Some items
to consider

 


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
A very fine achievement


Complete ballet


Orchestral Music


music that will please greatly


Captivating scores

Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear


vital imagination


Henrik HELLSTENIUS
A harum-scarum springboard


Always expect the unexpected

ARTICLE Plain text for smartphones & printers

A Retrospective – Late Autumn 2016
By Brian Wilson

In October I found myself seriously behind schedule as a result of not having been on form during the Summer and early Autumn. Despite my best efforts I still haven’t caught up, so I’m putting together a second retrospective, mainly of recordings for which my colleagues have beaten me to the post. There’s a mix of CDs and downloads and a few others obtained as press previews.

Index:

BACEWICZ Complete String Quartets_Chandos
BERLIOZ Symphonie Fantastique (+ RAMEAU)_Harmonia Mundi
- Roméo et Juliette_Chandos; Linn
BRITTEN Cantata Misericordium, etc. (+ FINZI Requiem da Camera; HOLST)_Chandos
DURUFLÉ
Requiem, etc. (Remembrance)_Harmonia Mundi
- Requiem; Quatre Motets, Messe cum Jubilo_King’s
FINZI (1901-1956) Requiem da Camera – see Britten
HANDEL Il Pastor Fido, HWV8a: Overture (Suite); Apollo e Dafne_Linn
- Soprano and Contralto arias_Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
- Collectors Edition_DG Archiv
HAYDN String Quartets – Volume 2_Chandos
HAYDN, Michael Symphonies – Volume 2_Naxos
- Requiem in c minor; Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae _Hyperion
- Missa hispanica a due cori _Hungaroton
LASSUS Canticum Canticorum_ Ricercar
- Missa osculetur me_Gimell, Oehms
MOZART Serenade No.10; Serenade No.11_Divine Art
- Piano Concerto No.17; Piano Concerto No.25_Decca
RAMEAU Suite de Hippolyte et Aricie _see Berlioz
STANFORD String Quartet No.5; String Quartet No.8_Somm
STRAUSS, Richard Elektra, Rosenkavalier Suites_Reference Recordings
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No.1; Nutcracker Suite (arr. piano)_Signum
- The Nutcracker; Symphony No.4_Mariinsky
VASKS Flute Concerto; Symphony No.3_Wergo
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS A Vision of Aeroplanes, Mass, etc. (+ HOLST, HOWELLS: see English Visionaries )_Somm
WAGNER Tannhäuser: Overture; Siegfried Idyll; Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod_DG
- Tristan und Isolde_Brilliant Classics

Christmas with St. John’s _Signum
Dragon Voices: the ancient Celtic horns _Delphian
Drop down, ye heavens _Delphian
English Visionaries: VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, HOLST, HOWELLS _Somm
Fritz Wunderlich:
recommended recordings.

***

Dragon Voices: the ancient Celtic horns of Europe (Delphian DCD34183) is the third volume of a planned 5-disc series, of which I reviewed the second, Ice and Longboats, in my early Autumn Retrospective. Rob Barnett has written a detailed review of volumes 2 and 3 and I listened to the third, like the others, as a download from eclassical.com, with pdf booklet, in 24-bit sound.

It’s slightly disappointing in that none of the music dates from the time of the instruments: in that respect I prefer the Nordic album, which I found informative and enjoyable, but I don’t wish to deter potential listeners to its fascinating successor.

Roland de LASSUS (1532-1594) Canticum Canticorum
Osculetur me osculo [4:02]
Veni in hortum meum [2:40]
Tota pulchra es [3:50]
Vulnerasti cor meum [2:23]
Surge propera amica mea / Surge propera [3:31]
Quam pulchra es / Gutur tuum [5:50]
Veni dilecte me / Vidamus si floruit [3:46]
Audi dulcis amica mea [3:27]
Magnificat super Ancor che col partire di Cipriano [8:29]
Missa super Susanne un jour [26:56]
Chœur de Chambre de Namur;
Clematis/Leonardo García Alarcón
rec. Stavelot, Église Saint-Sébastien, April and October 2015. DDD
Partial texts and translations included
RICERCAR RIC370 [64:52]

‘Despite a few caveats this is a fine disc and worth searching out with high quality music throughout’ - see review by Gary Higginson. With most of the repertoire here either not otherwise available or to be found only on a Presto special CD (The Cardinall’s Musick, ASV Gaudeamus) the Ricercar release is welcome.

Stream or download with pdf booklet from Qobuz, in 16- and 24-bit sound.

Your next stop might well be Lassus’ Mass based on one of these motets, Missa Osculetur me, performed by The Tallis Scholars on an all-Lassus album (CDGIM018) or on a 2-for-1 budget-price collection The Tallis Scholars sing Flemish Masters (CDGIM211, with Brumel, Isaac, Ockeghem and Rore – Bargain of the Month). If you prefer Missa Osculetur me set in a liturgical context, there’s a recording on Oehms by the Carl Orff Choir Marktoberdorff/Stefan Wolitz which does just that, with additional music by his contemporaries and post-Vatican II composers. Peter Bader (organ) supports with wordless settings of the propers. What could easily have become something of a dog’s breakfast is anything but (OC1843 [66:26] – download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com). Review by Marc Rochester.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Il Pastor Fido, HWV8a: Overture (Suite) [22:28]
Aria in F, HWV410 [4:43]
Aria in F, HWV411 [1:41]
Apollo e Dafne (La terra è liberata), HWV122 [40:21]
Dafne – Mhairi Lawson
Apollo – Callum Thorpe
Ensemble Marsyas/Peter Whelan
Texts and translations included
LINN RECORDS CKD543 [69:10] – reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from hyperion-records.co.uk. Also available from linnrecords.com. Review by Gary Higginson with CD purchase details

Comparative recordings:

- Concerto grosso, Op.3/2 [10:36]; Apollo e Dafne Part I [22:01]; Overture, HWV336 [3:51]; Suite Die verwandelte Daphne, HWV352-4 [3:41 + 4:26 + 3:33]; Apollo e Dafne Part II [21:22]; Terpsichore, HWV8b: Chaconne [4:53] – Andrea Lauren Brown; Dominik Wörner; Cantus Firmus Consort/Andreas Reize – rec.2008. Texts and translations included. CPO 777228-2 [74:41] Reviewed as lossless download from eclassical.com (NO booklet: booklet available for subscribers to Naxos Music Library). Review by Em Marshall-Luck.

