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DOWNLOAD NEWS 2015/4
by Brian Wilson and David Barker

DL News 2015/3 is here.

2015/4 Index:
BACH Brandenburg Concertos – Florilegium_Channel Classics
BAX – see Benjamin
BEETHOVEN Quartets, Op.18/4, Op.74 and Op.130/133 – Elias Quartet_Wigmore Hall
BENJAMIN, MOERAN, BAX Violin Concertos; WALTON Cello Concerto – vintage performances_Lyrita
BOCCHERINI etc. The Symphony in Europe, 1785 - European Community CO/Faerber (Hyperion)
BÖELLMANN Cello Sonata - Mats Lidström (cello), Bengt Forsberg (piano) (+ GODARD)_Hyperion
BOND Six Concertos in Seven Parts - The Parley of Instruments/Roy Goodman (Hyperion)
BRIAN Symphonies 6, 28, 29 and 31 - New Russia State Orchestra/Walker_Naxos/2xHD
BRITTEN A Time there was – see Vaughan Williams
BRITTEN A Time there was Young Person’s Guide , the Sea Interludes and Johnson over Jordan – Hickox_Chandos
BRUCKNER Student Symphony, No.‘00’- Philharmoniker Hamburg/Young_Oehms
BRUCKNER Student Symphony, No.‘00’ – Saarbrücken RSO/Skrowaczewski_Oehms
BRUCKNER Symphony No.6 - Philharmonie Festiva/Schaller_Hanssler Profil
BUSH Small Pieces for Orchestra Wallfisch; Northern CO/Ward (+ IRELAND)_Lyrita
CHAUSSON Soir de fête – see D’Indy
CHIN Three Concertos – Seoul PO/Chung_DG
COUPERIN F Les Nations - Juilliard Baroque_Naxos
D’INDY Wallenstein; Fervaal; Lied for cello and orchestra; Suite dans le style ancien – Iceland SO/Gamba_Chandos
D’INDY Wallenstein; Lied; Choral varié; Saugefleurie – National Orchestra of Wales/Fischer_Hyperion
D’INDY Symphonie sur un chant montagnard - Helmchen; Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/ Janowski (+ SAINT-SAENS Symphony No.2, CHAUSSON Soir de fête)_PentaTone
DITTERSDORF Sinfonias on Ovid’s Metamorphoses - Failoni Orchestra Budapest/Gmür _Naxos
DVOŘÁK Symphony No.1; Rhapsody - Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Chichon _Hänssler
DYSON Three Rhapsodies – Divertimenti (+ HOWELLS)_Hyperion
ELGAR Cockaigne; Symphony No.1 - RLPO/Petrenko_Onyx
GERSHWIN An American in Paris , Rhapsody in Blue, Cuban Overture, Porgy and Bess Suite; Piano Concerto in F - Siegel (piano); Saint Louis SO/Leonard Slatkin_Brilliant
GODARD Cello Sonata - Lidström (cello), Forsberg (piano) (+ BÖELLMANN)_Hyperion
HOWELLS String Quartet No. 3 ‘In Gloucestershire’ – Divertimenti (+ DYSON)_Hyperion
IRELAND The Holy Boy  – see Bush
LEIGHTON Crucifixus and other works – Trinity College Choir/Layton_Hyperion
(and other recordings on Hyperion, Naxos and Chandos)
LEIGHTON Symphony No.2; Te Deum – Hickox_Chandos
MACMILLAN One; Oboe Concerto – see Vaughan Williams
MAHLER Symphony No.9 – Hallé/Elder_Hallé; CPO/Ancerl_Supraphon
MOERAN – see Benjamin
MOZART Piano Concertos and Sonatas – See Wanda Landowska
MOZART Piano Sonatas – Hamelin_Hyperion
MOZART Violin Concertos 1-5 – Grimal; Les Dissonances_Dissonances
MOZART Violin Concertos 1 and 5; Sinfonia Concertante - Vilde Frang _Warner
MOZART Violin Concerto No.5 – Hahn (+ VIEUXTEMPS)_DG
MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition  (orch. Ravel); Songs and Dances of Death (orch. Shostakovich); Night on a Bare Mountain (original version) - Furlanetto; Mariinsky Orchestra/Gergiev_Mariinsky
MYSLIVEČEK Violin Concerto No.4 - Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin); The Brandenburg Orchestra/Roy Goodman _Hyperion
NIELSEN Symphonies 2 and 6 - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Oramo_BIS
PACHELBEL Organ Jewels - Bernard Lagacé (organ)_2xHD
RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez; Concierto Andaluz; Concierto Madrigal – Kavanagh, etc._Naxos
SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No.2 – see D’Indy
SIBELIUS Complete Theatre Music_BIS
SPOHR Violin Concerto No. 8 - Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin); The Brandenburg Orchestra/Roy Goodman _Hyperion
TALLIS Complete Works – Chapelle du Roi/Dixon_Signum
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Oboe Concerto – Daniel; Britten Sinfonia (+ BRITTEN A Time there was; MACMILLAN One; Oboe Concerto)_Harmonia Mundi
VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No.4 – Hahn (+ MOZART)_DG
VIVALDI L’Estro Armonico : Op.3/7-12 - Café Zimmermann/Pablo Valetti_Alpha
VIVALDI Lute Concertos – Avital_DG; O’Dette_Hyperion
WALTON Cello Concerto – see Benjamin

Collections:
Ascendit Deus: Ascensiontide and Pentecost - Clare College, Cambridge/Ross_Harmonia Mundi
Benno Moiseiwitsch – Piano Concerto movements_First Hand
Discover Flamenco – various_ARC
Five Countertenors_Decca
Wanda Landowska: The Complete Piano Recordings_APR

The Hyperion Archive Service
Unfortunately, it is the way of the world that recordings become unavailable when all stocks are sold, and the decision is made not to order another pressing.  Hyperion have a slightly different approach.  When one of theirs gets to this point where it has not sold well enough to justify a new batch being made and it hasn’t been reissued in the budget Helios series, it is moved to their Archive Service.

Quoting from their website “This service offers a production-quality CDR with printed label, inlay (tray) card and, at the minimum, a 2pp booklet (including cover artwork and complete track listing), packaged in a normal jewel case.  In many instances we will provide complete printed booklets, but please note that this is not always the case. Pricing is £13.99 per CD, regardless of the original sale price of the disc(s)”.

