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Recordings of the Month 2014

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.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Das Wohltemperierte Klavier Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano) rec. 2004/13 AVIE AV2299 [4 CDs: 218:00] [SG] For those who think these works are dull and academic, listen to these recordings and you will hear them anew.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Easter Oratorio, ‘Actus tragicus’ - Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2013 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG719 [60:15] [JQ] An outstanding addition to Gardiner’s Bach discography.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord 1-6 - Yehudi Menuhin (violin) George Malcolm (harpsichord) Ambrose Gauntlett (viola da gamba) rec. 1961 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR753/4 [48:02 + 52:47] [SG] One of the most important historic violin releases of recent times.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Johannes-Passion - Mark Padmore (tenor) Roderick Williams, Christian Gerhaher (baritones) Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2014 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR140031 [2 DVDs; 1 Blu-ray: 187:00] [JQ] Sellars and Rattle bring the St John Passion vividly to life in a completely new way.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Matthäus-Passion - Mark Padmore (tenor) Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Camilla Tilling (soprano) Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR 140021 [2 DVDs; 1 Blu-ray] [JQ] This ‘ritualization’ of the Matthäus-Passion by Peter Sellars, superbly performed, obliges you to think afresh about the work and about the story it tells.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2014 SONY CLASSICAL 88843 036822 [76:07 + 74:57] [DC] Like a gift from above.

Judith BAILEY (b. 1941) Havas, Concerto for orchestra George LLOYD (1913-1998) The Serf Prelude, In Memoriam, Le Pont du Gard, HMS Trinidad March - Bath Philharmonia/Jason Thornton rec. 2014 EM RECORDS EMRCD026 [64:09] A very important recording [DJB] A most enjoyable programme of orchestral music by two Cornish composers in good performances [JQ] Another acutely judged and well played and recorded CD of otherwise unrecorded British music from EM Records [RB].

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

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios 6 & 7 - Isabelle Faust (violin) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano) rec. 2011 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902125 [67:29] [BW] Likely to become my version of choice for these works.

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. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Concertos - Rudolf Buchbinder (piano/conductor) Vienna PO rec. 2011 SONY CLASSICAL 88883745212 [3 CDs: 64:40 + 69:18 + 37:11] [SG] Under Buchbinder’s direction, these are five star performances, which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Symphonies and Overtures - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2007-09 DECCA 478 2721 [372:00] [ST] A hearty welcome to this set marrying the best of the old with the freshness of the new and reminding us of how eternally contemporary Beethoven’s symphonic achievement is.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 5 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasy - Yundi (piano) Berlin PO/Daniel Harding rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4810710 [67:01] [SG] Yundi’s performances of these towering masterpieces of the piano repertoire are a treat not to be missed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos 3 & 4 - Maria João Pires (piano) Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2013 ONYX 4125 [71:30] [SG] What better way to christen a new working relationship than with this wonderful disc of two Beethoven piano concertos.

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

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) La Sonnambula - Ana Durlovski (soprano) Luciano Botelho (tenor) Enzo Capuano (bass) Staatsopern Stuttgart Ch & O/Gabriele Ferro rec. 2013 EUROARTS 2059338 DVD [156:00] [JS] Demonstrates that what can appear to be a star vehicle responds even more to being taken seriously as music and as drama.

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

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens - Bryan Hymel, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Ch & O Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7113D [254:00 + 30:00] [DBi] A total triumph in every respect. Equal to the very best Blu-ray opera issues I have seen.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) L’Enfance du Christ Yann Beuron (tenor) Stephan Loges (baritone) Véronique Gens (mezzo) Alastair Miles (bass) Swedish RSO & Ch/Robin Ticciati rec. 2012 LINN CKD440 [54:55 + 37:10] [ST] Worthy of comparison with any in the catalogue.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) West Side Story - Cheyenne Jackson, Alexandra Silber, San Francisco SO & Ch/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2013 SFS MEDIA SFS0059 SACD [53:14 + 30:39] [JQ] A live recording of West Side Story that oozes class and sweeps the board.

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Schelomo, Voice in the wilderness André CAPLET (1878-1925) Epiphanie Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Kaddish - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) BBC Ntl O Wales/Benjamin Wallfisch rec. 2013 NIMBUS NI5913 [75.13] A really magnificent collection which presents four works with a linked ethos which complement each other superbly [PCG] A very satisfying disc. Those with an affection for the further reaches of the cello cocnertante repertoire need look no further [RB]

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]

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Symphonies and Orchestral Works - Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2012/13 DECCA 478 5344 [3 CDs: 234:04] [ST] Chailly has brought Leipzig’s Brahms tradition right into the 21st Century. Buy with confidence.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonatas 1-3 - Yehudi Menuhin (violin) Louis Kentner (piano) rec. 1956/7 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR997 [70:36] [SG] One of the finest cycles of the Brahms violin sonatas I have come across.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonatas 1 & 2, Clarinet trio - Paul Watkins (cello) Ian Brown (piano) Michael Collins (clarinet) rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10825 [81:20] [TP] An old master, sounding fresher than ever.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintets & Sextets - Alexander Qt rec. 2013 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2012 [75:36 + 54:57] [BR] The highest possible praise, especially for the Quintets.