- Apollo e Dafne [38:36]; Agrippina condotta a morire, HWV110 [23:07]; Cuopre tal volta il cielo, HWV98 [9:54] - Roberta Invernizzi (soprano); Thomas E. Bauer (bass); Furio Zanasi (bass); La Risonanza/Fabio Bonizzoni. rec.2010. Texts and translations included. GLOSSA CGD921527 [74:51] Streamed in lossless sound from classicsonline.com (with pdf booklet).

Em Marshall-Luck was less than enamoured with the CPO recording for a number of reasons, not all of which I share, but the Glossa recording is outstanding: how could it not be when I have not been alone in consistent praise of these performers’ whole series of recordings of the works which Handel composed on his youthful stay in Italy? (Though completed in Hanover, it seems likely that Apollo e Dafne was begun in Italy.) Not only is the combination of Roberta Invernizzi and Fabio Bonizzoni outstanding, Apollo e Dafne is presented in one sweep instead of broken up as on CPO; by resisting the temptation to provide an overture they give us two other dramatic cantatas from the period.

Ensemble Marsyas open proceedings with the Overture to Il Pastor Fido, actually a suite in the manner of Bach’s four Orchestral Suites. I would have preferred more vocal music, especially as there are many very fine accounts of the Pastor Fido music, for example on what must be one of the best bargains in the catalogue, the DG Archiv Collectors Edition set of Trevor Pinnock’s Handel recordings with the English Concert, well worth considering even if you already own, perhaps the Water Music and Fireworks Music. The 11-CD set, offering over 11½ hours of music, can be found for around £40 but those prepared to download and forego the booklet can obtain it from Presto for £8.99 (mp3) or £11.11 (lossless). Apart from the items which I’ve mentioned – both versions of the Fireworks Music – you get the whole of the Op.3 and Op.6 Concerti Grossi and the complete Organ Concertos with Simon Preston as soloist. (4791932).

Apart from my reservation that I prefer the coupling of Agrippina condotta a morire, the new Linn performance is in every way competitive with the Glossa. In any case there’s a very fine alternative of Agrippina condotta from Emma Kirkby and London Baroque (Handel in Italy, BIS-SACD-1695 – DL Roundup September 2011/2). That comes on SACD and while the new recording sounds very well in 24-bit format I’m surprised to note that Linn seem to have joined those who have abandoned the SACD format. 1

Those not ready for the complete Apollo e Dafne, who prefer their Handel piecemeal, may be interested in a new release entitled Mitologia from Deutsche Harmonia Mundi on which Christiane Karg (soprano) and Romina Basso (contralto) sing arias and duets fromIl Parnasso in Festa, Semele, Hercules, Apollo e Dafne (a beautiful performance of Felicissima quest’alma), Atalanta, Arianna in Creta, Partenope and Echegiate, festinate, HWV119. The late Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco provide the assured accompaniment to some often animated but always beautiful singing. With some items not otherwise available, even those who go for the complete Apollo e Dafne should consider this. (88875199812).

If you like Apollo e Dafne you may well also be interested in a recent release of pastoral music by Handel’s slightly older contemporary Johann PEPUSCH (1667-1752), whose Venus and Adonis (1715) has recently appeared in a recording from The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen directed by Robert Rawson (Ramée 1502) – reviewRetrospective Autumn 2016. You can also find a link in the Retrospective to an earlier BIS recording of Pepusch’s pastoral cantatas.

1 Robert von Bahr has reminded me recently that BIS remain an honourable exception, with all new releases on SACD and available to download not only in 16- and 24-bit sound but also as 5.0 surround.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets - Volume 2
String Quartet in G, Op.76/1 Hob. III:75 [24:35]
String Quartet in d minor, Op.76/2 Hob. III:76 ‘Fifths’ [22:52]
String Quartet in C, Op.76/3 Hob. III:77 ‘Emperor’ [29:11]
String Quartet in B-flat, Op.76/4 Hob. III:78 ‘Sunrise’ [25:21]
String Quartet in D, Op.76/5 Hob. III:79 [20:17]
String Quartet in E-flat, Op.76/6 Hob. III:80 [24:34]
Doric String Quartet (Alex Redington (violin); Jonathan Stone (violin); Hélène Clément (viola); John Myerscough (cello))
rec. June/July, 2015, Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, UK. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN10886(2) [76:44 + 70:16] – reviewed as lossless download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com. See review by Roy Westbrook with CD purchase details.

Competition is stronger here than in the Op.20 quartets, which the Doric Quartet recorded earlier, but this new set is well worth considering as a 2-for-1 offering.

Bargain lovers will also be very happy with recordings of Haydn’s last complete set of string quartets from the Takács Quartet (Double Decca 4756213 ) or the Kodály Quartet on Naxos (8.550314 and 8.550315). For those not requiring the whole set there’s an alternative CD of the Kodály Quartet from a different take in the three named quartets, Nos. 2-4 (8.550129). For those in search of period-instrument performances the Quatuor Mosaïques are now download only (Naïve E8665).

Johann Michael HAYDN (1737-1806)
Symphonies – Volume 2
Sinfonia in D (Perger 42) (Symphony No.21) [16:37]
Sinfonia in B-flat (Perger 18) (Symphony No.27) [17:46]
Sinfonia in E-flat (Perger 17) (Symphony No.26) [14:13]
Sinfonia in F (Perger 22) (Symphony No.31) [20:36]
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice/Patrick Gallois
rec. The House of Music, Pardubice, Czech Republic, February 2015. DDD.
NAXOS 8.573498 [69:25] Review by Michael Wilkinson and CD purchase details.

Perhaps as a result of this recording and its predecessor, Radio 3 recently made Michael Haydn, Joseph’s younger brother and friend of Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart, Composer of the Week. I had realised that he was a talented composer in his own right but had never got round to listening to his music in detail. Having listened to Volume 2 on CD, I promptly downloaded its predecessor – review – in 24-bit sound, with pdf booklet, from eclassical.com. At $19.01 ($12.68 for 16-bit) that’s a little expensive for UK purchasers following the slide in the £: for them Naxos’s own classicsonline.com offers better value (£9.99 for 24-bit, £4.99 for 16-bit). Whichever of these volumes you choose first, be prepared to want the other – and the rest of the series which I presume is forthcoming. Meanwhile don’t forget the very fine Chandos recording of P6, P9, P16, P26 and P32 by the London Mozart Players, part of their Contemporaries of Mozart series (CHAN9352). That’s also available as part of the whole series, the equivalent of 24 CDs on one memory stick in mp3 and lossless sound for £155 (CHUSB0018 – from chandos.net). This replaces CHUSB0001, and 0002 – DL Roundup May 2011/2 – no longer available separately.

