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RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

John ADAMS (b. 1947) Doctor Atomic Symphony, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Harmonielehre - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Peter Oundjian rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5129 SACD [70:15] [ST] Really excellent; worthy to stand comparison with any others.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Lucy Crowe (soprano) Jennifer Johnston (mezzo) James Gilchrist (tenor) Matthew Rose (bass) Monteverdi Ch, O Révolutionnaire et Romantique/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2012 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG 718 [69:58] [JQ] A powerful and superbly executed live account of Missa Solemnis: a tremendous achievement. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Stephen Hough (piano) Mozarteumorchester Salzburg/Mark Wigglesworth rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA67961 [49:05 + 48:54] Stephen Hough’s performances join the select list of reference recordings for both Brahms piano concertos. [JQ] Sheer virtuosity and intimacy perfectly stated. [JF]

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Peter Grimes Alan Oke, Giselle Allen, David Kempster, Britten-Pears Orchestra/Steuart Bedford rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD348 [73:55 + 64:01] [MG] Grimes freshly minted with four outstanding features.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)  War Requiem - Anna Netrebko (soprano) Ian Bostridge (tenor) Thomas Hampson (baritone) Ch & O dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Roma/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 6154482  [80:05] [SG] A version of the War Requiem that will provide an excellent alternative to the composer’s own performance on Decca. Thrilling.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Belisario - Alastair Miles (bass) Nicola Alaimo (baritone) Joyce El-Khoury (soprano) Camilla Roberts (soprano) BBC SO & Singers/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012 OPERA RARA ORC 49 [60.16 + 64.37] [RJF] With great conducting, chorus and soloists, this is another winning contribution from Opera Rara to the Donizetti discography.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 8 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1 - Czech PO, Swiss Festival O/George Szell rec. 1962/9 AUDITE 95.625 [81:06] [JS] It is good that such excellent performances are now available and so well presented on this generously filled disc. 

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 99 & 100, L’incontro improvviso Overture - Heidelberg SO/Thomas Fey rec. 2013 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 98.014 [57:58] [MG] Celebrates Haydn as a composer of daring and innovation. 

Sir Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b.1934) Strathclyde Concertos 7 & 8, A spell for green corn - Duncan McTier (double-bass) Ursula Leveaux (bassoon) James Clark (violin) Scottish CO/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies rec. 1993 NAXOS 8.572355 [67.05] The bassoon concerto is a triumph. I look forward to future ex-Collins bounty from this source [PCG] Chock full of brilliant playing by both soloists and orchestra [SA]

Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950) Violin Concerto Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The Lark Ascending Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Légende Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) A Song of the Night- Tasmin Little (violin), BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10796 [75:45] [JQ] Catalogue-leading recordings of The Lark Ascending and the Moeran Concerto from Tasmin Little.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Der Schatzgräber Tijl Faveyts (bass) Alasdair Elliott (tenor) André Morsch (baritone) Nederlandse Opera Ch, Netherlands PO, Amsterdam/Marc Albrecht rec. 2012 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72591 SACD [71:42 + 79:22] [DC] This one ‘has it all’.

John SHEPPARD (c. 1515-1558) Sacred Choral Music - Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34123 [68:59] [JQ] Another outstanding disc from the choir of Edinburgh Cathedral.

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) The Complete Works for Violin and Piano - Alberto Bologni (violin); Christopher Howell (piano) rec. 2013 SHEVA SH100 [3 CDs: 219:35] [JF] A stunning package of extremely effective, enjoyable and well-written works that guarantee pleasure and enjoyment.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Double Concertos for Winds and Strings - Rebel/Jörg-Michael Schwarz rec. 2013 BRIDGE 9421 [64:42] [JV] If this disc fails to convince the sceptical listener that these concertos are first-rate stuff then nothing will.

American Piano Concertos by Barber, Copland & Gershwin - Xiayin Wang (piano) Royal Scottish Ntl O/Peter Oundjian rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5128 SACD [75:44] [ST] A fascinating traversal of the 20th Century American piano concerto.

Guardian Angel Works by Bach, Biber, Matteis, Pisendel & Tartini - Rachel Podger (baroque violin) rec. 2013 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSA35513 SACD [78:30] [DBi] A wondrously beautiful disc of obscure but masterly baroque music for solo violin. Essential.

The Magic Island The HUSH Collection Vol. 13 - Tasmanian SO/Benjamin Northey rec. 2012/3 HUSH 013 [64:12] [DJB] A collection of quite beautiful miniatures.

Parthenia Works by Bull, Byrd & Gibbons - Catalina Vicens (spinettino, virginals, harpsichord) Rebeka Rusò (viola da gamba) CARPE DIEM CD-16298 [64:54] [JV] A winner in every respect.

John ADAMS (b. 1947) El niño Dawn Upshaw (soprano) Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (mezzo) Willard White (baritone) Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier, London Voices/Terry Edwards; Maîtrise de Paris Children’s Ch/Patrick Marco, Deutsches SO Berlin/Kent Nagano rec. 2000 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101 669 [119.00 + 28.00] [LW] Apparently a reissue of the original production. Better musically than it is visually.   

William ALWYN (1905-1985) Lyra Angelica, The Magic Island, Autumn Legend Sidonie Goossens (harp) Roger Winfield (cor anglais) BBC SO/Hallé O/Sir John Barbirolli rec. 1953-1955 BARBIROLLI SOCIETY SJB1077 [49:20] [JQ] Sensitive archive performances by William Alwyn’s earliest champion. 

William ALWYN (1905-1985) Fantasy Waltzes; Funeral Rites; Sonata alla Toccata; The Weather Vane; Doreen CARWITHEN (1922-2003) Sonatina - Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2013 SOMM CD0133 [72:35] [JW] A terrific disc. 

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) The Complete Keyboard Concertos Vols 18 & 19 - Miklós Spányi (harpsichord, fortepiano) Concerto Armonico Budapest/Márta Ábrahám rec. 2011-2012 BIS CD-1787/1957 [68:12 & 65:04] [JV] These volumes - apparently the last in the project - give little or no reason for real enthusiasm.  

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos 1-6 - Basel CO/Paul Sacher rec. 1954 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR863-4 [49:08 + 57:45] [SG] A fine traversal from the 1950s of these six concertos.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Damien Guillon (alto) Thomas Hobbs (tenor) Peter Kooij (bass) Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2012 EUROARTS 2059504 Blu-ray [145:00] [KM] An excellent performance of a great choral work.  

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) String quartets 1-6 - Juilliard String Qt rec. 1949 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM089a/b/c [3 CDs: 157:37] [Byz] Pristine's Ambient Stereo almost literally adds an extra dimension to these gripping performances.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Miraculous Mandarin suite, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Four Orchestral Pieces - Melbourne SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2011/13 CHANDOS CHSA5130 SACD [73:19] [GPJ] An exceptional recording of some of the most thrilling orchestral music of the early 20th century.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 15, 16 & 21 - Jonathan Biss (piano) rec. 2013 ONYX 4115 [70:23] [JQ] Three more fine Beethoven performances from Jonathan Biss.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 11, 18 & 28 - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67974 [72:29] [SG] Volume 4 of Angela Hewitt’s Beethoven cycle leaves me with mixed feelings.   

