concerto 2 Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette: Love Scene - Pieter Wispelwey (cello) Flanders SO/Seikyo Kim rec. 2012 ONYX 4107 [63:32] [JWh] A mixed bag containing a great performance of the Lalo concerto. 

Orlandus LASSUS (1532-1594) Lagrime di San Pietro - Gallicantus/Gabriel Crouch rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD339 [53:21] [JV] A thoroughly compelling performance which has all the qualities to make a lasting good impression.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Works for cello & piano Ernö DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Cello Sonata Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Cello Sonata, Sonatina, Adagio - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) John York (piano) rec. 2011/12 NIMBUS NI 5901/02 [58:07 + 67:10] [JW] A most successful set with some excellent performances of which the Kodály sonata is the absolute pick.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Music Vol. 36: Wagner Transcriptions - William Wolfram (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572895 [69:57] [DM] Musically this isn’t as good as Wolfram’s earlier discs; ditto the sonics.

John McDONALD Airy Joanna Kurkowicz (violin) John McDonald (piano) rec. 2010 BRIDGE 9402 [65:06] [Byz]

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Violin Sonatas 1 & 3 - Chloë Hanslip (violin) Igor Tchetuev (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67963 [68:39] Nikolai MEDTNER Violin Sonata 3 Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Violin Sonata 3 - Svetlin Roussev (violin) Frédéric D’Oria-Nicolas (piano) rec. 2008 FONDAMENTA FON0902002 [65:14] [JW] Hanslip plays charmingly and with reserve while Roussev is the more communicative and fluid player.

Palle MIKKELBORG (b.1941) Going to Pieces · Without Falling Apart, Afterthoughts Helen Davies (harp): Michala Petri (recorder) Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet) South Jutland SO/Henrik Vagn Christensen rec. 2012/13 OUR RECORDINGS 6.220607 [55:10] [JW] Evocative of textures and moods with ceaseless refinement … fundamentally lyrical … a pleasure … a winning disc.

Karol MIKULI (1819-1897) 48 Roumanian Folk Tunes - Reinhard Piechocki (piano) rec. 2011-12 AHS RECORDS [51:15] [SA] This music is well worth exploring. 

Federico MOMPOU (1893-1987) Piano music - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88765 433262 [63:03] [JW] I enjoyed this greatly, but the composer’s own way with his music remains a very different landscape altogether. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Requiem - Nancy Argenta (soprano) Catherine Robbon (alto) John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Alastair Miles (bass) Schütz Ch of London, London Classical Players/Sir Roger Norrington rec. 1991 VIRGIN CLASSICS 7352962 [57:47] [TB] Norrington has always been one of those conductors who makes a difference, whose approach to the music is historically informed and challenging. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le nozze di Figaro Giuseppe Taddei, Anna Moffo, Eberhard Wächter, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Philharmonia O/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1959 WARNER CLASSICS 7359592 [74:19 + 78:47] [GF] Giulini’s Don Giovanni became the touchstone recording of the early stereo era and has so remained.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) La Betulia liberata - Margot Oitzinger (alto) Christian Zenker (tenor) Marelize Gerber (soprano) L’Orfeo Barockorchester/Michi Gaigg rec. 2012 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72590 [63:01 + 59:51] [BW] All concerned make this well worthwhile for seasoned Mozartians. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Flute & harp concerto, Keyboard sonata & concerto (arr. harp) - Xavier de Maistre (harp) Magali Mosnier (flute) Mozarteumorchester Salzburg/Ivor Bolton rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88765 439922 [64:17] [BR] If you like Mozart, harps, or Mozart on harp, this is a lovely disc. Only sound quality is not quite perfect. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Works Vol. 2 - Gabriele Tomasello (piano) rec. 2013 ACTE PREALABLE AP0289 [74:51] [Byz] A reasonable recording of Mozart's sonatas but the wise investor will go for Würtz or Pires at bargain price.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 20 & 26 - Munich PO/Friedrich Gulda rec. 1986 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101673 [66:00] [SG] Two compelling concerto performances though not for the faint-hearted. 

Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949) Piano Concerto Max REGER (1873-1916) Eine romantische Suite Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Nocturne symphonique Tzimon Barto (piano) Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2011 HANSSLER PROFIL EDITION PH12016 [51:54 + 28:57] [MC] Penetrating and persuasive performances of three fascinating and rewarding early twentieth century works that deserve to be heard more often.

Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886) La Gioconda Violeta Urmana (soprano) Plácido Domingo (tenor) Chodes Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Marcello Viotti rec. 2002 WARNER CLASSICS 7359652 [3 CDs: 164:39] [GF] The choral singing and the orchestral playing is beyond reproach but the soloists are more of a mixed bag.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Concerto for organ, timpani and strings Joseph JONGEN (1873-1953) Symphonie Concertante - Berj Zamkochian, Virgil Fox (organ) Boston SO/Charles Munch, O Théâtre National de l’Opéra/Georges Prêtre rec. 1961 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDCD288 [58:22] [JW] These two works make a good ‘best buddies’ case, though they are expressively rather different and stylistically divergent. 

Zbigniew PREISNER (b.1955) Diaries of Hope - Lisa Gerrard, Archie Buchanan (voices) Caroline Dale (‘cello) Konrad Mastylo (piano) Crouch End Fest Ch/Warsaw PO/Adam Klocek PREISNER PRODUCTIONS PPCD001 [47:48] [GPJ] Music inspired by an exhibition about the Holocaust but the music fails to do justice to its emotive subject.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto 5, Piano Sonatas 7 & 8 - Sviatoslav Richter (piano) Warsaw Ntl PO/Witold Rowicki ALTO ALC 1230 [73:18] [GPJ] A master-class of superb pianism from Richter; technically stunning, yet full of delicacy and lyricism.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)  Violin Concertos 1 & 2, Sonata for Two Violins, Sonata for Violin, Violin Sonatas 1 & 2, Five Melodies - James Ehnes (violin)  Amy Schwartz Moretti (violin) Andrew Armstrong (piano) BBCPO/Gianandrea Noseda  rec. 2012-2013 CHANDOS CHAN 10787(2)  [76:03 + 65:09] [DC] A superb set.

Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773) Flute Concertos - Mary Oleskiewicz (transverse flute) Concerto Armonico/Miklós Spányi rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573120 [77:36] [JV] This disc is full of good intentions but I find the result rather disappointing. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony 1, The Isle of the Dead - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573234 [66.20] [IL] In a competitive field, these are not top-drawer performances but nonetheless reliable choices. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony 2; Three Dances from Aleko RLPO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2011/2012 EMI CLASSICS 9154732 [73:05] [IL] A tenderly seductive account of this great Russian symphony. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Première Soviet LP Recordings Complete Piano Concertos, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - Sviatoslav Richter, Lev Oborin & Yakov Zak (piano) rec. 1947-1955 APR RECORDINGS APR6005 [73:26 + 69:47] [RB] Soviet historical treasures for the Rachmaninov specialist. A fresh window opened out onto well-known music. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1973-1943) The Bells, Symphonic Dances - Luba Orgonášová (soprano) Dmitro Popov (tenor) Mikhail Petrenko (bass) Rundfunkchor Berlin/Simon Halsey Berliner Phil/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010-2012 WARNER CLASSICS 9845192 [71:37] [LW] Rattle excels in The Bells and Symphonic Dances. 

Napoléon-Henri REBER (1807-1880) Piano Trios 3, 5 & 7 - Trio Élégiaque rec. 2012 TIMPANI 1C1205 [72:56] [JW] The Trio Élégiaque is a worthy guide and characterises the music with perception. 

Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)/Lorenz HART (1895-1943) Dearest Enemy Annalene Beechey, Kim Criswell, James Cleverton, O Ireland/David Brophy rec. 2012 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80749-2 [39:09 + 61:35] [RB] Spot-on. A delightful revival. Another top-flight New World production.

Neil ROLNICK (b. 1947) Gardening At Gropius House, Anosmia - Todd Reynolds (violin) Nicole Paiement (soprano) Daniel Cilli (baritone) Neil Rolnick (laptop, computer) Alarm Will Sound/Alan Pierson; SFCM New Music Ens/Nicole Paiement rec. 2012/13 INNOVA 877 [59:28] [DC] Will have you dancing around the room, or drive you up the wall.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) String Sonatas 1-6 - I Musici rec. 1971 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802041 [37:00 + 43:54] [SV] Absolutely delightful. Discipline, musicality and warm, burnished tone.

