DOWNLOAD NEWS 2014/4
by Albert Q Lam and Brian Wilson
DL News 2013/3 is here and the index of earlier editions is here.
Index for 2014/4 and earlier reviews mentioned therein:
ARENSKY Piano Trio 1 + RIMSKY KORSAKOV Quintet - Nash E - CRD Apr-09
ARENSKY Piano Trio 1 + SHOSTAKOVICH Trio 2- Yuval Trio - Centaur 2014/4
ARENSKY Piano Trio No.1 + TCHAIKOVSKY Trio Wanderer H Mundi 2014/4
ARENSKY Piano Trios - Lenore Trio - Hyperion 2014/4
BACH Brandenburg Concertos - Freiburger Barockorchester - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
BEETHOVEN Symphonies 5 & 7 - Orpheus CO - Orpheus CO 2014/4
CACCINI Euridice - Alessandrini - Naïve 2014/4
CASTELLO, etc. Sonatas - Steger - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
DAVID J N Symphonies 1 and 6 - Wildner - CPO 2014/4
FONTANA Sonatas - Cuiller - Mirare 2014/4
GLIERE Symphony 3 - Downes - Chandos 2014/4
GLIERE Symphony 3 - Falletta - Naxos 2014/4
GLIERE Symphony 3 - Scherchen - Naxos Archives 2014/4
HAYDN Creation - Pearlman - Linn Jul2012_2
HAYDN Nelson Mass - Gardiner - DG or Decca Masterpieces 2014/4
HAYDN Nelson Mass - Pearlman - Linn 2014/4
LANGGAARD String Quartets 1 - Nightingale Qu - DaCapo 2014/4
LEIGHTON Chamber Works for cello - Wallfisch and Terroni - BM 2014/4
LEIGHTON Easter Music - Naxos Jun2011_1
MOZART Clarinet Concerto + BEETHOVEN - Knappertsbusch - IDIS 2014/4
MOZART Eine kleine Nachtmusik, etc - Böhm - DG 2014/4
MOZART Eine kleine Nachtmusik, etc - Drottningholm E - BIS 2014/4
MOZART Requiem - Butt - Linn 2014/4
MOZART Requiem - Currentzis - Alpha 2014/4
MOZART Requiem - Herreweghe - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
MOZART Requiem - Spering - Naïve 2014/4
MOZART Serenata Notturna etc. - Manze - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
MOZART Serenata Notturna etc. - Müllejans - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
MOZART Violin Concertos 3-5 - Manze - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
RACHMANINOV The Transcriptions - Shelley - Hyperion Helios 2014/4
RAMEAU Indes Galantes Suites - Herreweghe - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
RAMEAU Hippolyte, Indes Galantes Stes - Rhorer - COP 2014/4
RESPIGHI Boutique Fantasque, Pentola - Noseda - Chandos 2014/4
RESPIGHI Brazilian Impressions, Boutique - Neschling - BIS 2014/4
RESPIGHI Brazilian Impressions, Pini, Fontane, etc - Chandos 2014/4
SCHUBERT Winterreise - Kaufmann - Sony 2014/4
SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Trio 2 + ARENSKY Yuval Trio - Centaur 2014/4
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony 14 - Petrenko - Naxos 2014/4
Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide - Harmonia Mundi - 2014/4
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Trio + ARENSKY - Trio Wanderer - Harmonia Mundi 2014/4
TELEMANN Luther Cantatas - Schwarz - CPO 2014/4
VIVALDI Concerti per archi II - Alessandrini - Naïve 2014/4
Albert Lam’s reviews
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 [34:00]
Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 [39:07]
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – rec. December 2010 and October 2012. DDD
ORPHEUS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OCOBEE001 [73:07] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and 16-bit lossless)
Beethoven has not been a composer commonly associated with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Until this past February, the only Beethoven composition in their recorded repertoire was The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43, released by DG (419608) in 1998. This most recent release on the orchestra’s own label seeks to change that perception, offering a classic pairing of symphonies taken from live performances at Carnegie Hall in 2010 and 2012.
It’s quite astounding to think that these two works could be coherently presented with a conductor-less orchestra, but that should be no surprise for this 33-member veteran ensemble, whose 41-year existence has historically been based on a more democratic model of musical interaction. While no discerning listener will be fooled into thinking that this is big band Beethoven, the OCE compensates for its numbers by the sheer energy and intensity of its playing. I’ll admit – a greater string presence in some of the more dynamic orchestral tuttis would have provided some additional weight, but this didn’t inhibit my overall enjoyment of this fresh approach to these frequently programmed works.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in G Major, BWV1046 [17:54]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV1051 [15:14]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV1047 [11:30]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV1048 [10:18]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV1050 [20:20]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV1049 [14:45]
Freiburger Barockorchester – rec. May 2013. DDD
pdf booklet included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902176.77 [2 CDs: 90:01] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16-, and 24-bit lossless)
Amidst a vast sea of recordings of these works (just type in Brandenburg Concertos on this site’s search engine and you’ll find four pages of nearly back-to-back reviews) emerges yet another contender, this time the Freiburger Barockorchester, whose recent 2013 recording of the Bach violin concertos was enthusiastically selected as a Review of the Month. To say that the competition in this field is tough would be an understatement, when you’ve got such fine historically-informed performance recordings by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien (Warner 2564687080), Rinaldo Alessandrini and the Concerto Italiano (Naïve OP30412), Trevor Pinnock and the European Brandenburg Ensemble (Avie AV2119 - review), Il Giardino Armonico (Warner 2564698123), Richard Egarr and the Academy of Ancient Music (Harmonia Mundi HMU807461/62), and more recently, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort (Linn CKD430 – review, DN 2013/13), and that’s only mentioning a select few. The performances on this album are not the same as the ones recorded by the same ensemble at Coethen Castle in 2000 and released on DVD for Euroarts in 2006. While I haven’t heard that particular recording, I can say that this new one is certainly worth considering.
While it’s not easy for performances these days to make earth-shattering, revelatory statements about the Brandenburg Concertos, these by the Freiburger Barockorchester are more about just making music. Even without a conductor, the ensemble delivers performances that are coherent, fresh and inspired, and thoroughly enjoyable from the first to the last. I’d recommend downloading the lossless version, which I found to present the ensemble with exceptional clarity and transparency. Instruments were very nicely separated across a wide soundstage, and the deep bass extension provided an aurally pleasing richness to the music.
(See also BW’s review on the main MusicWeb International pages.)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 [31:02]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 [40:22]
Wolfgang Schlöter (clarinet), Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Hans Knappertsbusch – rec. 1962. ADD mono
IDIS IDIS6684 [71:24] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16-bit lossless)
This recording marks the first CD release of live performances of Hans Knappertsbusch with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra taken from 1962. Unfortunately, the lack of any pdf booklet (or any notes at all – I checked at least three different download sites) made it difficult for me to obtain more detailed information about these performances. For instance, it would have been nice to learn more about Wolfgang Schlöter, the soloist on Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, since there are no other available recordings for this artist.
