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by Kirk McElhearn and Brian Wilson

Download News 2014/5 is here and the index of earlier editions is here.

Welcome on board this month to Kirk McElhearn.

Index of recordings reviewed or mentioned in this edition:

BACH CPE Piano Works Vol.16_Wq62_Markovina - Hänssler
BACH Lutheran Masses Vol. I - The Sixteen - Coro
BACH Lutheran Masses Vol. II - The Sixteen - Coro
BARBER Symphonies 1 and 2 - Alsop - Naxos/2xHD
BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique - Immerseel - Zig-Zag
BOWEN Chamber Works - Gould Trio, etc. - Chandos
BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet - King - Hyperion; Manasse - Harmonia Mundi
BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet, Quartet Op.51/2 - Collins_Brodsky Q
BRAHMS Quartets Op.51/1 and 67 - Takács - Hyperion
BRAHMS String Quintets - Nash Ens - Onyx
BRAHMS String Quintets - Takács Q - Hyperion
BRAHMS Violin Concerto + BRUCH Nishizaki - Naxos/2xHD
BRUCH Violin Concerto + BRAHMS Nishizaki - Naxos/2xHD
BRUCKNER Symphony 8 - Haitink - RCO
BRUCKNER Symphony 9 - Haitink - LSO; Skrowaczewski - Oehms
BRUCKNER Symphony 9_completed - Rattle - EMI
CALDARA Requiem - Musica Fiorita - Pan Classics
CARTER Instances + IVES Symphony 2, etc. - Seattle SO Media
CORNAGO Missa de la mapa mundi, etc - Springfels - Harmonia Mundi
DUTILLEUX Symphony 1; Tout un monde - Morolt - Seattle SO Media
DUTILLEUX Tout un monde + LUTOSLAWSKI - Rostropovich - EMI
ELGAR Serenade, Enigma Variations + VAUGHAN WILLIAMS - Handley - EMI
GEMINIANI Concerti Grossi after Corelli - Banchini - Zig-Zag
GEMINIANI Concerti Grossi after Corelli, excs. - Banchini - Rewind
GERSHWIN American in Paris + IVES etc. - Seattle SO
GRAENER Orchestral Works I and II - Albert - CPO
HANDEL Coronation Anthems, etc. -Mortensen - Obsidian
HANDEL Duetti da camera - La Risonanza - Glossa
IVES Symphonies 1 and 2 - Järvi - Chandos
IVES Symphonies 2 and 3; General Booth - Litton - Hyperion
IVES Symphony No.2 + CARTER, GERSHWIN - Seattle SO - Seattle Media
LOCKE Anthems, etc. - New College - Hyperion Helios
LOCKE Broken Consort Part 1, etc - Holman - Hyperion Helios
LOCKE Broken Consort Part 1, etc - Wayward Sisters - Naxos
LOCKE etc Musick for severall Friends - Springfels - Harmonia Mundi
MAXWELL DAVIES Film Music - Cleobury - Naxos
MUSSORGSKY Pictures + RAVEL Mother Goose - Immerseel - Zig-Zag
MUSSORGSKY Pictures + RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade - Krivine - Zig-Zag
MUSSORGSKY Pictures + Night on a Bare Mountain - Maazel - Telarc
PISTON Violin Concertos - Buswell_Kuchar - Naxos/2xHD
PURCELL Sonatas in 3 parts - Retrospect Trio - Linn
RAMEAU etc _ Jardin de Rameau - Christie - Arts Florissants
RAVEL Mother Goose Suite + MUSSORGSKY - Immerseel - Zig-Zag
RAVEL Rapsodie espagnole, etc. + SAINT-SAENS Symphony 3 - Seattle SO
REUTTER Motets and Arias - La Gioia Armonica - Ramée
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade + MUSSORGSKY - Krivine - Zig-Zag
SAINT-SAENS Symphony 3 + RAVEL - Morolt - Seattle SO Media
SCHUBERT Piano Sonata 21 - comparative survey
SCHUBERT Piano Sonata 21; Wanderer Fantasia - Douglas - Chandos
SCHUBERT Piano Sonatas - Badura-Skoda - Arcana
SCHÜTZ Auferstehungshistorie - Rademann - Carus
SCHÜTZ Geistliche Chormusik - Rademan - Carus
SIBELIUS Complete Symphonies - Storgårds - Chandos
SIBELIUS Lemminkäinen Suite, Wood Nymph - Vänskä - BIS
SIBELIUS Symphonies 1 and 3 - Elder - Hallé
SIBELIUS Symphony No.2, etc. - Elder- Hallé
SIBELIUS Symphonies 2 and 5 - Vänskä - BIS
TAKEMITSU Orchestral Music - selections - BIS
TAKEMITSU, BROUWER Guitar Music - Fukuda - Naxos
TAVENER Ikon of Light - Phillips - Gimell; Christophers - Coro
Trio Sonata in C18 England - London Baroque - BIS
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Lark, Fantasias + ELGAR - Handley - EMI
WALTON Symphony 1; Violin Concerto - Little_Gardner - Chandos

Kirk McElhearn’s Reviews

HENRY PURCELL (1659-1695)
Twelve Sonatas in Three Parts (1683)
Sonata No.1 in g minor, Z790 [6:29]
Sonata No.2 in B flat, Z791 [5:54]
Sonata No.3 in d minor, Z792 [5:50]
Sonata No.4 in F, Z793 [5:22]
Sonata No.5 in a minor, Z794 [6:10]
Sonata No.6 in C, Z795 [6:54]
Sonata No.7 in e minor, Z796 [7:21]
Sonata No.8 in G, Z797 [5:18]
Sonata No.9 in C minor, Z798 [7:47]
Sonata No.10 in A, Z799 [4:33]
Sonata No.11 in f minor, Z800 [5:52]
Sonata No.12 in D, Z801 [5:40]
Retrospect Trio (Sophie Gent (violin), Matthew Truscott (violin), Jonathan Manson (bass viol) and Matthew Halls (harpsichord/organ)).
rec. St George's Church, Cambridge, UK, 18-20 February 2011. DDD/DSD
pdf booklet included
LINN CKD374 [73:10] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or (mp3 and lossless). See also October 2011/2 DL Roundup.

Purcell’s music is a great way to cheer yourself up on a cloudy day. Sometimes joyous, often exuberant, Purcell wrote simple, attractive melodies, in delightful forms. Unlike the longer pieces by composers such as Handel or Bach, Purcell also wrote a lot of short works. The twelve sonatas on this release come in at six to eight minutes each, and that for as many as six movements in a sonata, though some movements segue directly into their followers. In the Italian style, this set of sonatas manage, with four instruments, to sound almost like a larger chamber ensemble. The counterpoint and polyphony are rich and intricate, and, in short one-minute movements, Purcell does what some composers took five minutes to do.

The music is both dense and simple; at times, the melodies sound like very simple arias, but at other times they recall the complex harmonies of Purcell’s fantasies for viol consort. The lovely sound on this recording highlights the interplay between the instruments, and its resonance – from St. George’s Church in Cambridge – gives the listener a lovely feeling of space. This is definitely an album that benefits from listening on headphones. However, I found that the harpsichord is hard to hear when it’s played; some sonatas have harpsichord and others organ. In the latter, the organ gives a very solid underpinning to the music, but the sonatas with harpsichord sound more like string trios.

This wonderful recording highlights all that is great about Purcell’s music, in small-scale works that delight in inventiveness. The luscious sound makes it a pleasure to listen to. I only wish there was more. There is also a recording of Purcell’s Ten Sonatas in Four Parts by the Retrospect Trio on Linn Records that I haven’t heard yet. (CKD332 – see June 2009 DL Roundup.)

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Complete Piano Works - Volume 16 [75.56]
Keyboard Sonata in B-Flat, Wq.62/1, H.2 [7:49]
Keyboard Sonata in G, Wq.62/2, H.20 [6:50]
Keyboard Sonata in D, Wq.62/3, H.22 [9:49]
Keyboard Sonata in d minor, Wq.62/4, H.38 [12:07]
Keyboard Sonata in E, Wq.62/5, H.39 [11:55]
Keyboard Sonata in f minor, Wq.62/6, H.40 [10:30]
Keyboard Sonata in C, Wq.62/7, H.41 [11:26]
March in D, H.1/1 (BWV Anh.122) [1:01]
Polonoise in g minor, H.1/2 (BWV Anh.123) [1:28]
March in G, H. 1/3 (BWV Anh.124) [1:13]
Polonoise in g minor, H.1/4 (BWV Anh.125) [1:48]
Ana-Mariji Markovina (piano)
rec. December 2012, September 2013, Aula Magna, Köln University.
pdf booklet included
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD98.003-16 [75:56] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

It’s the 300th anniversary of CPE Bach’s birth this year, which is as good a time as any to discover or re-discover his music. While his father, the elder Johann Sebastian, is better known, Carl Philip Emmanuel was a hugely important musician in his time. He was technically the most accomplished of the Bach children, and had a long career, writing a wide variety of music. Some of his most interesting music was written for keyboard, and he wrote a treatise, the Essay on the True Art of Playing the Clavier, which has remained an important text for understanding performance practice.

