DOWNLOAD NEWS 2014/1
Download News 2013/18 is here and the index of earlier editions here.
This will be the last Download News that I shall be compiling, though
I hope to continue to submit a few reviews of downloads for the main
MusicWeb International review pages – or for the DL News spot if, as
seems likely, it continues under new management.
It had been my intention to produce a cumulative index; I’m afraid
I shall have to abandon that idea, but here is an index for this edition
and 2013/18. * = Recording/Bargain/Discovery of the Month.
ADAMS City Noir - LAPO/Dudamel DG Concerts 2014/1
ADAMS Dharma at Big Sur + KRAFT, ROSENMAN - LAPO DG Concerts 2014/1
ALONSO La Calesera + SARASATE Danzas Beulah 2013/18
BACH JS Christmas Cantatas - Gardiner SDG 2013/18
BACH JS Christmas Cantatas - Pierlot Mirare 2013/18
BACH JS Christmas Cantatas - Suzuki BIS 2013/18
BACH JS Orchestral Suites - Freiburg Baroque Harmonia Mundi 2013/18
BACH JS, etc - Ciaccona - Brachetta Resonus Classics 2014/1
BEETHOVEN Bagatelles - Pressler + SCHUBERT La Dolce Volta 2014/1
BEETHOVEN Late String Quartets (orch. arr.) - Tønnesen BIS 2014/1
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto 3 + MOZART - Sudbin BIS 2014/1
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata 31 - Pressler + SCHUBERT BIS 2014/1
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas 11,18 and 28 - Hewitt Hyperion 2013/18
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas 14, 17 and 21 -Lubimov Alpha 2013/18
BLOCH Symphony; Poems of the Sea - Atlas Naxos 2014/1
BRAHMS Symphonies, Overtures - Chailly Decca 2014/1
BRAHMS Symphony No.4 - Skrowaczewski Oehms 2014/1
BUSCH Chamber Music Vol.1 - Busch Kollegium Toccata 2013/18
Dance Music from Old Vienna Naxos 2014/1
DELIUS Delius in Norway - Davis Chandos 2013/18
Doctor Jazz - Jelly Roll Morton * Ornithology Rec 2014/1
DVOŘÁK Piano Quintet 2; String Quintet 2 - Talich Q La Dolce
DVOŘÁK String Quartet 12; String Quintet 2 - Talich Q La
Dolce Volta 2014/1
ERNST Complete Music 4 - Sherban Lupu, etc. Toccata 2014/1
FAURÉ Piano Quartet and Trio - Kungsback Trio Naxos 2013/18
George Wright at the Mighty Wurlitzer Beulah 2013/18
GRAINGER Country Gardens, etc - Fennell Naxos Archives 2014/1
HANDEL Belshazzar - Christie * Les Arts Florissants 2014/1
HAYDN Piano Concert No.11 + MOZART - E Fischer APR 2014/1
HINDEMITH Mathis Symphony, etc - Brabbins Hyperion 2013/18
HOLST Mystic Trumpeter; Choral Symphony 1 - Davis Chandos 2013/18
James Galway's Christmas Carol RCA 2013/18
JANÁCEK Taras Bulba + TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony 5 ICA Classics 2013/18
Jeu des pelerins d'Emmaus - Péres Harmonia Mundi 2014/1
KARAYEV Seven Beauties; Path of Thunder - Yablonsky Naxos 2013/18
KRAFT Timpani Concerto 1 + ADAMS, ROSENMAN - LAPO DG Concerts 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.4 - Kempe + WAGNER ICA Classics 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.6 - Nott Tudor 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.6 - Tilson Thomas SFS Media 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.8 - Nott Tudor 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.8 - Tennstedt LPO 2014/1
MAHLER Symphony No.8 - Tilson Thomas SFS Media 2014/1
MATTHEWS Music for piano - Mikkola Toccata 2014/1
MENDELSSOHN Ruy Blas - Kempe + MAHLER ICA Classics 2014/1
MIASKOVSKY Symphony 6 - Botstein American SO 2013/18
MIASKOVSKY Symphony 6 - Stankovsky Marco Polo 2013/18
MIELCK Fairy Tale Symphony; Konzertstuck - Oramo Ondine 2014/1
MIELCK Orchestral and Choral Music Toccata 2014/1
MOERAN In the Mountain Country, etc - Falletta Naxos 2014/1
MOERAN In the Mountain Country, etc - Handley Chandos 2014/1
MOERAN Symphony, etc. - Boult Lyrita 2014/1
MOERAN Symphony, etc. - Handley Chandos 2014/1
MONTSALVATGE Cinco invocaciones al crucificado, etc. Naxos 2014/1
MONTSALVATGE Simfonia da requiem, etc. - Meno Chandos 2014/1
Mozarabic chant - Peres Harmonia MundI 2014/1
MOZART Rondo, K511 - Pressler + SCHUBERT La Dolce Volta 2014/1
MOZART Choral Music - New College Novum 2014/1
MOZART Choral Music - St Paul's Hyperion 2014/1
MOZART Piano Concerto 24 + BEETHOVEN - Sudbin BIS 2014/1
MOZART Piano Concertos & Sonatas + HAYDN - E Fischer APR 2014/1
Music from Old Vienna Naxos 2014/1
MUSSORGSKY Pictures + RIMSKY Scheherezade - Krivine Zig Zag 2013/18
New Orleans Jazz * Profil 2014/1
PISTON Symphony No.2 - Botstein American SO 2013/18
PISTON Symphony No.3 - Hanson Naxos Archives 2013/18
PISTON Symphony No.4 - Ormandy Naxos Archives 2013/18
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No.3 Argerich + RAVEL DG 2014/1
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No.3 Katchen + BARTÓK Naxos Archives
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No.3 Lugansky + GRIEG Ambroisie 2014/1
PROKOFIEV Piano Concertos 1-5 - Bavouzet Chandos 2014/1
PROKOFIEV Piano Concertos 1-5 - Berman, Gutierrez Chandos 2014/1
PROKOFIEV Piano Concertos 2 and 3 - Kempf BIS 2014/1
PROKOFIEV Violin Con 2 + STRAVINSKY - Kopatchinskaja Naïve 2014/1
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade + MUSSORGSKY Zig Zag 2013/18
ROSENMAN Rebel without a Cause + ADAMS, etc. DG Concerts 2014/1
SARASATE Danzas + ALSONO La Calesera Beulah 2013/18
SCARLATTI etc: Guitar Recital - Park Naxos 2013/18
SCHUBERT Piano Sonata 18 - Pressler La Dolce Volta 2014/1
SCHUBERT Piano Sonata 21 - Pressler + BEETHOVEN BIS 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Fall of Berlin; The Year 1919 - Adriano Naxos 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concertos - Alexeev CFP 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concertos - Melnikov Harmonia Mundi 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Stepan Razin; October - Schwarz Naxos 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Stepan Razin; Symphony 6 - Polyansky Chandos 2014/1
SHOSTAKOVICH Stepan Razin; Zoya Suite - Ashkenazy Ondine 2014/1
SMETANA Bartered Bride (complete) - Chalabala Beulah 2014/1
SMETANA Bartered Bride (complete)- Belohlavek Harmonia MundI 2014/1
SMETANA Bartered Bride Overture - Chalabala Beulah 2013/18
STRAUSS Family New Year 1987 - VPO/Karajan DG 2014/1
STRAUSS Family New Year 1989 & 1992 - VPO/C Kleiber; 2014 - Barenboim
STRAUSS Family New Year 2001 - VPO/Harnoncourt Warner Teldec 2014/1
STRAUSS Family, Best of New Year - various DG 2014/1
STRAUSS Family, etc Dances of Old Vienna - Boskovsky* Alto 2014/1
STRAUSS Johann I Volume 25 - Pollack Marco Polo 2014/1
STRAVINSKY Les Noces and other Russian Music - Wood Hyperion Helios
STRAVINSKY Violin Concerto + PROKOFIEV Naïve 2014/1
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony 5 + Francesca - Jansons BR Klassik 2013/18
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony 5 + JANACEK - Rozhdestvensky ICA Classics 2013/18
VIVALDI Concertos for two violins - Pomo d'Oro Naïve 2013/18
WAGNER arr VLIEGER The Ring (Orchestral) - Renes Chandos 2013/18
WAGNER Parsifal Prelude - Kempe + MAHLER ICA Classics 2014/1
Ensemble Organum/Marcel Pérès – rec. 1994
HARMONIA MUNDI D’ABORD HMA1951519 [64:59] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Mozarabic Mass, now celebrated in one side-chapel in Toledo Cathedral
and occasionally elsewhere in Iberia, was the rite celebrated in early
medieval Spain. Though clearly a Roman rite – you’ll recognise familiar
texts such as the Gloria (tr.3) and Sanctus (tr.14) –
it has some unusual features which it shares with Gallican and some
Eastern European rites. The Latin words of the Sanctus, for example,
are repeated in Greek, though not on this recording. Unfortunately nowadays
it’s celebrated in hugger mugger in Toledo; I don’t recall any chant
when I attended in the mid 1960s – in fact, the whole thing was so disappointingly
rushed through as a Low Mass that a friend and I tried to compensate
by hearing High Mass and were equally disappointed at the quality of
the singing of the music of Victoria.
In fact, the music is problematic: the earliest manuscripts are indecipherable;
only the musical texts of the rite as restored by Cardinal Cisneros
c.1500 can be relied on and these were employed by Marcel Pérès for
this recording, made not in Toledo but in Cordoba Cathedral in 1994.