Requiem in c minor pro defuncto Archiepiscopo Sigismundo, MH155 [40:06]
Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae, MH546 ‘Chiemsee-Messe’ [43:33]
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Hilary Summers (alto), James Gilchrist (tenor), Peter Harvey (bass)
Choir of The King’s Consort, The King’s Consort/Robert King
rec. St. Jude on the Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, 7-9 May 2004. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
HYPERION CDA67510 [83:39] – reviewed as lossless download with pdf booklet from hyperion-records.co.uk. Recording of the Month review by Robert Hugill.

Though I alluded to this recording in another review, I had taken Robert Hugill’s recommendation on trust. It was Michael Haydn’s stint as Composer of the Week on Radio 3 that alerted me to check out this remarkable Requiem in particular. I was surprised to hear how much Mozart’s Requiem seems to have been influenced by recollections of Michael Haydn’s for Archbishop Sigiswald. There are four other recordings but I haven’t listened to any of them; I doubt if anything could improve on Robert King and his team, whose recording just exceeds the bounds of one CD and is offered as two-for-one. The download, in mp3 or fine lossless sound and with the pdf booklet, can be yours for £8.

When you’ve been as impressed by this recording as I expect, you next stop could well be:

Missa hispanica a due cori in C, MH422 (P11) (1786) [57:53]
Mária Zádori (soprano), Judit Németh (mezzo-soprano), Péter Drucker (tenor), István Kovács (bass)
Debrecen Kodály Choir, Capella Savaria (on period instruments)/Pál Németh
HUNGAROTON HCD31765 [57:53] Download only – reviewed in lossless sound from eclassical.com (NO booklet)

This is the only current commercial recording* of a work apparently composed for a Spanish commission, though no Spanish copies survive. It’s a striking work which far exceeds the restrictions of length which Archbishop Colloredo placed on Masses in Salzburg and it was first performed in Kremsmünster in 1792. It receives a very fine performance here. It’s download only and I haven’t been able to find a site which offers the booklet: even Naxos Music Library, which usually offers Hungaroton booklets, can’t oblige. No matter on this occasion: the text of the Latin Mass and English translations are easily found online. I can’t give recording dates but it seems to have been released in 1998.

* There’s a different performance, from Sonorum Concentus Haydn, on YouTube.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Serenade No.10 in B-flat, K361 ‘Gran Partita’ (1782?) [50:32]
Serenade No.11 in E-flat, K375 (1781, première recording of complete version) [26:41]
European Union Chamber Orchestra/Santiago Mantas
rec. All Saints Church, East Finchley, London,16-17 November 2015. DDD
DIVINE ART DDA25236 [77:21] See also review by John France. Purchase from Amazon UKPresto.

There are almost 100 recordings of K361 and more than 50 of K375, but this new release has one unique selling point in that Santiago Mantas has drawn on modern scholarship to produce and record his own corrected edition.

Otto Klemperer’s very sedate recording with the augmented London Wind Quintet can be found in an 8-CD assemblage (Warner, download only – review) and the much more sprightly London Wind Soloists with Jack Brymer (Decca, also download only). For K375 the Linn recording made by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Wind Soloists has the advantage of being available on SACD or as a 24-bit download. I also like the English Concert Winds (Hyperion CDA66887, Archive Service or download only). Details of all these and of a recommended period-instrument recording of Serenades 10, 11 and 12, with four Divertimenti, on Decca Duo (4580962, now download only) can be found in my review of the Linn.

I thought the somewhat measured view on Linn of the opening maestoso movement of K375 just about right – less sedate than Klemperer but making us aware that this is no lightweight work like the Divertimenti with which it’s coupled there. Other recordings which I like also take around or just over ten minutes for this movement, so eight minutes on the new Divine Art would seem to be a little too fast. I did indeed miss the sense of the beginning of something special which I find on Linn but there’s compensation in the delight which the players clearly find in the music – almost as much as on the classic London Wind/Brymer version, which is slightly faster still.

In the second and third movements there is very little to choose between the SCO and EUCO versions but Mantas restores the second trio of the fourth movement and includes the seven bars of recapitulation which Mozart added when converting the work from sextet to octet. None of these differences are radical enough to spoil my enjoyment of the SCO recording, which employs the shorter sextet version of the finale; the restoration wouldn’t be of any importance were the performance on the Divine Art CD not so persuasive.

Competition is stronger still in K361, at all prices and in various couplings. The Sabine Meyer Ensemble recording on a very inexpensive EMI 3-CD set which I reviewed in 2008 is still worth considering (now download only: Presto have it in mp3 and lossless versions). It offers recommendable versions of Serenades 10, 11 and 12 plus the Clarinet Quintet, Piano and Wind Quintet and wind band music from Die Entführung aus dem Serail: solid value with over three hours of fine music still available for less than the new single CD.

K361 is the work over which Salieri enthuses in the film Amadeus, wondering how God could speak through such a boorish person as Mozart. Two movements really matter in any account: the third Adagio – Andante, with its beautiful part for the clarinet, and the fifth, Romanza. John Quinn praised the recent Linn recording from the Royal Academy Soloists, directed by Trevor Pinnock, for the way in which the performers keep the music moving in the third movement and for the warmth and grace of the Romanza and the lively central section. Not having heard that recording, after reading JQ’s words I couldn’t resist downloading it from hyperion-records.co.uk in 24-bit sound, with pdf booklet (CKD516, with Haydn Notturno No.8). Having done so, I find that I marginally prefer Pinnock and his young performers in both movements and, indeed, throughout the work, but it’s very close and others may prefer Mantas’s slightly slower pace in the third movement and the playing of the EUCO, generally more secure than that of the Royal Academy students: the few small fluffs which Des Hutchinson notes in his review didn’t worry me. I was puzzled by the decision to use the contra-bassoon on the Linn recording: though some printed scores indicate its use or allow it as an alternative, Mozart gives bowing indications for the double bass.