The first movement of the Beethoven is taken at what may be the slowest tempo I have ever heard on record, and things don’t particularly speed up from there. Oddly enough, I wonder if an error was made in dividing the four movements into CD tracks, since the fourth movement actually starts in the middle of the designated track for the third movement and then continues on into the designated track for the fourth movement (which also begins with the same opening notes to the fourth movement). The recordings are all in mono, and sound quality, in spite of re-mastering, is noticeably dated. Unless you feel compelled to go lossless, I would recommend sticking with the less expensive mp3, since you really won’t be missing much here.
(UK purchasers will find mp3 and lossless at the same price, albeit in US$ at $12.85: opt for the lossless and return later for mp3. BW)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
The Flight of the Bumblebee (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [1:17]
Liebeslied (Fritz Kreisler, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [4:17]
Minuet (Georges Bizet, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [3:00]
Wohin ? (Franz Schubert, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [2:43]
Hopak (Modest Musorgsky, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [1:46]
Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV1006 (Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [8:09]
Margaritki “Daisies” [2:19]
Scherzo (Felix Mendelssohn, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [4:26]
Siren “Lilacs” [2:33]
Polka de W R (Franz Behr, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [4:09]
Kolïbel’naya Pesnya “Lullaby” (Pyotr Tchaikovsky, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [4:09]
Liebesfreud (Fritz Kreisler, arr. Sergei Rachmaninov) [7:02]
Vocalise (arr. Zoltán Kocsis) [6:40]
Howard Shelley (piano) – rec. February 1991. DDD
pdf booklet included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55458 [52:30] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16-bit lossless)
Howard Shelley’s charming album of Rachmaninov’s transcriptions for solo piano was warmly received when it was first released in 1991 and makes a welcome return to Hyperion’s budget label. The album came at the tail end of his more than 10-year journey to record the composer’s complete solo piano works (Shelley having been the first pianist ever to perform all of Rachmaninov’s solo piano works in concert). Though the program is on the shorter side at 52 minutes, it’s full of gems. There’s quite a variety here, ranging from transcriptions of works by Bach, Bizet, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Behr, as well as arrangements of some of Rachmaninov’s own songs.
Concluding the album is pianist Zoltán Kocsis’ own arrangement of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, which, surprisingly, was never transcribed by the composer himself. Shelley’s playing throughout is both brilliant and expressive, with the piano beautifully recorded at St. Michael’s Church, Highgate in London.
Recording of the Month
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Brazilian Impressions [21:22]
La Boutique Fantasque (based on music by Gioachino Rossini) [46:46]
Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège/John Neschling – rec. April 2013. DDD
pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-2050 [68:55] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Following his 2011 album of Respighi’s “Roman Trilogy” ( review), conductor John Neschling returns to the Italian master of orchestration, this time joining forces with the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège in a new release of Respighi’s Brazilian Impressions and La Boutique Fantasque. One of the first things that will catch your attention with this recording is the stunning sound quality, particularly with the 24-bit lossless download, which offers an incredibly dynamic and realistic three-dimensional soundscape. As both of the works on this album showcase the colors and textures of the orchestra, BIS’ exemplary sound engineering truly augments the listening experience.
In Brazilian Impressions, Neschling starts off with a more relaxed approach to the Notte Tropicale movement than Antal Doráti in his classic 1960 Mercury recording with the LSO (4785092). Dorati’s habañera rhythms are a little more precise, but Neschling paints the more expansive and enchanting musical image of the tropical Brazilian night. Neschling’s Belgian forces are in excellent form throughout, the winds being especially commendable for their clarity and intonation. The bell that tolls in the Canzone e Danza is the most realistic sounding bell I have ever heard on record, and you can just about feel it right there before you. Not since Alceo Galliera’s 1960 EMI recording with the Philharmonia have I heard a more energetic and dynamic performance of La Boutique Fantasque than this one. This release is a winner, and you simply won’t find a better sounding recording of these works out there.
Brian Wilson’s reviews
Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide
Plainsong Stabat Mater dolorosa [0:41]
Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) O vos omnes [4:18]
Orlande de LASSUS (1532-94) Tristis est anima mea [3:59]
Plainsong O quam tristis et afflicta [0:38]
Thomas TALLIS (1505-85) In ieiunio et fletu [4:05]
John STAINER (1840-1901) God so loved the world [3:40]
Plainsong Quis est homo qui non fleret [0:39]
Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613) Caligaverunt oculi mei [6:26]
Graham ROSS (b.1985) Ut tecum lugeam * [3:01]
Plainsong Pro peccatis suæ gentis [0:42]
John SANDERS (1933-2003) The Reproaches [10:47]
Plainsong Eia, Mater, fons amoris [0:35]
Antonio LOTTI (1667-1740) Crucifixus a 8 [3:01]
Plainsong Sancta Mater, istud agas [0:38]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Er nahm alles wohl in acht [1:08]
William BYRD (c.1540-1623) Ave verum corpus [4:08]
Plainsong Fac me tecum pie flere [0:39]
Thomas TALLIS Salvator Mundi I [2:07]
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-96) Christus factus est [5:03]
Plainsong Virgo virginum præclara [0:39]
William BYRD Ne irascaris; Civitas sancti tui [9:09]
Plainsong Fac me plagis vulnerari [0:36]
Graham ROSS Precor te, Domine * [7:53]
Plainsong Christe, cum sit hinc exire [0:46]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-86) Ubi caritas [2:22]
* world première recordings
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross
Rec. All Hallows’ Church, Gospel Oak, London, UK, July 2013. DDD
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907616 [77:56] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
This is Harmonia Mundi’s second recording with Clare College Choir and it’s a follow-up to their music for Advent (Veni Emmanuel, HMU907579 – review and DL News 2013/17). As before, the general model is the St John’s Advent service, with plainsong interspersed with seasonal music from a wide range of composers, from the Renaissance to the present day – two works by the choir’s director. It’s a programme that works well despite the disparity of styles – even Stanford fits in better than I’ve seen suggested in one response – and you would hardly believe that the choir is still young in its present form. Like Merton College, Oxford, they have come on in leaps and bounds and sound fully professional.
With very good recording, especially in 24-bit format, and an attractive and helpful booklet of notes, even those who have most of the music in other collections – the Cardinall’s Musick’s Byrd (ASV and Hyperion) or Chapelle du Roi’s Tallis (Signum and Brilliant Classics), for example – should find this programme attractive.