Nino ROTA (1911-1979) A Sentimental Devil Complete Works for Violin and Viola - Francesco D'Orazio (violin and viola) Giampaolo Nuti (piano) rec. 2012 STRADIVARIUS STR33934 [62:12]
Opere per Viola e Pianoforte Viola sonatas by Rota & Lino Liviabella - Luca Sanzò (viola) Maurizio Paciariello (piano) rec. 2011 TACTUS TC901101 [67:33]
Nino ROTA
Music for Viola, Violin & Piano - Luigi Alberto Bianchi (violin, viola) Marco Vincenzi (piano) rec. 1997-1998 DYNAMIC CDS211 [59:38]
Nino ROTA Complete music for viola, violin and Piano - Marco Fornaciari (viola, violin) Gabriele Baldocci (piano) rec. 2006 ARTS 47718-8 [64:56] [Byz] In some respects there is too much Nino Rota on disc. 

Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825) Falstaff John del Carlo, Teresa Ringholz, Richard Croft, Stuttgart RSO/Arnold Östman rec. 1995 ARTHAUS MUSIK 102 306 [145.00] [PCG] Very nearly as good as Mozart and well worth investigation.

Timothy SALTER (b.1942) Aerial, Piano Quartet, String Quartet 2 - Nephele Ens, Ens na Mara, Auriol String Qt rec. 1985-2010 USK 1230CD [37:44] [CR] Convincing and highly effective music performed effectively and with competence.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Complete Original Works for Piano Duet & Duo Vol. 4 - The Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2010/11 GRAND PIANO GP 624 [56:29] [DM] Music of quality, stylishly played; surprisingly moreish, too.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Discoveries Drosostalitsa Moraiti (piano), Nelly Lee (soprano) Alexander Ivashkin (cello), Ensemble Pentaèdre de Montréal/Jeremy Bell, Bolshoi Soloists’ Ensemble/Alexander Lazarev rec. 1984-2009 TOCCATA TOCC0091 [68:18] [DC] One for every true Schnittke collector.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) 'Great' Symphony - Tonhalle O Zurich/David Zinman rec. 2011 RCA RED SEAL 88697 97398 2 [55:44] [BR] Very good, but there are a couple of minor faults.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Complete Piano Sonatas - Martino Tirimo (piano) rec. 1995/6 WARNER CLASSICS 9846852 [8 CDs: 9:50:21] [RMo] A trustworthy guide through this great sequence of sonatas. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Octet, Quartettsatz, Viennese Dances - Vienna Octet; Tokyo Quartet; Willi Boskovsky Ensemble rec. 1958/81 ALTO ALC1227 [74:57] [BW] A well-filled bargain with classic performances of the Octet and Dances. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus, Piano Sonata 21 - Mordecai Shehori (piano) rec. 1997 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD168 [75:06] [JW] Enshrines musicianship of integrity, purpose and sensitivity. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Quintet Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Romances 1 & 2 Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Violin Concerto 8 - Rudolf Koeckert (violin) Bamberg SO/Ferdinand Leitner, Bavarian RSO/Fritz Lehmann, Adrian Aeschbacher (piano) Koeckert Qt, rec. 1952-54 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR 845 [71:18] [JW] Koeckert brings to the table a certain clean-limbed, withdrawn, post-war cleanliness.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828) Die schöne Müllerin Maximilian Schmitt (tenor) Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 882 [66:41] [GF] Constantly beautiful singing but a certain lack of colour and drama. 

Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Clara Schumann’s Piano Sonata in G minor, Three romances, Four pieces fugitives - Eugenie Russo (Streicher piano (1868) rec. 2007 PALADINO MUSIC PMR 0028 [64:13] [BR] A wonderful recital of Clara Schumann on an instrument she played. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856) Liederkreis, Drei Gedichte, Sechs Gedichte aus dem Liederbuch eines Malers - Thomas E. Bauer (baritone) Uta Hielscher (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.557080 [56:07] [GF] A disc to treasure. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe Alban BERG (1885-1935) Sieben frühe Lieder - Arnold Bezuyen (tenor) Jura Margulis (piano) rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 857 [59:47] [GF] Something of a mixed bag but many good things here.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Silent Woods; Cello Concerto - Jamie Walton (cello) Philharmonia O/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 2011 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD322 [68:43] [DD] Competent performances of very well known concertos that fail to reach the very top level. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet, Märchenerzählungen - Xiayin Wang (piano) Fine Arts Qt rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.572661 [75:30] [JWh] A real treat for Schumann lovers. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto, Introduction and Allegro Appassionato, Piano Concerto - Jacqueline du Pre (cello) Daniel Barenboim (piano) New Philharmonia O/Daniel Barenboim; London PO/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau rec. 1968/74 WARNER CLASSICS 9933442 [74:12] [DD]  A very worthwhile reissue of fine performances ... an excellent bargain.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Kreisleriana Per NØRGÅRD (b.1932) Grooving; Turn; Unfolding Katrine Gislinge (piano) rec. 2012 DANACORD DACOCD741 [63:29] [JF] A happy choice of music and alongside the Horowitz this will be my preferred Kreisleriana for some time to come.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Cello concertos 1 & 2 - Dmitry Kouzov (cello) St. Petersburg State SO/Vladimir Lande rec. 2011 DELOS DE 3444 [57:56] [DM] Kouzov doesn’t measure up to these scores; the orchestra is mediocre too.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 4 - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573188 [64:59] [Byz] A somewhat cool, almost detached amble through the score. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Execution of Stepan Razin, Zoya Suite, Suite on Finnish Themes - Tuomas Katajala (tenor) Mari Palo (soprano) Shenyang (bass-baritone) State Ch ‘Latvija’, Helsinki PO/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE1225-2 [65:37] [DM] Ashkenazy and this Finnish band make a terrific team; more, please.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Sonata Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Sonata 2 Poème mystique Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata - Midori (violin) Özgür Aydin (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX 4084 [66:55] [SG] A well-constructed recital of three masterpieces of twentieth century violin repertoire.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 2 & 5, Violin Concerto, Tapiola, Karelia Suite, Swan of Tuonela,
Lemminkainen’s Return - Tossy Spivakovsky (violin) Sinfonia of London/Tauno Hannikainen; London SO/Tauno Hannikainen; Royal PO/Anthony Collins; Stockholm Radio SO/Sixten Ehrling rec. 1952/59 MAGDALEN METCD8024 [77.29 + 75.19] [JWh] Idiomatic and erratic Sibelius from a great Sibelius interpreter.

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Partsongs - Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Ch/Paul Spicer rec. 2012 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD 0128 [75:30] Indispensable listening for all lovers of British music [MC] There is enough music of real calibre here [NB]

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) String Quartets 3 & 4 - Stenhammar Qt rec. 2011/12 BIS BIS-SACD-1659 String Quartets 3-6 - Oslo Qt rec. 2006/7 CPO 777426-2 [68:23 + 45:22] [Byz] The Stenhammar Quartet are cruising to the cycle to have of this underrated composer's anachronistic but actually rather profound string quartets. 

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Eine Nacht in Venedig - Nicolai Gedda (tenor) Rita Streich (soprano) Bavarian Radio Ch; Graunke SO/Franz Allers rec. 1967 EMI ELECTROLA 6150782 [47.55 + 47.28] [PCG] Excellent but where this reissue, like so many from the Electrola stable, does fall down is in the matter of presentation. 

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Petrushka Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Miraculous Mandarin - London SO/Kent Nagano rec. 1997 WARNER APEX 2564 673174 [64:54] [SV] Nagano serves up an expert Petrushka. 

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Mass Josef Bohuslav FOERSTER (1859-1951) Glagolitic Mass Zdenek FIBICH (1850-1900) Missa brevis - Petr Čech (organ) Charles University Ch Prague/Jiří Petrdlík, Prague Youth Chamber Ens/Jakub Zucha rec. 2008-13 ARCODIVA UP0117-2 231 [63:01] [BR] A pleasant hour spent with three Czech masses you’ve never heard.

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Extremum Judicium - Requiem - Margareta Klobučar (soprano) Dshamilja Kaiser (alto) Ch Oper Graz, Grazer PO/Adriano Martinolli D’Arcy rec. 2012 CPO 777842-2 [70:18 + 46:55] [JS] A valuable addition to the Suppé catalogue. 

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Symphonies 1 & 2 - LSO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2012 LSO LIVE LSO0731 [47:27] [ST] I think my days of trying Szymanowski are over, at least for the time being. 

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Symphonies 3 & 4, Stabat Mater London SO & Ch/Valery Gergiev rec. 2012/13 LSO LIVE LSO0739 [69:53] [LW] This installment in Gergiev’s Szymanowski series is excellent with a few reservations. 