Pianist Ana-Mariji Markovina set out to record all of CPE Bach’s keyboard music, based on a new edition of his works: ‘Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: The Complete Works’ is an editorial and publishing project of The Packard Humanities Institute, in cooperation with the Bach- Archiv Leipzig, the Sächsische Akademie der Wissen-schaften zu Leipzig, and Harvard University.

She has recorded 26 volumes of this music, which is available in a box set from Hänssler, as well as in individual downloads, such as this. I chose one volume at random to sample these recordings, Volume 16, which contains seven sonatas written between 1739 and 1744, and four short pieces. The playing here is energetic and delightful; Markovina draws Bach’s sound world out of her piano – a luscious sounding Bösendorfer – with talent and vigour, yet plays the slow movements delicately.

It’s interesting to compare these recordings to another complete series, that by Miklós Spányi on Bis. Spányi plays most of them on clavichord, making this one of the largest recording projects of any composer on that instrument. I believe the Bis series will run to 35 or so volumes; we won’t know for a few years, as he’s only up to volume 27. This is compared to only 26 discs for Markovina. There are two reasons for this. Markovina’s tempi are, in general, a bit faster than Spányi’s. I’m not sure if this is because the clavichord is more difficult to play quickly, or if it doesn’t sound good at faster tempi, but Spányi’s playing is slower overall. And Spányi seems to play all the repeats, which Markovina doesn’t do. (I’ve only looked at a few sonatas, but it’s likely the case across the board.)

I’ve long been a fan of CPE Bach’s keyboard works, and own most of Spányi’s releases; I especially like the intimate sound of the clavichord (though the first three volumes of the series were mastered too loudly). Recently, new recordings, such as Danny Driver’s two volumes on Hyperion, and this set by Markovina, have gotten me more interested in listening to these works on piano. This volume suggests that the entire set will be worth listening to, though 26 discs of keyboard music by anyone may be a bit much. If you are interested in the full set, I’d recommend skipping the downloads; with the box set on CD costing around £73 at the time of this writing, you’d save a lot of money going for the plastic.

I’ll also note that, downloaded from Classicsonline, the 320 kbps mp3 files are poorly tagged. The names show only the movement number and tempo – such as I Presto – and not the sonata numbers. I expect better tagging from downloads, and don’t appreciate having to spend the time to correct such poor metadata.

Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996)
Complete Original Solo Guitar Works
Leo BROUWER (b.1939) Hika, ‘In Memoriam Toru Takemitsu’ [6:43]
Toru TAKEMITSU Folios [8:40]
Subete wa usuakari no naka de (All in Twilight) [9:27]
A Piece for Guitar, ‘For the Birthday of Sylvano Bussotti’ [1:22]
Leo BROUWER El arpa y la sombra, ‘Omaggio a Toru Takemitsu’ [9:04]
Equinox [5:18]
Mori no naka de (In the Woods) [14:29]
Gita no tame no juni no uta (12 Songs for Guitar) (excerpts)
No. 5. Lennon/McCartney: Here, There and Everywhere [2:56]
No. 2. Lennon/McCartney: Yesterday [3:17]
Shin-ichi Fukuda (guitar)
rec. October, 2012, St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
NAXOS 8.573153 [61:06] – available with liner notes from theclassicalshop, eclassical and other sites. Stream from Naxos Music Library

While Toru Takemitsu didn’t write much music for guitar – this disc contains all of his solo guitar pieces – he is recognized as one of the 20th century’s most interesting composers for this instrument. I’ve long been a fan of Takemitsu’s music, and, in fact, the first work of his I ever heard, in the early 1980s, was a guitar piece, All in Twilight, on a Julian Bream LP with Britten’s Nocturnal. I played the guitar a bit, back then, and was fascinated by Takemitsu’s idiomatic approach to the instrument.

This recording by Shin-ichi Fukuda, who was a friend of Takemitsu, features wonderful performances of this great composer’s works. Subtly performed, and excellently recorded, this disc allows the listener to enter the sound world of Takemitsu by the side door. These brief, light works are more tonal than much of Takemitsu’s other compositions, yet show the same impressionistic style that is present in most of the composer’s output. The different works are influenced by paintings, or, for In the Woods, by places where there are beautiful forests. This final work is Takemitsu’s last, composed in hospital.

This disc also contains two works by Leo Brouwer, composed as homages to Takemitsu. Interesting as they are, they are not part of the same tone world as the Takemitsu pieces, but do complement them. There are also two of Takemitsu’s arrangements of popular songs; here, two songs by The Beatles. It sounds as though Takemitsu made these arrangements for fun; they show the songs in a slightly different light than the originals, but they remain Beatles songs.

If you’re familiar with Takemitsu’s other works, you should certainly discover his guitar music. And, if not, perhaps this disc of guitar pieces will help you get a first taste of one of the 20th century’s most original composers, and arguably the most important Japanese composer of the century.

Spotlight on Toru Takemitsu

This new release of Takemitsu’s guitar music reminded me of how much excellent music is available from this composer. One of the labels that has recorded the most of his music is Bis, and a number of albums of Takemitsu’s music are available from

I’ve got a brief article on my website, Kirkville – – about Takemitsu’s music. But that doesn’t give you much of a taste of his sui generis style of composition. Takemitsu was an impressionist, and his music uses a “sea of tonality” which sounds partly oriental, partly western. His music was influenced by Debussy and Messiaen, with a touch of Cage, but with a taste of Japanese music.

I strongly recommend three Bis releases, How Slow the Wind – from, A Flock Descends – from, and A String Around Autumn – from, each of which contains orchestral compositions. Takemitsu never wrote a piece named symphony or concerto, but much of his music is orchestral, and these three collections give you an excellent overview of his work.

Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville (

Brian Wilson’s Reviews

Anonymous (Sicilian song) Ayo vista lo mapamundo [1:00]
Juan de (Johannes) CORNAGO (active 1455-c.1475) Missa de la mapa mundi [25:34]
Secular vocal and instrumental pieces, mainly from the Codex Colombina (late 15th-century):
Propiñan de Melyor [1:24]
Falla con misuras (La Spagna) [1:23]
La Spagna (setting of Agnus Dei II from Missa ‘La Bassadanza’) [1:20]
Two Instrumental pieces [1:17] [1:11]
¿Que’s mi vida, preguntays? [4:02]
Pues mi dicha non consiente [2:34]
Morte merce, gentile aquill’ altera [2:10]
Nunca fue pena maior [3:52]
Niña y viña [1:16]
Muy crueles bozes dan [2:24]
Al dolor de mi cuydado [4:06]
Porque más sin duda creas [3:23]
Los hombres con gran plazer [1:38]
La Spagna (two versions) [2:26] [2:00]
Maravýllome dél [2:53]
Judith Malafronte (mezzo); Drew Minter (countertenor)
His Majestie’s Clerkes/Paul Hillier
The Newberry Consort/Mary Springfels
Released 1992.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907083 [65:53] No longer available on CD – download from (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

The main interest is Cornago’s Missa de la mapa mundi; this three-part Mass is one of the earliest to employ a secular tune as its cantus firmus – the earliest of all, it appears, in Spain. This is likely to be the only recording of the Mass ever to be made and it’s well worth having, as is the secular music which completes the album.

The text of the Ordinary of the Mass is easy enough to find, as are some of the better-known songs, such as Nunca fue pena maior and Niña y viña, but it’s a shame that there’s no booklet.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672)
Ich weiss, dass mein Erlöser lebet, SWV457 [4:29]
Christ ist erstanden von der Marter alle, SWV470 [5:15]
Historia der frölichen und siegreichen Aufferstehung unsers einigen Erlösers und Seligmachers Jesu Christi, Op.3, SWV50 (Story of the Resurrection) [40:44]
Cantate Domino canticum novum, SWV463 [2:26]
Surrexit pastor bonus, SWV469 [4:13]
Es gingen zweene Menschen hinauf, SWV444 [3:28]
Ludger Remy (organ), Gerlinde Sämann (soprano), Stefan Kunath (alto), Georg Poplutz (tenor), Hille Perl (viola da gamba), Lee Santana (lute), Marie Luise Werneburg (soprano), Isabel Jantschek (soprano), Tobias Mäthger (tenor), Oliver Kaden (tenor), Cenek Svoboda (tenor), Felix Rumpf (bass), Felix Schwandtke (bass), Martin Schicketanz (bass), Margret Baumgartl (violin), Maria Stosiek (soprano)
Dresdner Kammerchor; Sirius Viols, Instrumenta Musica/Hans-Christoph Rademann
CARUS 83.256 [60:35] – from (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library.