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

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Viola sonata, There is a willow grows aslant a brook Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Lachrymae, Elegy - Martin Outram (viola) Julian Rolton (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6253 [67:29] [DC] A disc to treasure.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1813-1976) Canticles - Mark Padmore (tenor) Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Marcus Farnsworth (baritone) Julius Drake (piano) Lucy Wakeford (harp) Richard Watkins (horn) rec. 2012 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLive0064 [59:23] [ST] Padmore is a perfect choice for this repertoire.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Rape of Lucretia - John Mark Ainsley, Orla Boylan, Clive Bayley O of English Natl Op/Paul Daniel rec. 2001 OPUS ARTE OA1123D DVD [120:00] [ST] Expert playing and intelligent conducting. You have a winner on your hands. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) & Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Violin Concertos - Linus Roth (violin) Deutsches SO Berlin/Mihkel Kütson rec. 2013 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72627 SACD [62:50] [MC] Worth getting for the Weinberg but with the addition of the Britten this disc becomes self recommending.

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.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2012 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA33714 SACD [56:45] [BW] Stands at or close to the top of a very distinguished list of recordings of this popular symphony.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 - Lucerne Fest O/Claudio Abbado rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 3441 [63:07] [JQ] A magnificent Bruckner Ninth from Claudio Abbado’s last concerts.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Complete Piano Music - Michele d’Ambrosio (piano) rec. 2012/13 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9281 [3 CDs: 212.40] [PCG] I was delighted to encounter this set. Those interested in approachable piano music for both listening and performance will be grateful for such a comprehensive issue.

Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643 - 1704) La Couronne de Fleurs, La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers - Boston Early Music Fest Vocal and Ch Ensembles/Paul O'Dette, Stephen Stubbs rec. 2013 CPO 777 876-2 [79:11] [JV] Lovers of French baroque music are lucky as they can add another fine disc to their collection.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Ingrid Fliter (piano) Scottish CO/Jun Märkl rec. 2013 LINN CKD455 SACD [73:21] [ST] This is a winner all-round for its freshness, clarity and beauty.

Greville COOKE (1894-1989) Piano works Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Nocturne Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Little Piano Book Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2014 EM RECORDS EMRCD022 [76.42] [JF][RB] There is so much to interest, entertain and move in the pages of Greville Cooke’s piano works. / Willowy poetry, whimsical wit, dappled and flickering fantasy and no shortage of stormy conflict.

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

John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938) Conjurer - Concerto for Percussion and String Orchestra, Vocalise - Dame Evelyn Glennie (percussion) Hila Plitmann (soprano) Albany SO/David Alan Miller rec. 2011 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559757 [57:43] Fresh, vital, vigorous; contemporary music of quality, winningly played  [DM] Two stimulating and interesting scores by John Corigliano in excellent performances [JQ]. 

Franz Ignaz DANZI (1763-1826) Der Berggeist Colin Balzer, Daniel Ochoa, Sophie Harmsen, Sarah Wegener, Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius rec. 2012 CARUS 83.296 [78:11] [JW] A very enjoyable romantic opera, deeply rooted in folkloric soil and splendidly performed.

Johann Nepomuk DAVID (1895-1977) Symphonies 1 & 6 - ORF Radio SO Vienna/Johannes Wildner rec. 2011 CPO 777 741-2 [59.54] [GH] Having heard these symphonies I wanted to play them again straightaway which is a rare feeling.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) String Quartet, Danses Sacrée et Profane André CAPLET (1878-1925) Les Prières, Conte Fantastique - Marielle Nordmann (harp) Francoise Masset (soprano) Yann Dubost (double-bass) Quatuor Debussy rec. 2012 TIMPANI 1C1207 [62:50] [SG] Two French composers, inextricably linked, in compelling performances.

Alfred DESENCLOS (1912-1971) Messe de Requiem Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Litanies à la Vierge noire - Ch of King’s College, London/David Trendall, Christopher Woodward, Richard Hall (organ) rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34136 [69:30] [JQ] A fine new recording of a Requiem that is a worthy successor in the Fauré/Duruflé lineage.

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.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Maria Stuarda - Elza van den Heever (soprano) Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) Matthew Polenzani (tenor) Matthew Rose (bass-baritone) Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Maurizio Benini rec.2013 ERATO DVD 2564 632035 [142:00] [RF] This quality of sung, staged and acted performance does not come the way of opera-lovers very often.

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. 

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Sea Pictures; The Dream of Gerontius - Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Stuart Skelton (tenor) David Soar (bass) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5140 SACD [58:33 + 66:14] [JQ] A notable addition to the Gerontius discography which captures on disc at last Sarah Connolly’s portrayal of The Angel.