In making a final choice much depends on the coupling and the addition of K375 on Divine Art tilts the balance towards that recording for me. Not only is it a more substantial work than the Haydn, attractive as that is, it also receives its first recording from a corrected edition and while I’ve said that this may not be a huge deal, it does make the new recording special.

There’s a 24-bit download from eclassical.com, which I haven’t heard, but at $20.70, almost £17 after the recent slide in sterling, it’s more expensive than the CD. I’m very happy with the sound of the latter: in some ways it’s slightly more immediate than the 24-bit version of the Linn.

Unless you must have a period-instrument performance, in which case the Decca Duo listed above offers a very good bargain, this new Divine Art CD is a very good way to obtain two works which raised the serenade well above other examples of the genre.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Piano Concerto No.17 in G, K453 (1784) [32:46]
Piano Concerto No.25 in C, K503 (1786) [34:35]
Cadenzas: Mozart
The Cleveland Orchestra/Mitsuko Uchida (piano)
rec. live Severance Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, 11-13 February 2016. DDD.
DECCA 4830716 [67:21]

I’m dealing briefly with this fifth and final volume in Mitsuko Uchida’s series of live Mozart concerto recordings not because I’m following an earlier review but because I’ve already sung the praises of the whole enterprise and of her earlier recordings with Jeffrey Tate, several of the latter now reissued inexpensively on Double Decca twofers, so many times that I don’t need to repeat myself. All you need to know is that this is now available from Amazon UKArkivMusicPresto. It can be streamed by subscribers to Qobuz, with booklet; the download is as expensive as the CD but audiophiles may prefer to pay £15.56 for the 24-bit download.

For some reason which I cannot fathom, the finale of No.17 can be downloaded separately for around £1 (4831002).

Look out also for forthcoming reviews of two other new Mozart releases well worth considering:

Piano Concerto No.12 in A, K414 [23:54]
Piano Concerto No.11 in F, K413 [20:49]
Piano Concerto No.13 in C, K415 [24:44]
Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano)
Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz
rec. Ensemblehaus Freiburg, 15-17 November 2014
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902218 [69:27]

Reviewed as 24-bit download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com.

Piano Concerto No.13 in C, K415/387B [26:59]
Piano Concerto No.5 in D, K175 [20:30]
Piano Concerto No.25 in C, K503 [29:43]
Olivier Cavé (piano)
Divertissement/Rinaldo Alessandrini
rec. Studio Dinemec (Switzerland),1-7 September 2014. DDD.
ALPHA 243 [77:14] – reviewed as 24-bit download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Suite de Hippolyte et Aricie, RCT43 (1733) [15:47]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14 (1830) [54:58]
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding
rec. Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, 7-10 October 2015. DDD.
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902244 [70:45] – reviewed as 24-bit download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com. Review by Simon Thompson and purchase details.

Composed almost a century apart and a whole musical style different from each other, the two works on this recording are sure to raise some eyebrows. Much as I like both performances, I remain unconvinced of the pairing, but that’s of little account – enjoy both for what they are.

Falling behind this year has made me especially tardy in reviewing this recording: just about everyone else seems to have poured praise on it, not least our own Simon Thompson, who made it a Recording of the Month.

With over 200 recordings to its credit, any new Symphonie Fantastique needs to be special. A new recording from the Concertgebouw and Daniele Gatti on their in-house label (SACD, DVD and blu-ray) failed to do much for Dan Morgan – review – though he was much more impressed with two other recent recordings, from Riccardo Muti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on their own CSO label – review – and Robin Ticciati with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Linn – review.

I still turn to Sir Thomas Beecham’s (Warner Great Recordings, download only) and Klemperer’s (Warner Klemperer Legacy, 4043092, 10 super-budget CDs – review) among the great recordings of Symphonie Fantastique from the past and to Anima Eterna conducted by Jos van Immerseel for an ear-opening period-instrument performance (Zig-Zag ZZT100101reviewDownload Roundup May 2010). I also retain a soft spot for Sir Colin Davis’s first recording with the LSO (Phillips budget-price Duo, download only). In some respects, however, Daniel Harding’s recording combines the best of all these versions, with his Swedish players on modern instruments eschewing the plush sound that Beecham obtained from the RPO in favour of something much closer to what Immerseel obtains from his period performers.

In the Rameau, too, the playing is often reminiscent of period performance style and sound so that although I still think the coupling bizarre, each half works well for me. In any case, if you want the Suite from the opera, this seems to be the only currently available recording, though there are excerpts from the complete 3-CD super-budget recording by Les Arts Florissants and William Christie on a very inexpensive 7-disc collection (Erato, download only).

The 24-bit download from eclassical.com was still on offer at the same price as mp3 or 16-bit ($13.54) when I checked but you will need to hurry to obtain it. It’s likely to be rather expensive when the offer ends, especially with the falling £ against the US$ in which eclassical.com downloads are priced, but with Harmonia Mundi having effectively abandoned the SACD format it’s the only way to obtain 24-bit sound. classicsonline.com don’t offer 24-bit, don’t provide the booklet and charge an unfeasible £12.24 for 16-bit. By all means stream from there if you’re a subscriber, but you should find the CD on sale for less than that: it’s available for £10.30 as I write.

There’s a recent release on the Alpha label entitled ‘Symphonie Fantastique’, though I’m not sure that to call it such isn’t an infringement of the Trades Descriptions Act. It’s more accurately described inside the booklet as a Loose adaptation for chamber orchestra by Arthur Lavandier — commissioned by Festival Berlioz — 2013. The performers are the chamber orchestra Le Balcon, conducted by Maxime Pascal, known for their work with Eötvös and Boulez, with the trumpets, trombones, saxophones, sousaphone and snare of Academie de Musique de Rue Tonton a Faim in the final two movements.