Pérès always makes medieval and early renaissance music sound as if
influenced by Arabic practice, as the Mozarabic rite undoubtedly was
– the second half of the word is no accident, signifying the liturgy
employed by Christians under Moslem rule. I can’t say how ‘authentic’
it all is, but I found it fascinating.
The first two-thirds of the recording cover the office of readings,
including the Gospel for the day; the remaining 22 minutes constitute
the Eucharistic Prayer or Canon, which includes a particularly dramatic
manner of breaking and arranging the consecrated bread with the words Qui venit ad me non esuriet (He that cometh to me shall not hunger),
sung to a lilting tune (tr. 15).
The eclassical.com download sounds very well in lossless format but
it comes without any booklet, so no notes or texts* – Naxos Music Library
is no help there, either – and it costs rather more than the CD, which
you should find for around £6, though some are offering it for £8.99,
by comparison with which eclassical.com’s $11.70 is competitive. You
can find the full text in Latin at http://www.mercaba.org/LITURGIA/Mozarabe/ordinario_latin.htm
you could move on to Ensemble Organum and Marcel Péres again in another
medieval reconstruction, Le Jeu des pèlerins d’Emmaüs, the 12th century play of the pilgrims to Emmaus. (Harmonia Mundi D’Abord HMA1951347,
first released in 1990 [58:45] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Try this performance
out on YouTube.
Because this is a shorter album and eclassical.com charge by the second,
their price of $10.58, though still more than you might pay for the
CD, is more reasonable, but there’s still no booklet*.
* In any case, the CDs in this series come with very sparse notes and,
usually, without texts.
Western European drama seems to have developed from simple Eastertide
origins such as this – a dialogue between the Maries and the Angel in
the empty tomb at Matins on Easter Sunday or, in this case, commemorating
the encounter between some pilgrims returning from Jerusalem and the
risen Jesus, with whom they dined at the village of Emmaus and whom
they recognised in the breaking of bread, a reading traditionally prescribed
for Easter Monday. The album consists of the Kyrie, regnum summe from Vespers, the procession to the font, the play of the pilgrims proper
(some 29 minutes), covering not just the Emmaus experience of the title
but other events connected with the resurrection, such as the appearance
to Thomas, and the return to the choir for the end of Vespers. French
readers will find an article on the genre at http://sitm2007.vjf.cnrs.fr/pdf/s10-bonnotte.pdf
Ciaccona : Works for harpsichord
Bernardo STORACE (17th Century) Ciaccona [6:36]
Johann Caspar Ferdinand FISCHER (1656-1746) Chaconne [4:47]
Jacques DUPHLY (1715-1789) Chaconne [8:01]
Jacques Champion de CHAMBONNIERES (1601/2-1672) Chaconne [3:13]
John BLOW (1648/9-1708) Chacone [3:27]
Georg BÖHM (1661-1733) Chaconne [3:52]
Bernard de BURY (1720-1785) Chaconne [7:52]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1686-1750) Ciaccona (transcribed
in a minor from BWV1004) [12:23]
Johann Joseph FUX (1660-1741) Ciaccona [9:10]
Louis COUPERIN (1626-1661) Chaconne ou Passacaille [5:00]
Guillermo Brachetta (harpsichord – modern instruments after Giusti,
1681, and Rückers, 1624/1680)
Pdf booklet available
RESONUS CLASSICS RES10126 [64:28] Download only – no CD. Due
for release 1 February 2014 from resonusclassics.com (mp3, aac, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
The chaconne, variously spelled, seems to have originated in Latin
America and to have percolated into Europe via Spain. Originally a lively
dance, in baroque music it developed a more austere tone akin to the passacaglia – significantly, Louis Couperin describes the piece
which ends the recital as either. The Couperins and Chambonnières were
the chief exponents of the keyboard chaconne in France and Buxtehude
and Pachelbel spring to mind as exponents of the form in Germany, but
on the organ, so there’s room, perhaps, for a follow-up album of their
music, if Guillermo Brachetta is as adept an executant of the organ
as he is here and other Resonus recordings on the harpsichord.
It’s no disparagement of the other music here to say that the Bach,
though a keyboard transcription of a movement from a violin sonata,
BWV1004, is not only the longest work here but it’s also head and shoulders
above everything else. As Bach was an avid transcriber of his own and
other composers’ music, there are no purist grounds for rejecting this
version – in fact, it works very well.
A whole hour of chaconnes may seem a daunting prospect; though
there is a degree of variation of styles and two different harpsichords
are employed, the variety may be more apparent to the specialist than
to the general listener. That apart, this is well up to the standard
we have come to expect in such a short time from Resonus Classics: this
is only their 26th release.
Guillermo Brachetta is the harpsichordist of the group Fantasticus,
whose two recordings of baroque chamber music for Resonus Classics are
well worth seeking out: RES10112 – September
2012/2 – and RES10122 – 2013/14.
New Label of the Month
Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Belshazzar , Oratorio in three acts, HV61 (1745)
Belshazzar, King of Babylon - Allan Clayton (tenor)
Nitocris, mother of Belshazzar - Rosemary Joshua (soprano)
Daniel, Hebrew Prophet - Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor)
Cyrus, Persian Prince - Caitlin Hulcup (contralto)
Gobrias, Assyrian Nobleman in the service of Cyrus - Jonathan Lemalu
Arioch, Babylonian Lord - Jean-Yves Ravoux (tenor)
Geoffroy Buffière, Thibaut Lenaerts, Michael-Loughlin Smith, Damian
Les Arts Florissants/William Christie – rec. December 2012. DDD
Pdf booklet with libretto included
LES ARTS FLORISSANTS AF001 [3 CDs: 55:21 + 68:13 + 42:52] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
another auspicious launch of an own-label, this time of a group who
already have a distinguished catalogue of recording for Virgin and Erato,
both now housed under the Warner Classics umbrella. The amply proportioned
booklet, which puts even Hyperion somewhat in the shade, generously
acknowledges those earlier recordings for other labels.
Though Belshazzar is by no means the best-known of Handel’s oratorios,
we already had two distinguished recordings in the catalogue, on DG
Archiv from John Eliot Gardiner and on Warner Erato from Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
The former comes in a budget-price triple set for around £14 (4770372:
download from 7digital.com for £11.99) and the latter in a 6-CD box with Jephtha for around
£18 (2564696116: downloading is unlikely to save much). Kirk
McElhearn liked the mid-price MDG recording – review.
There’s also a Harmonia Mundi DVD/blu-ray recording.
Though it was a flop at the time, despite Handel’s attempts to rework
it, there is some very fine music in Belshazzar – it’s just that
events move very slowly and nearly three hours seems over-long for such
a straightforward story: Belshazzar holds a drunken feast, desecrating
the sacred vessels stolen from the temple at Jerusalem; a mysterious
hand writes on the wall and only the prophet Daniel can interpret this
as divine judgment; Cyrus and his army invade and the kingdom passes
to the Medes and Persians. Cyrus grants the Jewish captives leave to
return home. To this biblical story the librettist adds a sub-plot in
which Belshazzar’s mother sides with Daniel in vainly trying to mitigate
her son’s behaviour. William Walton was to do the whole thing much more
succinctly in Belshazzar’s Feast.
Christie has chosen an all-Anglophone cast, which is clearly an advantage,
but Harnoncourt had Felicity Palmer and Robert Tear, while Gardiner
had Anthony Rolfe Johnson, James Bowman and Catherine Robbin.
If any recording could convince me, Christie’s, made with an accomplished
group of soloists and the clear advantage of studio recording immediately
after live performance, would be at least as likely to do so as either
of those rivals. To single out one contribution is invidious, but Iestyn
Davies, who already had a fine version of Destructive war, thy limits
know from this oratorio on Hyperion CDA67924 – review – deserves special mention.
Nevertheless, my final feeling was that the arias and duets from Belshazzar which crop up on various fine recordings have the best of it. David
Daniels on Virgin (now Warner Erato 5454972), Christopher Purves
(Hyperion CDA67842 – review: Recording of the Month) and Sarah Connolly and Rosemary
Joshua on Chandos CHAN0767 – review and June
2010 DL Roundup – are good places to start, along with the Iestyn
Davies which I’ve already mentioned.
One clear advantage of the new set is its availability in 16- and 24-bit
lossless sound. The 24/44.1 is offered for a limited period at the same
price as the 16-bit and mp3 ($24.90); even after the price rises it
should still be commensurate with the £25 or so for which you can find
the CDs. You will, however, need a lot of paper if you wish to print
out the booklet and it probably won’t match the special stock on which
I understand the CD booklet comes. Sumptuous as the booklet is, it has
clearly been proof-read by a non-Anglophone, permitting such misspellings
You can compare the new recording with the Harnoncourt and other recordings
on the KuK – abridged on 2 CDs: review – and Berlin Classics labels on Naxos Music Library.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 24 in c minor, K491 [30:20]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Piano Concerto No. 3 in c minor, Op. 37 [35:08]
Yevgeny Sudbin (piano)
Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä – rec. 2011 and 2012. DDD/DSD
Pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-SACD-1978 [66:16] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
two c-minor concertos, though composed over a decade apart, make good
bedfellows, not least because, to the best of my knowledge, the coupling
is unique in the current catalogue.
I listened first to the Barenboim/Klemperer recording of the Beethoven
to establish a benchmark but, not having heard this recording for some
time, found myself immediately put off by the painfully deliberate tempo
and lack of forward movement in the first movement. Barenboim does his
best to nudge things along a little after his entry, but this is not
Klemperer at his best – and I do like Klemperer’s Beethoven at its best
– despite the high opinions held in many quarters of this recording.
