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Monthly Listing
226 reviews this month
April 2015


Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 3 - Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin) Dov Scheindlin (viola) Neil Heyde (cello) Aaron Shorr (piano) rec. 2003 METIER MSVCD2008 [49:01] [JS] Worth having no matter how many versions you have of the original.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets Vol. 1 - Elias Qt rec. 2014 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0073/2 [57:54 + 52:44] [BW] Short and sweet means that I very much approve.

René de CASTÉRA (1873-1955) Concert, Sicilienne, Piano Trio - Linda Hall (piano), Samuel Magill (cello), Lucian Rinando (flute), Dean LeBlanc (clarinet), Elmira Darvarova (violin) rec. 2011 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC109 [76:33] [DJB] Only rarely does one uncover a gem such as that which has been unearthed here.

Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-63) Concerto funčbre Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Violin Sonata 1 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Suite Italienne - Annie Jodry (violin) Ensemble Stringendo/Jean Thorel Hasmig Surmelian (piano) rec. live, 1990/2000 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1017 [60:06] [SG] Hartmann: one of the finest interpretations of this work that I have ever heard.

James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) St Luke Passion - Netherlands Radio Ch & PO/Markus Stenz rec. 2014 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72671 SACD [73:03] [JQ] A superb first recording of an important, gripping score by James MacMillan: a ‘must’ for all his admirers.

Johannes OCKEGHEM (c.1410/25-1497) Missa L'homme armé - Ensemble Nusmido rec. 2014 RONDEAU ROP6106 [69:19] [SG] Technically accomplished and inspired readings that would grace any vocal collection.

Francis POTT (b.1957) Viola Sonata, Einzige Tage - Yuko Inoue (viola) Francis Pott (piano) Alla Kravchuk (soprano) Simon Phillips (piano) rec. 2014 EM RECORDS EMRCD028 [73:06] [SSi] Wonderful music with performances to match. This recording deserves to bring Francis Pott some well-deserved converts.

Ferdinand RIES (1784-1838) Violin Sonatas, Grande Sonata - Eric Grossman (violin) Susan Kagan (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573193 [77:44] [PRB] Playing, positioning and recording first-rate. Charming and entertaining music. Simply too good to miss.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) String Quartets 1-3 - Quatuor Hermčs rec. 2014 LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV17 [74:46] [SG] On the evidence of this recording I have no doubt that we are going to hear much more from this accomplished ensemble.

Mátyás SEIBER (1905-1960) Ulysses, Elegy, Three Fragments - Alexander Young (tenor) Cecil Aronowitz (viola) Peter Pears (narrator) London SO/David Atherton, London PO, Melos Ens/Mátyás Seiber rec. 1960/72 LYRITA SRCD348 [75:31] [JF] Three of Mátyás Seiber’s finest works. Magnificent.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartet 2, Piano Quintet - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA67987 [70:26] [GM] Fine performances, superbly recorded.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony 7 - Russian Ntl O/Paavo Järvi rec. 2014 PENTATONE PTC5186511 SACD [72:59] [DM] An unaffected, deeply humanising Seventh; quite possibly the best thing Paavo Järvi has ever done.

Maximilian STEINBERG (1883-1946) Passion Week Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Chant Arrangements for Holy Week - Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas rec. 2014 CAPPELLA ROMANA CR414-CD [61:57] [JQ] Steinberg’s Passion Week: a major discovery receiving a superb first recording.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Vier Letzte Lieder, Eine Alpensinfonie Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Ernster Gesang - Anja Harteros (soprano) Staastkapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 C MAJOR Blu-ray 726504 [103:00] [ST] Two brilliant performances. Buy with confidence.

Dumka Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Islamey Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird dances - Kotaro Fukuma (piano) rec. 2014 EDITIONS HORTUS 115 [68:07] [BR] This talented pianist keeps improving with each new disc.

The Hungarian Connection Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Quintet, Waltzes, Hungarian Dances Leó WEINER (1885-1960) Két Tétel Traditional Dances from Transylvania - Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet) Leonidas Kavakos, Christoph Koncz (violin) Antoine Tamestit (viola) Stephan Koncz (cello) rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4811409 [61:30] [BW] The Clarinet Quintet is one of the best available; the second half of the programme makes the recording a winner.

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Giselle Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Nutcracker Suite - O Théâtre Ntl l’Opéra Paris, Richard Blareau Royal PO/George Weldon rec. 1953/60 GUILD GHCD2413 [70:24] [JW] Fills an obvious need and restores long-absent discs.

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) The wind in high places, Canticles of the sky, Dream of the Canyon Wren - JACK Qt, Northwestern U Cello Ens/Hans Jřrgen Jensen rec. 2013/14 COLD BLUE MUSIC CB 0041 [43:59] [PCG] Pieces that have a peculiar fascination of their own. Adams followers will need little incentive to investigate this release.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Sonata for Strings Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) String Quartet Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Allegro Deciso - O St. Paul’s/Ben Palmer rec. 2014 SOMM SOMMCD0145 [66.15] [IL] The Elgar is fascinating and even though much of the rest is uncomfortable this CD is well worth considering.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) The Roots of Heaven, David Copperfield ­ Moscow SO/William Stromberg NAXOS 8.573366 [JF] So much attractive and atmospheric music that would otherwise be lost to the listener.

Carl Philipp Emmanuel BACH (1714-1788) Symphonies - O of the Age of Enlightenment/Rebecca Miller rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD395 [56:36] Put this CD on loud in your car with your windows down. Heads will turn. A real winner [DC] This is a most enjoyable disc - one which gives the listener a good introduction to the symphonies of J.S. Bach’s most gifted son [SSi].

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard Concertos - Lucia Micallef (piano) European Union Chamber O/Brian Schembri rec. 2014 DIVINE ART DDA25128 [61:59] [JF] Fine and nuanced interpretations imbued with vivacity and reflection.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard Concerto 1, Cantata 51, Brandenburg Concerto 3, Suite 3 - Moscow Virtuosi/Vladimir Spivakov rec. 1988 MELODIYA MELCD1002301 [41:26 + 41:08] [JW] As a souvenir of the concert this has validity but I can’t really work out any other market for it.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Art of Fugue - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION RECORDS CDA67980 [42:11 + 47:32] [DC] BWV1080 has been reset – this is now your new default reference (piano).

