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RECORDING OF THE MONTH
A very fine achievement


Complete ballet


Orchestral Music


music that will please greatly


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Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear


vital imagination


Henrik HELLSTENIUS
A harum-scarum springboard


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212 reviews this month.
December 2014  

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Concertos 1-3 - Geza Anda (piano) Berlin RSO/Ferenc Fricsay rec. 1959/60 ALTO ALC1246 [77:17] [JWh] A fantastic recording. Lives up to the label “Legendary Performance”.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets - Tokyo String Qt rec. 2005-2008 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807641.48 SACD [8 discs: 8:24:00] [SG] What better way to bow out after a 44 year career; it doesn’t get much better than this.

Luciano BERIO (1925-2003) Quattro version originali della Ritirata Notturna di madrid di L. Boccherini, Calmo, Sinfonia - Virpi Räisänen (mezzo) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2014 ONDINE ODE1227-5 SACD [53:56] [DC] Breathtaking.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Sextets 1 & 2 - Quatuor Sine Nomine; Nicolas Pache (viola) François Guye (cello) rec. 2014 CLAVES CD50-1410 [77:26] [SG] Music making of the highest level, by a chamber group at the top of their game.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Violin Sonata Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Abodah Eric ZEISL Violin Sonata - Zina Schiff (violin) Cameron Grant (piano) rec. 2012 MSR CLASSICS MS1493 [60:23] [SSi] A disc of great beauty and emotion.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Sea Pictures, The Dream of Gerontius - Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Stuart Skelton (tenor) David Soar (bass) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5140(2) SACD [58:33 + 66:14] [ST] Deserves to take it s place alongside the best in the catalogue.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Die Schöpfung - Camilla Tilling (soprano) Mark Padmore (tenor) Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass-baritone) Bavarian RSO & Ch/Bernard Haitink rec. 2013 BR KLASSIK 900125 [37:46 + 63:32] [JS] By some way the most satisfying recorded Creation that I have heard.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Suite from Romeo and Juliet - Chicago SO/Riccardo Muti rec. 2013 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011402 [48:50] A superb selection from Romeo and Juliet stunningly performed and captured in magnificent sound [JQ] Grippingly action-packed, achingly passionate and the stunningly played. [MC]

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonic Dances, Suites 1 & 2 - Natalia Lavrova and Vassily Primakov (piano duo) rec. 2013 LP CLASSICS 1019 [79.16] [IL] Practically irresistible.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 13 - Alexander Vinogradov (bass) Huddersfield Ch Soc/Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573218 [59:39] An impressive conclusion to Vasily Petrenko’s Shostakovich symphony cycle [JQ] A very fine performance and recording of one of Shostakovich's best works. It can be purchased without hesitation [DBi].

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) String Quartet Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Crisantemi, Minuets Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) String Quartet - Enső Qt rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573108 [66:29] [NB] All the music here is easy on the ear and instantly appealing ... uniformly excellent performances ... playing of this calibre is incredibly hard to achieve.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Recorder Concertos - Maurice Steger (recorder) Il Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902190 [68:39] [DC] Hard to beat - a joyous programme.

De Profundis Ildebrando PIZZETTI Messa di Requiem & other works by Allegri, MacMillan, Malipiero & Puccini - Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573196 [70:01] [JQ] Pizzetti’s lovely Requiem tops a thoughtfully conceived and interesting programme, flawlessly executed.

Patricia Petibon (soprano) La Belle Excentrique - Susan Manoff (piano) rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 2465 [64.52] [IL] A truly dazzling collection.

Johann Friedrich AGRICOLA (1720-1774) Die Hirten bei der Krippe (Christmas Cantatas) - Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2014 CPO 777 921-2 [81:07] [JV] If you are interested in music for Christmastide which is different from what you are used to, don't hesitate.

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) String Quartets Ture RANGSTRÖM (1884-1947) String Quartet- Stenhammar Qt rec. 2009 CPO 777270-2[61:56] A fine recording of this attractive and overly neglected music [SSi] Atterberg shows the potential of the quartet format while the Rangström raves with expressionist wildness. An important and valuable addition to the catalogue of Scandinavian String Quartet music [NB].

Arno BABADJANIAN (1921-1983) Piano Trio Peteris VASKS (b.1946) Episodi e Canto Perpetuo - Potch Trio rec. 1997 DELOS DE3420 [53:05] [BR] Two very good piano trios, off the beaten path in the world of neo-romanticism.

Carl Philipp Emmanuel BACH (1714-1788) Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Jesu, Gott hat den Herrn auferwecket - Rheinische Kantorei; Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max rec. 1984/6 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94818 [48:03 + 51:07] [JQ] Excellent performances of choral works by C.P.E. Bach restored to the catalogue.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 1999 EUROARTS 2045094 Blu-ray [198:00] [KM] Gardiner is one of the finest interpreters of Bach’s vocal music, but don’t pay extra for the Blu-Ray.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 1999 EUROARTS DVD 2045098 [2 DVDs: 142:00  + bonus 56:00] [JQ] A splendid and very satisfying account of Bach’s great Christmas present to music-lovers.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Weihnachtsoratorium (highlights) - St. Thomas Boys Ch, Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Georg Christoph Biller rec. 2009 RONDEAU ROP4042 [65:48] [GPJ] A thoroughly enjoyable CD, and a useful ‘taster’ for the complete recording, with superb singing from the choir.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Six Suites for Cello Solo - Alfia Nakipbekova (cello) rec. 2007/8 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9050CD-2 [72:38 + 69:45]  [JWh] A very good version of the Bach Cello Suites.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard Concertos - Yorck Kronenberg (piano, harpsichord) Zürich CO rec. 2014 GENUIN GEN14323 [72:02 + 39:44] [SG] These free-spirited accounts set the bar high, and will sit proudly on my CD shelves.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Köthener Trauermusik - Ens Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902211 [73.53] [MC] This captivating recording is beautifully performed and excellently recorded.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos, Chaconne - Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Joshua Bell (violin) rec. 2014 SONY 88843 087792 [50:01] [RWe] If this unusual programme appeals, you will find exhilarating and affecting playing here.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Viktoria Mullova (baroque violin) Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone rec. 2012 ONYX 4114 [60.31] Violin Concertos - Concerto Köln/Giuliano Carmignola (baroque violin) rec. 2013 ARCHIV PRODUKTION 479 2695 [73.44] [MC] Mullova's playing is warm, fluid and highly expressive but the Carmignola is in a class of its own.