However, for us downloaders, there is a much cheaper option, as all discs in this category are downloadable in 16-bit lossless and mp3 formats, with the original booklets (admittedly, some are rather dodgy scans).  Prices are typically £5.99 or 7.99.  You can then make your own CD-R if you wish.  There is no single page dedicated to listing those in the Archive Service, but you can see them on the Deletions and Re-issues page.  Here are some that might interest you, particularly for the rarity of their repertoire.

Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895)
Cello sonata, Two pieces
Léon BÖELLMANN (1862-1897)
Cello sonata, Two pieces
Mats Lidström (cello), Bengt Forsberg (piano)
rec. 1995
HYPERION CDA66888 [72:46] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

This is the fourth album by this pairing that I have heard in the last few months, and I continue to enjoy their choice of repertoire, if not necessarily everything about their performances.  In the past I have commented on overly slow tempos and a less than beautiful, rather nasally cello tone on occasions.  The former doesn’t seem to be a problem here, but the latter is very obvious at the fortissimo moments.   The two sonatas are a real contrast: the Godard is very operatic and could almost be described as a concerto for the two instruments, while the Boëllmann, much more a “true” sonata, is quite a discovery.

Capel BOND (1730-1790)
Six Concertos in Seven Parts
The Parley of Instruments/Roy Goodman
rec. 1990
HYPERION CDA66467 [50:25] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

A composer I’d never heard of, unsurprising given that his sole representation on record beyond this seems to be a single work – probably one of those here – on a Regis reissue of trumpet concertos by Maurice André.  There is nothing ground-breaking here, but there is plenty of pleasure to be had and it is always interesting to hear works from the period when music was changing from Baroque to Classical.  These certainly lean more to the former.

(As an added incentive, this download sells for just £5.99.  BW.)

The Symphony in Europe, 1785
Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805)
Symphony No. 20 in B flat, G514
Pierre van MALDERE (1729-1768)
Symphony in b, Op. 4/1
Friedrich SCHWINDL (1737-1786)
Symphony in F ‘Periodique’
Samuel WESLEY (1766-1837)
Symphony No. 5 in A
European Community Chamber Orchestra/Jörg Faerber
rec. 1984
HYPERION CDA66156 [54:38] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

By 1785, Mozart had written all but his last four symphonies, while Haydn’s tally was 81.  I can’t report that any of these reach the heights of the two masters, but for collectors of the obscure, they don’t come much more obscure than van Maldere (Belgium) and Schwindl (Germany).  My pick of the four is the Wesley, which has a lovely sway to its geniality, and reminds me to revisit the Chandos recording of five of Wesley’s symphonies (CHAN9823), including the one presented here.  Incidentally, it is not clear why the title year was chosen, as none of the works were actually written in 1785.

(This is another with a price incentive, at just £5.99.  BW.)

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
String Quartet No. 3 ‘In Gloucestershire’
Sir George DYSON (1883-1964)
Three Rhapsodies
Divertimenti
rec. 1984
HYPERION CDA66139 [63:33] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

Two very under-appreciated composers in a genre not normally associated with them.  The Howells is a substantial work at over half an hour, and shows his Vaughan Williams connection very strongly.  The title of the Dyson might imply miniatures, but all three are in the vicinity of ten minutes.  A case could be made that they would have been better served by some judicious editing, especially the slow middle movement, but nonetheless, they are worth hearing.

(I’m sorry that neither John France – review – nor I – review – persuaded enough music lovers to purchase this recording when it was available at budget price on CDH55045.  Fortunately it’s not too late to remedy the situation, though it will cost a little more.  BW)

Josef MYSLIVEČEK (1737-1781)
Violin Concerto No. 4 in B flat
Giovanni VIOTTI (1755-1824)
Violin Concerto No. 22 in B flat
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Rondo in A
Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)
Violin Concerto No. 8
Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin)
The Brandenburg Orchestra/Roy Goodman
rec. 1995
HYPERION CDA66840 [78:37] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

A note of warning to begin – if you are allergic to a lack of vibrato, this will not be for you as it is strictly by-the-HIP-book.  I did find myself wishing for some warmth in the tone at times, but I understand you can’t have it both ways. The Mysliveček is the real rarity – there is a two-volume set of his violin concertos on Supraphon of the same vintage as these.  I suspect this would be the better performance and recording. The other three have more than a dozen other recordings each, including such names as Heifetz & Hahn (Spohr), and Oistrakh, Perlman & Grumiaux (Viotti). If you are after an authentic experience, this won’t disappoint.

David Barker

***

Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-1585)
Those in search of individual albums from the complete recording made by Chapelle du Roi and Alistair Dixon for Signum will find all but the final volume for download from Hyperion for £6.99 or £7.99 (mp3 or lossless, with pdf booklet).  Though the complete set is available at budget price from Brilliant Classics, Hyperion’s downloads should appeal to those who may be missing one or two volumes or who downloaded some of them in less satisfactory mp3 recordings before 320kb/s became standard.  (It still isn’t for Amazon and iTunes, nor is the inclusion of booklets.)

The performances stand alongside those of the Tallis Scholars (Gimell) as my benchmark:

• Volume 1 SIGCD001 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 2 SIGCD002 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 3 SIGCD003 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 4 SIGCD010 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 5 SIGCD016 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 6 SIGCD022 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 7 SIGCD029 – from hyperion-records.co.uk
• Volume 8 SIGCD036 – from hyperion-records.co.uk

My own earlier copy of Volume 8 is at around 200kb/s – from emusic.com, I imagine, and devoid of booklet.  At £6.99 the lossless flac from Hyperion is a considerable improvement and it comes with the booklet of texts.  It contains the two settings of Lamentations and the contrafactum or English-text version of Spem in alium

Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706) 
Organ Jewels of the 17th Century  
Toccata in e minor [1:45] 
Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund  [2:08] 
Christus, der ist mein Leben  [6:20] 
Von Himmel Hoch, da komm ich her  [4:38] 
Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott  [3:42] 
Ricercar in c minor [5:20] 
Hexachordum Apollinis  : Aria Sebaldina in f minor [6:35] 
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern  [3:20] 
Vater unser im Himmelreich  [2:48] 
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig  (Chorale) [4:26] 
O Lamm Gottes unschuldig  in f minor [6:35] 
Bernard Lagacé (organ) 
rec. St. Bonaventure de Rosemont, Montreal, Canada, 1 March 1971. ADD 
2xHD 2XHDJD1033  [50:16] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, NO booklet)

