DOWNLOAD NEWS 2015/7
by Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan
Reviews are by Brian Wilson unless otherwise stated.
DL News 2015/6 is here and the full archive index is here.
BACH Organ Music – Apkalna (+ GLASS) Oehms
BARTÓK Violin Concerto; Concerto for Orchestra_Alpha
- Violin Concerto – Hadelich (+ MENDELSSOHN)_Avie
BAX Violin Concerto – Mordkovitch (+ BLISS, DYSON, VEALE Concertos)_Chandos
BECK Symphonies, Op.2 – Mallon_Naxos
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.1; Symphony No.1 – Anda/Galliera; Cluytens_Beulah
- Piano Concerto No.2; Symphony No.2 – Backhaus/Krauss; Cluytens
- Piano Concerto No.3; Symphony No.3 – Fischer/Fricsay; Cluytens_Beulah
- Piano Concerto No.4; Symphony No.4 – Gilels/Ludwig; Cluytens_Beulah
- Symphonies 1-9 – Konwitschny_Berlin Classics; Karajan_DG
- Symphony No.6 – Tennstedt (+ Egmont Overture)_LPO
- Symphony No.6 – Böhm (+ SCHUBERT Symphony 5__DG
- Symphony No.6; Hammerklavier Sonata – Cluytens; Solomon_Beulah
- Violin Concerto – Campoli/Krips (+ BRUCH, MENDELSSOHN)_Beulah
BENDA Cephalus and Aurora – Kirkby etc._Hyperion
BLISS Violin Concerto (see Bax)
- Morning Heroes – Groves_Warner
BLOW Anthems – Winchester Cathedral/Hill_Hyperion
- Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day – Parley of Instruments/Holman (+ DRAGHI)_Hyperion
- Fairest Work of Happy Nature – Ainsley, etc._Hyperion
- Venus and Adonis – Hogwood_Decca/O-Lyre
BRIAN Symphonies 6, 28, 29 and 31 – Walker_Naxos
BRITTEN – The Masterpieces – Britten, etc._Decca
- Frank Bridge Variations – Karajan (+ VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia)_Warner
BRUCH Violin Concerto No.1 – Milstein/Barzín (see BEETHOVEN)
- Violin Concertos 1 and 2; Scottish Fantasy, etc. – Bäumer_CPO
- Violin Concertos 2 and 3 – Mordkovitch_Chandos
COLEMAN Free Jazz – Ornette Coleman_Avid
COUPERIN Les Nations; l’Apotheose de Lully – Dart; Leppard_ Decca/O-Lyre
DRAGHI Ode for St Cecilia’s Day – Holman (+ BLOW)_Hyperion
DVOŘÁK Piano Concerto – Richter/Kleiber (+ SCHUBERT)_Warner
DYSON Violin Concerto (see Bax)
GLASS Organ Music – Apkalna (+ BACH)_Oehms
GRIEG Piano Concerto – Moog/Milton (+ MOSZKOWSKI)_Onyx
HURD Aspern Papers; Night of the Wedding_Lyrita
IPPOLITOV-IVANOV Symphony No.1, etc – Hoey_Marco Polo
MAHLER Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen – Pinnock (+ BUSONI, ZEMLINSKY, WAGNER Siegfried Idyll)_Linn
MARCHAND Organ Works – Desenclos_Tempéraments
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto – Milstein/Barzín (see BEETHOVEN)
- Hadelich_Avie (see Bartók)
MOSZKOWSKI Piano Concerto – Moog/Milton (+ GRIEG)_Onyx
MOZART Symphonies 32, 35, 38 and 41 – Böhm_Beulah
NIELSEN Music for Trumpet and Organ – Zielke/Johanssen_Naxos
PALESTRINA Volume 6 inc. Missa L’Homme Armé – The Sixteen/Christophers_Coro
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto 1 – Gavrilov/Rattle (+ RAVEL)_Warner
RAVEL Left-hand Piano Concerto – Gavrilov/Rattle (+ PROKOFIEV)_Warner
RESPIGHI Metamorphoseon; Ballata; Belkis – Neschling_BIS (compared with Chandos twofer)
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Scheherazade, etc. – Ansermet_Beulah
ROOTHAM Symphony No.2; Ode on Christ’s Nativity – Handley_Lyrita
SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No.3, etc. – Stern_Reference Recordings; O’Donnell/Nézet-Séguin_LPO; Zamkochian/Munch_RCA
SCHOENBERG Gurre-Lieder – Stenz_Hyperion
SCHUBERT Symphony No.5 – Böhm (+ BEETHOVEN Symphony 6)_DG
- Wanderer Fantasia – Richter (+DVOŘÁK)_Warner
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concertos 1 and 2 – Mordkovitch/Järvi_Chandos
SIBELIUS Complete Recordings Volume 8_BIS
- Belshazzar’s Feast, etc. – Segerstam_Naxos
- Belshazzar’s Feast: Suite – Inkinen_Naxos
- Lemminkaïnen’s Return; Violin Concerto; Symphony No.2 – Monteux, etc._Beulah
- Symphony No.2, etc. – Karajan_Warner
TORROBA Guitar Concertos 1 – Pepe Romero, etc._Naxos
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Tallis Fantasia – Karajan (see Britten)
VEALE Violin Concerto – Mordkovitch (see Bax)
VINCI Cantatas – Invernizzi_Naïve
WAGNER Siegfried Idyll (see Mahler)
Arias for Domenico Gizzi – Invernizzi_Glossa
O Tuneful Voice – Kirkby/Roberts_Hyperion
Perfect Polyphony – Tallis Scholars/Phillips_Gimell
Point Blank – Illinois U Wind Symphony_Naxos
Table for Two (Golden Age of Light Music)_Guild
The Third Man and other film music_Decca; Naxos
Violin Greats – Rabin, Kogan, Oistrakh_Beulah
I mentioned some pricing anomalies of ClassicsonlineHD in my article last month, but, to be fair, they are far from being the only culprits. It’s far from unusual to find Amazon UK charging up to or more than twice as much for a download as for the equivalent CD – even when they offer the mp3 free to purchasers of the CD. The logic of that completely baffles me.
I note, too, from Ian Lace’s review of the Warner Sibelius/Karajan reissue (En Saga, Swan of Tuonela, Karelia, Finlandia, etc.) that Amazon were not offering that reissue at the correct budget price, though they now appear to be. Qobuz, however, are asking a completely unreasonable £11.82 – and no booklet – for this same recording which is available on CD for £5.99. Having been a fan of Karajan’s Sibelius on EMI and DG from of old, however, I was delighted to stream the album from Qobuz – just don’t dream of purchasing the download there, even though there was no other download outlet for it when I checked.
At the time of writing Amazon UK were asking £54.71 – no, that’s not a typo – for Karajan’s Warner/ex-EMI recording of the Second Symphony with the Philharmonia on CD; but his EMI remake with the Berlin Phil – review – is available in the Warner box set of Symphonies 1, 2, 4-6 and En Saga, Swan of Tuonela and Karelia, also from Amazon for £10.54! If you want just the Philharmonia recording of No.2, it can be yours for £3.96 from 7digital – mp3 or 24-bit flac for the same attractive price. (But see below for an even better offer of Nos. 2 and 5 together from Sainsbury’s, albeit in mp3 only).
Sainsburysentertainment.co.uk offer the EMI/Warner Berlin Phil recordings of Symphonies 1 and 6 – here – 4 and 5 – here – in mp3 for £3.99 each. Please see Rob Barnett’s review of the earlier release on EMI Double Forte, now offered at an absurdly uncompetitive £28.72 by Qobuz. They also have the Philharmonia recording of Nos. 2 and 5 – here – for £5.99. Gerald Fenech awarded 5 stars to the performance of Nos. 2 and 5 – review.
I’ve referred several times to instances where downloads have cost more than the CD equivalent. Warner’s recent spate of EMI reissues offer a case in point: the Sviatoslav Richter recording of Dvořák’s Piano Concerto (with Carlos Kleiber) and Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy – review – can be yours on disc for around £7, but it cost £11.82 in lossless sound from Qobuz when I checked – and there’s no booklet. The 7digital.com price is even less competitive: £7.99 for mp3 or £11.99 for lossless, again without booklet. Well worth streaming from Qobuz but rather than download save your money and buy the CD.
Even worse, the Gavrilov/Rattle album of Prokofiev and Ravel Piano Concertos in the same budget series – review – cost £12.73 in 16-bit and £14.69 in 24-bit from Qobuz when I checked. The CD is even less expensive than the Richter, at around £6, and 7digital are asking £6.93 (mp3) or £8.33 (16-bit lossless) – why such variability in cost of both download and CD even within the same reissue series?
And from David Barker, this experience ...
A small piece of editorial about downloads and their ongoing treatment as second-class citizens, if I may.
Recently I purchased a download from a retail site who shall remain nameless, even though they are essentially blameless in this. The first track I listened to had a serious distortion problem at higher volumes. Further listening found more instances, though not on every track. I reported this to the store’s support, they duly acknowledged there was a problem, and that they would contact the distributor to get replacement files.