Judith BAILEY (b. 1941) Havas, Concerto for orchestra George LLOYD (1913-1998) Le Pont du Gard, HMS Trinidad March - Bath Phil/Jason Thornton rec. 2014 EM RECORDS EMRCD026 [64:09] [JW] Good news for Bailey and Lloyd admirers ... characterful music.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Kossuth, Two Portraits, Suite No. 1 - Michael Ludwig (violin)n) Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573307 [69:42] [LW] A selection of early Bartók generally well played and recorded.

Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Orchestral Pieces, Phantasy, Overture, Elegy, & Rondo - Philip Dukes (viola) BBC Phil/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN10829 [72:23] [IL] A very welcome addition to the Bax discography.

Sally BEAMISH (b.1956) The Seafarer Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) La Mer (arr. piano trio)- Sir Willard White (voice), Trio Apaches rec. 2013/14 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100043 [52:49] [RWe] An intriguing disc in which we come into close communion with a powerful ancient text – and discover Debussy’s ‘second piano trio’.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 1-5, Choral Fantasia - Yefim Bronfman (piano) Tonhalle O Zurich/David Zinman rec. 2004/5 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94856 [3 CDs: 207:47] [BR] A life-enriching set of great artistry and great performances, for half the cost of a Burger and Lobster chain hamburger.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 5, Piano Sonata 32 - Nelson Freire (piano) Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2014 DECCA 478 6771 [61:58] [MC] Rubs shoulders with the best.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 6, 12 & 14 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartet 1 - Wilhelm Backhaus (piano) Amadeus Qtrec. 1953 MELO CLASSIC MC1007 [79:24] [JW] These performances are without doubt worthy of preservation.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 14 & 29 - Alessio Bax (piano) rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD397 [62:20] [LW] Impressive Beethoven playing.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Capuleti e I Montecchi - Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) Eric Owens (bass) Nicole Cabell (soprano) San Francisco Opera O & Ch/Riccardo Frizza rec. 2012 EUROARTS Blu-ray 2059664 [135:00 + 16:00 (bonus)] [RJF] One day I hope DiDonato’s interpretation of Romeo will be seen and heard in a sensitive, sensible and realistic production.

Richard BLACKFORD (b. 1954) The Great Animal Orchestra Symphony Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921) Carnival of the Animals (reorchestration) - BBC Ntl O Wales/Martyn Brabbins NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6274 [75:26] [JW] Worth hearing for the Saint-Saëns.

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Suite for Viola, Baal Shem, Suite Hébraďque - Hong-Mei Xiao (viola) Budapest SO MÁV/Mariusz Smolij rec. 2010/11 NAXOS 8.570829 [61:02] [JWh] An excellent Bloch CD but the sound is a slight let-down.

Jack BODY (b.1944) Poems of Love and War - New Zealand SO/Kenneth Young rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573198 [75:43] [DD] A disappointing disc from a well regarded New Zealand composer. Not a CD I’ll be returning to.

York BOWEN (1884-1961) String Quartets 2 & 3; Phantasy Quintet - Archaeus Qt, Timothy Lines (bass clarinet) rec. 2001 NAXOS 8.571366[70:22] [SG] This is a must for chamber music lovers, and should help further York Bowen's cause.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Viola Sonatas 1 & 2 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)Arpeggione Sonata - Yuri Bashmet (viola) Mikhail Muntian (piano) rec. 1977/1984 MELODIYA MELCD1002187 [62:40] [JW] Strong readings ... thoroughly persuasive and excellent alternatives to RCA's studio Brahms.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concertos 1 & 2, Ballades - Tzimon Barto (piano) Deutsches SO Berlin/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2012-2014 CAPRICCIO C5210 [68:01 + 71:49] [MC] Fresh and expressive playing that marvellously suits Brahms’ lyricism.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto, Double Concerto -Gioconda de Vito (violin) Amedeo Baldovino (cello) Philharmonia O/Rudolf Schwarzrec. 1952/3AMARE CLASSICS AME1001 [75:04] [JW] Rewarding if occasionally quixotic listening.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Verkündigung - Robert Holl (bass) Hanna Schwarz (mezzo) Bavarian Radio Ch, Munich Radio O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2011 BR KLASSIK 900311 [66:39 + 67:00] [WK] One could hardly go wrong with these new discs in becoming acquainted with this major twentieth century opera.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 5 - Royal Concertgebouw O/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 2013 RCO LIVE RCO14106 Blu-ray [74:18] [LW] Recommended for viewing Harnoncourt’s way with Bruckner.  

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 - London SO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2013 LSO LIVE LSO0746 [67:10] [DM] A magnificent performance; up there with the best.

Raffaele CALACE (1863-1934) Complete works for Mandolin and Guitar - Duo Zigiotti-Merlantete rec. 2003 TACTUS TC860301 [62:09] [JWh] Probably for mandolin aficionados.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Préludes, Mazurkas and Nocturnes - Ingrid Fliter (piano) rec. 2014 LINN CKD475 SACD [73:00] [RWe] Fliter stakes her claim to be considered among the great Chopin players.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images;Prélude ŕ l’aprčs-midi d’un faune; La Mer - Singapore SO/Lan Shui rec. 2004-2013 BIS BIS1837 SACD[76:48] [GPJ] Thrilling performances, blessed with a recording of outstanding clarity. Conducting and orchestral playing of the highest class.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Suite Bergamasque, Pour le piano Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballade, Fantasie, Scherzo - Sarah Beth Briggs (piano) rec. 2014 SEMAPHORE SMLMP49 [74:38] [SG] Demonstrates sheer artistry and talent - a pianist who brings impressive detail, intelligence, freshness and spontaneity to these scores.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto - Mstislav Rostropovich (cello) Royal PO/Sir Adrian Boult, Leningrad PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1961/2 ALTO ALC1261 [64:00] [JS] This is a disc which has many attractions.