Carus already had a recording of the Auferstehungshistorie; presumably its replacement is due mainly to the fact that the new release forms Volume 8 of their current series of Schütz recordings. I liked their recording of Geistliche Chormusik (83.252) in DL News 2013/2 and its successor is just as recommendable. If anything, the inclusion of the Auferstehungshistorie, one of the major works of Schütz’s output, and the fact that the other works are also related to the Easter theme make the new recording even more desirable, though the DaCapo recording with Paul Hillier at the helm just maintains its position at the top of the tree and there’s an intriguing budget-price 7-CD Ricercar set of music for Holy Week and Easter which also includes this work (RIC344 – see my recent review of music on the Outhere labels). The ceremonial chanting of the title sounds slightly less grand than on other recordings but the greater intimacy of the music-making amply compensates.

There is no booklet, which creates a problem with texts – that of the Auferstehungshistorie is not hard to find online – in German here – and Cantate Domino is the Latin text of Psalm 149, but you may find the other texts problematical. Naxos Music Library, who provided a booklet for the earlier volume, offer only the details on the back of the CD.

Matthew LOCKE (c.1621–1677)
Suite in G from Tripla Concordia [9:23]
The Broken Consort, Part 1 (Suites 1-6) [46:51]
Suite in e minor from Tripla Concordia [11:18]
Wayward Sisters (Beth Wenstrom (Baroque Violin), Anne Timberlake (Recorders),
Anna Steinhoff (Baroque Cello), John Lenti (Theorbo)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 22–25 July 2012
NAXOS 8.573020 [67:43] – from (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

The Trio Sonata in 17th-Century England
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625) Three Fantasias á 3 (c.1620) [7:48]
John COPRARIO (1570?-1626) Fantasia Suite (1620s) [5:47]
William LAWES (1602-1645) Sett No. 1 (early 1620s) [9:30]
John JENKINS (1592-1678) Fancy and Ayre (c.1650) [9:19]
Fantasia á 3 (c. 1650) [5:04]
Matthew LOCKE (1621-1677) Suite in d minor (Little Consort, 1651) [6:13]
Christopher SIMPSON (1605-1669) Suite in D (c.1650) [9:45]
John BLOW (1649-1708) Sonata in A [5:49]
Ground in g (pre-1695) [3:48]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Sonata XX in D, Z.811 (1697) [5:23]
London Baroque (Ingrid Seifert, Richard Gwilt, (violins), Charles Medlam (bass viol), Terence Charlston (harpsichord, chamber organ)
rec. St. Martin’s, East Woodhay, Hampshire, England, October 2002. DDD.
BIS BIS-CD-1455 [70:15] – from (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

A broken consort is not one that needs fixing, but one for a mixture of instruments as opposed to a viol consort. Such a consort was originally intended for outdoor performance, like that which greets Sir Guyon in the Bower of Bliss in Spenser’s Fairy Queene:

Eftsoones they heard a most melodious Sound,
Of all that mote delight a daintie eare, …
For, all that pleasing is to living eare,
Was there consorted in one harmonee,
Birds, voyces, instruments, windes, waters, all agree. [II.xii.70]

The alternative theory propounded in the Oxford Companion to Music, that ‘broken consort’ applies to music divided into sets of variations, seems not to apply to Locke’s music here. John Lenti’s notes subscribe to the traditional explanation.

I can’t claim that it’s a masterpiece by a neglected genius but it’s enjoyable music from an older contemporary of Purcell whose work deserves to be better known and it’s attractively performed and recorded on the Naxos recording which marks the début on CD of Wayward Sisters, winners of the 2011 Early Music America/Naxos Recording Competition.

There are only two other recordings of the Broken Consort, one of which offers the work complete on two CDs – perhaps Naxos have a sequel up their sleeves? That recording by the eponymous Locke Consort on Metronome, which also contains music from Tripla Concordia, is available from on CD and as a download.

The other contains just Part 1 together with a selection of Duos (Hyperion Helios CDH55255: The Parley of Instruments/Peter Holman). At £4.99 for mp3 or lossless download or £5.50 on CD from it’s even less expensive than the Naxos and equally enjoyable.

Like all lossless downloads from, the flac version of the Naxos comes as one unbroken file – even less appropriate for a recording of a broken consort than usual and my only grumble about this recording.

There’s no overlap with the one work by Locke on the BIS recording but I recommend that with some caution because Paul Shoemaker was not the slightest bit in love with it – review. De gustibus non est disputandum because I found it just as enjoyable as the Naxos, if not even more so, and it comes in lossless sound from which doesn’t have to be digested in one lump. They offer the Naxos recording, too, with tracks divided, but at $12.16, which is hardly competitive with the CD let alone the COL download. Try the BIS first if you can from Naxos Music Library.

Locke’s Suite in g minor is included alongside an attractive collection of 17th-century English theatre music on Musick for Severall Friends, performed by The Newberry Consort/Mary Springfels on Harmonia Mundi HMU907013 [60:45] – no longer available on CD, with one hopeful seller asking $213.90 for a copy of the budget (!) Harmonia Mundi d’Abord reissue on Amazon, but available to download in mp3 and lossless for a fraction of that price from or stream from Naxos Music Library.

During a large chunk of Locke’s creative life, in the Commonwealth period, church music was forbidden, but he made up in the decade and a half that remained to him after the Restoration. Hyperion in 1989 recorded a number of his Anthems, Motets and Ceremonial Music with New College College Choir, Oxford; The Parley of Instruments/Edward Higginbottom, reissued at budget price on Helios CDH55250.

If anything, Ian Bailey under-praises the quality of the performances – review. Try track 4, a setting of O be joyful almost worthy of Purcell. Download in mp3 or lossless, with booklet, from

Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau
Excerpts of vocal works by
André CAMPRA (1660-1744)
Michel Pignolet de MONTÉCLAIR (1667-1737)
Nicolas Racot de GRANDVAL (1676-1753)
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Antoine d’AUVERGNE (1713-1797)
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
‘Le Jardin des Voix’, Les Arts Florissants’ academy for young singers – 2013 edition;
Les Arts Florissants/William Christie and Paul Agnew
rec. Salle Colonne, Paris, 29-31 March 2013. DDD
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
LES ARTS FLORISSANTS AF002 [80:50] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

The second release on Les Arts Florissants’ new label comes from the 2013 edition of their annual collaboration with young singers under the title ‘Le Jardin des Voix’.

Having heard previous years’ programmes on BBC Radio 3, I knew that no allowances would have to be made for the comparative lack of experience of these young performers. Make a note of their names and watch out for future appearances: Daniela Skorka (soprano), Emilie Renard (mezzo), Benedetta Mazzucato (contralto), Zachary Wilder (tenor), Victor Sicard (baritone) and Cyril Costanzo (bass). Then settle back for an hour and twenty minutes of delight.

One small grumble – at 80:50 the programme is too generous to burn to one CD unless you settle for mp3 quality.

Antonio CALDARA (1671?–1736)
Requiem [40:03]
Trio Sonata in e minor, Op.1/5 (1693) for two violins and continuo [7:59]
Sonata in A, No.15 (1735) [10:13]
Missa dolorosa (1735): Sanctus [1:01]; Benedictus [1:53]; Agnus Dei [3:24]
Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci (organ, harpsichord)
rec. Adullam Chapel, Basel, Switzerland, November 2011. DDD
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
PAN CLASSICS PC10296 [64:34] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

This appears to be the only available recording of Caldara’s Requiem. Despite the sober nature of the words, his music is often very beautiful. Though composed by an Italian, the style is often closer to that of Charpentier and his French contemporaries. All that exists has been edited and is performed here with the Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei of another sober Mass by Caldara added to complete the programme. The performance is good but not exceptional, the recording bright and clear and the booklet helpful.

If you wish to hear the Requiem continuosly you will need to re-programme the tracks – after the Introit and Kyries the Trio Sonata in A intervenes before the Dies Iræ and a further Sonata is played before the three sections of the Missa Dolorosa.

