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DOWNLOAD NEWS 2014/9

by Geoffrey Molyneux and Brian Wilson

Reviews are by Brian Wilson except where stated.

2014/8 is here and the index of earlier editions is here.

Index of music reviewed or mentioned in 2014/9.

ALFORD Marches_Dunn_Beulah
ASHWELL Missa Jesu Christe_ Christ Church Oxford_Metronome
ASTON Marian Music_Blue Heron_Blue Heron
ASTON Missa Videte Manus Meas_Christ Church Oxford_Metronome
BARTÓK Contrastes; Violin Sonata_Lefèvre + STRAVINSKY_Outhere Rewind
BARTÓK Wooden Prince; Mandarin_Järvi_Chandos
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto '6'; Triple Concerto_Jandó_2XHD
BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos 1-'6'; Triple Concerto_Shelley_Chandos
BERLIOZ Grande Messe (Requiem)_Davis_LSO Live
BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique_Davis_LSO Live
BORODIN Symphony No.2_Coates + TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet_Beulah
BRIAN Violin Concerto, etc_Bisengaliev_Naxos
BRIAN Violin Concerto, etc_McAslan_Dutton
BRITTEN Young Person’s Guide_Sargent + SULLIVAN, etc._Beulah
BRUCH Scottish Fantasia_Benedetti + Folksongs_Decca
CARMINA BURANA_La Reverdie_Arcana
COLES Music from Behind the Lines_Brabbins_Hyperion Helios
COPLAND Billy the Kid; Symphony No.3_Judd_2XHD
DUPONT Chamber Music_Quatuor Pražák_Mirare
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto, etc._Weilerstein_Decca
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto_Isserlis_Hyperion
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto_Rostropovich/Karajan_DG
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto_Rostropovich/Talich_Regis
DVOŘÁK Cello Concerto_Wallfisch_Chandos
El Maestro Farinelli_DG Archiv_Heras-Casado
ELGAR Symphony No.1; Cockaigne_Oramo_BIS
ELLINGTON_The Real Duke Ellington_Sony
FASCH Concertos for Various Instruments_Il Gardellino_Accent
FASCH Orchestral Works I-III_Tempesta di Mare_Chandos
FASCH Passio Jesu Christi_Schola Cantorum Budapestiensis_Naxos
FASCH Quartets and Concertos_Ensemble Marsyas_Linn
Garden of Early Delights Thorby_Mirare
GRIEG Elegiac Melodies_Mengelberg_Beulah
HANDEL Oboe Concerto_Rothwell/Barbirolli_Beulah_2014/9
HANDEL Organ Concerto Op.7/1_Chadwick/Baribirolli_Beulah_2014/9
HANDEL Triumph of Time and Truth_Ludus Baroque_Delphian
HANDEL Triumph of Time and Truth_London Handel Orchestra_Hyperion
HAYDN Michael Divertimenti_Piccolo Concerto_Accent
HAYDN Symphonies 88, 93-104_Jochum_DG
HAYDN Symphonies 92, 93, 97-99_Davis_LSO Live
HAYDN Symphony No.96_Beinum + ROSSINI, etc._Beulah
HONEGGER Le Roi David_Ansermet + STRAVINSKY_Naxos Archives
IBERT Music for Wind_Ensemble Initium
JANÁČEK On an overgrown Path_Hamelin + SCHUMANN_Hyperion
JONES Ave fuit prima Salus_Blue Heron_Blue Heron
JONES Magnificat_ Blue Heron_Blue Heron
KARAJAN 2-CD Budget Sampler_Berlin PO_Warner
KHACHATURIAN Stalingrad, Othello Suites_ Adriano_Naxos
LARSSON Pastoral Suite_Westerberg_Beulah
LEIGHTON Organ Works Volume 1_Farr_Resonus
LOBO Alonso Missa prudentes virgines, etc_Ens Plus Ultra_DG Archiv
LUDFORD Kyrie cunctipotens Genitor, Missa Inclina Cor Meum_Blue Heron_Blue Heron
LUDFORD Missa Dominica_Ensemble Scandicus_Pierre Vernay
LUDFORD Missa Regnum Mundi, Salve Regina_ Blue Heron_Blue Heron
MASON Quales sumus_Blue Heron_Blue Heron
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No.5_Munch + SAINT-SAËNS_Beulah
MOZART Piano Concertos 22 and 24_Hewitt_Hyperion
NIELSEN Symphony No.1_Tuxen + GADE, etc._Beulah
PROKOFIEV Symphonies 3 and 7_Karabits_Onyx
PUCCINI Fanciulla del West_Weigle_Oehms
PUCCINI Fanciulla del West_Mehta_DG
SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No.3_Munch + MENDELSSOHN_Beulah
SCHUMANN Waldzenen; Kinderszenen_Hamelin + JANÁČEK_Hyperion
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No.9; String Quartet No.8 + STRAVINSKY_Beulah
STENHAMMAR Excelsior!; Serenade_Lindberg_BIS STRAUSS, Johann II_Waltzes_Reiner, Horenstein, etc._Beulah
STRAVINSKY Firebird_Schwarz_Naxos
STRAVINSKY Rite of Spring; Petrushka_Roth_Actes Sud
STRAVINSKY Rite of Spring_Doráti + SHOSTAKOVICH_Beulah
STRAVINSKY Soldier’s Tale (excs)_Lefèvre, etc. + BARTÓK_Outhere Rewind
STRAVINSKY Soldier’s Tale (Suite); Petrushka_Järvi_Chandos
STRAVINSKY Soldier’s Tale (Suite)_Ansermet + HONEGGER_Naxos Archives
STRAVINSKY Soldier’s Tale_Depardieu_Naïve
STRAVINSKY Soldier’s Tale_Järvi_Chandos
SULLIVAN Di Ballo_Sargent + BRITTEN, etc._Beulah
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.4_Mravinsky; Romeo and Juliet_Giulini_Beulah
TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet_Coates + BORODIN etc._Beulah
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Quintets_London Soloists_Naxos


For some time I’ve been pointing readers in the direction of the Naxos Music Library streaming service as a good place to check out recordings before finally committing to making a purchase.  Useful as that is – and I continue to recommend it – subscribers to Qobuz can listen in higher-quality sound (320kb/s) or even in lossless flac.  There is one downside which it shares with NML in the form of annoying short gaps between tracks where the music is continuous, for example in opera.

Beulah UK Releases

My apologies for having fallen behind in covering Beulah releases.  I shall attempt to catch up gradually in coming editions.

5PD11: Russian Masters Volume 5 contains the classic Mercury recording of STRAVINSKY Rite of Spring (Minneapolis SO/Antal Doráti, rec.1959) coupled with SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No.8 (Borodin Quartet, rec. Decca, Moscow, 1962), another classic performance, and Symphony No.9 (NYPO/Efrem Kurtz, rec.1949).  The Kurtz is taken from 78s, the remainder from stereo LPs.  From iTunes or Amazon UK

This is a worthy Reissue of the Month – well worth having for the powerful performance of the Rite of Spring alone, the first recording of the work that I owned on LP when it was reissued by Fontana for 12/6 (£0.63).  Though that was then regarded as almost rock-bottom pricing – only Saga at 10/- were cheaper – it still amounts to around £15 of today’s money when you can have the whole album with the equally fine performance of the best-known Shostakovich Quartet for around half that price, with the Kurtz Symphony thrown in, a perky premiere recording – also preserved on Naxos Classical Archives 9.81187 though not available in the USA and some other countries.  The Mercury recording of the Rite was well up to the high standard achieved by that label’s engineers and it has come up sounding fresh as paint again, as has the Shostakovich Quartet and even the Symphony sounds more like good early-LP vintage.

Only Doráti’s later Decca Rite from Cleveland remains available singly, with the Mercury version imprisoned in a 55-CD box, making this inexpensive Beulah reissue extra valuable.

1PD95: A Life on the Ocean Waves features the Band of HM Royal Marines conducted by Lt. Col. Sir Vivian Dunn in music by Kenneth ALFORD and others.  From iTunes or Amazon UK

Beulah already have several recordings of English Wind Band Classics (1PD82 review and June 2010) and the military music of Sousa and other American composers to their credit (2PD82, 3PD822013/2 – and 4PD822013/9) together with several single-work releases on Beulah Extra.  The new release comes as a welcome addition to that repertoire.  There’s a good mix of the familiar and unfamiliar – not everything comes from the Navy or Marines, despite the overall title – and the performances are about as good as they get, though Handel’s Where’er you walk comes over as a rather different beast than we are accustomed to at such a brisk pace – it’s all over in under three minutes.

I’m not sure of the provenance of the recordings, though I assume that the Alford items come from the collection released by HMV in 1959.  Everything has been well transferred.

2PD97: The Waltz King contains recordings of the music of Johann STRAUSS II: Morgenblätter and Rosen aus dem Süden (Chicago SO/Fritz Reiner); Accelerationen and Wiener Bonbons (VSOO/Hans Weiburg); An der schönen blauen Donau (VSOO/Victor Desarzens) and Frühlingsstimmen ; Wein, Wein und Gesang; G’schichten aus dem Wienerwald and Kaiser-Walzer (VSOO/Jascha Horenstein). From iTunes or Amazon UK

I’ve already reviewed the Reiner recording of Morgenblätter (Morning Papers) – Beulah Extra 2BX1762013/11 – where you could easily think that Willi Boskovsky was conducting the Vienna Phil.  Rosen aus dem Süden (Roses from the South) receives an equally fine performance, the recording, though released as long ago as 1955, a little earlier than the dates listed on the Beulah cover but none the worse for that, still sounding fine in these transfers.