Antonin DVORAK (1841-1904) Symphony 8 Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Overture to Oberon Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concerto 1 - Hilary Hahn (violin) Berlin PO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2000 EUROARTS DVD 2050448 [99:00] [JWh] Will bring enormous delight ... a pleasure to see the great Mariss Jansons in action.

Petr EBEN (1929-2007) Sacred Choral Works - Sächsisches Vocalens/Matthias Jung rec. 2008/9 CPO 777627-2 [59:50] [JW] Splendidly interpreted and recorded ... highly attractive to Eben admirers.

Giacomo FACCO (1676-1753) Pensieri Adriarmonici Vol. 2 - Manuel Zogbi (violin) Mexican Baroque O/Miguel Lawrence TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0259 [56:00] [GPu] Accomplished and vivacious Italian concertos performed with a distinctive Mexican flavour.

Louise FARRENC (1804-1875) Piano quintets - Quintetto Bottesini rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94815 [60:01] [SA] These two works reveal a wonderfully tuneful composer.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Violin Sonata 3 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904 Four Romantic Pieces - Renaud Capuçon (violin), Khatia Buniatishvili (piano) rec. 2014 ERATO 2564 625018 [66.20] [MC] Two musicians in total sympathy ... a sense of sheer enjoyment.

John FRANDSEN (b. 1956) Requiem - Teitur (vocal) Sine Bundgaard (soprano) Andrea Pellegrini (alto) Peter Lodahl (tenor) Halvor F. Meilen (bass) Danish Ntl SO & Ch/Henrik Vagn Christensen rec. 3013 DACAPO SACD 6.220649-50 [62:27 + 34:03] [DC] Impressive, but hard to love.

Louis GLASS (1864-1936) Symphony 3, Summer Life  - Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie/Daniel Raiskin
rec. 2009 CPO 777 525-2 [65:12] [DJB] Really delightful music; the start of a much anticipated series.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Holberg Variations - Christian Ihle Hadland (piano) 1B1 CO/Erlend Skomsvoll (piano) rec. 2014 SIMAX CLASSICS PSC1332 [60:36] [BR] Grieg meets Berio meets jazz in a modern experiment in variations and remixes.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) String Quartet Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartet 2 Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Italian Serenade - Amphion String Qt rec. 2014 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6289 [67.03] [MC] Impeccable intonation, unity and glorious musicality.

George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) Handel’s Recorder The Musick for the Royal Fireworks, Sonatas 2, 4, 7 & 11 - Ruth Wilkinson (recorder) Miriam Morris (viola da gamba) John O’Donnell (harpsichord) rec. 2010 DIVINE ART DDA25124 [48:57] [JF] Stunningly played and beautifully presented.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759) Between Heaven and Earth / Arias and Duets - Sandrine Piau (soprano)Accademia bizantina/Stefano Montanari (violin); Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini NAĎVE NC40037 [77:00 + 72:00] [GF] A very attractive buy for all Handel aficionados.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)String Quartet 'Emperor' Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet 1 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) String Quartet 3 - Schneiderhan Qt rec. 1944 MELOCLASSIC MC4001 [74:31] [JW] Amongst the earliest of their surviving performances ... will appeal strongly to the quartet's many admirers.

Jacques HÉTU (1938-2010) Complete Chamber Music for Strings - New Orford String Qt Timothy Hutchins (flute); Steven Dann (viola); Colin Carr (cello) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573395 [74:25] [HC] A splendid disc devoted to one of Canada's most endearing composers.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata Josef SUK (1874-1935) Four Pieces Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Romantic Pieces - Jennifer Pike (violin) Tom Poster (piano) rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10827 [69:32] An enterprising selection of Czech works for violin and piano [LW] A warm halo around the sound accords well with these sensitive interpretations [JW].

Leoš JANACEK (1854-1928) Sinfonietta, Capriccio, The Cunning Little Vixen suite - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5142 SACD [64:05] [DC] More Hollywood than Moravian woods, but still superb.

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Sonata for cello and piano, Duo for violin and cello, Sonata for solo cello - János Starker (cello) Arnold Eidus (violin) Otto Herz (piano) rec. 1950 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR453 [72:41] [JW] Excellent - a fine restoration.

1914 Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Violin Sonata Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Préludes, Piano Quintet - Tamara Atschba (piano) Louise Chisson (violin) Matthias Adenosine (violin) Alexander Znamensky (viola) Christophe Pantillon (cello) rec. 2014 GRAMOLA 99040 [88:27] [MC] Both the Koechlin Sonata and Vierne’s Quintet are worth getting to know especially in these excellent performances.

Anders KOPPEL (b. 1947) Marimba concertos 1-4 - Marianna Bednarska (marimba) Aalborg SO/Henrik Vagn Christensen rec. 2012/13 DACAPO 6.220595 SACD [78:51] [JW] Marimba fans, apply within.

Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001) String quartet, Violin sonata, Duos, Canzonettas, String trio - Martin Risley (violin) Chamber Players of The New Zealand School of Music rec. 2011 ATOLL ACD142 [73:05] [SA] Playing matched to an obvious commitment to the music.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Jeux d’eau, Ondine - Julian von Károlyi (piano) Grosses Berliner Rundfunkorchester/Johannes Schüler, Heinzkarl Weigel rec. 1943-44 MELOCLASSIC MC1012 [62:30] [JW] A frequently magnetic romantic stylist.

Boris LYATOSHYNSKY (1895-1968) Symphonies 1-5, Grazhyna - Ukrainian State SO/Theodore Kuchar rec. 1993/4 NAXOS 8.555578-80 [3 CDs: 188:41] [DJB] Grab Volume 2 with all speed, consider the third but only get the first if you really feel the need to complete the set.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 1 Alma Maria MAHLER (1879-1964) Sieben Lieder - Barbora Polašková (mezzo) Prague SO/Zdenĕk Mácal rec. 2010/11 ARCODIVA UP0134-2131 [76:36] [SV] A pleasure to hear Mácal still on form.

Gian Francesco MALIPIERO (1882–1973) Fantasia di ogni giorno, Passacaglie, Concerti - Roma SO/Francesco La Vecchia rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573291 [66:13] [HC] A very fine release of Malipiero's music with the added bonus of a substantial work.