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

Karl FIORINI (b. 1979) Violin Concertos - Emanuel Salvador, Marta Magdalena Lelek (violin) Sudecka PO/Bartosz Zurakowski rec. 2012 METIER MSV28533 [49:56] [JW] Complex and distinctive, full of active dissonance, elements of birdsong, and powerful emotional states. A splendid and highly auspicious disc.

Félix FOURDRAIN (1880-1923) Songs - Liliana Górska (mezzo), Piotr Ejsmont (piano) rec. 2013 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0323 [47:13] [GF] An armful of roses to all involved in making these lovely songs available to the general public.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Porgy and Bess - Eric Owens (baritone) Laquita Mitchell (soprano) San Francisco Opera O & Ch/John DeMain rec. 2009 EUROARTS DVD 2059638 [158:00 + 29:00 bonus] [RF] If you think opera started and finished with a clutch of great Italian, French, Russian and German composers then try this and think again; it is a revelation.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Porgy and Bess - Eric Owens (baritone) Laquita Mitchell (soprano) Chauncey Packer (tenor) San Francisco Opera O & Ch/John DeMain rec. 2009 EUROARTS Blu-ray 2059634 [158:00 + 29:00 bonus] [JQ] A gripping and moving Porgy and Bess without a weak link in the cast. Bravo, San Francisco.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra Mohammed FAIROUZ (b. 1985) Symphony 4 - Ji Hye Jung & Gwendolyn Burgett (timpani) Jānis Porietis (trumpet) U Kansas Wind Ens/Paul W. Popiel rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573205 [57:48] [SA] I was massively impressed, moved and overwhelmed.

Edward GREGSON (b.1945) The Music of Edward Gregson Vol. 5 - Brett Baker (trombone) Black Dyke Band/Nicholas Childs, Robert Childs rec. 2013 DOYEN DOYCD319 [78:58] [NB] One of the most impressive all-round recordings of brass band music in recent years.

Edward GREGSON (b. 1945) Dream Song; Horn Concerto; Aztec Dances; Concerto for Orchestra - Wissam Boustany (flute) Richard Watkins (horn) BBC PO/Bramwell Tovey rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10822 [74:55] [HC] Excellent performances of Gregson's often beautiful music.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Holberg Suite Johan KVANDAL (1919-99) Sonata for Strings Knut NYSTEDT (b.1915) Concerto Arctandriae - Ens Allegria rec. 2012 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1044 SACD [58:13] [SA] A marvellous disc of brilliant music played by superb young musicians.

Daniel Magnus GRONAU (c.1700-1747) Chorale Variations - Matteo Venturini (organ) rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94843 [77:42] [JV] These sets of variations are very compelling and will appeal not only to diehard organ aficionados.

Josef GUNG’L (1809/10-1889) Marches, Waltzes, Polkas - Nürnberger Symphoniker/Christian Simonis rec. 2010 CPO 777 582-2 [66:27] [JS] Overall has much appeal to anyone interested in nineteenth century dance music.

Naji HAKIM (b. 1955) Hakim plays the Schuke organ of the Palacio Euskalduna de Bilbao Vol. 1 - Naji Hakim, Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet (organ) rec. 2013 SIGNUM SIGCD389 [60:56] [DM] Just fabulous: music that revives the jaded palate.

Georg Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759) Organ Concertos Guillaume CONNESSON (b. 1970) Concertino - Ragna Schirmer (fortepiano, Steinway grand piano, Hammond B3 organ) rec. 2012/13 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300554BC [3 CDs: 218:38] [JS] All in all, a real treat for any open-minded Handelian.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Belshazzar Allan Clayton, Rosemary Joshua, Caitlin Hulcup, Iestyn Davies, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2012 LES ARTS FLORISSANTS EDITIONS AF.001 [3 CDs: 166:26] [ST] The whole thing is pulled off with panache, style and élan … a visual as well as an auditory treat.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Trios Volume 3 - Kungsbacka Piano Trio rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.572063 [73:43] [LJ] Intuitive and insightful performances complemented by a fresh and balanced recording. Bravo!

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. 

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

Jake HEGGIE (b. 1961) Out of Darkness - Caitlin Lynch (soprano) Sarah Larsen (mezzo) Music of Remembrance/Mina Miller rec. 2012/13 NAXOS 8.559770 [78:44] [GF] A disc to savour and return to for the beauty of the music, for the excellence of the performances and for its message.

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Symphonies 3-5 & 7-9 rec. 2006-10 - Berlin RSO & Ch/Marek Janowski rec. 2008 WERGO WER6721/2/3-2 [3 CDs: 179:20] [MC] The revelatory moments in this astonishing series are too many to enumerate.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Choral Works - SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart; Mitglieder des Radio-Sinfonieorchesters Stuttgart des SWR/Marcus Creed rec. 2011/12 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD93.295 [67:42] [LW] Marcus Creed and the SWR Vocal Ensemble’s recording of Hindemith is cause for celebration.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) The Complete Works for Violin and Piano - Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin)/Matthew Rickard (piano) rec. 2013 EM RECORDS EMRCD019-20 [74:09 + 60:48] [JQ] An important release, bringing together, for the first time, all Howells’ music for violin and piano in reference performances.