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5; Capriccio Italien New York P-SO/Dimitri Mitropoulos rec. 1954/57 GUILD HISTORICAL GHCD 2396 [59:00] [RMay] An interesting opportunity to listen to the work of a gifted but now sadly overlooked - conductor from a golden age of recording. 

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Karelia Suite Intermezzo & Alla Marcia Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Dances from Galánta Ida Haendel (violin) National SO, London PO/Basil Cameron rec. 1945-53 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR 575 [62:27] [JW] A dual salute to Haendel and to Cameron.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake Bergen PO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA 5124 [81:17 + 73:24] [DM] An uninspired Swan Lake, albeit in fine sound; Järvi has clearly lost his edge here.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5, Swan Lake Suite - Arctic PO/Christian Lindberg rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2018 [70:48] [DBi] An imaginative performance, well recorded and well played but this choice of repertoire puts a small and young orchestra up against massive competition.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Anna Tsygankova, Matthew Golding, Holland Symfonia/Ermanno Florio rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108087 [108:00 + over 150:00 (bonus)] [BW] Well worth acquiring at the new lower price, or giving as a Christmas present. 

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Klingende Geographie Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci rec. 2011 PAN CLASSICS PC10291 [68:55] [JV] For an hour of entertainment this disc will do. 

Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939) Works for organ Vols. 1-3 - Vincent Boucher (organ) rec. 2006/08 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2470-72 [172:02] [Byz] Good value for money … a general sense of warm empathy for Tournemire's inspired music.

Marcel TYBERG (1893-1944) Symphony 2, Piano Sonata 2 - Fabio Bidini (piano) Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 8.572822 [74:47] [RMay] Hard to see how these valuable and compelling accounts could be bettered.

Burr Van NOSTRAND (b. 1945) Voyage in a White Building I - Robert Stallman (flute) Jay Humeston (cello) Herman Weiss (prepared piano) Paul Severtson (violin) NEC Chamber Ens/Anthony Coleman rec. 1969-2012 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80742-2 [70:19] [DC] Uncompromisingly modern, but then, so were Picasso and Pollock. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) The Verdi Opera Selection Vol. 3 - La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino rec. 2007 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107 533 [4 DVDs: 457:00] [RJF] Outstanding value at the price and including two opulent traditional productions.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901) Early Arias - Lucia Aliberti (soprano) O Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Oleg Caetani rec. 2008 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72589 [74:07] [GF] With some small reservations this is a fine recital with a lot of rare repertoire.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Aida - Roberto Tagliavini (bass) Andrea Ulbrich (mezzo) Ch & O of the Arena Verona/Daniel Oren rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OABD7122D [150:00] [RJF] A spectacular opera in a spectacular setting, filmed with 3D option. A certain winner. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Baritone Arias - Plácido Domingo (baritone) Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2012/2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 733122 [70:09] [GF] Domingo admirers can sleep well tonight and go out and buy the disc and spend many hours in his company with total confidence. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Quatro Pezzi Sacri, Ave Maria, Libera me Maria Agresta (soprano) Ch & O dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2012/13 WARNER CLASSICS 9845242 [56:57] [JQ] A notable contribution to the Verdi bi-centenary celebrations.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Otello - Aleksandrs Antonenko (tenor) Marina Poplavskaya (soprano) Salzburg Fest Children’s Ch, Vienna State Opera Ch/Vienna PO/Riccardo Muti rec. 2008 C MAJOR 725008 [143:00 + 10:00 (bonus)] [RJF] A performance well worth seeing despite the limitations of the staging and camera work. 

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concertos for Strings - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini rec. 1988 TACTUS TB672258 [56:13] [DBi] An enjoyable issue containing six splendid concertos only some of which you might know.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Fliegende Holländer - Franz Grundheber (bass-baritone) Raimo Sirkiä (tenor) Hildegard Behrens (soprano) Savonlinna Opera Fest O & Ch/Leif Segerstam rec. 1989 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 647608 [139:00] [RJF] This thrilling performance and imaginative production is ideal for all opera-lovers and particularly Wagner enthusiasts. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Das Rheingold René Pape, Nikolai Putilin, Stephan Rügamer, Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev rec. 2010/2012 MARIINSKY MAR 0526 [72.21 + 75.21] [PCG] The flaws are too many to bear frequent repetition. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre Robert Dean Smith, Melanie Diener, Petra Lang, Tomasz Konieczny, Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC5186 407 [4 CDs: 217:17] [JPr] This Die Walküre is a triumph for Janowski and the wonderful Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin. 