That was 24 days ago, and nothing has turned up. When I queried this a week ago, the store apologised and was willing to refund me the purchase price. Given that this was a recording I very much wanted, I declined.
I did make the point that had this been a physical CD, I would have had a replacement in the mail by then, and that this was yet another instance of how poorly downloads are treated by some labels and distributors. The support person could only agree, adding that this was par for the course for dealing with digital glitches, and that my experience was nowhere near the worst.
Hyperion back catalogue
Since Hyperion have decided that it’s no longer viable to reissue back catalogue on the budget Helios label, it becomes even more important not to forget the riches in that catalogue. Price considerations apart, I’m sorry to see the demise of Helios: reissue brings the light of new publicity and serves as a reminder of what we meant to get but forgot.
Two recordings actually sparked off my decision to look at some of their past material. In my Seen & Heard review of a recent concert at St. Botolph’s without Aldgate I mentioned two recordings which featured two of the performers in that concert, Dame Emma Kirkby and Timothy Roberts, both of which have slipped into the special Archive Service, though remaining easily available as downloads, all complete with pdf booklet:
An album of music by Georg (Jiři Antonín) Benda (1722-1795) entitled Cephalus and Aurora contains that work together with other Lieder and music for the fortepiano (CDA66649 [61:37] – from hyperion-records.co.uk). The performers are Emma Kirkby (soprano), Rufus Müller (tenor) and Timothy Roberts (fortepiano) and the download, in mp3 or lossless, comes with pdf booklet for £6.99. (Don’t click the iTunes purchase button to pay £7.99 for mp3 only as that’s likely to be not at the top bit-rate or with booklet).
O Tuneful Voice (CDA66497 [72:44] – from hyperion-records.co.uk) offers performances by the same artists of songs and duets from late eighteenth-century London by Haydn, Linley, Shield and others. Again, I recommend downloading, with pdf booklet, from Hyperion for £7.99 rather than at the same price from iTunes, presumably without booklet.
You should find both these downloads in your designated download folder under ‘Various Artists’. Hyperion downloads are sometimes hard to find once downloaded: they are listed by artist, often arbitrarily, whereas most download sites list them by composer or, in the case of recitals, by title.
Another undeserving casualty, now Archive Service or download only, is a collection of vocal and keyboard music by John Blow (1649-1708) entitled Fairest Work of Happy Nature (CDA66646 [71:36] – from hyperion-records.co.uk). Here John Mark Ainsley (tenor) and Paul Chateuneuf (theorbo) join Timothy Roberts, this time on harpsichord, spinet, organ and virginals. Blow often gets unfairly overlooked in favour of his better-known pupils, William Croft, Jeremiah Clarke – he of the famous Voluntary of Peter Sellers fame – and especially Henry Purcell.
Another very fine Hyperion recording, this time still generally available on the 2-for-1 Dyad label, contains performances of Blow’s Anthems, performed by Winchester Cathedral Choir, the Parley of Instruments and David Hill (CDD22055 [58:21 + 58:07] – from hyperion-records.co.uk – review and DL Roundup July 2012/1).
If the pastoral side of Blow’s music on CDA66646 appeals, there’s his Venus and Adonis on Wigmore Hall Live – DL Roundup May 2011/1. A fine performance of a work that ought to be as well-known as Purcell’s Dido and Æneas. There’s another very fine version included in the Baroque Era 50-CD set (Decca 4786753 or Volume 1 of the download version 4787094 – 2014/10). Volume 1 is now much more expensive than it was when I reviewed the set – and, inexplicably, more expensive than Volume 2 – but even at the new higher price both volumes remain good value. On Volume 1 Philip Pickett directs Catherine Bott, Michael George and the New London Consort in a collection mostly of recordings by Christopher Hogwood. The sameVenus and Adonis remains available separately (4780019), but as a download only – sample/stream/download from Qobuz or download in mp3 and lossless from prestoclassical.co.uk or mp3 only from 7digital.com. No booklet from any source.
Blow’s Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day is coupled with another St. Cecilia Ode by Giovanni Battista Draghi (c.1640-1708) on budget-price Hyperion Helios CDH55257 [71:12] – from hyperion-records.co.uk. Soloists, The Parley of Instruments, The Playford Consort/Peter Holman – review. Even more emphatically, download from Hyperion for £6.49 – perversely iTunes charge £1/$1 more for this budget album than for the other Hyperion recordings that I’ve listed, so much more than Hyperion.
Perfect Polyphony: The Tallis Scholars
The Tallis Scholars are due to perform their 2000th concert in September – I plan to review it for Seen & Heard. To celebrate the event they will release a special budget-price 2-CD sampler on 28 August 2015. A less classy ensemble might well call it their Greatest Hits: that’s what it is, in effect, containing their trade-mark work Palestrina’s Missa Papæ Marcelli, Lamentations by Tallis, Brumel and Ferrabosco, one of the many Gombert settings of the Magnificat which they recorded, Josquin’s Ave Maria and his Marian Missa Ave Maris Stella plus several shorter pieces, among which I’m pleased to see that one of John Browne’s works for the Eton Choirbook is included (Gimell CDGIM213 [156:16] – from gimell.com or hyperion.co.uk, both on CD and in mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet). There’s nothing new, but at 2-for-1 this is irresistible, even if you already have several of these works on their original Gimell releases, not least for Peter Phillips’ reasons for the choice of his favourite repertoire.
If you followed my advice and bought their two 2-for-1 sets of Tudor music, for example, there’s very little overlap with the new release. If you didn’t get those earlier sets, why not obtain them both along with the new recording? (CDGIM209 and CDGIM210).
The Palestrina Mass appeared on the very first Tallis Scholars’ recording that I heard, on Classics for Pleasure – still available at budget price, with the original coupling, Mundi’s Vox patris cælestis and Allegri’s Miserere on GIMSE401 – but this is their most recent (2007) remake. The other recordings date from between 1987 and 2011. I must save some superlatives for the concert – I’m sure that I shall need them – and I’ve used plenty of them on earlier occasions: in The Tallis Scholars at 30 and subsequently.
I’d hate to have to judge between The Tallis Scholars and The Sixteen – I want them both on my Desert Island, please – especially in Palestrina, the sixth volume of whose music has just arrived on The Sixteen’s own label, Coro (COR16133 [71:23] – from thesixteendigital.com, mp3, aac and 24-bit lossless, all with pdf booklet containing texts and translations.) Preview track 10 from the link above or sample/stream from classicsonlinehd.com, NO booklet. Full track details from either link: the main items are the 5-part Missa L’Homme Armé, which deserves to be better known, and Nos.16-18 from the Song of Songs.
There are only two other recordings of the L’Homme Armé Mass, both at budget price. That performed by Pro Cantione Antiqua directed by Bruno Turner and Mark Brown is available variously coupled on Alto ALC1061 – review – and ALC1179 and on a 5-CD Brilliant Classics Palestrina box, 94266 – review. I still have the original ASV and Allegro CDs of PCA’s Palestrina and they remain well worth considering at the very tempting price as an adjunct to the new Sixteen album, but if you can afford only one, go for the Coro. As with the Tallis Scholars, I’ve used up all the superlatives: I’ve only one serious reservation – a continuing cause for puzzlement concerns the lack of 16-bit lossless from The Sixteen’s own digital ‘shop’: the jump in quality and price from mp3 to 24-bit is considerable. The classicsonlinehd.com link will offer you 16-bit quality, but without the booklet – another problem.
François COUPERIN (1668-1733). A new recording of Couperin’s Les Nations – DL News 2015/4 and review by Johan van Veen – reminds me that Thurston Dart’s 1962 recording of the first two Ordres with his ground-breaking Jacobean Ensemble remains available on Australian Decca Eloquence 4802372 – review: not available for download – coupled with a less stylish recording of l’Apotheose de Lully (ECO/Raymond Leppard). Sample/stream Les Nations only – a straight reissue of Oiseau-Lyre SOL251 – from Qobuz, but, at £11.56, the download is too expensive, as is the mp3 version from 7digital at £8.49 when the CD costs around £7.50. Caveat emptor again.
Dart’s recordings were ahead of their time in offering performances with modern instruments, but with attention to period practice, before Neville Marriner, who plays the violin on the Couperin recording, took the principle forward with his Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. I haven’t heard this recording since it reappeared on a pair of budget-price Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre LPs, with Ordres 3-4 (OLS137-8, costing £0.99 each) and I enjoyed making its acquaintance again.
BNF offer a decent, slightly tubbier sounding, transfer of Dart’s Jacobean Ensemble in Ordres 3-4 – sample/stream/download from Qobuz for £4.79. There’s even a booklet of sorts. The performances, recorded before the first two Ordres, are very slightly less stylish. To put things into perspective, in 1960 the LP (SOL60014) cost just under £2 – at least ten times the price of the Qobuz download in today’s values.