Giulio CACCINI (1551-1618)
L’Euridice (1600) (Transcription and edition by Massimiliano Pollio and Rinaldo Alessandrini)
Silvia Frigato (soprano) - Euridice, La Tragedia
Furio Zanasi (baritone) - Orfeo
Giampaolo Fagotto (tenor) - Arcetro
Luca Dordolo (tenor) - Tirsi, Aminta
Sara Mingardo (contralto) - Dafne, Proserpina
Monica Piccinini (soprano) - Venere
Antonio Abete (bass) - Plutone
Matteo Bellotto (bass) - Radamanto
Mauro Borgioni (baritone) - Caronte
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
rec. live Innsbrucker Festwochen der alten Musik, August 2013. DDD
Naïve OP30552 [79:10] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with booklet containing texts and translations)
Peri and Caccini vie for the honour of having composed the first extant opera, Peri’s very first work in that genre having been lost. Both celebrated the marriage of Maria de Medici and Henri IV of France (Florence, 1600) by setting the story of Orpheus and Euridice, a theme more famously set to music a few years later by Monteverdi. Don’t expect the elaborate instrumental accompaniment of the Monteverdi but both the Caccini and Peri are well worth hearing, the latter recorded on Arts 47276-2 – see DL Roundup February 2012/2.
Caccini packs the music into a shorter space than Peri, though I marginally prefer the latter. There’s an earlier Ricercar album on which performance and recording are very good and the massive booklet – far too large to print out and squeeze into a CD case – provides all the information that you need. (DL Roundup February 2012/2).
The new Alessandrini recording, unfortunately, comes without any documentation from eclassical.com and Naïve are incorrect to claim this on their web-site as ‘LE PREMIER OPÉRA de l’histoire de la musique’ – their upper-case – for reasons explained above. Those grumbles apart, however, the new recording presents a strong challenge, vocally and in quality of direction and recording to the earlier Ricercar. Subscribers to the Naxos Music Library will be able to compare the two and also find a booklet for the new Naïve album there.
Users should find the new eclassical.com interface neater and faster than before.
Giovanni Battista FONTANA (1571-1630) Sonate a violino ed altri strumenti
Sonata undecima a due violini col basso [7:38]
Sonata 4 a violino solo e basso [5:18]
Sonata 1 a flauto solo col basso [3:56]
Sonata 5 a violino sol e basso [5:41]
Sonata ottava a due violini col basso [5:52]
Sonata 2 a violino solo e basso [6:38]
Sonata 3 a flauto solo col basso [4:56]
Sonata 6 a violino solo e basso [6:21]
Sonata settima a due violini col basso [4:59]
Stradivaria (Daniel Cuiller, Anne Chevallerau (violins); Marie-Noëlle Visse Schwertz (recorders); Bertrand Cuiller, Jocelyne Cuiller (harpsichords and organ); Benoît vanden Bemden (violone))/Daniel Cuiller
rec. la Chapelle de l’Immaculée, Nantes, France, 29 November – 2 December, 2011. DDD
pdf booklet included
MIRARE MIR214 [51:14] – from eclassical.com (mp3 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Venezia 1625: The golden age of Venetian instrumental music
CASTELLO Sonata seconda a sopran solo [6:35]
UCCELINI Symphonia XX La Virmingarda [2:05]
Sonata XXVI sopra la Prosperina [4:13]
Aria quinta sopra la Bergamasca [3:32]
Giovanni Battista FONTANA Sonate a 1, 2, 3 per il Violino o Cornetto – Sonata III [4:56]
STORACE Improvisation sopra la Ciaccona (Book 4) [1:29]
MERULA Chiaccona Canzone a due violini [2:42]
Giovanni Battista FONTANA Sonata IV [4:51]
UCCELINI Symphonia XIV La Foschina [2:50]
Luigi ROSSI Sinfonia XI in eco [1:51]
Giovanni Battista FONTANA Sonata II [5:54]
UCCELINI Symphonia XVII La Stucharda [1:03]
MERULA Canzon XVII La Monteverde [3:26]
Canzon La Pighetta [5:55]
PICCINI Toccata 2 Intavolatura di chitarrone [2:17]
Giovanni Battista FONTANA Sonata 6 [6:24]
MERULA Canzon La Strada [3:14]
STORACE Sonata II detta la Luciminia contenta [4:03]
Maurice Steger (recorder and direction), Hille Perl (viola da gamba), Lee Santana (chitarrone), Naoki Kitaya (organ and harpsichord), Sergio Ciomei (harpsichord and organ), Thomas Boysen (theorbo and baroque guitar), Mauro Valli (cello), Margret Köll (baroque harp), Thor-Harald Johnsen (baroque guitar), Sabrina Frey (recorder), Eva Borhi (violin), Christian Beuse (dulcian), Stefan Temmingh (recorder) and Peter Barczi (violin)
All instrumentations and realisations by Maurice Steger, played on period instruments, high Venetian pitch, A = 466 Hz, 1/6 meantone.
Released 2009. DDD.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902024 [67:20] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
One thing is evident from Daniel Cuillers’s notes in the booklet and the performances which he leads, that these are performances from musicians passionate about the music of Fontana. Having enjoyed their performances of Bach keyboard concertos (MIR085* – DL Roundup April 2012/1) I had high expectations of this recording and I was not disappointed.
* Also available in mp3 and lossless sound from eclassical.com, both superior to the emusic. com mp3 only which I reviewed in 2012.
Maurice Steger casts his net wider. Without a booklet of notes it’s very difficult to sort out what’s what and who’s who from the eclassical.com information but I think I’ve got it all laid out correctly. As there is only a small overlap between the two collections, I see no reason why aficionados wouldn’t want and be well served by both of these recordings. Both are delightful. If you choose only one, the Mirare comes in 24-bit sound and with a booklet.
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Tesori Del Piemonte - vol. 57
Concerti per archi, vol. II
String concertos: RV150 [4:00]; RV134 [5:23]; RV151 [3:24]; RV119 [5:16]; RV110 [3:47]; RV160 [4:42]; RV128 [5:11]; RV164 [4:13]; RV127 [3:56]; RV166 [5:45]; RV157 [5:20]
Concerto Italiano (Mauro Lopez Ferreira, Nicholas Robinson (violins); Ettore Belli (viola); Diego Roncalli (cello); Luca Cola (double bass); Craig Marchitelli (theorbo))/Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)
rec. June 2013 Oratoria del Gonfalone, Rome, Italy. DDD
pdf booklet included
NAÏVE OP30554 [51:14] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
(see review by Michael Cookson)
This is the follow-up to Volume 1 (OP30550: Recording of the Month – DL News 2013/18) but with completely different performers: Rinaldo Alessandrini and his Concerto Italiano instead of Il Pomo d’Oro but with yet another of Naïve’s elegant ladies wearing something silly in her hair. Performances, recording and notes are just as desirable as before.
