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[New] Three articles by Stuart Scott (pdf):
The Piccolo Soloists
A Flute for the Tsar
Flautists of the Royal Italian Opera

Forgotten Artists: Luigi Toffolo by Christopher Howell

The Music of Johann Rufinatscha by Andrew Hartman

Ferdinand Hérold: Life and Music by Nick Fuller (pdf)

Passiontide and Easter 2017 recordings by Brian Wilson


English Music Festival 2017 programme

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Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, other music); Friday: Articles.
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Daily batches for printing (pdf) Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday


Monday April 24th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 2, Overtures - Beethoven O Bonn/Stefan Blunier rec. 2016 MDG 937 1977-6 SACD [66:29] [ST] Enjoyable Beethoven, often exciting.

Richard BLACKFORD (b. 1954) Violin Concerto, Clarinet Quintet, The better angels of our nature, Goodfellow - Maria Gajdosova (violin) David Campbell (clarinet) Emily Pailthorpe (oboe) Solstice Qt, Brno PO/Richard Blackford; BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2008/15 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6338 [67.21] [PCG] A welcome addition to Richard Blackford’s growing representation on disc.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem - Saint Thomas Ch of Men & Boys, O of St Luke’s/John Scott RESONUS CLASSICS RES10174 [58:13] [JQ] A most desirable release of Fauré’s choral music from New York.

Friedrich Wilhelm RUST (1739-1796) Der Clavierpoet - Jermaine Sprosse (clavichord, fortepiano) rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985369272 [75:58] [DC] A composer of flair and originality, brought to light.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet No. 15 Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartet Op. 20/3 - Tetzlaff Qt rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE1293-2 [73:51] [RMo] A pairing that succeeds so triumphantly.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Johan Reuter (bass-baritone) Copenhagen String Qt rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD759 [76:00] [GF] I urge every Schubert enthusiast to give this disc a listen.

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899) Strauss in St Petersburg - Estonian Ntl SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN10937 [82:49] [DM] Swift, almost cursory performances of second-rate Strauss; one to avoid.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie - Gothenburg SO/Kent Nagano rec. 2014 FARAO CLASSICS B108091 [51:03] [JWh] A well-engineered disc with immaculate orchestral playing and a tasteful concept of the work as a whole.

Fairy Tales Works by Liszt, Mussorgsky & Tchaikovsky - Katherine Nikitine (piano, organ) Véra Nikitine (organ) rec. 2016 HORTUS 554 [67:37] [MR] Unusual arrangements for organ and piano, including a particularly fine version of Pictures at an Exhibition, but suffering badly from tuning discrepancies.

Maryla Jonas (piano) Vol. 1: The 78 RPM Recordings / Volume 2: The LP Records rec. 1946/51 ST-LAURENT STUDIO YSL78-219 [47:35 + 53:34] / YSL78-223 [56:01 +37:38] [SG] Essential listening for pianophiles.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) Works by Bloch, Cohen & Fauré DECCA Promotional [9:18] [SA] This little ‘sampler’ is part of history in the making.

Other reviews
Nacio Herb Brown Singin' In The Rain: His 27 Finest rec. 1927-1951 RETROSPECTIVE RTR4299 [78:19] [BMC] Brown was a unique and talented composer, and these songs represent the many sides to his musical ingenuity.

Friday April 21st

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Franz Alexander PÖSSINGER (1767-1827) Violin Concertos - Anton Steck (violin) L’arpa festante/Matthew Halls rec. 2016 ACCENT ACC24320 [62:01] [ST] The Beethoven performance is ideologically ‘period’; the concerto by Pössinger is a real discovery.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 2 - Salzburg Mozarteum O/Ivor Bolton rec. 2015 OEHMS CLASSICS OC447 [71.36] [RMo] This completion of Bolton’s Bruckner cycle on Oehms is highly satisfying.

Michael G. CUNNINGHAM (b. 1937) An Arc of Quartets - Millennium, Moravian, New England, Pedroia & Sirius Qts rec. 2008-16 NAVONA RECORDS NV6081 [54:23 + 38:01] [SG] The committed and assured performances will win new friends for these challenging and intriguing scores.

Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962) Complete Original Works for Violin & Piano - Kees Hulsmann (violin) Marian Bolt (piano) rec. 2015 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72749 [70:44 + 59:21] [DC] Revel in Kreisler's creative world.