There’s a lesson in economics, too, in the case of the new Naxos recording: you should be able to find the CDs for around £9.50 and Qobuz are asking £7.19 for a lossless download with pdf booklet, so it makes little sense to download without the booklet from 7digital for £9.99 or £11.99 (mp3/lossless respectively) or in mp3 or lossless for $18.02 from eclassical.com. Even worse, Naxos’s own classicsonlinehd.com are asking £15.99. At least the pdf booklet comes with the last two.
Johan van Veen made a recording of organ works by Louis MARCHAND (1669-1732) A Recording of the Month – review and details. (Frédéric Desenclos, Tempéraments TEM316040 [72:52]). Listening to the streamed version from Qobuz, where it comes with pdf booklet as a lossless download at £7.99, I can see why this received the accolade.
The notes are in English and French but the organ specification is in French only: the names of some of the stops may not be familiar to Anglophone organists, especially as some are unique to French instruments, but that’s my only reservation. Performance, instrument at Sarlat Cathedral and recording are superb.
Marchand’s music appears in various anthologies, including a 22-disc Marie-Claire Alain organ collection (Erato), and there are single-CD recordings of his harpsichord works but this is to the best of my knowledge the only CD wholly devoted to his organ music and it’s a delight.
Marchand also has a walk-on part in The Harmonious Thuringian, a very fine Divine Art recording devoted to keyboard works from the early years of Handel and Bach (DDA25122 – review and DL News 2014/14).
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 [9:32]
Pastorale in F major, BWV 590 [12:36]
Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552 [15:51]
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 [14:48]
Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541 [7:18]
Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532 [10:46]
Pièce d’Orgue (Fantasie in G major), BWV 572 [8:59]
Philip GLASS (b. 1937)
Dance No.4 (1979) [17:52]
Mad Rush (1979) [15:15]
Music in Contrary Motion (1969) [8:54]
Satyagraha, Act III – Conclusion (1980, arr. Michael Riesmann) [9:22]
Dance No.2 (1979) [28:54]
Iveta Apkalna (organ)
rec. 2013, Himmerod Abbey, Germany
Pdf booklet included
OEHMS CLASSICS OC1827 [160:07] – from eClassical.com (mps & 16-bit lossless)
After reading Dominy Clements’ enthusiastic review of the CD version of this Oehms release – a Recording of the Month – I wasted no time downloading it. I first heard the Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna on a Phoenix disc of music for trumpet and organ, which I liked a great deal ( review). That programme was imaginative, as indeed is this one. Then Apkalna played the Essen Philharmonie organ, but now it’s the mighty Klais of Himmerod Abbey.
The ubiquitous Toccata and Fugue in D minor certainly gets the blockbuster treatment here. There’s a challenging echo that Apkalna uses to great effect at the end of each flourish, and the pedals are skull-rattling. It may be a showpiece but it’s more than that in this organist’s very capable hands. True the sheer heft of this instrument and the space in which it stands creates a vast swirl of sound that doesn’t always allow Bach’s inner voices to speak as clearly as one might like, but then the filigreed parts of the Passacaglia in C minor and the coruscating Fantasie in G major come off wonderfully well.
I admire the dedicated engineers who set up and record these daunting sessions, for there are so many issues to tackle. I’d say the Oehms team have done a pretty good job with this one; although it’s only a 16-bit download the sense of space and fearless dynamics should please even the most demanding of organistas.
And if max-strength Bach isn’t your bag there’s always the minimalist Philip Glass. Given this organ and acoustic programming such repertoire may seem a tad unwise; yes and no, for while Apkalna struggles to articulate the burbling Dance No. 4 the gently undulating Mad Rush and hypnoticMusic in Contrary Motion are models of clarity and propulsion. Also it’s a measure of Apkalna’s powers of concentration that even the half-hour Dance No. 2 doesn’t falter; indeed, it’s a remarkably subtle and compelling piece that I’d like to hear in concert.
A winning blend of old and new, well played and recorded; do give it a try.
Discovery of the Month
Arias for Domenico Gizzi
Roberta Invernizzi (soprano)
I Turchini/Antonio Florio
rec. Sala del Vasari, Chiesa di S. Anna dei Lombardi, Naples, 2014
Sung texts with English, French and German translations
GLOSSA GCD922608 [56:49] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet). Sample/stream from Qobuz or classicsonlinehd.com
Göran Forsling made this a Recording of the Month – review and details.
As a long-time fan of Roberta Invernizzi, all I need do is add a strong endorsement and to make this my Discovery of the Month: Domenico Gizzi ought to be as well-known as the great castrati and the music associated with him is all well worth hearing in such fine performances. The 24-bit recording is very good, but you won’t go far wrong with the less expensive mp3 and 16-bit. Classicsonlinehd.com also offer 24-bit but, at £15.99, it’s more expensive than eclassical.com’s $15.30. Subscribers to emusic.com could make a small saving by downloading there but it’s one of their older variable-bit-rate offerings and there’s no booklet.
If it’s the arias by Leonardo Vinci that particularly appeal, classicsonlinehd.com also have Roberta Invernizzi’s earlier Naïve/Opus 111 album of some of his cantatas, but there’s no booklet (OP30274 - review).
Franz Ignaz BECK (1734-1809)
Naxos continue their services to eighteenth-century music in general and to Beck in particular with a recording of his Symphonies, Op.2/1-6 in performances by the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra directed by Kevin Mallon (8.573323 [69:45] – rec. 2014: sample/stream/download from classicsonlinehd.com, or eclassical.com, both in mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, or Qobuz in 16-bit, all with pdf booklet). Qobuz is the least expensive for 16-bit, COL.HD for 24-bit, with eclassical probably best for US dollar purchasers.
Rather than his own period orchestra with whom he made earlier Naxos recordings, Kevin Mallon here directs a small modern-instrument ensemble but the result shows awareness of period practice: stylish performances, well recorded, of stylish music which, though it dates from the infancy of the symphonic form – before Haydn – is well worth hearing.
You may well wish to follow up with other recordings of Becks’ music from Naxos:
– 8.553790, Op.10/2, Op.13/1 and Sinfonia in D (Callen 30), with music by François-Joseph GOSSEC, Northern Chamber Orchestra/Nicholas Ward
– 8.554071, Op.1/1-6, New Zealand Chamber Orchestra/Donald Armstrong – review – review
– 8.570799, Op.3/1-4, Toronto Chamber Orchestra/Kevin Mallon – review
– 8.573248, Op.3/6 and Op.4/1-3, Czech Chamber Philharmonic/Marek Štilec – review
– 8.573249, Op.3/5 and Op.4/4-6, Czech Chamber Philharmonic/Marek Štilec – DL News 2014/13. The COL link no longer applies: sample, stream or download from classicsonlinehd.com
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
I understand that Beulah reissues of Mozart are not among their best-sellers. I find that surprising, but here is a chance for you to put matters right: 1PDR14 offers Symphonies Nos. 32, K318; 35, K385 (Haffner); 38, K504 and 41, K551 (Jupiter), recorded by Karl Böhm with the Berlin Philharmonic in stereo in 1960 and 1962.
In reviewing Klemperer and Beecham in Mozart on Beulah I mentioned that Böhm’s recordings from that period have dated less than most. I liked Beulah’s earlier well-transferred release of Böhm’s Jupiter on 10-13BX133 – 2013/3 – and the new album is also attractive for anyone wishing to sample Böhm’s traditional Mozart at its best, but who doesn’t want one of the multi-disc DG reissues. It’s now also a better option price-wise than the separate Jupiter.
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Egmont Overture, Op.84 (1809-1810) [9:22]
Symphony No. 6 in F major ‘Pastoral’, Op.68 (1808) [45:55]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt
rec. live, 1992, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA LPO-0085 [55:17] – from eClassical.com (mp3, 16-bit lossless)
It gave me great pleasure to review Tennstedt’s live Mahler Third recently; not only is it a taut and insightful performance it also sounds superb. That was recorded at the Festival Hall in 1986, whereas this Beethoven programme dates from 1992. I’d heard great things about this Pastoral in particular, so I did wonder why it’s taken so long to appear on record. Well, minutes into the Egmont I had my answer. To put it bluntly the sound is awful; the bass is boomy and the treble is shrill. Even worse the audio image is terribly narrow. The performance? That’s not very inspiring either.
The Pastoral, one of Beethoven’s most genial creations, has to be among the most popular symphonies in the canon. I’ve long cherished Karl Böhm’s Wiener Philharmoniker version from 1971 (DG), which also shows the conductor at his affectionate best. Tennstedt does find some joy in this bucolic retreat, although not nearly as much as one would expect. His peasants’ merry-making seems swifter than most; it’s also a tad cheerless. However, the LPO woodwinds are as animated as one could wish. That said, the recording is much too close – claustrophobic, even – and it suffers at the frequency extremes.
Alas, it doesn’t get any better. At least Tennstedt’s storm isn’t the Alpine deluge that drenches Carlos Kleiber’s overdone – and frankly overrated – live account (Orfeo d’Or). Still, it’s a pretty sharp downpour – complete with hard-struck timps – and it has plenty of impact. So why does this Pastoral fail to cheer and charm as it should? Perhaps it needs a lighter touch, a reviving lift, which it simply doesn’t get; indeed, Tennstedt’s reading seems uncharacteristic in its rhythmic rigidity and general doggedness. What a contrast with the freshness and vitality of that Mahler Third.