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - Gil Shaham (violin) rec. 2014 CANARY CLASSICS CC14 [63:52 + 77:39] [DC] Fresh and lively – discover Bach’s inner fiddler.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations (arr. Sitkovetsky) - Britten Sinfonia/Thomas Gould rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807633 SACD [72:53] [DC] Life-enhancingly good.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas 33, 103 & 146 - Il Gardellino/Marcel Ponseele rec. 2013 PASSACAILLE 987 [70:59] [JV] A very fine disc with generally outstanding performances of three of Bach's most expressive cantatas.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Orchestral Suites - Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr (harpsichord) rec. 2013 AAM RECORDS AAM003 [47:33 + 46:16] La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken (violin) rec. 2012 ACCENT ACC24279 [79:17] [MG] Two excellent accounts with four distinct differences.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Motets - Capella Cracoviensis/Fabio Bonizzoni rec. 2014 ALPHA 199 [66:26] [DC] Love me… please...?

Woldemar BARGIEL (1828-1897) Symphony, Overture to a tragedy, Prometheus & Medea overtures - Omsk PO/Dmitry Vasilyev rec. 2014 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0277 [76:02] [DJB] Very much a case of “spot the influence” but certainly enjoyable.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Andreas Bach (piano) rec. 2008/14 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD98.042 [3 CDs: 193:30] [SSi] An excellent and insightful interpretation of this wonderful music. I eagerly look forward to the subsequent discs in this series.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Piano Sonata 23 - Nick van Bloss (piano) rec. 2013/14 NIMBUS NI6276 [79:33] [DC] One of the most recommendable versions available.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 10, 17 & 32 - Naum Grubert (piano) rec. 2013 NAVIS CLASSICS NC14002 [67:35] [JW] Encapsulates the playing of a thoughtful, experienced, devoted musician unconcerned with excess gestures.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Works for cello and piano - Matt Haimovitz (cello) Christopher O'Riley (fortepiano) rec. 2014 PENTATONE 5186475 SACD [71:58 + 68:02] [DBi] A fresh and enlightening reading of Beethoven's works for this combination.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique, Roman Carnival overture - Minneapolis SO/Antal Doráti rec. 1952/3 DORÁTI EDITION ADE028 [55.03] [PCG] Doráti’s aim is to emphasise the dramatic element and his insights while not always convincing are always interesting.

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) The Beatitudes, The Enchantress - Heather Harper (soprano) Pamela Bowden (contralto) Gerald English (tenor) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Arthur Bliss, Rudolf Schwarz rec. 1957-64 LYRITA REAM1115 [75:53] [JQ] An important collection of recordings of music by Bliss in fine live performances.

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) & Emanuele d'ASTORGA (1680-1757?) Stabat Mater - King's Consort & Ch/Robert King rec. 1999 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55287 [73:16] [DJB] A winning re-issue.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonata 1 Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Cello Sonata - Joseph Schuster (cello) Friedrich Wührer (piano) rec. 1956 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1035 [49:31] [SG] Two captivating recordings - of a long-forgotten cellist - making a notable come-back.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Serenades 1 & 2 - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2014 DECCA 478 6775 [65:19] [SB] If you want the serenades in a fine modern recording Chailly’s new version is now the one to go for.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet 2 Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartet 8 Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) String Quartet - Borodin Qt rec. 1961 ORFEO C893141B [75:17] [JW] There is certainly a frisson about these extremely well recorded performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Choral Works DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 4220 [7 CDs] [JQ] A valuable collection of the choral music of Brahms in good performances

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonata 3 Cesar FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata - Patrycja Piekutowska (violin); Anna Miernik (piano) rec. 2014 DUX 1128 [45:39] [GA] Short playing time and over-managed interpretations.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Die schöne Magelone - Paul Armin Edelmann (baritone) Julia Stemberger (recitation) Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2011 CAPRICCIO C5225 [3 CDs: 154:49] [RWe] A new and competitive Die schöne Magelone.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Diversions Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Concerto for piano left-hand - Nicolas Stavy (piano) Lille Ntl O/Paul Polivnick rec. 2014 HORTUS 710 [57:07] [NB] Highly impressive performances of under-appreciated music.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 3 - Munich PO/Lorin Maazel rec. 2012 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 709292 [59:47] [MC] This notable live account can join the ranks of the finest recordings in the catalogue.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 3 - London PO/Stanisław Skrowaczewski rec. 2014 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0084 [56:35] Deserving of significant praise [MC] A magisterial Bruckner performance [JQ].

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 4 - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2013 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-713 SACD [66:07] [SG] I can confidently add Honeck’s thrilling Bruckner Fourth to my list of favourite interpretations.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 6 ­ Hamburg PO/Simone Young OEHMS CLASSICS SACD OC687 [54:37] [RWe] The great success of this issue lies in the conducting. Young’s instinct for the all-important transitions is so sound and idiomatic. Makes a few illustrious names sound a little self-indulgent by comparison.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies 6 & 7 - Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2012 RCO LIVE RCO14005 [53:11 + 63:16] [RMo] Represents the essence of Jansons' Bruckner.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7 - Hamburg PO/Simone Young rec. 2014 OEHMS CLASSICS OC688 SACD [66:32] An excellent issue, very well recorded, which should be heard by every Bruckner enthusiast [DBi] A fine addition to Simone Young’s Bruckner cycle [JQ].

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 9 ­ Aarhus SO/John Gibbons rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD754 [80:31] [DM] A very likeable performance of the first three movements; look elsewhere if you want the full four.

Alfred BRUNEAU (1857-1934) Requiem Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande, Symphonie - SO & Ch La Monnaie, De Munt/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2012/13 CYPRES CYP7615 [63.39] [MC] I enjoyed every note and heartily commend this release to lovers of French and sacred music.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Busoni The Visionary Vols 1-3 - Jeni Slotchiver (piano) rec. 1994-2012 CENTAUR CRC2438/2681/3396 [72:52 & 69:29 & 68:50] [SSi] A valuable survey of this often neglected music.

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Nocturnes - Earl Wild (piano) rec. 1996 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94930 [59:02 + 46:28] [JW] Poetry, imagination, and digital control reflecting Wild’s openness to Romanticism in twentieth-century interpretation.