David MATTHEWS (b. 1943) Complete String Quartets Vol. 3 - Kreutzer Qt rec. 2014 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0060 [64:09] [DBi] A very worthwhile addition to the extensive David Matthews discography. This excellent disc of his first three quartets is well performed and recorded.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphonies 1 & 3, Ruy Blas - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013/14 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5139 [74:50] [JS] A very worthwhile addition to the catalogue, especially for the performance of the Symphony No. 1.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 3, The Hebrides Overture Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Concerto - Maria Joăo Pires (piano) London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2014 LSO LIVE LSO0765 SACD [79:17] [GM] Well worth hearing overall but the Schumann is not an A-list recording.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Meyerbeer on Record - Volume 2, 1899-1925 MARSTON 53012-2 [3 CDs: 229:13] [JW] Everything is pretty near immaculately done ... yet another vocal cornerstone for the collector.

Étienne MOULINIÉ (1599-1676) Meslanges pour la Chapelle de Gaston d’Orléans - Ensemble Correspondances/Sébastian Daucé rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902194 [66.10] [GH] Cultured, sensitive and beautifully moulded performances ... a notable and delightful disc ... well worth investigating.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony 39, Piano Concerto 20, Divertimento 15 -Clara Haskil (piano) Philharmonia O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1956 BELVEDERE 10152 [56:06 + 25:02] [SG] An auspicious launch of a new label. I look forward to many more treasures emanating from this source.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano concertos 12 & 23 Ignaz HOLZBAUER (1711-1783) Symphony - Matea Leko (piano) Kurpfalz CO/Johannes Schlaefli rec. 2014 ARS PRODUKTION SACD ARS38167 [63:01] [JW] There is a spacious SACD sound to enjoy in this disc and it will be interesting to see in which reportorial direction Leko will move next.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 1 & 4 - New York Philharmonic/Alan Gilbert rec. 2014 DACAPO SACD 6.220624 [69:20] [JQ] The second instalment of Alan Gilbert’s Nielsen cycle and a good deal to admire.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Missa Hodie Christus natus est, O magnum mysterium, Christe redemptor omnium, Magnificat primi toni - Westminster Cathedral Ch/Martin Bakerrec. 2003 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55367 [78:20] [ST] A sense of swing and ebullience matched with moments of serious contemplation. Hyperion have done a very good job of capturing the live-ness of this acoustic.

Andrzej PANUFNIK (1914-1991) String quartets 1-3 Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) String quartet - Tippett Qt rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573164 [79:39] [SA] The intense concentration necessary to make the music work is evident at every turn.

Stephen PAULUS (1949-2014) Veil of Tears, Concerto for String Quartet, Grand Concerto for Organ - Nathan J. Laube (organ) Nashville SO/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2012/2013 NAXOS 8.559740 [57:21] [GPJ] Terrific performances of music by an excitingly gifted American composer who deserves to become well-known further afield.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Les Animaux modčles, Les Biches, Aubade - Jean-Pierre Armengaud (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573170 [77.14] [IL] A most entrancing album played with verve and sensitivity to Poulenc’s individual idiom.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Peter and the Wolf - Philharmonia O/Mark Stephenson ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 102200/Blu-ray 108113 [110:00] This is a treat for young and old alike [JWh] A wonderful animation presented with fascinating bonus materials. For children and adults and also students of animation [DBi].

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies 1 & 2, Dreams - Săo Paulo SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2013/14 NAXOS 8.573353 [56:55] A fine version of the Second Symphony [JWh] Fine performances of Prokofiev in stunning sound [LW].

Henry PURCELL (1659–1695) Dido and Aeneas - Emily Van Evera (soprano) Ben Parry (baritone) Taverner Ch & Players/Andrew Parrott rec. 1994 AVIE AV2309 [61:56] [GF] Hard to beat.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Music for Two Pianos - Martha Argerich & friends rec. 2003-2010 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 623594 [78.40 + 40.04] [MC] A real treat, full of strong characterful playing and vivid colours.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Les Indes galantes – Valérie Gabail, Stéphanie Révidat (soprano) Reinoud van Mechelen (haut-contre ten) Le Choeur du Marais, La Simphonie du Marais/Hugo Reyne rec. 2013 MUSIQUE Ŕ LA CHABOTTERIE 605013 [3 CDs: 191:57] [RMo] Laudable, valuable, thorough, scholarly and complete. I only wish that the singing did not compromise its quality.

Franz REIZENSTEIN (1911-1968) Complete Works for Piano - Martin Jones (piano) rec. 2013 LYRITA SRCD.2342 [3 CDs: 234:49] [NB] Very fine technically and musically ... a set of which Lyrita's founder, Richard Itter would be proud.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade Sergei BORTKIEWICZ (1877-1952) Melodies Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Piano Trio - Zürich Ens rec. 2013 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0036 [71:21] [MC] If the programme appeals there is certainly no need to hesitate.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade, Antar - Caroline Clemmow, Anthony Goldstone (piano duo) rec. 2013 DIVINE ART DDA25118 [77:15] [JWh] A fabulous disc in every way.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures, Andante e tema con variazione - O dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2008/14 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 624344 [69:53] [ST] Good and stylish playing but I left feeling a little undernourished.

John RUTTER (b.1947) The John Rutter Songbook rec. 1994-2014 CLASSIC FM CFMD36 [76:22 + 73:42] [GPJ] Christmas carols, folk-songs, craftily arranged Beatles tunes – they’re all here. Rutter Heaven for his many, many fans and admirers throughout the musical world. Enjoy.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus, Piano Sonata 21 - Nami Ejiri (piano) rec. 2014 GENUIN CLASSICS GEN14327 [78:58] [RWe] A satisfying late Schubert programme ... excellent sound and playing.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Abegg-Variationen, Fantasiestücke, Variations - Andreas Staier (piano) rec. 2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902171 [59:52] [SSi] Schumann that I find it difficult to warm to.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Weihnachts-Historie, Kleiner geistliche Konzerte - Concerto Vocale/René Jacobs rec. 1989 HARMONIA MUNDI MUSIQUE D’ABORD HMA1951310 [50:52] [ST] Now that Harmonia Mundi have re-released Jacobs’ 1989 recording at super budget price this festive season is a good time to get to know Schütz’s Weihnachts-Historie.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Mazurkas - Samuil Feinberg (piano) rec. 1950s MELODIYA MELCD1002192 [62.52] [SG] Sensitively sculpted performances of works that deserve greater advocacy.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio 2 Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Piano Trio 1 Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Trio élégiaque 1 - Arnon Erez (piano), Hagai Shaham (violin), Raphael Wallfisch (cello) rec. 2014 NIMBUS NI5917 [75.00] [MC] Committed playing but there are drawbacks.