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 9 - Anna Tomowa-Sintow (soprano) Agnes Baltsa (contralto) Peter Schreier (tenor) José van Dam (bass) Wiener Singverein/Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1976 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON BD-A 479 1083 [67:14]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto, Romances 1 & 2 - Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) New York PO/Kurt Masur rec. 2002 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON BD-A 479 1063 [64:52]
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Vltava Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Les Préludes - Berlin Radio SO/Ferenc Fricsay rec. 1959-1960 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON BD-A 479 1082 [72:11]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Operatic excerpts, Wesendonck-Lieder - Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Ch & O of the Deutsche Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles rec. 2012 DECCA BD-A 478 5678 [61:11] [DBi] Reissues of fine performances of varying vintage in the best sound they have ever had, but with some problems. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String quartet op. 135 Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) String quartet Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-1963) String quartet 2 Heinz HOLLIGER (b.1939) String quartet 2 - Zehetmair Quartett rec. 2002/2010 ECM NEW SERIES 2195/96 [44:11 + 50:25] [DC] A remarkably fine string quartet release.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 5 & 7 - Vienna PO/Carlos Kleiber rec. 1974-6 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1106 BD-A [72:27] [JQ] Carlos Kleiber’s legendary Beethoven performances issued on Blu-ray.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 12, 28 & 29 - Maria Yudina (piano) rec. 1954/1958 APR 5670 [76:44] [JW] Cumulative power and spirit and some very personalised ways with rubati, tempo, timbre and dynamic gradients. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 3, Triple Concerto - Annie Fischer (piano) Géza Anda (piano) Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin) Pierre Fournier (cello) Bavarian State O, Berlin RSO/Ferenc Fricsay rec. 1957/60 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC400 [72:39] [LJ] Authenticity is retained and clarity gained.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) La sonnambula Giovanni Battista Parodi (bass) Julie Mellor (mezzo) Jessica Pratt (soprano) Ch & O Teatro La Fenice, Venice/Gabriele Ferro rec. 2012 C MAJOR 713908 DVD [132:00] [GF] The present set is valuable for the marvellous singing of Jessica Pratt.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Violin Concerto Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Rhapsody 2; Violin Concerto 2 - Isaac Stern (violin) New York PO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1958-62 PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 350099 SACD [73:16] [SG] Three mainstays of the twentieth century’s violin repertoire from the back catalogue all in high quality digitally re-mastered sound.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen - Rinat Shaham, Dmytro Popov, Andrew Jones, Nicole Car, O Australia Ch, Australian Opera and Ballet O/Brian Castles-Onion rec. 2013 OPERA AUSTRALIA OPOZ56043BD Blu-ray [141:00] [IL] A most voluptuous Carmen, raunchy and smoky-voiced.

Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Tobias and the Angel John Ford (tenor) Ronald Lewis (baritone) London SO/Norman Del Mar rec. 1960 Antony HOPKINS (1921-) Hands Across the Sky Eric Shilling (baritone) Ann Dowdall (soprano) Intimate Opera Chamber Ens/Antony Hopkins rec. 1960(?) PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 096 [68:41 + 61:15] [DCh] Two British operas produced for TV and rescued from obscurity.

Charles BORDES (1863-1909) Mélodies and piano music - Sophie Marin-Degor (soprano) Jean-Sébastien Bou (baritone) François-René Duchâble (piano) rec. 2012 TIMPANI 1C1196 [68:46] [JW] A modest voice but an attractive one and in the case of the piano music, exciting. 

Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918) Clairières dans le ciel Nadia BOULANGER (1887-1979) Mélodies Anna Fabrello (soprano) Rafał Lewandowski (piano) rec. 2012 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0286 [49:57] [JW] A good, thoughtful selection though rather brief.

York BOWEN (1884-1961) Clarinet sonata, Piano trios, Phantasy quintet - Robert Plane (clarinets) Gould Piano Trio, Mia Cooper (violin) David Adams (viola) rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10805 [78:29] [DJB] An excellent collection of Bowen’s chamber works.

William BRADE (1560-1630) and Thomas SIMPSON (1582-1628?) Taffel Consort - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2011 CPO 999 952-2 [72:00] [JV] Lively and engaging - musical entertainment of the highest order.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Trio, Horn Trio, Variations on a Theme of Schumann, Piano Quintet, Clarinet Quintet - Peter Schmidl (clarinet) Günter Högner (horn) Friedrich Dolezal (cello) András Schiff (piano) rec. 1980-88 DECCA ELOQUENCE 4801280 [70:58 + 77:22] [TB] Splendid performances bearing witness to the excellence of these masterpieces. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Hungarian Dances - Danubia O Óbuda/Domonkos Héja rec. 2008 WARNER APEX 2564 644431 [52.48] [GH] If you don’t have recording of the Hungarian Dances this is as good a place to start as any.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Serenade 1 Ludwig von BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Romances - Augustin Dumay (violin) Kansai PO/Augustin Dumay rec. 2012 ONYX 4101 [67:28] [AL] An interesting coupling of programme material, given fresh, inspired and highly enjoyable performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 2 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser Overture - Bamberg SO, Royal PO/Rudolf Kempe rec. 1973 ICA CLASSICS ICAD5119 DVD [57:00] [SG] A valuable visual document of one of the great, yet unsung, conductors of the twentieth century. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Saint Nicolas, Hymn to St Cecilia, Rejoice in the Lamb - Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Ch of King’s College, Britten Sinfonia/Stephen Cleobury (organ) rec. 2012/13 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0003 [CD & SACD: 76:32] [JS] This makes a strong case for Saint Nicolas being one of Britten’s most masterly as well as most loveable works.

Salvador BROTONS (b. 1959) Symphony 5 Mundus Noster; Oboe Concerto; Four Pieces for String Orchestra - Balearic SO/Salvador Brotons NAXOS 8.573163 [70:41] [RB] This Brotons CD deserves your attention and will reward you strongly.

Norbert BURGMÜLLER (1810-1836) Piano Concerto, Overture, Entr’actes - Tobias Koch (piano) Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2012 CARUS 83.297 [62:27] [JW] Robert Schumann wrote that, after the death of Schubert, no musical loss had been more grievous.

Teresa CARREÑO (1853-1917) Rêverie Alexandra Oehler (piano) rec. 2013 GRAND PIANO GP660 [66:29] [Byz] Oehler caresses her way with delicacy of feeling, flinging her fingers with military precision up and down the keyboard.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Triple Concerto Giorgio Federico GHEDINI (1892-1965) Concerto dell'albatro - Emanuela Piemonti (piano) Paolo Ghidoni (violin) Pietro Bosna (cello) Carlo Doglioni Majer (speaker) O I Pomeriggi Musicali/Damian Iorio rec. 2007 NAXOS 8.573180 [58:11] [DM] Casella fans will want this concerto; the Ghedini is a real bonus, though.

Emmanuel CHABRIER (1841-1894) Orchestral works - Suisse Romande O/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHSA5122 SACD [78:42] [PBW] Very good in parts but generally a little too variable to deserve an outright welcome. 

Philippe CHAMOUARD (b.1952) Symphony 8, Poème du Vent - Rouen Conservatoire SO/Claude Brendel François Marchal (bagpipe) rec. 2010 EDITIONS HORTUS 548 [54:31] Another fine and unconventional entry in the annals of the symphony in the 20th and 21st centuries [RB] Anyone who enjoyed any of the earlier Chamouard indicated above may as well add this to their collection [Byz]

Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912) Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, Othello Suite, Petite Suite de Concert, Four Characteristic Valses - Richard Lewis (tenor) Philharmonia O, New SO/Sir Malcolm Sargent, rec. 1935-62 HERITAGE HTGCD249 [71:20] [JWh] A must-buy Hiawatha.   

Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Concerti Grossi op. 6 - Gli Incogniti/Amandine Beyer (violin) rec. 2013 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT327 [69:27 + 75:18] [DC] For all your Corelli Op. 6 solutions.

Jean CRAS (1879-1932) Âmes d’enfants, Premier anniversaire, Quatre Pièces, Trois Chansons Bretonnes, Piano concerto - Philippe Graffin (violin), Mélanie Boisvert (soprano), Lionel Peintre (baritone); Colette Cras-Tansman (piano) Paris RSO/Eugène Bigot rec. 1948-2012 TIMPANI 1C1200 [70.06] [GH] I have found Cras’s music intoxicating and delightful but I don’t think I would start here.