Francois COUPERIN (1668-1733) Ordres 24-27 - Katherine Roberts Perl (harpsichord) rec. 2013 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1284 [78:47] [JW] Captures the many moods and textures with stylish but unselfconscious intimacy. A success from beginning to end.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Bel Canto Concertante ­ Rosemary Tuck (piano) English CO/Richard Bonynge NAXOS 8.573254 [69:09] [PRB] Virtually impossible not to welcome this charming CD. Music that is attractive and uncomplicated to listen to.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Violin Sonata, Ma Mčre l’Oye, Sonatine - Michčle Auclair (violin) Jacqueline Bonneau, Genevičve Joy, Marie-Thérčse Fourneau (piano) rec. 1955/57 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR552 [54:38] [SG] Very interesting and worthwhile with top-class re-masterings ... a wholehearted endorsement.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 1, Rhapsody - Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrüken Kaiserslautern/Karel Mark Chichon rec. 2014 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD93.330 [64:53] [NB] Big-boned, open-hearted music played with sensitivity, brilliance and panache.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet 11 Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Concertino - Gordon Qt, Rudolf Firkušný (piano) Clark Brody (clarinet) David Weber (clarinet) John Barrow (horn) Harold Goltzer (bassoon) rec. 1948 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1044 [48:36] [JW] Forgotten Records goes to considerable pains to restore its material and I salute its perceptive reissue policy here.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Dream of Gerontius - Paul Groves (tenor) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) John Relyea (bass) Staatsopernchor Dresden; Staatskapelle Dresden/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2010 PROFIL PH12017 [36:31 + 57:29] [JQ] A handsome tribute to Sir Colin Davis from Dresden and a significant addition to the discography of The Dream of Gerontius.

Ēriks EŠENVALDS (b. 1977) Northern Lights and other choral works - Trinity Brass Sally Pryce (harp) Trinity College Ch Cambridge/Stephen Layton rec. 2013/14 HYPERION CDA68083 [67:48] [BW] Imaginative choral music, superbly sung.

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) 100th Anniversary Set - rec. 1967-97 WERGO WER69562 [3 CDs: 227.43] [MC] A superb release with broad appeal … obligatory listening for lovers of French music.

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Symphonie d’Archets, Ode sur ‘La Naissance de Vénus’ de Botticelli, Die Kamelien - Sir Georg Solti CO/Kerry Stratton rec. 2011 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0162 [52.06] [MC] Highly committed and warmly expansive.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Piano Works - Valentina Lisitsa (piano) rec. 2014 DECCA 478 8079 [76:00 + 74:57] [KM] Probably the most accessible collection of music by Philip Glass that has been released in many years.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Handel in the Wind - Red Priest rec. 2014 RED PRIEST RP012 [71:59] [BW] Red Priest’s usual combination of adept and fast music-making and zaniness.

John HARBISON (b. 1938) Symphonies 1 & 2 - Boston SO/James Levine rec. 2010 BSO CLASSICS BSOCL1302 [51:31] [JQ] Premiere recordings of two impressive twentieth-century American symphonies.

Hans Leo HASSLER (1564-1612) Sacred Choral Works - Mainzer Domchoir/Domkantorei St. Martin, Mainzer Dombläser/Karsten Storck rec. 2014 RONDEAU ROP6097 [58.32] [GH] A most enjoyable disc of some glorious and under-rated music

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Complete Masses - Sir John Eliot Gardiner, George Guest, Simon Preston rec. 1966-2001 DECCA COLLECTORS EDITION 4787828 [8 CDs: c. 546:00] [GPJ] Perhaps this Decca box doesn’t oust the superb Hickox set; but it contains many gems, as well as a fascinating variety of conductors, choirs, soloists and orchestras.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies 57, 67 & 68 - Philharmonia Baroque O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2014 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PRODUCTIONS PBP-08 [78:29] [LW] McGegan and his Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra show real rapport with Haydn.

Johann David HEINICHEN (1683 - 1729) Unpublished Dresden Sonatas - Sans Souci Baroque Ens rec. 2013 STRADIVARIUS STR15001 [60:08] [JV] The Ensemble Sans Souci delivers zestful performances, which sometimes lack in differentiation and subtlety.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) 3 Pieces, Variations, Sonata for Solo Cello, Cello Sonata - Sébastien Hurtaud (cello) Pamela Hurtado (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573172 [61:28] [DD] A real surprise. Excellent recital of little known music that deserves much greater recognition. Enjoy.

Alun HODDINOTT (1929-2008) Songs - Claire Booth (soprano) Nicky Spence (tenor) Jeremy Huw Williams (baritone) Andrew Matthews-Owen, Michael Pollock (piano) rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.571360 [60.19] [PCG] Very beautiful ... chilling.

E.T.A. HOFFMANN (1776-1822) Symphony; Overtures Friedrich WITT (1770-1836) Symphony - Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2014 CPO 777 208-2 [61:39] [JF] Of great interest to all who specialise in exploring the lesser-known composers of the late classical and early romantic eras.

Miriam HYDE (1913-2005) Music for flute and piano - Bridget Bolliger (flute) Andrew West (piano) rec. 2014 CALA CACD77019 [60:10] [JW] Tonally, technically and expressively conveys the music’s attractive mood setting.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Symphonies 1 & 2 - Melbourne SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5152 SACD [76:44] Refined and unencumbered by controversy [DC] Immensely enjoyable and superbly recorded [JS].

Sir Nicholas JACKSON (b.1934) Chamber and Organ Music - Nicholas Jackson (organ, harpsichord) Concertante of London, Galliard Wind Ens rec. 1972/2014 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6301 [70:42] [BW] An appealing selection of the music of an under-represented composer.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartets 1 & 2 Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) String Quartet 3 - Doric Qt rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN10848 [59:29] The Doric’s approach to Janáček leaves a mixed reaction [LW] I find these very unsatisfactory realisations of Janáček’s quartets [JW].

Adolf JENSEN (1837-1879) Orchestral Works - Philharmonie Baden-Baden/Pavel Baleff rec. 2014 GENUIN CLASSICS GEN15347 [66:17] [NB] Worthy but minor.

Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Original piano works and transcriptions - Kariné Poghosyan (piano) rec. 2013 GRAND PIANO GP673 [61:57] [SA] Any lover of solo piano music cannot fail to find this disc a worthy and valuable addition to their library.

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) String Quartets 1 & 2 - Dante Qt rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA67999 [66:33] [DJB] A good choice for those seeking these works, but those wishing to know more about the composer should look elsewhere.

