DOWNLOAD NEWS 2016/8
By Brian Wilson
DL News 2016/7 is here and the index of all editions is here.
As indicated in 2016/7, this will be the last edition of Download News, which has been running for almost eight years. I’m getting too old and grumpy to keep to a regular deadline and we haven’t been able to find anyone else foolish enough to take over the editing. In future I shall be contributing some CD, DVD/blu-ray, download and streaming reviews to the main pages but they will be fewer and further between. I’ve been asked to include this Editor’s Note:
This edition of Download News will be the last one because Brian Wilson wishes to retire.
Brian’s first Download News (DLN) – initially entitled Download Roundup – appeared on MusicWeb International in October 2008. Since then Brian has surveyed downloads for the site on a very regular basis; this is the 128th issue of Download News. As regular readers will know, each issue has covered a considerable number of releases, both new issues and back catalogue: it would be literally impossible to count the number of downloads that have been assessed. Not only has DLN appraised the performances and the sound quality but also price and availability of individual releases have been comprehensively covered. Though Brian has been helped along the way by several colleagues who have contributed reviews of downloads the bulk of the reviews have been done by him and he has also done all the work of pulling each edition together.
MusicWeb International is very grateful to Brian for the tremendous job he has done for nearly eight years.
This will be the last edition partly because it would be difficult to find anyone else with the time and knowledge who could take on this labour-intensive job on a permanent, sustained basis. In any case, things are different now compared to when Brian started the feature. Today downloads are mainstream and most labels release their new products in both physical and download form. The great majority of back catalogue items across all labels are available as downloads. So there is less need nowadays for a dedicated feature though our commitment to downloads will continue through our main review page.
The archived editions of Download News will continue to be available on the site.
ADLER Symphony No.6 RSNO/Serebrier Linn
ARNOLD Complete Conifer Recordings Handley, etc Sony
BACH Sacred Cantatas Vols.11-20 Japan Bach Collegium/Suzuki_BIS
BARBER Adagio see Copland
BARTÓK Concerto for orchestra, etc._Solti_Decca Eloquence
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No.1; Ballades_Lewis_Harmonia Mundi
BRITTEN Young Apollo ; Lachrymæ; Serenade_Aldeburgh Strings_Däunert
BUXTEHUDE Scandinavian Cantatas; Buxtehude and his Circle_Theatre of Voices_Hillier_DaCapo
COPLAND Organ Symphony; Symphony No.3_ Biggs NYPO/Bernstein_Sony
- Appalachian Spring_LAPOBernstein (+ BARBER Adagio; SCHUMAN American Festival Overture)_DG Originals
DEBUSSY Images (+ FALLA)_Ansermet_Decca Eloquence
DELIBES Sylvia _Fistoulari_Beulah
DOHNANYI Orchestral Works_BBC Phil/Bamert_Chandos (5 CDs)
DVOŘÁK Symphony No.6; Slavonic Dances_Houston SO/Orozco-Estrada_Pentatone
FALLA Sombrero de tres picos (+ DEBUSSY)_Ansermet_Decca Eloquence
GOLDMARK Rustic Wedding Symphony_RPO/Beecham (+ DVORÁK Golden Spinning Wheel)_Beulah
- Rustic Wedding Symphony; Prometheus_Schumann Philharmonie/Beermann-CPO
HOLST The Planets _VPO/Karajan_Indisposables
HOWELLS Music for Strings City of London Sinfonia/Hickox
IRELAND Downland Suite, etc. Wallfisch; Orchestra of the Swan/Curtis Naxos
- Vexilla Regis; These Things shall be, London Overture, etc. LSO/Hickox Chandos
- Legend; Piano Concerto; These Things shall be LPO/Boult Lyrita
KORNGOLD Symphony; Violin Concerto, Sea Hawk, Elizabeth and Essex Previn DG Eloquence
MEYER Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet Silesian String Quartet etc. Naxos
MOZART Requiem, Symphony No.40 Karajan Beulah
PALESTRINA Missa Papæ Marcelli, etc (+ VICTORIA) NY Polyphony BIS
SCHUMAN American Festival Overture see COPLAND.
STANLEY Organ Concertos CRD
- Organ Voluntaries Marlow Chandos; Koopman Capriccio
VICTORIA Missa O quam gloriosum (+ PALESTRINA) NY Polyphony BIS
- Sacred Works Ensemble Plus Ultra DG Archiv
ZELENKA Missa Divi Xaveri; Litaniæ Collegium 1704 Luks Accent
DEBUSSY, ELGAR, RESPIGHI, SIBELIUS Violin Sonatas Ehnes/Armstrong Onyx
FASCH, TELEMANN, HEINICHEN, GRAUPNER Concerti Bizarri Irish Baroque Orchestra/Huggett Linn
Great Tenor Arias 1 and 2 Decca Eloquence
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Requiem Mass in d minor, K626 (completed Süssmayr) [56:26]
Wilma Lipp (soprano); Hilde Rössl-Majdan (contralto); Anton Dermota (tenor); Walter Berry (bass)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan – rec. 1961 ADD/stereo
Symphony No.40 in g minor, K550 [24:14]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan – rec. 1958 ADD/stereo
BEULAH 1PDR24 [80:41] – due shortly from Qobuz, etc.