Scrappy performances in bootleg sound; for die-hard KT fans only.
Of all the versions of the Pastoral Symphony listed in MWI Recommends, I was most surprised to see Classical Editor Rob Barnett choosing the elderly version by Franz Konwitschny with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra on Berlin Classics. Back in the days when Fontana Classics LPs, an offshoot of Philips, cost 12/6d and came in stereo Konwitschny’s Beethoven symphonies were among their most desirable offerings along with several Antal Doráti recordings from the Mercury stable. The single release of No.6, with Symphony No.1, is download only – sample/stream/download from Qobuz for just £3.23, albeit without booklet – but the complete symphonies and six overtures can still be obtained on Berlin Classics 0002672CCC, 6 CDs for around £24.
I don’t think this was one of the LPs from the series that I owned – it was part of a 2-LP set with the Choral Symphony on SFL14035/6 – but the performance is very attractive and the sound has held up well, so it’s definitely worth considering as a bargain at the tempting Qobuz price. (Please see RB’s review of 11-CD release, now deleted in favour of the 6-CD set).
Herbert von Karajan’s complete early 1960s DG set of the symphonies, which John Quinn thought still very viable, remains available in the 5-CD+BDA set which he reviewed and, slightly less expensively without the Blu-ray, in the Collectors Edition (4630882): sample/stream/download the latter in lossless sound fromQobuz for £19.36 or from prestoclassical.co.uk in mp3 for £14.86, or in lossless for £18.58. No booklet with either. No-one chose this for MWI Recommends but I was pleased to remake the acquaintance of this recording of the Pastoral, even though it has received some stick in certain quarters – see DL News 2014/10.
Another DG recording which remains well worth considering couples the Pastoral with Schubert’s Symphony No.5 in performances from the Vienna Phil with Karl Böhm on mid-price Originals 4474332 (or, with two Beethoven overtures instead of the Schubert, Eloquence 4631982). Böhm is just a tad square and by-the-book in places but this is a strong recommendation overall; it comes with an attractive performance of the Schubert and the recording sounds fine, with little account needing to be taken of its age – sample/stream/download in lossless from Qobuz for £6.75 or in mp3 for £4.99 from 7digital.com . No booklet from either.
As part of Beulah’s reissues of Cluytens’ Beethoven symphony recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic – see below – the Pastoral (rec. 1958) has reappeared on 6PDR13, coupled with Piano Sonata No.20, Hammerklavier, played by Solomon Cutner, better known as just ‘Solomon’ (rec. 1952). From iTunes and in lossless sound from Qobuz.
The Pastoral remains available on its own on 8-10BX82. I liked that release – February 2011 – but it’s better value in its new guise with the Hammerklavier Sonata thrown in for good measure, now that the separate Beulah downloads have increased in price. The sonata inevitably sounds dated but the transfer of this legendary performance has otherwise been well managed.
Beulah have been giving us a series of pairings of BEETHOVEN Piano Concertos and Symphonies – No.5 of each was reviewed in 2015/6 along with Symphony No.9 (Choral).
5PRD13: Leonora Overture No.1 (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch, stereo 1956); Piano Concerto No.1 (Géza Anda, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra/Alceo Galliera, 1955)Symphony No.1 (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/André Cluytens, stereo 1961). [66:54] From iTunes (mp3)
The Cluytens recording of the symphony has already appeared on Beulah 24-27BX82 – 2013/13. I liked it then and I like it now – never attempting to make the work sound more ‘advanced’ in Beethoven’s development than it is.
EMI chose the Cluytens recordings of the symphonies for both their 50-CD Beethoven Collectors’ Edition and their more manageable 5-CD set of the Symphonies (6483032) and the decision to do so was a sound one.
Anda’s Beethoven always competed with Kempff – in mono with van Kempen and in stereo with Leitner – and was regularly judged to have won the contest, though even Kempff’s mono recording sounded better. Beulah have done their best with the sound and, though it’s somewhat raw, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the performance. If you have a favourite recent recording, this would make a fine adjunct – too many modern choices spring to mind to mention but you could do much worse than Kovacevich and Davis (Decca Eloquence 4805946, all Beethoven’s concertos on 4 CDs or Nos.1 and 2, Decca Virtuoso 4784225, budget-price).
9PDR13 [75:16] offers the BPO/Cluytens Symphony No.2 (1960) preceded by Charles Munch with the Boston Symphony in the Leonore No.2 Overture (1956, stereo) – a bit rushed at the end – and Wilhelm Backhaus (piano) with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Clemens Krauss in Piano Concerto No.2 (1952).
I liked the symphony when Beulah released it on its own on 19-22BX82 – November 2011/1 – and I still do. The sound remains very viable but, of course, that of the classic Backhaus recording of the Piano Concerto inevitably sounds thinner, though the transfer is as clean as I have come to expect from Beulah. If you can do without the concerto, go for the earlier reissue of the symphony, but Backhaus and Krauss made for a very special partnership in this work and the recording is more than tolerable – probably better than it sounded in bogus ‘stereo’ on a Decca Eclipse LP in 1970. Back in 1953, when the concerto first appeared on ten-inch LX3083, MM averred that the millennium would occur when such a standard became the norm. In terms of recording quality that happened long ago but, alas, the same cannot always be said of more recent performances.
4PRD13: Symphony No.3 (Eroica: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/André Cluytens) and Piano Concerto No.3 (Annie Fischer, piano; Bavarian State Orchestra/Ferenc Fricsay) were both recorded in stereo in 1960. The total playing time is a generous 82:21. From iTunes or Amazon UK.
I reviewed Cluytens’ Eroica when it was released on Beulah 28-31BX82 – 2013/13. If you want a dramatic performance of the same vintage you need Klemperer, but Cluytens is your man if you prefer a performance which emphasises the beauty of the music.
Annie Fischer’s recording of the concerto is an old favourite – I owned it on a budget Heliodor recording, one of the very few genuine stereo recordings on that label at the time, and it remains one of my favourite versions. It was a notable bargain in the mid-1960s at 12/6d (£0.63), but even that equates to far more than Beulah’s asking price for their much longer reissue – just a couple of Mozart Rondos on LP. In the Beulah transfer the sound is a trifle thin by comparison with today’s best but it’s no great problem. You may, however, already have obtained this recording on an earlier Beulah release, 1PD83 – review – where it’s coupled with Mozart Piano Concerto No.2 (Fischer and Boult).
3PDR13: Symphony No.4 (Paris Conservatoire Orchestra/André Cluytens) and Piano Concerto No.4 (Emil Gilels, piano; Philharmonia Orchestra/Leopold Ludwig), both rec. 1958. ADD/stereo. [66:32] From iTunes.
I enjoyed Cluytens’ account of the symphony when it appeared separately – 2011/1 – but it’s better value now – the prices for Beulah’s single-track releases have risen considerably since 2011.
Regis have also transferred the Gilels/Ludwig recording of the Concerto along with the same performers in No.5 (RRC1367 – review – review). Though I received it on CD for review, I covered the Regis reissue in a Download Roundup. I liked the performances but noted the rather hard piano tone and some end-of-side distortion: there’s even a degree of surface swish if you listen on headphones, so there was scope for Beulah to do better, as is indeed the case. Both have been transferred from LP but the Beulah has been done with more care and does more justice to the authoritative performance.
1PDR12 Great Violin Concertos: Alfredo Campoli’s 1952 recording of the BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto with the LSO and Josef Krips used to be available on a Beulah CD (2PD10, with Bruch – review) and was later reissued as a separate download on 14-15BX10 but with the increase in price of separate Beulah tracks that now costs £6.75, making the reissue of his 1962 recording (RPO/John Pritchard) with Nathan Milstein and Léon Barzin in MENDELSSOHN and BRUCH Concerto No.1 from 1961 better value: £7.99 from iTunes for three concertos, over 80 minutes.
The Beethoven first appeared on HMV’s lower-price Concert Classics label but that in no way reflects the quality of the performance or recording. With the Classics for Pleasure CD reissue no longer available, this is well worth having.
The Mendelssohn and Bruch first appeared on Capitol and were later also reissued on Concert Classics when they were justly praised by Trevor Harvey. Now Beulah offer an economical way to obtain fine performances of these three concertos.
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for violin and orchestra in a minor, Op.28 (1863) [9:33]
La muse et le poète for violin, cello and orchestra, Op.32 (1910) [16:20]
Symphony No. 3 in C minor Organ, Op.78 (1886) [35:37]
Noah Geller (violin), Mark Gibbs (cello), Jan Kraybill (organ)
Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern
rec. 2013, Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Centre for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, MO, USA
REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-136 [61.24] – from emusic.com (mp3) or classicsonlinehd.com (16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet) or eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, NO booklet). Sample/stream from Qobuz (with booklet).