The other recordings were all made with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, the workaday equivalent of the Vienna Phil, though also with the music in their blood.  The pick of these were recorded with them by Jascha Horenstein in 1969 for RCA and once available in CD transfers from Chesky, of which only one volume remains available.  As that CD doesn’t include any of the four items on Beulah, their inclusion here is particularly commendable.

I don’t recall encountering the other items, but they all receive enjoyable performances in recordings which have come up sounding well.

2PD94: Music of Scandinavia Volume 2 contains Niels GADE Ossian Overture (Danish RSO/John Frandsen, rec.1958), Carl NIELSEN Symphony No.1 (Danish RSO/Eric Tuxen, rec. live, 1957), Lars-Erik LARSSON Pastoral Suite (Stockholm RSO/Stig Westerberg, rec.1952) and two vocal excerpts from Sir Thomas Beecham’s RPO recording of Edvard GRIEG Per Gynt music with Ilse Holberg (soprano), recorded by HMV in 1958.  From iTunes

Beulah have already given us Tuxen’s recording of Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, but the First doesn’t receive so many outings even now.  With the Eloquence 2-CD set of classic recordings of vintage Nielsen performances (4801858) giving us Jensen’s account of this symphony, I’m pleased that Beulah have given us the Tuxen live recording made shortly before his death in 1957, once briefly available in an LP set from Danacord. The sound is somewhat wiry but quite tolerable.

The transfer of the Larsson Pastoralsvit (Pastoral Suite) faces competition from a Swedish Society CD of Westerberg’s later (1960) recording of that work together with his En Vintersaga (Winter’ Tale), the Little Serenade (Stockholm Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble), Orchestral Variations (Sixten Ehrling) and the composer playing his Espressivo for piano (SCD1051), available for download fromeclassical.com in mp3 and lossless, or stream from Qobuz, both with pdf booklet.  Whichever recording you choose, it’s an attractive work by a composer of whose music I know too little – there’s plenty more on BIS and CPO, available for download from eclassical.com.  Not surprisingly the two performances are very similar and the 1952 recording has come up very well in this transfer.

3PD94: Music of Scandinavia Volume 3: Edvard GRIEG Two Elegiac Melodies (Concertgebouw/Willem Mengelberg, 1931) and Sigurd Jorsalfar Homage March (Philharmonia/George Weldon, 1962), Dietrich BUXTEHUDE Prelude and Fugue in g (Johannes Brenneke (organ), 1962) and Laudate Pueri (Edith Mathis, Mandy Friesenhausen (sopranos); Viola da Gamba Ensemble/Walter Kraft (organ), 1962), Carl NIELSEN Maskarade Overture (Danish RSO/Eric Tuxen, rec.1946), Dag WIREN Serenade for Strings (Stockholm RSO/Stig Westerberg, 1952) and Knudåge RIISAGER Sonata for two violins (Wandry Tworek and Charles Senderovitz, 1953).  From iTunes and Amazon UK .  Extracts on YouTube.

George Weldon, whose performance of the Grieg Homage March opens the proceedings, was one of those conductors who seemed to be able to turn his hand to a wide range of music.  He turns in a very respectable but hardly outstanding performance and the recording has come up well.  Mengelberg’s Elegiac Memories which close the programme naturally sound more faded.  They have already appeared separately on Beulah Extra 1BX243 in which form I reviewed them in 2014/8, enjoying the way that Mengelberg prevents the emotion from getting out of hand.

With the inclusion of music by Buxtehude – born in Denmark though his working life was spent just across the border in Lübeck – this album covers more ground chronologically than its predecessors.  The Prelude and Fugue in g has already appeared on Beulah Extra 1BX267 and Psalm 113 on 2BX267.  As I wrote in 2013/14, with soloists of the quality of Edith Mathis and Maria Friesenhausen, a consort of gambas, violone, theorbo and Walter Kraft (organ) the performances are still well worth hearing and the recording has mostly come up well, apart from a tendency for the pedal notes to thump somewhat in the Prelude and Fugue.

Dag Wirén’s Serenade is a jaunty little piece, mined at various times for TV programmes – older readers will remember its use for Monitor.  The same performers re-recorded it on a Decca EP c.1959 and I’m surprised that this was not preferred to the slightly muffled but acceptable mono version which Beulah have given us.

Both Riisager’s 2-violin Sonata and the performers were new to me.  It’s easy-going music, though not very memorable, and it receives a good performance, well recorded for the early-LP era.  With only one modern recording in the catalogue, from DaCapo, this is well worth exploring.

Two recordings of music by HANDEL are available as Beulah Extras, with the Hallé conducted by Sir John Barbirolli for Pye in 1958.  His wife Evelyn Rothwell is the soloist in the Oboe Concerto No.1 in B-flat, HWV301 (7BX183), and Eric Chadwick the organist in the Concerto in B-flat, Op.7/1, HWV306 (2-5BX183).  When these two recordings were reissued on Golden Guinea in 1967 the recording quality was panned by at least one reviewer, so I’m pleased to report that it has come up sounding well as transferred here, though the oboe tone is a trifle thin and rather too prominent.  Golden Guineas were often plagued by surface noise and that’s absent, too.  Styles of Handel performance have moved on considerably since 1958 and these are best regarded as mementos of how it used to be, though the oboe concerto is stylish for its time.  The organ employed for Op.7/1 is too large-scale for the music – Beulah’s own reissue of the Op.4 set performed by Karl Richter (2-5BX1982013/16) reminds us that even in 1958 some organists knew how to keep their part in proportion.  Both the Hallé recordings can be obtained from Beulah.

I didn’t catch up with all the Beulah Korean releases in the last DL News and I shall have to carry some over till next time.  They are available from kr.eavb.co.uk.

6BX8K: Great Conductors: Malcolm Sargent opens with SULLIVAN di Ballo Overture – just the kind of music for which Sargent was famous: it’s also available on UK Beulah Extra 5BX13 – the LITOLFF Scherzo Symphonique, with Shura Cherkassky as piano soloist (1958: also on UK Beulah Extra 4BX13),GERMAN Three Dances from Henry VIII (1961), COLERIDGE-TAYLOR Hiawatha’s Wedding (1962 – also on Beulah 8PD13 DL News 2013/9) and his classic recording of BRITTEN Young Person’s Guide with the BBCSO (1958).  ‘Flash’ as he was nicknamed for his dress sense, had a very wide repertoire, taking the lion’s share of performances at the Proms, and though it’s true that he often turned in good routine rather than first-rate performances, everything here came from his top drawer.  All the recordings are in stereo.  The highlight of the album for me is the performance of the Britten – I got to know the work from the original HMV 10” LP and it still holds its own in this fine transfer – but the rarity is the Coleridge-Taylor, less popular now for some reason than it used to be. Apart from Heritage HTGCD249 where it’s coupled with some elderly-sounding recordings – review – this Sargent recording is tethered in a huge 18-CD Warner box set.

7BX8K: Great Conductors: Eduard van Beinum contains ROSSINI Overture La Gazza Ladra (1952 – also on Beulah Extra 7BX37 – see DL Roundup May 2011/1), HAYDN Symphony No.96 (1952 – also on 30-33BX37 – see DL News 2013/16), DEBUSSY Nocturnes (1958, stereo – also on Beulah 12-15BX37), excerpts from DIEPENBROCK Marsyas (1953 – also on Beulah Extra 1BX37: see August 2010 DL Roundup) and the Trojan March from BERLIOZ Les Troyens (1946).  The Debussy is a particular favourite, and though the recording is not of the brightest, it has come up well in the Beulah transfer – see DL Roundup August 2012/1 (but NB correct catalogue number, as above.)

Fans of van Beinum’s Haydn may already have the Decca Eloquence release of Symphonies 94, 96 and 97 (4768483), on which No.96, nicknamed The Miracle, is probably the most recommendable, and Beulah have also released Nos. 96 and 97 separately on Beulah Extra 30-33BX37 and 34-37BX37 – see DL News 2013/16.  There’s also a decent Naxos Classical Archives transfer of van Beinum performances of Nos. 96 and 97, costing £1.99 in the UK, but not available in the USA.  Whichever you choose, these are stylish performances, in decent sound for the time when they were recorded and well refurbished by Beulah, but just lacking that last degree of magic that Beecham brought to the Haydn London Symphonies.  See below for Colin Davis’s final thoughts on some of the other London symphonies.

8BX8K: Great Conductors: Albert Coates takes us back to some recordings of an earlier vintage – WAGNER Götterdämmerung – Zu neuen Taten (with Florence Austral and Walter Widdop, 1928), BORODIN Symphony No.2 (1929 and 1931), Richard STRAUSS Don Juan (1926), TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet (1945) and MUSSORGSKY Night on the Bare Mountain (1945, also on Beulah 2PD11 – from iTunes). 

Even through the inevitable blasting of the vintage recording it’s possible to appreciate why Walter Widdop was such a big Wagner name – his Ring recordings are otherwise available only on two 2-CD sets from Gala – and he’s well partnered by Florence Austral and well supported by Coates and the LSO.  I normally shy away from recordings of this vintage but the sound has been tamed as well as is feasible.  The Wagner is very special and the rest of the album well worth hearing: with Russian ancestry, Coates had a feeling for Russian music.  The two 1945 recordings have been made to sound as good as you might expect from the early LPs of several years later.