A cautionary note: some of the tracks downloaded in an incomplete form the first time but make the download available for a further 30 days and the download was fine the second time around. All download sites should follow such a policy or even, as and do, make them permanently accessible, with an option also to return for mp3 if you purchased a lossless version.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Lutheran Masses Volume 2 (BWV236 and 234), with Cantata No.79
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CORO COR16120 [73:51] – from (mp3, aac and lossless, with pdf booklet containing texts and translations)

Please see my review on the main MusicWeb International pages for full details – also DL News 2013/14 for Volume 1 on COR16115.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Duetti da Camera
Sono liete, fortunate, HWV194 [4:07]
Troppo cruda, troppo fiera, HWV198 [7:28]
Beato in ver chi può, HWV181 [7:07]
Tanti strali al sen mi scocchi, HWV197 [7:53]
Langue, geme e sospira, HWV188 [5:09]
Conservate, raddioppiate, HWV185 [3:46]
Se tu non lasci amore, HWV193 [6:26]
A miravi io son intento, HWV178 [8:49]
No, di voi non vuo fidarmi, HWV190 [6:42]
Fronda leggiera e mobile, HWV186 [7:04]
Roberta Invernizzi (soprano), Marina De Liso (mezzo), Caterina Dell’Agnello (cello), Craig Marchitelli (archlute and theorbo), Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord)
La Risonanza
Rec. Milan, November 2013. DDD
GLOSSA GCD921516 [64:41] – from (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (back cover only)

I’ve been pretty ecstatic about the earlier releases in this series on which Roberta Invernizzi and Fabio Bonizzoni have featured and their contributions here are just as fine as before … but I’m sorry to say that I’m less taken with Marina De Liso’s singing or, at least, with the way that her voice blends with Invernizzi’s. It’s probably the latter, because I enjoyed her performance as Alcina in Vivaldi’s Orlando Furioso (CPO 7770952review). There she exhibits none of the plumminess which sometimes afflicts mezzos, but here the contrast with Invernizzi’s pure tones brought that p word to mind.

There is, nevertheless, much to enjoy on this new release. The music which Handel wrote in Rome is utterly delightful, even if it lacks the depth of his later works, and I’m pleased that Glossa are continuing to quarry it. Emma Kirkby remains my first love in Handel (BIS and Decca Eloquence) but Invernizzi and Bonizzoni offer strong challenges and cover more ground.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Peace and Celebration
Zadok the Priest, HWV259 [5:36]
Let thy hand be strengthened, HWV258 [8:02]
Concerto grosso Op.3/2, HWV313 [9:57]
My heart is inditing, HWV261 [10:50]
Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, HWV74 [25:13]
The King shall rejoice, HWV260 [9:57]
Choir of Claire College Cambridge
European Union Baroque Orchestra/Lars Ulrik Mortensen
rec. live St John’s Smith Square, London, 3 September 2013. DDD
pdf booklet with texts included.
OBSIDIAN CD711 [69:30] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

This live recording celebrates the 300th anniversary of the accession of George I, the first of the Hanoverian monarchs, in 1714. Handel had hardly arrived in London and composed the beautiful Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, Eternal Source of Light Divine, than her reign was over. His old employer, George the Elector of Hannover, was invited to succeed her and Handel was busy composing the anthems for the new King’s coronation. What, therefore, at first sight looks like a hotch-potch of mainly vocal works begins to make sense on that basis.

Though the actual performance at the coronation was reportedly under-rehearsed and ‘all in confusion’, there are several highly recommendable recordings of these anthems to suit all tastes and all choices of coupling, from the classic King’s/Willcocks (budget-price Double Decca 4550412) to more recent and more ‘authentic’ versions from Simon Preston (budget-price Double Decca 4784591), The Sixteen (Coro COR16066), Trevor Pinnock (mid-price DG 4472802 or budget-price DG Virtuoso 4785183) and Robert King (Hyperion CDA66350).

Without in any way detracting from my enjoyment and recommendation of all these, the new Obsidian now joins them – and adds to my appreciation of the achievements of this still comparatively new label. The Concerto grosso, Op.3/2, another early work from Handel’s time in London, forms an attractive interval between the choral items. It’s just a shame that it duplicates part of Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s recent complete recording of Op.3 for CPO (7774882) which Michael Greenhalgh described as ‘state of the art’ – review. The recording is very good, with little sense of audience presence and no applause, even at the very end.

Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762)
Twelve Concerti Grossi after Arcangelo Corelli’s Sonatas, Op.5
Ensemble 415/Chiara Banchini
rec. c.2003. DDD.
ZIG ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT040301 [57:08 + 59:19] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

I reviewed this recording in DL News 2013/4. Selections from it have now been released less expensively on Outhere’s new Rewind series and these may prove enough for many readers: REW521 contains Concertos Nos. 1, 10, 3, 8, 5, 11 and 12 (La Folia) [68:59]. The CD can be obtained from for 9 Euros but the download of the whole set also remains attractive.

Since I reviewed the complete Banchini set, have restored the equally desirable Harmonia Mundi complete set (907261/62: AAM/Andrew Manze, with Cello Sonata Op.5/2 and Violin and Cello Sonata, Op.5/9 [143:52]) in mp3 and lossless sound.

Discovery of the Month
Johann Georg REUTTER (1708-1772)
Portus Felicitatis : Motets and Arias for the Pantaleon
Aria Venga l’età vetusta (from La magnanimità di Alessandro, 1729) [6:59]
Mottetto de ominibus Sanctis (Motet for All Saints) Justorum animae in manu Dei sunt (1732) [5:34]
Pizzicato [5:29]
Aria Dura legge a chi t’adora (from Archidamia, 1727) [7:20]
Allegro [3:20]
Mottetto de quovis Sancto vel Sancta (Motet for any male or female saint) Hodie in ecclesia sanctorum (1753?) [7:37]
Mottetto de Sancto Wenceslau (Motet for St Wenceslaus) Wenceslaum Sanctissimum (1752?) [5:09]
Aria Del pari infeconda (from La Betulia liberata, 1734) [6:42]
Mottetto de Resurrectione Domini (Easter motet) Surrexit Pastor bonus (1748?) [8:13]
Mottetto de Sanctissima Trinitate (Motet for Trinity Sunday) Deus Pater paraclytus (1744?) [6:21]
Aria Soletto al mio caro (from Alcide trasformato in dio, 1729) [6:45]
Monika Mauch (soprano); Stanislava Jirku (alto)
La Gioia Armonica (Meret Lüthi, Sabine Stoffer (violins), Lucile Chionchini (viola), Felix Knecht (cello), Armin Bereuter (violone), Margit Übellacker (dulcimer), Michael Freimuth (archlute, theorbo), Jürgen Banholzer (organ, direction))
rec. Senedsaal, Bremen, Germany, May 2012. DDD
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
RAMÉE RAM1302 [69:36] – from (mp3 and lossless)

Reutter’s music has been unjustly neglected – how often have I written those words about a composer? Don’t expect the discovery of an unknown genius but this is one of only two recordings entirely devoted to him and he deserves more than that. The other is on Accent ACC24275, which I reviewed in 2013. I had some small reservations about the singing on that CD and, unfortunately, there are four overlaps between it and the present recording. The new album is more varied in that it includes both sacred and secular works and I enjoyed the solo singing more.

The word Pantaleon in the sub-title refers to the maker of that name, Pantaleon Herbenstreit, who produced a perfected model of the psaltery or dulcimer, an instrument which features in Reutter’s music, around the year 1700. Reutter specified its use with the soprano arias and Margit Übellacker also uses it for the instrumental interludes. With that special selling point, combined with my preference for the singing, this new Ramée release would be my first choice.

In case you are wondering, the strange object on the cover is a chamberlain’s key.

There’s an earlier Ramée album featuring these artists in the music of Antonio Caldara (1670-1736), available with pdf booklet from or for streaming from Naxos Music Library (RAM0405). Music with trombones by Antonio Caldara, Johann Josef Fux (c.1660-1741) and other baroque composers can be found on Fede e Amor (RAM1304: Alex Potter (counter-tenor) and Ensemble La Fontaine). Download in mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet, from

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Piano Sonata in B-flat, Op. post., D960 (1828) [39:05]
Du bist die Ruh, D776 (1823), No. 3 from Vier Lieder, Op.59, transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) [6:39]
Ungeduld, D795 (1823), No. 7 from Die schöne Müllerin, Op.25, transcribed for piano by Franz Liszt [2:15]
Fantasy in C, Op.15, D 760, ‘Wandererfantasie’ (Wanderer Fantasy) (1822) [20:53]
Barry Douglas (piano)
pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN10807 [69:15] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

No half measures for Barry Douglas on his début Schubert album for Chandos – he goes straight for the jugular with the wonderful Piano Sonata, D960 and the Wanderer Fantasy, no less, throwing in a couple of Liszt transcriptions of Lieder for good measure. Among my several Schubert heroes, the hero of heroes in D960 is Clifford Curzon (Decca E4750842 – download only – or 23-CD set 4784389*), with Alfred Brendel (the 1972 version, coupled with the Wanderer Fantasia, Philips 4206442 - download only), Stephen Hough (Hyperion CDA67027) and Stephen Kovacevich (HyperionCDA67027 or, even better, EMI if you can find it **) not far behind, as summed up in my June 2012/1 DL Roundup.