Benjamin DALE (1885-1943) The Romantic Viola - Yuko Inoue, Tinghan Liu, Wenhong Luo, Richard Waters, Clifton Harrison, Anna Lusty (violas) Stephen Coombs (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573167 [63:54] [NB] An excellent disc even if the relative neglect of this music is a fair reflection of its interesting but minor status.

Evaristo Felice DALL'ABACO (1675-1742) & Joseph Marie Clément DALL'ABACO (1710-1805) Padre e figlio Les Basses Réunis/Bruno Cocset rec. 2009 AGOGIQUE AGO011 [62:20] [JV] The capricci are the main attraction of this disc.  

John DANYEL (1564-c.1626) Like as the lute delights - Michael Chance (counter-tenor) Paul Beier (lute) STRADIVARIUS STR 33903 [79:39] [JW] Useful representation where all-Danyel discs are a rarity but some limitations.

Alexander DARGOMIZHSKY (1813-1869) Rusalka Alexander Vedernikov, Natalia Mikhailova, Konstantin Pluzhnikov, Tchaikovsky SO of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev rec. 1983 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94718 [76.14 + 76.42] [PCG] Dargomizhsky’s Rusalka does not deserve to sink into complete oblivion and this recording is a worthy representation.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Estampes, Images Books I & II, Études - Craig Sheppard (piano) rec. 2013 ROMÉO RECORDS 7299/7300 [42:19 + 49:16] [JQ] A most distinguished and enjoyable Debussy recital.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Delius in Norway Bergen PO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA 5131 SACD [78.32] [IL] Another winning release in the continuing Andrew Davis Delius collection.

Ignacy Feliks DOBRZYŃSKI (1807-1867) Chamber Works with Piano Vol. 2 -  Les Explorateurs rec. 2012/3 ACTE PREALABLE AP0279 [79:59] [Byz] Dobrzyński continues to impress although this second disc is less compelling than the first.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Ugo Conte di Parigi Doina Dimitriu (soprano) Carmen Giannattasia (soprano) Yasuharu Nakajima (tenor) Ch & O Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2003 DYNAMIC CDS 7659/1-2 [64.42 + 74.59] [RJF] For those on a restricted budget this provides a good introduction to this rarely performed Donizetti opera.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Lucrezia Borgia Renée Fleming (soprano) Michael Fabiano (tenor) Vitalij Kowaljow (bass) Elisabeth DeShong (mezzo) Ch & O San Francisco Opera/Riccardo Frizzi rec. 2011 EUROARTS 2059644 Blu-ray [127:00 + 19:00 (bonus)] [RJF] A period setting and costumes are welcome but Renée Fleming is no longer a bel canto specialist and it shows.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Sonata Philip SAWYERS (b.1947) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2 - The Steinberg Duo rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6240 [61:42] [JW] Interesting and very emphatically characterised.

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Orchestral and Chamber Music rec. 1982/99 WARNER ERATO 2564 64275-5 [4 CDs: 245:54] [DC] A gift to us all.

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 2, Slavonic Dances - Bournemouth SO/José Serebrier rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 64527-6 [65:20] [BR] Probably the best-played Dvořák Second; probably not the best-conducted. This is a hugely underrated symphony. 

George ENESCU (1881-1955) Symphony 3, Ouverture de Concert - Tampere PO & Ch/Hannu Lintu rec. 2011/13 ONDINE ODE11972 [55:35] [MC] An admirable release.

Heinrich ERNST (1812-1865) Complete Music Vol. 4 - Violin Concerto, Violin Concertino, String Quartet - Sherban Lupu (violin) Sinfonia da Camera/Ian Hobson Ciompi String Qtt rec. 2013 TOCCATA TOCC0189 [67:02] [JW] Those who have followed Lupu thus far will not be disappointed with his playing.

Giacomo FACCO (1676-1753) Pensieri Adriarmonica Vol. 1 - Concerto à 5 - Manuel Zogbi (violin) Mexican Baroque O/Miguel Lawrence rec. 2013 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0202 [51:48] [JW] An inheritor, not an innovator, but Facco’s concertos offer ear-catching listening.

Michelangelo FALVETTI (1642-1692) Nabucco Mariana Flores, Capucine Keller, Magdalena Padilla Olivares - Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Cappella Mediterranea/Leonardo García-Alarcón rec. 2012 AMBRONAY AMY036 [78:18] [JV] This unknown oratorio is undermined by its own advocate. 

Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758) Orchestral Suites - Capella Savaria/Pál Németh rec. 1999 DYNAMIC DM8029 [72:50] [SV] Excellent sprightly performances … if you like Baroque orchestral music, you will want this disc.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Quartet 1, Piano Trio - Kungsbacka Piano Trio, Philip Dukes (viola) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573042 [61:16] [AL] Captivating performances and excellent sound. It is to be hoped that this is the first of a more complete Fauré series.

Michael FINNISSY (b. 1946) The History of Photography in Sound - Ian Pace (piano) rec. 2004-06 MÉTIER MSV 77501 [5 CDs: 327:01] A major release of a major composition by a major figure in contemporary music. Something a little different. Should not be overlooked [MS] ... Not much fun [DC] 

Arthur FOOTE (1853-1937) Complete Piano Music - Kirsten Johnson (piano) rec. 2012 DELOS DE 3442 [3 CDs: 220:38] [WK] An opportunity to experience an unknown side of a composer better known for orchestral and chamber music. Fine performances.  

Wolfgang FORTNER (1907-1987) Bluthochzeit Dalia Schaechter (mezzo) Banu Böke (soprano) Martin Koch (tenor) Wuppertal SO & Opera Ch/Hilary Griffiths rec. 2013 WERGO MV8075 DVD [132.00] [PCG] A generally interesting and rewarding score which it is good finally to have on disc for further exploration.

Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613) Tenebrae Responsories - Collegium Vocale Ghent/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2012 PHI LPH 010 [79:26 + 47:10] [MS] A wonderfully persuasive account of Gesualdo's last great work.

Philip GLASS (b.1937) Harpsichord Concerto John RUTTER (b.1945) Suite Antique Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Harpsichord Concerto - Christopher D Lewis (harpsichord) West Side CO/Kevin Mallon rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573146 [64:02] [Byz] The Glass comes up with attractive melodies and catchy rhythms but the Françaix shows that he can be every bit as trite as Rutter.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) The Perfect American Christopher Purves, David Pittsinger, The Improbable Skills Ens, Ch & O Teatro Real Madrid/Dennis Russell Davies rec. 2013 OPUS ARTE OA BD7129D Blu-ray [120:00] [DBi] If you like Philip Glass operas this is an obvious purchase; if you do not know Glass, then I urge you to try this one.

Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Rustic Wedding Symphony, Symphony 2 - Singapore SO/Lan Shui rec. 2009-2011 BIS BIS-SACD-1842 [76:22] [TB] Two undeniably attractive symphonies. 

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) The Complete works for pedal piano and orchestra - Roberto Prosseda (pedal piano) O della Svizzera Italiana/Howard Shelley rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA 67975 [55:56] [JW] Lightweight charmers in committed performances with recording to match.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Orchestral Suites - Finnish Baroque O/Sirkka-Liisa Kaakinen-Pilch rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE 1220-2 [79:00] [MS] Graupner's unusually bright and innovative use of melody and tonality has a lot to offer and the Finnish Baroque Orchestra quietly and competently make the most of it.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Landkjenning, Sigurd Jorsalfar, Olav Trygvason Malmö Chamber Ch & Opera Chorus, Malmö SO & Opera O/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2009/12 NAXOS 8.573045 [64.19] [PCG] A valuable addition to the Naxos Grieg collection, generally well performed and superbly recorded.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 - 1759) Cantatas Vol. 1 - Contrasto Armonico/Marco Vitale rec. 2012 AYROS AY-HC01 [61:19] [JV] There is every reason to welcome this disc and to look forward to the following volumes in this project.