There has been some divergence of opinion among my colleagues on this one, with Dan Morgan less enthusiastic than John Quinn –joint review – and Michael Cookson – review. Leaving aside the fillers, which didn’t do much to inspire me, I found it a very engaging account: had I been coming fresh to the work I might well have regarded it as ideal, but it was Charles Munch – see below – who first enchanted me, and his recording, with just a little more oomph in the finale, remains my benchmark.
The emusic.com download can be obtained by subscribers for a very tempting £2.52: it’s one of their recent 320 kb/s offerings, but there’s no booklet. That comes with the classicsonlinehd.com, at a reasonable £7.99, though their 24-bit is rather expensive at £15.99. eclassical.com offers mp3, 16- and 24-bit and their price for 24-bit, $16.56, is less expensive than COL’s £15.99, but there’s no booklet from this source.
Subscribers to Qobuz may wish to stream from there to make up their own minds: the James O’Donnell/Yannick Nézet-Séguin recording with the LPO (LPO-0081 – review) is also availablethere and in mp3, 16- and 24-bit from eclassical.com, both with pdf booklet.
Dan Morgan and I were not impressed by two recent Naxos recordings of the symphony – Download News 2016/6.
The old RCA Berj Zamkochian/Boston Symphony recording with Charles Munch at the helm still takes some beating and fine versions of Debussy’s La Mer and Ibert’s Escales are included – review – but the disc seems no longer to be generally available singly*. Sample/stream/download from Qobuz – no booklet. Even the low-bit transfer from Past Classics, available from emusic.com for £0.84, will give you some idea of the power of this recording.
* Amazon UK are showing one CD and one SACD as I write.
Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
Complete works for violin and orchestra - Volumes 1 & 2
Violin Concertos 1 & 2
Antje Weithaas (violin)
NDR Radiophilharmonie/Hermann Bäumer
CPO 777833-2 & 777846-2
Available as lossless and mp3 download from eClassical: Volume 1 & Volume 2
I think it’s fair to say that few will be buying these CPO recordings for the two “big hits” – the First Concerto and the Scottish Fantasy. The rarities will be the big drawcard – I wasn’t aware they even existed – but the well-known works get excellent performances as well. Antje Weithaas, a violinist new to me, gets the balance between the poetry and drama in Bruch just about right. I’m not suggesting that she will displace your favourites in either work, but having just written full reviews for two all-Bruch recordings which missed the mark somewhat (Mordkovitch/Chandos) or completely (Liebeck/Hyperion), these were very enjoyable listens. When you add in the obscurities, which are not miniatures in any sense – the Serenade is longer by some distance than either of the two concertos – you have two very appealing recordings. There is clearly a third volume to come, which will presumably contain the Third Concerto and the Konzertstück, and perhaps the double concerto with viola.
(Please see below under BARTÓK for further details of these two Bruch recordings and the Chandos reissue of Lydia Mordkovitch’s performances of Concertos Nos. 2 and 3).
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)
Piano Concerto in E, Op.59 [35:39]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.16 [29:40]
Joseph Moog (piano)
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern/Nicholas Milton
rec. 2014, Grosser Sendesaal, Saarländischer Rundfunk, Funkhaus Halberg, Saarbrücken
ONYX 4144 [65:37] – from emusic.com (mp3, no booklet) or eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless). NO booklet with either.
Stephen Greenbank made this a Recording of the Month – review. Having been somewhat ambiguous about the recent Harmonia Mundi recording with Javier Perianes and Sakari Oramo – 2015/6 – I was keen to hear how this second new recording shaped up against my all-time benchmarks from Clifford Curzon and Leif Ove Andsnes. It didn’t quite, but it does come very close, and the coupling is an added bonus.
Sensibly, Onyx have placed the Moszkowski first. There are only two generally available rival recordings but one happens to offer another rare work – much rarer than the Grieg, at any rate – the Paderewski Piano Concerto No.1 – and very good it is, too (Hyperion CDA66452: Piers Lane; BBC Scottish SO/Jerzy Maksymiuk – review).
The emusic download at £2.94 or less for subscribers is the least expensive option if you are happy with mp3 – and emusic have now stepped up their recent downloads to the full 320 kb/s. Lossless sound, especially 24-bit, comes at a higher price from eclassical, though $14/70/$17.64 (16- and 24-bit respectively) won’t break the bank.
The lack of a booklet is less of a problem than with vocal and choral recordings, but it’s still something that should be expected routinely.
Reissue of the Month
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Master Orchestrator
Russian Easter Festival Overture , Op.36 [14:39]
Scheherazade , Op.35 [43:27]
Episode from The Legend of Sadko [10:53]
Dubinushka , Op.62 [4:14]
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet
rec. Victoria Hall, Geneva, 1956, 1957, 1960. ADD
BEULAH 1PDR15 [73:04] From iTunes.
Ansermet’s earlier (1948) recording of Scheherazade with the Paris Conservatoire Orchestra is available from Naxos Classical Archives 9.80542 – sample/stream/download for £2.39 from Qobuz – or Australian Decca Eloquence. Though some prefer that recording, it’s generally agreed, not least by me, that the stereo remake was preferable both as a performance and in recording quality and it remains competitive, especially when the principal rivals from roughly the same time – Reiner on RCA and Monteux (Decca) – are imprisoned in the modern craze for bumper boxes, though you may still be able to find the Reiner on Sony Originals 88697700362. The incomparable Beecham performance remains available on EMI Great Recordings 5669832, with the Polovtsian Dances, for around £7.50 but wait a little longer and it may reappear even more inexpensively as one of Warner’s budget releases.
As a postscript, I note in closing the very recent reissue of the LSO/Monteux on Australian Decca Eloquence 4808889, with Boult’sRussian Easter Festival Overture, the latter for the first time on CD. The earlier budget reissue of Scheherazade, with Sadko and May Night (both Ansermet) is still available from 7digital.com . Though I threatened in an earlier review that my copy was due to go off the charity shop, I still have it and play it, though the Beulah reissue of the Ansermet is more full-bodied – and, incidentally, also sounds better than the Beecham.
If you know anything by Mikhail Mikhailovich IPPOLITOV-IVANOV (1859-1935) it’s probably his Caucasian Sketches or just their colourful final movement The Procession of the Sardar. The Naxos reissue of a 1984 Marco Polo recording brings the chance to hear his Symphony No.1, Op.46, Turkish Fragments, Op.62, and Turkish March, Op.55, performed by the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra conducted by Choo Hoey (8.573508 [55:50]). Sample/stream/download in lossless sound from classicsonlinehd.com or Qobuz, both with pdf booklet.
It’s attractive music, though the symphony is less colourful than the Caucasian Sketches and, I suspect, not very memorable but it’s well worth sampling and, if you like what you hear, downloading. Some of the Turkish music approaches the immediacy of appeal of the Procession of the Sardar . Performances are good but not outstanding and the recorded sound needs no excuse.
Qobuz also have the Armenian Philharmonic ASV recording of the Turkish March and Fragments, with Caucasian Sketches No.2 – not the one with the Sardar – conducted by Loris Tjeknavorian but, at £11.56, the download is rather expensive and the Passionato alternative which I listed in November 2010 is no longer available*, but the Chandos recording of the Caucasian Sketches with Khachaturian’s Third Symphony, which I reviewed at the same time, is. The Conifer recording of the Symphony, reissued by Arkiv, which Rob Barnett reviewed, remains available but stock is depleted.
* They are no longer in the music download business.
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Any male-voice performance of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen begs comparison with the recording which Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau made with Rafael Kubelík and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (DG Originals 4497352, with Symphony No.1, or 4779375, with Kindertotenlieder, etc.). Gareth Brynmor John on a new Linn recording, with the Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble/Trever Pinnock is not quite in that class and I don’t think it’s Schoenberg’s chamber-scale reduction of the score that is to blame. Stephen Barber’s detailed review gives the background to the arrangement and of the other music on the album. If I’m marginally less enthusiastic than him overall, I still enjoyed these well-recorded performances, but only as an adjunct to Fischer-Dieskau or, if you prefer a mezzo, Katarina Karnéus (BIS-SACD-1600, with Kindertotenlieder, etc.:Recording of the Month – review – January 2012.)
Arrangements of Busoni and Zemlinsky are rounded off with a performance of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll in something close to the small-scale original which greeted Cosima on Christmas Day. Linn CKD481 [61:16] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet) and from linnrecords.com additionally on SACD and in 24/192 format.
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
BEULAH 8PD8: Lemminkäinen’s Return (Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Jensen, rec.1953); Violin Concerto (Jan Damen, violin; London Philharmonic Orchestra/Eduard van Beinum, rec. 1953) and Symphony No.2 (London Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Monteux, rec.1958 stereo) makes an attractive programme. The constituent items are all available elsewhere but not so coupled.
This is a reissue of a classic Beulah album, 1PD57, which I made Reissue of the Month in DL News 2013/2 – still available from iTunes, Amazon UK and Qobuz – and I see no reason not to welcome it equally wholeheartedly now.