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Organ Symphonies 3 & 4 - Joseph Nolan (organ) rec. 2011 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD334 [65:01] [DM] Nolan is not without competition in the 3rd, but his 4th is superb; roll on Volume 4.

Hugo WOLF (1860 - 1903) Italienisches Liederbuch Joan Rodgers (soprano) Roderick Williams (baritone) Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD054 [77:09] [GF] We are already spoilt for choice of recordings of these wonderful songs and this set complicates the situation further. 

In a New Light Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Piano Trio Josef SUK (1874-1935) Piano Trio Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Piano Trio 1 - Trio Voce rec. 2012 CON BRIO CBR21344 [78:25] [BR] Three high-octane high-romantic piano trios in minor keys offer as much passion as you can handle. 

The 20th Century Concerto Grosso Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Concerto doppio for flute & piano Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Concertino for flute, violin & piano Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931) Concert for piano, flute & cello - Maria Prinz (piano) Karl-Heinz Schütz (flute) Christoph Koncz (violin) Robert Nagy (cello) Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10791 [61:41] This is a release with everything going for it [DC] Totally absorbing … fine music that is all too rarely heard. [SA]

Anima Rising Works by Beethoven, Hearne, Janáček, Plews & Wright - Naomi Wright (cello) Annabelle Lawson (piano) ASC ASCCD116 [58:31] [JF] Excellent playing and an imaginative programme.

Archipel Machaut Medieval Music and New Music Mixtura; Katharina Bäuml (shawm); Margit Kern (accordion) rec. 2012 GENUIN GEN13284 [66:39] [JB] Astonishing musicianship, brimming with atmosphere. A disc very much worthy of attention.

Bel Canto Bully - The musical legacy of the legendary opera impresario Domenico Barbaja - rec. 1988-2008 NAXOS 8.578237 [75:19] [GF] This is quite an interesting concept for a compilation disc and there are enough good things here to make it a good buy.

Birth of the Symphony - Handel to Haydn Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr rec. 2011 AAM RECORDS AAM001 [70:56] [JV] There is more in this repertoire than is revealed here.

British Works for Cello and Piano Vol. 2 Paul Watkins (cello) Huw Watkins (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10792 [75:28] [JF] A fine programme of three stunning sonatas, inspiringly played and beautifully presented.

Renard Capuçon Le violin Roi ERATO 9584402 [3 CDs: 234:51] [JW] Novices in Capuçon Studies who want to hear what all the fuss is about should get this lavishly illustrated sampler box.

Choirs of Angels Music from The Eton Choirbook Vol. 2 - Ch of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford/Stephen Darlington rec. 2012 AVIE AV2184 [74:05] [JV] Good but could have been better.

Les Contre-Ténors NAÏVE V5328 [68:04] [GF] For a wider spectrum of the counter-tenor voice the present disc is an excellent sample.

John Dowland and Friends Earth, Water, Fire and Air Consort of Musick/Anthony Rooley (director and lute) rec. 1998 ALTO ALC 1223 [71.10] [GH] The Consort are in great form and at their best. At budget price this is worth every penny. 

The Complete Arthur Endrèze (baritone) MARSTON 55001-2 [5 CDs: 391:49] [JW] Should prove seductive for lovers of the French inter-war tradition on disc.

Europa Konzert 2013 Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Tallis Fantasia Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Biblical Songs Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 6 - Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle Filmed: 2013 EUROARTS 2059424 [84:00] [MC] A lovely disc offering an agreeable mix of popular and lesser known works beautiful played and recorded.

A Year in Exeter Cathedral The Girls and Men of Exeter Cathedral Ch/Stephen Tanner David Davies (organ) rec. 2011 PRIORY PRCD 1066 [71:08] [JQ] An excellent advertisement for the role of girls in cathedral choirs. 

In Memoriam Kathleen Ferrier Vienna PO/Bruno Walter; Vienna SO/Herbert von Karajan; Giorgio Favaretto (piano) rec. 1949/52 TAHRA TAH725 [73:05] [JW] A definably oratorio austerity to her phrasing that announces real gravity. 

Emanuel Feuermann (cello) Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1771-1827)  Cello Sonata 3 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Arpeggione Sonata Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonata 1 Max REGER (1873-1916)  Suite - Myra Hess, Gerald Moore, Theo van der Pas (piano) rec. 1934-39 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM 086 [72:59] [SG] Any lover of great cello playing will want this in their collection.

