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100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
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Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

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Pianist Martin Jones in Conversation with Robert Beattie

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

MWI Recommends - Borodin string quartet 2 & Puccini Madame Butterfly.


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Thursday April 30th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

Wednesday April 29th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday April 28th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Monday April 20th

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Friday April 24th

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.

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.

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

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

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.

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

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.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) La Valse George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Three Piano 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.

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.

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.

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