* earlier 22-CD set from for £28.99.

** the download from is rather pricey at £8.99 - £1 more than usual for the label – perhaps because the CD seems to be unavailable.

Against such strong competition Douglas acquits himself very well, though I don’t think he quite dislodges my top choices. At 8:02 his tempo for the second movement strikes me as just a little too fast to capture the emotion, but it is marked andante sostenuto, so it may be that for many that fits the bill rather than Curzon’s 9:16, Kovacvich’s (Hyperion) 9:24 (9:28 on EMI) or Hough’s 10:32. Perhaps my heroes and I were looking for something a little closer to the slow movement of the C-major String Quintet here than the music should bear. (I say should, because it certainly can and does at their hands.)

Douglas is a trifle fast in the finale, too, at 7:46, and here I think that Schubert’s marking, allegro ma non troppo – presto, and the sense of the music are better served by a slightly slower tempo – until you turn to Curzon, who, at 7:38, is slightly faster still, yet manages not to sound fast. It’s that inexplicable magic that Curzon shared with the likes of Beecham at work here. Ars ut artem falleret.

With a powerful and satisfying Wanderer Fantasia – but, again, not quite the top recommendation – I find myself agreeing with Dominy Clements – review – that this marks a very promising start to a series worth following even if each of us has other favourites. For DC, that’s Paul Lewis in the Fantasia; I remain happy with Brendel’s coupling of D960 or D760 (see above).

Fans of the fortepiano – and I’ve become something of a convert in recent years – will be interested in Paul Badura-Skoda’s 9-CD cycle on a variety of period instruments dating from c.1810 to c.1846 on the Arcana label (A364, around £30, also available on three 3-CD sets). Download from iTunes (£24.99). Unfortunately the press release which I received from Outhere includes only the first CD of the set, Nos.1, 9 and 2, so I haven’t been able to hear his version of No.21 for comparison with Barry Douglas. The Arcana recordings have produced some very mixed reactions – two reviewers from the same magazine gave 2-stars and four-stars to the performances on one of the constituent 3-CD sets.

Kirk McElhearn, whom I’m very pleased to welcome on board DL News, thought the first set (A408) ‘…an essential recording of some of Schubert’s piano sonatas. Both Badura-Skoda’s virile and sensitive performances and the quality of the instruments he chose to record make this a delight to listen to. If you are unfamiliar with Schubert’s piano music as he wrote it (on the same type of instrument he used) then this set is a must.’ That sums up my response to what I have heard, though I got a little worried at his approach to the finale of Sonata No.2 where he seems determined to knock nine bells out of an instrument that sounds as if it’s falling apart under the strain.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No.9 in d minor, WAB109 (ed. Nowak) [67:10]
London Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
rec. live, Barbican Centre, London, February 2013. DDD
LSO LIVE LSO0746 [67:10] – from (mp3)

Considering that the most recent recording of Bruckner’s Ninth that I heard was from Simon Rattle conducting the BPO on EMI in the four-movement completion, could I enjoy the three-movement skeleton again? Rattle certainly convinced Ralph Moore – review: Recording of the Month – and myself – DL Roundup June 2012/2 – though John Quinn was rather less persuaded – review.

Whatever your views on the ‘completed’ version, I don’t think you will fail to appreciate Bernard Haitink’s new LSO recording of the traditional unfinished ninth, one of the best of the many that I have heard since Eugen Jochum’s recording on DG Heliodor (89551, costing in those far-off days 12/6, £0.63). John Quinn thought this a gripping and magisterial reading – review – and I can’t quarrel with that.

The download from can be yours for £1.26 and the bit-rate is at a respectable, though not ideal rate of c.225kb/s. While you’re about it, you can obtain from them Haitink’s Concertgebouw recording of the Eighth from 2005 for £1.68 (RCO05003review).

I must mention one other recording of the three-movement Ninth (ed. Nowak), from the Saarbrücken RSO and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski on Oehms, reviewed as part of a 12-CD box set OC207here and here – but also available separately on OC218 [61:20] – from (mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Skrowaczewski’s recordings are always well worth hearing – his Brahms Fourth Symphony with the Hallé, formerly available on IMP, remains one of my benchmarks for that elusive work – and his Bruckner especially so. The orchestra may not be world class and even as a download this is more expensive now than when it was available on CD for £4.99, but it’s well worth considering.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintets
String Quintet No.1 in F, Op.88 [26:47]
String Quintet No.2 in G, Op.111 [30:09]
Takács Quartet, Lawrence Power (viola)
rec. Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom, May 2013
pdf booklet included.
HYPERION CDA67900 [56:56] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

Though Brahms thought that his inspiration was running out when he produced the second quintet, this is music that ought to be as well known as the Piano and Clarinet Quintets and hitherto I’ve thought that the Nash Ensemble on Onyx were just the team to achieve that. (ONYX4043October 2009 DL Roundup). The new recording from the Takács Quartet and Lawrence Power is at least as good – performance-wise the two go head-to-head for top spot – and the recording quality is much better than the variable bit-rate mp3 from in which I heard the Onyx.

I don’t recall ever hearing the Takács Quartet put a foot – or a bow – wrong on their many recordings for Decca and Hyperion and they haven’t broken their fine record this time, either. Perhaps the sunset scene on the cover makes us listen for a farewell mood in the Second Quintet in particular but there’s nothing wan or valedictory about this performance. Try the adagio of the Second Quintet on the free sampler, HYP201404, if you need to be persuaded.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
String Quartet in a minor, Op.51/2 [36:35]
Clarinet Quintet in b minor, Op.115* [39:03]
Michael Collins (clarinet)*
Brodsky Quartet (Daniel Rowland, Ian Belton (violin), Paul Cassidy (viola), Jacqueline Thomas (cello)
pdf booklet available
rec. Britten Studio, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk, 12–14 November 2013. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10817 [75:40] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

My benchmark for the Clarinet Quintet comes, like the new String Quintets album above, from Hyperion – Thea King and the Gabrieli Quartet (CDA66107, with Clarinet Trio), though I also liked the more recent Harmonia Mundi SACD from Jon Manasse and the Tokyo Quartet (HMU807588, with Piano Quintet), which those who like their Brahms to be mellow may prefer – see comparison in 2012/21 DL News.

Now along come Michael Collins and the Brodsky Quartet with a third variation on the coupling, rather less logical, though the pairing was also chosen by Karl Leister and the Leipzig Quartet on MDG and by Sharon Kam and the Jerusalem Quartet on Harmonia Mundi.

It was appropriate to place the Quartet first, saving the later work till last, though it by no means outshines its predecessor, a powerful work in its own right and very well performed here. Throughout Brahms’ music run two contrary currents, the energetic power which he inherited from Beethoven and a melancholy strand all of his own – perhaps occasioned by his yearning for Clara Schumann or all that strong coffee that he drank. If this performance of the quartet leans a little more towards the melancholy than I think ideal, that of the quintet more than makes up by blending the two elements and does so without Michael Collins turning the work into a clarinet showpiece. If you want display, look elsewhere.

If you find the pairing to your liking – and even if you have Op.51/2 otherwise coupled – the Chandos recording now represents a strong challenge for the Clarinet Quintet. If you have the Takács Quartet recording of Brahms’ Quartets Op.51/1 and Op.67 (Hyperion CDA67552 – see Hyperion Top 30), the new coupling is ideal.

Michael Collins’ recital with Michael McHale on CHAN10804 caught the attention of Albert Lam in DL News 2014/3; he enjoyed it so much that he recommended Volume 1 of the series, too.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures from an Exhibition (1872) (orch. Maurice RAVEL) (1922) [32:12]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade [44:58]
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Emmanuel Krivine
rec. Grand Auditorium of the Luxembourg Philharmonie, Établissement Public Salle de Concerts Grande-Duchesse Joséphine Charlotte, 30 April-5 May 2012. DDD
ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT329 [74:23] – from (mp3)

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Ma Mère L’Oye (Mother Goose) (Suite, 1911-12) [16:11]
Pictures from an Exhibition (1872) (orch. Maurice RAVEL) (1922) [32:15]
Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos Van Immerseel
rec. Concertgebouw Brugge, 17 & 19 January 2013. DDD.
ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT343 [49:27] – from (mp3 and lossless)

Two recent recordings from the same label of the same work, Ravel’s orchestration of Pictures from an Exhibition, must be something of a record – no pun intended – even for this much-recorded work. To add to the oddity, Emmanuel Krivine who has recently been associated with the period ensemble La Chambre Philharmonique, here conducts the Luxemburg orchestra of which he has been the director since 2006, while Jos van Immerseel gives us the Pictures with his period-instrument group.