Gordon JACOB (1895-1984) Piano concerto 1 Malcolm WILLIAMSON (1931-2003) Piano concerto 2 Doreen CARWITHEN (1922-2004) Piano concerto - Mark Bebbington (piano) Innovation Chamber Ens/Richard Jenkinson rec. 2014 SOMM SOMMCD254 [67.20] [PCG] A marvellously adventurous pianist ... every bit as good as we might expect. Those unfamiliar with these works will find much satisfaction here.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Sextet for Strings, Suite - Aron Quartet, Henri Sigfridsson (piano) Thomas Selditz (viola) Màrius Diaz (cello) rec. 2010/11 CPO 777 600-2 [68:11] A captivating release [MC] The Aron Quartet and guests play the works beautifully...and I wish the disc deserved success [SA].

Tõnu KÕRVITS (b. 1968) Kreek's Notebook Arturs MASKATS (b. 1957) Lacrimosa Pēteris PLAKIDIS (b. 1947) In memoriam - William Mason (organ) Royal Holloway Ch, Britten Sinf/Rupert Gough rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA 67968 [61:18] [HC] Another splendid release devoted to some quite beautiful pieces of music by Baltic composers.

Lars-Erik LARSSON (1908-1986) Symphony 1, Fyra vignetter till Skakespeares En vintersaga, Musik för orkester, Pastoral, Lyrisk fantasi - Helsingborg SO/Andrew Manze rec. 2011 CPO 777 671-2 SACD [76:06] [DM] Music of substance and stature, eloquently played and beautifully recorded; a new and significant journey has just begun.

Orlande de LASSUS (1532-1594) Lagrime di San Pietro - Gallicantus/Gabriel Crouch rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD339 [53:21] [JB] This is a diligently and intelligently researched and presented project, deserving only of the very highest of praise and success.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage (complete) - Sinae Lee (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI6202 [3 CDs: 160:43] [JWh] A truly phenomenal recording.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Transcendental Études - Lazar Berman (piano) rec. 1963 MELODIYA MELCD1002179 [63:15] [SG] A hearty welcome ... scintillating performances.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 7 - Simón Bolívar SO Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 1700 [78:52] [GPJ] Totally stunning ... should finally put an end to this symphony’s ‘Cinderella’ status

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Cendrillon, Conte de fées - Jean-Philippe Lafont (bass-baritone) Ewa Podles (alto) Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) Jeremy White (bass) O & Ch Royal Opera House/Bertrand De Billy rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS DVD 6025099 [75:23 + 73:14] [RJF] It may not be as good as Rossini, but this production and cast do Massenet proud.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Orchestral works - Truls Mørk (cello) Suisse Romande O/Neeme Järvi rec. 2013 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5137 [81.30] [IL] A rich, spicy feast. The best recording yet of Massenet’s too-often-forgotten orchestral music.

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]

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphonies 4 & 5, The Hebrides - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5132 SACD [66:04] [ST] Three cheers for this CD, and all the more exciting that this is only Volume 1.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Songs without Words, Fantasia, Variations Sérieuses, Etudes - Bernd Glemser (piano) rec. 2012 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 430 [71:06] [AL] Immensely enjoyable from start to finish.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1808-1847) Symphony 3, The Hebrides overture Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano concerto - Maria João Pires (piano) London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2014 LSO LIVE LSO0765 SACD/BD-A [79:17] [DJB] Exceptional Mendelssohn, a different but interesting take on the Schumann, all in demonstration class sound.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Overtures and Entr'actes from the Paris Operas - New Zealand SO/Darrell Ang rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573195[71:23] [DM] Intoxicating performances, thrillingly recorded; Darrell Ang is one to watch.

Robin MILFORD (1903-1959) Chamber Music - Robert Plane (clarinet); Lucy Gould (violin); Mia Cooper (violin); David Adams (viola); Alice Neary (cello); Benjamin Frith (piano) rec. 2014 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0244 [69:31][PRB] Outstanding performances throughout and excellent recording ... one of the best recent CDs of its kind.

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.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespri Solennes per la Festa di San Marco - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini rec. 2013 NAÏVE OP30577 [CD: 79:46; DVD: 51:56] [ST] A marvellous achievement, and an exciting addition to the Monteverdi and Alessandrini discographies.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies 36 & 39-41 - Danish Ntl CO/Adam Fischer rec. 2012/13 DACAPO 6.220546/6.220639 SACD [57:19 & 64:32] [BR] A truly spontaneous, exciting, glorious finish to an important Mozart cycle.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Clarinet Concerto, Kegelstatt Trio, Allegro for Clarinet and String Quartet - Martin Fröst (clarinet) Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen rec. 2010-2013 BIS BIS-SACD-1893 [53:43] [ST] Even if you already have a recording of the concerto, this disc is definitely worth catching. 