The only reason not to give an outright recommendation is that you may well wish to go on to investigate the rest of Pachelbel’s considerable output via the 5-CD set released last year as Volume 1 of his organ music, on the CPO label, which Johan van Veen made a Recording of the Month (777 556-2review).  Please see my full review.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
L’Estro Armonico: Concerti Grossi, Op.3/7-12 [55:07]
Cello Concerto in G, RV414 [10:18]
Concerto for Violin and Cello, Il Proteo, RV544 [10:04]
Petr Skalka (cello)
Café Zimmermann/Pablo Valetti (violin)
rec. 11-14 November 2012, Grand Théâtre de Provence (Aix-en-Provence)
ALPHA ALPHA193 [75:29] – stream/download from Qobuz (16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)

There’s an excellent new recording of the complete Op.3 from Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque on Channel Classics (CCSSA36515).  I was hoping to feature it, but it’s not available as a download at present: the version which I obtained from Qobuz had one seriously defective track and has been withdrawn, presumably pending obtaining a corrected version, and other download sites seem to have followed suit.  Incidentally, Qobuz very quickly offered me an alternative download.

In the meantime my benchmarks remain ASMF/Neville Marriner (Double Decca) for modern instruments and L’Arte dell’Arco/Christopher Hogwood (Chandos Chaconne CHAN0689: review – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet) for period instruments.  Those in search of a bargain and/or a slightly fuller period-instrument sound will be well served by Trevor Pinnock (DG Archiv Collectors’ Edition 4790135, 7 CDs, with Op.4, Op.10, etc., or the earlier DG Archiv Collectors’ Edition 4713172, 5 CDs, or a budget 2-CD set with Op.10, E4775421).  In certain moods I also like Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi (Virgin/Erato, budget-price twofer 2564619520, £7.50 or less, or 6484082, 4 budget-price CDs with a top-rate recording of Op.8/1-12 – review).

Café Zimmermann’s performances are a little less hectic than Biondi’s, though never so ‘safe’ as to be dull.  It’s a slightly larger group than L’Arte dell’Arco and that, combined with an extremely wide-ranging recording would make this album more suitable for those who prefer Pinnock to Hogwood.  I’m very happy with all the recordings that I’ve listed, though Rachel Podger might well be my ultimate top choice when the glitch is fixed.  Meanwhile I look forward to the appearance of Volume 1 of the Café Zimmermann set: I wonder why the second half was released first.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in a minor, RV356 (originally for violin, Op.3/6) [7:06]
Concerto in D, RV93 (originally for lute) [9:18]
Mandolin Concerto in C, RV425 [7:36]
Largo in e minor from Concerto in C, RV443 (originally for flautino) [3:35]
Trio Sonata in C major RV82 (originally for violin and lute) [8:56]
The Four Seasons: Concerto in g minor RV315 ‘Summer’ (originally for violin, Op.8/2) [10:09]
Venetian Gondolier Songs: La biondina in gondoleta** [4:36]
Venice Baroque Orchestra/Avi Avital (mandolin)
with *Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord), Ophira Zakai (lute) and Patrick Sepec (cello); **Juan Diego Flórez (tenor) 
rec. Teatro delle Voci, Treviso, Italy, September/October 2014 and Meistersaal, Berlin, December 2014. DDD
All transcriptions by Avi Avital
**Text and translation included.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4794017 [51:34] – from 7digital.com (mp3 and lossless NO booklet) or stream from Qobuz, with booklet.

Look out for my forthcoming review on the main MusicWeb-International pages of these lively and enjoyable transcriptions for mandolin of Vivaldi concertos and one work, RV425, actually composed for that instrument.  Don’t overlook an older, less expensive and similarly enjoyable collection, however, on mid-price Hyperion CDA30027 – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet).  If you want more than mp3, you are likely to find that any lossless download of the new DG is little, if anything, less expensive than the CD.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Brandenburg Concertos Nos.1-6, BWV1046-1051 [93:47]
Florilegium
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA35914 [93:47] – from emusic.com (mp3)

If you are still in the market for a recording of the Brandenburgs, this set, offered on disc as a 2-for-1, is well worth considering: stylish performances on period instruments, without too many off-note moments from the horns and fast-ish but not over-hectic tempi.  These are very worthwhile alternatives to John Eliot Gardiner (SDG), Trevor Pinnock (DG and Avie) and Rinaldo Alessandrini (Naïve) all justly included among our MWI Recommends listings.

I’m surprised that Channel Classics, with their reputation for state-of-the-art recording – SACD, 24-bit lossless and DSD – have allowed emusic.com to put these recordings out in mp3 at around 220kb/s, but I have to admit that they don’t sound too bad and I had to obtain them that way because my review access code to Channel Classics is no longer working.  For a slightly better 320 kb/s mp3 download, try 7digital.com.  Neither source offers the booklet: for that you need the SACD – available from Amazon UK, Amazon US and ArkivMusic.
 
Carl Ditters von DITTERSDORF (1739-1799)
Sinfonias on Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Reviewing an ArcoDiva CD of Vanhal’s Sacred Works (0165-2 231) I was reminded that Haydn and Mozart used to play string quartets with Vanhal (Wanhal as he was known in Vienna) and Dittersdorf.  We have reviewed one Naxos recording of the Dittersdorf Sinfonias (8.570198review) but not, I think, an earlier pair of CDs containing his Gluck-influenced Sinfonias on Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  The stylish performers – just a shade heavy at times – are the Failoni Orchestra Budapest under Hanspeter Gmür and the two well-recorded CDs are 8.553368 and 8.553369.