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Luther Cantatas
Herr, wir liegen vor dir , TWV1:781 (Trinity 6) [11:29]
Es woll uns Gott genädig sein , TWV1:544 (Trinity 14) [17:08]
Es spricht der unweisen Mund , TWV1:533 (Trinity 8) [8:43]
So ziehet nun an als die Auserwählten Gottes , TWV1:1390 (Trinity 6) [13:55]
Wertes Zion, sei getröst , TWV 1:1606 (Trinity 23) [19:09]
Siri Karoline Thornhill (soprano), Stefan Kahle (boy alto), Susanne Krunbiegel (alto), Tobias Hunger (tenor), Gotthold Schwarz (bass),
Bach Consort Leipzig,
Sächsisches Barockorchester/Gotthold Schwarz
CPO 777753-2 [70:24] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (abridged pdf booklet – no texts)
To the best of my knowledge there are no rival recordings of any of these cantatas in the current catalogue. In fact Telemann’s huge cantata output – much larger than Bach’s extant œuvre, as you’ll see from the fact that one of these works is No.1606 – is still far from well represented. The current release and the ongoing series from Bergen Barock on Toccata, currently five volumes, are especially welcome. Despite the title and striking cover shot, the words are mostly not by Luther himself but by Lutheran composers, especially Erdmann Neumeister, a long-term collaborator with Telemann. The cover shot of Luther nailing the theses to the church door reminds us how much he came to be mythologised – it seems likely that he never uttered his supposed words at the Diet of Worms* but his theology exercised a powerful influence on Telemann and Bach.
* Hie steh’ ich; ich kann nicht anders – Here I stand; I can do no other.
This would be worth having even if the performances were less accomplished – no outstanding singing but all extremely competent and well recorded. Unfortunately, it’s the usual problem with CPO downloads – no booklet at all from eclassical.com and a useless cut-me-down version with no texts from NML. That’s especially annoying when the texts of Telemann’s cantatas are not easy to come by unless you have access to a University library.
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Les Indes Galantes - Symphonies
Entrée des Quatre-Nations [1:35]
Air Polonois [1:50]
Air pour les Guerriers portans les drapeaux [1:18]
Air pour les Amants qui suivent Bellone et pour les Amantes qui tâchent de les retenir [1:16]
Air pour les Amours [1:03]
Air pour les Esclaves Africains [1:38]
Rigaudons en Rondeau [1:16]
Air des Sauvages [1:56]
Ritournelle des fleurs [1:17]
Loure en Rondeau [1:34]
Orage - Air pour Borée et la Rose [1:45]
Air pour Zéphire [2:12]
Marche des Persans [1:13]
Air tendre pour la Rose [1:37]
Air grave pour les Incas du Pérou [1:37]
Adoration du Soleil [1:26]
La Chapelle Royale/Philippe Herreweghe
Harmonia Mundi HMA1951130 [43:44] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Hippolyte et Aricie Suite (1753 version) [18:48]
Les Indes galantes Suite [32:24]
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia/Jérémie Rhorer
Rec. live. Date? March 2008?
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia COP069 [51:12] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Rameau explained the circumstances of his having arranged the purely orchestral music from his Opéra-ballet. ‘The public’s having seemed less satisfied with the scenes of Les Indes galantes than with the rest of the work, I have not thought it necessary to appeal to its judgment, and it is for this reason that I am presenting to it only the Symphonies intermingled with some of the sung Airs … from the Prologue, as well as the first three Entrées … out of which I have shaped four large Concerts in different keys.’
It seems that he was over a century too late for that sort of spectacle. Had he lived at the time when Montaigne wrote his celebrated Essay Des Sauvages and Jean de Léry his Histoire d’un Voyage fait en la terre du Brésil, autrement dit Amérique, the public couldn’t get enough of the idea of the Noble Savage.
To appreciate Les Indes Galantes fully, in all its glory, you need to turn to the Opus Arte DVD – review – but the Herreweghe recording of 24 numbers provides an attractive alternative.
The parent CD comes at bargain price but the short playing time and eclassical.com’s per-second charging policy make the download more than competitive at $7.87 apart from the lack of a booklet.
Rhorer offers a shorter selection – just 15 items as against Herreweghe’s 24 – but there’s a bonus in the form of the Suite from Hippolyte et Aricie. The live performances are stylish – Rhorer, who also works with period ensembles, applies some of their practices, though not totally eschewing some vibrato – and the recording sounds well, with very few noises off. The extended applause, though well deserved, will not be to all tastes.
Now would someone please instruct Radio 3 and Classic FM presenters to stop pronouncing the title of this work as if it were Les Andes galantes or even Les Ondes galantes – it’s not about the Andes or the waves.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Easter Cantatas
Vita sanctorum (Hymn from Florilegium selectissimorum Hymnorum)* [1:09]
Johann Sebastian BACH Cantata No.4 Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV4 (Easter Sunday, 1707/08) [20:45]
Georg Christoph BILLER (b.1955) St.-Thomas-Ostermusik for solo, choir, organ, and percussion (2012) [15:49]
Vox Angelorum nuncio * [1:03]
Johann Sebastian BACH Cantata No.31 Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, BWV31 (Easter Sunday, April 1715) [19:40]
Chorus novæ Ierusalem * [1:01]
Johann Sebastian BACH Cantata No.67 Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, BWV67 (First Sunday after Easter, April 1724) [13:42]
Ensemble Florilegium *
Tobias Hunger, Martin Petzold (tenor); Andreas Scheibner, Gotthold Schwarz, Matthias Weichert (bass);
St Thomas Choir, Leipzig
Members of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Christoph Biller
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
Rec April 2010 (BWV4) and April 2013. DDD.
RONDEAU ROP4045 [76:15] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
This is the fifth, but the last to be released, of ten recordings of music for the liturgical year made by the modern equivalent of Bach’s choir at St Thomas’s and directed by his successor as Thomaskantor, together with some of the latter’s own Eastertide music and interspersed with traditional Latin hymns, of which the last, Ye choirs of New Jerusalem, will be the most familiar to Anglophones, though not the tune.
The conductor, Christoph Biller, is Bach’s successor as Thomaskantor, so the natural comparison is with older-style Lutheran conductors such as Karl Richter, collections of whose recordings were once available in CD box sets, including one of music for Easter. That box seems to have gone the way of all flesh except as a download from prestoclassical.co.uk, though the Advent and Christmas set remains available and the Easter Cantata No.4 is still available on a single CD with Nos.56 and 82, performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Munich Bach Choir (DG E4271282) or on a 2-CD set with Nos. 51, 56, 140, 147 and 202 (DG 4530942).
Comparing Biller with Richter in No.4, tempi are very similar, with one slightly faster here, the other there; overall Richter is a minute slower (21:53 against 20:45), which is hardly significant. As you might expect, Suzuki, whose performances are rightly rated so highly (BIS-CD-751) is consistently a little faster (18:29) but the main point is that neither Biller nor Richter allows the music to drag.
You wouldn’t expect boy soloists to be as note-perfect as their competitors on recordings by Suzuki (BIS) Koopman (Challenge Classics) and Gardiner (SDG) and some tolerance is needed, but I’m prepared to pay the price for the sound that Bach would have expected. The singing in Letzte Stunde brich heran (Cantata 31) is similar to that on the Harnoncourt recording (Warner Teldec); if anything, Biller’s treble sounds rather more secure and his tempo a shade sprightlier.
I started with the assumption that the selling point of this recording would be its Leipzig provenance. Never judge a book by its cover; I ended up liking it considerably and wondering whether to play these performances or one of their rivals on Easter Sunday.