Roberto SIERRA (b.1953) Fandangos; Carnaval; Sinfonía 4 - Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2012 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559738 [55.35] [DD] Sierra is a composer whose reputation is deservedly on the rise. A very successful disc.

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)Violin Concerto 8 Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1814-1865) Concerto Allegro-Pathétique Nathan MILSTEIN (1904-1992) Paganiniana - Laura Bortolotto, Christian Joseph Saccon (violin) L’Orchestra Cittŕ di Ferrara/Maffeo Scarpis rec. 2013 AUDIOPHILE SOUND AUD135 [50:19] [JW] Interesting repertoire. You may want to track down this well-programmed disc.

Robert STILL (1910-1971) String Quartets - Villiers Qt rec. 2013/14 NAXOS 8.571353 [76:24] [NB] I was fully expecting to be excited by this disc which is probably why my feelings of disappointment are all the more keenly felt.

Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870) Josef Strauss meets Offenbach: Quadrilles rec. 1994-2004 NAXOS 8.578288 [58:42] [JS] Gently amusing and entertaining.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Arabella Renée Fleming, Thomas Hampson, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, Daniel Behle, Dresden Staatskapelle/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 C MAJOR 717304 Blu-ray [178.00] [PCG] The cast breathe life into the characters and make even the allegedly routine pages come springing to attention.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salzburger Liederabende 1956-2010 ORFEO C894142I [79:31 + 76:32] [RMo] A valuable collection, both artistically and historically.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Metamorphosen; Oboe Concerto- Stefan Schilli (oboe) Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons/Eugen Jochum rec. 1959/2006 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1802 [49:18] [SG] Worth investigating for the Concerto, but those wishing to savour the delights of the Metamorphosen need to look elsewhere.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben Edgard VARČSE (1883-1965) Amériques - Lu Wei (violin) Deutsches SO Berlin/Ingo Metzmacher rec. 2007 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72644 [71:08] [NB] A challenging but rewarding coupling well performed and superbly engineered.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) L'histoire du soldat - Nederlands Dans Theater rec. 1988 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 108134 [51.00] [DBi] Musically and choreographically this is a good performance but the issue is ungenerous and technically borderline.

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Symphonies 1 & 3,Love Songs of Hafiz - Ben Johnson (tenor) BBC SO & Ch/Edward Gardnerrec. 2013/14 CHANDOS CHSA5143 SACD [66:28] [DC] Succumb to the bewitchment.

Hilary TANN (b.1947) Here, The Cliffs - Debra Richtmeyer (alto saxophone) František Novotný (violin) Slovak RSO/Kirk Trevor rec. 2005-09 NORTH/SOUTH RECORDINGS NSR1056 [69:42] [GPJ] An impressive and delightful collection of works by this composer, whose music is at the same time uncompromising yet wholly approachable.

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) The Violin Concertos Vol. 17 - L'Arte dell'Arco/Giovanni Guglielmo (violin) rec. 2009/10 DYNAMIC CDS 678/1-2 [65:44 + 60:33] [JV] These interpretations are generally very enjoyable and bring out the finer qualities of Tartini's concertos.

Boris TCHAIKOVSKY (1925-1996) Piano Quintet, The War Suite - Olga Solovieva (piano) Maxim Anisimov (clarinet) Vanbrugh Qt rec. 2012/13 NAXOS 8.573207 [66:47] [SA] A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the music of this great Russian composer.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Serenade for Strings Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Divertimento - London SO String Ens/Roman Simovic rec. 2013 LSO LIVE SACD LSO0752 [55:50] [ST] An unusual and highly successful coupling in superb recorded sound.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Cherevichki - Georgi Nelepp (tenor) Elisabeta Antonova (mezzo) Aleksey Petrovich Ivanov (baritone) Maxim Mikhailov (bass) Bolshoi Theatre Ch & O/Alexander Melik-Pashayev rec. 1948 MELODIYA MELCD1002129 [74:46 + 72:42] [RMo] The music is really varied and cheerful and the singers are first class.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King - Holland Symfonia, Kirov Theatre O, O Teatro alla Scala rec. 1989-2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 107544 [3 discs: 397:00] [RMay] Santa’s sack will be bulging with copies of this very recommendable box set as he goes about his seasonal deliveries.

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker - Liudmila Konovalova, Vladimir Shishov, Wiener Staatsoper/Paul Connelly C MAJOR Blu-ray 718304 [102:00] [RMay] A concept that has polarised critical opinion for decades.

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) & Yvan TALBOT A nutcracker - Choreography by Bouba Landrille Tchouda, Compagnie Malka ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 108121 [70:00] [RMay] No doubt a substantial proportion of children will love this. As for their parents, I suspect, they will be more than slightly bemused.

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake - Vladimir Shishov, Olga Esina, Wiener Staatsballett, Wiener Staatsoper O/Alexander Ingram rec. 2014 C MAJOR 717608 DVD [132:00] [RMay] Even in a crowded marketplace this deserves a warm welcome.

Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Lac - Bernice Coppieters, Anja Behrend, Saint Louis SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2013 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1148D [93:00] [RMay] One of the most attractively presented realisations of Swan Lake that I've seen for some time.