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto 24 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 3 - Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2011/12 BIS BIS-SACD-1978 [66:16] [SG] These are highly polished and well-rehearsed performances that set the bar high.

Per NØRGÅRD (b. 1932) Symphonies 1 & 8 - Vienna PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2013 DACAPO 6.220574 SACD [57:09] [DM] Two very different works, supremely well played, conducted and recorded; surely one of the year's finest symphonic releases thus far.

Carl ORFF (1895-1982) Carmina Burana - Yeree Suh (soprano) Yves Saelens (tenor) Thomas Bauer (baritone) Collegium Vocale Gent, Cantate Domino, Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel rec. 2014 ZIG-ZAG TERRITOIRES ZZT353 [63:40] [DM] Carmina Burana as you’ve never heard it before; a triumph for all concerned.

Johann PACHELBEL (1653 - 1706) Complete Organ Works Vol. 1 - Michael Belotti, James David Christie, Jürgen Essl, Christian Schmitt (organ) rec. 2009-2012 CPO 777556-2 [5 CDs: 350:06] [JV] A monument to one of the greatest composers of the baroque era.

Boris PAPANDOPULO (1906-1991) Piano Concerto 2, Sinfonietta, Pintarichiana - Oliver Triendl (piano) I Solisti di Zagreb/Sreten Krstic rec. 2013 CPO 777 829-2 [67:31] [BR] Non-stop neo-classical pleasure, ranging from 1700s dance arrangements to heartfelt folksong laments.

John PICKARD (b.1963) Symphony 4, Eden - Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag/Andreas Hanson rec. 2013 BIS BIS-2061 SACD [81.09] [PCG] Anybody interested in the development of music in the twenty-first century should rush out and buy this CD at once.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Sayaka Shoji (violin) St. Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2012 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 0580370 [49:21] [SG] Truly memorable performances. Pure magic.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Chout Suite - London S O/Walter Susskind rec. 1958 EVEREST RECORDS SDBR3001 [34:13] [DM] The Countdown/Everest team beats all rivals to the summit with this remarkable reissue; a knock-out performance, too.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Ivan the Terrible - Olga Borodina (mezzo) Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Staats- und Domchor Berlin, Deutsches SO Berlin/Tugan Sokhiev rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88843 028942 [68:43] [MC] Magnificently conducted, played and sung, this live performance makes a stunning impression.

Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Melodies - Alina Ibragimova (violin) Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA67514 [60:45] [LW] A new first choice for Prokofiev violin and piano works.

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

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca - Angela Gheorghiu, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, O & Ch Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec.2011 EMI CLASSICS DVD 4040639 [120:00] [JWh] This Tosca is a winner.

Daniel PURCELL (1664-1717) The Judgment of Paris - Anna Dennis, Amy Freston, Ciara Hendrick, Samuel Boden, Ashley Riches, Spiritato!/Julian Perkins rec. 2013 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10128 [78:46] [JV] The first recording ever of this fine opera by Daniel Purcell - historically and musically of great importance.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) A Purcell Collection Voces8, Les Inventions/Patrick Ayrton, Barnaby Smith rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD375 [70:18] [JV] Some of the finest performances of Purcell's music I have heard in recent years.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1875-1943) Songs - Evelina Dobraceva, Ekaterina Siurina (sopranos) Justina Gringyte (mezzo) Daniil Shtoda (tenor) Andrei Bondarenko, Rodion Pogossov (baritones) Alexander Vinogradov (bass) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2012/13 DELPHIAN DCD34127 [3 CDs: 181:18] [SG] This set would be hard to beat by any standards – a deeply rewarding and truly stimulating musical experience.

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

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Gaspard de la Nuit, Daphnis et Chloé, La valse, Pavane pour une infant défunte - Vincent Larderet (piano) rec. 2013 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38146 [70:06] [BR] Twenty minutes of world-premiere Ravel piano music. This is an essential release.

Carl REINECKE (1795-1883) Cello Concerto John TAVENER (1944-2013) Threnos Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Adagio and Allegro Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Cello Suite 1 Osvaldo GOLIJOV (b. 1960) Mariel - Michael Samis (cello) Gateway CO/Gregory Wolynec rec. 2013 DELOS DE3446 [66:32] [BR] You’ve probably never heard these works by a line-up of great composers, in a recital that exceeds the sum of its parts.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Brazilian Impressions, La Boutique fantasque - O Phil Royal de Liège/John Neschling rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2050 [68:54] [BR] A very special Respighi album, delivering all the fireworks and the depth too.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) The tale of the invisible city of Kitezh Svetlana Igantovich, Maxim Aksenov, John Daszak, Vladimir Vaneev, Netherlands PO/Marc Albrecht rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OABD7109D Blu-ray [207.00] [PCG] Quite simply the best recording of the music of this opera to be had in any medium.