Karajan recorded the Mozart Requiem several times but this 1961 DG version was well worth reissuing. I got to know it well in an earlier budget reissue for the Mozart centenary year and it remains available on DG Originals where it costs more than it did in 1991 – and rather more than the Beulah – and is much less generously coupled than the latter. The performance is unidiosyncratic, the soloists – Wilma Lipp not to all tastes – and choir in fine voice and the recording has come up almost as well as I remember the CD sounding, albeit that both are a little muddy in some of the choruses – at least in part owing to the massive numbers employed.
I can’t pretend that it’s my go-to version – I soon replaced it with Peter Schreier’s much better blending of old-school and authentic Mozart, a wonderful bargain at mid-price, with the Coronation Mass and Ave Verum Corpus (Philips 4647202). It remains, however, worth considering – subscribers to Qobuz should at least stream it when it appears there.
Unusually among Karajan recordings, Symphony No.40 was recorded by Decca and appeared on an RCA LP (SB2092, with Haydn Symphony No.104, reissued, with Tchaikovsky and Liszt on Beulah 3PDR2 – review). Klemperer (Columbia) was then the main competitor, a recording which, as it happens, appears on another Beulah release, with Symphonies 38 and 39, of which I wrote: ‘The opening movement is measured but far from heavy: if anything, it’s a little lacking in power, but the affectionate account of the slow movement – not a quality you might expect from Klemperer – does a great deal to atone… All in all a worthwhile purchase.’ (1PD98: 2015/2).
Karajan’s g-minor symphony is predictably plush, a Haydn in golden slippers. Those who managed to get to the end of Pilgrim’s Progress and even read Part II will recall that Mr By-Ends who prefers religion ‘when he walks in his golden slippers’ comes to a sorry end, falling into a silver mine in the Hill of Lucre: he and his companions ‘never was [sic] seen again in the way’. I exempt Karajan’s recording of this symphony from the same fate. My version of choice from this vintage, however, remains Bruno Walter’s affectionate account – the 6-CD set Bruno Walter conducts Mozart is fine, but will Sony please restore the less cumbersome 2-CD set of Symphonies 35-36 and 38-41 which used to be available from CBS (M2YK45676)?
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891)
London Symphony Orchestra/Anatole Fistoulari
Rec. 1958 ADD/stereo
BEULAH 1Pdr26 [87:35] – due soon from Qobuz, etc.
Once available on a Mercury 3-CD set, paired with Coppélia (Antal Doráti), this is now download only, your choice being between that Mercury Living Stereo for around £17 (4343132) or this Beulah release of Sylvia alone for slightly less than half that price. Bearing in mind that the original 2-LP set of Sylvia (AMS16032/33) cost the equivalent of at least £80 today, either offers very good value.
I’ve called the recording complete but two short items are omitted, 16c and 16d. They represent no great loss but if you must have them Richard Bonynge’s recording includes them (mid-price Decca 4783628, with Le Cid or 4-CD set with Coppélia and La Source, 4604182, around £21).
The performances make Sylvia sound as fine as the more popular Coppélia and the recording has come up sounding almost brand-new in this transfer. Ideal for late-night listening.
Look out for these forthcoming Beulah reviews on the main website:
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Piano Concerto No.14 – Klein; VPO/Angerer (1961); Ludwig van BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.4 – Backhaus; VPO/Schmidt-Isserstedt (1959); Frédéric CHOPIN Piano Concerto No.2 – Askenase; BPO/Ludwig (1960) 1PDR28 – due soon from Qobuz, etc.
Felix MENDELSSOHN : Piano Trio No.1 – Cortot, Thibaud and Casals (1927); Octet – Vienne Octet (1953); Symphony No.4 – Minneapolis SO/Skrowaczewski (1961) 1PDR25 – due soon from Qobuz, etc.
Toscanini conducts WAGNER – NBCSO/Toscanini (1946-1952) 1PDR26 – from Qobuz and Amazon UK
Leonora Lafayette sings Italian Opera (Verdi and Puccini) (1953, 1958) 1PDR22 – from Qobuz and Amazon UK
DECCA AND DG ELOQUENCE REISSUES
Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Concerto for Orchestra, BB123, Sz.116*
Dance Suite, BB86, Sz.77*
The Miraculous Mandarin, Op.19, Sz.73 (suite)*
Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta, BB114, Sz.106*
Divertimento for Strings, Sz.113**
Hungarian Sketches, BB103, Sz.97**
Romanian Folk Dances for piano, Sz.56, BB68**
London Symphony Orchestra*; Chicago Symphony Orchestra**/Sir Georg Solti
DECCA 4806872 [2 CDs, budget price 2:18:49] Subscribers stream from Qobuz but NB: NO booklet and download much more expensive than CD set.