Virgil THOMSON (1896-1989)The Mother of Us All - Noragh Devlin, Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater Ch & O/Steven Osgood rec. 2013 ALBANY TROY1486/7 [50:14 + 61:17] [JS] Well worth investigating if you enjoy Thomson's style or are simply intrigued by this unique work.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Violin Concerto, The Lark Ascending Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Introduction and Allegro, Serenade for Strings - Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin) O of the Swan/David Curtis rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD399 [59:28] [RMo] Simply nowhere near the quality of the best.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Falstaff Ambrogio Maestri, Fiorenza Cedolins, Massimo Cavalletti, Eleonora Buretto, VPO/Zubin Mehta rec. 2013 EUROARTS DVD 2072718 [125.00] [RF] This Salzburg ‘dream’ staging soon becomes a nightmare with Verdi the sufferer.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) Louis Quilico (baritone) Christiane Eda-Pierre (soprano) Ara Berberian (bass) O & Ch Metropolitan Opera, New York/James Levine rec. 1981 DECCA DVD 0743884 [125:00] [RJF] For Pavarotti fans only. This traditional production is better served by another cast four years earlier.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Krassimira Stoyanova, Marina Prudenskaya, Saimir Pirgu, Orlin Anastassov, Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2013 BR KLASSIK 900126 [46.52 + 39.31] [MC] Ranks up there alongside the finest.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Pietŕ Sacred works - Ens Artaserse/Philippe Jaroussky (director, counter-tenor) rec. 2014 ERATO 2564 625750 [CD: 78.30 + DVD: 20.00] [MC] Admirable.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Lohengrin - Michael König, Camilla Nylund, Frankfurter Opern- & Museums O/Bertrand de Billy rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC946 [3 CDs: 215:21] [ST] This is the first of Oehms' Frankfurt Opera recordings that I have come across and I enjoyed this one so much that I shall certainly look out for more in the future.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal - Simon O’Neill (tenor) Angela Denoke (soprano) René Pape (bass) Gerald Finley (baritone) Ch & O Royal Opera House/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2013 OPUS ARTE OABD7159D Blu-ray [270.00 (opera) + 12.00 (interviews)] [PCG] This is a decided cut above.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Transcriptions by August Stradal Vol. 2 - Juan Guillermo Vizcarra (piano) TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0192 [75:30] [NB] Vizcarra is thrillingly virtuosic but it is in the reflective and lyrical passages that his interpretative skill shines through.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Michael Volle (bass-baritone) Roberto Saccŕ (tenor) Anna Gabler (soprano) Vienna PO/Daniele Gatti rec. 2013 EUROARTS DVD 2072688 [270:00] [ST] Interesting, but not a success.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)Chamber Symphonies 3 & 4 - Helsingborg SO/Thord Svedlund rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5146 SACD [65:55] [DJB] The valuable Chandos/Weinberg project continues, but these works perhaps need a little more bite and less refinement than they receive here.

4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas rec. 2013 DISCOVERY MUSIC AND VISION DMV107 [58.37] [CF] Four talented artists, technically superb playing delivered with a wide range of attractive colours. Play it while decking the halls or the Christmas tree.

Absinthe Gaspar Hoyos (flute) David Violi (piano) FLEUR DE SON FDS58022 [65:40] [BR] I found this CD impossible to criticise, so let’s debate the best wine pairings for it, instead.

Acqua Alta Serikon/Erik Westberg rec. 2013 FOOTPRINT RECORDS FRCD073 [79:30] [DC] Gorgeous production with added and unexpected magic.

Anthology of Piano Music by Russian and Soviet Composers Volume 2 MELODIYA MELCD1002256 [68:47] [JW] An inventive piece of programming that will appeal to adventurous pianophiles.

Claudio Arrau (piano) Rarities rec. 1929-1951 WARNER 2564 639427 [3 CDs: 6202:51] [JW] A useful distillation of essentially early to mid-period Arrau.

British String Concertos rec. 1970s-90s LYRITA SRCD2346 [4 CDs: 303:04] [MC] What I find remarkable about everything here is the elevated level of playing and the satisfying recording quality.

Katarzyna Budnik-Gałązka (viola) Works by Khachaturian, Paganini, Penderecki & Rhode -  Krzysztof Meisinger (guitar) rec. 2011/2012 DUX 0932 [78:12] [SA] Budnik-Gałązka brings a supremely rounded velvet tone to everything she plays.

Joseph Calleja (tenor) Amore - BBC Concert O/Steven Mercurio rec. 2013 DECCA 4785340 [70.41] [RJF] Overblown orchestrations and populism do this normally elegant tenor little justice.

Carols from King’s Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2013 KING’S COLLEGE DVD KGS0008 [74:06] [BW] One or more of King’s CD or DVD recordings should be high on your Christmas list.

Carols from the Old and New Worlds - Vol. 3 Chamber Ch Ireland/Paul Hillier rec. 2012-14 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807610 SACD [60:05] [BW] Familiar music, mostly in unfamiliar arrangements, and unfamiliar works form an attractive offering.

Carols from the Old and New Worlds - Vol. 3 Chamber Ch Ireland/Paul Hillier rec. 2012-14 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807610 SACD [60:05] [JQ] An excellent Christmas anthology, expertly performed and thoughtfully assembled.

Christmas a Cappella I & II - Musica Sacra/Indra Hughes rec. 2001/7 ATOLL ACD501/207 [65:36 & 61:43] If the repertoire appeals, well worth considering for your Christmas listening.

Christmas Music Christ Church Cathedral Ch, Oxford/Stephen Darlington NIMBUS NI7096 [75:42] [JF] Singing impressive; choice of programme inspiring.

Christmas Music Christ Church Cathedral Ch, Oxford/Stephen Darlington NIMBUS NI7096 [75:42] [BW] None of the usual Christmas fare but a very attractive compilation.

Christmas in Naples Gaetano VENEZIANO (1656 - 1719) Notturni, Pastorale Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Sinfonias - Jenny Hogström (soprano) Filippo Mineccia (alto) Kevin Skelton (tenor) Marc Pantus (bass) Ens Odyssee/Andrea Friggi rec. 2014 PAN CLASSICS PC10307 [71:06] [JV] Veneziano's works are well worth hearing.

On Christmas Night Includes Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Ceremony of Carols - Charles Matthews (organ), Sally Price (harp) Armonico Consort/Christopher Monks rec. 2011 SIGNUM SICGD386 [69.53] [PCG] If you want this particular programme it is hard to imagine it being better performed.

Christmas with the Shepherds The Marian Consort/Rory McCleery DELPHIAN DCD34145 [62:55] [JQ] A gentle, reflective and very satisfying musical celebration of Christmas with the Marian Consort.

Dormi Jesu A Caius Christmas - Ch Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD34152 [63:28] [JQ] A lovely musical Christmas hamper.