At 13:43 against the Barenboim/Klemperer 18:53 Sudbin and Vänskä’s tempo
is much more to the point. Even allowing for the different cadenzas,
that’s a very considerable margin. Maybe listening to Klemperer gave
the new recording a head start in my estimation, but the opening under
Vänskä is altogether lighter. Melinda Bargreen epitomised the playing
on the earlier recording of Piano Concertos 4 and 5 from Sudbin and
Vänskä (BIS-SACD-1758) as marked with energy, crispness and zest
Another reviewer also hit the nail on the head in writing that Sudbin
had little time for Beethoven weighed down by excess baggage, and those
characteristics are at play again here. Indeed, there’s even more justification
for them in this earlier concerto. I came very close to making that
album my Recording of the Month – July
2012-2 – and I’m equally pleased with the sequel.
I’ve dealt with the Beethoven first but BIS rightly precede it with
the Mozart. K491 is one of the masterpieces which Mozart composed for
this genre (Nos.20-25) and competition is just as strong as it is for
Beethoven. Clifford Curzon is still my man (Nos. 20, 23, 24, 26 and
27, Decca 4684912, 2 mid-price CDs or a 23-CD set, 4784389)
and aficionados of the fortepiano will prefer another BIS recording,
with Ronald Brautigam (Nos. 24 and 25, BIS-SACD-1894 – review and February
2012/2 Roundup: ignore the intemperate criticism of this recording
emanating elsewhere) but I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with
Sudbin and Vänskä.
The recording is very good – hardly surprising when the booklet lists
the recording date of the Beethoven as a century hence, 2111.
a surprising insight into Mozart piano concerto playing from the past,
there’s a 3-CD APR set of Edwin Fischer with various orchestras
performing Nos. 17, 20, 22, 24, 25, the C major sonata K330, its successor
in A, K331, Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D, HobXIII/11 and some shorter
pieces. He performed No.24 with Lawrance Collingwood conducting the
LPO but, as the notes point out, that was for technical reasons only;
in effect Fischer was conducting from the keyboard and the result is
very stylish even by modern standards. The recording has transferred
well, too, with fairly full tone – certainly more than tolerable considering
its date, 1937* – and almost no surface noise, just the occasional very
light pop. The set, APR7303, runs for nearly four hours (the
Hyperion page says 218:31 but Winamp times the set at 221:37) and comes
as a 3-for-2 download from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless) with pdf booklet. Allowing for the use of different
cadenzas, timings in K491 are remarkably similar to Sudbin and Vänskä’s.
These recordings are of much more than mere historical interest and
they can be yours for a very small outlay. I intend to explore them
* rather confusingly, K491 seems to have been known as No.14 then.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Music for Salzburg Cathedral
Litaniae Lauretanae , K195 [28:24]
Church Sonata in C, K329 [4:46]
Vesperae de Dominica , K321 [29:59]
Inigo Jones (soprano), Michael Alchin (alto), Guy Cutting (tenor) Patrick
Choir of New College Oxford
Collegium Novum/Edward Higginbottom – rec. June 2013. DDD.
NOVUM NCR1388 [63:10] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet
containing texts and translations)
chief rivals, deploying similar forces, in both main works are St John’s,
Cambridge, under George Guest and Neville Marriner on a budget 2-CD
Double Decca (4583792, with Vesperae de Confessore, the
‘Sparrow’ Mass and Litaniae de sacramento) and, in theVesperae
de Dominica, St Paul’s and Anthony Carwood (Hyperion CDA67921,
with Missa Solemnis, K337, etc. – review:
download from hyperion-records.co.uk).
Those Cambridge recordings used to form the fillers for the Haydn Masses
– now also gathered on a 2-CD Double Decca – and I still value those
CDs for both the Haydn and the Mozart. Now gathered together more conveniently
and at an attractive price, they make an desirable package. As downloads
they are available only in mp3, without booklet, and probably not much
less expensive than the CDs.
I missed reporting on the Hyperion when it was released, but that, too
is very attractive and you may prefer the coupling. The Mass, K337,
which opens the proceedings, and the Epistle Sonata, played between Gloria and Credo, were also composed for Salzburg, so
the Hyperion album would have been equally entitled to use the overall
title of the Novum recording. Honours are about even between the Hyperion
and Novum performances – both very good without quite setting the place
alight – so choice of coupling, or a particular devotion to New College
or St Paul’s should be a safe decisive factor.
The provision of texts with the Hyperion is a plus – unless you can
access them from Naxos Music Library there are none with the Novum download.
There was a free bonus track to sample in its entirety but, unfortunately,
the Hyperion bonus CD for July 2012 is no longer available; I mention
it only because it’s worth checking this out every month.
Full marks to eclassical.com for providing a lossless download – as
usual, at the same price as the mp3 and with the option to download
both versions – but some points deducted for the lack of pdf booklet.
Not everyone possesses the Latin rite litany and Vespers texts; if Naxos
Music Library can provide the booklet, why not eclassical.com? Hyperion
offer 24-bit sound and the pdf booklet with texts and translations comes
with all formats. The Hyperion recording costs £7.99 for mp3 or 16-bit,
£9 for 24-bit; eclassical.com charge $11.36 for mp3 or lossless – at
current exchange rates pretty much the same.
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
The Late String Quartets arranged by Terje Tønnesen for string orchestra
String Quartet No.12 in E flat, Op.127 [37:58]
String Quartet No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.131 [37:47]
String Quartet No.13 in B flat, Op.130 [45:36]
String Quartet No.15 in a minor, Op.132 [40:27]
String Quartet No.16 in F, Op.135 [22:34]
Camerata Nordica/Terje Tønnesen – rec.2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005. DDD
Pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-CD-1096 [185:47] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
(Previously released by the Altara Music label and re-mastered by BIS
Records for the present release.)
late string quartets of Beethoven are the pinnacle of the chamber music repertoire; can they possibly succeed as orchestral music?
The opening bars of Op.127 provide an immediate answer in that the attack
of the music, which I first heard performed by the Budapest Quartet
(CBS), featuring a particularly powerful rendition of those opening
bars, is softened by the orchestration.
Some movements come off much better – that’s particularly true of the
third movement of Op.127. That, generally speaking, is my reaction to
the whole enterprise: I enjoyed hearing these performances; I’m happy
that BIS have recovered them from the deceased Altara label and I doubt
if the enterprise could have been better done, assuming that it should
be done at all, but it’s to the string quartet originals that I shall
Op.130 is given here with its original finale, the Grosse Fuge,
Op.133, a work which is regularly performed in orchestral garb. We know
that it works in orchestrated form, but there’s another challenge here,
a different benchmark to match or excel in the form of Otto Klemperer
with the Philharmonia Orchestra. That’s available on CD only as part
of the EMI (now Warner) box set, where it follows the Eroica on CD3, as it once did on a separate disc.
At 16:30 it’s hardly surprising that Klemperer makes something of a
meal of it – but what a meal it is and it’s one whose ingredients I
find more than palatable. Given that Furtwängler takes 19:10 with the
Berlin Phil on Beulah – DL
News 2013/9 – Klemperer is hardly excessively slow. At 14:56 Camerata
Nordica are a little faster than most performances of the string quartet
original, though pretty well in line with the Takács Quartet (Decca)
– overall my preferred version for the late quartets – who take 14:28.
You can tell from the start that this is going to be a version with
the power to challenge Furtwängler, whose recording in any case sounds
rather crumbly, and even Klemperer.
You may wish to wait until these BIS performances are available on Naxos
Music Library to test drive them for yourself, but that means that you
will probably miss the initial 50% discount, available for a short time
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No.18 in G, D894 [44:28]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Rondo in a minor, K511 [10:24]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Bagatelles 1-6, Op.126 [19:57]
Menahem Pressler (piano) - rec. May 2013
Pdf booklet in English, French and Japanese included
LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV12 [74:56] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
I knew what Menahem Pressler is on, I’d have some of it: the 90-year-old légende vivante du piano as the notes aptly describe him has
here recorded a programme of Viennese piano music in memory of Georgina
Joshi, hard on the heels of another wonderful Beethoven (Sonata No.31)
and Schubert (Sonata No.21, D960) programme for BIS which Brian Reinhart
described as ‘profoundly mature’ (BIS-SACD-1999 – from eclassical.com: DL
News 2013/16). Despite fierce competition in both works, this is
a first-rate album even if you already have favourite versions of both.
I’d choose the Dolce Volta recording first because hearing it you’ll
think Schubert’s Sonata No.18 so wonderful, as presented by Pressler,
that he could never have composed anything more profound. Then move
on to the BIS recording of No.21 and you’ll find an even greater degree
of Innigkeit there, all the more effective because Pressler doesn’t
lay on the emotion too thickly. If you’re going for only one, choose
the BIS, but you will be missing out.
I’m not even going to try to compare: I’ll merely remind you of other
very good recordings of D894 (Paul Lewis, Harmonia Mundi; Imogen Cooper,
Avie) and D960 (Imogen Cooper, Avie; Stephen Hough, Hyperion; Clifford
Curzon, Decca, though imprisoned in a monster box set) and Brendel in
both (Philips, with Sonata No.20, or 2 CDs, plus Nos. 14, 15 and 20,
or with Beethoven and Mozart on his Farewell Concert). Of single-CD
recordings the choice is between the new recording and Brendel (DDD)
or Brendel (ADD), both available for download only (mp3 or lossless
My only small reservation concerns the playing order: I don’t want to
hear Mozart and Beethoven in less profound vein immediately after the
Schubert, even though K511 is far from facile as played here. On the
other hand, if you thought you could play the Beethoven Bagatelles – I once did – think again after hearing Pressler.