I have recently been listening to Peter Breiner’s performance of his own huge-scale orchestration of Pictures on blu-ray audio (Naxos NBD0036review) so I suppose it was inevitable that Jos van Immerseel’s recording should sound a little tame by comparison and I’m not sure what we gain, if at all, from hearing ‘period’ instruments in music that is very much of the twentieth century.

The cool, clean lines of this performance, quite appropriate to the Mère l’Oye Suite, are less effective here and the whole interpretation is something of a disappointment after the excitement of these same performers in the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (ZZT100101 review and DL Roundup May 2010); there lean and mean also equals spooky where appropriate. The Great Gate of Kiev sounds appropriately grandiose, with mighty bells tolling, but still less so than from Breiner whose interpretation is almost on the scale of Antal Doráti’s famous recordings – mono and stereo – of the 1812 Overture, complete with cannon, and the BD-A sound the modern equivalent of Mercury’s hi-fi for Doráti.

I’m not sure why Zig-Zag booklet gives the date of the Ravel orchestration as 1942: their own notes in the Krivine booklet correctly give the date as 1922.

Emmanuel Krivine whisks us into the gallery with a lively Promenade which sets the tone for a brisk-sounding performance overall, yet, surprisingly, it’s only one second faster than van Immerseel and the whole work only three seconds faster. Both are consistently quicker than Breiner – almost eight minutes overall – yet Krivine gives the music a degree of energy and, where appropriate, menace, that I found lacking from Immerseel. I liked it rather better than Brian Reinhart, who dismissed it as a dud – DL News 2013/18 – but overall it’s too rushed to make the desired effect.

Scheherazade comes off much better – I enjoyed a wallow in some very wallowy music – but not enough by a considerable margin to oust the classic Beecham (Warner, ex EMI) or Reiner (RCA) as my Desert Island choice. Stokowski fans will find a vintage performance in a decent transfer on Guild GHCD2403 – see Albert Lam’s review in DL News 2014/3.

If you’re looking for an exciting version of the Ravel orchestration of Pictures at a keen price, you need look no further than Lorin Maazel with the Cleveland Orchestra from 1978, coupled with Night on a Bare Mountain (Telarc CD80042, around £7.50, or download as First Impression LIMUHD056 [40:49] for $7.37 from, mp3 and lossless). From a slightly earlier vintage still, I retain a soft spot for Ernest Ansermet and the OSR, also with Night on a Bare Mountain and other works (Decca Eloquence 4800047review).

Bargain of the Month
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
The Lark Ascending [14:58]
Fantasia on Greensleeves [4:16]
Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis [14:48]
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Serenade in e minor, Op.20 [11:17]
Variations on an original Theme (‘Enigma’), Op.36 [31:00]
David Nolan (violin); Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley
WARNER/EMI NATIONAL GALLERY COLLECTION 6782712 [76:29] – from (mp3) Also available as Classics for Pleasure 5748802.

Riches indeed, for a mere £2.99 and Nectar points, too, for UK buyers. Vernon ‘Todd’ Handley’s Elgar and VW, unfairly relegated even on first release to mid- and budget-price records by EMI, presumably in favour of his mentor Sir Adrian Boult, deserves to be much better known. His Elgar Symphonies (No.1 no longer available; No.2 with Sea Pictures on CFP 5753062) and Vaughan Williams’ Job (7-CD box with Symphonies, CFP 5757602) are my benchmarks for these works.

Whether you choose the National Gallery version or the slightly dearer CFP, these are superb performances and the 320kb/s sound does them justice. Classic FM fans looking for The Lark Ascending – top of the Hall of Fame again, for reasons which I don’t really understand – should find themselves converted to the equally attractive Greensleeves and the much more profound Tallis fantasias before moving on to performances of two great Elgar works in performances which yield little, if anything, to the likes of Boult.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957) Complete Symphonies
Symphony No.1 in e minor, Op.39 [38:35]
Symphony No.4 in a minor, Op.63 [34:49]
Three late Fragments transcribed by Timo Virtanen [2:48]
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.43 [45:46]
Symphony No.5 in E-flat, Op.82 [32:35]
Symphony No.3 in C, Op.52 [28:58]
Symphony No.6 in d minor, Op.104 [28:12]
Symphony No.7 in C, Op.105 [22:12]
BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds
Rec MediaCity UK, Salford, 18 June 2013 (No.1), 19-20 June 2013 (No.2), 5 September
2012 (No.3), 10 June 2013 (No.4), 14 June 2013 (No.5), 23 October 2012 (No.6), 24 October 2012 (No.7), 11 December 2013 (Three Late Fragments)
Pdf booklet available
CHANDOS CHAN10809 [76:26 + 78:36 + 79:45] – from (mp3 16- and 24-bit lossless)

This offers good value at prices ranging from £15.99 (mp3) to £31.96 (24/96) but Chandos are in a sense competing with themselves here, since they also offer from the highly regarded complete Osmo Vänskä set on BIS (mp3 and 16-bit only) for rather less than their own new recording. That contains Vänskä’s earlier recordings with the Lahti orchestra which I still prefer to his remakes from Minnesota and, at £12.65 (mp3) or £16.20 (lossless) it’s excellent value – paradoxically less expensive than from BIS’s own site,

I really need more space than a short review to make detailed comparisons with Vänskä and other interpreters, which I plan to do in a full review on the main MusicWeb International pages. Pending that full review I have been dipping into these recordings and I like what I hear well enough to regard the new set as offering a strong challenge, with only minor reservations, to existing preferences. Meanwhile if you wish to make your own judgement, you’ll find both Storgårds and Vänskä for streaming from Naxos Music Library.

Bargain lovers should note that also offers Sir Alexander Gibson’s recordings of the symphonies, still well worth considering, for £4.80 (mp3) or £4.99 (lossless) each: 1 and 4 on CHAN6555, 2 and 5 on CHAN6556 and 3, 6 and 7 on CHAN6557. Be sure to choose the Chandos Collect versions which I have highlighted – the same recordings are still also available at full price. If you’re happy with mp3, have a bargain of bargains in the form of Vänskä’s Lahti recordings of all the symphonies, Violin Concerto, Lemminkäinen Suite, etc., for £7.49 – even better value for US buyers at $7.99 from .

To complicate matters still further, I have only recently and belatedly caught up with Sir Mark Elder’s recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 with the Hallé (Hallé CDHLL7514review). These now join the recording of No.2, Oceanides and Pohjola’s Daughter (CDHLL7516review) on my list of benchmark recordings of the Sibelius symphonies.

Johan (Jean) Christian Julius SIBELIUS (1865–1957)
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op.22 (Four Legends from the Kalevala) [47:06]
Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of the Island (1896, rev. 1897 & 1939) [14:59]
The Swan of Tuonela (1893, rev. 1897 and 1900) [9:10]
Lemminkäinen in Tuonela (1896, rev. 1897 and 1939) [16:07]
Lemminkäinen’s Return (1896, rev. 1897 and 1900) [6:24]
Skogsrået (The Wood-Nymph, Ballad for Orchestra, 1894/95), Op. 15* [21:37]
Ilkka Pälli (cello)*
Lahti Symphony Orchestra (Sinfonia Lahti)/Osmo Vänskä
rec. Sibelius Hall, Lahti, Finland, November 2006 and October 2007. DDD/DSD
BIS-SACD-1745 [69:37] - from (mp3 and 16-bit)

Osmo Vänskä in Sibelius with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra has to be good news. Much as I have enjoyed Vänskä’s recent Sibelius symphonies with the Minnesota Orchestra, I’ve retained a marginal preference for his older recordings of those works with the Lahti Orchestra, recordings which I continue to place at or very near the top of the tree. The only thing that surprised me was that BIS have waited so long to release this recording; then I realised that most of the components have been released before, some several times – see below.

Vänskä and the Lahti Orchestra had already recorded the Lemminkäinen Suite for BIS in 1999 and not only does that recording remain available, it’s a must-have for Sibelius scholars in that it offers the original versions of Nos. 1 and 4 and alternative sections of Nos. 3 and 4. (BIS-CD-1015 – download in mp3 and lossless from Dr. Len Mullenger ended his review of that earlier release ‘this recording must have a place in every Sibelius collection’ and I’m not about to argue with that conclusion. If you just want the final version of the Suite and don’t mind decent mp3, the tremendous bargain collection of all the symphonies, the Violin Concerto, etc., offered on, 7½ hours for just £7.49, contains Vänskä’s earlier recording.