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Missa in angustiis ‘Lord Nelson Mass’, Hob XXII:11 [35:53]
Symphony No 102 in B-flat [24:08]
Mary Wilson (soprano), Abigail Fischer (mezzo), Keith Jameson (tenor), Kevin Deas (bass-baritone)
Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
rec. Mechanics Hall, Boston, 16-17 April 2013. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
LINN CKD426 [60:01] (SACD, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless downloads from linnrecords.com; mp3 and 16-bit lossless downloads from hyperion-records.co.uk).
Linn bring us fine new recordings this month of two of the three greatest choral works of the classical period – Haydn’s Missa in angustiis and Mozart’s Requiem. I recently reviewed John Eliot Gardiner’s latest recording of the third member of that trinity, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, on his SDG label (SDG718 –DL News 2014/2 andRecording of the Month – review).
Boston Baroque have already given us a version of Haydn’s Creation to challenge existing recommendations (Linn CKD401:Recording of the Month – review and July 2012/2 DL Roundup). Now they have equally strong competition to beat in the so-called ‘Nelson’ Mass:
DG 4230972 : Trevor Pinnock (+ Te Deum in C) – April 2009 DL Roundup: Recording of the Month. Also available less expensively with Nikolaimesse on Classic FM label – £4.99 from 7digital.com
Naxos 8.572173 : J Owen Burdick (+ Nikolaimesse) – review – Bargain of the Month
Philips E4702862 : John Eliot Gardiner (+ Theresienmesse, Te Deum in C). Also available inexpensively on Decca Masterpieces – Haydn: Great Choral Works, with Missa in tempore belli (Paukenmesse), The Creation (Antal Doráti – a very decent alternative to the top-line recordings such as the Linn) and The Seasons (Georg Solti – a large-scale performance). Over 5 hours of music for £8.49 from 7digital.com. As usual with 7digital.com you will need to renumber the tracks to play them in the right order, which is (expletive deleted) annoying when there are 77 tracks: re-number them A01, A02, etc. for The Creation, B01, etc. for the Masses and C01 onwards for The Seasons. Back up the tracks first and re-number very carefully.
Chandos CHAN0640 : Richard Hickox (+ Ave Regina, Missa brevis in F) – review – or CHAN0734 (8-CD Complete Mass Edition) – March 2009 DL Roundup. Both formats are available from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless, with booklet).
NCR1385 : Edward Higginbottom (+ Insanæ et vanæ curæ) – DL News 2013/7. Recommended as very good of its kind – i.e. with an Oxford Choir, in this case from New College – DL News 2013/7
Double Decca 4550202 : David Willcocks (+ Paukenmesse, Kleine Orgelmesse, Harmoniemesse) – recommended principally for the other works, conducted by George Guest, but you get a good performance of the ‘Nelson’ Mass from one of the greats of the old school and all at budget price. The ‘Nelson’ Mass is also available on Beulah 1PD70 – DL News 2013/7 – and in a 24-bit transfer from Linn ( UNI004 – with Gloria).
It would be futile to try to recommend a best buy among such distinguished competition and I’m not about to try. If I didn’t have a recording of this wonderful music, were on a limited budget, didn’t mind mp3 sound – at the full 320kb/s rate – and had the patience to unscramble the tracks, I’d go for Gardiner on the Decca Masterpieces download.
If I wanted a complete set of the Haydn Masses – all wonderful, even the earlier ones – I should go for the Hickox set on Chandos: fine performances and good value, too, as a box set. The compromise position would be to buy the four mature Masses on the Decca twofer, another good-value purchase: the Guest recordings have stood the test of time well and the Willcocks Nelson Mass is by no means to be sniffed at.
For a single-disc purchase the Pinnock recording still takes some beating – not for nothing has it remained at full price, though the Classic FM alternative coupling is tempting for the impecunious – but the new Linn recording offers a very strong rival in performance terms and comes in SACD and as an audiophile-quality 24-bit download and I see no reason not to rate it very highly.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Just as last month’s Bach bonanza was by accident rather than planning, so is this month’s Mozart-fest.
Serenade in G, K525, ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’* [19:20]
Serenade No. 6 in D, K239, Serenata Notturna** [12:30]
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for violin and viola, K364*** [31:27]
Leon Spierer (violin)**, Emil Maas (violin)**, Heinz Kirchner (viola)**, Rainer Zepperitz (double bass)**; Thomas Brandis (violin)***, Giusto Cappone (viola)***
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra*; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra**/***/Karl Böhm
rec. c.1967-76. ADD.
DG E4272082 [63:19] – from amazon.co.uk (mp3)
Serenade in G, K525, ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ [19:47]
Divertimento in D, K136 (125a) [16:30]
Divertimento in B-flat, Kl37 (125b) [13:00]
Divertimento in F, K138 (125c) [12:12]
Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble (Nils-Erik Sparf, Tullo Galli (violins); Lars Brolin (viola); Kari Ottesen (cello); Olof Larsson (double bass); Björn Gäfvert (harpsichord))
rec. Petruskyrkan, Stockholm, Sweden, January 1991.
pdf booklet included
BIS-CD-506 [63:16] - from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Serenade No. 6 in D, K239, Serenata Notturna [18:25]
Divertimento in D, K136, ‘Salzburg Symphony No. 1’ [16:25]
Divertimento in B-Flat, K137, ‘Salzburg Symphony No. 2’ [12:12]
Divertimento in F, K138, ‘Salzburg Symphony No. 3’ [12:16]
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Petra Müllejans
First released 2004. DDD
HARMONIA MUNDI HMA1951809 or HMX2961809 [59:18] - from eclassical.com –here or here (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Serenade in G, K525 (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) [20:50]
Adagio and Fugue in c minor K546 [6:58]
Minuet in C, K485a [2:20]
Serenade No.6 in D, K239 (Serenata Notturna) [13:42]
Ein musikalischer Spaß , K522 (A Musical Joke) [23:09]
The English Concert/Andrew Manze
Rec. February/March 2003. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807280 (HMX2907280) [67:08] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
Böhm: old-style Mozart, but about as good as that gets. These recordings have been round the block several times on LP, cassette and CD, but are still worth hearing. There’s an alternative coupling on DG Virtuoso of the first two items plus Serenade No.9 (‘Posthorn’).
It’s a long time since I heard Böhm in Mozart, though it was from his earlier 1950s recordings that I got to know the first two works here. The opening Eine kleine Nachtmusik from 1976 is as sprightly as you could wish, apart from a slight stiffness in the menuetto third movement, and the other works, recorded more than a decade earlier, are still more than viable. Don’t imagine, however, that because Böhm takes only two thirds the time of Müllejans for the Serenata Notturna that he is that much faster – the performance is rather brisk, but the difference is explained mainly by Müllejan’s repeat of the opening march as the finale.
Despite what some sites claim, only Eine kleine Nachtmusik was recorded with the Vienna Phil; the other pieces were made with the Berlin Phil, whose principals participate in the Serenata Notturna and as soloists in the Sinfonia Concertante.