The result intermittently sounds like the work that I know and love and occasionally, I have to admit, makes it sound spookier than the original – but the period instruments of Anima Eterna do that, too. This is one to listen to once – stream if you can from Qobuz – rather than to purchase: I can’t imagine wanting to hear it again. The last ‘re-imagining’ of this kind that I heard was Nigel Kennedy’s attack on Vivaldi’s Four Seasonsreview. There are two versions, in stereo for speakers or binaural for headphone listening, both available to stream, though Qobuz don’t make clear which is which. The physical CD contains a code for the 3D headphone version as a download. The comic-book-style cover says it all and for me that belies arranger Arthur Lavandier’s words in the booklet: ‘it is rather good’. It’s also short value at 51:57 – but I wouldn’t want more of the same. (Alpha 539).

Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, H79 (1839) [91:58]
Marche troyenne (Trojan March) (1864) [5:28]
Chasse royale et Orage (Royal Hunt and Storm) (1857) [9:44]
Michèle Losier (mezzo); Samuel Boden (tenor); David Soar (bass)
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
rec. Fairfield Halls, Croydon, 17 May 2015 (‘Chasse royale et orage’), and 23–25 January 2016 (other works). DDD/DSD
Texts and translations included.
Reviewed as lossless download with pdf booklet from eclassical.com.
CHANDOS CHSA51692 SACD [57:18 + 49:42] Review by Dave Billinge and purchase details.

Roméo et Juliette, Symphonie dramatique, Op. 17, H79 (1839) [94:05]
Katija Dragojevic (mezzo-soprano); Andrew Staples (tenor); Alistair Miles (bass); Swedish Radio Choir; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Robin Ticciati
rec. Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2014. DDD/DSD
Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from hyperion-records.co.uk.
LINN CKD521 SACD [94:05]

With the demise of Sir Colin Davis’s Philips recording, last seen on a budget-price twofer but not available in the UK even as a download, the door is open for a first-rate recording. For me the recent Valery Gergiev recording on LSO Live didn’t do the trick at all – Retrospectiv Autumn 2016 – or for Simon Thompson – review – or Richard Kraus.

Peter Grahame Woolf gave Sir Colin’s LSO Live recording four stars – review – and others were also appreciative. I was somewhat perfunctory in reviewing the complete Bicentennial Edition containing Sir Colin’s LSO recordings of all the major Berlioz works (LSO0046, 12 CDs – Download News 2013/7). That budget set is no longer available to download and the CDs are currently out of stock.

Both these new recordings are superior to Gergiev and both are SACDs with 24-bit download equivalents: the Chandos, with couplings, offers better value than the Linn, on disc or as a download.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser: Overture[14:57]
Siegfried Idyll [19:47]
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude [12:09] and Liebestod [7:08]
Jessye Norman (soprano)
Wiener Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan
rec. live Salzburg Festival 1987. DDD
DG 4236132 [54:11]

One of the advantages of a Retrospect is that it allows me to trawl the web for recordings which we seem to have missed. Paul Corfield Godfrey reviewed Jessye Norman and Klaus Tennstedt from 1987 in the Prelude and Liebestod (Warner, budget price). Though he warmly recommended that recording, he noted the extreme slowness of the Liebestod. That, presumably, was Norman’s choice and she seems to have persuaded Tennstedt to play it that way, but not Herbert von Karajan. In fact, this recording was the subject of a TV documentary, Karajan in Salzburg, on which the maestro really established who was in the driving seat. I’m not always a fan of Karajan but his Wagner is quite special – his undervalued Ring cycle included – and this Salzburg recording is wonderful, with Jessye Norman giving her all in the Liebestod.

Subscribers to Qobuz can stream it and others can sample it there but the download purchase price of £11.56, without booklet, is too high when the CD can be found for around £9. Those happy with mp3 will find it at 7digital.com for £3.95, but their price for 16-bit lossless is also too high at £11.56. (NO booklet and you will have to unscramble the tracks otherwise the Liebestod, actually Track 4, plays first).

If for any reason Norman and Karajan don’t appeal, there’s a very fine Hallé recording with excerpts from Parsifal, Fliegende Holländer and Meistersinger (CDHLL7517 – review)

The Prelude and Liebestod are often referred to as the greatest cut ever – there’s over 3 hours of wonderful music in-between in the complete Tristan und Isolde. With 90 recordings of the complete opera in various formats my own favourite remains that recorded by Wilhelm Furtwängler with the Covent Garden Chorus and the Philharmonia in 1952. The cast is superb, with Ludwig Suthaus, Kirsten Flagstad, no longer quite at her peak, Josef Greindl and the young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau among them. Though mono only, the sound is amazingly good as heard on the Brilliant Classics 4-CD set (93933), available for around £11 but on offer as I write for £9.20. The Naxos set, taken from LPs and costing more – review – is now less recommendable.

The same recording, from an EMI refurbishment, is also available from Warner Historical for a little more (5858732, around £14 but on offer for £8.93). Brilliant include a detailed synopsis but it isn’t keyed to the CD tracks – the Naxos is – and there’s no libretto, but that’s easily available online. Warner Historical releases are also libretto-free. The EMI Great Recordings set which offered the same refurbishment and a libretto is no longer available but Marc Bridle’s review, hailing this ‘supreme achievement of the gramophone’ is otherwise still relevant. Other versions offer more recent sound and more expeditious performances – most run to only three CDs as against Furtwängler’s four – but this is very special.

As a reminder, if one were needed, of the crazy economics of pricing, one website is offering this recording on Documents, presumably taken from LPs rather than the master tapes and without booklet, for £33.49 and Qobuz are asking £20.01 for the Warner Historical. Caveat emptor. Purchase the Brilliant Classics set from Amazon UKPresto. Warner Historical from ArkivMusic.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in b-flat minor, Op.23 (1874-1875) [34:48]
Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a (arr. Mikhail Pletnev, 1978) [18:08]
Alexandra Dariescu (piano)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Darrell Ang
rec. 2 August 2014, Henry Wood Hall, London (concerto); 22 June 2016, All Saints Church, Durham Road, London (suite)
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD441 [52:58] – reviewed as a 24/96 download with pdf booklet from Hyperion. Review by Dan Morgan and CD purchase details.

I had passed this by until I received Dan Morgan’s enthusiastic review to edit and convert for the web: ‘A most rewarding account of the concerto and a delightful one of the Pletnev suite; good sound, too’. Like him, I initially wondered if we really needed another recording of the concerto to set alongside a whole number of classic and more recent winners – to his list I’d add Clifford Curzon and George Szell (1958), now in a box set or download only. I’d also like to see RCA restore their John Browning recording with Seiji Ozawa and the LSO, till recently available at budget price with the Violin Concerto performed by Erick Friedman – review.