Between 1999 and 2007 Vänskä’s tempi had tightened very slightly – 47:06 overall against 48:47, the difference pretty evenly spread across the three sections of the Suite. That’s the opposite of what has happened with the symphonies – see, for example, my review of Nos. 2 and 5 and Dan Morgan’s take on the same recording in DL Roundup February 2012/1, where we were both left feeling slightly underwhelmed by comparison with Vänskä’s earlier recordings, against the trend of other reviewers who welcomed the new versions more warmly.

Eugene Ormandy’s recording of the Lemminkäinen Suite is slightly faster still overall – the difference largely accounted for by his fast tempo in No.3, Lemminkäinen in Tuonela. I liked that recording and I’m sorry to see that it has gone the way of all EMI Encore CDs. Even the download which I recommended is no longer available, though it can still be streamed from Naxos Music Library and his 1951 mono version remains available from Naxos Classical Archives, a powerful set of performances in inevitably dated but tolerable sound. (9.80530).

Bargain lovers will find very little to fault in a more modern Naxos recording of the Lemminkäinen Suite, with Finlandia and the Karelia Suite (8.554265, Iceland SO/Petri Sakari – review). Sakari takes a broader view of the opening Lemminkäinen and the Maidens – I think the tension slips here just a little – but in the remaining movements his interpretation is very similar to Vänskä’s, except that he places Lemminkäinen in Tuonela second and Swan of Tuonela third. It can be yours for £4.99 from (320 kb/s mp3, with booklet) and for not much more on CD.

For all the value of the earlier recording, no doubt The Wood Nymph makes a more attractive coupling for the general listener. It doesn’t receive too many outings – of the nine recordings in the current catalogue, five are permutations of Vänskä’s recording, two of the piano transcription, also on BIS, one of the song (Anne Sofie von Otter – BIS again) and one from Helsinki SO/John Storgårds on Ondine. It receives an excellent recording here but the same version seems to have appeared already separately and on collections such as The Sound of Sibelius (BIS-SACD-1645 review) and Tone Poems Volume I (BIS-CD-1900/02, with the earlier recording of Lemminkäinen in original and revised forms and other works – review). It’s getting hard to keep up with the permutations which BIS make of their Sibelius recordings: The Sound of Sibelius contains not only The Wood Nymph but half of the ‘new’ recording of the Lemminkäinen Suite.

No doubt BIS wanted to remake the Lemminkäinen Suite in SACD and 24-bit sound and the new recording certainly sounds stunningly good in the latter format but it’s really very naughty of them to befuddle us with a ‘new’ release of which more than half has appeared before.

Discovery of the Month
Paul GRAENER (1872-1944)
Orchestral Works - Volume 1
Comedietta, Op.82 (1928) [9:25]
Variationen über ein russisches Volkslied, Op.55 (1917) [24:26]
Musik am Abend, Op.44 (1913) [14:12]
Sinfonia breve, Op.96 (1932) [17:48]
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover/Werner Andreas Albert
rec. Großer Sendesaal, NDR Hannover, 19-23 Jan 2009. DDD
CPO 777447-2 [66:00] - from (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with rudimentary pdf booklet)

Orchestral Works - Volume 2
Symphony in d Minor, Op.39, Schmied Schmerz (1912) [32:34]
Aus dem Reiche des Pan Op.22 (1906-20) [15:17]
Variationen über Prinz Eugen, Op.108 (1939) [16:06]
NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover/Werner Andreas Albert
rec. Großer Sendesaal, NDR Hannover, 24-28 Jan 2011. DDD
CPO 777679-2 [64:21] - from (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with rudimentary pdf booklet)

Having heard of Paul Graener as a Nazi stooge – which may or may not be true; like Furtwängler he served as vice-president of the Reichsmusikkammer – I didn’t recall hearing any of his music until I chanced on these two recent recordings and was sold.

As Rob Barnett put it in his detailed and informative review the music is well worth hearing again and again. He doesn’t get a mention in the current Oxford Companion to Music, which is surely an injustice. Volume 1 is already available to try from Naxos Music Library and Volume 2 should be joining it soon. My only complaint concerns the lack of a booklet at all from, with only the usual cut-me-down CPO effort from NML.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Symphony No. 2 [38:23]
Elliott CARTER (1908-2012) Instances [7:53]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) An American in Paris [18:45]
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Ludovic Morlot
rec. live S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA, 14-17 June, 2012 (Ives), 7-10 February, 2013 (Carter), and 17, 29 September 1 October, 2011 (Gershwin).
Pdf booklet included
SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1003 [65:03] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Alborada del gracioso [7:47]
Pavane pour une infante défunte [6:03]
Rapsodie espagnole [15:28]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Symphony No.3 in c minor, Op.78 (Organ Symphony) [35:00]
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Ludovic Morlot
rec. live S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA, 19-21 September, 2013 (Ravel), and 27-30 June, 2013 (Saint-Saëns).
pdf booklet included
SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1002 [64:23] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
Symphony No. 1 [30:34]
Tout un monde lointain * [26:36]
The Shadows of Time for 3 Children’s Voices and Orchestra** [21:15]
* Xavier Phillips (cello)
** Benjamin Richardson, Kepler Swanson and Andrew Torgelson (boy sopranos)
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Ludovic Morolt
rec. live S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA, September, October and November, 2012. DDD
pdf booklet included
SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1001 [78:29] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

Three recordings from the latest in-house label, that of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

The Ravel items have too many fine rivals to list – Jean Martinon on a budget EMI/Warner twofer 4769602 or budget triple 5008922: Bargain of the Month review, will do very well for starters.

Though there is less competition for the Saint-Saëns, Berj Zamkochian and Charles Munch in Boston (RCA), though elderly, still takes some beating. The Munch is now available only in a 60-CD box, though the Living Stereo single-CD, with Debussy La Mer and Ibert Escales:Recording of the Monthreviewreview – is available for streaming from Naxos Music Library. There’s a transfer on Discover Music – yours for just £0.84 from – which comes at a low bit-rate of around 160kb/s and sounds rather thin and one-dimensional.

In the Second Symphony – completed in 1902 but not performed until 1951 – Ives, though not yet the enfant terrible, was already speaking with an American accent but the language was still that of the European Romantic tradition. It’s spacious music and it requires and receives a spacious performance, complete with what has been aptly described as the raspberry which Ives blows at the end of uproarious version of Columbia which ends the finale. The shortened applause which greets the end is well deserved, but there are three other performances, all, again, with American orchestras, which are more logically coupled:

• Hyperion CDA67525 : Dallas SO/Andrew Litton (with Symphony No.3 and General William Booth enters Heaven). [68:42] See review by Tony Haywood. Not available for download.

• Naxos 8.559076 : Nashville SO/Kenneth Schermerhorn (with Robert Browning Overture) [66:28] – from (mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library. Gwyn Parry-Jones was not taken with performance or recording – review – but others have reacted much more positively, even to the extent of making this the work’s reference recording.

• Chandos CHAN10031 Detroit SO/Neeme Järvi (with Symphony No.1 – download from (mp3 and lossless). This re-coupling of a recording original coupled with Creston’s Symphony No.2 (still available on CHAN9390) comes at an attractive price - £6.00 (mp3) or £7.99 (lossless).

I must pass on the Elliott Carter – it’s not within my comfort zone.

The only work on the Dutilleux album with which I was at all familiar was Tout un monde…, with which I had previously failed to engage in the Rostropovich recording (EMI GROC) and, I’m sorry to say, given up on – see 2013/16 DL News. Since that premiere recording it’s been recorded by Christian Poltéra (cello) with ORFSO, Vienna/Jac van Steen (BIS-SACD-1777), coupled, like the Rostropovich, with Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto – review.

Never say never: the new recording gave me more enjoyment than the EMI, though I’m sure that isn’t the fault of the dedicatee Rostropovich. Now I must try the BIS.

I enjoyed hearing The Shadows of Time (1995/97), too, so I’m becoming a Dutilleux convert. How could a fan of Messiaen have passed his music by? I haven’t heard the recent Esa-Pekka Salonen recording on DG 4791180, also coupled with Tout un monde …, plus the first recording ofCorrespondances, though I see that Leslie Wright made it a Recording of the Monthreview – and others have been equally fulsome in their praise, so Dutilleux-ites will probably already have that recording.

They may prefer the 1992 Chandos recording of the Symphony with BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier, a highly regarded account, nominated for a Gramophone Award (Symphonies 1 and 2, CHAN9194 – from, mp3 or lossless – or Complete Orchestral Works on CHAN9853).