These classic performances have worn very well indeed, with recordings which sound almost new-minted. The same programme also remains available on a Double Decca twofer for around the same price (4705162). The Piano Concertos and Violin Concertos (Pascal Rogé, Kyung Wha Chung/Solti, Weller, etc) are available on another Eloquence twofer (4802320) and the Chicago recording of Concerto for Orchestra is on mid-price Decca 4784577, with Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta and Divertimento. I can’t help you choose: I have both versions of the Concerto for Orchestra on earlier CD reissues and regularly listen to both.
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
Erich KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Symphony in F sharp, Op.40
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35*
The Sea Hawk
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
The Prince and the Pauper
Much Ado about Nothing, incidental music, Op.11
Gil Shaham (violin)*; London Symphony Orchestra/André Previn
DG 4823438 [2 CDs budget price] – availability: see below
Containing the best part of two and a half CDs, well worth considering when they were at full price, this is an even better bargain than the Bartók. The download is not available in the UK but the CD set can be obtained from Presto and Amazon UK and the full-price originals can be streamed from Qobuz. Only the superb near-complete score of The Sea Hawk recorded by the BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba for Chandos trumps this reissue. (CHAN10438 [76:24] – review: download from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet). The Chandos, also available on the USB collection CHUSB0004 – DL News 2015/5 – is as much as most of us will want but absolute completists need the Naxos 2-CD set, with Deception (July 2012/2).
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
El sombrero de tres picos *
La vida breve : Interlude and Dance
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images for orchestra
Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano)*; L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Ernest Ansermet
rec. 1961. ADD/stereo
DECCA 4807839 [77:44] – subscribers stream from Qobuz but NB: download costs considerably more than the CD.
This is a single budget-CD reissue of the original Falla LP (SXL2296) plus the Debussy, a coupling also available on Decca 4783156 (download only). A snippet from the original sleeve is reproduced on the cover. The performances need no praise from me at this late date, but once again the CD offers better value than even the mp3 download from 7digital.com. Surprisingly, when first released the Falla was compared unfavourably with a Columbia recording conducted by Eduardo Toldrá – not only has that sunk without trace, even the conductor’s name has been forgotten while the Ansermet had already achieved classic status by the time of its reissue on SDD321 ten years later. Tempora mutantur … Like the Solti Bartók, the sound remains bright and fresh.
The earlier Ansermet (1952, mono) recording of Sombrero, with Susanne Danco, is available on Eloquence 4800077, with El Amor Brujo. My overall recommendation for Sombrero comes from Charles Dutoit on a budget-price Decca twofer (4661282, with El Amor Brujo,Noches en los Jardines de España, etc.) or, for a single CD, the BBC Phil and Juanjo Mena on Chandos CHAN10694, withNoches en los Jardines de España – DL Roundup February 2012/2.
Great Tenor Arias – Volume 1
Bruno Prevedi, Gianni Raimondi, Gino Penno
DECCA ELOQUENCE 4820292 [61:36] – subscribers stream from Qobuz (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet).
For full details of this and Volume 2 (below) please see review by Paul Corfield Godfrey.
Like the recordings by Mario Lanza, reissued by Beulah and reviewed last month, there’s some fine but not often subtle singing on this album. I enjoyed hearing some of Decca’s pre-Pavarotti stars but I shall be happy to make the occasional visit to the streamed version. In any case, as with the other Eloquence releases, Qobuz are asking too much. Even Presto, whose mp3 version costs a very reasonable £3.34, are asking slightly more for the lossless version than for the CD.
Great Tenor Arias - Volume 2
Giuseppe Campora, Gianni Poggi, Flaviano Labò
DECCA ELOQUENCE 4820290 [74:37] – subscribers stream from Qobuz (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)
These are older recordings than most of those on Volume 1 but very good for their age and generally more rewarding vocally in the cases of Campora and Labò, the former originally available on a ten-inch LP, a valuable format at around half the price of the twelve-inch equivalent until some bureaucrat at Decca decided to axe them all. Fortunately, that was not before I had bought Clifford Curzon’s Grieg Piano Concerto – still my go-to version – on a 10-inch stereo LP.
As with Volume 1, the Qobuz download is more expensive than the CD and comes without the booklet. Again, too, the Presto mp3 is very good value but the lossless version is slightly more expensive than the CD. The least expensive mp3 comes from 7digital.com but their lossless version is the most expensive of all – no booklet with either.