Flute Vocalise Kenneth Smith (flute) Paul Rhodes (piano) rec. 2011 DIVINE ART DIVERSIONS DDV24156 [70:44] [Byz] A varied, extended and delightful treat for jaded ears.

French Trumpet Concertos by Tomasi, Jolivet & Planel - Ole Edvard Antonsen (trumpet) Olga Kopylova (piano) São Paulo SO/Lan Shui rec. 2010 BIS BIS-SACD-1778 [71:32] [GF] Give this disc a chance. 

Goossens in Australia Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 2 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 3 - Sydney SO/Eugene Goossens Rec. 1952 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD00018 [75:12] [JW] If you fancy experiencing Goossens in this repertoire you won’t go seriously adrift. 

Glenn Gould - The Russian Journey A film by Yosif Feyginberg C MAJOR 714108 [56:00] [SG] At 56 minutes, many will feel shortchanged with this DVD, and more film of Gould performing could have been included.

Great American Songbook The King’s Singers, South Jutland SO/David Firman rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD341 [60:10 + 31:36] [JQ] Admirers of The King’s Singers will love this album. Admirers of these wonderful songs should, perhaps, look elsewhere.

Harmoniemusik The Sabine Meyer Wind Ensemble rec. 1989-96 WARNER CLASSICS 4312672 [7 CDs: 402:47] [SA] A thoroughly exciting and rewarding set of great music played by a group at the very top of its game. 

Alice Herz-Sommer (piano) Works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Schubert & Smetana - rec. 1960s-95 AHS RECORDS (no number) [78:04] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Abegg Variations, Carnaval, Symphonic Etudes - rec. 1983 AHS RECORDS (no number) [56:59] [SA] Refined elegance ... beauty and truth will always gain the upper hand.

Constant Lambert Rarities Works by Adam, Grief, Purcell & Rimsky-Korsakov - Liverpool PO, Hallé O, Royal Opera House O, London PO/Constant Lambert rec. 1939-46 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD00030 [57:22] [JW] If you’re missing a piece or two from your Lambert collection, then you may find them in this worthily transferred selection.

Libera nos - The Cry of the Oppressed Works by Tallis & Byrd - Contrapunctus/Owen Rees rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD338 [69:33] [JV] The texts may not spread happiness but the singing can hardly fail to please. 

Magellan's Playlist Volume 1: On Tour in China - Athens Guitar Duo rec. 2013 CLAUDIO RECORDS CR6019-6 (audio) [70:47] [DBi] A spectacularly well recorded disc of warm and relaxing music, suited to a hot afternoon and a glass of tequila.

Latin American Classics Venezuela SO/Theodore Kuchar rec. 2011 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9262 [55:43] [Byz] Disciplined yet blistering readings of these kaleidoscopically memorable works.

Piers Lane Goes to Town Piers Lane (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA 67967 [76:09] [BR] You’ll have a lot of fun with this collection of encores and personal choices.

The Merton Collection Merton College at 750 Works by Gibbons, Byrd & Dunstaple - Ch of Merton College, Oxford/Peter Phillips/Benjamin Nicholas Anna Steppler (organ) rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34134 [74:04] [JQ] A very fine survey of some of the church music written during the lifespan to date of Merton College, Oxford. 

Mir ist die Ehre widerfahren Electrola-Querschnitte - Original Opera Highlights rec. 1952-73 EMI CLASSICS 9283242 [7 CDs: 398:39] [GF] A highly desirable box for lovers of German opera in analogue recordings largely from the 1950s.

Opéra baroque rec. 1983-2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2908658-99 [39 CDs + 3 DVDs + CD-ROM: c.46:00:00] [KM] A wonderful overview of baroque opera, with more than 45 hours of great works and excellent performances.

Polish Violin Music Kinga Augustyn (violin) Efi Hackmey (piano) rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 9.70192 [79:45] [SA] Muscular playing and a beautiful singing tone in these rarely heard works.

Royal Recorder Concertos Works by Graun, Graupner, Scheibe & Schickhardt - Bolette Roed (recorder) Arte dei Suonatori rec. 2013 DACAPO 6.220630 [75:34] [JV] An attractive proposition for all lovers of the recorder.