9BX8K: Great Conductors: Charles Munch brings us back to more recent recordings, of which the pick is SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No.3, the ‘Organ’ Symphony, recorded in stereo in 1959 with Berj Zamkochian (organ) and Leo Litwin and Bernard Zigera (piano) and the Boston SO.  I owned this recording on an RCA Victrola LP and it’s still one of the best versions of this powerful work, so I welcomed this transfer wholeheartedly on Beulah Extra 13-14BX32DL Roundup December 2011/1.  I compared the Beulah transfer with the Qobuz streamed version of the RCA CD reissue and there’s hardly anything to choose between them.

I also enjoyed the performance of MENDELSSOHN Symphony No.5 (Reformation) when it appeared on 17-19BX32, though the transfer of this 1947 recording is, unusually for Beulah, rather swishy – DL Roundup May 2012/1BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture (stereo, 1956) is also on Beulah Extra 1BX32, one of a number of transfers of Munch’s very fine Beethoven recordings which I welcomed in December 2010. The 1946 recording of FAURÉ Pavane is also available on 16BX32DL Roundup September 2011/1 – it receives an evocative performance, decently recorded for its age and free from surface noise.

1BX190: Great Composers: TCHAIKOVSKY opens with Symphony No.4 in f minor, Op.36, in a white-hot performance from the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky, complete with the then very distinctive Russian brass sound that seems to have been ironed out these days.  The provenance of the recording is not stated but it appears to be the stereo remake from 1960, also available with Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 on DG Originals 4775911, rather than the earlier mono version.  It’s an exciting performance and well worth having even if the recording sounds somewhat thinner and slightly less secure at climaxes, though more than acceptable, than on the DG release which I made my joint Bargain of the Month in April 2010.

Good transfers of Joan Hammond with Sir Malcolm Sargent and the BBCSO in Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin – try the Beulah Extra extract from 4PD13, Sargent at the BBC, on YouTube – and Carlo Maria Giulini’s no-nonsense but very effective account of the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture with the Philharmonia Orchestra (released in 1963 and still one of the best ever recorded) complete a desirable and well-filled programme [73:45]. 

***

Carmina Burana: Sacri Sarcasmi
La Reverdie
rec. October 2008. DDD
No notes or texts
ARCANA A353 [69:23] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

The medieval collection known as Carmina Burana contains a wide range of moods, as is apparent even Carl Orff’s selection – not everything there brings the house down.  I recently recommended a Naxos recording with Oni Wytars and Ensemble Unicorn for the rumbustious aspect of the collection – 2014/7 – but the new Arcana recording concentrates on the more reflective and devotional pieces, including several of which, unusually, we know the name of the author, in three cases Philippus Cancellarius, or Philippe le Chancelier, the highest-ranking layman at Notre Dame in the early thirteenth century.  It’s less immediate in appeal than the Naxos but less dull than may appear if I say that it will appeal especially to those with a scholarly interest in the music of the period.

The lack of texts and notes from eclassical.com is most regrettable but those with a decent command of Medieval Latin – not always the same as the classical variety – and Middle High German will find the whole collection at Bibliotheca Augustana, albeit without translations.  At first sight the Naxos Music Library rides to the rescue of those with access – you’ll find the Arcana booklet there but, sadly, it contains only a list of titles, medieval pictures and colour photos of the performers, no texts.  That’s not good enough.

Nicholas LUDFORD (c.1490-1557)
Missa Dominica with Gregorian Chant [58:53]
Ensemble Scandicus
PIERRE VERNAY PV713111 [58:53] – from emusic.com (mp3, no texts) or stream from Qobuz

Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks I
Hugh ASTON (c.1485-1558) Ave Maria, dive matris [11:16]
Robert JONES (fl.1520-1538) Magnificat [13:38]
Hugh ASTON Gaude Virgo, Mater Christi [12:01]
John MASON (d.1547/8?) Quales sumus O miseri [12:13]
Hugh ASTON Ave Maria Ancilla Trinitatis [14:36]
Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe
BLUE HERON RENAISSANCE CHOIR BHCD1002 [63:46] – from emusic.com (mp3, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with booklet, including texts)

Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks II
Nicholas LUDFORD Missa Regnum Mundi with Gregorian Chant [56:51]
Salve Regina [22:48]
Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe
BLUE HERON RENAISSANCE CHOIR BHCD1003 [79:39] – from emusic.com (mp3, no texts)

Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks III
John MASON (d.1547/8?) Ave fuit prima Salus [19:18]
Nicholas LUDFORD Kyrie cunctipotens Genitor [3:07]
Missa Inclina Cor Meum [37:31]
Blue Heron/Scott Metcalfe
BLUE HERON RENAISSANCE CHOIR BHCD1004 [59:56] – from emusic.com (mp3, no texts)

I recently reviewed PV713111, BHCD1003 and BHCD1004 as part of a survey of Ludford’s unjustly neglected music – review – but the emusic.com downloads to which I’ve given links above are somewhat less expensive than those from Amazon which I mentioned then, though I can’t vouch for the bit-rate and quality from this source, which is often on the low side.

I can, however, confirm that the bit-rate for BHCD1002, at around 230kb/s, is of much the same order as the Amazon downloads of the other volumes.  Though there are no booklets from emusic.com, the full and informative programme notes from the CD are available from blueheronchoir.org.  Better still, the Naxos Music Library has both the notes and texts.  So detailed are these that I need not go into detail here except to say that the music is just as appealing as on the other albums, the performances equally convincing and that the recording does them justice.  Happily, the three Aston works contained here almost complete the limited repertoire of his music which has survived when added to the Missa Videte manus meas on Metronome MET1030/31 (with Ashwell Missa Jesu Christe) – review

The Metronome 2-CD set seems to be out of stock, with one hopeful seller asking $510.58 as I write, but amazon.com and amazon.co.uk have it as a download.  Subscribers to emusic.com will find it there for just £3.36.  It’s just as well that it’s inexpensive because I can’t lay hands on my original download and have had to re-purchase it, which is annoying when many – most – other suppliers allow a second bite of the cherry or even store your downloads in the cloud.

There’s another fine performance of Aston’s Gaude Virgo Mater Christi from Stile Antico (Music for Compline, Harmonia Mundi HMU807419 – from eclassical.com, with booklet).

From Spain to Eternity : The Sacred Polyphony of El Greco’s Toledo
Alonso LOBO
Versa est in luctum (Motet a 6 from Liber primus missarum, Madrid, 1602) [5:16]
Cristóbal de MORALES
Clamabat autem mulier Chananea - Infra hebdomadam I quadragesimæ (Motet a 5 for the first week of Lent) [3:37]
Francisco GUERRERO
Prudentes virgines (Motet a 5 from Motteta) [4:48]
Alonso LOBO
Missa ‘Prudentes virgines’ a 5 from Liber primus missarum [29:36]
Cristóbal de MORALES
Quanti mercenarii - Infra hebdomadam II quadragesimae (Motet a 6 for the second week of Lent) [5:24]
Alonso de TEJEDA
Rex autem David (Motet a 5 from Liber secundus sacrarum cantionum) [4:40]
Cristóbal de MORALES
Expandit Sion manus suas (Lamentation a 6) [10:33]
Alonso de TEJEDA
Miserere mei, Deus (Motet a 5 from Liber secundus sacrarum cantionum) [3:36]
Alonso LOBO
Ave, Regina cœlorum (Antiphon a 6 from Liber primus missarum) [3:27]
Ensemble Plus Ultra (Grace Davidson, Julie Cooper (soprano); Clare Wilkinson (mezzo); David Martin (countertenor); William Balkwill, Simon Wall (tenor); Robert Evans (baritone); Jimmy Holliday (bass))
DG ARCHIV 4792610 [70:26] – from amazon.co.uk (mp3) or stream from Qobuz (with booklet)

I missed Ensemble Plus Ultra’s 10-CD recording of the music of Victoria – also available from Qobuz, though without booklet – some time ago and we don’t seem to have reviewed it on MusicWeb-International, but I intend to put that right as soon as possible after hearing this recording.  Their name means ‘further ahead’ or ‘further beyond’ and though I may query if they take us further than the many very fine groups recording this repertoire these days, such as La Grande Chapelle in the same Lobo Mass (Lauda LAU013, the only other extant recording) or the Tallis Scholars in his Missa Maria Magdalena (Gimell CDGIM031), they are certainly up there with the best of them.

The main title is a bit gauche but the link mentioned in the sub-title is genuine: Toledo at the time of El Greco is a good peg on which to hang the music here and I’ve no complaints about its quality.  The music of Morales, Lobo and their contemporaries is second only to the English polyphony of a slightly earlier period in taking you out of yourself.  Tejeda is a real discovery.

One small grumble about the Qobuz version – it’s laudable that they include the booklet, with texts and translations, but it isn’t all there: the texts stop at track 10, with four more to go, which also means that I can’t give you recording details.  I’ve given a link to the Amazon download but can’t vouch for the quality: it will be at a lower bit-rate than the version from Qobuz to which I listened.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1709)
The Triumph of Time and Truth
Sophie Bevan, Mary Bevan (sopranos), Tim Mead (countertenor), Ed Lyon (tenor), William Berger (bass)
Ludus Baroque/Richard Neville-Towle
Delphian DCD34135 [2:34:43] – from 7digital.com (mp3) or stream from Qobuz

Having listened to the Qobuz version I was about to review this here when the 2-CD set arrived, so I’ll content myself for the moment with saying that I enjoyed it very much but haven’t yet had a chance to do a direct comparison with the earlier and less expensive Hyperion Dyad (CDD22050review).

Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758) Quartets and Concertos
Quartet in B flat FWV N:B2 [10:18]
Quartet with Horn in F FWV N:F3 [6:59]
Quartet in g minor FWV N:g2 [9:31]
Bassoon Concerto in C FWV L:C2 [9:06]
Recorder Concerto in F FWV L:F6 [8:16]
Quartet in F FWV N:F2 [9:55]
Quartet with recorder in B-flat FWV N:B1 [9:28]
Quartet in d minor FWV N:d2 [7:45]
Peter Whelan (bassoon); Pamela Thorby (recorder)
Ensemble Marsyas (Peter Whelan (bassoon), Josep Domènech Lafont, Molly Marsh (oboe), Thomas Dunford (theorbo), Philippe Grisvard (harpsichord/organ), Christine Sticher (violone)
rec. Wigmore Hall, London, August 2013. DDD.
pdf booklet included
LINN RECORDS CKD467 [71:18] – from linnrecords.com (SACD, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless)

Don’t expect too much, but – without wishing in any way to suggest that Fasch’s delightful music comes near to that of his great contemporaries, Bach, Handel and Telemann – I’m very pleased that the record companies have been giving us so many fine recordings of his output recently.  This most enjoyable new recording joins that list, several of which I’ve reviewed or mentioned in reviews in CD or download format:

• Orchestral Works I: Tempesta di Mare Chandos CHAN0751
• Orchestral Works II: Tempesta di Mare Chandos CHAN0783November 2011/1
• Orchestral Works III: Tempesta di Mare Chandos CHAN07912012/20
• Concertos for Various Instruments: Il Gardellino Accent ACC24182December 2011/1
• Passio Jesu Christi : Schola Cantorum Budapestiensis Naxos 8.570326review

The performances on Linn are as delightful as the music, but it could hardly be otherwise with Pamela Thorby’s involvement – see Garden of Early Delights, below, The Nightingale and the Butterfly, Linn CKD341July 2010 – Baroque Recorder Concertos, Linn CKD2172013/13 – and Handel Recorder Sonatas, Linn CKD223 – and that of Ensemble Marsyas: Zelenka Sonatas, Linn CKD415review.  As with Zelenka, the Ensemble Marsyas make good second-rate sound first-rate.

Discovery of the Month
El Maestro Farinelli
Nicola CONFORTO (1718 – 1793) Overture to La festa cinese * [3:59]
Nicola PORPORA (1686 – 1768) Overture to Carlo il calvo * [4:27]
Johann Adolf HASSE (1699 – 1783) Sinfonia, Op.5/6 [4:08]
José De NEBRA (1702 – 1768) Fandango from the zarzuela Vendado amor es, no ciego: Tempestad grande * [1:53]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714 – 1788) Sinfonia in e minor ‘Fandango’, Wq178 [10:59]
Francesco CORRADINI (1690 / 92 – 1769) Baile de las máscaras * [5:02]
Juan MARCOLINI (born 1730s, flourished 1760 – 70) Overture to La dicha en la desgracia y vida campestre * [3:34]
Nicola PORPORA Polifemo: Alto Giove [8:31]
José De NEBRA Seguidillas [3:34]
Canción * [1:07]
Niccolò JOMMELLI (1714 – 1774) Periodical Overture * [5:48]
Tommaso TRAETTA (1727 – 1779) Overture to Armida * [5:28]
*World premier recording
Bejun Mehta (counter-tenor)
Concerto Köln/Pablo Heras-Casado
rec. June-July 2013 and January 2014. DDD.
Texts and translations included
ARCHIV PRODUCTION 4792050 [67:44] - from 7digital.com (mp3) or stream from Qobuz with booklet

Pablo Heras-Casado’s conducting debut presents him with Concerto Köln in a selection of mainly instrumental and some vocal music associated with Farinelli, the legendary 18th-century castrato who served as impresario and court musician to the kings of Spain. In view of the Farinelli connection, I’d have preferred to have heard more of the vocal items, featuring excellent contributions from Bejun Mehta – only two included – but that’s my only grumble about a very fine first recorded outing.

The discovery is twofold – most of the music is receiving its first recording – but mainly for the most exciting young conductor of baroque music for quite a while.  I listened to Qobuz’s 320kb/s stream as well as in CD quality; it sounds excellent, so 7digital.com’s at the same bit-rate should too.

The lack of vocal music is easily put right: Arias for Farinelli (Vivica Genaux and René Jacobs: Harmonia Mundi Gold HMG501778review of original release) is available with the original catalogue number HMU901778 from eclassical.com (mp3 or 16- and 24-bit lossless) or for streaming from Qobuz (with booklet containing texts).

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No.92 in G ‘Oxford’ (1789) [27:24]                                           
Symphony No.93 in D (1791) [23:06]                                                           
Symphony No.97 in C (1792) [26:19]                                                           
Symphony No.98 in B flat (1792) [27:18]                                                     
Symphony No.99 in E flat (1793) [28:47]
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
rec. live May 2010-December 2012. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet included
LSO LIVE LSO0702 [2CDs: 76:49 + 56:05] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

Sir Colin Davis’s earlier recordings of all twelve London Symphonies with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, on two budget-price twofers, is one of the great bargains of the catalogue (Decca Duo 4426112 and 4426142).

Writing for our sister live reviews site, Seen and Heard, Mark Berry defied anyone to hear superior Haydn anywhere than Davis’s performance of No.92 – review – and Colin Clarke enjoyed the performance of No.93 – review – both included here.

As with Eugen Jochum’s two recordings of Symphony No.98, a harpsichord is on hand to point Haydn’s joke at the end when the continuo keyboard, which has been anonymous throughout, springs to life for a brief moment in the sun.  By omitting the harpsichord, most performances gloss over this typically Haydnesque bit of humour.  Sadly, Jochum’s CD set has vanished but it is still available as a download, containing his Berlin Philharmonic versions of No.88 and 98 and his later LPO recordings of Nos. 93-104 (4743642 – from prestoclassical.co.uk, mp3 and lossless or, slightly less expensively, in mp3 only, from 7digital.com).

It’s not just in No.98 that the new set rivals Jochum and Davis’s own earlier recordings – my only regret is that he didn’t live to complete a new series of recordings of all the ‘London’ symphonies, but there’s a bonus in the form of the symphony performed at Haydn’s award of a doctorate at Oxford.  This is as good as it gets from modern instrument performers.

The recording sounds very good in mp3 and 16-bit.  You’ll have to pay more even than most dealers charge for the SACDs to obtain the 24-bit, but it is worth the extra.

Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Divertimenti
Quartet (Divertimento) in C, P115 (1790) [15:45]
Divertimento in E flat for viola, cello and double bass, P102 (1790) [14:45]
Divertimento in C, P110 (1790) [19:30]
Divertimento in C, P98 (1772) [15:45]
Piccolo Concerto Wien/Roberto Sensi (double bass)
rec. Pugnano, Pisa, Italy, August 1997. DDD.
Pdf booklet included
ACCENT ACC24292 [70:06] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

Poor Michael Haydn, hidden in the huge shadows created by his big brother and his friend, Mozart.  If you don’t expect to rush out shouting eureka, you’ll find the music very enjoyable – just the thing for late-night or Sunday afternoon relaxation.

I’m not sure why these very capable performances have taken so long to reach us – perhaps they were originally recorded for Symphonia, who issued some recordings by these performers around the year 2000.  Whatever the reason, I’m happy to welcome their release now.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.22 in E flat, K482 [32:41]
Piano Concerto No.24 in c minor, K491 [30:36]
Angela Hewitt (piano)
National Arts Centre Orchestra/Hannu Lintu
rec. July 2013, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Canada. DDD
pdf booklet included
HYPERION CDA68049 [63:17] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
(see also reviews of earlier volumes: Concertos Nos. 17 and 27, CDA67919 – DL News 2013/8 – and Nos. 6, 8 and 9, CDA67840DL Roundup Oct 2011/2).

In Piano Concerto Number No.22, the vigorous and lively orchestral ritornello with its numerous themes and ideas sets the tone for these performances. The rhythmic motif presented by the full orchestra at the start has immaculate ensemble and balance and the witty answer in the bassoons is beautifully played with characterful, fruity tone. The first entry of the clarinets to be heard in a Mozart concerto follows in lovely descending suspensions. A minor niggle about the balance is that I would have preferred the ensuing solo flute motif, followed by clarinets and  bassoons, to come through the string texture a bit more. The horn playing is superb and mostly the balance is excellent.

Soon Angela Hewitt enters with her usual delicacy, light-fingered touch and clarity of articulation. I am amazed at the subtle and ever evolving variety of colour and articulation she gives to everything she plays, even in seemingly simplistic scalic passages. She gives us a fright at the point when yet another new idea is presented by Mozart with its unexpected strong chords in a minor key. Later, Hewitt gives a superb account of the cadenza by Paul Badura-Skoda.