Francisco GUERRERO (1528–99)
Regina cæli for four voices [2:30]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525–94)
Missa Papæ Marcelli for six voices [35:01]
Tu es Petrus for six voices [3:06]
Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548–1611)
Missa O quam gloriosum for four voices [25:06]
With insertions of plainsong propers for Easter Sunday, VICTORIA Gaudent in cœlis [2:13] and PALESTRINA Gaudent in cœlis [3:27]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA Sicut cervus /Sitivit anima mea for four voices [5:39]
New York Polyphony [Geoffrey Williams (countertenor), Steven Caldicott Wilson (tenor), Christopher Dylan Herbert (baritone), Craig Phillips (bass)] with Tim Keeler (countertenor), Andrew Fuchs (tenor), Jonathan Woody (bass-baritone)
rec. St Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha, USA, August 2015. DDD
Texts and translations included.
BIS BIS-SACD-2203 [72:07] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless and 5.0 surround with pdf booklet)
The most recent recording by New York Polyphony to have come my way was a Christmas album which both John Quinn and I thought perhaps a little too effortlessly polished – review and DL News 2014/15. Earlier I gave a strong recommendation to their BIS début in music of mourning from sixteenth-century composers and the contemporary Jackson Hill – DL Roundup May 2012/1. Dominy Clements was also very impressed – review.
This new recording competes on territory dominated by The Tallis Scholars and The Sixteen. The Scholars recorded the Missa Papæ Marcelli on their first album for Gimell (GIMSE401, budget price or 2-for-1 all-Palestrina album CDGIM204), live in Rome (CDGIM994) and again in 2005 ( CDGIM041 or Blu-ray audio GIMBD641). The Sixteen sing the work on Coro COR16014, COR16108 (3 CDs, mid-price) and COR16099 (5 CDs, budget-price). For those who prefer boys’ voices on the top line and a choir whose sound has always been tuned to a continental rather than an English norm, Hyperion offer Westminster Cathedral Choir, directed by David Hill (CDA66266) and budget-lovers are well served by Jeremy Summerly and Oxford Camerata (Naxos 8.553238).
For the Victoria there are two excellent recordings on the Monteverdi Choir’s own label (SDG701) and from Westminster Cathedral and David Hill (Hyperion CDA66114), with budget seekers again well catered for by Oxford Camerata and Jeremy Summerly (Naxos 8.550575).
I hope that my continuing to prefer these recordings doesn’t seem like a chauvinist closing of the English ranks. I very much enjoyed that initial NY Polyphony BIS recording and some of the first LPs that introduced me to medieval, renaissance and early-baroque music came from Noah Greenberg and his New York ensemble Pro Musica*. It’s just that, as with the Christmas album, everything here sounds just a little too perfectly polished. If you think that an illogical complaint – I know that many will – you should buy with confidence. Even if you agree with me, you can but admire the beauty of the performances, as I also did in the case of their earlier album Times go by Turns – DL News 2013/11. (See also review by John Quinn).
The 24-bit version, initially on sale for the same price as mp3 and 16-bit, is very good indeed. Downloading fans of surround sound are also now catered for at no extra cost over the 24-bit stereo. (Linn and Chandos please note).
* His recordings have too long been absent from the catalogue but there’s a decent BnF transfer of his still incomparable recording of Ludus Danielis (the Play of Daniel) – stream from Qobuz.
Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (c.1548-1611)
Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michæl Noone
DG ARCHIV 4779747 [10 CDs] – subscribers stream from Qobuz but DO NOT pay more for download than for CD set
I inserted this review at a very late stage both as a (strong) recommendation and as a warning. Though I briefly mentioned the set quite some time ago, neither I nor any of my colleagues ever reviewed it in full. Listening to it again as streamed from Qobuz, I remain very impressed by the very fine performances.
You may have heard this recommended as first choice as an introduction to Victoria in a recent Radio 3 Building a Library and wish to obtain it, in which case I strongly recommend the 10-CD set, which you should be able to find for around £32. I can’t under any circumstances recommend paying considerably more than that to download the set, without booklet. By all means subscribers should stream and, I predict, greatly enjoy, from Qobuz but the download costs £72.14 – I sometimes wonder if download sites deliberately calculate their price as twice that of the physical product. Amazon UK charge £20 more for the mp3 download than for the discs and Presto £11 more for mp3, £24 more for lossless. Why?
The Building a Library runner-up, Missa Ave Maris Stella and Missa O quam gloriosum, from Westminster Cathedral Choir/David Hill (Hyperion CDA66114) can be downloaded from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet). Because the playing time is a little on the short side it costs just £6.99. It was one of my Hyperion Top 30 recommendations. Ignore the ‘no texts’ statement: the booklet is up to Hyperion’s usual high standard.
Another honourable mention for Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford and Stephen Darlington in Missa Dum complerentur and Missa Simile est regnum (Nimbus NI5434) is available from Qobuz or on CD at an attractive price from MusicWeb-International – review and purchase button.
Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758) Concerto for flute and oboe in b minor, FaWV.L:h1 [6:19]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concerto for two violins and bassoon in D, TWV53:D4 [12:46]
Johann David HEINICHEN (1683-1729) Concerto for oboe in g minor, S.237 [9:20]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerto for two cellos in g minor, RV531 [11:14]
Johann Friedrich FASCH Concerto for two oboes da caccia, two violas, two bassoons and continuo in G, FaWV.L:G11 [9:34]
Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Concerto for bassoon in C, GWV301 [10:41]
Concerto for flute d’amore, oboe d’amore and viola d’amore in G, GWV333 [13:46]
Irish Baroque Orchestra/Monica Huggett
rec. St Peter’s Church, Drogheda, Ireland, September 2015. DDD
LINN CKD526 [73:40] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet). Also available in these formats and in surround sound download and CD from linnrecords.com.
Don’t be put off by the grotesque on the cover: there’s nothing grotesque about these very fetching performances of attractive music. Graupner, Heinichen and Fasch may not be the equals of Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach, but they well deserve the extra attention which they have been receiving recently. Only the Heinichen is available on three other albums (Accent*, Passacaille and CPO, all-Heinichen recordings). The Graupner bassoon concerto is also available on an all-Graupner recording (CPO 7776452 – review ) and his Triple Concerto on an album of concerti d’amore (ACC24151) but only one of the Fasch concertos is otherwise available – that for flute and oboe in an all-Fasch programme on Accent ACC24252 – December 2011/1.**
Even if you have some or all of those, the new Linn recording is thoroughly enjoyable. The 24-bit download is somewhat more expensive than most but it is very good indeed; I’m pleased to see that their 24-bit studio masters have been reduced from £18 to £15 from both suppliers, though I still find it anomalous that 16-bit and CDs both cost the same £12. It’s usually worth checking eclassical.com, who offer Linn recordings in 16-bit only, but usually for less than the US$ equivalent of £12. They didn’t have Concerti Bizarri at the time of writing and, of course, Brexit may well affect the £/$ exchange rate.
* Italian cantatas and concertos: ACC24309. Stream or download from classicsonline.com (16-bit lossless with pdf booklet)
** Ignore original classicsonline.com link. Download now from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet); subscribers stream from classicsonline.com or Naxos Music Library (with booklet).
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sacred Cantatas Volumes 11-20
Cantatas Nos. 136, 138, 95, 46/147, 21 /64, 25, 69a, 77, 50 (fragment)/148, 48, 89, 109/40, 60, 70, 90/194, 119/153, 154, 73, 144, 181/66, 134, 67/86, 37, 104, 166/184, 173, 59, 44
Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki
BIS from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit and surround downloads). Mp3 and 16-bit for $48.60; 24-bit and surround for $51.90.
I made Volumes 1-10, released in May 2016, Bargain of the Month. 11-20, released in June 2016, and the remaining volumes to be released once a month, are no less worthy of the title. Masaaki Suzuki and his team don’t offer the only approach – no one set can do that – but you could do much worse than to obtain these releases as they appear or you could plump for the whole 55-SACD set, then supplement from other sets.
Last month I mentioned the DG recordings made by Karl Richter, the very best of the ‘old school’. This month let me remind you of the pioneering series of period performances made by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt for Teldec, available very inexpensively as a set or for around £3.30 each as downloads.
As I close this Download News the third batch, Volumes 21-27, has just been released from eclassical.com (mp3 and 16-bit lossless for $34.39 and 24-bit for $41.52). Once again surround sound is offered as an option to 24-bit purchasers.
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
Sonata in g minor (arr. Matthew Forbes for cello and orchestra) (1923) [20.28]
Summer Evening (arr. Graham Parlett) (1920) [4.24]
In a May Morning (from Sarnia) (arr. Graham Parlett) (1940-41) [6.59]
Soliloquy (arr. cello and orchestra, Graham Parlett) (1922) [3.33]
Bagatelle (arr. cello and orchestra, Graham Parlett) (1911) [2.36]
Berceuse (arr. cello and orchestra, Graham Parlett) (1902) [3.06]
Cavatina arr. cello and orchestra, Graham Parlett) (1904) [5.09]
A Downland Suite (arr. Ireland/Geoffrey Bush) (1932/78) [17.18]
(world premiere recordings in this format except for A Downland Suite)
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
Orchestra of the Swan/David Curtis
rec. Townsend Hall, Shipston-on-Stour, England, 26 June and 5 July 2015.
NAXOS 8.571372 [63:34] – stream or download from classicsonlinehd.com (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet)
Please see review by Ian Lace and review by Des Hutchinson.
I can only concur with Ian Lace’s view that this is an enjoyable and enterprising recording but, like him, I shall not be ditching Richard Hickox’s thoroughly delightful 1994 Chandos recording of A Downland Suite with Concertino Pastorale, etc. (CHAN9376 [63:36] – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet).
NB: the Chandos is due for reissue shortly at mid-price.