The obvious benchmark for the Concerto with a piano version of the Nutcracker Suite – in her case a 2-piano arrangement – comes from Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado, still at full price on DG. I’d still prefer that but was also pleased with Dariescu’s comparatively understated performances.

Signum downloads from Hyperion are always excellent value: the mp3 and 16-bit cost £5.99, the 24-bit versions £9.

One thing puzzles me: on most copies Dariescu is turned towards the toy soldier on the cover but on others she’s turning away from him.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Nutcracker, Op.71 (1891-1892) [84:16]
Symphony No.4 in f minor, Op.36 (1877-1878) [44:46]
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre/Valery Gergiev
rec. Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia
Reviewed as a 24/96 download with pdf booklet from Hyperion
MARIINSKY MAR0593 SACD [62:08 + 66:54]

Available from Amazon UKArkivMusicPresto

Dan Morgan was only partly impressed by Nutcracker and not at all by the Symphony: ‘Valery the variable strikes again; old favourites are unchallenged’ – review pending. Though I was a little happier with Gergiev’s Nutcracker, liking it overall, I too have felt many of his recent performances to be very variable.

My own favourites remain Ansermet (1958, Decca Eloquence 4800557reviewreview – of an alternative reissue, no longer available) with Simon Rattle (2009, Warner 6316212reviewDownload of the Month: NB new catalogue number) for a more recent recording, though the Ansermet is very good for its age, and André Previn for those seeking a budget-price version (Warner Ballet Edition 9676942review). You may still find a few copies of the earlier Classics for Pleasure reissue of the Previn, differently coupled. I was not alone in liking Neeme Järvi (ChandosCHSA5144) and Alexander Vedernikov (Pentatone 5186091DL News 2012/22) rather more than Dan Morgan. Stephen Francis Vasta liked the Mikhail Pletnev recording – review – but I was only half convinced – DL Roundup December 2011/2.

For a DVD/blu-ray release at an attractive price, try The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Arthaus Music – review and purchase links; it’s also available from Presto).

Yevgeny Mravinsky’s Leningrad PO Fourth Symphony is still unassailable and it comes at mid price with splendid versions of the Fifth and Sixth (DG Originals 4775911DL Roundup April 2010 ). But NB: the Amazon download link no longer applies: good quality downloads cost more than the CDs.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
String Quartet No.5 in B flat, Op.104: In memoriam Joseph Joachim (1907) * [34:49]
String Quartet No.8 in e minor, Op.167 (1919) * [27:35]
Joseph JOACHIM (1831-1907)
Romance, Op.2/1 (c.1850) [4:29]
* first recordings
Dante Quartet
Mark Bebbington (piano)
rec. 7-8 December 2015, St Nicholas Parish Church, Thames Ditton, UK. DDD.
SOMM CÉLESTE SOMMCD0160 [67:12]

‘What seems likely to be an important series [is] auspiciously launched here’. See review by John Quinn. I’ll merely add that, never having given up on Parry and Stanford, I’m pleased to see both coming back into their own.

Subscribers to emusic.com can download this in 320 kb/s for £3.78 – minus the booklet. Booklet available from Naxos Music Library.

Don’t forget Resonus Classics’ two very fine albums of Stanford’s organ music: RES10104 – DL Roundup June 2011/1 – and RES10130 – DL News 2014/11.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Elektra (1909) Suite from the opera, conceptualized by Manfred Honeck, realized by Tomáš Ille
(World premiere of suite) [33:51]
Der Rosenkavalier (1911) Suite from the opera arranged by Artur Rodzinski [24:41]
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck
rec. live May 2016. DDD/DSD
REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR722 SACD [58:32] Review and SACD purchase details

Could two operas by the same composer be more different? Not even Götterdämmerung and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg are as far apart. Oddly enough, as I listened to these two suites, although the differences clearly stood out, the similarities were apparent, too, so that we are reminded that these are the two sides of the same musical coin.

There’s very little that I need add to Michael Cookson’s enthusiastic review except that in the interests of all those who love a bargain I tried the mp3 download from emusic.com. Costing a mere £0.84, this shouldn’t stand a chance against the SACD or the 24-bit streamed version or download from classicsonline.com, but in reality it’s very good indeed – it’s at the full 320 kb/s – and it costs far less than any alternative. There’s no booklet but subscribers to Naxos Music Library or classicsonline.com will find it there.

Reference to the ‘other’ Strauss family reminds me to mention Honeck’s fine recording of the music of Johann II and his brothers Eduard and Josef with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra on their own label – review: download in 16- and 24-bit sound with pdf booklet from eclassical.com. An anomaly which priced the former at $114.80 has been fixed.

English Visionaries
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
A Vision of Aeroplanes (1956) [10:07]
Prayer to the Father of Heaven (1947) [4:30]
Mass in g minor (1922) [21:57]
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
The Evening Watch, Op. 43 No. 1 (1924) [4:14]
Sing me the Men (1925) [5:23]
Herbert HOWELLS (1894-1983)
The House of the Mind (1954) [8:03]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Lord, Thou hast been our refuge (1922) [8:41]
Nicholas Morris (organ)
Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir/Paul Spicer
rec. 22-23 June 2015, St Alban the Martyr, Highgate, Birmingham
Texts included
SOMM CÉLESTE SOMMCD0159 [63:00]

John Quinn – review – and Nick Barnard – review – have welcomed this recording in such detail that I need only report that it can be obtained by subscribers to emusic.com in 320 kb/s mp3for £5.04. No booklet: that can be obtained from Naxos Music Library. For CD purchase details follow either of the links above.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Requiem da Camera (1923-25, premiere recording) [23:42]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Deus in adjutorium meum (Psalm 70) (1945) [5:17]
Chorale after an Old French Carol (1944) [5:00]
Cantata Misericordium, Op.69 (1938) [19:38]
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Two Psalms (1912): Psalm 86 [8:23]; Psalm 148 [5:00]
Alison Barlow (soprano), David Hoult (baritone), John Alley (organ), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone)
Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox – rec.1991. DDD.
Pdf booklet with texts included.
CHANDOS CHAN10783X [67:37] [formerly CHAN8997]

I see that I gave this a very perfunctory albeit warm welcome in 2013 as ‘yet another self-recommending Hickox reissue from Chandos’. I didn’t even refer to Paul Corfield Godfrey’s detailed review – Recording of the Month. I return to it now because it fits very well into the theme of Remembrance – see Clare College recording on Harmonia Mundi below.