This second movement marked Andante is a set of variations and the string section presents the sad opening theme, beautifully played with mutes. Later the clarinets have a chance to shine with characteristic music for that instrument. Excellently played flute and bassoon passages in the ensuing variations. Hewitt and her players capture the moods of each variation but also make them combine to add up to a satisfying whole. In the Allegro finale we set off in light-hearted, jaunty fashion but touches of sadness are never far away in this wonderful music. Angela Hewitt’s playing is superb. In her excellent programme notes she describes some of the runs as tortuous, so difficult to play well, but you could never tell this from her superbly flowing performance. In addition to Hewitt’s playing, what particularly makes this performance for me is the fact that the orchestra is so well balanced with brilliantly characterful woodwinds.

The same qualities pervade Concerto No.24, a very different work in every way. The dark and tragic opening is played by the strings in unison, menacing in mood but neatly articulated. Then the large orchestra sets a perfect pace under the able direction of Hannu Lintu. The wind instruments, this time including oboes as well as clarinets are once again given in perfect balance so that their important phrases can clearly be heard. Then the pianist enters with a new simple theme which Angela Hewitt imbues with sadness at a slightly slower tempo.

The second movement Larghetto is a rondo with a disarmingly simple main tune played first by the soloist and then full orchestra. Hewitt sets an appropriate tempo, and once again, one is soon struck by Mozart’s invention and variety, giving all the instrumentalists the opportunity to provide a kaleidoscope of colour. The finale is a set of variations, and Hewitt says that she feels this is more like a sinister dance than a march. Again everything is delivered with superb aplomb and exhilarating panache.

These two great Mozart masterpieces could hardly be better performed and recorded. In addition, Angela Hewitt’s excellent programme notes provide us with some fascinating insights. Highly recommended.

Geoffrey Molyneux

I need only add that the new recording is every bit as good as its predecessors.  With two of Mozart’s top-flight concertos, this is the best place to start collecting the series if you haven’t yet done so.  (BW)

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto in D, Op.61a (arr. Beethoven from Violin Concerto) [43:20]
Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C, Op.56 [35:45]
Jenö Jandó (piano); Dong-Suk Kang (violin); Maria Kliegel (cello)
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Bela Drahos
pdf booklet included
(from Naxos 8.554288)
2xHD 2XHDNA2026 [79:05] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

The original Naxos release passed me by, despite the fact that HC Robbins Landon, no less, awarded it a 5/5-star rating and proclaimed it truer in spirit to how the Triple Concerto might have sounded in 1804 than the higher-powered versions that I’ve heard over the years such as Oistrakh, Rostropovich and Richter with Karajan (EMI, now Warner) or even the version which first introduced me to the work, with Anda, Schneiderhan, Fournier and Fricsay (DG Originals or DG Double).

The piano arrangement of the Violin Concerto which Beethoven made at the request of a London publisher, may not be a match for the original, but it’s in sure hands here and the first-movement cadenza comes as a real surprise.   The 24-bit version is rather pricey; it sounds well but most will be happy with the 16-bit or even the Naxos original, which remains available.

The Oborin, Oistrakh, Knushevitzky, Sargent recording is now available only on Melodiya or encased in a multi-CD EMI box set but it’s worth looking out for the inexpensive EMI twofer or even the budget-price single CD that used to be available.

Don’t forget Howard Shelley’s very fine complete traversal of the Beethoven Piano Concertos, including the Triple Concerto and Op.61a on Chandos CHAN10695: Recording of the Monthreview and November 2011 DL Roundup.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis

The availability of the LSO Live recordings in mp3, 16- and 24-bit downloads from hyperion-records.co.uk has given me a second chance to look at Sir Colin Davis’s recordings of Berlioz for that label, both those which were available in the budget-price bicentennial edition (LSO0046 – from classicsonline.com, mp3 only: Bargain of the Month 2013/7) and the Grande Messe des Morts or Requiem, not included in that collection, but available on LSO0729, 2 CDs with pdf booklet containing texts and translations, from hyperion-records.co.uk.  Barry Banks (tenor), the LSO Chorus and LPO Choir were recorded in St Paul’s Cathedral in June 2012.  I can’t improve on John Quinn’s very detailed review: he described it as indispensable, awarded a well-justified Recording of the Month and, later, chose it as one his Recordings of the Year.

At 94:04 the programme is rather short for two CDs, but most rival recordings are similarly placed – what else could you include apart from the rarely-performed Grande Symphonie funèbre et triomphale, Op.15, as on Davis’s earlier Philips recording (Decca Originals 4757765)?

At £9.25 the mp3 and 16-bit lossless versions are competitive with the SACDs but £13.90 for 24-bit looks a bit steep when the SACDs can be found online for less than £10.

The bicentennial set from classicsonline.com contains the Symphonie Fantastique but in mp3 only.  Hyperion offer it on its own in mp3 and 16- and 24-bit lossless.  Unfashionably, I happen to like Davis’s first recording with the LSO, now available as a download-only on Philips Duo 4422902 – the intermediate version with the Concertgebouw remains available in several formats, including SACD – but his final thoughts are very special.  Both mp3/16-bit at £6.25 and 24-bit lossless at £9.75 look a trifle expensive when the CD can be had for less than £6.  (LSO0007, with Béatrice et Benedict Overture – from hyperion-records.co.uk with pdf booklet).

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928)  
Po zarostlém chodnícku (On the overgrown path), Book I, JW VIII/17 [32:04]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)  
Waldszenen Op.82 [22:35] 
Kinderszenen Op.15 [19:47]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, March 2013. DDD
pdf booklet included
HYPERION CDA68030 [74:26] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

(See also review by Dan Morgan)

Marc-André Hamelin sets the mood of the opening piece in an instant. The melancholic first piece, Our evenings, seems to suggest sadness and even despair. The simple melody is played with beautiful phrasing, just the right amount of rubato, and the sudden violent outbursts which disturb the tranquility are really effectively done. A blown-away leaf also begins with the utmost simplicity before disturbing and uneasy passages intervene. Come with us and They chattered like swallows are happier in mood but always there are undercurrents of uncertainty and disturbing moments. The Frydeck Madonna is given a fabulous performance with a menacing feel to the beautifully balanced chords. Good night! begins with playing of utmost delicacy, and the grief-stricken Unutterable anguish is well portrayed by Hamelin. Hamelin coaxes a beautiful tone from his instrument and we can hear how the melodic line positively glows in the penultimate piece, In Tears, as it sings out gloriously above the sometimes strange textures and harmonies. Altogether this superb performance could not be bettered.

Marc-André Hamelin has already recorded some major works by Schumann, but he seems equally at home with the exquisite little miniature masterpieces contained in Waldszenen and Kinderszenen. The first piece of Waldszenen, entitled Eintritt, seemed to me rather slow at first, but Hamelin creates a dreamy world of peace and serenity in stark contrast with the preceding Janácek. Also he is then able to create a telling contrast with the fast and lively second piece of the set, and this is followed by Einsame Blumen which is beautifully and sensitively played.

Soon we come to perhaps the most famous piece in the set, Vogel als Prophet, played here with great clarity and sensitivity. Jagdlied is fast and furious and, as usual, Hyperion provides a recording which enables every note to be heard clearly.  Abschied is played with much rubato and detailed expression and this is always a feature of Hamelin’s playing. 

Each piece is given oodles of character and personality by our pianist so that they become totally contrasting with each other, but together forming a successful suite. This is a rather idiosyncratic performance because of the indulgent rubato and expressive detail, and some listeners may feel it is rather overdone. However, I have nothing but praise for Hamelin’s interpretation, but suggest that it would be good to have a more ‘straightforward’ recording as well for repeated hearings. Even better, try playing some of the pieces yourself!

The tempi presented in Hamelin’s performance of Kinderszenen are also very contrasted, both between and within some pieces, and this may be a bit much for some listeners. Alfred Brendel’s version on Vanguard Classics is more ‘standard’ in this respect, but the recording sounds so dated I would not recommend it. Hamelin plays the first piece comparatively slowly whilst the second seems a little fast. Hasche-Mann is very fast and virtuosically presented as are several other pieces in the set.

Träumerei is the emotional centrepiece of the work and beautifully played. It is a very touching performance, without a hint of sentimentality. The concluding pieces, Kind im Einschlummern and Der Dichter spricht are beautifully played with superb balance and beauty of sound. My minor niggle is that the former is so soft at the end that the chord dies away before Hamelin plays the last note, and that note is also barely audible even with the volume at maximum. Hamelin’s recording of Kinderszenen is probably the best available right now. For example, I don’t think that Stephanie McCallum on ABC Classics is in the same league musically.

This is a fabulous collection. The whole project is so musically presented and beautifully recorded that I recommend it unreservedly.

Geoffrey Molyneux

Homecoming – a Scottish Fantasy
Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Scottish Fantasia, Op.46* [31:07]
Robert Burns: Ae fond kiss* [4:40]
Variations on Auld lang syne* [4:08]
My love is like a red, red rose* [3:40]
Folksong Arrangements** [32:41]
Nicola Benedetti (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Rory Macdonald*
Phil Cunningham (accordion/piano), Julie Fowlis (vocals/whistles), Aly Bain (fiddle), Duncan Chisholm (fiddle), Tony Byrne (guitar), Éamon Doorley (bouzouki), Michael McGoldrick (flute) James MacIntosh (percussion), Ewen Vernal (double-bass)**
Rec. Abbey Road Studios, January 2014. DDD
DECCA 4786690 [75:26] – from 7digital.com (mp3) or stream from Qobuz (with booklet containing sung texts)

This is a recording of two halves.  For the first half, the Bruch, I would have made this Recording of the Month – it’s a work for which I’ve long had a very soft spot, even more than the better-known Violin Concerto No.1 and all concerned give a performance to challenge existing favourites such as David Oistrakh (Decca Legends 4702582, 2 CDs, with Hindemith and Mozart) or Kyung-Wha Chung (also Decca, with Violin Concerto No.1, recently reissued at budget price on 4783351).