John IRELAND (1872-1962) Orchestral and Choral Works
Vexilla Regis (Hymn for Passion Sunday)* [11:54]
Greater Love Hath No Man† [6:51]
These Things Shall Be‡ [22:12]
A London Overture [13:36]
The Holy Boy (A Carol of the Nativity) [2:43]
Epic March [9:13]
Paula Bott (soprano)*†; Teresa Shaw (contralto)*; James Oxley (tenor)*; Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone)*†‡
Roderick Elms organ*
London Symphony Chorus *†‡
London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
rec. St Jude on the Hill, Hampstead, London, 24-26 April 1990 (NOT 2002 as stated on theclassicalshop.net).
CHANDOS CHAN10110X [67:11] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet)
Comparative recording: Boult conducts Ireland
Legend for piano and orchestra (1933) [12:43]
Overture Satyricon (1946) [8:43]
Piano Concerto (1930) [24:45]
These Things Shall Be (1937) [19:44]
Two symphonic studies: Fugue; Toccata (arr. Geoffrey Bush) [11:13]
Eric Parkin (piano)
John Carol Case (baritone)
London Philharmonic Choir/Frederic Jackson
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
rec. 1966, 1968, 1971. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.241 [77:13]
I was looking for a recording of These Things Shall Be, for reasons which I won’t elaborate on, and was surprised to find only two modern recordings. I sang the praises of the Boult performances on SRCD.241 some time ago – 2014/15 – but the Chandos reissue is also very well worth considering and it comes at budget price. It’s especially recommendable if you already have some of the other Ireland recordings from Chandos, such as the performance of the Piano Concerto and Legend which again vie with the Lyrita versions (CHAN8461 with Mai-Dun).
Gustav HOLST (1872-1934)
The Planets (1914/16) [49:14]
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
rec. September 1961. ADD/stereo
with bonus tracks: Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and Uranus performed by BBCSO/Sir Adrian Boult (1944?)
LES INDISPOSABLES DE DIAPASON [81:32] – subscribers stream from Qobuz.
Herbert von Karajan’s 1961 recording of The Planets has been around in various guises and remains available on Decca Originals E4758225, with Richard Strauss Don Juan. An earlier release with The Perfect Fool Ballet and Egdon Heath (Sir Adrian Boult), perhaps the better option, is now download only. I’ve always enjoyed this recording – and his digital remake for DG (4390112)* – and the Indispensables transfer is almost as good as Decca’s own; it costs slightly less, just £5.59, to download. All the track timings are marginally longer than on the Decca CD, however, which suggests that those blessed or cursed with perfect pitch – not me, guv – may wish to sample before purchase.
Sir Adrian Boult, the work’s dedicatee, recorded The Planets many times and in much better sound than this 1944** recording but it’s a welcome bonus and it comes in a surprisingly good transfer. It may well whet your appetite for the whole thing on Beulah 2PD12 – review***.
* The added organ part was a bit gash but I’m sorry that it’s been removed in the latest transfer.
** Actually January 1945, I think.
*** Ignore the note about the label being discontinued. Still available on CD fromPresto and as download from iTunes.
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
Ernst (Ernö) von DOHNÁNYI (1877–1960) Orchestral Works
Ruralia hungarica, Op.32b (1924) [24:56]
Piano Concerto No.1, Op.5 (1897–98)* [43:27]
Symphony No.1, Op.9 (1900–01) [53:32]
American Rhapsody, Op.47 (1953) [13:31]
Suite, Op.19 (1908–09) [28:39]
Variations on a Nursery Theme, Op.25 (1914)* [24:31]
Suite from ‘The Veil of Pierrette’, Op.18 (1908–09) [16:23]
Symphonic Minutes, Op.36 (1933) [14:41]
Symphony No.2, Op.40 (1943–44, revised 1953–56) [49:48]
Violin Concerto No.2, Op.43 (1949–50)† [31:08]
Harp Concertino, Op.45 (1952)‡ [15:43]
Piano Concerto No.2, Op.42 (1946–47)* [28:49]
James Ehnes (violin)†
Howard Shelley (piano)*
Clifford Lantaff (harp)‡
BBC Philharmonic/Matthias Bamert
rec. Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester; 21 and 22 September 1995 (CD 4), 19 and 20 November 1997 (CD 2), 22 and 23 October 1998 (CD 3), 12 – 14 September 2001 (CD 1), 6 and 7 January 2004 (CD 5)
CLASSIC CHANDOS CHAN 10906(5)X [times as above] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet)
This 5-CD budget reissue represents the most complete collection of Dohnányi’s orchestral music now available: the CDs are on sale for as little as £28.50, which is less expensive even than the lossless download, which costs £34.99 from theclassicalshop.net. (The mp3 comes at £23.97). The bargain is mitigated only for those who have already purchased the two Piano Concertos on an earlier single-CD budget release, CHAN10599X – review. The missing Cello Concerto has already been reissued at budget price, with the Dvořák Cello Concerto on CHAN101715X, a fine performance of both works by Raphael Wallfisch with the LSO and Sir Charles Mackerras – DL Roundup August 2012.