The classicalshop has now been subsumed into chandos.net where the CD and download can be found here. It’s also available from eclassical.com in mp3 and lossless sound and with booklet but their price of $12.05 is significantly higher than Chandos’ £7.99, especially after the recent fall in the value of the £.

Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Complete String Quartets
String Quartet No.1 (1938) [15:17]
String Quartet No.2 (1943) [21:51]
String Quartet No.3 (1947) [16:34]
String Quartet No.4 (1951) [20:24]
String Quartet No.5 (1955) [25:26]
String Quartet No.6 (1960) [16:13]
String Quartet No.7 (1965) [16:06]
Silesian Quartet [Szymon Krzeszowiec, Arkadiusz Kubica (violins), Łukasz Syrnicki (viola), Piotr Janosik (cello)]
CHANDOS CHAN10904(2) [74:40 + 58:06] – reviewed as 16-bit lossless download from chandos.net (TCS), with pdf booklet. Also available as mp3 download and on 2-CD set.

Recording of the Month review by Stuart Sillitoe and purchase details. Also review by Jonathan Woolf.

NB: download from Chandos and CDs available as 2-for-1. Be aware that some suppliers are charging as for 2 CDs.

I hadn’t encountered Grażyna Bacewicz’s quartets before, though there already is a Naxos recording on two separate CDs and Chandos have given us two recordings of her violin concertos with Joanna Kurkowicz as soloist (CHAN10533 and CHAN10673).

I’m sorry to say that I found the music on CHAN10533 enjoyable but failing to ‘go’ anywhere: I gave the analogy of my wife’s feelings about Balakirev’s Symphony No.1, a work which I very much enjoy, especially as recorded by Beecham, but which I have to admit is rather meandering – DL Roundup August 2009. Perhaps for that reason, I didn’t try the second volume, despite a very positive review from Derek Warby.

I did, however, think it incumbent on me to listen to CHAN10673 for this review and found myself rather more appreciative of the music right from the opening of Concerto No.4 – I never had any doubts about the quality of the performances and recording even in the case of Volume 1. I did, however, share, DW’s surprise that the concertos had not been presented in chronological order as the quartets, thankfully, have been.

Bacewicz’s limited adherence to the demands of ‘socialist realism’ seems to have had beneficial effects, especially in No.4 which I agree with Stuart Sillitoe in finding one of the most compelling works in the series. At times there are echoes of Shostakovich – another artist who had trouble toeing the party line – but Bacewicz is her own person. As presented by the Silesian Quartet I enjoyed hearing this set.

As with the concerto recordings, there is no SACD or 24-bit download: the recording appears to have been sourced from Polska Music who, presumably, could offer only 16-bit stereo. No matter: it’s eminently clear and truthful. The notes are helpful and informative.

Pēteris VASKS (b.1946)
Flute Concerto (2007/8, rev. 2011) [34:54]
Symphony No.3 (2004-5) [39:22]
Dita Krenberga (flute)
Liepāja Symphony Orchestra/Atvars Lakstīgala
rec. February and May 2016. DDD.
WERGO WER73492 [74:16] – reviewed as mp3 download from emusic.com (NO booklet). CD available from Amazon UKArkivMusicPresto.

Wergo have been doing well by Pēteris Vasks; this is the third album which I have come across – the earlier ones offer his String Quartets Nos. 2 and 5 – Download News 2016/3 – and Sala, Musica Appassionata and CredoDownload News 2015/9. The latter, like the new recording, was made by the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra and Atvars Lakstīgala. The music and performances are very attractive, easy on the ear without being at all facile, but there’s a nasty glitch on track 1 of the download which I hope will be repaired: I’ve reported it.

Don’t be put off by the fact that the Wergo label specialises in avant-garde music: both these works by Vasks are easy on the ear without being facile. If you like the music of Arvo Pärt you are likely to respond well to Vasks. Subscribers to emusic.com will find them there for £3.76 in 320kb/s mp3 but without booklet. Online notes for the Flute Concerto are available here and for both works here.

Remembrance
Robert FARRANT (1525-1580) (attrib.) Call to remembrance, O Lord [1:52]
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1756) When David heard [4:34]
Kontakion of the Dead (Kiev melody) [4:08]
John TAVENER (1944-2013) Song for Athene [6:02]
Robert RAMSEY (c.1590-1644) How are the mighty fallen [6:48]
William HARRIS (1883-1973) Bring us, O Lord God [3:34]
William Henry MONK (1823-1889) Abide with me (arr. Graham Ross) [5:14]
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) They are at rest [3:44]
Thomas WEELKES (1576-1623) When David heard [3:58]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Requiem, Op.9 [37:42]
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross
rec. Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, 22 March 2015, and Lincoln Cathedral, 23-24 March 2015. DDD
Texts and translations included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907654 [77:56] – reviewed as 24/96 download HMU957654, with bonus track: William HARRIS Holy is the true Light [2:00] from eclassical.com. Review by John Quinn and CD purchase details.

Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Requiem, Op 9 (1961 version with small orchestra) [37:36]
Quatre Motets sur des Thèmes Grégoriennes, Op 10 (1960) [7:32]
Messe ‘Cum Jubilo’, Op 11 (1967 version with organ) [20:41]
Patricia Bardon (mezzo-soprano); Ashley Riches (bass-baritone) Tom Etheridge & Richard Gowers (organ); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
rec.7-8 & 11-12 January, 2015, Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge
Latin texts and English translations included
KING’S COLLEGE KGS0016 [63:49] Reviewed as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from hyperion.co.uk

Which Cambridge choir and which coupling do you prefer for the Duruflé Requiem? Scarcely had a new King’s College Choir recording with small orchestra appeared than Clare’s recording with organ, bass and cello followed. That was King’s second version with Stephen Cleobury: their first version, on Warner, is now download only. The new recording, on King’s own label, has been praised, with small reservations, by John Quinn. It’s an all-Duruflé affair, with Quatre Motets and Messe Cum Jubilo (KGS0016review) while Clare make it the culmination of a mixed programme of music for Remembrance.