I suspect, however, that those who go for the Bruch may not want the rest of the programme and vice-versa for those who enjoy the ceilidh-like second half – I notice that at the time of writing in mid-July 2014 it hadn’t made it into the BBC top 20 classical chart, perhaps for that reason, though Nicola Benedetti’s appearance at the opening of the Commonwealth Games may have altered things by the time that you read this.  Overall, then, I’d recommend staying with Kyung-Wha Chung – also available in a Studio Master download from Linn: May 2012/2 – or David Oistrakh, but Benedetti’s many devotees will doubtless snap up this new offering.  Lots of shots of her in various kinds of tartan in the booklet.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
Cello Concerto in b minor (No.2), Op.104 [38:40]
Lasst mich allein, Op.82 (arr. Lenehan)* [4:18]
Rondo in g minor* [6:57]
Goin’ Home (arr. Lenehan)* [5:43]
Songs my Mother taught me (arr. Grünfeld)* [2:15]
Silent Woods* [5:03]
Slavonic Dance No.8 in g minor* [4:09]
Alisa Weilerstein (cello); Anna Polonsky (piano)*
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Jirí Belohlávek
DECCA 4785705 [66:59] – from 7digital.com (mp3)

I missed Alisa Weilerstein in the Elgar concerto but her Dvořák is well worth all the hype, especially as she receives admirable support from an all-Czech team and is well recorded.  Don’t throw away your Rostropovich – a splendid bargain from Regis, with Talich and the Czech PO (RRC1368:Bargain of the Monthreview review and April 2011/1 DL Roundup) or with Karajan (DG Originals) – or Isserlis and Daniel Harding with the Mahler CO, who couple it with the early Cello Concerto No.1 (Hyperion CDA67917DL News 2013/14) or Wallfisch and Mackerras with the LSO at mid price (Chandos CHAN10715DL Roundup August 2012/1).

The best combination of bit-rate and price is from 7digital.com – 320kb/s at £8.49 – but if you want only the concerto, your least expensive bet is to purchase just those three tracks from Amazon.co.uk (mp3) for £4.87, which is what I did, trying the rest only from Qobuz.

No sooner had I written the above than Decca released this same recording of the Concerto as part of a set of all the Dvořák Symphonies and Concertos recorded between November 2012 and December 2013 (4786757, 6 CDs for around £34 or download from 7digital.com.)   You may wish to hold fire on the single CD till I’ve had a chance to listen to the complete set.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Symphony No. 1 in A flat, Op. 55 [52:34]
Cockaigne  (In London Town), Op. 40 [14:42]
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
rec. May 2012 (Symphony) and November 2013 (overture), Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden
pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-SACD-1939 [67:16] - from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

[Please see also reviews by Brian Reinhart and John Quinn]

This was a serious candidate for Recording of the Month, challenging existing recommendations.  Geoff Molyneux and I had some reservations about Sakari Oramo’s recording of the Elgar Second Symphony – 2013/8 – but I have very far fewer – hardly any, in fact – about this version of the First.  I wasn’t even troubled by the amount of rubato in the first movement which disturbed Brian Reinhart somewhat: if it’s as naturally applied as it is here, I’m happy, though the line between natural and artificial is a thin one and I’m well aware that one person’s meat is another’s poison.  The boot is on the other foot in Paul Lewis’s Schubert Piano Sonata No.21, where I’m not alone in thinking that Lewis tries too hard but others have lauded the performance.

I wasn’t troubled, either, by the tempo issues which John Quinn queried.  I know that Elgar himself kept things moving pretty well throughout and Solti’s recording shows how something very similar can be made to work, but I often wonder how much Elgar’s eye was on the clock and the HMV engineers, with a view to ending each 3-4 minute segment at the most natural possible point.

I’m at one with Brian Reinhart in preferring the organ in Cockaigne and in agreeing with him that I’d have liked to hear it more prominently displayed, though, again there’s a fine line here which the DG engineers originally crossed in Karajan’s digital recording of The Planets – rather than get the balance right now, they seem to have edited it out of the latest mix completely.  Here the organ is sensed rather than heard.  Otherwise the 24-bit version sounds superb and even the mp3 very good of its kind.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West)
Eva-Maria Westbroek (soprano) - Minnie
Ashley Holland (baritone) - Jack Rance the sheriff
Carlo Ventre (tenor) - Dick Johnson, alias Ramerrez
Peter Marsh (tenor) – Nick the bartender
Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra/Sebastian Weigle
rec. live, May/June 2013.
pdf booklet with detailed synopsis but no text included
OEHMS OC945 [58:20 + 72:22] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)

As a record of a live performance, this new recording would be well worth considering but it doesn’t replace the classic DG recording with Carol Neblett, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and the Covent Garden Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta.  Compare them via Qobuz, where both are available, along with other recordings, and there’s no doubt that my preference lies with the DG recording which 7digital.com have as a download in 320kb/s mp3.

The 72-page Oehms booklet contains a detailed synopsis and several colour photos of the production, which is all very well in its way, but no substitute for the libretto and translation.  Fortunately the Italian text is readily available here.


Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871–1927)
Excelsior ! Symphonic Overture, Op.13 (1896) [13:50]
Mellanspel ur Sången (Interlude from The Song), Op.44 (1921) [6:14]
Serenade in F, Op.31 (1914/19) [37:16]
Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Christian Lindberg
rec. de Singel, Antwerp, Belgium, March 2013. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet included
BIS-SACD-2058 [58:19] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

BIS already had a great deal of Stenhammar’s music in their catalogue – hardly surprisingly for a Swedish label – including a recording of the Serenade by Neeme Järvi, available separately on BIS-CD-310 (from eclassical.com, mp3 and lossless) or as part of the package on BIS-CD-714/6, 4 CDs for the price of 3 – review by Rob Barnett.   The delightful Serenade is the main work on this new recording. 

The performances and recording do the music full justice, but if you are new to Stenhammar’s music this is not the place where I’d recommend beginning: try either of the recordings of the two piano concertos (Hyperion and Naxos) which I reviewed in December 2011/2 DL Roundup.

Recording of the Month
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Piano Quintet in c minor (1903, rev. 1904, 1905) [31:23]
Romance for Viola and Piano (ed. 1962 Bernard Shore and Eric Gritton) [6:47]
Quintet in D for violin, cello, clarinet, horn and piano (1898) [25:37]
Six Studies in English Folk Song (1926) (version for clarinet and piano) [8:55]
London Soloists Ensemble (Lorraine McAslan (violin), Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola), Karine Georgian (cello), John Lenehan (piano), Anthony Pike (clarinet) with Chris West (double bass), Tim Jackson (french horn))
rec. Champs Hill, Coldwaltham, West Sussex, UK, 2–4 July 2013. DDD.
pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573191 [73:04] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

By an oversight I included this in the 2014/8 index.  In the event, Nick Barnard has pipped me at the post and rendered most of what I was going to write superfluous – review – so I’ll content myself with  saying that the download sounds well, even in mp3 form – no lossless version, as yet from COL, which is surprising – and adding the Recording of the Month accolade.  Any doubts about the value of the music – much earlier than the standard VW repertoire – are soon dispelled by the fine performances.  The Quintet in D falls not far short of the Schubert Octet in charm.

Eclassical.com have it in both 16- and 24-bit sound but, at $13.01 and $19.52 respectively, that’s quite an increment on the price from COL (£4.99) and the CD (around £6).


Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972)
The Tinker’s Wedding – Comedy Overture [6:43]
Violin Concerto in C [36:40]
Symphony No. 13 in C* [16:09]
English Suite No. 4 ‘Kindergarten’ [12:21]
Lorraine McAslan (violin)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
* world premiere recording
rec. RSNO Centre, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 31 May and 1 June 2012. DDD.
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7296 [71:55] – from emusic.com (mp3) or amazon.co.uk (mp3)

There’s a typically wide range of styles here: the programme opens with the jaunty Tinker’s Wedding Overture but the following Violin Concerto, the main work here, is made of much tougher stuff, though by no means unapproachable. The one-movement Symphony No.13 is also rather tough going but both works are well worth persevering with in these fine performances. The very approachable English Suite No.4, never before recorded in the digital era and the only version currently available, rounds off another album on which Dutton does very well by neglected British music.

The emusic.com download comes at around 240kb/s – not ideal, but much the same as you get from Amazon and iTunes and sounding perfectly adequate. That’s the least expensive way to obtain this album, at £5.88 or less, but I’ve also given the Amazon link (£7.49) for those who are not emusic.com members.