The least expensive download that I could find was from amazon.co.uk (£5.49), at around 250kb/s – if you want 320kb/s or lossless you will need to pay more: for the latter that may mean more than the CD costs. The 1970s recording of the Vienna Phil is noticeably brighter than the earlier Berlin Phil tracks but the ear soon adjusts and everything here sounds much more than tolerable.
Müllejans: This sprightly account of the Serenata Notturna, with wake-up drum strokes and growling cello, is more likely to have you marching round the bedroom than to soothe you to sleep. Forget the nocturnal part of the title, however, and it’s very enjoyable and the rest of the programme also benefits from stylish playing and very good recording, especially in the lossless version. Neither the Böhm nor the Müllejans comes with a booklet and UK buyers are likely to find the Harmonia Mundi CD for somewhat less than the eclassical.com download price.
Manze: for his first recording with the English concert, Andrew Manze turned to Mozart’s autograph score of Eine kleine Nachtmusik, thereby avoiding mistakes which have crept into printed editions, such as the marking piano in the middle of the slow movement. Where no such marking exists in the manuscript, Manze plays stormily, as before. From the very start it’s apparent that, good as the Böhm recording is of its kind, Manze takes us to a different world and one closer to those who would have heard this music for the first time.
As with the other Harmonia Mundi recording, while the download may be attractive to those who pay in US dollars, UK purchasers should find the CD with the second catalogue number that I have listed for rather less.
Three violin concertos
Concerto No.3 in G, K216 [24:04]
Concerto No.4 in D, K218 [22:35]
Concerto No.5 in A, K219 [28:50]
(All cadenzas by Andrew Manze)
The English Concert/Andrew Manze (solo violin and director)
rec. Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London, March 2005. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907385 [75:38] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
(also available as SACD, HMU807385)
I almost gave up on these recordings before they had properly started – why does Manze introduce such a blatant rubato at the very beginning of K216? It’s certainly not what we have come to expect from period performance and it took me by surprise, but I grew into Manze’s way with this music as I listened.
This is certainly not the rigid style that sometimes passes for authenticity, with plenty of affection on display, especially in the slow movements. I shall not be ditching Grumiaux’s accounts of all five genuine Mozart Violin Concertos and Sinfonia Concertante with Colin Davis (budget-price Decca Duo 4383232), but this is a fine modern alternative, very well recorded, especially in lossless sound.
The download comes with two alternative booklets – one straight from the SACD, the other designed for the download – take your pick.
Requiem (premiere recording of Mozart scholar David Black’s new 2013 edition of Süssmayr’s completion of Mozart’s Requiem, with reconstruction of first performance.)
Requiem in d minor, K626 (ed. Süssmayr) (1791) [47:47]
Misericordias Domini - Offertory, K222 [7:09]
Reconstruction of Requiem performed at Mozart’s Funeral in 1793:
Requiem æternam [4:29]
Joanne Lunn (soprano), Rowan Hellier (alto), Thomas Hobbs (tenor), Matthew Brook (bass-baritone)
Dunedin Consort/John Butt
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
rec Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, 15-19 September, 2013. DDD/DSD
Linn CKD449 [61:41] – from linnrecords.com (SACD, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless)
Requiem, K626 (ed. Süssmayr) (1791) [50:01]
Fragments as left incomplete by Mozart [23:09]
Iride Martinez (soprano), Monica Groop (alto), Steve Davislim (tenor), Kwangchul Youn (bass)
Chorus Musicus Köln
Das Neue Orchester/Christoph Spering
NAÏVE V5108 or OP30307 [73:10] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Requiem, K626 (ed. Süssmayr) (1791) [47:18]
Kyrie , K341 [6:23]
Sibylla Rubens (soprano), Annette Markert (contralto), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass)
La Chapelle Royale
Collegium Vocale Gent
Orchestre des Champs-Élysées/Philippe Herreweghe
Rec. live Montreux, October 1996. DDD.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMX2961620 [53:41] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
(also available on full-price CD as HMC901620).
Requiem, K626 (ed. Süssmayr) (1791) [46:32]
Simone Kermes (soprano)
Stephanie Houtzeel (alto)
Markus Brutscher (tenor)
Arnaud Richard (bass)
The New Siberian Singers
rec. February 2010, Novosibirsk Opera. DDD.
ALPHA 178 [46:32] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet)
Slightly less than a year ago, reviewing the King’s College recording (KGS0002), I added the question of the ‘best’ MozartRequiem to the list of the great unknowables – DL News 2013/8. I liked that recording and named others with Neville Marriner (Decca Virtuoso), Colin Davis (Philips Duo, download only), Peter Schreier (Philips) and Harry Christophers (Coro) in charge, with the Marriner as my Desert Island choice. It’s a quest made more not less difficult by having got to know so many fine recordings, from the first LP that I owned, with Hermann Scherchen, the VSOO and some distinguished soloists on World Record Club T140, licensed, I believe, from Ducretet-Thomson.
Now, predictably in the light of his other recordings for Linn Records, John Butt with his Dunedin Consort comes along to challenge the top runners. As if I hadn't had enough of a problem naming the best in the field before, I’ve also considered the Herreweghe, Spering and Currentzis accounts, each of which, like the Linn, has something special to offer. In the case of the new Linn recording, it’s the inclusion of Mozart’s own setting of the communion anthem Misericordias Domini and a reconstruction both of the Requiem as it left the hands of Süssmayr before editors began to :improve: on it and of the performance of Requiem Æternam and Kyrie as they might have been performed in December 1791 at Mozart’s own funeral service.
The King’s recording included sections of the Requiem in various editions. Spering does something different – his recording is completed with 23 minutes of those parts of the work which Mozart left incomplete before Süssmayr worked on them. I wouldn’t want to hear these every time any more than I want to hear the Lutheran Good Friday Vespers which Butt included on his recording of the St John Passion last year. They push up the per-second price, too – you may well find the CD on sale for less – but they are of considerable scholarly interest.
The Opus 111 original release came with a striking cover; that for the Naïve reissue is drab by comparison but it’s what’s inside that counts and that’s far from drab.
The Herreweghe recording, not to be confused with his DVD of the Requiem in commemoration of Chopin, was briefly available at budget price but appears to have reverted to full price on CD, so the eclassical.com price of $9.66 is competitive – eclassical.com charge by the second, thereby atoning for the fairly short playing time – though the lack of texts and notes is a handicap.
This is a less dramatic performance than we have grown used to and as exemplified by the new Linn recording, but it is well worthy of consideration, with all concerned giving of their best and it sounds well, especially in the lossless download. You should turn up the volume a notch for the full impact when comparing it with the Linn. If you think a Requiem ought to be less than overpowering – but not dull or insipid – this could be your ideal version and there’s no lack of power in the Dies Iræ – try the Confutatis section, track 7.
The Kyrie, K341, which completes this recording seems to have been intended to celebrate Mozart’s appointment as Kapellmeister of St Stephen’s Cathedral, a post which he was destined never to take up.