At one time the CDs were in regular employment in our household but they seem to have disappeared at the back of the cupboard.  No matter: Qobuz to the rescue – stream or download in lossless sound for £4.79 here and here.  No booklets, but you can find them at Naxos Music Library and by searching for ‘Dittersdorf’ on the new Classicsonline HD

Wanda Landowska: The Complete Piano Recordings
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No. 26  in D, K537 [30:43]
Fantaisie in d minor, K397 [4:33]
Piano Sonata in F, K322 [26:08]
Piano Sonata in D, K576 [16:23]
Piano Sonata in D, K311 - incomplete recording [8:39]
Piano Sonata in E flat, K282 [17:00]
Piano Sonata in G, K283 [18:30]
Piano Sonata in D, K311 [19:20]
Rondo in a minor, K511 [10:20]
Country Dances, K606, arranged Landowska [3:13]
Piano Sonata in D, K333 [29:29]
Joseph HAYDN [1732-1809]
Andante and Variations in f minor, Hob. XVII:6 [14:28]
Piano Sonata in e minor, Hob. XVII:34 [9:45]
Piano Sonata in E flat, Hob. XVII:49 [23:38] 
Wanda Landowska (piano)
Unnamed orchestra/Walter Goehr 
rec. 1937-58, London, Paris and Lakeville, Connecticut 
APR 7305  [78:28 + 77:04 + 77:21] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

Though she was a pioneer in the rehabilitation of the harpsichord, Wanda Landowska’s recordings on that instrument, for all their value, were made on a monster which sounded not much more like the baroque instrument than the modern grand piano, so I was intrigued to see this release of her piano recordings.  I’d been meaning to listen to it – I even forgot that I’d downloaded it – when Jonathan Woolf’s review clinched the matter.

The thin recording of the earliest items requires a degree of tolerance, but not too much, and the performances are far from mere historical curiosities: the Piano Concerto, from 1937 with an unnamed orchestra and Walter Goehr, stands up well even to comparison with recent interpretations.  It was previously reissued on CD by Biddulph but I doubt that they could have made a better job of the transfer, even if they had had access to the gold pressings which were presented to King George VI for his coronation.  What happened to them?

Actually this is not quite as complete a collection as APR claim.  If you want to explore Landowska’s Mozart further, Diapason have a 1945 recording of her playing Piano Concerto No.22, K482, with the New York Philharmonic/Artur Rodzinski, together with the sonata K333 in a rather dry but acceptable transfer.  Stream from Qobuz.  There is also an off-air recording of her in Piano Concertos No.15, also with Rodzinski and formerly available with No.22 on LP from International Piano Library.
 
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Piano Sonatas
Piano Sonata in D, K576 [13:46]
Piano Sonata in G, K283 [16:39]
Piano Sonata in F, K332 [18:38]
Piano Sonata in B flat, K570 [18:28]
Rondo in D, K485 [5:56]
Gigue in G, K574 [1:25]
Piano Sonata in C, K330 [19:27]
Piano Sonata in B flat, K333 [20:10]
Piano Sonata in C, K545 [8:33]
Piano Sonata in E flat, K282 [13:10]
Rondo in a minor, K511 [11:11]
Fantasia in d minor, K397 [6:58]
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, 5-6 and 8-9 July, 2013. DDD
HYPERION CDA68029 (2 CDs for the price of one) [74:52 + 79:29] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)

A detailed review by Geoffrey Molyneux is pending on the main MWI pages.

He concludes: ‘For a complete set of the sonatas, my benchmark has always been Mitsuko Uchida (Philips Collectors’ Edition 4683562, 5 CDs, budget price), but Mark-André Hamelin’s outstanding recording is up there with the best.’

Recording of the Month
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)  
The Complete String Quartets – Volume 1  
String Quartet in c minor, Op.18/4 (1799–1800) [24:50] 
String Quartet in E, Op.74 ‘Harp’ (1809) [33:04] 
String Quartet in B flat, Op.130, Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 (1825–6) [52:44] 
Elias Quartet (Sara Bitlloch, Donald Grant (violins); Martin Saving (viola); Marie Bitlloch (cello)) 
rec. live, Wigmore Hall, London, 20 February 2014. DDD 
WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0073/2  [57:54 + 52:44] – from 7digital.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)

I made this 2-CD set a Recording of the Monthreview – and I’m not alone in rating the performances very highly but, as so often happens, de gustibus non est disputandum.  While one music magazine agrees with me in choosing this as one of the best of the month, another gives both performance and recording a decided thumbs-down.

I listened again just to make sure and I still enjoyed what I heard, but I suggest that you try it for yourself first: stream/sample from Qobuz.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony in f minor, Studiensinfonie (Study Symphony, No.‘00’) (1863) WAB 99
Philharmoniker Hamburg/Simone Young
rec. live, 22-26 February 2013, Laeiszhalle, Hamburg
OEHMS CLASSICS OC686 [41:59] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)

 ‘The F minor symphony is by no means the finished Brucknerian article but it’s far from negligible and I think it’s well worth hearing. Here it benefits from committed advocacy from Simone Young and her accomplished orchestra.’  See review by John Quinn.

Having thought Bruckner’s other early symphony, the so-called No.‘0’ a pretty good effort, as recorded by Daniel Barenboim (DG, download only), I was intrigued to hear its even earlier predecessor.  I don’t think I would have recognised it as Bruckner in a blind hearing, but it’s an attractive enough piece of music as here presented.

The eclassical.com download price reflects the short playing time: it’s a snip at $7.55.  They also offer Georg Tintner’s highly regarded Naxos recording, coupled with the Volksfest finale of No.4, in a 2xHD transfer.  The mp3 and 16-bit cost as much as the Naxos CD but the 24-bit recording opens out the sound slightly, albeit at a price ($15.18).

I still just prefer the older and equally highly regarded Oehms recording on which the Saarbrücken RSO is directed by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, with the Overture in g minor (OC208, mp3 and 16-bit lossless, $8.63: NO booklet).

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 6 in A, WAB 106 [54:35]
Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller
rec. info not provided
HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH14021  [57:29] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)

‘Gerd Schaller’s Sixth is outstanding, one of the best recordings of the symphony in years. Not what you expected, is it? Me neither.’  See review by Brian Reinhart.

Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony is by general consent a difficult work to bring off and only a handful of the 74 available recordings have won general approval in the past, notably Klemperer (EMI, not generally available*), Skrowaczewski (Oehms OC215) and Tintner (Naxos 8.553453).  Klemperer remains my benchmark, still sounding well in the most recent transfer.  His tempi are by no means as expansive as we often think: in the second movement he is actually three minutes faster than Schaller. 