Lou KOSTER (1889-1973) Orchestral Music - O Estro Armonico Luxembourg/Jonathan Kaell rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573330 [61:34] [NB] Fills in a small missing piece in the jigsaw of European light music but lacks enough quality to demand attention from the unconverted.

Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832) Piano Quartets 1 & 2 - Copenhagen Piano Qt rec. 2013-2014 DACAPO 6.220596 SACD [72.44] [DBi] Two fine Danish quartets performed with conviction and virtuosity.

Johann KUHNAU (1660-1722) Complete Sacred Works Vol. I - Opella Musica, Camerata Lipsiensis/Gregor Meyer rec. 2013 CPO 777 868-2 [70:08] [MS] The first in this welcome Kuhnau series should accord the neglected predecessor of Bach at Leipzig his due.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929-1988) Crucifixus - Ch Trinity College Cambridge/Stephen Layton rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68039 [72:09] [SSi] An excellent disc, one for all lovers of 20th century British music in general and choral music in particular.

Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001) Chamber Works - New Zealand Qt rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573079 [72:49] [GH] An attractive disc. Not to be overlooked.

Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001) Complete Electro-Acoustic Works ATOLL ACD404 [3 CDs: 214:44; DVD: 54.48] [DC] Essential Lilburn.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Amadis - Hasnaa Bennani (soprano) Ingrid Perruche (soprano) Ch Chambre Namur, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset APARTE AP094 [3 CDs: 164:05] [MS] Another in the excellent series of Lully operas by performers on top form. Not to be missed.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 4 (arr. chamber ensemble) - Heather Jamieson (soprano) Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chamber Ens/Peter Manning rec. 2014 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6300 [50.27] [PCG] Fine as a sample of this ensemble of talented students but one wishes they had been given something more substantial to do.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 9 - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2014 HALLÉ CDHLD7541 [43:54 + 38:07]  Not the whole picture – no one recording can achieve that – but a strong contender [BW] A fine example of ‘the composer knows best’.

Marin MARAIS (1656-1728) Suites for Oboe - Christopher Palameta (oboe) Eric Tinkerhess (viola da gamba) Romain Falik (theorbo, guitar) Lisa Goode Crawford (harpsichord) rec. 2014 AUDAX RECORDS ADX13702 [58:38] [JV] Fine performances which give the impression that the music was specifically written for the oboe.

Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Jacob a Labano fugiens - Siri Karoline Thornhill (soprano) Julie Comparini (mezzo) Simon Mayr Ch & Ens/Franz Hauk rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573237 [78:47] [GF] A thoroughly professional creation … inventive scoring … fresh and captivating.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Octet, Hebrides overture - Duo Lontano (piano duet) rec. 2014 GENUIN GEN15359 [52:00] [PRB] Hard to see any place for this CD in the average collection.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Des canyons aux étoiles - Tzimon Barto (piano) John Ryan (horn) Andrew Barclay (xylorimba) Erika Öhman (glockenspiel) London PO/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2013 LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0083 [100:06] [DM] Eschenbach’s keen and sympathetic Canyons is well worth hearing; Cambreling’s is the one to take to your desert island, though.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573332 [61:09] [RWe] Not a market leader, but sufficiently accomplished to take its place among other versions with something to say about this great cycle.

Moisés MOLEIRO (1904-1979) Piano Music - Clara Rodriguez (piano) NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6104 [75.37] [PCG] Rodriguez clearly understands the idiom perfectly and the recorded sound is fine.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Sonatas Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Divertimento - Esther Hoppe (violin) Alasdair Beatson (piano) rec. 2012 CLAVES 50-1403 [62:32] [JW] A most attractively played recital.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony 41 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto - Leonid Kogan (violin) New York PO/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1960 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1049 [71:27] [JW] A disc to savour.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Flute Quartets - Raffaele Trevisani (flute) Martin Kos (violin) Karel Untermüller (viola) David Havelík (cello) rec. 2011 DELOS DE3478 [67:18] [SV] Genial performances, suggesting a group of friends playing beautiful music for pleasure. We're lucky enough to be in on it.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Serenade, Divertimenti - Scottish Chamber Wind soloists rec. 2014 LINN CKD479 SACD [67:00] [GPJ] Stylish and technically superb playing of these sextet versions … I enjoyed this CD enormously.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Sonatas - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68029 [74:52 + 79:29] [GM] Up there with the best and very good value, too.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 15 & 16, Rondo - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2013 BIS SACD BIS-2064 [53:43] [DBi] Another triumph for Brautigam and Willens in their Mozart concerto series. Essential.

Modest Petrovich MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition, Songs and Dances of Death, Night on a Bare Mountain - Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass) Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2010/14 MARIINSKY MAR0553 SACD [68:28] [BW] Not a first-choice Pictures but the other works, including the original Night on a Bare Mountain, are excellent.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasie - Paul Lewis (piano) rec. 2010/14 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902096 [64:43] [DC] Excellent release.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Songs for choir - Ars Nova Copenhagen/Michael Bojesen rec. 2014 DACAPO 6.220569 SACD [63:31] [DBi] Attractive performances of easily enjoyed songs.

Johann PACHELBEL (1653-1706) Organ Jewels of the 17th Century - Bernard Lagacé (organ) rec. 1971 2xHD 2XHDJD1033 [50:16] [BW] A fine introduction to Pachelbel’s organ music which may well tempt listeners to further exploration.

Johann PACHELBEL (1653 - 1706) Festal Sacred Music - Johann Rosenmüller Ens/Arno Paduch rec. 2002 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77385 [67:56] [JV] A most enjoyable production, with compelling music and performances.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Te Deum, Wallfahrtslied, Berliner Messe, Dopo la vittoria - Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2012/14 BR KLASSIK 900511 [67:06] [DC] Fine but frustrating.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933) Chamber Works Vol. 1 - Roman Widaszek (clarinet) Tadeusz Tomaszewski (horn) Maria Machowska (violin) Artur Rozmysłowicz (viola) Jan Kalinowski (cello) Marek Szlezer (piano) DUX 0780 [60:58] [RWe] A mix of brilliant encores and works that do not yield up their secrets at once.