If you heard Sibelius’s Belshazzar’s Feast, JS48 (1906) at the opening night of the 2015 Proms and are looking for a recording, there’s a new Naxos album with Pia Pajala (soprano), Turku Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam, coupled with Overture in E, JS145 (1891), Scène de Ballet, JS163 (1891) and excerpts from The Language of the Birds, JS62 (1911) on 8.573300, rec. January 2014. [63:01] Sample/stream/download from classicsonlinehd.com (16- and 24-bit lossless) or eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) both with pdf booklet. At £5.99 classsicsonline offer the better deal for 16-bit; at £9.99 from classicsonline for 24-bit and $17.01 from eclassical.com for the same quality there’s less in it, especially for those paying in US dollars.
My benchmark recording of Belshazzar’s Feast has been reissued as part of a bargain bundle by eclassical.com in Volume 5, Theatre Music, of the complete BIS Sibelius (BIS-CD-1912/14 – from eclassical.com, mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet). For $41.77 that 6-CD volume contains a wealth of Sibelius’s music in authoritative performances to which I need only draw your attention and refer you for full details to Rob Barnett’s review of Volumes 1-5 when they first appeared on disc and, more succinctly, to DL News 2015/4.
Volume 8 of the BIS Sibelius has just been reissued by eclassical.com in bundle form: another 6-CD set at reduced price, this time $31.48. Another self-recommending reissue if the contents appeal (BIS-CD-1921/23 – review and details: there’s also a review pending on the main site). The inclusion of recordings of both the original and revised versions of the violin concerto, with Leonid Kavakos as soloist, constitutes a major appeal of Volume 8, but if you just want the conventional version there’s an even more fantastic bargain in that Qobuz offer the 15-CD Essential Sibelius (BIS-CD-1697/1700) for £15.99, no booklet. It costs a ridiculously illogical $168.55 from BIS’s own download site, eclassical – the CDs cost around £60.
Rob Barnett expressed the hope that BIS might release their complete Sibelius in mp3 on an ipod: if you download the eclassical releases you can do that yourself or store the whole thing in even less space on USB – you’ll probably need a 32GB model if you go for lossless or 16GB if you’re happy with mp3.
Pietari Inkinen and the New Zealand SO gave us the Suite from Belshazzar’s Feast on an earlier Naxos release (8.570763) which Bob Briggs enjoyed – review – Rob Barnett rather less so – review.
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Music for Trumpet and Organ
See here for complete track-list and sound samples
Dorthe Zielke (trumpet), Søren Johannsen (organ)
rec. April 2015, Christians Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark
NAXOS 9.70253 [65:34] – from eClassical.com (mp3, 16-bit lossless)
Here’s one I came across while trawling eclassical late one night. Having had my fill of Nielsen symphonies – I’ve reviewed complete traversals from Alan Gilbert, Sakari Oramo and John Storgårds – the recent Songs for choir provided some much-needed relief (review). This Naxos release of music for trumpet and organ – arranged by Søren Johannsen – promised to be just as enjoyable. He and trumpeter Dorthe Zielke are new to me, as are Copenhagen’s Christians Kirke and its P-G Andersen organ; the latter was installed in 1976.
I was not disappointed. For the most part Johannsen’s arrangements are a delight; often witty – A little slow waltz, Jumping Jack – they’re interspersed with more wistful numbers, among them Two larks in love have nested, Summer song and Apple blossom. There’s even a stirring account of Nielsen’s Helios Overture and a robust one of the composer’s best-known piece for organ, Commotio. The playing is good – Zielke is remarkably assured throughout – and the difficult organ/trumpet balance is spot on. Indeed, I haven’t enjoyed this kind of repertoire sinceBetween Two Worlds, for organ and saxophone (review).
I listened to the 16-bit download, and while it doesn’t quite match the standards set by Point Blank – assessed elsewhere on this page – it’s spacious and very easy on the ear. Unusually there’s no booklet from eClassical and, even more surprising, no notes on the Naxos site. Then again this is a very recent release, so perhaps these will follow in due course.
A delightful diversion in this Nielsen year; fine artists and engineering, too.
[Eclassical still didn’t have the booklet when I checked – that’s unusually remiss – nor, equally surprisingly, do Naxos’s sister site classicsonlinehd.com or Qobuz, where it’s available for sampling only – no streaming. (BW)]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1872-1936)
The latest BIS recording in their series of Respighi’s music – Metamorphoseon (1930), Ballata dei gnomini (1920) andBelkis, Regina di Saba (1934) – goes head to head with a very fine Chandos 2-for-1 budget reissue from 1984-1991 of Metamorphoseon,Belkis, Vetrate da Chiesa (Church Windows), Feste Romane, Pines and Fountains of Rome and Brazilian Impressions ( CHAN241-45 – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet – review and DL Roundup).
The new recording features the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège conducted by John Neschling on BIS-SACD-2130 [72:15] – from eclassical.com, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet). In a detailed comparison with the 2-CD Chandos set Dan Morgan thought the new recording very competitive but found himself still leaning towards the Chandos – review – and, with the large price advantage of the latter, that’s my feeling too, unless you must have SACD or 24-bit sound.
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Gurre-Lieder
For two very different takes on the new Hyperion recording of Gurre-Lieder conducted by Marcus Stenz (CDA68081/82 – from hyperion-records.co.uk, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet containing text and translation) please see reviews and details by Geoffrey Molyneux and Dan Morgan – published together as chalk and cheese, as it were, the one highly complimentary in tone, the other replete with disappointment.
I’m not even going to dip a toe into this one – Gurre-Lieder, like Bach’s Motets and Cello Suites and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, is one of those works with which I’ve never come to terms.
Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concerto No.2 in B and Concerto for Orchestra are coupled on a new Alpha release - from Qobuz. There is formidable competition in these works, though not necessarily together. Two Double Decca recordings with Sir George Solti at the helm offer an inexpensive benchmark: the Concerto for Orchestra is on 4705162 (with Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Dance Suite, Miraculous Mandarin Suite, etc.) and the two Violin Concertos from Kyung Wha Chung on 4732712 (with Piano Concertos, Vladimir Ashkenazy).
There’s another new recording of the Violin Concerto (rec. June 2014) from Augustin Hadelich, a violinist whom I had come to associate more with baroque and eighteenth-century music. With the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Miguel Harth-Bedoya, his recording is coupled with the Felix MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto, not, I would think, the pairing that most would have expected, but if you want these two works together you could do much worse. Avie AV2323 [62:19] – sample/stream/download with pdf booklet from Qobuz).
Neither struck me quite as challenging top recommendations – Chung and Solti, as above, in Bartók, and any number of Mendelssohn recordings listed in MWI Recommends, mostly coupled with Bruch’s first concerto.
If you do decide to opt for Mendelssohn without Bruch, CPO have just released Volume 2 in Antje Weithaas’s series of recordings of Max BRUCH Violin Concertos: Concerto No.1, Serenade in a minor and In memoriam, with NDR Radiophilharmonie/Hermann Bäumer (CPO777846-2 rec. [77:35]). Download in mp3 or lossless from eclassical.com or sample/stream/download in lossless from Qobuz. Both come with pdf booklet: the Qobuz price of £7.99 is probably slightly more attractive for UK readers, eclassical’s $13.97 for US$ purchasers – there’s not much in it either way.
The solo playing is first-rate and that’s what counts most in this virtuoso concerto. The accompaniment is considerably more than adequate and the recording good. The 38-minute Serenade also receives a persuasive performance but I can’t pretend that it’s the equal of the concerto or, indeed, of the very fine performance of the Scottish Fantasy which Weithaas and Bäumer recorded with Violin Concerto No.2 and Adagio appassionato on Volume 1 (CPO 777833-2 – from classicsonlinehd.com or eclassical.com, both with pdf booklet), so I’d recommend at least sampling the two fillers.
If you just want these Weithaas/Bäumer performances of Violin Concerto No.1 and the Scottish Fantasy, eclassical.com allow you to purchase just those two works for around the same price that they charge for each of the complete albums.
(NB: Please see David Barker on these CPO recordings – above.)
A further complication arises from Chandos’s lower-mid-price reissue of BRUCH Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 with Lydia Mordkovitch as soloist with the LSO and Richard Hickox (CHAN10865X [70:52] – rec. 1998: from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet).
When No.3 first appeared, coupled with Symphony No.1, Gerald Fenech gave a 5+5-star rating – review. Rather confusingly, that coupling remains available at full price, as does the coupling of Concerto No.2 and Symphony No.3 (CHAN9738). Perhaps Chandos will now do the logical thing and rec-couple the two symphonies in their lower mid-price Hickox series. The familiar Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, also well worth considering, remains available at full price, rather oddly coupled with the Brahms Double Concerto on CHAN8667.
If the new coupling appeals, the price is right and the recordings is good. Only those in search of 24-bit sound need hesitate in my opinion, but David Barker’s review contains more reservations than I have expressed, so you may be well advised to sample before purchase from Qobuz.
If, for some reason, Mordkovitch and Hickox don’t strike the right note for you, the recordings of Concertos Nos. 1-3, Serenade and Scottish Fantasy which Salvatore Accardo and Kurt Masur made for Philips remain available on 2-for-1 Decca Duo 4621672: sample/stream/download in lossless sound from Qobuz or in 320 kb/s mp3 from 7digital.com for £7.49.