The piano tone is extremely well reproduced and the booklet, though
its tri-lingual nature takes a while to plough through, is valuable,
especially for the interview with Pressler. La Dolce Volta is a new
label to me but I hope that they continue to produce recordings of this
quality. I shall certainly be exploring some of their other goodies
as offered to us by eclassical.com, including recordings by the Talich
Quartet. See Dvorák, below, and Mark Sealey’s review of their Beethoven cycle.
Heinrich Wilhelm ERNST (1812-1865) Complete Music: Volume Four
Violin Concerto in f sharp minor, Allegro pathétique, Op. 23
Violin Concertino in D, Op. 12 (1837) [20:58]
String Quartet in B flat, Op. 26 (1862)* [26:33]
Sherban Lupu (violin)
Sinfonia da Camera/Ian Hobson
Ciompi String Quartet
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0189 [67:02] – from toccataclassics.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. CD available
from MusicWeb International – here.
I’d barely got through my initial run-through of this recording when
Jonathan Woolf’s review appeared and I found myself so far in agreement
with what he’d written, including his preference for Sherban Lupu over
a rival Naxos recording, that I need only direct you to his review and to say that the download, especially in its lossless form, is very
good. I shall be investigating the earlier volumes, too – you’ll find
links to them in Jonathan Woolf’s review.
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Prodaná nevesta (The Bartered Bride) , B143/T93 (1866)
Marenka - Dana Burešova (soprano); Jenik - Tomáš Juhás (tenor); Kecal
- Jozef Benci (bass); Vašek - Aleš Vorácek (tenor); Micha - Gustáv Belácek
(bass); Háta - Lucie Hilscherová (mezzo); Krušina - Svatopluk Sem (baritone);
Ludmila - Stanislava Jirku (mezzo); Ringmaster - Jaroslav Brezina (tenor);
Esmeralda - Katerina Knežiková (soprano); Indian - Ondrej Mráz (bass);
First Child - Maxim Dusek (treble); Second Child - Babette Rust (soprano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jiří Belohlávek - rec. May 2011 DDD
Sung in Czech. Pdf booklet with translations in French and English,
but no Czech original.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902119.20 [64:31 + 71:49] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)
Rudolf Vonásek (tenor), Jaroslav Horácek (bass), Jaroslava Dobrá (soprano),
Drahomira Tikalová (soprano), Václav Bednár (baritone), Štepánka Štepánová
(mezzo), Oldrich Kovár (tenor), Ivo Židek (tenor), Eduard Haken (bass),
Jarmila Pechová (soprano), Jiří Joran (bass)
Prague National Theatre Chorus
Prague National Theatre Orchestra/Zdenek Chalabala – rec. 1959. ADD/stero
BEULAH 1PD89 [130:49] – from iTunes or 7digital.com (mp3)
as I enjoy the Rudolf Kempe recording in German (EMI/Warner) and the
Charles Mackerras in English (Chandos), there’s always something missing
in an opera performed in anything other than the original language even
if, as in this case, I don’t understand it.
Originally released on 3 LPs in mono and stereo in 1960, the Chalabala
is a classic. With the Supraphon 2-CD set no longer available in the
UK, replaced by the Košler and Vogel versions, and as the Beulah is
at the bargain price of £7.99 from iTunes or £7.49 from 7digital.com*,
this is a self-recommending reissue. The refurbished recording has come
up sounding well and there’s no trace of the snap, crackle and pop for
which Supraphon LPs were notorious, so all that’s missing is the libretto;
that can be found in Czech here and the Chandos English translation is available free here.
I’ve already praised the recording of the Overture, also available separately
– 1BX289: DL
News 2013/18 – and I enjoyed the complete performance just as much.
A small point – the recording was made in 1959, not 1961 as Beulah state
and as I said in reviewing the Overture.
If you must have a more recent recording in CD quality or better, you
won’t go wrong with the recent Harmonia Mundi, which Leslie Wright rightly
thought a fine addition to the Bartered Bride discography – review.
One thing to consider in connection with the eclassical.com download:
at $24.47 the mp3 and 16-bit downloads are competitive with the CDs,
typically around £30 though you may find them for less, but the 24-bit
adds quite a hefty surcharge to $36.71.
* the 7digital.com version is at the full 320kb/s bit-rate.
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Symphonies
Symphony no. 1 in c minor Op. 68 [43:52]
Symphony no. 3 in F Op. 90 [34:21]
Symphony no. 2 in D Op. 73 [40:12]
Symphony no. 4 in e minor Op. 98 [37:57]
Revised opening Symphony No 4, 1st movement [0:46]
Tragic Overture Op. 81 [12:45]
Intermezzo Op. 116/4, arranged by Paul Klengel [4:41]
Intermezzo Op. 117/1, arranged by Paul Klengel [4:48]
Variations on a theme by Joseph Haydn (St Antoni) Op. 56a [16:45]
Liebesliederwalzer Op. 52 & 65 [12:56]
Symphony no. 1 – Andante (original first performance version)
Academic Festival Overture Op. 80 [9:23]
Hungarian Dance No. 1 [2:53]
Hungarian Dance No. 3 [2:08]
Hungarian Dance No. 10 [1:53]
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
Pdf booklet included
DECCA 4785344 [3 CDs 78:13 + 78:56 + 76:38] – from amazon.co.uk (mp3)
taken my time considering these recordings, having listened to them
regularly since mid-October 2013, and I’m happy to say that they now
take their place as my benchmark for a set of the complete symphonies,
though I shall certainly supplement them with the likes of Beecham’s
Second (BBC Legends) and Klemperer’s Third and (especially) Fourth (EMI
The original Andante of the First Symphony is a valuable addition
to the symphonies and overtures, but the revised opening of the Fourth
is no more than a curiosity – in fact, it’s rather a nuisance to have
The Amazon download comes at just under 250kb/s – not ideal but sounding
more than adequate – and with the advantage of the pdf booklet. Shouldn’t
that be a mandatory adjunct to all downloads whatever the source?
Unless you renumber the tracks in Explorer, CD2 will play first, then
CD3 and finally CD1.
Just as I had this review wrapped up, I couldn’t resist trying another
new recording of the Fourth Symphony from Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
Saarbrücken-Kaiserslautern and Stanislav Skrowaczewski (Oehms OC410 – from eclassical.com,
mp3 and lossless or stream from Naxos Music Library, both with pdf booklet).
Recorded in 2011, when the conductor was 88, this is another benchmark
recording, every bit as good as I remember a budget-price Pickwick/IMP
recording which he made with the Hallé when he was a mere septuagenarian
and sounding very well in lossless garb. At 41:36, with no filler, it’s
very short value on CD but the eclassical.com per-second pricing policy
brings it down to a very reasonable $7.48.
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904)
String Quartet No.12 in F, Op.96, B179 (American) [26:37]
String Quintet in E-flat, Op.97, B180 [32:25]
Talich Quartet with Jiri Žigmund (viola) in Op.97 – rec? DDD?
LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV254 [59:02] – from emusic.com (mp3 and lossless)
a very good budget-price Warner Apex coupling of Op.96 and Op.97 from
the Keller Quartet – review – but the Talich Quartet have the music even more in the blood and,
at eclassical.com prices as a download, are not vastly more expensive.
Despite the claim on the eclassical.com website that the tempi are marginally
faster than usual, the Talich Quartet are slightly slower overall than
the Kellers but not to the extent that they sound in any way sluggish
– just the opposite: there’s plenty of life in these performances and
I’d rank this version of Op.96 with the very best.
The String Quintet, the second which Dvořák composed, is
far less often recorded than the Quartet. It, too, receives a fine performance.
Here the tempi are a shade faster than on other recordings that I know,
such as the Melos Quartet on a 2-CD Harmonia Mundi set of Dvořák
chamber music which you can try from Naxos Music Library. Unfortunately,
their partners at classicsonline.com have decided to charge for the
download as for two CDs when the discs were issued as a 2-for-1 set.
There’s no booklet, so I’m not sure of the provenance of these recordings
– presumably from Calliope CAL9331, released in 2003. The recordings
both sound fine, especially in lossless format. That CD and the Calliope
box set from 2004 seems to have been deleted, so this is the only way
to obtain these performances.
Op.96 and Op.97 make a good, logical coupling, but so does the Nimbus
Alliance arrangement of pairing Op.96 with its immediate predecessor,
Quartet No.11, Op.61, a recording by the Wihan Quartet which I enjoyed
(NI6114 – review).
So, too, does the Pavel Haas Quartet’s pairing of Op.96 with its successor,
Quartet No.13, Op.106, on Supraphon SU4038-2: Jonathan Woolf
liked this rather less than Brian Reinhart – review and review: Recording of the Month. See also November
2011/2 DL Roundup.
La Dolce Volta offer another (apparently different) Talich Quartet recording
of the Op.97 Quintet, this time coupled with the Piano Quintet No.2
in A, Op.81 (LDV261 [65:29]). The cover wrongly labels this Dvořák
String Quintets, as do eclassical.com,
who offer it in mp3 and lossless. Again, I’m not sure of the provenance;
presumably these are the performances last seen on Calliope CAL9229,
released in 1994, with Kazuko Mimura (piano) and Tasso Adamopoulous
(viola). Good performances and decent recordings again, but the duplication
of the String Quintet, which here sounds slightly less spontaneous than
on the Op.96/97 coupling, is impractical and, in any case, you may well
prefer or have already purchased the recent Hyperion Piers Lane/Goldner
Quartet coupling of the first and second Piano Quintets (CDA67805 - review)
or the older budget-price pairing of Op.81 and Op.97 (Hyperion Helios CDH55472).