Goffredo PETRASSI (1904-2003) Partita, Quattro Inni Sacri, Noche oscura, Coro di morti - Giorgio Berrugi (tenor) Vasily Ladyuk (baritone) Ch & O Teatro Regio Torino/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2013/14 CHANDOS CHAN10840 [69:29] [SB] Well worth having.

David POPPER (1843-1913) Cello Concertos 1-3 - Wen-Sinn Yang (cello) WDR Radio Studio O Cologne/Niklas Willén rec. 2011 CPO 777 821-2 [60:47] [JW] Unusual fare in excellent performances.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony 5, Scythian Suite - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2124 SACD [67:00] [DM] A terrific pairing, well played and recorded; here’s to the next instalment.

Serge RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) All-Night Vigil - Phoenix Chorale, Kansas City Chorale/Charles Bruffy rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5148 SACD [75:34] [NB] Not the only way of performing this music for sure, but a magnificent achievement.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Transcriptions and arrangements for organ - Jeremy Filsell (organ) rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGCD0324 [76:43] [NB] An excellent disc and greatly enjoyable for those who like their Rachmaninov with a twist.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony 2, Vocalise - Valer Sabadus (counter-tenor) Gürzenich-Orchester Köln/Dmitrij Kitajenko rec.2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC441 [64:55] [NB] I will enjoy listening to this again if only to appreciate the care and skill of all involved.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Premier Livre, Nouvelles Suites, Pičces de Clavecin - Marcelle Charbonnier (harpsichord) rec. 1953 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1059 [79:55] [SG] Rameau’s harpsichord works, beautifully realized.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Daphnis et Chloé, Pavane pour une Infante défunte - Netherlands Radio Ch, Rotterdam PO/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2012/14 BIS BIS-1850 SACD [63:27] Doesn’t quite displace Monteux, Munch or Dutoit but it comes closer than any other recording that I know [BW] Everything about this is great except the conducting, which is adequate [BR].

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano Concerto Philip LASSER (b. 1963) The Circle and the Child George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue - Simone Dinnerstein (piano) MDR Leipzig Radio SO/Kristjan Järvi rec. July 2014 SONY 88875 032452 [68:42] [JW] With the exception of the Lasser, a lack of idiomatic naturalness.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) & Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Piano Trios - Trio Solisti rec. 2013 BRIDGE 9440 [56:40] [RWe] Fine performances of both works, but lacking a little atmosphere sonically.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Organ Works Vols 1-3 - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2014 CYBELE RECORDS SACD 051501-3 [3 CDs: 215:08] [DC] Get your ‘kunstkopf’ into gear for these.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Mark Anderson (piano) rec. 2014 NIMBUS NI5918 [70:51] [JW] Enjoy Röntgen’s unassuming generosity of spirit ... not everything need be Sturm und Drang.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Guillaume Tell - Andrew Foster-Williams, Michael Spyres, Judith Howarth, Virtuosi Brunensis/Antonio Fogliani rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.660363-66 [4 CDs:253:01] [ST] Inaccuracies and fluffs but the gains are notable enough for these not to matter.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Symphonies 1 & 2, Phaéton – Malmö SO/Marc Soustrotrec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573138 [66:06] [GF] Wholly engrossing readings; the playing and recording are up to the highest standards.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Danse macabre; Cyprčs et Lauriers; Symphony 3 - Vincent Warnier (organ) Orchestre National de Lyon/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2013/2014 NAXOS 8.573331 [57:45] [LW] Slatkin, the Lyon Orchestra, and organist Warnier excel in Saint-Saëns.

Aulis SALLINEN (b. 1935) Cello Sonata, From a Swan Song, Piano Trio - Elina Vähälä (violin) Arto Noras (cello) Ralf Gothóni (piano) rec. 2010 CPO 777 814-2 [55:09] [SG] Another distinguished release from CPO in their illustrious Sallinen Edition.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Symphony 3 - Tobias Berndt (organ) Heike Gneiting (piano) Berlin RSO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2014 PENTATONE SACD PTC5186485 [52:16] [KM] If you want to hear a challenging orchestral work, performed impeccably, this disc is for you.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe, Liederkreis - Suzanne Danco (soprano) Guido Agosti (piano) rec. 1949/52 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO116 [51:32] [GF] A warm welcome back to circulation – this is the first ever appearance in the digital age.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Vers La Flamme - Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) rec. 2014 DECCA CLASSICS 4788155 [78:46] [SG] A fitting tribute to celebrate the centenary of Scriabin’s death.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Preludes Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Visions Fugitives Kurt WEILL (1900-1950) 7 Pieces from The Threepenny Opera - Benjamin Schmid (violin) Lisa Smirnova (piano) rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE1253-2 [54:23] [JW] It’s something of a niche release but worth exploring if you’re a questing fiddle-lover.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Complete works for mixed choir - Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Ch/Heikki Seppänen rec. 2014 ONDINE ODE1260-2D [51:11 + 52:40] [DM] Accomplished, but undercharacterised; the 16-bit sound is a tad fatiguing, too.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 2 & 7 - BBC Ntl O of Wales/Thomas Sondergĺrd rec. 2014 LINN RECORDS SACD CKD462 [62:26] [DM] Sondergĺrd compensates for a tentative Second with a vital, strongly characterised Seventh; Linn’s recording is somewhat variable, though.

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Duo Concertants, Grand Duo Concertant, Duets - Francesco Parrino (violin) Michele Fedrigotti (piano) rec. 2012 STRADIVARIUS STR33933 [60:50 + 64:22] [JW] Affectionate and pleasing.

Philip SPRATLEY (b.1942) Music for string orchestra - Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Barry Wordsworth, Manchester Sinfonia/Philip Spratley rec. 2007/8 TOCCATA TOCC0088 [71:11] Orchestral Music Vol. 2 - Siberian SO/Dmitry Vasliyev rec. 2013 TOCCATA TOCC0194 [75:46] [DBr] Spratley’s powerful contribution was long overdue to be heard, and I hope that more is to follow.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Piano Trio 2, Piano Quartet 1 - Gould Piano Trio; David Adams (viola) rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573388 [61.23] [MC] Outstanding playing - consistently engaging, always intelligent and constantly assured.

Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN (1928-2007) Klavierstücke I-VI Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonatas 28 & 31 - Pi-hsien Chen (piano) rec. 2014 HAT HUT RECORDS hat[now]ART 193 [81:05] [DC] Will this turn your ideas about music on their head?