Jake HEGGIE (b. 1961) Moby-Dick Jay Hunter Morris (tenor) Morgan Smith (baritone) Talise Trevigne (soprano) San Francisco Opera/Patrick Summers rec. 2012 EUROARTS 2059654 Blu-ray [193.00] [PCG] A resounding success. 

Johann Wilhelm HERTEL (1727-1789) Die Geburt Jesu Christi Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2013 CPO 777 809-2 [63:35] [JV] This recording of an unknown Christmas cantata is well worth investigating.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Piano Sonatas 1-3, Variations - Markus Becker (piano) rec. 2012/13 HYPERION CDA67977 [64:27] [DC] As good a recording as any other I could name.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) The Complete Piano Concertos - Idil Biret (piano) Yale SO/Toshiyuki Shimada rec. 2012/13 NAXOS 8.573201-02 [60:14 + 76:01] [SA][RB] Anybody who has not heard these works before will be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of enjoyment that is to be had in them ... Fascinating even if, as the composer designed, the emotional dimension is kept tightly controlled.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Weber, Violin concerto, Concert Music - Midori (violin) NDR SO/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2011-2012 ONDINE ODE 1214-2 [67:23] [MC] Much excellent music-making here but there are better versions of the Symphonic Metamorphosis and the Concerto.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Violin Sonatas - Tanja Becker-Bender (violin) Péter Nagy (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA68014 [57:01] [MC] Away from the mainstream but accessible and of high quality. 

Ed HUGHES (b. 1968) When the flame dies New Music Players/Carlos del Cueto rec. 2012 MÉTIER MSV 77203 [DVD: 60.42 + CD: 57.24] [PCG] It would be hard to imagine this being bettered … a piece that has real depth.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921) Königskinder - Daniel Behle (tenor) Amanda Majeski (soprano) Frankfurter Opern- und Museums O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2012 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 943 [3 CDs: 166:01] [TB] The musical aspects are very satisfying but the documentation offers only indifferent support.

Leos JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Mists of Childhood Alain Planès (piano) Accentus/Pieter-Jelle de Boer rec. 2013 NAÏVE V5330 [55:15] [JW] Thoughtfully compiled and with valid things to say. The singing is keen but not exceptional and the playing time is quite short. 

Jeronimas KAČINSKAS (1907-2005) Chamber and Instrumental Music - Vilnius String Qt, St Christopher Quintet, Gabrielius Alekna (piano) rec. 2007/9 TOCCATA TOCC0169 [59:22] [JW] A voice well worth hearing … a nuanced and structurally sensitive approach.

Kara KARAYEV (1918-1982) Ballet Suites: The Seven Beauties, The Path of Thunder Royal PO/Dmitri Yablonsky rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573122 [69:22] [SA] Will appeal to all who like their music uncomplicatedly straightforward yet full blooded.

Reinhard KEISER (1674-1739) Die großmütige Tomyris - Gabriele Fontana (soprano) Marianne Hirsti (soprano) Linde-Consort/Hans-Martin Linde rec. 1988 EMI CLASSICS 9123252 [68:46 + 71:19] [JV] This recording should not have been reissued.  

Paul KLETZKI (1900-1973) Music Unlost: Violin Sonata, Piano Trio - Magdalena Kling-Fender (violin) Łukasz Błaszczyk (violin) Robert Fender (cello) Adam Manijak (piano) rec. 2012 DUX 0974 [58:14] [RB] You will enjoy this music if the likes of Zemlinsky, Schreker, Martucci, Ghedini and Foulds appeal to you.   

August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902) Symphony 5, In Spring, Festive Overture - Anhalt Philharmonic/Antony Hermus rec. 2011/12 CPO 777 693-2 [61:34] [BR] Once you know the symphony was a chamber piece, you hear evidence everywhere, to the work’s detriment.

Gustavo LEONE (b.1956) String Quartets 1 & 2, Una voz, un grito, un lamento, Red Quintet, Scenes - Q-Arte Quartet Beatriz Elena Martinez (soprano) Marta Liliana Bonilla (harp) rec. 2011/12 TOCCATA TOCC 0168 [72:33] [JW] Leone’s is a versatile voice in the contemporary firmament and is excellently served here.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) String Quartets 1 & 2; Cello Sonata - Quatuor Béla rec. 2012 AEON AECD1332 [50:21] [Byz] In purely musical terms this ranks with the best - perhaps even higher.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Lontano; Violin Concerto; Atmosphères; San Francisco Polyphony Benjamin Schmid (violin) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2012/2013 ONDINE ODE 1213-2 [68:22] [LW] This CD contains a fine sampling of Ligeti’s orchestral music.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Organ arrangements by Bischof, Dupré, Liszt & Weiner Christian Schmitt (organ) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserlautern/Martin Haselböck rec. 2012 CPO 777 472-2 SACD [69:58] [DC] Intriguing, but not universally successful. 

Sergei LYAPUNOV (1859-1924) Piano Music - Margarita Glebov (piano) rec. 2012/13 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0218 [67:30] [SA] A really enjoyable disc of music by an unfairly neglected composer.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Missa Dunelmi; St Patrick’s Magnificat; …fiat mihi…; Cum vidisset Jesus; I am your Mother; Invocation; Domine non secundum peccata nostra; Alpha & Omega - Cappella Nova/Alan Taverner rec. 2012 LINN CKD439 SACD [66:41] [JQ] Cappella Nova expertly perform another programme of stimulating and compelling programme of choral music by James MacMillan.

Cindy McTEE (b. 1953) Symphony 1, Circuits, Einstein’s Dream, Double Play - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2010/12 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559765 [66:43] [RB] McTee is never less than interesting - Time will tell whether there is more. The signs are good.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4 Paul DUKAS (1865-1935) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice - Sena Jurinac (soprano) Vienna SO/Karl Rankl rec. 1954 GUILD GHCD2397 [64:49] [JW] A rare example of live Rankl admirably engineered and presented. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal Prelude to Act I Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Ruy Blas - Jane Alexander (soprano) BBC SO, London SO/Rudolf Kempe rec. 1957 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5117 [74:38] [RMo] These performances are not indispensable to the Kempe discography.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - Budapest FO/Iván Fischer rec. 2012 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA34213 SACD [74:09] [JQ] An enjoyable Mahler Fifth, expertly played, which offers much to the listener.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Ballet music from Bacchus, Hérodiade, Thaïs & Le Cid - Barcelona SO/Patrick Gallois rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573123 [77:54] [BR] What fun. Glorious French ballet suites played with panache.

Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) Omaggio a Bellini, Gran Sinfonia, Clarinet Concerto 2 - Giammarco Casani (clarinet) O Sinfonica di Roma/Francesco La Vecchia rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573035 [60:08] Flute Concertos 1, 2 & 4 - Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä/Patrick Gallois (flute) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572731 [57:34] [Byz] La Vecchia's entertaining programmes merit wide currency.

Orazio MICHI dell'Arpa (c.1595 - 1641) E che vuoi più? - Françoise Masset (soprano) La Gioannina rec. 2012 AGOGIQUE AGO013 [72:49] [JV] A compelling musical portrait of the fascinating music of Michi and his time.

Leopoldo Américo MIGUÉZ (1850-1902) Morceaux Lyriques - Braz Velloso (piano) rec. 2011 NAXOS 9.70199 Download [62:36] Henrique OSWALD (1852-1931) Feuilles d'album - Braz Velloso (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 9.70200 Download [61:51] [Byz] The music of Oswald and Miguéz are likely to have wide appeal.

Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950) Overture for a Masque; In the Mountain Country; Rhapsodies - Benjamin Frith (piano) Ulster O/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573106 [57:06] [RB] JoAnn Falletta brings real vibrancy to these scores. 

Stanisław MONIUSZKO (1819-1872) Overtures - Warsaw PO/Antoni Wit rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572716 [79:28] [RB] A remarkably fresh collection of overtures that will appeal if you have any taste for the overtures of Weber, Suppé, Reznicek or Mendelssohn.

Piotr MOSS (b.1949) String Quartet 4, Le lien entre les jours Opium String Qt Jadwiga Rappé (mezzo) rec. 2012-13 CD ACCORD ACD 195-2 [64:44] [JW] Music-making that demonstrates verve, technical polish and real conviction.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte - Bernarda Bobro (soprano) Norman Reinhardt (tenor) Daniel Schmutzhard (baritone) Alfred Reiter (bass) Vienna SO & Bregenz Festival Ch/Patrick Summers rec. 2013 C MAJOR Blu-ray 713804 [150:00] [RJF] The spectacle might entertain children but serious music-lovers have better choices elsewhere. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Valerie Masterson (soprano) Ryland Davies (tenor) Lillian Watson (soprano) Willard White (bass) Glyndebourne Ch/London PO/Gustav Kuhn rec. 1980 ARTHAUS MUSIC DVD 102 310 [143:00] [RJF] This production and its naturalistic sets have remained in my mind’s eye for thirty years as the ideal realisation of this opera. At bargain price any Mozart enthusiast will find much to enjoy here. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 20 & 27 - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Kölner Akadamie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2014 [53:54] [TB] Brautigam brings both tragedy and relaxation to the table. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Concertos - English Chamber O/Daniel Barenboim (piano and direction) rec. 1967/74 WARNER CLASSICS 9846162 [10 CDs: 661:12] [RB] Emotionally vivid and still sounding very presentable. Pleasing and moving listening at little outlay.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Horn Concertos - Roger Montgomery (natural horn) O of the Age of Enlightenment/Margaret Faultless (violin) rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD345 [70:04] [CC] The list of delights to be gleaned from this disc is endless.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Così fan tutte Anett Frisch (soprano) Paola Gardina (mezzo) Juan Francisco Gatell (tenor) O & Ch Teatro Real, Madrid/Sylvain Cambreling rec. 2013 C MAJOR 714604 Blu-ray [202:00 +18:00 (bonus)] [RJF] Set, acting and singing generally good but this staging has little to do with Da Ponte’s libretto or Mozart’s music.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Concert Arias - Kathleen Battle (soprano) Royal PO/André Previn rec. 1985 WARNER CLASSICS 9933452 [54:14] [TB] What a shame to undermine such first rate music making with such poor presentation.   

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an exhibition, Songs and dances of Death, The nursery - New Zealand SO/Peter Breiner rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573016 [78.28] [PCG] Breiner here gives every movement the full modern works. 

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Album for the Young Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2002 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6211 [67:46] [JWh] Very good Mussorgsky indeed.

Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849) Mass in D & other sacred choral works - Consono Chamber Ch, Essen Folkwang CO/Harald Jers rec. 2012 CARUS 83.341 [58:24] [JW] A positive step toward reclamation of Nicolai’s surviving sacred works. 

Roxanna PANUFNIK (b.1968) Dance of Life - Patricia Rozario (soprano) Jaak Johanson (narrator) Laura Lindpere (kannel) Madis Metsamart (percussion) Estonian TV Girls’ Ch, Collegium Musicale Chamber Ch, Ch of Estonian Acad of Music and Theatre/Tallinn CO/Mihhail Gerts rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 642819 [56.11] [PCG] This is a very beautiful work. 

C. Hubert H. PARRY (1848-1918)  String Quartet 3, String Quintet - Bridge Qt, Robert Gibbs (viola) rec. 2013  EM RECORDS EMRCD016 [63:27] [JQ] Première recordings of two Parry chamber works: a highly desirable release.

Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) From a City Window Ailish Tynan (soprano) Susan Bickley (mezzo) William Dazeley (baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2012 DELPHIAN DCD34117 [69:06] [JQ] A rare outing on disc for songs by Sir Hubert Parry. 

Augustin PFLEGER (1635 - 1686) Sacred cantatas - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2012 CPO 777 801-2 [78:10] [JV] It is hard to find a better ensemble to perform this music.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Tango Nuevo Tomas Cotik, Glenn Basham (violin) Tao Lin (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573166 [59:35] [Byz] That this disc is, by some distance, Naxos's best Piazzolla recording, one which probably gives the music connoisseur a good fifty percent of all the Piazzolla he or she needs to know.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Mélodies sur des poèmes des poètes divers - Holger Falk (baritone) Alessandro Zuppardo (piano) rec. 2012/13 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 603 1822-2 [77:56] [DC] Superb equal partnership in a faultless production.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La fanciulla del West Nina Stemme, Aleksandrs Antonenko, John Lundgren, Royal Swedish Opera O/Pier Giorgio Morandi rec. 2012 EUROARTS 2072598 DVD [140.00] [GF] A great production with glorious singing … goes to the top of the list of available DVDs.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1935) Miroirs Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La fauvette des jardins - Momo Kodama (piano) rec. 2012 ECM NEW SERIES 2343 [65:38] [DC] Surpasses all expectations. 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Valses nobles et sentimentales, Gaspard de la nuit, Le tombeau de Couperin, La valse - Lyon Natl O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2011-2012 NAXOS 8.572888 [66.39] [PCG] This second disc in Naxos’s Ravel series bids fair to equal if not surpass their Debussy cycle. 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Tzigane, Pavane, Le Tombeau de Couperin Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Petite Suite, Danses Sacrée et Profane - Thomas Zehetmair (violin) O de Chambre de Paris/Thomas Zehetmair rec. 2013 NAÏVE V5345 [60:05] [AL] A delightful program from start to finish. At times Thomas Zehetmair and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris evoke sonorities reminiscent of the classic French orchestras of the last century.  

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Orchestral Masterpieces - Suisse Romande O/Armin Jordan rec. 1986/1987 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 651447 [3 CDs: 181:33] [AL] A decent, well-recorded compilation for starters, but there are still better alternatives for most of these works.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1813-1869) The snow maiden - Elena Zemenkova (soprano) Nicolai Ghiuselev (bass) Bulgarian Radio SO & Ch/Stoyan Angelov rec. 1985 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94626 [3 CDs: 209.17] [PCG] This reissue makes a very good choice for those who don’t know the opera. It is well worth getting to know. One of Rimsky’s most charming scores.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932) String Trios 1-4 - Lendvai String Trio rec. 2013 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD068 [60:47] [JW] Röntgen unbuttoned … writing to amuse and entertain. 

Ned ROREM (b.1923) Piano Album I, Six Friends - Carolyn Enger (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.559761 [51:11] [SA] A good place to start an exploration of one of America’s most distinguished composers. 

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Stabat Mater Helen Field (soprano) Della Jones (soprano) Arthur Davies (tenor) Roderick Earle (bass) London Symphony Ch, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox rec. 1989 CHANDOS CLASSIC CHAN 10781X [59:37] [SV] A good choice for the conducting and some of the solo singing.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1868) La gazza ladra Paolo Bordogna, Kleopatra Papatheologou, Dmitry Korchak, O Haydn di Bolzano e Trento/Lu Jia rec. 2007 DYNAMIC CDS 567/1-3 [3 CDs: 191:18] [GF] The older Sony recording is far preferable.