If, on the other hand, you want to mix and match, both eclassical.com
and hyperion-records.co.uk allow you to purchase each work separately.
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Concerto in a minor, Op.16 [30:55]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto No.3 in C, Op.26
Nikolai Lugansky (piano)
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Kent Nagano – rec. February 2013.
NAÏVE AMBROISIE AM210 [59:15] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet)
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No.1 in D, Op.10 [15:31]
Piano Concerto No.2 in g minor, Op.16 [31:23]
Piano Concerto No.3 in C, Op.26 [27:49]
Piano Concerto No.4 in B-flat, Op.53 [23:43]
Piano Concerto No.5 in G, Op.55 [23:07]
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)
BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda –rec. June 2012 - September 2013.
Pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN10802 [74:45 + 46:52] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless). Due for release on CD in February 2014
but available in advance for download.
Benchmarks (Prokofiev): Piano Concertos 1-5: CHAN8938: Boris
Berman, Horacio Gutierrez; Concertgebouw/Neeme Järvi – DL
News 2012/22 for this and Kempf/Litton (below)
Piano Concertos 2 and 3: BIS-SACD-1820: Freddy Kempf; Bergen
PO/Andrew Litton – review.
Lugansky/Nagano : if for no other reason, this would be valuable for breaking the Grieg/Schumann
yoke, but it does so at the risk of your having to duplicate either
or both of these concertos.
Don’t choose this recording if you like your Grieg powerful and feisty
– Lugansky brings out the poetry rather than the drama and for that
reason I rate him rather lower than Clifford Curzon, still my ideal
version for bringing out both the lyrical and dramatic aspects of the
music. (With LSO/Fistoulari in mono on Beulah 6-8BX7 –October
2011/1 Roundup or with LSO/Fjeldstad on London, with Peer Gynt suites, from 7digital.com (mp3). Both versions are available on the
23-CD set of Curzon’s recordings, Decca 4784389). The new Ambroisie
recording didn’t really click for me until the finale and even there
I wanted the music to move on more at times. I see that Michael Cookson
was of similar mind – review.
All concerned sound much more at home in a glorious free-wheeling performance
of the Prokofiev. Now may we have the other concertos from this team,
The lossless download sounds excellent; I just wish that I could like
the rather languid Grieg more, though I should add in all fairness that
this was an Editor’s Choice elsewhere, so I strongly recommend trying
it for yourself from Naxos Music Library where you’ll also find the
booklet that eclassical.com don’t give you.
Bavouzet/Noseda : Chandos compete here with their own earlier recording, listed as one
of my benchmarks and available as a very attractive 2-for-1 bargain.
The opening of No.3 sounds a tad less lively than on Ambroisie, yet,
surprisingly – at 9:18 – Bavouzet and Noseda are a shade faster than
Lugansky and Nagano’s 9:33 or Kempf and Litton’s 9:37, reminding us
that the stopwatch is an imperfect guide in these matters. Gutierrez
and Järvi are fastest in this movement, at 8:59: perhaps the opening andante is a little less magical in this version, but overall
I enjoyed the performance.
I don’t want to exaggerate the differences: each of these recordings
sounds fine in its own context and the earlier Chandos offers an excellent
version for bargain-hunters, as also does the Naxos recording from Kun
Woo Paik and Antoni Wit which I’ve owned on CD for many years (Nos.
1, 3 and 4,8.550566 – download in mp3, with pdf booklet, from classicsonline.com for £4.99 or stream from Naxos Music Library).
still by a small margin are Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit in Concertos
1 and 3 plus Bartók Concerto No.3, on Warner (ex EMI 2285312),
available from 7digital.com for just £5.99. 7digital.com also have the earlier Martha Argerich recording with the
BPO and Claudio Abbado on DG originals 4474382 for even less,
£4.99. If I have to plump for just one versions of No.3, the DG would
have to be it – the coupling of the Ravel concerto and Gaspard de
la Nuit would clinch it.
The many fans of Julius Katchen and Ernest Ansermet will find their
early 1950s mono recording of No.3, with Bartók Concerto No.3 on Naxos
Historical9.80509 [48:57] – £2.10 from emusic.com or £1.99 from classicsonline.com (both mp3: not available in the USA and some other countries). The recording
has come up sounding quite well, with just a touch of rawness to betray
Having listened to eight versions of No.3 without disliking any of them,
I dipped in and out of comparisons for the remaining concertos – you
can do that for yourself if you subscribe to Naxos Music Library once
the new Chandos recording appears there.
Mp3 and 16-bit wma downloaded a treat, but, as on some previous occasions,
I had a problem downloading the 24-bit using theclassicalshop.net Download
Manager from Chrome – I had to try again using Internet Explorer.
Viennese Dance Music
listening to and enjoying the 2014 concert with Daniel Barenboim in
charge as I complete this DL News (Sony 888837922722): the least
expensive download is £7.99 or $14.99 from iTunes (m4a) and sounding very well, though you should be aware that m4a is
not compatible with some programmes – even the iTunes player won’t allow
you to burn m4a tracks as an mp3 CD. The iTunes m4a comes at around
275kb/s; for the full 320kb/s mp3 7digital.com charge £10.49 and sainsburysentertainment.co.uk £9.99. The 2-CD set and DVD are selling
for around £14 and the blu-ray for a little more.
Enjoyable as the annual VPO concerts are, however, it’s smaller ensembles
that I enjoy most in this music and none more than the Boskovsky Ensemble
whose Vanguard recordings, made at the same time in the early 1960s
that Willi Boskovsky was concert master of the VPO and directed the
New Year Concerts for many years. These recordings have been out of
the catalogue for too long – fortunately I snapped them up when they
were last available on Vanguard CDs – and now they are beginning to
return from Musical
Concepts Alto at budget price.
A few dances from the Boskovsky Ensemble appeared as very welcome fillers
to an Alto reissue of the Schubert Octet (ALC1227 –review)
and now a whole album of Dances from Old Vienna has appeared
(ALC1237), 78 minutes of sheer delight from the Strauss family,
mostly Johann Senior, Lanner, Haydn, Schubert and others. I haven’t
yet located a download source for either of these albums but the CDs
are very inexpensive – £5.99 each from MusicWeb
International post free. Look out for my full review on the main
MusicWeb International pages: Recording of the Month.
If it’s the music of Johann Strauss I that you’re seeking, let me remind
you that Marco Polo are now up to Volume 25 of their complete series, 8.225345 – from eclassical.com in mp3 or lossless, with pdf booklet. The contents, none of them well
Friedensboten , Walzer, Op. 241 [8:44]
Soldaten-Lieder , Walzer, Op. 242 [8:48]
Almacks-Quadrille , Op. 243 [5:18]
Jellacic-Marsch , Op. 244 [3:45]
Wiener-Jubel-Marsch , Op. 245 [4:32]
Wiener Stadt-Garde-Marsch , Op. 246 [3:05]
Deutsche Jubellaute , Walzer, Op. 247 [7:20]
Quadrille ohne Titel , Op. 248 [5:07]
Exeter-Polka , Op. 249 [1:56]
Radetsky-Bankett-Marsch (Fragment) [1:04]
The Slovak Sinfonietta and Christian Pollack may not be the best-known
names in the business but they can be relied on for idiomatic performances,
as on earlier volumes – review of Vol. 24. The playing time (49:39) is short but that’s taken care
of in the eclassical.com price of $8.94. Volume 24 (8.225344)
has not yet appeared in lossless sound but may be downloaded in mp3
from classicsonline.com with pdf booklet or, if you can put up with a lower bit-rate, less expensively
Both recent volumes can be streamed from Naxos Music Library (with booklet).
to small-scale performances, there are two on Naxos that are well worth
considering. Dance Music from Old Vienna (8.555689 – from classicsonline.com,
mp3) is performed by the Vienna Dance Quartet while there’s a slightly
fuller sound on Music from Old Vienna performed by Thalia-Schrammeln
( 8.550228 – from classicsonline.com).
Both come with pdf booklet and both can be streamed from Naxos Music
There’s only one Strauss work (from Johann II) on the second album,
where most of the music is by violinist brothers Johann and Josef Schrammel,
whose ensemble with a guitar and clarinet is depicted on the CD cover.
the New Year’s Concert itself, one of the greatest surprises
was what a success stern period-instrument specialist Nikolaus Harnoncourt made of his outing with the VPO in 2001, preserved for posterity by
his label, Teldec, now part of the Warner Empire and available from classicsonline.com or for streaming from Naxos Music Library: 96 minutes of fine music-making,
including often severely truncated applause, for just £5.49. That programme
is no longer available on CD, though his repeat performance in 2003
is still to be had as an import (DG E4742502) and on DVD (TDK
It’s necessary to go a little further back for the classic New Year’s
Concerts of recent times, to 1989 and 1992 when Carlos Kleiber took
the rostrum and 1987 when Herbert von Karajan did the honours; both
these great conductors reminded us what consummate music the Strauss
family produced and how well it can sound in the right hands. Kleiber
1989 is due for reissue on mp3 on 6 January 2014 by amazon.co.uk;
75 minutes of his 1992 concert
can be streamed from Naxos Music Library or downloaded in mp3 from 7digital.com , while 68 minutes of the Karajan are available in mp3
or lossless from prestoclassical.co.uk (DG Grand Prix 4776336). Large chunks of Karajan 1987 are included
on an inexpensive 2-CD set with items conducted by Abbado, Boskovsky,
Krauss, etc. – from 7digital.com .