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome, Aus Italien - Inge Borkh (soprano) Hans Hotter (bass) Bavarian State Opera O/Joseph Keilberth, Vienna PO/Clemens Krauss rec. 1951/53 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO111 [68.22 + 71.07] [PCG] Interesting but none of the performances here bring much in the way of unexpected revelation.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Death and Transfiguration - Berlin State Operas O/Otto Klemperer, Leo Blech rec. 1928/29 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC419 [69:52] [JW] Strauss performances under the athletic, fast-moving Klemperer, and the benign, indulgent Blech.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Concerto for Piano and Wind, Capriccio, Movements, Pétrouchka - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Săo Paulo SO/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHSA5147 SACD [79:40] [DC] Multi-layered and well-seasoned all-Stravinsky cake - yum.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird ­ Kirov O/Valery Gergiev EUROARTS DVD 2061088 [53.00] [PCG] Despite a few cavils I thoroughly enjoyed this staging.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) La Valse George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Preludes, Rhapsody in Blue Eric Ferrand N'Kaoua (piano) rec. 2013 GRAND PIANO GP696 [65:17] [NB] As an appendix to the more familiar orchestral versions this is a wholly enjoyable and well-performed anthology.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le sacre du printemps (original and final versions) - Tonhalle O Zürich/David Zinman rec. 2013 RCA 88843 095462 [35:08 + 69:58] [LW] Mandatory Le Sacre as a document is let down by the performances.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird, The Rite of Spring - Minneapolis Symphony/Antal Doráti rec. 1952/3 DORÁTI EDITION ADE024 [51:07] [JQ] Antal Doráti’s first recordings of two great Stravinsky scores in good transfers.

Eugen SUCHOŇ (1908-1993) Metamorfózy, Baladiká suita, Symfonietta rustica - Estonian Ntl SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHAN10849 [62:36] [DJB] Very interesting and enjoyable music, beautifully played, but I have serious reservations about the interpretations.

Joby TALBOT (b. 1971) The Winter’s Tale - The Royal Ballet, O of the Royal Opera Covent Garden/David Briskin rec. 2014 OPUS ARTE OA1159 DVD/OABD7157D Blu-ray [133.00] Handsomely prepared and presented [PCG] Anyone attracted by this production need not hesitate in snapping it up [RMay].

Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) Sonatas, Sonatinas & Fantasie - Klaidi Sahatçi (violin) Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573127 [79:08] [SA] Everything I hear by Tansman makes me want to hear more and this disc is no exception.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5 - International Festival O/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1973 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9007CD [79:42] [RMo] A live recording testimony to Stokowski’s special affinity with Tchaikovsky.

Johann Baptist VANHAL (1739-1813) String Quartets - Lotus Qt rec. 2009 CPO 777475-2 [78:34] [JW] Even in an age of prolific composers Vanhal stands tall.

Jan Křtitel VAŇHAL (1739-1813) Sacred Works - Czech Boys Ch Boni Pueri Czech Chamber PO Pardubice/Marek Štryncl rec. 2014 ARCO DIVA UP0165-2 231 [61:44] [BW] Attractive music by a friend of Haydn and Mozart, freshly mined from the Czech archives.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Don Carlo - Ramón Vargas, Svetlana Kasyan, Ildar Abdrazakov, O Teatro Regio Turin/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2013 OPUS ARTE OA1128D DVD [217:00] [JS] Musically satisfactory but in terms of drama wholly fails to meet the challenges this wonderful opera presents.

Henry VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881) Cello Concertos 1 & 2 Eugčne YSAŸE (1858-1931) Méditation, Sérénade - Alban Gerhardt (cello) Royal Flemish PO/Josep Caballé Domenech rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA67790 [65:07] [DJB] A valuable release worth your investment.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Transcriptions for mandolin - Venetian Gondolie, Venice Baroque O/Avi Avital (mandolin)  rec. 2014 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4794017 [51:34] [BW] Lively and enjoyable transcriptions.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) L’Estro Armonico - Brecon Baroque/Rachel Podger (baroque violin/direction) rec. 2014 CHANNEL CLASSICS SACD CCSSA36515 [44:54 + 52:00] [MC] I have no hesitation in positioning this set alongside the finest accounts in the catalogue. 

William WALTON (1902-1983) Improvisations, Cello Concerto Symphony 2 - Paul Watkins (cello) BBC SO/Edward Gardner rec. rec. 2013/14 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5153 [69:53] [JQ] Another splendid Walton collection from Edward Gardner in superb Chandos sound.

Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810-1876) Church Music - Ch of St Peter’s College, Oxford/Roger Allen rec. 2014 OXRECS OXCD-129 [59:59] [JS] A disc to gladden the hearts of all enthusiasts for the music of this composer.

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Organ Symphonies 1-4 - Christian Schmitt (organ) rec. 2010 CPO 777 705-2 SACD [72:46 + 61:27] [DC] Highly respectable.

1913 - Au Carrefour de la Modernité Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du Printemps  Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) En blanc et Noir Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Fantasia Contrappuntistica - Jean-Sébastien Dureau and Vincent Plančs (Pleyel piano) rec. 2014 HORTUS 702 [76:40] [JW] Sheds valuable light on modernity as channelled via the piano.

20th Century Romantics Works by Bloch, Bourgeois, Gliere, Montag & Piazzolla - Nicholas Bayley (double bass) Geoffrey Duce (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI6308 [68:43] [DC] Interesting.

Les altistes engagés Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Romance Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Sonata Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Légende Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Sonate - Vincent Roth (viola) Sébastien Beck (piano) rec. 2014 HORTUS 707 [61:15] [SB] If this programme attracts, don’t hesitate.

Ascendit Deus Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost - Ch Clare College, Cambridge; Dmitri Ensemble/Graham Ross rec. 2014 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907623 [77:31] [JQ] Another very fine and varied album from Clare College choir.

Baroque Inspirations Works by Kreisler, Stamitz, Tartini, Vitali & Vivaldi - Hideko Udagawa (violin) Scottish CO/Nicholas Kraemer rec. 2014 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6299 [57:35] [JW] Disappointing.

Berliner Gambenbuch Ens Art d’Echo rec. 2013 CAPRICCIO C5206 [72:28] [DC] A peek into the Great Elector’s private music salon.