YORK BOWEN (1884–1961) Chamber Works
Clarinet Sonata in f minor, Op.109 (1943)* [15:31]
Rhapsody Trio in a minor, Op.80 (1925–26) [13:32]
(premiere recording)
Piano Trio in d minor (c.1900, unfinished) [11:06]
Phantasy Quintet in d minor for Bass Clarinet and String Quartet, Op.93 (c. 1933)† [14:11]
Piano Trio in e minor, Op.118 (1946) 24:07
Robert Plane (clarinet*; bass clarinet†)
Gould Piano Trio (Lucy Gould violin†, Alice Neary cello†, Benjamin Frith piano*) with
Mia Cooper violin†, David Adams viola
CHANDOS CHAN10805 [78:29] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

(‘All in all, this is an excellent collection of Bowen’s chamber works; the two clarinet works really surprised me and [made] me keen to hear more.’ See review by David Barker and review by John Quinn.)

This is another milestone on the road to the rehabilitation of York Bowen which began with the rediscovery of his concertos (Piano Concertos 3 and 4, Danny Driver and Martyn Brabbins, Hyperion CDA67659; Viola Concerto, Lawrence Power and Martyn Brabbins, with Forsyth Viola Concerto, CDA67546 and Violin Concerto and Piano Concerto No.1, Lorraine McAslan and Michael Dussek with Vernon Handley, Dutton CDLX7169). I’d start with those earlier recordings but I’d definitely recommend making this recording of some attractive chamber music your next port of call.

Other Chandos recordings of Bowen’s music worth including on your shopping list include his symphonies (CHAN10805) and piano music (CHAN10277, 10410, 10506 and 10593 or 4-CD set CHAN10774(4)X). It’s one of those absurdities of the economics of the record companies that the lossless download of the 4-disc set costs more than the CDs.

Walter PISTON (1894-1976)
Concerto No.1 for Violin and Orchestra (1939) [21:37]
Fantasia for Violin and Orchestra (1970) [14:31]
Concerto No.2 for Violin and Orchestra (1960) [24:38]
James Buswell (violin)
National Symphony of Ukraine/Theodore Kuchar
rec. Concert Hall of Ukrainian Radio, Kiev, 27-30 May, 1998. DDD
pdf booklet included
2xHD 2XHDNA2014 [60:46] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) (from Naxos 8.559003)

Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
The School for Scandal Overture, Op.5 [8:37]
Symphony No.1, Op.9 (in one movement) [21:06]
First Essay for Orchestra, Op.12 [8:11]
Symphony No.2, Op.19 [30:59]
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, 8-9 December 1998. DDD
2xHD 2XHDNA2013 [69:15] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit) (from Naxos 8.559024, which also remains available)

At the same time as Naxos have made available a number of their recent recordings in 24-bit sound on blu-ray audio discs, 2xHD have taken a number of their older recordings and re-mastered them in DSD and 24-bit sound. The early collaboration between Naxos and Marin Alsop, which has proved so fruitful, is one of the first and best results.

I reviewed the Naxos recording of the Barber, downloaded from in mp3 in DL News 2013/15, where I compared it with Charles Dutoit’s recording (CHAN9684). I thought the latter superior only in that it was available in lossless sound, an advantage now trumped by the availability of the Alsop recording in 24-bit sound. With rather more music for your money, the 2xHD now has the edge, though with’s per-second charging policy that makes it slightly more expensive in 16-bit than the Chandos. The 24-bit costs a fairly hefty $18.70, an even greater premium than the Naxos BD-As, which cost around £10, but the quality is worth the price.

Of these high-definition transfers of Naxos recordings to 2xHD, the Piston may seem the least obvious candidate for special treatment but it’s not only the sole extant recording of either of the Piston concertos in the UK catalogue, it’s also very good. The Naxos policy of employing little-known Eastern European orchestras, often with better-known Western soloists and/or conductors – Theodor Kuchar had already made his reputation in the US before returning to his native Ukraine – really paid dividends in many cases and this is certainly one of them. Even if weren’t so good, it has no rivals.

I don’t recall ever having heard any of these works before – Piston’s reputation for dryness has made me tend to steer clear – but this recording of the first concerto in particular has endeared itself to me. Not for nothing has it been likened to the Barber Violin Concerto. Rob Barnett gave this a 4-star recommendation – review – I’d be inclined to add a fifth if we were still in the star business.

RB also noted the excellent recording quality and this is even more apparent in the 24-bit download, though again at a fairly hefty premium over the price of the Naxos CD at $16.41.

The booklets are straight reprints of the Naxos, including the Barber notes by Richard Whitehouse and those on Piston which include the thoughts of the soloist, apart from having a larger version of the picture on the cover of the Barber and a completely different one for the Piston, plus an explanation of the 2xHD process.

Less outstanding in a very competitive field is the reissue of the Brahms and Bruch Violin Concertos, Takako Nishizaki (violin) with the Slovak PO and Stephen Gunzenhauser (2XHDNA2011 – from, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless). If you were looking for a decent inexpensive recording of the two concertos, you could do much worse than go for the Naxos original (8.550195), but $17.61 for the 24-bit download is too steep. Nishizaki’s tone is clear but a little thin and the accompaniments are very competent. As with most recordings of the Brahms, the first movement sounds too languid at 24:09 after you have heard Heifetz and Reiner who take 18:45 (RCA – still my top recommendation).

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983)
Symphony No.1 in b-flat minor (1932-35) [43:10]
Violin Concerto (revised 1943) [33:05]
Tasmin Little (violin)
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Edward Gardner
rec. Watford Colosseum, 18 September 2013 (Violin Concerto); Fairfield Halls, Croydon, 3-4 February 2014 (Symphony No. 1)
CHANDOS CHAN5136 [76:30] – from (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless. Also available as SACD.)

Please see my review on the main MusicWeb International pages of these strongly competitive performances.

Sir Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b.1934)
Suite from The Boyfriend (1971) [26:11]
Suite from The Devils (1971) [20:23]
Seven In Nomine (1965) [16:18]
The Yellow Cake Revue (1980) (piano interludes) [8:08]
Yesnaby Ground (1980) [2:27]
Farewell to Stromness (1980) [5:41]
Aquarius/Nicholas Cleobury
Peter Maxwell Davies (piano)
Previously released on Collins Classics
rec. EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London, England, October 1989. DDD
pdf booklet included.
NAXOS 8.572408 [70:00] – from (mp3 and lossless­) or (mp3 only) or stream from Naxos Music Library

‘A surprisingly fresh and agreeably discomfiting selection. Try it and be surprised.’ See review by Rob Barnett

The two opening works both stem from Max’s work for the theatre and cinema but whereas the first is light-hearted, The Devils is one of the toughest works ever screened and neither the film nor the music is for anyone of a nervous disposition. The opening music – not included here – was from a recording of renaissance music by David Munrow* but Max wrote the four items included in the Suite. After that Seven In Nomine returns us to a gentler sound-world, derived from a Tudor format but unmistakeably modern in concept.

The return of this recording, originally from Collins Classics, represents a very welcome addition to the other recordings from that source which Naxos has been accessing.

* still available on a Warner/Erato budget twofer, Renaissance Dance, music by Prætorius, Susato and Morley (3500032, target price £7.65 or download from for £5.49).

Reissues of the Month
Sir John TAVENER (1944–2013)
Ikon of Light [42:14]
Funeral Ikos [9:41]
The Lamb (conducted by the composer) [3:42]
Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete* [21:55]
*Jeremy White (soloist)
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
rec. Merton College, Oxford, 1982 and 1984.
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
GIMELL GIMSE404 [77:32] – from (mp3 and lossless)

Ikon of Light
A Hymn to the Mother of God 3.26
Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God 5.01
The Lamb [3.41]
The Tyger [6.07]
Ikon of Light [41:48]
Today the Virgin [2.49]
Eonia [4.42]
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
rec. St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London, 1994, in the presence of the composer
pdf booklet with texts and translations included
CORO COR16116 [67.26] – from (mp3, aac and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library

I had been hoping for some time that Gimell would reissue this recording, long available only for streaming from Naxos Music Library; now here it is at budget price, sadly not to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday, as intended, but as a fitting memorial to him. I signalled the reissue some time ago and then, in one of my OAP moments, forgot that I’d had a pre-release download and missed the release date, delayed because Gimell didn’t wish to seem to be climbing on the bandwagon.

In the event John Quinn was ahead of me and said just about all that needed to be said – review. I’ll merely add my recommendation to his and alert you to the fact that The Tallis Scholars are scheduled to perform Tavener’s Requiem Fragments at the 2014 Proms on the exact centenary of the outbreak of World War I.

Even if you buy the Gimell recording at its very attractive price, you should still have the Coro recording, too. Made in the presence of the composer, this, too would have made a fitting 70th-birthday tribute as it also now makes a fitting memorial to Tavener’s memory.