For the 2014 concert Daniel Barenboim has included a good deal of the
music of Josef Strauss. I’m far from alone in thinking his music a degree
more thoughtful than that of his father or brothers. Marco Polo have
recorded 26 volumes of his music and the place to start is with a single-CD
distillation of the best of these on Naxos (8.556846 – review:
mp3, with pdf booklet).
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No.4 in G* [52:51]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal : Prelude [14:20]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Ruy Blas Overture, Op.95**
Jean Alexander (soprano)*
BBC Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Orchestra**/Rudolf Kempe
– rec. 1957 (Mahler), 1965 (Wagner), 1967 (Mendelssohn) ADD/mono
Pdf booklet included
ICA CLASSICS ICACD5117 [74:20] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
Kempe is not a name that I associate with Mahler. There are still plenty
of his recordings of Richard Strauss in the catalogue plus some Wagner
and Smetana – the best non-Czech Bartered Bride available – but
I’d forgotten his BBC Legends recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von
der Erde with Janet Baker (BBCL41292, now download only,
mp3, or stream from Naxos Music Library) and the earlier budget-price
Archipel release of his recording of the Mahler Fifth (ARPCD0519).
Both of those received warmer welcomes than his BBC Legends recording
of the First and Second Symphonies. This Fourth comes somewhere between
the two – stylish, idiomatic and a safe choice but not a replacement
for Szell on CBS or Sony. That’s still my top recommendation if you
can find a copy; there’s an HDTT transfer but it tried too hard for
Dan Morgan and myself and ended up by exposing the inherent shortcomings
of the recording – Feb
2011 DL Roundup. Jean Alexander on ICA is an attractive soloist
but her voice is a little too mature-sounding for the words which she
has to sing.
I’m still looking for an ideal Mahler Fourth in a modern recording –
you’ll see that I had reservations about Iván Fischer on Challenge Classics CCSA26109, a version much liked by many, including our own Leslie
of the Month), but withrubato sounding too purposeful
for me, and even stronger reservations about Lorin Maazel on the NYPO’s
own label – July
2010 DL Roundup.
In 1957 – and even in 1965 – the BBC was still stuck in deepest mono
but, that apart, the ICA recordings have come up sounding well, if a
little raw and congested at climaxes and with the merest hint of wow
in the sustained chords at the end of the third movement.
Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.6 (Tragic)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott
Pdf booklet included
TUDOR 7191 [80:21] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Symphony No.8 (Symphony of a Thousand)
Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott
Pdf booklet included
TUDOR 7192 [78:38] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
about these two recordings have been remarkably divided, some giving
No.6 top rating and finding fault with No.8, others exactly the reverse.
My own view is that both have qualities that make them well worth considering,
though neither would be my top choice.
I enjoyed No.6 until, like Dan Morgan – review – I felt that the finale rather let the show down, with the hammer blows
of fate not energetic enough. I’d rate this higher than Valery Gergiev’s
LSO Live recording, though I enjoyed that for different reasons; it’s
more ‘tragic’ than the Tudor (LSO0661 - review).
George Szell’s version (Sony), still my version of choice, seems to
be no longer available on CD but is still available as a download from amazon.co.uk .
version, from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,
on their own SFS Media label (82193600012 – rec. live, 2001,
DDD/DSD [87:24]: review),
is well worth considering, especially if you’re looking for a bargain:
it costs just £1.68 from emusic.com and though it’s mp3 only and the
bit-rate little more than the minimum 192kb/s, it sounds quite acceptable.
Stream from Naxos Music Library but be aware that to purchase via the
Classics Online button (at the full 320kb/s) from there costs £15.98.
There’s no booklet from emusic.com but subscribers to Naxos Music Library
can obtain it there. Tilson Thomas comes closer than Nott and as close
as any version that I’ve heard to shaking my adherence to Szell.
On balance, Dan Morgan thought that Jonathan Nott redeemed himself in
No.8 – review – but, as he noted, the rivalry here is very intense. Another reviewer
thought this quite possibly the best recording of the past two decades,
but yet another faulted the soloists. The singing didn’t trouble me
but my benchmark remains the classic Solti version (Decca) despite the
shortcomings even of the Studio Sound 24-bit refurbishment available
from Linn. (UNI005, Download of the Month,March
2012/2 Roundup and March
2012/1 Roundup). I mentioned minute drop-out problems with the less
expensive Decca Originals download of that recording, very good value
at £4.99 from 7digital.com – the solution is to join the tracks of each of the four
movements with a programme such as the free Shuangs Audio Joiner. As
with his Wagner Ring cycle, everything came right
for Solti on that occasion and Nott isn’t quite in the same league.
John Quinn described the 1991 Klaus Tennstedt recording of the Eighth
with the LPO on their own label (LPO0052 [87:01]) as an extraordinary,
visionary reading: Recording of the Month – review.
Because that’s divided into so many tracks and emusic.com charge per
track, that’s less of a bargain, so this time I suggest obtaining it
in full-cream 320kb/s sound from classicsonline.com (with pdf booklet). Stream from Naxos Music Library. If, however, you
have some of your monthly allocation from emusic.com to use up, Tilson Thomas and the SFSO again are well worth considering
at £7.14, with the Adagio from Symphony No.10 as filler. No booklet,
but that can be obtained from Naxos Music Library.
Discovery of the Month
MIELCK (1877-1899) Orchestral and Choral Music
Macbeth Overture in f minor, Op. 2 [13:27]
Altböhmisches Weihnachtslied (Old Bohemian Christmas Song), Op.
Dramatic Overture in d Minor, Op. 6 [12:41]
Altgermanisches Julfest (Old Germanic Yuletide Feast), Op. 7
Suomalainen sarja (Finnish Suite) in d minor, Op. 10 [15:50]
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0174 [61:28] – from toccataclassics.com or eclassical.com (both mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
listening to this as an ‘innocent ear’ test. If you guess Mendelssohn
or Bruch, you won’t be far wrong, as Mielck studied with the latter
in Berlin. A musically precocious but otherwise somewhat autistic young
man from a Finnish family of Swedish and German ancestry, everything
you hear had been written by the age of 21 – he died of tuberculosis
on his 22nd birthday.
The Dramatic Overture (track 3) is exactly what it says on the
tin – dramatic – as is the opening Macbeth Overture. Anglophone
listeners are hardly likely to recognise the traditional music which
inspired the Old Bohemian Christmas Song or the Old Germanic
Yuletide Feast, tracks 2 and 4, but these works are also attractive,
as is the Finnish Suite which rounds off the programme. Without
any benchmark, I can only say that the performances sound as if they
do justice to the music.
The lossless download is very good, with the eclassical.com price –
the same for mp3 and lossless – slightly more expensive than Toccata’s
own for the mp3 and slightly less than their price for the lossless
The Ondine recording of the Fairy Tale Symphony, Op.4 and Konzertstück,
Op.8 (ODE1019-2) is entirely complementary to the Toccata album.
The performances by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Sakari
Oramo and John Storgårds make that worth having, too – download from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library, both with pdf booklet.
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Symphony in c sharp minor [54:38]
Poems of the Sea [13:35]
London Symphony Orchestra/Dalia Atlas – rec. November 2011. DDD
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573241 [68:23] – from classicsonline.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
the Naxos ‘family’ there’s an earlier Marco Polo recording of the symphony
and at first I thought this was a reissue of it, but in fact it’s a
completely new recording of a work that I hadn’t heard before – apart
from the usual favourites such as Schelomo and Baal Shem,
there isn’t much of Bloch’s orchestral music in the catalogue. It’s
a very impressive work, mostly very powerful but with interludes of
relaxation; if you like Richard Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner, you’ll
probably enjoy it as much as I did.
There’s also a Marco Polo recording of the Walt Whitman texted Poems
of the Sea but I see no reason to pay the higher price than for
the new Naxos release. Dalia Atlas has a reputation as a leading interpreter
of Bloch’s music, a reputation that stands to be enhanced by the current
The lossless recording is very good, apart from Naxos’s usual habit
of encoding the whole album as one long track, which you need a special
programme to untangle. No-one else yet offers a lossless alternative
– watch out for theclassicalshop.net or eclassical.com to do so – so
at present it’s the awkward COL download or buy the CD.
The BIS alternatives of these two works which Paul Corfield Godfrey
mentions in his review of the Naxos are available in mp3 and lossless sound from eclassical.com:
the Symphony with Schelomo on BIS-CD-576 and Poems with Violin Concerto on BIS-CD-639.
Compare the Marco Polo, BIS and Naxos recording from Naxos Music Library.
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Piano Quintet in d minor, H49a (1904-5:
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970) Piano Quintet No.1 (1924) [37:37]
Raphael Terroni (piano); Bingham String Quartet (Steve Bingham (violin),
Mark Messenger (violin), Brenda Stewart (viola), Miriam Lowbury (cello))
– rec.1989. DDD.