Fazil SAY (b.1970) Symphonies 2 & 3 - Borusan Istanbul PO/Gürer Aykal rec. 2012 NAÏVE V5346 [76:00] [SA] These two symphonies are certainly musical experiences not to be missed.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Konzert für Chor, Drei geistliche Gesänge Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Dopo la vittoria - Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2011-2012 BR KLASSIK 900505 [61:38] [MC] I count these wonderful performances as among the choir’s finest achievements to date. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Wanderer Fantasy, Sonata D664 Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Sonata 1.X.1905 - Herbert Schuch (piano) rec. 2012 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 863 [58:35] [BR] One of the best young pianists takes his first stumble, but only in one of the three works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quintet - Quatuor Diotima, Anne Gastinel (cello) rec. 2013 NAÏVE V5331 [56:53] [BR] Eccentric but breathtakingly beautiful. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quintet - Kuss Quartet, Miklós Perényi (cello) rec. 2012 ONYX 4119 [55:48] [MC] Good but does not displace various classic accounts. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies 1-4, Zwickau Symphony - Netherlands Radio Chamber Phil/Michael Schønwandt rec. 2012 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72553 SACD [73:30 + 72:25] [SG] If you have had any doubts about Schumann’s symphonies, give these a try. You certainly won’t be disappointed. 

John SHEPPARD (c. 1515-1558) Sacred choral works - Ch of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA0401 SACD [70:07] Learn to love the fruity vibrato [DC] A painstakingly constructed and executed collection of Sheppard's works; but one which has equals already on disc [MS]

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Chamber Symphonies Mieczysław WEINBERG (1916-1996) Violin concertino - Candida Thompson (violin) Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson rec. 2012/2013 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA34313 SACD [65:41] [SA] This disc is a fine example of the chamber symphonies and of the Amsterdam Sinfonietta’s warm sound.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto, The Swan of Tuonela, Lemminkäinen’s Return, Finlandia - Camilla Wicks (violin) Stockholm RSO/Sixten Ehrling rec. 1950s FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR619 [53:25] [JW] Camilla Wicks’ Sibelius is the stuff of legend.

Ronald STEVENSON (b.1928) Passacaglia on DSCH; Bax & Pizzetti Variations, Sonatina 2 - James Willshire (piano) rec. 2012/13 DELPHIAN DCD34119 [74:55 + 65:44] [JF] Stunningly played: the technical difficulties are overcome with boundless skill. Willshire is a tremendous advocate for Stevenson.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Death and Transfiguration, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks -
Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2012 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-707 SACD [59:26] [MC] Attractive readings splendidly recorded but not displacing the finest versions in the catalogue.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Overture La forza del destino Alan FLETCHER (b. 1956) Clarinet Concerto Michael Rusinek (clarinet) Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2008 EXTON OVCL00338 SACD [76:35] [SV] This disc is a marvellous showcase and first-rate playing doesn't hurt.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Piano Sonata William Grant STILL (1895-1978) Seven Traceries Suite Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Suite L’Arlésienne (excerpts) - Seta Karakashian (piano) ROMÉO RECORDS 7298 [70:36] [JW] Some interesting repertoire but a non-starter. 

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Beauty Stone Toby Spence (tenor) Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) BBC Ntl O & Ch of Wales/Rory Macdonald rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10794 (2) [57:18 + 72:04] [JF] I was impressed by virtually every bar … the Master at his very best.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Eugene Onegin Eugene Belov (baritone) Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano) Bolshoi Theatre O & Ch/Boris Khaikin rec. 1955 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 099 [68:56 + 73:03] [RMo] This vintage account is surely one of the seminal, if not definitive, recordings by performers wholly immersed in Russian tradition.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) O erhabnes Glück der Ehe - Hannah Morrison (soprano) Margot Oitzinger (contralto) Markus Schäfer (tenor) Matthias Vieweg (bass) Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max rec. 2012 CPO 777 808-2 [37:50 + 65:12] [JV] Telemann's music is always entertaining and often quite brilliant.

Daniel Gottlob TÜRK (1750-1813) Six Keyboard Sonatas for Connoisseurs - Michael Tsalka (keyboards) rec. 2012 GRAND PIANO GP 657 [59:43] [Byz] Tsalka hums quietly along at times, but who can blame him? 

Mark-Anthony TURNAGE (b.1960) From the Wreckage, Speranza - Håkan Hardenberger (flugelhorn, trumpet, piccolo trumpet) London SO/Daniel Harding rec. 2013 LSO LIVE SACD LSO0744 [55:37] [LJ] The human desire for happiness contends with a tempestuous world of suffering and internal weakness. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Traviata Licia Albanese (soprano) Jan Peerce (tenor) Robert Merrill (baritone) NBC SO & Ch/Arturo Toscanini. rec 1946 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO098 [57:18 + 46:00] [DRD] An historic recording, in fine sound, of an operatic masterpiece conducted by a genius.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem Ilva Ligabue (soprano) Grace Bumbry (mezzo) Sándor Kónya (tenor) Raffaele Arié (bass) Philharmonia O & Ch/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1964 IDÉALE AUDIENCE DVD 3079968 [90:00] [IL] An affecting and dramatic historic mono monochrome recording. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Aida Hui He (soprano) Marco Berti (tenor) Ch & O Arena Verona/Daniel Oren rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OABD7122D Blu-ray [150:00] [GF] Buy this set for the spectacular production and for the lovely singing of Hui He.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Aida - Paolo Pecchialli (bass) Kate Aldrich (mezzo) Scott Piper (tenor) Adina Aaron (soprano) Ch & O Fondazione Arturo Toscanini/Massimiliano Stefanelli rec. 2001 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107088 DVD [146:00 + 45:00 (bonus)] [RJF] Go out and buy it. You will enjoy the intimacy along with the committed acting and the quality of the singing of the young cast alongside Zeffirelli’s staging and direction.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901) Otello Aleksandrs Antonenko, Marina Poplavskaya, Carlos Álvarez, Vienna PO/Riccardo Muti rec. 2008 C MAJOR 701504 Blu-ray [143:00 + Bonus: 10:00] [DBi] A respectable and sometimes very dramatic performance but not without problems theatrical, musical and technical. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem Juliana DiGiacomo (soprano); Michelle DeYoung (mezzo); Vittorio Grigolo (tenor); Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (bass) Los Angeles Master Chorale; Los Angeles Phil/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2013 C MAJOR 714708 DVD [116:00] [JQ] While I admire a lot about the performance it didn’t move me

Leonardo VINCI (1690 - 1730) La Partenope Sonia Prina, Maria Grazia, Maria Ercolano, Eufemia Tufano, I Turchini di Antonio Florio/Antonio Florio rec. 2011 DYNAMIC 33686 [2 DVDs: 168:00] [GF] Delightful music, beautiful sets, middling singing - but Sonia Prina in the title role is great. 