Pablo SARASATE (1844-1908) Works for Violin and Piano Vol. 4 - Tianwa Yang (violin) Markus Hadulla (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572709 [79:46] [JWh] Another stunning Sarasate CD … Fabulous stuff … Just buy it.

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’.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise Gerald Finley (baritone) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68034 [74:37] [JQ] All Lieder collectors should hasten to hear this distinguished new Winterreise.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Der Wanderer - Florian Boesch (baritone) Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA68010 [64:45] [RMo] All lovers of the Schubertian Lied will want to own this - indispensable.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Violin Sonata, Fantaisie Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonata 1 - David Oistrakh (violin) Frida Bauer (piano) rec. 1970/1972 MELODIYA MELCD1002147 [72:00] [SG] Violin playing at its best.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Wanderers Nachtlied - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Helmut Deutsch, Eric Schneider (piano rec, 2011/12 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902109.10 [68:38 + 61:58] [ST] Why hesitate?

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Octet Mario WIEGAND (b. 1970) Dunkle Lichter East Side Oktett, with Sung Kwon You (bassoon) rec. 2010/2014 ES DUR ES2051 [66:09] [GPJ] A brilliant and musically satisfying account of one of Schubert’s most lovable works from this exciting new Berlin-based ensemble.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Quintet Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quintet - Joyce Yang (piano) Alexander String Qt rec. 2013 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2014 [70:32] [BR] I’m this close to binge-purchasing all the Alexander Quartet’s CDs.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Symphonies 1-4 - Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2013 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR140011 Blu-ray video & audio/CD [56:18 + 68:56] [MC] I can see these Rattle recordings of the Schumann symphonies becoming the benchmark for many years to come.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) The Symphonies - Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2013 LINN CKD450 [70:59 + 62:25] [ST] This is a thrilling achievement.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Scenes from Goethe's Faust - Christian Gerhaher (baritone) Christiane Karg (soprano) Alastair Miles (bass) Bavarian RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2013 BR KLASSIK 900122 [72:40 + 43:00] [SSi] A recording which brings out the best of this unjustly neglected work.

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.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trios 1 & 2 Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Trio - Smetana Trio rec. 2013 SUPRAPHON SU 4145-2 [68:11] [NB] Reinforces the stature of both the music performed and its executants.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio 2 Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Piano Trio - Neave Trio rec. 2013 Private release [45:32] [GPJ] A ‘promotional’ disc, but don’t be put off; this is an exceptional young ensemble, playing two of the greatest masterpieces of the Piano Trio repertoire; outstanding.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 6 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 6 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2013 BR KLASSIK 900123 [75:25] [MC] These highly desirable performances are amongst the greatest committed to disc.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Christian Tetzlaff (violin) Helsinki PO/John Storgårds rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE1239-2 [68:23] [SG] These performances set the bar high.

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

Roberto SIERRA (b. 1953) Fandangos, Sinfonía 4, Carnaval - Nashville SO/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.559738 [55:34] [BBa] Definitely one not to miss.

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.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Excelsior!, Mellanspel ur Sången, Serenade - Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Christian Lindberg rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2058 [58:19] [DM] At last, Stenhammar gets the fine performances he deserves; first-rate sound, too.

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 [59:24] [BR] Chicago/Reiner, Cleveland/Szell, Pittsburgh/Honeck, and that’s no exaggeration.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben, Macbeth Frankfurt Opern- und Museums O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2011/13 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 888 [64:17] [DM] Heroic performances, superbly recorded; a fine start to the Straussfest.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche - City of Birmingham SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2011-2013 ORFEO C878141A [65:43] Evidence of what a crack team this orchestra has become under Nelsons [ST] Andris Nelsons and the CBSO are in remarkable form here [MC].

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben Edgard VARÈSE (1883-1965) Amériques - Lu Wei (violin) Deutsches SO Berlin/Ingo Metzmacher rec. 2007 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72644 [71:08] [MC] One of the most remarkable releases I’ve heard this year.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Violin Concerto Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concerto 2 Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2013 NAÏVE V5352 [51:00] [LW] Kopatchinskaja and Jurowski in outstanding performances.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird, The Rite of Spring - O Ntl du Capitole de Toulouse/Tugan Sokhiev rec. 2011 NAÏVE V5360 [54:57] [ST] This disc made a big impression on me.

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Violin Concertos 1 & 2; Myths - Baiba Skride (violin) Lauma Skride (piano) Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2013 ORFEO C873141A [65:36] [LW] Skride and Petrenko set a new standard for the Szymanowski concertos.

Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585) Missa Puer natus est nobis, Magnificat a 4, Videte miraculum - The Cardinall’s Musick/Andrew Carwood rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68026 [67:35] [BW] Another recording from The Cardinall’s Musick to challenge the best available.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Denis Matsuev (piano) Mariinsky Theatre O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2013 MARIINSKY MAR0548 SACD [78:32] [ST] A real treat.

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.