The King’s logical and satisfying coupling brings it into direct competition with Duruflé’s own recording on budget-price Warner Apex 2564611392, which additionally contains his Prelude and Fugue on the name of Jean Alain played by the composer’s daughter. Despite the very strong claims of the Hyperion recording on which the Corydon Singers are directed by Matthew Best, the Warner tends to be my version of choice in its earlier Erato incarnation. Though recorded as long ago as 1959, the slightly dated sound is well worth tolerating for the authoritative performances.

That’s not by any means to dismiss the Hyperion, to which I’ve referred many times in editions of Download News, and which couples the DurufléRequiem with his Quatre Motets (CDA66191) or with the Fauré Requiem, a work with which the Duruflé has a great deal in common (CDA67070 – download only). Both couplings are available to download from Hyperion – here and here. CDA66191 costs just £6.50 in mp3, flac or alac.

Harmonia Mundi are also competing with their earlier selves in Oxford/Cambridge rivalry with the Duruflé Requiem, Quatre Motets, Messe Cum Jubilo and four pieces for organ (HMU807480: Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford/Bill Ives). That’s available as an SACD and as a download from eclassical.com or classicsonline.com (both 16-bit only, NO booklet). A 24-bit version is available to stream or download from Qobuz (with booklet). That earlier recording is also well worth considering, especially for those requiring SACD – sadly, a dwindling commodity with a few honourable exceptions such as BIS.

As with the Fauré, a number of versions of the Duruflé Requiem exist. Unlike the King’s and Magdalen recordings, which employ the orchestral version, Clare, like Best and his team, have chosen the version with organ and with cello in Pie Jesu. For my own part I’m agnostic about the different versions of both works: it’s the quality of performance that counts.

John Quinn was disappointed by Patricia Bardon in the Pie Jesu, despite the hype about her being the youngest ever winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World prize. He refers to her wide vibrato and that contributes to a degree of plumminess – my word. I also thought the performance somewhat unassertive and that’s true of Ann Murray on Hyperion, though she sings more attractively, while Matthew Best takes almost four minutes for this movement.

On the Clare recording Jennifer Johnston and the cello soloist, Guy Johnston, are much more forwardly recorded and I prefer their more positive contributions. This may be a more exclamatory Pie Jesu than we are used to but I for one don’t mind, though Bill Ives’ counter-tenor, Magid El-Bushra, offers perhaps the best compromise. Ives’ team also take the movement considerably faster than usual – a whole minute faster than Best on Hyperion – yet the overall impression is of thoughtful reflection. I’m grateful that there are so many fine recordings to choose from: though still faithful to Duruflé himself, I’m inclined to rate the Magdalen recording almost as highly.

***

Michael Cookson’s review of two Fritz Wunderlich collections, issued to mark the 50th anniversary of his untimely death in September 1966, led me to think about my own choice of his recordings. Incidentally, the 3-CD Warner anthology which he reviewed seems to be a distillation of the earlier EMI 6-CD set A Poet among Tenors, still available for around £20 but on offer as I write for £10.12.

Rather than the snippets on either of those collections, I lean towards more substantial albums:

Karl Böhm’s Mozart Die Zauberflöte would not be my first choice for the opera – that would be Otto Klemperer on Warner – but it is well worth having for Wunderlich as Tamino. It’s download only now, for around £11 (mp3), £15 (16-bit lossless) or £24 (24-bit). Presto have it with the pdf booklet. I streamed it from Qobuz intending some spot-listening and found myself enjoying the performance overall more than I expected, though it has received adverse criticism apart from Wunderlich’s contribution.

Herbert von Karajan’s Haydn die Schöpfung would not be my overall first choice, either, but once again Wunderlich’s contribution makes it worthwhile: only his participation makes it credible that this was a Building a Library Choice. (DG Originals 4497612, 2 CDs). Sadly, Wunderlich had not recorded the recitatives when he died so Werner Krenn had to step in for those.

Similarly, my first choice version of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin is Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, preferably in the 3-CD box withWinterreise and Schwanengesang, with Gerald Moore – another download-only now: Presto again at £16.65 (mp3) or £20.81 (16-bit lossless), sadly without texts but these are easily available online. But Wunderlich and Hubert Giesen on DG Originals 4474522 or Hänssler 93.180 make a wonderful adjunct. Doubtless his interpretation of this cycle would have deepened had he lived longer but this remains a fine reminder of a wonderful voice.

My top Wunderlich choice has to be his recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Christa Ludwig, the Philharmonia and New Philharmonia and Otto Klemperer (Warner Original Jackets Reissue 2564607598, around £7, or with Symphonies Nos. 2, 4, 7 and 9 on EMI 2483982, 6 CDs around – review). Even here, however, I have to enter a caveat, not about the performance overall or Wunderlich’s contribution, but because I would not want to be without the incomparable Janet Baker and Bernard Haitink (Decca Duo 4540142, download only, or Decca Eloquence 4681822, around £7.50).

Advent and Christmas Recordings in brief

Drop down, ye heavens: Advent Antiphons for Choir and Saxophone
Sam Corkin (saxophone)
Siglo de Oro/Patrick Allies
rec. 12-14 January 2016, St John the Evangelist church, Upper Norwood, London
Texts and translations included
DELPHIAN DCD34184 [64:45]

I steered clear of this until I read the review by John Quinn, with track and purchase details: ‘This marvellous disc offers a stimulating new slant on the music of Advent. Don’t pass it by as “just another Christmas disc”. This is highly original and superbly performed. Siglo de Oro have made a most auspicious debut on disc; I look forward keenly to hearing them again’.

Not having been a great fan of the various cult Officium recordings on ECM where the saxophone weaves its way through late medieval and renaissance choral music, I expected something similar here; I need have had no fears about this unusual and enjoyable programme. Download in 16- and 24-bit sound, with pdf booklet from eclassical.com.

Christmas with St. John’s
The Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha
Joseph Wicks (organ)
rec. 7-10 January 2016, Chapel of St. John’s College, Cambridge
Texts included
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD458 [66:45]

Review by John Quinn, with track and purchase details: ‘A highly enjoyable and superbly performed Christmas collection’.

Download in 16- and 24-bit, with pdf booklet from hyperion-records.co.uk.



 




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