Other reissues in Chandos’s Lydia Mordkovitch series are:
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, with Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi (CHAN10864 [69:25] – rec. 1989: from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet). Of the original full-price release I wrote in June 2009: “Though my allegiance to David Oistrakh’s various recordings remains undiminished, this 1989 recording offers very fine performances in unquestionably better sound. I’ve even seen it claimed that Lydia Mordkovitch’s performance of the second concerto makes it sound almost the equal of the first. I wouldn’t go that far, but she and Järvi, ably abetted by the RSNO before they earned the ‘Royal’ tag, certainly made me take much more notice of a work which can seem something of an anti-climax after the powerful first.”
The Documents bargain reissue of the Oistrakh performances which I mentioned then is no longer available, nor is its Brilliant Classics equivalent, but the Chandos reissue is almost as inexpensive and can be supplemented by the Oistrakh/Rostropovich coupling of the first Violin Concerto and Cello Concerto on budget-price Regis RRC1385, now download only – review and DL News May 2012/1.
Reissue of the Month
Arnold BAX, George DYSON, Arthur BLISS and John VEALE British Violin Concertos, performed by Lydia Mordkovitch with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, LPO, City of London Sinfonia and BBC Symphony Orchestra/Bryden Thomson and Richard Hickox a two-for-one set (CHAN241-53 [155:37] – rec. 1991-2006: from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet). This is a particularly valuable reissue, though the performance of the Bax is also available on CHAN10154X, with the Cello Concerto and Morning Song – review of earlier release – and there is one other recording on a recent Lyrita release of British Violin Concertos (REAM2114, 2-for-1 – review – DL News 2015/4).
The Bliss also comes in a different coupling (CHAN10380, with the Colour Symphony – review) and Alfredo Campoli’s classic recording remains available on a Beulah CD 6PD10 (The Art of Campoli III – review) or in a bumper Decca box. There was, briefly, a BBC Radio Classics recording which Campoli and Bliss made with the BBCSO in 1968, coupled with a valuable recording of the ballet The Lady of Shalott: having appeared in 1996, it soon disappeared with the rest of that budget-price series and a whole host of other Carlton Classics recordings, some of which have gradually returned in the last few years on other labels.
This is the only recording of the Dyson, which is also available on CHAN10337X, an all-Dyson twofer – 5-star review of earlier release – and the Veale concerto is also available otherwise only in the same performance coupled with Benjamin Britten’s Violin Concerto, a recording enthusiastically received (CHAN9910 – review).
You need only look at those reviews of these concertos in earlier formats to see that this reissue needs no further urging from me, except to make it a Reissue of the Month. Only the potential duplication of some of the constituent concertos could be a problem.
Naxos continue their exploration of the symphonies of Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) – new 2014 releases from Alexander Walker and the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra, not reissues of earlier Marco Polo CDs, valuable as those are – with Symphonies Nos. 6, 28, 29 and 31 (8.573408 – sample/stream/download from classicsonlinehd.com , 16- and 24-bit lossless or, slightly less expensively for UK readers, Qobuz , both with booklet). Eclassical.com, usually keenly competitive with their per-second charging, don’t come close to the best prices for budget labels like Naxos.
I mentioned this in 2015/4 but am referring to it again to alert you to Steve Arloff’s review which goes into more detail.
Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975)
I was pleased to read John Quinn’s account of the very successful revival of Morning Heroes (1928-30) at the 2015 Three Choirs Festival – review – because it’s a work that I have long thought undervalued, especially in view of the very fine performance with John Westbrook as narrator with the RLPO and Choir under Sir Charles Groves. It remains available from Warner/EMI on a lower-mid-price twofer (5059092 – review – review) and on a 24-CD set dedicated to the considerable Groves legacy. Westbrook makes an admirable, understated, narrator, as he does also in Vaughan Williams’ Oxford Elegy, another underrated work. (Warner/EMI 0954432, 5 CDs, or download separate release, with Flos Campi and Sancta Civitas from 7digital.com or sample/stream from Qobuz.
The twofer is coupled with Sir Simon Rattle’s account of Britten’s War Requiem, an appropriate coupling but not a wholly happy one: for all the virtues of the Requiem, Britten’s own account – review – and, on DVD/Blu-ray Andris Nelsons: Recording of the Month – review – are preferable. I understand that the booklet does not contain the texts. On the plus side, however, the twofer can be yours for around £8.00, less than any download that I can find*, which means that the War Requiem becomes effectively a bonus, bearing in mind that Morning Heroes first appeared alone on premium-price LP (Angel SAN365) and on its first CD outing.
The BBC Radio Classics CD, which disappeared with the rest of that budget-price series soon after it appeared in 1997, would be worth reissuing, like the Campoli/Bliss Violin Concerto and Lady of Shalott (above): it contained another Groves performance but from 1985, with Richard Baker and the BBCSO.
* Sample/stream from Qobuz but their download, without booklet, costs considerably more than the CD set.
Attracted by Paul Corfield Godfrey’s Recording of the Month review and details, I streamed Michael HURD (1928-2006) The Aspern Papers and The Night of the Wedding (Lyrita SRCD.2350) from Qobuz. I enjoyed them both but, even though I read the Henry James original long ago, inevitably the lack of a booklet – the old complaint again, but I feel justified in plugging away – inevitably reduces the appeal of streaming or downloading, especially when you can obtain the 2-CD set for £11.75, postage paid world-wide. Even as heard without the libretto, however, I’m grateful to Lyrita for bringing us yet another recording of the kind of material which only a handful of companies ever produce.
Another important discovery from Lyrita: Cyril ROOTHAM (1875-1938) Symphony No.2 (1936-1938) and Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity (1925-1928) Vernon Handley conducts the Scottish Philharmonic Singers and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the Symphony; Teresa Cahill, Philip Langridge, Michael Rippon, Trinity Boys Choir, BBC Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra in the Ode (Lyrita REAM.2118). These are off-air recordings of BBC broadcasts from the Itter collection (1984 and 1975 respectively) but they sound remarkably well, albeit in mono – the Ode is a little thin. As the programme runs to 80:21, it comes as a 2-CD set but sells for the price of one: £11.75, postage paid world-wide. Stream/sample from Qobuz: no booklet. Please see also review by John Quinn.
There’s little enough of Rootham’s music on record and this forms an excellent sequel to his First Symphony on SRCD.269 (with BantockOverture to a Greek Tragedy and Holbrooke, The Birds of Rhiannon) – review – and if you don’t mind the lack of a booklet, it’s available for £3.36 or less for subscribers to emusic.com. It’s one of their recent 320 kb/s downloads, too, so the sound is decent.
Federico Moreno TORROBA (1891-1982)
Volume 1 of a projected Naxos series of Torroba’s works for guitar and orchestra gets off to a very fine start with performances of Concierto en Flamenco (1962) [26:40], Diálogos entre guitarra y orquesta (1977) [31:45], Aires de la Mancha (1966) [9:32] and Suite castellana (c.1920) [9:22]. The performances are all that you would expect with Pepe Romero as soloist in two of the works with the Málaga Symphony Orchestra and Manuel Coves, better than expectations, with Vicente Coves (guitar) in the other pieces. (8.573255 [77:16]).
Full details in the review by Göran Forsling. Sample/stream from Qobuz, download from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless) and classicsonlinehd.com (stream/download in 16- and 24-bit lossless). All offer the pdf booklet and, as usual with budget-price labels, eclassical.com, normally offering keen prices, is rather over-expensive except, perhaps, for those paying in US dollars.
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976).
Herbert von Karajan’s Philharmonia recording of the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, made in mono in 1953, remains one the best accounts of this work. On disc it’s imprisoned in a multi-CD box – review – but remains available separately as a download, coupled with his recording of Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, also well worth hearing. When reissued on an HMV Concert Classics LP in 1980 it won the approbation of the distinguished reviewers Trevor Harvey and Robert Layton: the latter not only praised the performance but thought the recording ‘sonically amazing … vivid and fresh.’ While endorsing his praise of the performances, I can’t help thinking that something has happened to the transfer which I streamed from Qobuz – though it begins well, it soon sounds really dated, thin and scratchy, though tolerable.
If you are happy with mp3, 7digital.com have this for £4.99; considering the quality of the sound, that’s probably as good as it gets. Or maybe streaming is the best option in this case.
The older EMI Classics Karajan Collection transfer sounds somewhat better, as streamed from Qobuz, though it too tails off after a good beginning, comes with the dubious addition of the Handel/Harty Water Music Suite and costs more - £6.99 from 7digital.com .
The Beulah transfer of the earlier (1949) Boyd Neel recording of the Britten Variations, with the Simple Symphony (1939) andSerenade for tenor, horn and orchestra (1944) can be sampled/streamed/downloaded from Qobuz or downloaded from Amazon UK, where you’ll find my review quoted. Incidentally, I wrongly attributed this recording to the Boyd Neel third recording, from 1953 – I didn’t read the date on the Beulah cover attentively, but the recording has been made to sound more like mid-fifties mono LP than late-forties 78s. (2PD14).