Dormi Jesu A Caius Christmas - Ch Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2011 DELPHIAN DCD34152 [63.28] [GH] A super ensemble moulded to deliver a specific and warm sound.

Escape to Paradise The Hollywood Album - Daniel Hope (violin) Sting, Royal Stockholm PO/Alexander Shelley rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 2954 [77:04] [NB] A depressing marketing exercise that I am sure will do very well.

Favourite Carols from King's Ch King's College Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2014 KING'S COLLEGE KGS0007 [78:11] [JQ] A generous selection of mostly traditional seasonal fare satisfyingly performed.

Favourite Carols from King'sCh King's College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleoburyrec. 2014  KING'S COLLEGE KGS0007 [78:11] [ST] What’s not to like? Worthy of a place on any Christmas shelf.

Favourite Carols from King's Ch King's College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2014 KING'S COLLEGE KGS0007 [78:11] Carols from King’s Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2013 KING’S COLLEGE DVD KGS0008 [74:06] [MG] I prefer the DVD because it puts the carols in the context of a demonstrable act of worship.

Annie Fischer (piano) Works by Bartok, Beethoven, Handel, Mozart & Schubert rec. 1957/9 MELOCLASSIC MC1016 [79:20] [JW] Far more than mere adjuncts to Fischer’s commercial legacy.

Diana Gabrielyan (piano) Works by Babajanyan, Mansurian, Shostakovich & Stravinsky - rec. 2013 ODRADEK RECORDS ODRCD311 [72:39] [GMo] A well-planned and very enjoyable programme and an excellent set of performances.

Eva Garajová (mezzo) Nox et Solitudo - Marian Lapšanský (piano) rec. 2014 ARCODIVA UP0151-2 302 [66:25 + 50:23] [ST] One disc of unusual repertoire and one of slightly less unfamiliar fare all well presented.

A Night with Friedrich Gulda Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Piano Sonatas Barbara DENNERLEIN Drive Sam; Take Off; Give It Up Techno Music - Friedrich Gulda; Paradise Trio; DJ Vertigo; Paradise Girls rec. 1995 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101674[85:00] [JWh] Strictly for Gulda fans.

In Dulci Jubilo Christmas Organ Music - Norbert Düchtel (organ) rec. 2010 TYXART TXA13027 [60:40] [BW] Something different and soothing for Christmas.

Joy and Gladness in Abundance Ute Engelke (soprano) Elisabeth Schwanda (recorder) Ulfert Schmidt (organ) rec. 2014 RONDEAU ROP6095 [65:49] [JV] This disc is a rather disappointing affair.

Herbert von Karajan Orchestral Spectaculars from Handel to Bartók 1949-1960 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 633621 [13 CDs: 16 hours] [JW] This is a good way to collect 16 hours of Karajan on disc, impressively re-mastered, and in a variety of repertoire.

Rafael Kubelík Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello Concerto, Piano Concerto, Symphony 3 Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 100 & 102 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony 5 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Concerto - János Starker (cello) Claudio Arrau, Rudolf Firkušný (piano) Cologne Radio SO rec. 1960-63 ORFEO C726143D [3 CDs: 222:14] [JW] A very warm welcome for Orfeo’s latest release to celebrate Kubelík’s art.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto) Ne me refuse pas/Streams of Pleasure - O Ntl de France/Fabien Gabel, Il complesso barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2010/11 NAĎVE NC40039 [78:00 + 75:00] [GF] Handelians should grab the opportunity to explore these riches.

Lux de caelo Music for Christmas - Ch Clare College Cambridge, Dmitri Ens/Graham Ross HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907615 [68:05] An intriguing and enticing Christmas programme that dares to be different [JQ] A very fine successor to earlier Advent and Passiontide recordings from this choir [BW].

Lux de caelo Music for Christmas - Ch Clare College, Cambridge; The Dmitri Ensemble/Graham Ross rec. 2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907615 [68:05] [ST] Plenty here to celebrate.

The Nations NZ Barok ATOLL ACD813 [74:17] [DBi] An unusual mixture of major and minor baroque works played with care by a authentic-performance group new to the catalogue.

No Exceptions, No Exemptions Great War Songs - Robin Tritschler (tenor) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD401 [44:59 + 40:45] [ST] An important release ... of interest far beyond the historical.

Nordic Winter and Christmas Songs Gitta-Maria Sjöberg (soprano) Dorthe Zielke (trumpet) Tobias Durholm (violin) Lindy Rosborg (organ) DANACORD DACOCD755 [64:54] [JF] This is an attractive release that features a largely unknown repertoire, at least to listeners outside Scandinavia.

Ailyn Perez (soprano) & Stephen Costello (tenor) Love Duets - BBC SO/Patrick Summers rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 633485 [65.44] [RF] A very warm welcome to this husband and wife duo’s first recording. This wide selection of items shows off their individual and combined vocal skills to perfection.

Prayer Ernest BLOCH (1880–1959) From Jewish Life, Baal Shem, Schelomo Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) From Jewish Folk Poetry Sol Gabetta (cello) Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson, Lyon Ntl O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012/1414 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 762172 [59:30] [RMo] The vocal quality of Gabetta's playing is striking.

The Promise of Ages A Christmas Collection - Taverner Consort & Ch/Andrew Parrott, New London Chamber Ch & Henrietta Barnett School Ch rec. 1998 AVIE AV2291 [62:17] [JF] Extremely difficult to take as a whole but individually it has a number of excellent pieces which deserve exploration.

Reflections Works by Boulez, Sciarrini, Widmann & Ysaye - Carolin Widmann (violin) rec. 2004/6 PROFIL PH14036 [75:06] [RWe] A generous programme of early and late 20th century pieces for solo violin, very varied in the demands they make on the player, and all brilliantly performed.

A Royal Trio Works by Handel, Ariosti & Bononcini - Lawrence Zazzo (counter-tenor) La Nuova Musica/David Bates rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807590 SACD [78:05] [GPu] An outstanding recital, in which Handel shares the limelight with two associates and the music of all three benefits from the intelligent virtuosity of Lawrence Zazzo and the impressive support of La Nuova Musica.