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
Symphony for Organ and Orchestra [24:33]
Symphony No.3 [41:31]
E Power Biggs (organ)
New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
SONY G010002678112L [66:04] Download only – from Presto (mp3 and lossless)
This recording of the Third Symphony has been in and out of the catalogue on LP and CD more times than I can count; even now it’s download only. I owned it on a CBS LP, where it was coupled with Roy Harris’s beautiful Third Symphony – another casualty, with even the later Bernstein DG recording available only to download or as a Presto special CD. I also owned the World Record Club release of a very fine Everest recording with Copland himself conducting and, if anything, I marginally preferred the Bernstein. I also marginally prefer this CBS recording to the later Bernstein remake on DG – another Presto special or download only – especially in this coupling with the Organ Symphony with E Power Biggs in strong support. Best of all it’s available for just £2.65 (mp3) or £3.44 (lossless). The recording, which can also be streamed by subscribers from Qobuz, is a trifle top-heavy but sounds much better than I recall from the CBS LP.
If you are looking for a bargain version of Appalachian Spring (the 25-minute Suite, not the full ballet) look no further than a DG single with the LAPO and Bernstein – from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk – or Copland’s own Boston RCA account – from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk – both available for just £0.99 in mp3. The LAPO/Bernstein on DG Originals, with Barber’s Adagio, Schuman’s American Festival Overture and Bernstein’s Candide Overture is available from Sainsbury’s for £3.66 – and three Nectar points for UK purchasers. It comes without booklet but with a wonderful naïve painting on the cover (Grandma Moses?) which I just had to include.
REISSUE OF THE MONTH
Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) The Complete Conifer Recordings
Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)
A Grand Grand Festival Overture, Op.57
Concerto for 2 Pianos (3 hands), Op.104
Fantasy on a Theme of John Field, for piano and orchestra, Op.116
Sweeney Todd – Concert Suite for Orchestra, Op.68a
Tam O’Shanter, Op.51
Concertino for Oboe and Strings, Op.28a
Fantasy for Oboe Op.9
Beckus the Dandipratt, Op.5 – Comedy Overture
Water Music, Op.82b
Anniversary Overture, Op.99
Philharmonic Concerto, Op.120
Overture: Peterloo, Op.97
A Flourish for Orchestra, Op.112
Symphony for Strings, Op.13
Serenade for Small Orchestra, Op.26
Larch Trees, Op.3
Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra, Op.108
Concerto for 28 Players, Op.105
Concerto for Two Violins & Orchestra, Op.77
Clarinet Concerto No. 1, Op.20
Concertino for Flute and Strings, Op.19a
Horn Concerto No. 2, Op.58
Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op.115
Horn Concerto No.1, Op.11
Flute Concerto No.2, Op.111
Concerto for Piano Duet and Strings, Op.32
Four Scottish Dances, Op.59
Little Suites Nos. 1 and 2
English Dances Op.27, Op.33
Fantasy for Brass Band, Op.114
Four Cornish Dances, Op.91
The Padstow Lifeboat – March, Op.94
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Vernon Handley; London Musici; Grimethorpe Colliery Band, etc.
SONY 88875181702 [11 CDs] – subscribers stream from Qobuz but NB: the download at £56.09 is about twice the price of the CD set (around £28), comes without notes, and has a glitch on the very first track as streamed. (I’ve reported it).
This super-budget reissue is self-recommending. This would now be my first recommendation for the symphonies, despite the very considerable virtues of the Naxos – no longer available as a set – and Chandos series. The other works come as a considerable bonus – but don’t end up paying twice as much as the CDs for a download without notes from Qobuz. I haven’t been able to find any other source for downloading this set: Amazon charge almost twice as much for the mp3 download as for the CDs.
Samuel ADLER (b.1928)
Symphony No. 6 [26:14]
Concerto for cello and orchestra [24:02]
Drifting on Winds and Currents [8:47]
Maximilian Hornung (cello)
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/José Serebrier
rec. Royal Scottish National Orchestra Centre, Glasgow, 17-20 November 2015
LINN CKD545 [59:03] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet). Also available from linnrecords.com in same formats plus 24/192.
‘Vivid orchestral colour from an overlooked American composer’. Please see review by Marc Rochester.
It’s very hard to quantify Adler’s music – I don’t hear much influence here from better-known American composers – but I found this recording very impressive. At times the music is well outside my comfort zone, but it’s intended to be. Performances and recording do the music ample justice but if you’re not sure I recommend sampling first, from Naxos Music Library, where it’s already available, or classicsonline.com, where it should be due shortly.
IN BRIEF AND FORTHCOMING
Johannes BRAHMS Piano Concerto 1, Ballades – Paul Lewis (piano) Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902191 [72:07] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
‘The best Brahms 1 we’ve had for years’ – see review by ST or ‘ Brahms First Concerto well played and recorded, though lacking in youthful fire’ – see review by LW or ‘A disappointing release; greater rewards lie elsewhere’ – see review by DM.