Britten’s own stereo recording with the ECO remains at full price but better value is offered by a Decca 4-CD set, Britten The Masterpieces – sample/stream from Qobuz, but the download costs more than the discs, target price £16.55, and comes without booklet. Nor will you save much by downloading from 7digital.com, mp3 only and also without booklet.
Recording of the Month
Paul DOOLEY (b. 1983)
Point Blank (2012) [7:37]
Steve DANYEW (b. 1983)
Lauda (2009) (Montis Dei [8:54]; Hymnus Anima Mea [6:55])
Roy David MAGNUSON (b. 1983)
Innsmouth, Massachusetts – 1927 (2013) [6:29]
Scott McALLISTER (b. 1969)
Gone (2012) [7:26]
Jennifer HIGDON (b. 1962)
Percussion Concerto (2009) [22:58]
Ben Stiers (percussion)
Illinois State University Wind Symphony/Daniel A. Belongia
rec. 2013, Center for the Performing Arts, Illinois State University, USA
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573334 [60:19] – from eClassical.com (mp3, 16-bit lossless)
Naxos must be lauded for their support of American university ensembles. I’ve reviewed several CDs in this highly successful series; chief among them is Landscapes, which features the University of Kansas Wind Band in a terrific programme of contemporary Americana. Indeed, that was one of my Recordings of the Year for 2013. I was similarly impressed by their South Carolina counterparts, whose memorable set of Bernstein transcriptions was a Recording of the Month. Then there was the first volume in a series devoted to the multi-talented New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble (review).
My colleague Stuart Sillitoe welcomed the CD of Point Blank, not least because it confirms the astonishing quality of these university groups. Stuart didn’t care for Paul Dooley’s wonderfully mobile title piece, which strikes me as one of the best things in this collection. Indeed, its vigour and level of invention bring to mind Bernstein and Daugherty. Even more astounding is the sheer chutzpah of these players, not to mention the vivid recording; this may only be a humble 16-bit download, but the wide dynamic range and crisp transients are as good as it gets.
Montis Dei , the first part of Steve Danyew’s Lauda, couldn’t be more different; mellifluous and possessed of a thrilling breadth it’s a feast for the mind and ear. Later on the harp and bass drum are superbly caught, as are the haloed cymbals, and conductor Daniel A. Belongia steers and shapes it all so well. What a varied and affecting piece this is, and what a talent behind it. Somewhat less accomplished is Roy David Magnuson’s Innsmouth, Massachusetts – 1927; the piece is inspired by the writer H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), whose horror fiction gained a cult following after his death. The energy unleashed is fearsome in its range and intensity. Scary stuff.
Different again is Scott McAllister’s Gone, an arrangement of the sixth movement of his Clarinet Concerto. It’s a haunting piece, whose gently undulating musical terrain is expertly mapped by these committed players. Goodness, what a ravishing piece it is, and how finely calibrated the performance. At times it put me in mind of Christopher Theofanidis’ equally immersive Rainbow Body, which I heard some years ago (Telarc).
Coincidentally I first encountered Jennifer Higdon’s music – in this case Blue Cathedral – on that same disc. Her Splendid Wood is featured on the New England CD I mentioned earlier. The Percussion Concerto is an arrangement of a work she composed for the percussionist Colin Currie, who did such a splendid job with his recording of Rautavaara’s Incantations a few years back. Higdon’s single-movement concerto brims with good, ear-pricking ideas, and Ben Stiers is wonderfully adept throughout. Stuart thought it the highlight if this collection; I’m inclined to agree, although Danyew’s Lauda isn’t far behind.
Terrific pieces, supremely well played; the recording is first class, too.
The Golden Age of Light Music: Table for Two
All tracks mono except ‘The Night was Made for Love’, ‘When the Music is Playing’, ‘Nevertheless (I’m In Love with You)’
GUILD GLCD5227 [74:20] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)
I’m simply going to quote John France and refer you to the rest of his full and detailed review:
“This was the last collection of The Golden Age of Light Music engineered by David Ades before his death in February 2015. The 127 albums that he produced have been hugely interesting, inspiring, often fun, frequently romantic and always downright enjoyable. Fortunately, Alan Bunting and Guild have decided to continue the series in a ‘similar manner’.”
The present CD is one of most enjoyable of the series that I have heard. This exploration of music for a romantic evening is a fitting compliment to Ades’ achievement and valuable not just for those of a nostalgic inclination.
Violin Greats from Beulah (2PDR12 [65:15]) brings together performances of SAINT-SAËNS Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op.28 (Michael Rabin, violin, with the Hollywood Bowl SO/Felix Slatkin, from 1960), TCHAIKOVSKY Meditation, Op.42 (Leonid Kogan, violin, with Paris Conservatoire Orchestra/Constantin Silvestri, from 1960, MOZART Violin Concerto No.3, K216 (Philharmonia Orchestra/David Oistrakh, directing from the violin, from 1958), BEETHOVEN Romance No.1, Op.40, and BACH Double Violin Concerto, BWV1043 (David Oistrakh, with Igor Oistrakh in Bach, violins, with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Eugene Goossens, recorded in 1961). All ADD/stereo.
These are all performances worth perpetuating and they come in Beulah’s usual high-quality transfers. The Bach competes with a budget-price Regis reissue which also contains David Oistrakh in the Bach solo concertos and Vivaldi – recordings made with various orchestras and conductors from a little earlier than the Double Concerto here – review. Regis also offer the recording with Goossens of the Beethoven, coupled with the Second Romance, Sibelius and Szymanowski, but you may well prefer the programme which Beulah present. Beware, however: the quality of this performance may well tempt you to the mid-price DG album containing the recordings made with Goossens of all three Bach Violin Concertos and Vivaldi (E4198552). It’s not without reason that Oistrakh’s Bach and his recording of the Beethoven Romances were included in DG’s Legendary Recordings box (4793449, 50 CDs).
By sheer coincidence, just as I was completing this issue of DL News a budget-price Alto release arrived for review, offering the same recording of the Bach along with the two Oistrakhs in Vivaldi’s Concerto Op.3/8 and with David Oistrakh and Isaac Stern in four Vivaldi double concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy (ALC1299). The Alto CD is a little less expensive – around £6 or less as against £7.99 – but otherwise the choice can safely be left to the coupling: I enjoyed both.
Oistrakh re-recorded all Mozart’s works for violin and orchestra with the Berlin Phil in 1972 but this earlier recording of No.3, made when he was just beginning to direct himself, is still very worthwhile: in its HMV Concert Classics reissue this was one of the earliest recordings of the work that I got to know and I still enjoy hearing it.
It was a broadcast of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh that first convinced me what a wonderful work it is and he makes the first Romance sound almost in the same league. It’s a pity that the nine-minute Romance No.2, originally released on the same EP (SEPL121586), was not squeezed in.
Jazz Bargain of the Month
Emusic.com have the late Ornette COLEMAN’s (1930-2015) Free Jazz (rec. 1960) on Avid: a single track lasting 37:07 for just £0.42 – even less for older customers who receive a boost to their monthly allocation. It’s billed as A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet.
Non-subscribers will find themselves having to pay a good deal more: Qobuz have Free Jazz with the associated First Take [16:55] on Rhino Atlantic for sampling, streaming or to download for £7.27*, in lossless sound as opposed to emusic’s variable bit-rate mp3 but in this case ‘variable means an average of 282kb/s, which is better than you are likely to find from Amazon or iTunes, and it sounds fine. It’s well worth many times emusic’s asking price, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this the kind of foot-tapping jazz that can be played in the car – it divided the reviewers in 1961 and still requires concentration**. You may wish at least to sample first.
* Amazon UK have the CD for £5.99, with free ripped mp3, but charge £7.99 for the mp3 download alone. Am I alone in thinking that illogical and recommending buying the disc and getting both? Equally illogically, they also offer the CD as an import for £23.81, with the mp3 version of that for £5.49. Now I’m beyond being perplexed.
** One disgruntled customer on Amazon gives it one star and complains that it’s awful to listen to: all the other customer-reviewers rate it 4 or 5 stars.
Nostalgia of the Month
There’s an official, secure Decca transfer of the Harry Lime Theme from the film The Third Man (Decca Cinema Gala 4212642*, download only: sample/stream/download from Qobuz or special order CD from prestoclassical.co.uk) but a somewhat rougher transfer on Naxos Nostalgia (8.120880 – from classicsonlinehd.com, with booklet) casts its net wider from the rest of the film: as well as the Harry Lime Theme – transferred from what sounds like a rather worn copy, as indeed many of the surviving discs will inevitably be, such was the appeal of Anton Karas’s performance – there are five other excerpts from the film plus music fromPassport to Pimlico, La Ronde, Whisky Galore, The Glass Mountain, Genevieve, La Strada and The Kidnappers. If you don’t know the Harry Lime Theme, be prepared to develop an ear-worm.
* with music from Charade, Born Free, The Good the Bad and The Ugly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Moon River), Alfie, Zorba the Greek and Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.