Bruckner marks this Adagio – sehr feierlich and it’s possible to observe one marking at the expense of the other.  Tintner and Skrowaczewski are even slower than Schaller, and Nagano (Harmonia Mundi D’Abord) on another well-liked version, now at budget price, is broadly in agreement with Schaller, so on the face of it Klemperer is out on his own but I like the way in which he keeps the music moving.  Dare I say that, much as I love Bruckner, taking his slow movements very slowly can lead to boredom threatening to set in.  Klemperer keeps us interested for almost quarter of an hour and I back him here against the opposition: he keeps the music moving where Schaller lets it drag just a little too much from the start, though he compensates from about four minutes into the movement.

Despite Brian Reinhart’s enthusiasm for the new recording and though I like it in many ways, I shall be staying with Klemperer.  He’s not always my cup of tea but when he’s good, as in the Bruckner symphonies and Beethoven’s Eroica, he’s unsurpassable.

* the EMI/ Warner 6-CD box set of Nos.4-9, reissued in 2012, already seems to be mostly download only – stream from Qobuz – though Amazon UK still have a few copies of the original EMI box for £9.76, half the price of the Qobuz lossless download and less than their own mp3 download.

Vincent D’INDY (1851-1931)
The release of the sixth and final volume of D’Indy’s orchestral music from Chandos means that we now have his complete orchestral output from the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Rumon Gamba:

• Volume 1: CHAN10464 – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) – review ( Recording of the Month) – review
• Volume 2: CHAN10514 – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) – review
• Volume 3: CHAN10585 – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) – review
• Volume 4: CHAN10660 – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) – review ( Recording of the Month) and DL Roundup May 2011/1
• Volume 5: CHAN10760 with Louis Lortie (piano) – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) – DL News 2013/6
• Volume 6: CHAN5157 Wallenstein, Op.12 [36:31]; Fervaal, Op.40, Act III Prelude [7:14]; Lied for cello and orchestra, Op.19, with Bryndis Halla Gylfadottir (cello) [8:39]; Suite dans le style ancien, Op.24 [16:19] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless and Studio Surround). [73:29] Due for release on SACD in May 2015 but available to download in advance.

The new volume is just as fine as its predecessors, though I wouldn’t recommend it to those beginning to build a collection of D’Indy’s music, who would be better served by Volume 1, containing Jour d’Été à la Montagne and Volume 4, with Symphonie sur un chant montagnard, D’Indy’s two best-known works.  Alternatively if you would like the popular Symphonie sur un chant montagnard [24:51] in the company of music by Saint-Saëns (Symphony No.2 in a minor, Op.55 [23:03]) and Chausson (Soir de fête, Op.32 [14:42]) there’s a recording by Martin Helmchen (piano) and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Marek Janowski on Pentatone PTC5186357 [62:36] SACD or download from eclassical.com (mp3  and lossless, with pdf booklet).

The competition for the new Chandos recording comes from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thierry Fischer on Hyperion (CDA67690 [73:24]:Wallenstein [36:56] and Lied (with Lawrence Power (viola)) [7:10], as on Chandos, with Choral varié, Op.55 [11:53] and Saugefleurie, Op.21 [17:25].  CD or mp3 and lossless downloads from hyperion-records.co.uk.  Gary Higginson’s only real criticism was the choice of cover picture – review.

 I have also been listening with enjoyment to a new recording of D’Indy’s Piano Trio No.2, en forme de suite, Op.98 [19:00], coupled with Gabriel Fauré Piano Trio, Op.120 [19:25] and Camille Saint-Saëns Piano Trio No.1, Op.18 [29:18] in excellent performances from the Horszowski Trio on BRIDGE9441 [67:44].  The inexpensive download from emusic.com is not ideal – around 230 kb/s – but that’s not far short of what you would get by paying more from Amazon and iTunes and it sounds quite acceptable.  There’s strong competition in the Saint-Saëns and Fauré from the Florestan Trio on Hyperion, but very little for the D’Indy.

Modest Petrovich MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)  
Pictures at an Exhibition  (1874, orch. Ravel, 1922) [34:42] 
Songs and Dances of Death  (1875, orch. Shostakovich, 1962)* [20:56] 
Night on a Bare Mountain  (original version, 1867) [12:50]
Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass)* 
Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev 
rec. Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia, 2010/14. DDD/DSD 
No texts. 
MARIINSKY MAR0553 [68:28] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit downloads, with pdf booklet but NO texts).

This is a good but not overwhelming performance of Pictures, coupled with a powerful rendition of Songs and Dances and the original  Night on a Bare Mountain in a performance which makes the recording worth having for that alone. 

Please see my full review and review by Simon Thompson, who liked this recording of Pictures rather more than I did.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Cockaigne, ‘In London Town’, Op.40 (1901) [14:26]
Symphony No.1 in A flat, Op.55 (1901) [48:53]
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
rec. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 21–22 July (Symphony) and 24 September 2009 (Cockaigne). DDD
ONYX 4145  [63:19] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, NO booklet) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with pdf booklet)

‘Petrenko seems wholly at home in the Elgarian idiom. One hopes that whatever the next step is in his career that he continues to champion this music internationally.’  Please see review by Ralph Moore.

With ten fine recordings of the symphony listed in MWI Recommends and several more which didn’t make the cut, you may wonder why we needed another.  That was my first reaction – in fact I held off downloading this new version until I read Ralph Moore’s review.  This Cockaigne takes a while to get going but when it does it brings out aspects of the music that I had missed before.  As for the symphony, this is one of the best accounts available.

The recording is very good, though I’d have liked to have heard more of the organ at the end of Cockaigne.

Another non-English conductor worth considering in the same two works is Sakari Oramo (BIS-SACD-1939).  Brian Reinhart and John Quinn were both impressed – reviews – and I thought it a serious challenger for the Recording of the Month title – DL News 2014/9

Stephen Somary, on the other hand, who offers the same coupling with the Thüringen Philharmonie on Claves 509813, doesn’t quite make the grade with a very slow opening to the first movement which misses the nobilmente factor by failing to keep the music moving.  The same is true of the rest of the movement, the most successful accounts of which come in between 19 and slightly over 20 minutes against Somary’s 21:56.

Fans of Mark Elder who are also bargain lovers should note that his justly acclaimed recording of the First Symphony, with Alassio (In the South) is available to download from emusic.com for just £2.52.  The bit rate, around 230kb/s, is not ideal but very little short of what you would get for more money from Amazon or iTunes.