Season Songs Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Winter Words John PARRY (b.1930) Six Songs Ben PARRY (b.1965) Season Songs Andrew LEACH (b.1954) Four Songs - Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor) Eugene Asti/Andrew Leach (piano) Sam Wilson (marimba) rec. 2010/2011 EM RECORDS EMR CD014 [58:57] [GPJ] An imaginatively programmed and rewarding CD, though the characterful singing might not be to everyone’s taste.

SOLO 2 Sonatas for solo violin by Bartók, Hindemith & Prokofiev - Ning Feng (violin) rec. 2012 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA 34413 [69:44] [NB] A disc that left me hugely impressed yet strangely unmoved at the same time.

Steven Staryk (violin) A Retrospective Vols 1-4 rec. 1961-2003 CENTAUR CRC3186-87/3203/3211/3222 [5 CDs: 358:00] [JW] Offers entry to the world of Steven Staryk on disc, and that’s no bad thing.

Stellwagen-Orgel zu St. Marien Stralsund Martin Rost (organ) rec. 2013 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 320 1816-2 [68:50] [JV] This disc bears witness to the magnificence of the Stellwagen organ and to the brilliance and depth of the great masters of the North German organ school.

Veni Emmanuel - Music for Advent Ch of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross; Nicholas Haigh (organ) rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907579 [76:48] [JQ] A marvellous programme of Music for Advent from the Clare College Choir.

Voices of Eastern Europe Violin sonatas by Babajanian, Enescu & Skoryk - Igor Veligan (violin) Natsuki Fukasawa (piano) NORTH PACIFIC MUSIC NPM LD 037 [69:04] [SA] Three fascinating and contrasting works that are rarely heard.

George Weldon and the City of Birmingham Orchestra Works by Bach, Elgar, Gounod & Grieg - rec. c. 1945/50 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD00027 [62:33] [JW] A competent job at showcasing Weldon’s lighter side.

Other reviews

Vertigo James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock (director) Bernard Herrmann (film score) UNIVERSAL 8295831 [film: 128:00; bonus features: 106:00] [IL] Even if you already have a DVD of this masterpiece, acquire this enhanced version.

The Golden Age of Light Music Ça C’est Paris rec. 1935-62 GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5207 [JW] No fewer than 28 songs bearing the name of the French capital.

Gracious Ladies: The Norbury Family and Edward Elgar by Kevin Allen. Published June 2013 [WK] A book for the committed Elgarian.

My Blue Heaven - Hits of '27 rec. 1926/7 RETROSPECTIVE RECORDS RTR 4232 [GF] Everyone with an interest in the popular music of bygone days will find their own favourites in this collection.

Christmas Reviews

David BEDNALL (b.1979) Welcome all Wonders Ch Queen’s College, Oxford/Owen Rees; Olivia Clarke, Paul Manley (organ) Simon Desbruslais (trumpet) rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD335 [77:55] [JQ] An original and very rewarding addition to the Christmas choral repertoire.

Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) The Rose in the Middle of Winter and other carols - Commotio/Matthew Berry rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573159 [79:31] [JQ] A delightful disc which will enhance the musical side of Christmas for a lot of people.

Christmas Lullabies Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano) Danielle Perrett (harp) rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI7095 [60:48] [CC] A lovely, heart-warming disc. Enjoy.

Incarnation Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Boy was Born Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) A Hymn of the Nativity and other works for Christmas Trebles of Copenhagen Royal Chapel Ch, Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD346 [77:25] [JQ] A challenging and rewarding programme of Christmas music, superbly performed.

Rós - Songs of Christmas Berit Opheim (vocals); Rolf Lislevand (lute) Gjermund Larsen (violin); Bjørn Kjellemyr (double bass) Det Norske Solistkor/Grete Pedersen rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2029 [52:30] [DC] Perfect alternative Christmas.

Uns ist ein Kind geboren Concertos and arias for Christmas - Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor) L'arpa festante rec. 2012 CARUS 83.373 [78:32] [JV] A very attractive and compelling programme of music for the Christmas period, well suited to repeated listening.

Articles and Notices

BIS's 40th anniversary promotion - 17 pocket-sized CD reviews - A feature by Brian Reinhart

Download News 2013/15 by Brian Wilson

A discussion of the life and songs of Robin Milford by Peter Hunter: Biography ~~ The early songs ~~ The middle period songs ~~ The late songs

Review index: Robin Milford

An interview with composer Bob Chilcott by John Quinn

Auction of an archive belonging to the British composer Sir George Henschel - see here for more details


Experience Classicsonline