Franz LISZT (1811–1886) Forgotten Liszt - Benjamin Brecher (tenor) Robert Koenig (piano) rec. 2013 MSR CLASSICS MS1538 [67:30] [GF] A largely attractive disc with several rarities.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Vespers - St Thomas Ch of Men & Boys, 5th Avenue, New York/John Scott rec. 2008 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10169 [58:16] [JQ] An impressive account of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil from New York.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Complete Music for Piano Duo & Duet Vol. 2 - Min Kyung Kim & Hyung Jin Moon (pianos) rec. 2015/16 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0292 [60:11] [SA] A valuable addition to aid our further understanding and appreciation for this giant of composition in the twentieth century.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má vlast - Evelinde Trenkner, Sontraud Speidel (piano duo) rec. 2016 MDG 93019606 SACD [80:00] [JWh] Fine musicianship from the pianists, but too much is lost when Smetana’s use of the orchestra is taken out of the equation.

Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Kenneth Hamilton (piano) PRIMA FACIE PFCD050 [72:00] [JF] I relished this first volume of Kenneth Hamilton’s exploration of Ronald Stevenson’s music.

Baden-Baden Opera Gala 2016 Anja Harteros (soprano) Ekaterina Gubanova (mezzo soprano) Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone) Badische Staatskapelle/Marco Armiliato rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL DVD 88985371619 [139:00] [RJF] A most enjoyable issue of a memorable concert by great singers.

Thursday April 20th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St Matthew Passion - James Gilchrist (tenor) Stephan Loges (bass) Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2016 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG725 [80:08 + 80:56] [JQ] A distinguished, enthralling and deeply rewarding set which does justice to Bach’s great masterpiece.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1 & 2 - Westdeutsche Sinfonia/Dirk Joeres rec. 2015 HERITAGE HTGCDBT1 [61:10 + DVD 45:00] [JWh] Those who buy this package will be content with their purchase.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphonic Variations, Slavonic Rhapsodies - PKF Prague Philharmonic/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2015 PENTATONE PTC5186554 SACD [60:28] [NH] A good disc, rather than a world-beater.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Peter Racine FRICKER (1920-1990) String Quartets - Villiers Qt rec. 2015/16 NAXOS 8.571374 [70:23] [SG] Long awaited recordings. The Villiers have done them proud.

Sigmund ROMBERG (1887–1951) The Student Prince - Dominik Wortig (tenor) Anja Petersen (soprano) WDR Rundfunkchor & Funkhausorchester Köln/John Mauceri rec. 2012 CPO 555 058-2 [47:13 + 46:27] [GF] Operetta lovers will find a lot to enjoy here.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Manuel PONCE (1882-1948) Violin Concertos - Henryk Szeryng (violin) O de l’Association des Concerts Colonne/Ernest Bour; Tasso Janopoulo (piano) rec. c.1949/51 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1288 [79:22] [JW] First class transfers; Szeryng himself is always first class.

James McCracken (tenor) Verismo Arias & Duets - Sandra Warfield (mezzo-soprano) O Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Lamberto Gardelli, Royal Opera House O/Edward Downes rec. 1964/67 DECCA ELOQUENCE 482 0284 [65:51] [RMo] A souvenir of a great American tenor in his prime.

 RECORDING OF THE MONTH The Routes of Slavery - 3MA, Tembembe Ens Continuo, La Capella rec. 2015 ALIA VOX AVSA9920 SACD/DVD [60:21 + 67:14] [ST] A triumph of history, of music-making, of world music, and of humanitarianism in general.

Konstantin Volostnov (organ) Works by Bach, Kushnarev, Liszt & Tchaikovsky - rec. 2016 ART CLASSICS ART-350/KVCD-009 [72:14] [BW] It’s well worth taking the trouble to obtain this Russian recording.

Wonderland Maureen Lipman (narrator) Matthew Trusler (violin) Ashley Wass (piano) Elise Smith (triangle) rec. 2016 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100060 [61:07] [BMC] A new and exciting telling of the children’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Wednesday April 19th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion - Ch of King’s College Cambridge, Academy of Ancient Music/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2016 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0018 SACD [54:03 + 55:20] [ST] A perfectly serviceable St John Passion.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Marianne Beate Kielland (alto) Thomas Walker (tenor) David Wilson-Johnson (bass) Capella Amsterdam, O 18th Century/Daniel Reuss rec. 2016 GLOSSA GCD921124 [75:03] [ST] A Missa Solemnis that really taps into the spirituality of Beethoven’s vision.