Alternatively, Vernon Handley on Classics for Pleasure – still my version of choice – can be obtained in 320 kb/s sound for £3.99 from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk: just the symphony, with no fillers, but a Boult-like performance from a Boult protégé which outshines the over-rated Boult recording of both Elgar symphonies on Lyrita.  If you want Boult, his live 1977 Proms recording on ICA, with Brahms Symphony No.3, is a better option (ICAC5063DL News 2012/2).  He even proves the exception to my rule about timings for the first movement, polishing it off in 17:29 without sounding rushed but providing all the momentum lacking in Somary’s account.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)  
Symphony No. 9  in D (1908/9) [82:02] 
Hallé/Sir Mark Elder 
rec. live in concert and in rehearsal, The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 2014. DDD 
HALLÉ CDHLD7541  [43:54 + 38:07] – from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet)

Please see my joint review with Dominy Clements.

We both rated this among the very best recordings of Mahler’s last symphony, though I was able to hear it only in the mp3 version from emusic.com, which comes without notes.  It is, however, at the full 320kb/s, better than you are likely to get from Amazon or iTunes, who are still stuck at 256kbs, and it’s inexpensive at £1.68. 

I also like the Karel Ancerl recording, reissued on Supraphon Ancerl Gold SU36932: that, too, comes from emusic.com for £1.68 in decent mp3, albeit at around 240kb/s and again with no notes.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) 

Eclassical’s releases at reduced prices from the Complete Sibelius Edition continue with Volume 5, the Theatre Music on BIS-CD-1912/14, a 6-CD set with a total playing time of 465:27.  Performances directed by Osmo Vänskä, Neeme Järvi, Jaakko Kuusisto and Jorma Panula are among the best available and often the only ones.  From eclassical.com in mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet, for $34.81.  NB: be careful to choose the right version – eclassical still also offer the same set for twice the price. 

I should also point out that Qobuz are offering this set for still less, at £15.99 in lossless sound when I checked: follow the link to stream/sample from there.
 
For full details please see Rob Barnett’s review of Volumes 1-5.

Recording of the Month
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Symphony No.2The Four Temperaments, Op. 16/FS29 (1901-1902) [31:21]
Symphony No.6Sinfonia Semplice, FS116 (1924-1925) [32:58]
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Sakari Oramo
rec. 2014, Stockholm Concert Hall, Sweden. DDD/DSD
Pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-SACD-2128 [64:34] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless)

Having been disappointed with the first recording in this series, Dan Morgan made the two follow-up Recordings of the Month: Nos.1 and 3 – review – and now Nos. 2 and 6 – review.

These two symphonies have tended to be overshadowed by Nos. 3-5 – I was surprised to discover that although I have several recordings of those, I have only two of No.6 and none of No.2.  This new recording should help to redress the balance, with both works emerging as closer to vintage Nielsen than we thought.  This version of No.6 in particular – far from the simple work that its name implies – dispels the memory of the less than ideal Turnabout LP on which I got to know it.  I listened immediately afterwards to Herbert Blomstedt (Double Decca 4609882 Symphonies 4-6, etc.) and Paavo Berglund (RCA, with No.5: no longer available) and neither of these quite persuades me as Oramo and his team do.

Just one word of reservation: LSO Live have just released Colin Davis’s complete set of the Nielsen symphonies at an attractive price for anyone who doesn’t yet have recordings of some or all of them.  If and when Hyperion add this set to the individual albums which they already offer for download in lossless sound, that would become well worth considering: I enjoyed the CD of Nos. 1 and 6 (LSO0715) – May 2012/1.  The COL link no longer applies: go to hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet).

Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960)
Violin Concerto (1930) [25:08]
Derek Collier (violin), BBC Northern Orchestra/Stanford Robinson.
BBC broadcast, 30 September 1961
E.J. MOERAN (1894-1950)
Violin Concerto (1942) [31:55]
Alfredo Campoli (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Rudolf Schwarz
BBC broadcast, 23 October 1959
Arnold BAX (1833-1953)
Violin Concerto (1938) [31:24]
André Gertler (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent
BBC broadcast, 6 February 1957
William WALTON (1902-1983)
Cello Concerto (1956) [30:50]
Gregor Piatigorsky (cello), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent
BBC broadcast, 13 February 1957 Royal Festival Hall (Bax & Walton)
LYRITA RECORD EDITION REAM.2114  [57:03 + 62:24] – from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet)

‘Lyrita’s release of this collection of concertos is very valuable indeed, and with informative booklet notes by Paul Conway it is of more than just historical interest. These fine performances and recordings are a snapshot of the BBC’s programming in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and part of the foundation of its hard-earned reputation.’  See review by Dominy Clements.

Mirabile dictu, the download from emusic.com is not only economical at £5.04, it’s also the first from that source that I’ve downloaded in full-strength 320kb/s mp3.  Now, perhaps, they will even start giving us the booklet, but they are not the only offenders in that respect: Qobuz will charge you £11.99 for a lossless download and you still don’t get the booklet.  MusicWeb-International will sell you the 2-CD set, complete with booklet, of course, for £11.75, including p&p world-wide.

Geoffrey BUSH (1920-1988) Small Pieces for Orchestra
Concerto for Light Orchestra (1958) [16:56]
Natus est Immanuel  - A Christmas Piece for String Orchestra (1939) [6:08]
Matthew Locke Suite ‘Psyche’  - in collaboration with Francis Harvey (c.1958) [6:18]
Sinfonietta Concertante for Cello and Small Orchestra (1943) [17:10]
Two Miniatures for String Orchestra (1948) [6:56]
Finale for a Concert  (1964) [4:46]
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
The Holy Boy  (1915) arr. cello and strings by Christopher Palmer* [2:56]
Raphael Wallfisch* (cello)
Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
rec. St Philip’s Church, Salford, Greater Manchester, UK, 26-27 April 2013
LYRITA SRCD.341  [61:10]  Sample, stream or download from Qobuz (NO booklet).

‘Another exemplary new Lyrita release featuring all the label’s old virtues; fascinating and worthwhile repertoire performed superbly, backed up by excellent technical and production values.’  See review by Nick Barnard.

A thoroughly delightful album: I’m grateful to Nick Barnard for bringing it to my attention and I agree with him completely about the qualities of the music, performances and recording quality.  One complaint, however, about the streamed/download version: there’s NO BOOKLET again.  If Naxos Music Library can provide it, and it’s well worth having, why not Qobuz?