There’s an older recording of the Violin Concerto by Naxos out of Marco Polo, coupled with The Jolly Miller overture and Symphony No.18 (8.557775). I refer you to John France’s detailed analysis of the concerto – review – and the review by Johnathan Woolf. Overall the new performance and recording quality are preferable but the Naxos recording is the only one available of the symphony, a work aptly described as a quarter-hour gem. I could suggest downloading only the symphony but that is likely to cost you half the price of the whole album, so you may as well duplicate the concerto and download in mp3 from classicsonline.com or the Marco Polo release in mp3 or lossless from eclassical.com.

Béla BARTÓK (1881–1945)
The Wooden Prince, Op.13, BB74 (1914-16, orchestrated 1916-17)* [54:06]
Hungarian Pictures, BB103 (1931)* [11:47]
The Miraculous Mandarin, Op.19, BB 82 (1918-19, orchestrated 1924, revised 1926-31)† [34:26]
Concerto for Orchestra, BB 23 (1943, revised 1945)‡ [40:35]
London Voices/Terry Edwards†
Philharmonia Orchestra*†; Royal Scottish National Orchestra‡/Neeme Järvi
rec. 1990. DDD
pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN241-52 [66:07 + 75:16] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)

Comparative recordings:

• The Wooden Prince : Bournemouth SO/Marin Alsop Naxos 8.570534 reviewreview and DL News 2013/1
• Concerto for Orchestra : Baltimore SO/Marin Alsop Naxos (with Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta) 8.572486June 2012/1
• Miraculous Mandarin, Hungarian Pictures : Bournemouth SO/Marin Alsop (with Dance Suite) Naxos 8.557433 - review

The contents of this 2-CD set, drawn from three discs which were worth considering at full price, form an excellent bargain twofer.  Though available only in mp3 and 16-bit sound, the recordings still sound very well.  If, however, you don’t have a recording of the music for Strings Percussion and Celesta, a more essential work than the Miraculous Mandarin and Hungarian Pictures, the first two Marin Alsop recordings which I’ve listed can be yours for around the same price, or you can have all three for not much more.  I thought Alsop’s recording of the Concerto for Orchestra particularly hard to beat.  Both Järvi and Alsop offer the full Mandarin ballet, not just the more common Suite, as recorded by Edward Gardner on another Chandos CD (CHAN5130).

The new release can be streamed from Qobuz and the three earlier CDs from Naxos Music Library.  Both also have the Alsop recordings for comparison.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
The Firebird – Ballet in Two Scenes (1910) [47:18]
Fireworks, Op.4 [4:24]
Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz
rec. 20-21 October 1986 (The Firebird); 4-5 January 1988 (Fireworks), Seattle Center Opera House, USA. DDD
pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.571221 [51:42] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
(from Delos DE6005, with narration by Natalia Makarova – also available from classicsonline.com, mp3)

Reviewing Andrew Litton’s performance of The Firebird on BIS-SACD-1874 and other recordings, I mentioned this recording briefly in DL News 2012/22 as having been reissued but didn’t elaborate.

This performance of Firebird was originally released in the UK as a Delos limited import coupled more substantially than now with Le Chant du Rossignol (D/CD3051).  The quality of the playing from a regional orchestra delighted the reviewers back then and that remains a strong plus points, especially at the new lower price.  If the performance overall is a little cool, that serves to emphasise the link with the Rite of Spring, especially as heard in the new recording from Les Siècles (below) where the kinship of the two works is also writ large.  Though available only in mp3, the download sounds fine.

For a good recent performance of all three major Stravinsky ballets, Firebird, Rite and Petrushka, I continue to favour the 3-CD budget set made by Yakov Kreizberg in Monte Carlo (OPMC001: Recording of the Monthreview).  Stream with booklet from Qobuz.  Of older recordings which still sound very well, Ansermet is hard to beat (with the OSR: Stravinsky Ballets, Decca Duo E4434672 – stream from Qobuz – or with the New Philharmonia, Decca Eloquence 4803780).

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
L’Histoire Du Soldat (1919, rev.1946)
Carole Bouquet (the narrator), Gérard Depardieu (the devil), Guillaume Depardieu (the soldier)
Pascal Moraguès (clarinet)
Sergio Azzolini (bassoon)
Marc Bauer (cornet)
Daniel Breszynski (trombone)
Vincent Pasquier (double bass)
Michel Cerutti (percussion)
Shlomo Mintz (violin and conductor)
rec. live, December 1996, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (Paris). DDD.
pdf with French text included
NAÏVE V5371 [51:43] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library or Qobuz (both with booklet)
(From Auvidis Valois V4805, first released in 1997.)

The Soldier’s Tale (in English) [60:57]
Dumbarton Oaks [15:08]
David Timson (narrator), Benjamin Soames (soldier), Jonathan Keeble (the devil)
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
NAXOS 8.553662 [76:05] – from classicsonline.com (mp3 with pdf booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library or Qobuz

The Soldier’s Tale (in English) [61:48]
Aage Haugland (narrator)
Members of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
pdf booklet with text included
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 10 August 1986 and Focus Recording Studios, Copenhagen, 8-9 February 1993. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9189 [61:48] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)

Ragtime [4:23]
Octet for Wind [14:36]
Suite: The Soldier’s Tale [25:33]
Petrushka (1911 concert version) [29:42]
L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 18 August 1986 (Soldier’s Tale), 29 November, 1990 (Octet), 24 October, 1991 (Ragtime), and Victoria Hall, Geneva, 29 June, 1993 (Petrushka).  DDD
pdf booklet included.
CHANDOS CHAN9291 [74:40] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Contrastes for clarinet, violin and piano (1938) [17:28]
Igor STRAVINSKY Three pieces for clarinet solo (1919) [4:51]
Béla BARTÓK Sonata for solo violin (1944) [29:59]
Igor STRAVINSKY Five movements from L’Histoire du Soldat (arr. for violin, clarinet and piano) (1919) [15:07]
David Lefèvre (violin); Florent Héau (clarinet); Anne-Lise Gastaldi (piano)
rec. Protestant Church, Auteuil, Paris, 8-13 January 2001
OUTHERE REW522 [66:57] – download from amazon.co.uk )
(first released by Zig-Zag Territoires, ZZT0202012).

For the complete work English-speaking listeners should be happy with either the Naxos or the Chandos.  Choice of coupling – both the Octet and Dumbarton Oaks make very enjoyable fillings – price, with the Naxos less expensive, or recording quality could easily be deciding factors, with only the Chandos available in lossless sound.  By a small margin the Naxos is slightly snappier but there’s not much in it.  If you’re allergic to funny accents, you may find the Chandos Devil too much.  Try them both from Naxos Music Library and the Naxos from Qobuz.

The Naïve recording uses the revised and enlarged 1946 text, but omits about 10 minutes of the complete work.  The performance is at least the equal of the two English versions and Gerard Depardieu makes an effective Devil apart from his reluctance to employ an old-woman voice when disguised as one.  The fairly short playing time means a commensurate reduction in price from eclassical.com.

If you just want the Suite from Histoire du Soldat, the Järvi recording was made just after setting down the complete work but Naxos Classical Archive have also reissued the classic and stylish 1956 Ansermet recording, coupled with Honegger’s Le Roi David, on 9.80445/6.  If you want this in the best, lossless sound, your only option is eclassical.com ($16.66).  Though recorded in stereo, there’s only fairly minimal spread of sound, but the slightly dry transfer suits the music well and it’s good enough for me to recommend that you go for the lossless version, though it can be obtained less expensively (£3.98) from classicsonline.com.  It’s not available in the USA and several other countries except in the 33-CD set Ernest Ansermet: Russian Music (Decca 4820377). 

David Lefèvre and colleagues offer a snappily-played reduced-instrumentation version of the Suite, well matched with the short Three Pieces and two works by Bartók.   With good recording and an attractive price for the reissue, this would be a good alternative for those not seeking the full work.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring), recreation of the 1913 premiere [33:31]
Petrushka (1911) [34:51]
Les Siècles, François/Xavier Roth
rec. 2013?  No booklet
MUSICALES ACTES SUD ASM15 [68:22] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

I had intended to include this with some other recordings by Les Siècles in 2014/7 but somehow lost track of it, partly because the lack of a booklet from eclassical.com and the fact that I missed their performance at the Proms in 2013 meant that I didn’t realise how special this version of the Rite of Spring is until I read reviews elsewhere.

The performance aims to reconstruct how the music sounded on that fateful day in May 1913 before the alterations which Stravinsky thought necessary thereafter to make the work easier to perform, including dropping the alternation of plucked and bowed strings.  If the music seems to lack some of the sheer power of classic performances which I admire, from Stravinsky’s own for CBS and Doráti’s classic Mercury recording onwards – see above for the Beulah reissue of the latter – the gain is in terms of its sheer musicality, with the kinship with The Firebird, already recorded by this team on ASM06, clearer than in most recordings.  And from Rondes des printemps (track 4) onwards there’s plenty of power, too, where required.

With a fine account of Petrushka as the coupling, this is an important release but spoiled in download form in one respect: the lack of a booklet is deplorable, as always; it still happens far too often and it means that I can’t give you the date of the (live) recording.