Edouard LALO (1823-1892) Symphonie Espagnole Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concerto No.1 Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908) Zigeunerwiesen - Renaud Capuçon (violin) O de Paris/Paavo Järvi rec. 2015 ERATO 2564 698276 [65:47] [JWh] A really satisfying CD.

Fanny MENDELSSOHN-HENSEL (1799-1847) Das Jahr - Solveig Wikman (piano) rec. 2005 NOSAG CD228 [55:53] [SSi] A really impressive performance of Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s fine compositional achievement.

Stanisław MONIUSZKO (1819-1872) Ballet music - Warsaw PO/Antoni Wit rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573610 [78:18] [RMay] A superbly executed disc of unfamiliar but very attractive music for dance.

Ennio MORRICONE (b. 1928) His Greatest Hits - O & Ch of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Ennio Morricone rec. 1998 SONY 88985 354872 [62:19] [GF] With magnificent recording and excellent performances, plus the bonus of having the composer conducting his own music, this disc is a must for lovers of big, bold and romantic film music.

Francis THOMÉ (1850-1909) Works for piano trio - Trio Thalberg rec. 2012 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC118 [64:00] [SG] A delight from beginning to end.

Elgar Rediscovered rec. 1909/60 SOMM SOMM0167 [76.36] [IL] A treasure trove of ‘forgotten’ recordings that will interest and intrigue dedicated Elgar enthusiasts.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Yvonne Lefébure (piano) Une Légende du Piano rec. 1951-83 SOLSTICE SOCD321/44 [24 CDs: ca 27 hrs] [JW] An absolutely superb collection.

Vea Yo Los Ojos Bellos Music From The Time Of Cervantes - Victor Sordo Vicente (tenor) Luz Y Norte rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95457 [59.18] [GH] I’m not really sure I can recommend this disc, despite good quality performances.

Tuesday April 18th 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concertos - Albert Spalding (violin) Austrian SO/Wilhelm Loibner rec. 1952 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1226 [79:27] [SG] Mainstays of the violin concerto repertoire in elegant and refined readings from a long-forgotten violinist.

Giuseppe Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) Francesca da Rimini - Leonor Bonilla (soprano) O Internazionale d’Italia/Fabio Luisi rec. 2016 DYNAMIC CDS7753.03 [3 CDs: 190:48] [RMo] Mercadante himself could hardly have wished wish for a more accomplished advocacy of this sadly neglected opera.

Boris PAPANDOPULO (1906-1991) Piano Concerto No. 3, Violin Concerto - Oliver Triendl (piano) Dan Zhu (violin) Rijeka Opera O/Ville Matvejeff rec. 2016 CPO 555 100-2 [67:31] [RB] Majestically apt recordings of two barely-known Croatian concertos.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Albumblätter, Variations sur un étude de Chopin, Kreisleriana - Daniel Levy (piano) rec. 2016 EDELWEISS EDEM3385 [74:00] [PBW] Some personal quibbles do not seriously detract from the rewarding overall impression of this CD.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin & Viola Sonatas - Oleg Kagan (violin) Yuri Bashmet (viola) Sviatoslav Richter (piano) rec. 1982-85 ALTO ALC1328 [67.59] [SB] A classic reissue of two bleak late masterpieces.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1968) Job - A Masque for Dancing, Symphony No. 9 - Bergen PO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5180 SACD [77:29] [DBi] Chandos are now one work away from the complete VW symphonies on SACD. Coupling the 9th with Job was a first class idea.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Das Liebesverbot - Christopher Maltman (baritone) Lucio, Peter Lodahl (tenor) Manuela Uhl (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Real/Ivor Bolton rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1191D [160 mins] [ST] If this is the only Liebesverbot you’ll ever see, then it’s actually a pretty solid one.

Passacaglias Marcin Murawski, Kamil Babka (viola) Jakub Gutowski (violin) Hanna Holeska (piano) rec. 2015/2016 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0375 [69:37] [JW] A broad and interesting mix of works.

Xavier Sabata (countertenor) Catharsis - Armonia Atenea/George Petrou rec. 2015 APARTÉ AP143 [66.00] [MC] With countertenor Xavier Sabata in such compelling form, lovers of early music will find plenty to relish here.

Pretty Yende (soprano) A Journey -  Nazionale RAI SO/Marco Armiliato rec. 2015 SONY 88985 321692 [69:11] [GF] This disc is a superb calling card for an artist who seems predestined to become one of the greats of her trade.



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