BRITISH MUSIC SOCIETY BMS442CD [67:02] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with
France made this A Recording of the Month –review – and Michael Cookson was also enthusiastic – review – so there’s little to add except that the recording, originally issued
on cassette, has been refurbished and sounds very well indeed in the
The CD came out almost a year ago – buy for £12 post-paid from Musicweb
– but it has been worth waiting for the lossless download; it’s one
of several that eclassical.com have just released which, I hope, means
that they will be catching up with the backlog of recordings from this
label. Please may we have the pdf booklet in future – it’s available
from Naxos Music Library for subscribers, but that’s not the point.
There are other recordings of the Bridge but this is the only version
of the Scott in the current catalogue.
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Violin Concerto in D (1931) [20:40]
Cadenza (by Patricia Kopatchinskaja) [2:53]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concerto No.2 in g minor
Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski – rec. May 2013. DDD.
NAIVE V5352 [50:53] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Parry-Jones (Recording of the Month – review)
and others have already praised this so highly as to make me wonder
what I was missing when I first noticed it and passed it over for other
recordings. After all, I already have Kyung-Wha Chung with André Previn
(Decca 450032, mid-price: download from amazon.co.uk , mp3), who also offer the other Prokofiev concerto, surely
still unassailable in these concertos. Well, I was wrong: the only reservation
that prevents me from placing the new recording alongside Chung and
Previn at the top of the tree is the omission of the Prokofiev Concerto
No.1 and the resulting short playing time – taken care of by eclassical.com’s
per-second pricing policy which reduces the price to $9.20. There’s
no booklet but subscribers can obtain that from Naxos Music Library.
Even fans of Chung and Previn or other prized combinations in these
two works should add this recording to their collection, though I wasn’t
convinced by the cadenza, specially composed by the soloists for a concerto
which Stravinsky deliberately left without cadenza.
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Les Noces and other Russian Choral
Traditional Five Bridal Folk Songs from the Voronezh District
The Voronezh Chamber Choir (Institute of the Arts)/Oleg Shepel
Igor STRAVINSKY Svadebka / Les Noces (The Wedding)
Jane Ginsborg (soprano); Elena Medvedovskaya (alto); John Potter (tenor);
Alexander Nazarov (bass)
Andrew Ball, Julian Jacobson, Clive Williamson, Paul Webster (pianos);
David Corkhill, Martin Allen, Richard Benjafield, Julian Poole, Christopher
Wells, Graham Cole (percussion)
New London Chamber Choir and the Voronezh Chamber Choir/James Wood
Podblyudnye (Four Russian Peasant Songs) (1914/17 versions) [2:53]
Women’s voices of the New London Chamber Choir and the the Voronezh
Chamber Choir/James Wood
Podblyudnye (Four Russian Peasant Songs) (1954 versions) [4:11]
Brendan Thomas, Joanna Hensel, Robert Stroh, Lynn Jarman (horns)
Otshe Nash (Our Father) (1926) (Slavonic version) [1:57]
Bogoroditse Devo (Ave Maria) (1934) (Slavonic version) [1:02]
Simvol Very (Creed) (1964) (Slavonic version) [2:18]
The Voronezh Chamber Choir/Oleg Shepel
Carlo GESULADO (c1561-1613) Tres Sacræ Cantiones (arr. Stravinsky, 1957 and 1959) [9:43]
Igor STRAVINSKY The dove descending breaks the air (1962)
New London Chamber Choir/James Wood
Introitus : T S Eliot in memoriam (1965) [5:17]
Andrew Ball (piano); Yuko Inoue (viola);Duncan McTier (double bass);
Rachel Masters (harp); David Corkhill and Julian Poole (timpani); Martin
Allen and Richard Benjafield (tam-tams)
Men’s voices of the New London Chamber Choir/James Wood - rec October
Pdf booklet with transliterated texts and translations included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55467 [63:12] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless)
it was released this was the only version of Les Noces to be
sung in Russian by a Russian choir; now it competes in both respects
with a more recent recording conducted by Valery Gergiev on the Mariinsky
label (SACD, with Œdipus Rex, MAR0510), which I haven’t
heard but which has received favourable reviews. That’s at full price
whereas the Hyperion reissue is on the budget Helios label.
Though initially conceived as early as 1912, Les Noces was not
completed until 1923 and it bears clear marks of the composer’s attempts
to recapture some of the mood of the Rite of Spring – not entirely
successfully for me; it remains a very interesting failure, even judged
by the high standards of Ernest Ansermet’s Decca recording which was
my introduction to the work on LP (2 mid-price CDs, E4434672,
with Petrushka, Rite and Firebird – downloads are
likely to be as expensive or more than the CDs). If neither Ansermet
nor Robert Craft (Naxos, with Œdipus Rex – review and review:
stream from Naxos Music Library) could quite persuade me, nor could
James Wood, but he comes as close as those other two recordings to capturing
the sheer energy of the music.
Where the Hyperion remains unique is the other Russian-texted music
included here. If the programme appeals, this, too is well performed
and recorded and the booklet is up to the usual Hyperion standards.
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Country Gardens and Other Favourites (versions for orchestra)
Country Gardens [2:15]
Shepherd’s Hey [2:09]
Colonial Song [6:07]
Children’s March ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ [4:15]
The Immovable Do (The Cyphering C) [4:29]
Mock Morris [3:39]
Handel in the Strand [4:21]
Irish Tune from County Derry (‘Danny Boy’) [3:37]
Spoon River [4:06]
My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone [4:12]
Molly on the Shore [4:21]
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra/Frederick Fennell – rec. 1959. ADD/stereo
NAXOS CLASSICAL ARCHIVES 9.80593 [43:31] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (not available
in the USA and some other countries)
download makes a fine supplement to the Fennell recording of Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy and music by other composers on Decca Eloquence 4802089, which I reviewed some time ago, also to the various Eastman/Fennell recordings which
Beulah have reissued and which I reviewed in earlier editions of DL
If you’re looking for a wide variety of Grainger’s music, you need to
turn to Chandos’s series of recordings with Richard Hickox – there’s
a budget-price introductory album to the series, CHAN2029,Bargain
of the Month from theclassicalshop.net,
mp3 and lossless – but this Mercury-derived selection is well worth
the £1.99 it costs from classicsonline.com or $7.83 for the lossless
version from eclassical.com and there are only a few overlaps with the
Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Overture for a Masque (1944) [9:27]
In the Mountain Country (1921) [6:24]
Rhapsody No. 1 in F (1922) [11:26]
Rhapsody No. 2 in E (1924/41) [12:17]
Rhapsody in F sharp (1943)* [1 7:32]
Benjamin Frith (piano)*
Ulster Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta - rec. September, 2012
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573106 [57:06] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) eclassical.com (mp3 or lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
but attractively tuneful Moeran works, idiomatically performed and well
recorded and at budget price – what’s not to like here on an album which
significantly increased my exposure to the music of a composer whose
works I long ago decided was on my wavelength?
At the time of writing the classicsonline.com version was in mp3 only;
the eclassical.com, which appeared earlier, is in mp3 and lossless but
at a higher price even than the CD.
There’s just one small reservation – or, rather, two – in that the new
release cuts across earlier strong recommendations:
SCRD.247 : Overture for a Masque, Sinfonietta, Symphony in g minor.
London Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Adrian
Boult. Recording of the Month – review and review.
Download from emusic.com (mp3)
- CHAN10235X (lower mid-price): Serenade in G, In the Mountain
Country, Rhapsody No. 1, Rhapsody No. 2, Nocturne. Hugh Mackey, Renaissance
Singers, Ronnie Lee, Richard Howarth, Ulster Orchestra, Vernon Handley. Review . Download from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)
- CHAN10169X (lower mid-price): Symphony in g minor, Overture
for a Masque, Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra. Margaret Fingerhut,
Ulster Orchestra, Richard Howarth, Vernon Handley. Review.
Download from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless)
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
The Execution of Stepan Razin, Op. 119 (1964) [25:34]
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (1944) (arr. for orchestra by Lev Atovmyan)
Suite on Finnish Themes (1939) [11:15]
Tuomas Katajala (tenor); Mari Palo (soprano); Shenyang (bass-baritone)
State Choir ‘Latvija’; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
– rec. March 2013. DDD
pdf with texts and translations included
ONDINE ODE1225-2 [65:37] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Morgan had no doubts: ‘This is a very worthwhile disc; it has everything
- a strong Stepan Razin, a rafter-rattling Zoya and
a frothy little Finnish finale’ – review.
I haven’t heard the classic Kondrashin account of Razin (in
an 11-CD Melodiya set) but this performance certainly matches the old
Philips Herbert Kegel recording from East Germany, now embedded in a
9-CD Decca box set. The Zoya music was new to me and I didn’t
expect much – I got much more than I expected, which added to my enjoyment
of this recording.
The lossless version from eclassical.com is hors de combat at the moment owing to a technical fault, but the classicsonline.com
mp3 sounds fine.
There are two alternatives for Stepan Razin that don’t involve
CHANDOS CHAN9813 : Anatoly Lochak (bass); Russian State Capella
and Symphony Orchestra/Valeri Polyansky (with Symphony No.6) – rec.1999
[58:52] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless; pdf booklet available)
Lochak’s voice may be too vibrato-laden for Dan Morgan’s
liking, but this is a powerful performance.
There’s a lot to be said for having an all-Russian team and if you don’t
yet have a version of the Sixth Symphony, a short work too easily overlooked,
this is well worth considering – review.
8.557812 : Charles Robert Austin (bass-baritone); Seattle Symphony
Chorale and Orchestra/Gerald Schwarz (with October and Five Fragments)
– rec. 2000. DDD. [52:22] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library, both with pdf booklet.
Another version well worth considering – review.