Cecil COLES (1888-1918) Music from Behind the Lines              
Overture: The Comedy of Errors [11:04] 
Fra Giacomo : Alas Fra Giacomo too late! But follow me* [13:22]
Scherzo in a minor [8:14]                   
Four Verlaine Songs** [8:27]            
From the Scottish Highlands [12:32]             
Behind the lines [8:57]
* Paul Whelan (baritone); ** Sarah Fox (soprano)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
rec. City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, December 2001. DDD.
pdf booklet included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55464 [62:36] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless)

(Recording of the Month – see reviews of earlier release on CDA67293)

With the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War about to be commemorated, there could hardly have been a more opportune time to reissue this recording at budget price.  Much of the music here was composed after Coles was sent to the front in 1915 but no allowance has to be made for the circumstances.  Widely hailed on its first appearance, it’s even harder to resist now at £4.00 for flac or mp3.  If you are in any doubt, Cortège, the second movement of Behind the Lines, is available on Hyperion’s free download sampler for July 2014, HYP201407.

Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) Music for Wind Instruments
Capriccio [10:49]
Trois Pièces brèves [7:11]
Concerto for cello and wind instruments* [12:50]
Deux Mouvements [7:12]
Deux Stèles orientées ** [4:54]
Cinq Pièces en trio [7:22]
Le Jardinier de Samos : Suite [10:36]
Henri Demarquette (cello)*
Karine Deshayes (mezzo)**
Ensemble Initium/Clément Mao-Takacs
rec. Cœur de Ville, Vincennes, October 2013; Conservatoire, Rueil-Malmaison, January 2014
pdf booklet with texts included – no translations
TIMPANI 1C1210 [60:54] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Qobuz or Naxos Music Library

Ibert’s Divertissement is the wittiest and cheekiest piece of music that I know (best savoured as performed by the PCO and Jean Martinon on Decca 4783188 – download from prestoclassical.com or stream from Qobuz) and while nothing here is quite in that league, or as much fun as the cover picture suggests, it’s mostly jaunty and all well worth hearing, though some of the items are not otherwise available.

The snappy performances and recording make this a worthy successor to Ensemble Initium’s earlier recording of the wind music of André Caplet, also for Timpani – review and DL News 2013/12.

Aaron COPLAND (1900–1990)
Billy the Kid (Suite) [21:20]
Symphony No.3 [43:09]
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd
rec. Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand, July 2000.DDD
pdf booklet included
2xHDNA2030 [64:30] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

Another classic Naxos recording brought brilliantly to life in 24-bit format on the 2xHD label, albeit at a price considerably higher than the CD, which remains available on 8.559106 for around £6 and as an mp3 download from classicsonline.com for £4.99.  The performance of the Symphony vies with the composer’s own on Everest – review and DL News 2013/15 – and the addition of the Billy the Kid Suite is the icing on the cake.  Good as the Everest recording is, the 24-bit refurbishment of the Naxos recording is better still, providing the weight which William Hedley found slightly lacking on the original Naxos CD – review.  Ideally you need both this and the Everest.

Eduardo Mata’s recording, which WH mentions with approval in that review and which I also like, can be yours for £5.99 on an EMI/Warner Gemini twofer, with the Clarinet Concerto, Grohg, Music for the Theater and Quiet City from 7digital.com (mp3) or with Danzón Cubano and Dance Symphony on another Warner/EMI album, also at £5.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk.

Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
The Battle of Stalingrad Suite (1949) [29:39]
Othello Suite (1956) [33:33]
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bratislava/Adriano
rec. 1989 and 1992. DDD
pdf booklet included
NAXOS FILM MUSIC CLASSICS 8.573389 [63:13] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
(Originally issued and still available as Marco Polo 8.223314)

Film Classics? Only if you like your music, big, bold and brash and with quite a few ‘borrowings’ along the way.  Fans of Khachaturian’s better-known Spartacus won’t find anything here to match but the performances and recording make the best case for what there is.  I’d recommend trying this from Naxos Music Library first, but if you don’t yet know Spartacus, the composer’s own recording with the VPO, coupled with Gayaneh and Glazunov’s The Seasons is the place to start (Decca Legends E4603152): I’ve been listening to that recording as I write to remind myself how superior all the music there is to these film scores.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) Organ Works Volume 1
Six Fantasies on Hymn Tunes, Op.72 (1975) [22:41]
Martyrs : Dialogues on a Scottish Psalm-tune, for organ duet, Op.73* (1976) [12:21]
Improvisation in Memoriam Maurice de Sausmarez (1969) [6:50]
Missa de Gloria (Dublin Festival Mass), Op.82 (1980) [37:10]
Stephen Farr (organ) with John Butt (organ)*
Rec at the Rieger organ of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, 9-10 September. DDD.
pdf booklet includes full organ specification.
RESONUS RES10134 [79:07] – no CD.  Download from resonusclassics.com or eclassical.com (both mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library or try samples of each track from Qobuz.

I reviewed a very fine Naxos recording of two of the works here, the Six Fantasies and Missa de Gloria, coupled with Et resurrexit, performed by Greg Morris on the organ of Blackburn Cathedral in the June 2011/1 DL Roundup and that remains a recommendable and inexpensive introduction to Kenneth Leighton’s organ music (8.572601), but this Resonus release is merely the harbinger of more to come.  Moreover, it’s recorded on the highly versatile organ of St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, the city where Leighton spent most of his working life.  Lovers of Leighton’s choral music and those who enjoy British organ music need have no hesitation in buying this recording, preferably in the very fine 24/96 version.  Prices from the two sources indicated are very similar – UK purchasers will probably prefer to pay in GB£ for the resonusclassics.com, others may prefer the US$ price from eclassical.com.

Two of Hyperion’s recordings of Leighton’s music have sunk into the ‘please buy me’ category at different times: CDH55195, Choral Music from St Paul’s, and The World’s Desire (CDA67641) – see September 2011/2 DL Roundup – I do hope that this recording and its planned successor prove much more popular.

Reissue of the Month
Garden of Early Delights : music by Diego ORTIZ, Jan van EYCK, John DOWLAND, Giovanni BASSANO, Dario CASTELLO, Biagio MARINI and Johann SCHOP.
Pamela Thorby (flute); Andrew Lawrence-King (harp and psaltery)
LINN BKD291 [66:55] from linnrecords.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with booklet)
Also available with original catalogue number, CKD291, from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless; no booklet but detailed notes on web site)

Apart from a small alteration to the cover of the booklet – the addition of the area in black – and a change of catalogue number, this remains identical to the original release which I welcomed in January 2009 – even the price stays the same: £8.00 for mp3, £10.00 for 16-bit lossless from both Linn and Hyperion, with 24-bit Studio Master from Linn only for £18.00. 

The music is gloriously inconsequential and the performances are a sheer delight.  Hyperion offer the notes on their web page but if you want to burn the music to CD and print the notes as a booklet you need to purchase from Linn or turn to Naxos Music Library.

Discovery of the Month
Gabriel DUPONT (1878-1914)
Poème for piano and string quartet* [33:57]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘épigraphe’ [2:03]
La Maison dans les dunes, ‘La maison du souvenir’ [2:45]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Du soleil au jardin’ [3:15]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Après-midi de dimanche’ [3:23]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Une amie est venue avec des fleurs’ [2:53]
La Maison dans les dunes, ‘Mélancolie du bonheur’  [3:49]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Coquetteries’ [5:17]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Des enfants jouent dans le jardin’ [5:57]
Les Heures dolentes, ‘Calme’ [3:55]
Journée de printemps, for violin and piano [10:03]
Marie-Catherine Girod (piano)
Quatuor Pražák*
rec. Martinek Studio, Prague, August 2013. DDD.
pdf booklet included
MIRARE MIR238 [77:21] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library or Qobuz

If Gabriel Dupont was even a name that you knew, you must be a musicologist – and if he was more than a name, an exceptionally well-informed one.  For the rest of us his music is a real discovery and the performances here help to turn it into a most enjoyable one.  Good recording, especially in 24-bit format, and the provision of the booklet completed my pleasure at discovering this music.  If you were hoping to explore further recordings, I’m afraid that you will be disappointed – as they say on Looney Toons, that’s all, folks.

Jazz Bargain of the Month
Duke ELLINGTON (1899-1974) The Real Duke Ellington
COLUMBIA LEGACY 88691960702 [3:48:27] – from amazon.co.uk (mp3)

The equivalent of three CDs, containing 75 tracks – almost four hours of music – for £3.49 has to be a bargain.  Add the fact that it contains classic Ellington recordings from the 1930s – bettered only by those he made in the early 1940s – and the bargain is even more notable.  Though Amazon list the album as emanating from Legacy Recordings, the cover contains the Columbia (CBS) logo, suggesting that these are official Sony transfers.

Don’t expect anything like modern sound and you won’t be disappointed by these very clean transfers, free from surface noise.

Bargain of the Month

Karajan fans daunted at the prospect of the bumper box sets recently released by Warner may find a budget 2-CD release of lollipops from the same company more to their liking.  With the word Karajan emblazoned across the yellow cover, it contains Ravel’s Boléro, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Chabrier’s España, four excerpts from Bizet’s l’Arlésienne, Overtures to Johann Strauss II Die Fledermaus, Weber Der Freischütz and Wagner Der Fliegende Holländer, excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, the ‘Pathétique’, Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’, Mozart’s No.40 and Dvorak’s New World, orchestral excerpts from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut and Berlioz’ La Damnation de Faust, Smetana’s Má Vlast: Vltava, Sibelius’ Valse Triste and Johann Strauss II Tritsch-Tratsch Polka.

That’s almost two and a half hours of music for £3.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk or streamed from Qobuz.  Excellent for beginners, though even they might find the canary-yellow cover too brash – if you burn it to CD, I’d try to find a better cover to print.



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