Currentzis : alongside the pros and cons aptly delineated by Robert Hugill – ‘This will not be a Mozart Requiem for everyone, but Currentzis and his performers give a brilliantly performed account, bringing a breezy freshness to the whole enterprise which is infectious. I will certainly be playing this again’ – review – this happens to be the least expensive of the eclassical.com downloads ($8.38).
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise, D111.
Jonas Kaufmann (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
SONY CLASSICAL 888837956321 (UK) 886444231572 (US) [70:01] – stream from Naxos Music Library
First-rate recordings of Schubert’s vocal output seem to be coming along in bunches like London buses at the moment. I’ve only just joined John Quinn in welcoming Gerald Finley and Julius Drake in the recent Hyperion recording of Winterreise (CDA68034:Recording of the Month – review and review) when, as I signalled in that review, Jonas Kaufmann comes along to challenge the top rankings. Six years ago his singing of the title role was one of the best things about a DVD of Schubert’s Fierrabras which I thought only partly successful – review: now he brings us much more essential Schubert repertoire.
On first hearing, as I reported, I thought Kaufmann a little too hectoring at times, but overall his performance is remarkably understated and he is ably assisted by Helmut Deutsch. I listened via Naxos Music Library, whose premium quality is less than ideal, but even there it’s apparent that the recording is good. Try it for yourself if you can.
The touchstone for any Winterreise performance must be the haunting final song, Der Leiermann – there’s a PhD awaiting an analysis of just that one song – and both Finley and Kaufmann pass with flying colours. Then I listened immediately afterwards to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore (EMI, now Warner Classics), also available for streaming from NML, and I can’t avoid saying that they transported me to an even more ethereal place where, like the Leiermann in the song, I was content to let all striving and all analysis cease: Und er läßt es gehen alles wie es will. Whatever else, one of F-D’s recordings – the EMI/Warner or one of the DG recordings that I mentioned in my Hyperion review – is an essential. Mannered he may be, but wonderfully mannered.
The least expensive download of the new Sony that I could find costs £6.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk and it’s at the top mp3 bit-rate of 320kb/s. amazon.co.uk have it at the same price but their bit-rate is likely to be only around 250kb/s.
You may be tempted by the Alpha recording of Winterreise with fortepiano accompaniment (ALPHA101, Hans Jörg Mammel and Arthur Schoonderwoerd [68:31]) but it’s not an experiment that I can recommend. Much as I admire Schoonderwoerd’s playing on other Alpha releases, it was only in Der Leiermann that the fortepiano added to my appreciation. Try it from NML and you will see what I mean by saying that the singing is competent but routine, though in Der Leiermann I heard a degree of other-worldliness that I found lacking elsewhere – even that is spoiled by an up-beat final note where F-D lets the music rise and die away – and the acoustic far from ideal.
Anton ARENSKY (1861–1906) Piano Trios
Piano Trio No.1 in d minor Op.32 [34:23]
Piano Trio No.2 in f minor Op.73 [32:15]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873–1943), arr. Julius CONUS (1869–1942)
Vocalise Op.34/14 [6:23]
Leonore Piano Trio (Tim Horton (piano), Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Gemma Rosefield (cello))
rec. Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, UK, March 2013. DDD
pdf booklet included
HYPERION CDA68015 [73:01] - from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
The Leonore Trio's recording debut is particularly welcome in that it brings us both of the Arensky Piano Trios, not just the comparatively well-known first, thus vying with the recordings by the Borodin Trio on Chandos and the Rachmaninov Trio Moscow on Tudor. Performance and recording have nothing to fear even from that strong competition:
Chandos CHAN10184: Borodin Trio (Piano Trios 1 and 2: mid price) - from theclassicalshop.net
Tudor CD7152: Rachmaninov Trio Moscow (Piano Trios 1 and 2) - review
Once regarded as little more than an appendage to his mentor and friend Tchaikovsky, whose own Piano Trio Arensky's first so closely resembles, his music is becoming better known in its own right and there are several recordings of the first Piano Trio in various couplings which I'm acquainted with:
Harmonia Mundi HMC902161: Trio Wanderer (+ TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Trio) - from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
Centaur CRC2443 Yuval Trio (+ SHOSTAKOVICH No.2 in e minor) - No CD: download from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless, no booklet)
CRD3409 The Nash Ensemble (+ RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Quintet) - see DL Roundup April 2009
Trio Wanderer, whom I can’t remember ever letting us down, give powerful, heartfelt performances of the ‘traditional’ Arensky-Tchaikovsky coupling. Well recorded, complete with pdf booklet and available in fine 24-bit sound, this could well become the benchmark for both works and my only reservation lies in the fact that combining the two works – less common than it was – points up the similarities between them and makes Arensky sound less his own man.
Only if you need to economise would you choose the older Naxos recording with this coupling, as well as that has served me for many years (8.550467: Vovka Ashkenazy Trio). Otherwise choose between Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi according to your choice of coupling.
There’s also a recording of the Violin Concerto by Julius Conus, who arranged the Rachmaninov Vocalise performed by the Leonore Trio. That’s on Naxos (with Arensky and Weinberg Violin Concertos) but it’s slightly let down in the Arensky, which receives a better performance on Hyperion, coupled with Taneyev – see DL Roundup October 2011/2.
Reinhold Moritsevich GLIÈRE (1875-1956)
Symphony No.3 in b minor ‘Il’ya Muromets’, Op.42 (1911)
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta
Rec. Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, USA, 3-5 May, 2013. DDD
pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573161 [71:41] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or classicsonline.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
‘… an excellent performance that is enhanced by its superb – and superbly balanced – sound-picture. Even without the attractive Naxos price, it would be among the best recommendations for a listener coming new to Gliere’s mammoth score.’ See review by Rob Maynard.
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Downes
pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN9041 [77:53] – from theclassical.shop.net (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
(also available as part of a 5-CD set, The Glière Collection, CHAN10679 review – review: Bargain of the Month – which seems not to be available as a download.)
There’s a lot of sound and fury in this music but whether signifying nothing or not I leave you to decide. If, like me, you love Scheherazade, you’ll almost certainly enjoy Ilya Muromets but, to be on the safe side, subscribers to Naxos Music Library should try there first.
As well as these two recordings, listeners in the UK, but not those in the USA, will be able to hear the Naxos Classical Archives reissue of the first complete recording, made by Hermann Scherchen with the VSOO for Nixa in 1952 and released in 1955. (9.80753/4, with excerpts fromThe Red Poppy ballet – download from eclassical.com in mp3 and lossless or from classicsonline.com – less expensive but in mp3 only). The recording has come up sounding thin but remarkably well for its age, which is why I suggest the lossless download from eclassical.com, albeit that at $19.38 it’s much more expensive than the classicsonline.com version (£3.98). You also get the suite from the Red Poppy ballet which is brash and loud – but good fun – and Scherchen’s sympathetic interpretation is well supported by the VSOO, never one of the world’s greatest but here on good form apart from some insecurity in the brass, perhaps the fault of the recording. If anything, I enjoyed this better than either of the more recent recordings.