Russia Works by Schnittke, Rachmaninoff, Gubaidulina, Taneyev, Glinka & Tchaikovsky - SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Marcus Creed rec. 2013 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.317 [62:09] [MC] A fresh and wide-ranging programme in performances that are compelling and immediate.

Russian Piano Music Works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev & Shostakovich - Nina Kavtaradze (piano) rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD753 [78:10] [JF] Kavtaradze carries the torch of the ‘great Moscow piano style’ which includes Richter, Gilels and Lupu.

Felix Salmond (cello) Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1828)Cello Sonata 3Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Cello Sonata Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei - Simeon Rumschisky (piano) rec. 1926-29PRISTINE AUDIO PACM095 [79:25] [JW] An outstanding release.

Sing Thee Nowell New York Polyphony rec. 2014 BIS BIS2099 SACD [71:17] [JQ] An immaculately performed Christmas programme from New York Polyphony.

Sing, Ye Birds, a Joyous Song Works by Taverner, Bennett, Gibbons & Tallis) - Yale Schola Cantorum/Simon Carrington rec. 2010 DELOS DE3458 [65:57] [BW] A varied programme but the component parts sit well together.

Stille Nacht RIAS Kammerchor/Uwe Gronostay rec. 1972-86 AUDITE 97.711 [74:34] [ST] Pleasant but lacking in impact for all the quality of the choral singing.

Stravinsky in Hollywood A film by Marco Capalbo C MAJOR 716308 DVD[53:00] [JWh] Strangely unsatisfying.

Henryk Szeryng (violin) Sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Mozart & Schumann - Wolfgang Rudolf, Heinz Schröter, Günther Ludwig (piano) rec. 1955-59 MELOCLASSIC MC2002 [78:02] [JW] Most sensitively recorded and presented.

Transeamus English Carols and Motets - Hilliard Ensemble rec. 2012 ECM NEW SERIES 4811106/2408 [67:42] [JQ] The Hilliard Ensemble’s final disc sees them finish their recording career in fine style.

Venetian Christmas Works by Hasse, Perotti, Torelli & Vivaldi - Ruby Hughes (soprano) Ewa Golinska (violin), Komalé Akakpo (psaltery) Arte dei Suonatori/Martin Gester rec. 2013 BIS BIS2089 SACD [74:40] [JV] The connection to Christmas seems rather loose but this remains a most interesting and musically rewarding production.

Visions Fugitives Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Visions fugitives Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Fünf Stücke Anton WEBERN (1883-1945) Fünf Sätze Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Divertimento - Camerata Nordica/Terje Třnnesen rec. 2006-2012 BIS BIS-2126 SACD [68:35] [DC] Strings with impact and emotional force – an attractive programme.

Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her Christmas Organ Music - Michael Hartmann (organ) rec. 2012 OEHMS OC865 [71:35] [ST] Why not give this a go for a less normal take on the Christmas CD?

Wagner vs Verdi  ARTHAUS DVD 102192 [159:06] [JZ] A solid contribution to the appreciation of the operas of Verdi and Wagner and of the enduring values that exist in those works.

Mary Wigman - The Soul Of Dance A film by Norbert Bůse & Christof Debler ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 102204 [52:00 + 40:00 (bonus material)] [RMay] This DVD tells Wigman's story well and makes a good case for seeing her as one of the real founders of modern dance.

A Winchester Remembrance William Kendal (tenor) George Castle Jonathan Hope (organ) Fine Arts Brass/Winchester Cathedral Ch/Andrew Lumsden rec. 2013/14 REGENT REGCD437 [70:17] [JQ] A very well-conceived Remembrance programme, performed splendidly by Winchester Cathedral Choir

Other reviews

Anatevka (Fiddler on the Roof) Gerhard Ernst, Dagmar Schellenberger, Bele Kumberger, Mörbisch Festival Ch & O/David Levi rec. 2014 OEHMS OC437 [70:40] [JW] Played less like a musical and more like an operetta.

The Boswell Sisters Shout, Sister, Shout! Their 52 Finest 1931-36 RETROSPECTIVE RTS4242 [78:21 + 77:23] [JW] A fine introduction to the Sisters.

Steve Conway His 25 finest, 1945-51 RETROSPECTIVE RTR4250 [79:26] [JW] This well-selected and representative album reveals what a lovely voice he had.

The Golden Age of Light Music A Light Music Smörgĺsbord rec. 1936-62 GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5221 [79:37] [JW] Scandi-Light is the focus of this disc.

The Golden Age of Light Music Contrasts Vol. 2 rec. 1928-62 GUILD GLCD5223 [78:40] [JW] More delights here from Guild.

Bill Haley and His Comets Rock Around the Clock 1951-1956 RETROSPECTIVE RTR 4251 [76:00] [BMC] If you like early rock & roll, this CD is a good choice.

Jerry Murad and his Harmonicats Their 32 finest 1947-60 RETROSPECTIVE RTR4256 [79:30] [JW] The band at its vaudeville best.

The Wexford Carols Caitríona O’Leary, Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash rec. 2014 HERESY RECORDS 016[60:07] [SA] A pleasant change from endless reissues of traditional carols.

Songs of the Great War Keep The Home Fires Burning rec. 1914-18 RETROSPECTIVE RTR4236 [78:13] [JW] Thoughtfully compiled and attractively produced.

Pete Seeger and The Weavers Wasn’t That A Time? Their 28 Finest rec. 1949-1953 RETROSPECTIVE RECORDS RTR4241 [77:00] [JW] Offers strong reasons for their inspirational place in American folk history.

That’s What I Love About Christmas Stephen Mougin, Jana Mougin, Annie Sellick (vocals) RLM CD1005 [34:41] [BMC] A nice addition to a home holiday music collection.

Articles and Notices

Sir George Dyson: An Overview of Recordings by John Quinn

Hyperion: The last few SACDs by Brian Wilson

Download News 2014/15 by Brian Wilson, Jonathan Rohr & Geoffrey Molyneux

Oliver Bannister, Hallé Orchestra flautist An obituary by Stuart Scott

A new review index: York Bowen

The Musicweb International 2014 Recordings Of The Year

Getting to Know … The Symphonies of Sergei Taneyev by William Kreindler

Forgotten Artists: Vladimir Delman by Christopher Howell