Alexander Brailowsky (piano) Rarities on CD NYC 1940-1955 - RCA Victor SO/Jean-Paul Morel rec. 1940-1955 FONDAZIONE STAUFFER 007 [77:36 + 78:47] [SG] I don’t know if this is the beginning of a projected series but I have my fingers crossed.

Brass Too Works by Glanert, Hindemith, Piazzolla, Shostakovich & Tomasi - Royal Concertgebouw O/Ivan Meylemans, Kurt Masur rec. 2011/14 RCO LIVE RCO14010 SACD [63:12] [DM] What a blast; not to be missed.

Canciones espańolas Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) La maja y el ruiseńor; Canciones amatorias Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Siete canciones populares espańolas Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) Tres arias - Danielle Talamantes (soprano), Henry Dehlinger (piano) rec. 2013 MSR CLASSICS MS1476 [51:18] [GF] A disc to savour.

Cantilena II Works by Chaminade, Dutilleux, Piazzolla, Taktakishvili & Widor - Odinn Baldvinsson (flute) Patricia Romero (piano) rec. 2014 DIVINE ART DDA25126 [78:08] [JF] Of huge interest and musical value.

Célébrations Les Musiciens et la Grande Guerre Vol. 8 - Philippe Brandeis (organ) Les Cuivres de la Garde Républicaine/Sébastien Billard rec. 2014 HORTUS 708 [85:38] [GPJ] Not all pure gold but much is emphatically worth hearing.

Chansons Perpétuelles Songs by Chausson, Fauré, Koechlin, Lekeu, Rachmaninov & Wolf - Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto) Roger Vignoles (piano) Psophos Qt rec. 2014 NAĎVE V5355 [63:03] [JW] Moving from poetic intimacy to quasi-operatic declamation … a well-rounded musician.

Chants de la Cathédrale de Benevento Ens Organum/Marcel Pérčs rec. 1993 HARMONIA MUNDI MUSIQUE D’ABORD HMA1951476 [73:23] [GH] Demonstrates Pérčs' conviction that the more eastern style of chanting was strongly influential throughout most of Europe even well into the middle ages.

Comédie et Tragédie Vol. 1 Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Le Bourgeois gentilhomme suite Jean-Féry REBEL (1666-1747) Les Elémens Marin MARAIS (1656-1728) Alcyone suite - Tempesta di Mare/Gwyn Roberts, Richard Stone rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN0805 [67:04] [JV] Rather tame and bland, and not very theatrical.

Coronation Music for Charles II Oltremontano, Psallentes/Wim Becu rec. 2014 ACCENT ACC24300 [66:36] [JV] Fine playing and singing but the selection of music is not always plausible.

Etude Works by Chin, Kapustin, Lyapunov & Szymanowski - Clare Hammond (piano) rec. 2013 BIS BIS-2004 SACD [67:22] [DC] Superb, unusual programme.

Father and Son Christoph & Julian Prégardien (tenors) Michael Gees (piano) rec. 2014 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72645 SACD [74:06] [RWe] Splendid ... characterised with just the right sense of domestic entertainment rather than high art requiring the highest artistic skill to bring off.

The French Harpsichord Felix Ardanaz (harpsichord) rec. 2010 ORPHEUS OR3906-1811 [70:20] [SSi] A good introduction to the art of French harpsichord music.

From the British Isles Music for flute and piano - Kenneth Smith (flute) Paul Rhodes (piano) rec. 1989-2007 DIVINE ART DDA21223 [68:46 + 60:52] Most enjoyable – but best not taken all at once [BW] One to cherish and enjoy forever [SA].

Good Friday in Jerusalem Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas rec. 2013 CAPPELLA ROMANA CR413 [74:38] [GH] Clearly experienced at reproducing these chants in an authentically believable manner.

Great Comedy Overtures Royal Scottish Ntl O/Lance Friedel rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573418 [79:42] [DM] A most enjoyable confection; I wouldn’t be without the Albert Wolff set, though.

In The Midst Of Life Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I ­ Contrapunctus/Owen Rees SIGNUM SIGCD408 [68:17] [BW] The quality of this recording is likely to set you on a search for more music from this period.

Wanda Landowska (piano) The Complete Piano Recordings Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto 26; Piano Sonatas Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Andante and Variations; Piano Sonatas rec. 1937-58 APR 7305 [3 CDs: 232:53] [JW] An excellent package, not least for those who have never before heard Landowska's pianism.

Lux Aeterna Visions of Bach - Beatrice Berrut (piano) rec. 2014 APARTE AP100 [73:00] [JF] A magnificent introduction to the genre played in a revelatory style.

Lorin Maazel The Complete Early Recordings DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 4306 [18 CDs] [MC] A mixed bag but hardly a dull moment with performances oozing confidence and a certain youthful swagger.

La Meglio Giuventů Vesuvius Ensemble MODICA MUSIC MM0014 [44:58] [BW] Not essential listening and short value but entertaining.

Laudario di Cortona No. 91 Paraliturgical vocal music from the Middle Ages - Armoniosoincanto, Franco Radicchia/Anonima Frottolisti rec. 2013/14 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94872 [4 CDs: 289:40] [BW] Ethereal performances which show that music intended for devotion in the Middle Ages can still be attractive.

Message to the Future John Williams (guitar) Richard Harvey (recorders, ocarina, mandolin, clarinet, percussion etc) rec. 2005 ALTUS ALU0008 DVD [71:28] [BW] A varied and entertaining programme expertly performed.

Mirage Carolyn Mills (harp) ATOLL ACD602 [54:10] [JW] A charmingly well-balanced and thoughtful disc.

Musical Evenings Vania Vatralova-Stankov (soprano) Ivo Stankov (violin) Lachezar Stankov (piano) rec. 2012/14 GEGA GR25 [65:27] [GF] Readers gunning for something unusual but accessible should search this out.

Music at the Court of Carlsruhe Karlsruher Barock O/Kirstin Kares rec. 2014 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77391 [63:36] [JV] This disc breaks new ground and fills in some blank spots in the landscape of 18th-century music.

Music for Plectrum Orchestra from Florence in the late 1800s Ensemble da Camera Gino Neri/Giorgio Fabbri TACTUS TC840001 [JS] Very pleasant and well recorded. Limited musical ambitions but with those ambitions wholly achieved. 