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879–1936)
Impressioni brasiliane (Brazilian Impressions), P153 (1927/28) [21:22]
La Boutique fantasque , ballet after Rossini, P120 (1918/19) [46:46]
Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège/John Neschling
pdf booklet included
BIS-SACD-2050 [68:55] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Vetrate da Chiesa , P150 (Church Windows)* [26:46]
Metamorphoseon, modo XII *, P169 [25:37]
Feste Romane , P157 (Roman Festivals)** [24:24]
Fontane di Roma , P106 (Fountains of Rome)** [16:40]
Pini di Roma , P141 (Pines of Rome)** [21:48]
Belkis, Queen of Sheba *, P177 [22:31]
Impressioni brasiliane (Brazilian Impressions), P153* [18:46]
* Philharmonia Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon
** Philharmonia Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier
pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN241-45 [2CDs for the price of one: 77:12 + 80:14] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)
‘This Chandos 2-for-1 set is irresistibly generous and lavishly recorded. I do not see a more attractive entry point for Respighi in his most eloquent and spendthrift style.’ See review by Rob Barnett.
La Boutique Fantasque , ballet after Rossini, P120 (1918/19) [44:37]
La pentola magica , P129 (1920) [25:12]
Prelude and Fugue in D, P158 (after JS Bach) (1901) [9:27]
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda.
Rec. Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 2-6 October 2002. DDD
pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN10081 [79:35] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)
(Recording of the Month: see review by John Phillips)
Albert Lam has reviewed the new BIS recording (above: Recording of the Month) in detailed terms which I agree with so completely that instead of knocking my own notes into order, as I had intended, I shall content myself with simply drawing the qualities of the Chandos rivals, differently coupled, to your attention. They don’t come in 24-bit sound but the 16-bit lossless versions are very good and the price of the 2-CDs-for-1 set may tempt you – it’s particularly valuable if you don’t have most of the other music there.
For La Boutique Fantasque, for all the virtues of the BIS and Chandos recordings, my first choice remains with Ansermet from 1963 (Eloquence 4800024, with Pines and Fountains of Rome, or Somm SOMM027, with Stravinsky Petrushka).
Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952)
String Quartets - Volume 1
String Quartet no.2, BVN145 (1918/1931) [25:08]
String Quartet no.3, BVN183 (1924) [14:44]
String Quartet no.6, BVN160 (1918-19) [15:06]
Variations on Mig Hjertelig nu Laenges, BVN71 (1914/1931) [15:20]
Nightingale String Quartet
rec. Concert Hall, Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen, 10-12 December 2010, 16-18 June and 19-21 August 2011. DDD
pdf booklet included
DACAPO 6.220575 [70:18] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Downloading can get you ahead of the game – sometimes a month or more in advance of the physical CD release – but that doesn’t prevent my being slow on the uptake much of the time, so Volume 2 – review – is impending, though not yet available from emusic.com but I’ve only just caught up with its predecessor. Perhaps it’s that uninviting cover shot that put me off – yes, I know that it’s illustrative of the first two movements of Quartet No.2 – Storm Clouds receding and Train passing by. That apart, I enjoyed this volume just as much as my colleague Byzantion and I’m looking forward to its successor.
Johann Nepomuk DAVID (1895–1977)
Symphony No.1, Op.18 (1937) [29:20]
Symphony No.6, Op.46 (1954/66) [30:26]
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien/Johannes Wildner
rec. Grosser Sendesaal, ORF Funkhaus, February-March, 2011. DDD
CPO 777741–2 [59:46] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
The pdf booklet, promised by both eclassical.com and Naxos Music Library, seems to be an empty file in both cases, so the only information on offer is provided by the back cover from NML. From the name Nepomuk you might expect an 18th- or 19th-century composer and you certainly wouldn’t place either of these symphonies from an innocent hearing as late as their true dates or, at first, as the work of a contemporary of Hindemith. In fact I was originally inclined to write off the First Symphony as an insipid affair, yet, on repeated hearing, I hear a distant similarity to Hindemith and some of the same emotional power.
Full marks to CPO for bringing us this interesting excursion into the byways of the 20th-century symphony, then, sympathetically presented by orchestra, conductor and recording engineers, especially in the lossless download. I certainly recommend sampling this from NML – you may well grow to like these symphonies.
Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony No.14, Op.135 (1969)
Gal James (soprano), Alexander Vinogradov (baritone)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Rec. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, England, 4-5 May 2013. DDD.
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
NAXOS 8.573132 [49:36] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or classicsonline.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Volume 10 of this series brings us to the problematic Symphony No.14, dedicated to Benjamin Britten and recorded by him (BBC Legends – no longer available?). I don’t suppose many listeners would call it their most-loved of the Shostakovich symphonies and I can’t claim to have the code to understanding it, but it’s a tough nut that is well worth cracking.
I see that I chickened out of analysing the music when I reviewed Ashkenazy’s complete set of the symphonies – review – and I’m going simply to comment that the new recording, more than Ashkenazy’s, captures the power and drama and does so with orchestral playing and a soprano soloist at least as good as his, plus a baritone who is not only more effective but comes close to matching the bass on the Rozhdestvensky recording (formerly Olympia and overdue for reissue by Alto or Regis). If you’ve followed and enjoyed the series, you will want to add this instalment.
The short playing time means that eclassical.com, who price by the second, charge a competitive $8.99 for mp3 and lossless. At the time of writing theirs was the only download available, but Naxos’s own classicsonline.com will have it by the time that you read the review, albeit that their lossless downloads come inconveniently as one large file. The lossless sound is very good, making this a possible candidate for release as a blu-ray audio disc. There seem to be two cover shots: I’ve included both.
(See also review by John Quinn.)
Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) Complete Chamber Works for Cello
Partita for cello and piano, Op.35 (1959) [20:58]
Elegy for cello and piano, Op.5 (1950) [6:43]
Sonata for cello solo, Op.52 (1967) [18:33]
Alleluia Pascha Nostrum for cello and piano, Op.85 (1970) [13:45]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello); Raphael Terroni (piano)
rec. Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Stoke d:Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, 8 April 2009, 18 February 2010. DDD
pdf booklet included
BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS439CD [61:03] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
I found Kenneth Leighton’s chamber music with cello a harder nut to crack than his orchestral and choral works and I have to admit that although I found it passionate and impressive, it’s harder for me to like. Even Alleluia Pascha Nostrum, based on medieval English chant from the Sarum Missal for Easter (Pascha in Latin) is hardly full of the joyous celebration of that day of days in the Christian calendar.
No doubt Rob Barnett is correct in claiming that ‘this will be indispensable to fans of Leighton, of British chamber music and of the great artistry of the two Raphaels who have made this disc such a gripping and variegated musical experience’ – review – but my own recommendation would be to start to get to know Leighton elsewhere or, at least, try this album from Naxos Music Library first.
If it’s Leighton in Easter mood that you want, try the recital of his organ music on Naxos 8.572601 (Et resurrexit, etc.) which I reviewed in the June 2011/1 DL Roundup or his Easter Sequence, also on Naxos (8.555795), which I mentioned in that review.