Benjamin BRITTEN Young Apollo; Lachrymæ; Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings – Aldeburgh Strings/Markus Däunert CKD478 [55:02] – from hyperion-records.co.uk or linnrecords.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit and from Linn in 24/192 and from dealers on SACD).
‘Taken as a whole, this is an estimable disc, but one which will appeal unequivocally only to those who are particularly attracted to its unusual combination of works or particular admirers of one or more of the artists involved. With regard to its individual works, you can do at least as well for less outlay elsewhere’. See review by NH.
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE Scandinavian Cantatas – Theatre of Voices/Paul Hiller DACAPO 6.220534 [59:04] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit with booklet).
Buxtehude and His Circle – Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier DACAPO 6.220634 [75:27] – from eclassical.com (mp3, and 16-bit lossless with pdf booklet).
Look out for my forthcoming review.
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Violin Sonata in g minor, L140 (1916) [13:13]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Sonata in e minor, Op.82 (1919) [26:18]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Violin Sonata in b minor, P110 (1917) [26:06]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Penséés Lyriques, Op.40: Berceuse (1915) [2:44]
James Ehnes (violin); Andrew Armstrong (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK, 2-4 June 2015; 5 December 2015 (Sibelius). DDD
ONYX 4159 [68:56] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet)
See Recording of the Month review by Ian Lace: ‘A well-conceived programme in first class performances’.
Antonin DVOŘÁK Symphony 6, Slavonic Dances – Houston Symphony/Andrés Orozco-Estrada rec. 2015 PENTATONE PTC5186575 SACD [51:36] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and 16-bit with pdf booklet). Also available in 16- and 24-bit sound from classicsonline.com: stream (for subscribers) or download.
‘Well worth considering but try the alternatives too’ – see my full review.
Karl GOLDMARK Rustic Wedding Symphony, Prometheus Overture – Robert-Schumann Philharmonie/Frank Beermann rec. 2010 CPO 7774842 [58:31] Karl GOLDMARK Rustic Wedding Symphony; Antonín DVOŘÁK Legend, The Golden Spinning Wheel – Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1947-59 BEULAH 5PDR4 [69:18]
‘Beecham for sheer magic. Beermann for a fine performance, modern sound, and a very interesting coupling’ – please see my full review and download links.
Herbert HOWELLS (1892–1983) Music for Strings
Concerto for String Orchestra (1938) [31:35]
Elegy for Solo Viola, String Quartet, and String Orchestra, Op.15 (1917) [10:38]
Suite for String Orchestra (1942) [20:40]
Serenade (1917) from Suite, Op.16 for String Orchestra [4:23]
City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
rec. St Jude’s Church, Central Square, London NW11; 19 and 20 October 1992. DDD
CHANDOS CLASSICS CHAN10780X [67:45] – from theclassicalshop.net oreclassical.com (both mp3 and lossless and with pdf booklet). See DL News 2013/10.
At current exchange rates there’s little in it between the two download sources: US$ purchasers will probably find the eclassical.com slightly better value; GB£ purchasers should save a few pence with the version from theclassicalshop.net, especially in the light of uncertainty about exchange rates following Brexit.
Krzysztof MEYER Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet – Silesian String Qt, Piotr Sałajczyk (piano) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573357 [64:45]
‘Those hesitant about modern music should sample at length; admirers of Meyer’s chamber music should be very happy with this CD’ - myreview of the CD:stream or download from classicsonline.com (16- and 24-bit with pdf booklet).
John STANLEY: Paul Corfield Godfrey’s recent enthusiastic review of Stanley’s Organ Concertos (CRD3365) reminded me of two recordings of the composer’s Organ Voluntaries which we seem not to have reviewed: Richard Marlow performs Op.5/1, 5, 8, 9, Op.6/2, 4, 5, 6 and Op.7/6, 8, 9 on the Organ of Trinity College Cambridge (Chandos CHAN0639 [75:40] – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet) and Ton Koopman plays Op.5/2, 5, 8, Op.6/2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and Op.7/2, 6, 9 on the organ of St Mary’s Rotherhithe (Capriccio C10256 [58:24] – from eclassical.com, mp3 and lossless, NO booklet). Both are very good but I marginally prefer Koopman’s performances: they are mostly sprightlier and played on a Byfield organ contemporaneous with Stanley and retaining more of its tonal qualities than most instruments of its date. The lack of a booklet is a serious nuisance but you can find a specification of the organ on the church’s website.
I streamed the CRD recording from classicsonline.com and enjoyed it as much as PCG’s review led me to expect. It can be downloaded there but without booklet and at no great saving over ordering the CD from MusicWeb-International.
Jan Dismas ZELENKA Missa Divi Xaveri, Litaniæ de Sancto Xaviero - Collegium 1704 & Vocale/Václav Luks rec. 2015 ACCENT ACC24301 [71:28]
‘Just the idea of how much Zelenka remains to be discovered makes me very happy’ see review by JFL. Stream or download from classicsonline.com (16-bit lossless, NO booklet).