Helena TULVE (b. 1972) Reyah hadas'ala, silences/larmes, L'Equinoxe de l'âme, Arboles lloran por lluvia, Extinction des choses vues - Taniel Kirikal (counter-tenor) Vox Clamantis, Ens Hortus Musicus/Jaan-Eik Tulve, Arianna Savall (soprano) Marco Ambrosini (nyckelharpa) NYYD Qt, Estonian Ntl SO/Olari Elts rec. 2001/10 ECM NEW SERIES 2243 [61:13] [HC] A superb portrait of a most endearing composer.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphony 9 - London PO/Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1958 EVEREST SBDR 3006 [35:01] [JF] Everything about this CD is perfect.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Cambridge Mass Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Blest Pair of Sirens - Bach Ch New Queen’s Hall O/Alan Tongue rec. 2011 ALBION RECORDS ALBCD020 [56:13] [JQ] An important release which all English music devotees should hear as soon as possible.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, A Pastoral Symphony, Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’, ‘The Wasps’ overture - Sarah Fox (soprano) Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2012/13 HALLÉ CDHLL7540 [74:16] [JQ] A wonderful performance of the ‘Pastoral’ crowns another fine Vaughan Williams disc from Elder and the Hallé.

Juan VAZQUEZ (c1500-c1560) Gentil Señora Mia - 16th-century songs and villancicos - Quink Vocal Ensemble rec. 2009 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94711 [53:35] [JV] I can't think of a better case for Vázquez' oeuvre.

Tomaso Antonio VITALI (1663-1745) & Giovanni Battista VITALI (1632-1692) Ciaconna - Clematis/ Stéphanie de Failly (violin) rec. 2011/12 RICERCAR RIC326 [62:15] [DJB] An outstanding release in all respects.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983)  Symphony 1, Violin Concerto - Tasmin Little (violin) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013/14 CHANDOS CHSA5136 SACD [76:30] [MG] A winning combination of sensitivity and verve recorded with clarity and spaciousness.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1083) Symphony 1; Violin Concerto - Tasmin Little (violin) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5136 SACD [76:30] [JQ] A compelling coupling of exceptionally fine Walton performances.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) Troilus and Cressida - Judith Howarth (soprano) Arthur Davies (tenor) Ch Opera North, English Northern Phil/Richard Hickox rec. 1995 CHANDOS CHAN241-50 [70:08 + 63:04] This mordant yet touching Hickox and Opera North recording of the original version has the ruddiest of blood running through its veins [RB] More firmly than ever at the top of the pile [BW]

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1996) Piano Trio; Violin Sonatina; Sonata for Double Bass - Elisaveta Blumina (piano) Kolja Blacher/Erez Ofer (violin) Johannes Moser (cello) Nabil Shehata (double bass) rec. 2011/2012 CPO 777 804-2 [68:01] [BR] The piano trio is a stunner, a masterpiece, and the violin sonatina shows marvellous invention too.

Malcolm WILLIAMSON (1931-2003) The Complete Piano Concertos - Piers Lane, Howard Shelley (pianos) Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley rec. various dates HYPERION CDA68011/2 [53:48 + 62:46] [RB] A real and rewarding rarity.

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745) Sub tuum praesidium; Sanctus et Agnus Dei František Ignác Antonín TŮMA (1704-1774) Stabat mater Johann Georg ORSCHLER (1698-1767/70) Sonata for two violins - Collegium 1704 & Vocale/Václav Luks rec. 2013 SUPRAPHON SU4160-2 [56:01] [JV] One of the best discs I have heard lately.

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) String Quartets Vol. 2 - Escher String Qt rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573088 [74:54] [NB] Remarkable expressive and musical range achieved with a technical security and near perfect ensemble that transcends any criticism.

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.

British Cello Concertos by Joubert, Simpson & Wright - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) BBC Ntl O Wales/William Boughton rec. 2013 LYRITA SRCD344 [70:38] [DBi] An outstanding trio of concertos brilliantly performed and recorded. An essential purchase for lovers of the cello and 20th century British music.

Dances of Old Vienna The ‘Old Year’s Concert’ Willi Boskovsky Ensemble rec. 1960-62 ALTO ALC1237 [78:48] [BW] Sheer delight.

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

Fantasy Trios Works by Bridge, Suk, Ireland & Schoenberg - Dimension Piano Trio rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD060 [63:22] [NB] A disc that was a privilege to listen to.

Annie Fischer (piano) The Complete London Studio Recordings - rec. 1955-69 WARNER CLASSICS ICON 2564 634123 [8 CDs: c. 540:00] [JS] Playing of supreme imagination and musicality.

Annie Fischer (piano) - The Centennial Collection rec. 1953-67 HUNGAROTON HCD41011 [3 CDs: 192:31] [SG] In remarkable sound quality, these recordings are worth acquiring for pianism of superb artistry and distinction.