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Double and Triple Concertos - Christophe Coin (cello) Enrico Onofri (violin) Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 1994 DAS ALTE WERK 2564 642309 [64:14] [Byz] Here the fertility of Vivaldi's imagination is the most prominent thing, as it should be.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal Andrew Richards (tenor) Anna Larsson (mezzo) Thomas Johannes Mayer (baritone) Jan-Hendrik Rootering (bass) Monnaie Ch & SO/Hartmut Haenchen rec. 2011 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC097 DVD [102.07 + 136.23] [PCG] A production that denies where it should define.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen Symphonic excerpts - Paris Ntl Opera O/Philippe Jordan rec. 2013 WARNER ERATO 9341422 [44.03 + 38.56] [PCG] A very warm welcome indeed for what we are given here even if the two discs are rather short measure.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre Nina Stemme (soprano) Vitalij Kowaljow (bass) Simon O’Neill (tenor) Waltraud Meier (mezzo) O La Scala/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108 091 Blu-ray [238.00] [PCG] This is a very good performance indeed with a generally superlative cast.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre Act 1 - Nina Stemme (soprano) Johan Botha (tenor) Vienna State Opera O/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2007 ORFEO C875131B [61:35] [CC] Interesting but certainly not an essential purchase.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Götterdämmerung Petra Lang, Lance Ryan, Matti Salminen, Markus Brück, Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski rec. 2013 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC5186 409 [4 SACDs: 263:42] [JPr] When Valhalla had finally been set ablaze and the last bars faded away, the audience in the Philharmonie remained spellbound. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Great Orchestral Works rec. 1938-1960 MAGDALEN METCD 8023 [79:33 + 77:15] New Wagnerians will find this well-filled set indispensable [SV] Past glories that are not to be forgotten [RB]. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tannhäuser Ramón Vinay (tenor) Gré Brouwenstijn (soprano) Josef Greindl (bass) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Ch & O Bayreuth Festival/Joseph Keilberth rec. 1954 ANDROMEDA ANDRCD 5162 [3CDs: 183:10] [JS] Worth hearing for the performance provided that you can tolerate the poor sound and presentation.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Orchestral excerpts & overtures - Deutschen Oper O Berlin/Christian Thielemann rec. 2004 ORFEO C879132I [58:34 + 41:27] [ST] A sense of immediacy that gives this set something extra that lifts it beyond the mediocre.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen Hans Hotter, Astrid Varnay, Wolfgang Windgassen, Ramon Vinay, Bayreuth Festival O/Clemens Krauss rec. 1953 OPERA D’ORO OPD1504 [14 CDs: 843:47] [PCG] Despite recorded sound that still leaves quite a lot to be desired this version, with its generally superlative singing and conducting, must be counted among the greatest of live recordings of the cycle. 

Helmut WALCHA (1907-1991) Chorale Preludes Vol. 3 - Delbert Disselhorst (organ) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572912 [53:42] [HPR] These pieces are insightful to the organ student and the Walcha aficionado but of limited enjoyment to anyone else.

William Vincent WALLACE (1812-1865) Songs - Sally Silver (soprano) Yvonne Howard (mezzo) Anna Noakes (flute) Richard Bonynge (piano) rec. 2011 SOMM SOMMCD 0131 [62:21] [JS] While not of especially high music quality these songs are all as enjoyable to hear as I suspect they are to perform. 

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Symphony 12, The Golden Key - Ballet Suite No. 4 - St Petersburg State SO/Vladimir Lande rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573085 [75:40] An often desperately serious symphony amd a colourful ballet suite [RB] A Russian symphony that is more lyrical, less strident, less polemic and more optimistic than those of Shostakovich. The engineering is arguably the best ever to have come out of Russia [Byz]

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) The Complete Violin Sonatas Vol. 2 - Yuri Kalnits (violin), Michael Csányi-Wills (piano) rec. 2013 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0026 [70:58] [SA] Another important step in helping Weinberg’s music become better known.

Philip van WILDER (c.1500-1553) Complete Sacred Music - Chansons - Cantores/David Allinson rec. 2006/7 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0198 [76.50] [GH] A generously filled CD, beautifully recorded ... I really like the sound this choir makes with an airy vocal quality and reliable diction and intonation.

Krzysztof WOŁEK (b. 1976) Eppur si muove, Bend, Elements Agata Zubel (soprano); Krzysztof Wołek (live electronics) Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej/Szymon Bywalec rec. 2010 CD ACCORD ACD188-2 [59:46] [WH] Three challenging works, with a fair amount of electronic content, from an eminent, young, Polish composer.

Robert Allman (baritone) DESIREE RECORDS GAV 002 [3 CDs: 231:05] [RJF] This is a worthwhile collection by a great Australian baritone whose qualities escaped recognition in Britain, but not in Europe and his own country.

Amore e Morte - Songs by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini & Verdi Ekaterina Siurina (soprano) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2010 OPUS ARTE OACD9017D [58:13] [JW] Most sympathetically performed, full of range and sensitivity as to juxtaposition and balance and beautifully recorded.

Artefacts / Fundstücke - Piano Music from the ’50s - Steffen Schleiermacher (piano) rec. 2012 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 613 1821-2 [76:02] [Byz] No matter how obscure or tricky the music Schleiermacher is more than equal to it.

A Tribute to Erling Blondal Bengtsson (cello) Vol. 3: The Live Icelandic Recordings 1970-80 - Works by Jolivet, Kabalevsky & Mendelssohn - Iceland SO/Jean-Pierre, Jacquillat Anker Blyme (piano) DANACORD DACOCD740 [58:39] [JF] All enthusiasts of the cello will appreciate this new Danacord CD.

Celebrating Verdi Verdi’s Legendary Interpreters rec. 1943/67 IDEALE AUDIENCE 3079084 Blu-ray [58:00] [RJF] A compilation of historical performances in black and white … Giulini and Gobbi make this a worthwhile purchase.

Sergiu Celibidache - Firebrand and Philosopher A film by Norbert Busè - ARTHAUS MUSIK 101661 DVD [53:00 (documentary) + 30:00 (bonus)] [JW] Really nothing new contained here about Celibidache.

Credo John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938) Fantasia on an Ostinato Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata 17, Choral Fantasia Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Credo Hélène Grimaud (piano) Swedish RSO & Ch/Esa-Pekka Salonen rec. 2003 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1055 BD-A [58:21] [JQ] An intriguing and expertly performed programme from Hélène Grimaud but this Blu-ray Audio disc offers very short playing time. 

Dreamtime Works by Brahms, Bridge & Mann - David Aaron Carpenter (viola) Members of the Berlin PO rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE 1246-2 [53:33] [JW] If you admire Carpenter you will most certainly appreciate the artistry and skill on display in this disc.

Fabulous London English Music for Viol Consort - Les Escapades rec. 2012 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR 77369 [62.46] [GH] An enjoyable disc in every way.

French Harp Concertos Works by d'Alvimare, Petrini & Steibelt - Masumi Nagasawa (harp) Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2010 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38108 SACD [75:12] [JV] This disc deserves a positive reception because of the quality of the music and the performances by Masumi Nagasawa on a beautiful historical harp.

Friends of Ferdinand Works by Bertali, Biber, Granata & Schmelzer - Agave Baroque VGO RECORDINGS VG1021 [59:26] [JV] This music needs to be played with more theatrical flair than is the case here.

Fulgurances Works by Chin, Boulez, Ligeti & Messiaen - Yejin Gil (piano) rec. 2013 SOLSTICE SOCD 300 [71:14] [RBl] A brilliantly played recital highlighting the remarkable music of Unsuk Chin.

Le Grand Théâtre de l'amour Works by Rameau & Charpentier - Sabine Devieilhe (soprano) Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2012 ERATO 9341492 [80:06] [JV] An exceptionally good introduction to Rameau's art.

Nance Grant (soprano) DESIREE RECORDS GAV 001 [3 CDs: 235.58] [RJF] Some further recordings of a singer who forsook undoubted international fame for the sake of her family. Despite recorded limitations, these extracts will appeal to connoisseurs of singing and opera.

Great American Songbook The King’s Singers, South Jutland SO/David Firman rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD341 [60:10 + 31:36] [JW] I’m sure the group’s admirers will enjoy the release but I found it all a bit remorseless.

Heavenly Voices - The Legacy of Farinelli A Film by Gino Pennacchi & Alessandro Scillitani ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 101689 [75:00] [JW] Though I was taken by the physical contortions the singers undergo as they project Baroque operatic lines with such defiance and pathos, overall I could have done with a scalpel, revised script, and greater focus.

Heinz Holliger Edition rec. 1966-1991 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94054 [10 CDs: 557:32] [RB] At this modest outlay it is a compelling way of acquiring knowledge and delight in some of the many dimensions of Holliger's musicianship. 

Hommage à Alfred Cortot Works by Chopin, Liszt, Verdi & Wagner - Florence Delaage (piano) rec. 2012 CALLIOPE CAL1316 [63:10] [Byz] Measured, thoughtful playing. Satisfying to listen to.