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988)
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis ‘Collegium Magdalenae Oxoniense’ (1959) [8:28]
God’s grandeur (1957) [4:53]
Give me the wings of faith (1962) [4:41]
Missa brevis , Op. 50 (1967) [12:25]
Ite, missa est from Missa de Gloria, Op. 82, for Solo Organ(1980) [5:26]
What love is this of thine? (1985) [6:31]
The Second Service, Op.62 (1971) [10:45]
Crucifixus pro nobis , Op. 38 (1961) [19:01] 
The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge/Stephen Layton
Andrew Kennedy (tenor); Jeremy Cole, Eleanor Kornas (organ) 
rec. Trinity College Chapel and Lincoln Cathedral, July 2013 
HYPERION CDA68039  [72:09] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, including pdf booklet with texts)

‘All the performers, whether singers or organists are on really fine form, with Stephen Layton certainly bringing out the best from his forces. Ted Tregear’s booklet notes, which were compiled with the assistance of the composer's daughter Angela, give a good insight into the life of the composer and his music. The recorded sound is also first rate.’  See review by Stuart Sillitoe.

I’ve had time only to dip into this recording but Leighton is one of my favourite 20th-century composers and I see no reason why this should not become as established a part of my regular listening as much of his other music.  The 24-bit download is especially vivid and, unlike some 24/96 offerings from other suppliers, doesn’t cost the earth.  A few items overlap with a most recommendable programme of Leighton’s church music on Naxos from nearby St John’s College (8.555795 review), but not enough to prevent my recommending both.

There’s some overlap, too, with Hyperion’s own St Paul’s recording on CDH55195September 2011/2 – but that, like the Naxos, comes at budget price, so, although you may end up with three recordings of Crucifixus pro nobis, the duplication need not be too expensive.

Yet another very worthwhile recording including Crucifixus, from the Finzi Singers on Chandos CHAN9485, remains available as a download only – DL Roundup October 2009.

Let me also commend a fine recording of Leighton’s Symphony No.2 and Te Deum directed by Richard Hickox on Chandos CHAN10495review.  Download in mp3 or lossless sound with booklet from theclassicalshop.net.

Ascendit Deus  - Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; The Dmitri Ensemble/Graham Ross
Peter Harrison, Matthew Jorysz (organ) 
rec. April, June, July, 2014, Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, St Albans; Chapel of Tonbridge School, Kent; All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London.
Texts and English, French and German translations included 
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907623  [77:31] - from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet)

For full details please see review by John Quinn.

I’m in full agreement with John Quinn when he writes: ‘This is another very fine and varied album from Clare College. The singing is consistently superb in every respect throughout a demanding programme. … the choir seems to have very few altos at present … but there’s no lack of definition in any of the parts and the choir seems to be very well balanced at all times.’  I also have to agree with him that not all the contemporary items, of which there are more here than on previous albums from this source, are successful.

If the opening motet by Peter Philips appeals, you may wish to sample more of his music.  There’s a collection of his 5- and 8-part works recorded by the Sarum Consort for ASV – review – and one with the same performers from Naxos – review - review and January 2012/1 DL Roundup.

In Brief

There are so many new releases that I sometimes haven’t even the time to download them and certainly not to write them up in full.  These are some recent issues that I’ve streamed and sampled from Qobuz or Naxos Music Library.

A new recording of François COUPERIN Les Nations from Juilliard Baroque, a newish ensemble featuring players of the quality of Monica Huggett, on Naxos 8.553347/8 (2 CDs [100:13]) brings us the first new version of these attractive works for some time.  If you took my advice to buy the limited-edition Decca Baroque Era or Volume 2 of that set as a download, you may wish to supplement the sonata and suite from Les Nations contained there, in which case this new release offers an inexpensive and stylish way to do so.  The least expensive download, in lossless sound, too, is from Qobuz: half the price that Naxos are charging through their own download service COL:HD.  Slightly more expensively, there are two volumes of Les Nations performed by the Purcell Quartet on Chandos – download only from theclassicalshop.net as CHAN0684 and CHAN0729 – see 2013/11.

My favourite recording of Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Violin Concertos remains Arthur Grumiaux with the LSO and Colin Davis and the NPO/Raymond Leppard (budget-price Decca Duo 4383232) but I enjoyed hearing a bright new live recording on mainly period instruments from David Grimal (violin) and Les Dissonances on their own label, streamed from Qobuz.  (LD006, download only).  The playing time is short – the Decca recording also includes the Sinfonia Concertante and two Rondos – but you’ll find the download for as little as £8.97 in mp3 from prestoclassical.com, who also offer 16- and 24-bit lossless, all with pdf booklet, albeit that this contains more pictures than substance.  For those who dislike it, I should add that there’s brief applause after each concerto.

Frank Peter Zimmermann has recorded Violin Concertos Nos.1, 3 and 4 plus the Rondo K373 and Adagio K261 with the Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra and Radoslaw Szulc (Hänssler 98.039).  Apart from the awkwardness of the coupling – it’s best to have the last three concertos together – this is another recording which I liked: try it from Qobuz.

Mozart violin concerto recordings are coming thick and fast at the moment: Vilde Frang has recorded Nos.1 and 5 plus the Sinfonia Concertante with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen (Warner 2564627677, stream from Qobuz with booklet, but NB you should be able to find the CD for little more than the Qobuz download price) and Hilary Hahn No.5 plus Vieuxtemps No.4 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi (DG 4793956, stream from Qobuz but, again, the download is expensive).  Though none of these challenge Grumiaux on top spot, I enjoyed hearing them all.

Hänssler have bravely launched their new series of the symphonies of Antonín DVOŘÁK with a recording of No.1, The Bells of Zlonice, one of the works which the composer later rejected, though some vigorous pruning would have made it well worth retaining.  I’m certainly pleased that musicologists long ago decided to reinstate it and the three other rejected symphonies, though it kept us confused for years what number was which.  I got to know this symphony almost as long ago as the renumbering from a Supraphon recording and it’s since had very decent advocacy on Naxos as part of their complete series.  The new performance from the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken and Karel Mark Chichon couples the Rhapsody in a minor, Op.14 (B44). (CD93.330).   I’d go for the recent ArcoDiva recording of the Rhapsodyreview – which would mean duplicating a sizeable chunk of the new Hänssler, and I’d choose the symphony on Naxos or Chandos but stream the new recording from Qobuz and see what you think.