French Impressions Works by Bonnal, Roger-Ducasse, Vierne, Cochereau & Duruflé - Daniel Bruun (organ) rec. 2012 GATEWAY MUSIC DBCD 2012 [65:49] [HPR] Virtuosity, sensitivity and technical facility blend the brush-strokes into a whole painting.

French Violinists René Benedetti, Miguel Candéla, Renée Chemet, Jeanne Gautier & Jacques Thibaud rec. 1941-55 MELOCLASSIC MC2016 [79:17] [JW] Wonderful – a real feast for violin lovers and specifically for those who revere French players.

Tito Gobbi - 100th Anniversary Edition rec. 1965 ICA CLASSICS DVD ICAD5118 [81:00] [RJF] In sixty years of opera-going I have barely seen a dozen singer-actors of Gobbi’s ability to not merely sing a role, but to live it and be the character.

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.

Harmonies du Soir Works by Brahms, Liszt & Granados - Tonya Lemoh (piano) rec. 2013 DANACORD DACOCD743 [56:30] [JF] I cannot rate this CD highly enough. The repertoire is perfectly chosen. The playing is masterful and inspiring and the sound quality is ideal.

L’heure Rose Hélène Guilmette (soprano) Martin Dubé (piano) rec. 2013 ANALEKTA [GPJ] An inspiration to any young female composers; wonderful music, sung with total artistic commitment by this exceptional young Canadian soprano.

Jacobean Lute Music Works by Dowland, Johnson, Bacheler, Robinson, Hely, Gaultier and anonymous - Jakob Lindberg (lute) BIS BIS-SACD-2055 [81:12] [BR] Just superb. The lute dates from 1590 and the music, much of it anonymous, is fantastic.

Legendary Violinists in Germany 1938-44 Lilia d’Albore, Tibor von Bisztricky, Ruggiero Ricci, Nejiko Suwa & Gioconda de Vito MELOCLASSIC MC2018 [68:24] [JW] Meloclassic is doing me out of superlatives.

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.

Johanna Martzy (violin) Collection Vol. 3 - rec. 1959-69 DOREMI DHR-8034/5 [70:29 + 71:00] [SG] A feast for violin buffs.

No Exceptions. No Exemptions - Robin Tritschler (tenor) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD401 [44:59 + 40:45] [JQ] An uncommonly thoughtful and enterprising programme of Great War songs.

Paul O’Dette (lute) My Favourite Dowland rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907515 [75:23] [JW] Altogether the loveliest imaginable salute from interpreter to revered composer.

Overtures from the British Isles Works by Austin, Stanford, Coleridge-Taylor, Cowen, Bantock, Mackenzie, Sullivan & Balfour Gardiner - BBC Ntl O Wales/Rumon Gamba rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN 10797 [77:06] An out-and-out winner [JQ] Look no further if you are in the market for a generously proportioned and generous-hearted set of fresh-faced British concert overtures [RB].

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.

Play Edgar Moreau (cello) Pierre-Yves Hodique (piano) rec. 2013 ERATO 2564 636958 [72:43] [JW] This splendid recital, so astutely recorded, serves notice of a singular talent.

Princely Splendour Choral works from 18th century Rome - Harmonia Sacra/Peter Leech, Martin Knizia (organ) rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6273 [53:21] [JS] Much material for thought and enjoyment. Somewhat short playing time but when the quality and interest is so high this is easily forgiven.

The Proud Bassoon Music by Rameau, Boismortier, Fasch, Couperin, Telemann and Dubourg - Peter Whelan (bassoon) Ensemble Marsyas rec. 2012 LINN SACD CKD 435 [60:44] [JW] A deeply rewarding recital, one that will stimulate and entertain in equal measure.

Relique Di Roma III: Mortale, Che Pensi? Works by Carissimi, Leone, Marazzoli, Mazzocchi, Rossi & Stradella - Atalante/Erin Headley rec. 2011 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6266 [66.30] [GH] Ideal really.

Road 66 American Piano Music - Shani Diluka (piano) rec. 2013 MIRARE MIR239 [69:55] [BR] A brilliantly crafted piano recital of American music is my first Recording of the Year contender.

Russian Treasures Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2013 BENE ARTE SIGCD900 [61.27] [JQ] An outstanding recital of Russian liturgical music to launch Tenebrae’s new label.

Stabat Mater dolorosa Works by Bach, Byrd, Tallis, Victoria & others - Ch Clare College, Cambridge/ Graham Ross rec. 2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907616 [75:46] [JQ] An outstanding disc of Music for Passiontide.

Swiss Aspects Music from Argovia - Rafael Rütti (piano) Argovia Philharmonic/Douglas Bostock rec. 2013 COVIELLO COV31314 [69.35] [GH] Will appeal strongly to anyone searching around for something different. Eclectic, wonderfully played and recorded and full of interest.

Tillägnan (Dedication) Nilla Pierrou (violin) rec. 1974–90 OAK GROVE CD 2034 [3 CDs: 229:24] [GF] Unlimited pleasure for many years to come. Not to be missed.




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