House of Dreams rec. 2012/13 TAFELMUSIK TMK1020DVDCD [DVD: 91:54 + CD: 71:52] [JS] The CD is attractive and very well played but the DVD should be approached with caution.

Il Cor Tristo The Hilliard Ensemble rec. ECM NEW SERIES 2346 [53:03] [DC] A highly successful programme, but the beginning of the end of an era.

The Image of Melancholy- Jon Balke (organ/soundscapes) Berit Norbakken Solset (soprano) Milos Valent (viola) Barokksolistene/Bjarte Eike (violin) rec. 2011/12 BIS BIS-SACD-2057 [66:28] [DC] For those priceless inner wanderings.

The Impressionists Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images Book I, Estampes Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES (1884-1920) From ‘Roman Sketches Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Jeux D’eau, Valses Nobles et Sentimentales - Mary Towse-Beck (piano) Private release [65:54] [SA] The music is played with a real feeling for sensitivity and charm.

The Italian Character The Story of a Great Italian Orchestra: A film by by Angelo Bozzini - O dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano EUROARTS 2059388 DVD [100:00 + 10:00 (bonus)] [RW] Of some general interest outside Italy and amongst those who follow Pappano as a music director of the Royal Opera House. 

Humbert Lucarelli (oboe) The Lyrichord Years Special Collector's Edition - New Art String Trio, Thomas Hrynkiv (piano), Lark Woodwind Quintet rec. 1966/78 LYRICHORD LYR6025 [3 CDs: 131.26] [RB] Short playing time but the gorgeous-toned Lucarelli must not be overlooked.

Lauritz Melchior (tenor and baritone) The King Size Hero rec. 1913-60 DOCUMENTS 600017 [10 CDs: 750:45] [GF] Has there ever been a greater Wagner tenor? I doubt it.

Modern Times Maria Ołdak (violin) James Baillieu (piano) rec. 2013 CD ACCORD ACD 193-2 [63:10] [JW] An Old School recital, intelligently compiled, thoughtfully performed but rather lacking a personal stamp.

Organ Masses Vol. 1 Works by Bertolodo, Cavazzoni, A. Gabrieli & Merulo - Richard Lester (organ) Schola Gregoriana del Duomo di Bergamo/Don Gilberto Sessantini rec. 2013 NIMBUS NI 5909/11 [3 CDs: 196:39] [DC]  Enter the Italian church of the 1500s.

In Paradiso Works by Merula, Mazzocchi, Sances & Ferrari - Raquel Andueza (soprano) Jesús Fernández Baena (theorbo) rec. 2012 ANIMA E CORPO AEC002 [62:21] [JV] These interpretations failed to move me. 

Prelude Cocktail Arrangements of works by Bach, Debussy, Gershwin & Shostakovich - Zara Lawler (flute, piccolo & alto flute) Paul Fadoul (marimba & vibraphone) Christopher Grymes (clarinet) rec. 2012 Private release [78:05] [SA] A wonderful thing to present to anyone as a New Year gift - they’d absolutely love it. 

Quintopia Works by Chan, Grainger, Nielsen & Ravel - New Sydney Wind Quintet rec. 2010 Private release [58:21] [BR] Woodwind music lovers should hunt down this CD, which announces an excellent Aussie ensemble.

Reflections Petri Koivusalo plays the new organ of Espoo Cathedral, Finland rec. 2012/13 FUGA 9363/MKSACD-1 SACD [68:50] [DM] Quietly triumphant; a heartfelt homage to a fine cathedral and its new organ.

Leopold Simoneau (tenor) The Ultimate Collection rec. 1951-1959 DOCUMENTS 600044 [10 CDs: 682:20] [GF] A magnificent tribute to one of the last century’s finest lyric tenors.

Sinfonia Iuventus and its Soloists - Volume 1 Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Première Rapsodie, La mer Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Duett-Concertino Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Tema con variazioni Waldemar Żarów (clarinet) Alicja Kieruzalska (bassoon) Polska Orkiestra Sinfonia Iuventus/Gabriel Chmura rec. 2009 CD ACCORD ACD 162-2 [60:19] [SV] Despite reservations, a strong contender for the Françaix and the Rapsodie.

Tears Harpsichord laments of the 17th century - Ewald Demeyere (virginal, harpsichord) rec. 2012 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72617 SACD [57:33] [DC] A release towards which you can gravitate with confidence.

Traveling Sonata Viviana Guzmán (flute) Jérémy Jouve (guitar) rec. 2011 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-128 [60:54] [OL] A rewarding disc, full of beautiful music, performed with care and affection.

Sonatas for viola and piano Vol. 2 Works by Brahms, Franck & Schubert - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Kirill Gerstein (piano) rec. 2011 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR008 SACD [72.58] [PBW] Tabea Zimmermann is a fabulous viola-player.

Voices of Russian Opera Excerpts from works by Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich & others rec. 1901-2005 EMI CLASSICS 9280342 [5 CDs: 381:14] [RB] Rewarding and fascinating but also serving to open doors and reveal neglected prospects.  

La voie triomphale Works by Berlioz, Bozza, Dukas, Milhaud, Saint-Saëns & Tomasi - The Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces/Ole Kristian Ruud rec. 2011/12 2L 2L086SABD BD-A/SACD [81:14] [DM] Maximum choice, elegantly packaged; Blu-ray Audio at its best.

The Welsh Connection Choral works by Bax, Cox, Harris, Howells, Leighton, Mathias, Parry & Rubbra - The Mousai Singers/Daniel Cook, Joseph Wicks (organ) rec. 2013 MOUSAI SINGERS MSCD001 [65:56] [JF] Choice of repertoire inspirational: stimulating and approachable and performance superb.

White Nights Vol. 2 Viola Music from Saint Petersburg - Works by Banshchikov, Prokofiev & Shostakovich - Tatjana Masurenko (viola) Roglit Ishay (piano) rec. 2012 HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH11070 [61:19] [MC] Masurenko and Ishay prove impressive advocates.

Words Painted with Sounds NFM Wrocław Phil Ch/Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny rec. 2010 CD ACCORD ACD169-2 [53:26] [WH] Polish words and music attractively showcased in a beautifully sung recital.

Other reviews

El DERWID (Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI) (1913-1994) Blots on the Sun Agata Zubel (vocals); Andrzej Bauer (cello); Cezary Duchnowski (piano, computer) rec. 2011 CD ACCORD ACD192-2 [62:14] [WH] An unusual and highly-attractive collection from a pseudonymous composer.

Il Pergolese Maria Pia De Vito (voice) François Couturier (piano) Anja Lechner (cello) Michele Rabbia (percussion, electronics) rec. 2013 ECM NEW SERIES 2340 [59:16] [DC] Evocative and haunting - Pergolesi meets the ECM jazz aesthetic.

Source Barluath NIMBUS NI6206 [46:24] [JW] An enjoyable first-ever release. 

A Musician Divided - André Tchaikowsky in his Own Words by André Tchaikowsky and Anastasia Belina-Johnson (editor) 434pp, published November 2013 TOCCATA PRESS [SG] This has been a labour of love for the author, and if her intentions were to reawaken an interest in this almost forgotten musician, she has truly succeeded.

Great Wagner Conductors A Listener’s Companion by Jonathan Brown, 820pp, Published 2012 PARROT PRESS [CF] Jonathan Brown has produced a fascinating study and approaches his task with enthusiasm, care and thoroughness.

Articles and Notices

Forgotten artists by Christopher Howell
1. Henry Swoboda (an update)
2. Dean Dixon
3. Georges Tzipine

Download News 2014/1 by Brian Wilson

Maestro Juanjo Mena in Conversation with Michael Cookson

Nance Grant, Australian soprano

Forgotten artists - 1. Henry Swoboda by Christopher Howell

Anthony Newman’s Bach  by Marc Medwin


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