We have some fine recordings of Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Oboe Concerto and Benjamin BRITTEN A Time there was, but a new recording from the Britten Sinfonia couples them with first recordings of James MACMILLAN One for chamber orchestra and Oboe Concerto.  Nicholas Daniel is the soloist, conductor and cor anglais player in the Britten (Harmonia Mundi  HMU807573).  I enjoyed this enough as streamed from Qobuz to decide to download it in 24-bit sound from eclassical.com ($17.78, also at $14.81 in mp3 and 16-bit lossless, all with pdf booklet).

The gently plangent tone of much of the VW concerto contrasts with the perkier and sharper tone of the MacMillan.  As you might expect, though the VW by no means conforms to the dreamy cow-pat label with which he’s often saddled, the MacMillan demands more patience from traditionalists, though not too much and it’s well worth the effort.

I’ve never quite come to terms with the Suite on English Folk Tunes A Time there was but all concerned here make a good case for it.  You may prefer it in an all-Britten context on Chandos CHAN9221 in the company of the Young Person’s Guide, the Sea Interludes and Johnson over Jordan but that recording is currently download-only – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet – which suggests that it may be due to follow other Richard Hickox recordings onto Chandos’s cheaper label if you wait.

Any new recording of Joaquín RODRIGO Concierto de Aranjuez needs to be very special to compete with favourites old and new.  A new version with Dale Kavanagh as soloist on Naxos 8.573441 [73:38] – stream from Naxos Music Library – doesn’t quite manage that.  Nor does the lurid red cover help me take this Spanish Night album seriously.  The stakes are not quite so high in Concierto Andaluz where the four soloists are the Eden-Stell Duo and the Amadeus Duo, or the Concierto Madrigal (Amadeus Duo) but even here there are preferable versions.  The orchestra is the Internationale Philharmonie/Horst Hans Bäcker.  If you bought this inexpensive and well-filled album for a Rodrigo novice it would certainly help them fall in love with his music but Julian Bream (RCA) would still be my first choice for Aranjuez or Miloš (DG/Mercury) for a  more recent account and Naxos themselves have more recommendable versions of all three concertos.

There’s plenty of red, too, on the cover of an entertaining ARC recording entitled Discover Flamenco (EUC2576 – stream from Naxos Music Library).  This distillation from earlier ARC recordings is great fun; though I’m not sure that I’d want to download it – from COL:HD – I recommend that you give it a try, though perhaps not late at night with the windows open.

Brilliant Classics CDs are so inexpensive that it’s not usually possible to save by downloading – often the reverse – but I would recommend at least streaming from Qobuz a new 2-CD reissue of a Vox Box recording of the music of George GERSHWIN including An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, Cuban Overture, Porgy and Bess Suite and Piano Concerto in F, performed by Jeffrey Siegel (piano) with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin (94861BR).  If you like it, it can be downloaded for £6.47, without booklet: the CDs cost around £8.50.  So careful are all concerned not to overdo the jazz element that I found myself wanting a little more pizazz in the concerto but the Rhapsody in Blue is suitably smoochy.

Havergal BRIAN Symphonies 6, 28, 29 and 31, from the New Russia State Orchestra/Alexander Walker are released simultaneously on Naxos 8.573408 and 2xHD 812864019872 [69:51]  These are not reissues of earlier Marco Polo releases, as you may expect, but new recordings from 2014, filling important gaps in the Brian discography – 28 and 29 are here receiving their first official recordings and there is no current rival version of No.31, though you may find No.6 more to your liking as performed by the LPO and Myer Fredman on Lyrita SRCD.295: Recording of the Month review.  Both are available to download for exactly the same price from eclassical.com in mp3, 16- and 24-bit formats – Naxos 2xHD – but you’ll find the 16-bit less expensively from COL:HD.  Both suppliers include the pdf booklet.  Stream from Naxos Music Library.

First impressions suggest that this is an excellent sequel to the recording of Nos.22-24 by the same performers –reviewreviewreview.

I’m not the greatest fan of most contemporary music.  Out of curiosity I sampled from Qobuz three concertos by Unsuk Chin on a CD which has just won an award: Piano Concerto (Sunwook Kim, piano), Cello Concerto (Alban Gerhardt, cello) and Šu for sheng and orchestra (Wu Wei, soloist), with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Myung Whun Chung (DG 4810971).  Unusually for Qobuz there’s no booklet of notes, but I don’t think it would have helped me to come to terms with the music, which I found perplexing.  Even the novelty of the sheng, a traditional Chinese wind instrument of wondrous appearance, didn’t endear the music to me but you may have better success.

Why would fans of Benno Moiseiwitsch want single movements from concertos by Rachmaninov (No.2), Grieg, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky?  All the recordings were made with the RPO and Sir Eugene Goossens, so not the more famous Schumann and Tchaikovsky with Otto Ackermann, reissued by Testament or the Tchaikovsky recorded with George Weldon (Naxos Historical) or the Rachmaninov with Sir Malcolm Sargent and Vladimir Golschmann (Documents).  Unfortunately, that’s all that there is: the LP was issued in 1961 with just these single movements, some of them subsequently reissued on EP.  At least it could be a stepping stone for those weaned on snippets by Classic FM and not yet willing to commit to full works: they would certainly be well served by the then 70+-year-old pianist in better sound quality than most of his recordings.  (First Hand Records FHR31D [51:41] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Qobuz. NO booklet from either.

The Five Countertenors on the Decca album of that name are Valer Sabadus, Xavier Cenci, Max Cenci, Yuri Minienko and Vince Yi; each has two tracks on a recording clearly inspired by the Three Tenors of World Cup fame of yore.  (Decca 4788904).  They are supported by Armonia Atenea on period instruments and George Petrou.  The music is by Handel (from Serse and Agrippina), Jommelli (Tito Manlio), Porpora (Ifigenia), Galuppi (Penelope), Mysliveček (Farnace), JC Bach (Temistocle), Gluck (Demetrio), Bertoni (Tancredi) and Hasse (Piramo e Tisbe).  Texts and translations are included.  Obvious material is avoided and the performances are generally very satisfying.  Try it from Qobuz, but don’t download from there for around the same price as or more than the CD: actually all sources for 16-bit lossless that I checked worked out as uncompetitive with the physical product.

 

 




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