This time the fillers are of minor importance but offset that against
the inexpensive price of the recording, just £4.99 as a download.
All three of the above can be streamed for your own comparison from
Naxos Music Library.
Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
The Fall of Berlin , complete score, Op. 82 (1949). Premiere
The Unforgettable Year 1919 , Suite, Op.89a (1951). First complete
Ellena Alekseyeva (piano)
Moscow Capella and Youth Chorus
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano – rec. Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, March
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS FILM MUSIC CLASSICS 8.570238 (from MARCO POLO 8.223897)
[75:15] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Marco Polo version from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
that a film score about the fall of Berlin had to be hack music, I had
steered clear of this. I was wrong: it’s not exactly vintage Shostakovich
and the ‘Classics’ in the title of the label is an overstatement, but
it has much to recommend it, as you can see from our three MusicWeb
International reviews of the Marco Polo original release – review,review, review.
The 7-minute mini-masterpiece piano concerto The Assault on Beautiful
Gorky, from The Year 1919 is well known, especially from
a splendid, nay essential, Classics for Pleasure bargain recording (Dmitri
Alexeev, piano, 3822342 – download for £3.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk ) where it’s coupled with the two Piano
Concertos. This version is not quite so captivating, but it’s presented
here in the context of music from the whole film.
The eclassical.com download of the Marco Polo is the only show in town
for lossless sound but it’s seriously over-priced at $13.55 when the
Naxos CD can be had for around £6 and the classicsonline.com download,
albeit mp3 only, for £4.99.
Mention of the two Piano Concertos reminds me that in his 2012
Recordings of the Year Brian Reinhart regretted that the 2011 Alexander
Melnikov/Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Teodor Currentzis recording, with
Isabelle Faust in the Violin Sonata (Harmonia Mundi HMC902104 [73:56]) had not made it for review to MusicWeb International. Eclassical.com offer that recording in mp3 and 16-bit lossless and for a little extra
in 24-bit, complete with pdf booklet. It’s also available for streaming,
again with booklet, from Naxos Music Library. It hasn’t ousted the Classics
for Pleasure recording from my top spot but it runs it very close.
Xavier MONTSALVATGE (1912–2002)
Folia daliniana (1995) [14:07]
Madrigal sobre un tema popular (El cant dels ocells) (1991)*
Concertino 1+13 (1975)** [12:15]
Serenata a Lydia de Cadaqués (1970) [9:33]
Cinco invocaciones al Crucificado (1969)* [21:16]
Sasha Cooke (mezzo)*, Tim Fain (violin)**
Perspectives Ensemble (Sato Moughalian (Artistic Director, flute), Wendy
Sutter (cello2), Blair McMillen (piano), James Austin Smith (oboe),
Todd Palmer (clarinet), Monica Ellis (bassoon))/Angel Gil-Ordóñez –
rec. September 2012. DDD.
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included (except No.3 of cinco
NAXOS 8.573101 [62:36] – from classicsonline.com (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
Montsalvatge was one of the most important Spanish (specifically Catalan)
composers of the 20th century but he hasn’t received the
degree of recognition to which he should have been entitled. Apart from
hearing some of his music many years ago as part of a BBC Radio 3 initiative Raïces Ibericas, my knowledge of his music has been woefully
limited. I’m pleased to see that Naxos are doing their bit to put matters
right, with six recordings of his music to date, all available to download
or stream from COL and NML. This latest recording is as good an introduction
to his music as any and it’s well performed – as far as I can judge
without a benchmark for comparison – and recorded, albeit in mp3 only.
Eclassical.com have it in mp3 and lossless, but costing more than the
Chandos, too, have aided the Montsalvatge cause with a recording of
the Simfonia da Requiem and other music, none of it duplicating
the new Naxos recording. (CHAN10735, Ruby Hughes, Clara Mouriz,
BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Meno – review).
David MATTHEWS (b.1943) Music for Piano
Piano Concerto, Op.111 (2009)* [18:27]
Piano Sonata, Op.47 (1989) [12:42]
Variations for Piano, Op.72 (1997) [11:52]
Two Dionysus Dithyrambs, Op.94 (2007 and 2004) [5:35]
One to Tango, Op.51d (1990, arr. 1993) [2:55]
Laura Mikkola (piano)
Orchestra Nova/George Vass – rec. in the presence of the composer, October
All first recordings
Pdf booklet included
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0166 [56:26] – from toccataclassics.com (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Also available
on CD from MusicWeb International – here.
(see review by Gary Higginson.)
Classics have done well by the music of David Matthews, with four recordings
to date, including his String Quartets Nos. 4, 6 and 10 onTOCC0058:
I could have sworn that I’d reviewed the latter in a DL Roundup, but
I can’t find it, so let me direct you to Hubert Culot’sreview and say that the download from tocccataclassics.com is very good.
Matthews’ music doesn’t make too many concessions to easy listening;
I never found myself too far outside my comfort zone in the piano album,
but you may wish to try it for yourself from Naxos Music Library.
There are also several recording of his music on Dutton Epoch, some
of which I hope to explore later, and a Chandos album of The Music
of Dawn and other orchestral music which I thought captivating (CHAN10487 – review and DL
Roundup March 2009). That’s probably the best place to begin.
West Coast Left Coast
William KRAFT (b.1929) Timpani Concerto No.1 (1983) [24:15]
Leonard ROSENMANN (1924-2008) Suite from Rebel without a Cause (1955) [17:16]
John ADAMS (b.1947) The Dharma at Big Sur (2003) [28:08]
Joseph Pereira (timpani); Leila Josefowicz (electric violin)
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/John Adams – rec. live December 2009.
Pdf booklet included
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON CONCERTS 4778972 [69:40] - from amazon.co.uk (mp3)
concert, available as a download only, is rather a mixed bag: if you
purchase it, as I did, for the Adams Dharma and for Rosenman’s
music for the classic film Rebel without a Cause, you may well
find the opening Kraft Concerto outside your comfort zone. It’s a small
price to pay, however, literally, because amazon.co.uk have the whole
album for £1.29, well recorded in decent mp3 (around 235kb/s) and complete
with a decent set of notes. Make sure you buy the version to which I’ve
given a link, as they also have precisely the same concert for £7.49. 7digital.com also offer this for £1.29, at a better bit-rate (320kb/s)
but without the booklet.
The Dharma at Big Sur was commissioned and premiered by the LA
Phil, so who better to perform it and who better to direct it than the
composer? The work manages to combine Asian influences – especially
the imitation of the sitar in Part II – and folk-fiddle techniques in
an evocation of West Coast America, specifically of California, the
title being derived from those Asian influences and Jack Kerouac’s novel Big Sur. I’m sold,
but I’m a fan of Adams already. It won’t cost a fortune to see if you
agree. Those who dislike applause should be warned that it’s rapturous
Adams fans will probably find another LAPO/DG Concerts release even
harder to resist and it’s even less expensive: Gustavo Dudamel conducting
the 2009 premiere of City Noir: 4779064 [34:39] – download
for £1.19 from amazon.co.uk with pdf booklet at around 275kb/s or, at
a higher bit-rate (£1.34) or in lossless sound (£1.68), also with booklet,
The music, in three sections, is effectively symphonic in conception
and power, a valuable corrective if you think of Adams as an easy-going
Also available on DVD with the Mahler First Symphony from the same inaugural
Jazz Recording of the Month
HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH10022 [56:19] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless)
If you’re looking for a single-CD distillation of New Orleans Jazz,
this could well be what you need, with performers including Sidney Bechet
and the New Orleans Feetwarmers, George Lewis, Sonny Boy Williamson,
Fletcher Henderson and Pete Johnson. The transfers are generally very
good, though some tracks display a degree of surface noise – it’s never
There’s no documentation, not even a copy of the back-cover insert but
eclassical.com list the composer(s) of each track and the performers’
names are embedded in the information displayed by Winamp (download
free if you don’t have it) and other players.
Jazz Bargain of the Month
Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers
ORNITHOLOGY REC [5:19:09] – from amazon.co.uk (mp3)
I direct the attention of those looking for a little more than a single-CD
to this absurdly inexpensive set of 100 Jelly Roll masterworks, opening
with Doctor Jazz and Jelly Roll Blues (there’s a later
version of the latter on track 35) via classics such as Grandpa’s
Spells (tr.8), The Pearls (tr.11) and The Chant (tr.44)
and closing with Alabama Bound and The Crave. I’m not
sure how accurate is Jelly Roll’s spoken claim that Coon Blues (track 18) was the first blues ever composed in New Orleans; he knew
more about the subject than I shall ever know but some of his claims,
such as that of having invented jazz in 1902, were given to hyperbole.
The transfers have been well made – the sound is a little thin and there’s
occasional distortion, but not at all bad considering the age of these
1920s and 1930s recordings. The surface noise has been reduced to a
minimum – mostly it’s barely audible, though a few tracks are badly
afflicted – without limiting the frequency range. What’s not to like
for £2.99? The bad news for US readers is that I can’t find an equivalent
on amazon.com, but they do have a similarly named collection (101 tracks)
from Proper Box for $8.99 – here .
Freebie of the Month
Symphony Orchestra Highlights features an hour and 41 minutes
of LSO recordings on their own LSO Live label, many of them conducted
by Colin Davis, almost all in the form of complete movements, in mp3
from amazon.co.uk . The shortest track, from Messiah, is 2:26
and the longest, Sarka from Má Vlast, 10:11. At present
the download is free, no doubt to tempt you to purchase some or all
of the parent albums.