I Musicisti dell' imperatore Works by Caldara, Piania, A Scarlatti & Vivaldi - Raffaella Milanesi (soprano) G.A.P. Ensemble rec. 2014 PAN CLASSICS PC10324 [74:08] [JV] In Milanesi's performances the dramatic and expressive qualities of these cantatas is perfectly conveyed.

My Dusty Gramophone Dunja Lavrova (violin) Konstantin Lapshin (piano) rec. 2014 SOLO MUSICA SM216 [64:22] [JW] A fine calling card for this young violinist.

La Naissance d’un Nouveau Monde Works by Boulnois, Bridge, Granados, de la Presle & Schulhoff - Thomas Duran (cello) Nicolas Mallarte (piano) rec. 2014 HORTUS 705 [81:08] [JW] Rock solid, sensitively shaped playing.

Nordic Concertos Works by Crusell, Hillborg, Holmboe & Rehnqvist ­ Martin Fröst (clarinet) BIS BIS-2123 [75:42] [JW] If you missed them first time round, this well-balanced programme, beautifully recorded, should certainly appeal.

Guiomar Novaes (piano) The complete published 78-rpm recordings - rec. 1919-47 APR 6015 [73:02 + 76:40] [JW] An excellent twofer.

Elena Obraztsova (mezzo) Stars of the Bolshoi Theatre - Bolshoi Theatre O rec. 1965-87 MELODIYA MELCD1002299 [72:44] [RMo] The majority of recordings here are from when she was in freshest, most youthful voice.

Orpheus Choreography by Dominique Hervieu and José Montalvo rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 108124 [78:00] [RMay] A visceral effect of sheer energy and theatricality.

Out Of Darkness Music from Lent to Trinity - Ch Jesus College Cambridge/Mark Williams, Benjamin Morris rec. 2014 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD409 [75:45] [JQ] A fine recital, which has been planned discerningly and performed with great skill and commitment.

Pater Noster Five Centuries of Sacred Choral Music - Salzburger Bachchor/Alois Glassner rec. 2014 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1817 [64:58] [GF] A recording to treasure for anyone interested in sacred music.

Nadia Reisenberg (piano) 110th Anniversary Tribute - Works by Kabalevsky, Rachmaninov & Tchaikovsky rec. 1954/55 ROMÉO RECORDS 7309/10 [78:30 + 78:56] [JW] Splendid playing - a worthy and valuable tribute.

Remembering Jussi Bror Magnus Třdenes (tenor) Hĺvard Gimse (piano) Norwegian RO/Ingar Bergby rec. 2014 SIMAX PSC1338 [51:07] [GF] An excellent debut disc from a very talented young singer.

Revolution Flute Concertos by Devienne, Gianella, Gluck & Pleyel - Emmanuel Pahud (flute) Basel CO/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2014 WARNER CLASSICS 2564 627678 [73.10] [MC] High on joie de vivre, charm and natural poetic insight.

Russian Piano Trios Works by Arensky, Borodin, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Taneyev & Tchaikovsy - The Moscow Trio rec. 1990/2 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94712 [3 CDs: 214:24] [OL] Much beauty here and the quality of the performances is more than adequate.

Sacred Russian Choral Works Akafist Male Choir/Andrei Malutin rec. 1993 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD98.049 [63:17] [RMo] As much as I enjoyed this anthology, there are others which are also bargain-priced.

O Sacrum Convivium! Sacred Choral Works by Langlais, Poulenc & Vierne  - Ch St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2014 CHANDOS CHAN10842 [64:25] [JQ] High-quality French sacred music in very accomplished and satisfying performances.

Grigory Sokolov (piano) Works by Chopin, Prokofiev, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin & Stravinsky rec. 1966-88 MELODIYA MELCD1002292 [69:13 + 65:11] [SG] Top-drawer playing from a master.

Sounds of Spain and the Americas Sebastian See-Schierenberg (violin) Ramon Ruiz (guitar) Sophia Lisovskaya (piano) rec. 2003/14 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD405 [51:31] [JW] A sense of real communicative spirit at work here.

Spirit of the American Range Walter PISTON (1894-1976) Suite from The Incredible Flutist George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) A Jazz Symphony Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Symphony 3 - Oregon SO/Carlos Kalmar rec. 2013/14 PENTATONE PTC5186481 SACD [65:29] If the couplings appeal, this could well be your version of choice for the Copland symphony [BW] This impressively engineered SACD is another fine advertisement for Carlos Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony [JQ].

Blandine Staskiewicz (mezzo) Tempesta - Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD923503 [64:38] [BW] Staskiewicz holds her own against all but the very strongest competition in this attractive recording.

Henryk Szeryng (violin) Concertos by Nardini, Schumann & Vieuxtemps - SWR SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1955/57 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD94.229 [75:49] [SG] This outstanding release should keep the memory of this great violinist before the listening public.

The Usher Hall Organ Vol. II John Kitchen (organ) rec. 2014 DELPHIAN DCD34132 [78:27] [JF] John Kitchen brings huge flair, understanding, characteristic humour and an intimate knowledge of organ registration and repertoire to this CD.

Antonio Vivaldi and Contemporaries Concertos by Naudot, Sammartini, A Scarlatti & Vivaldi - Richard Harvey (recorder) London Vivaldi O/Monica Huggett, Roy Goodman ALTUS ALU0002 [79:05] [BW] If the programme appeals, you should be more than happy with this reissue.

Vox Cosmica Hirundo Maris rec. 2014 CARPE DIEM RECORDS CD16304 [78:18] [DC] Good enough to restore your faith.

Wild About Transcription Dominic John (piano) rec. 2014 WILLOWHAYNE RECORDS WHR033 [77:27] [JW] An ingeniously programmed disc that happily draws together interesting reportorial demands.

Other Reviews

Call Me Debbie True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva by Deborah Voigt publ. 2013 Harper Collins [RJF] A brutally honest autobiography.

Master Singers: Advice from the Stage by Lucy Mauro and Donald George. Published 2014/15 Oxford University Press USA [MMB] A glimpse into the world of some of today’s greatest operatic stars.

Articles and Notices

National Discographies: Central European & Balkan Concertos S-Z by Mike Herman

Pianist Martin Jones in Conversation with Robert Beattie

A to Z of the Piano Trio Repertoire by David Barker: "B" Composers Part 2

Download News 2015/4 by Brian Wilson and David Barker

 Outhere New Releases - a survey by Brian Wilson



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