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155 reviews this month
December 2017


Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784) Complete Harpsichord Music - Claudio Astronio (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2015/17 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94240 [6 CDs: 6:43:08] [JV] Claudio Astronio has put much effort into this project, and it has paid off.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Quintet No. 2, String Quintet - Pavel Haas Qt rec. 2017 SUPRAPHON SU4195-2 [74:41] [PB] This is an outstanding recording which sets a new benchmark for these inspired pieces.

Lūcija GARŪTA (1902-1977) Music for Piano - Reinis Zariņš (piano) Liepāja SO/Atvars Lakstīgala SKANI 056 [74:01] [SG] Richly rewarding music. A revelation!

Timothy HAMILTON (b.1973) Requiem - Ilona Domnich (soprano) Jennifer Johnston (mezzo) Nicky Spence (tenor) David Stout (baritone) Ian Tindale (organ) Cantoribus, Rosenau Sinfonia/Timothy Hamilton rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573849 [63:08] [EJW] A fine and moving work, excellently performed.

James McCARTHY (b. 1979) Codebreaker Will TODD (b. 1970) Ode to a Nightingale - Julia Doyle (soprano) Hertfordshire Ch/BBC Concert O/David Temple rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD495 [31:22 + 52:12] [EJW] Enormously effective and memorably enjoyable recordings of two very different, yet melodic works by modern British composers.

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, Kindertotenlieder - Alice Coote (mezzo) Netherlands PO/Marc Albrecht rec. 2015/16 PENTATONE PTC5186576 SACD [61:35] [GF] Not to be missed!

Per NØRGÅRD (b. 1932) The Organ Book, Canon - Jens E. Christiensen (organ) rec. 2017 DACAPO SACD 6.220656 [70:54] [SSi] This is an excellent disc, one that displays the differing aspects of Per Nørgård’s organ style. A must for all organ enthusiasts.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Trittico Botticelliano, Il tramonto, Vetrate di chiesa - Liège Royal PO/John Neschling rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2250 SACD [66:26] [DM] The highpoint of Neschling’s cycle thus far; the rarely heard Il tramonto is a real find.

Georg SCHUMANN (1866-1952) Symphony, Overtures - Deutsches SO Berlin/James Feddeck rec. 2016 CPO 5551102 [78:51] [SG] Lush late romanticism, superbly performed.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) Symphonies - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2016 ONYX 4168 [73:50] [IL] A first-class performance of Walton’s First Symphony that rivals Previn’s august recording.

Advent Calendar A collection of contemporary Christmas carols - ORA/Suzi Digby, Joby Burgess (percussion) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI [approx. 83 mins] [JQ] This collection from ORA will be at the top of my playlist not only for Christmas 2017 but for many Christmases to come.

John ADAMS (b.1947) The John Adams Edition - Berlin PO/John Adams, Alan Gilbert, Gustavo Dudamel, Kirill Petrenko & Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016/17 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR170141 [4 CDs: 298:04 + 2 Blu-ray] [MC] An inspiring collection of some of Adams’ finest music.

Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909) & Francisco MIGNONE (1897-1986) Piano Concertos - Clélia Iruzon (piano) Royal PO/Jac van Steen rec. 2016 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD265 [68.08] [IL] The Mignone concerto challenges performers and audiences alike but its trenchant material can grow on listeners after repeated hearings.

Dominick ARGENTO (b. 1927) The Andrée Expedition, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf - Brian Mulligan (baritone) Timothy Long (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559828 [79:44] [GF] What you can’t express in words alone, is sometimes possible to embrace in music. That’s what Argento has done here.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Tangere - Alexei Lubimov (tangent piano) rec. 2008 ECM NEW SERIES 2112 [67:30] [DC] Discover late CPE Bach and the delights of the Tangentenflügel.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Harpsichord Concertos, Art of Fugue - George Malcolm (harpsichord) Stuttgart CO/Karl Münchinger rec. 1963/64 ELOQUENCE 482 5187 [2 CDs: 134:36] [CC] This stimulating coupling will please those who cherish memories of another time in Bach scholarship, and enjoy the musicality on display for what it is.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Secular Cantatas VIII: Celebratory Cantatas - Hana Blažíková (soprano), Hiroya Aoki (alto), Charles Daniels (tenor) & Roderick Williams (bass) Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2016 BIS BIS2231 SACD [70:23] [RWe] A superb issue in a superb series.

Claude BAKER (b. 1948) Piano Concerto, Aus Schwanengesang - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Indianapolis SO/Gilbert Varga, Juanjo Mena rec. 2009/11 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559804 [50:00] [RHa] I’m sure there will be some who derive more satisfaction from this issue than I did.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Diabelli Variations Max REGER (1873-1916) Telemann Variations - Paul Baumgartner, Erik Then-Bergh (piano) rec. 1951/52 ELOQUENCE 482 5880 [76:49] [CC] These explorations/reminders of the byways of the recorded history of the piano are just the ticket.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Sonatas - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) rec. 1964/65 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4777958 [8 CDs: 597:07] [JFL] It’s still, after so many decades, a worthy standard to have.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The complete Wartime piano sonata recordings - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) rec. 1940-43 APR 7403 [4 CDs: 299:06] [JW] This substantial box continues APR’s excellent restoration work on behalf of Kempff’s substantial and important early legacy.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 - Gundula Janowitz (soprano) Grace Bumbry (mezzo) Jess Thomas (tenor) George London (bass-baritone) Ch & O Bayreuther Festspiele/Karl Böhm rec. 1963 ORFEO C935171B [71:17] [MS] A recording from 1963 by Karl Böhm at Bayreuth, more valuable for historical interest than anything insightful or profound.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801–1835) Bianca e Gernando - Silvia Dalla Benetta (soprano) Maxim Mironov (tenor) Camerata Bach Ch, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.660417-18 [58:30 + 59:19] [GF] A more than acceptable reading with some excellent singing from the three main characters.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Norma - Maria José Siri (soprano) O Regionale delle Marche/Michele Gamba rec 2016 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57768 [144 mins] [RJF] With several versions of Norma becoming available on film this year, the limitations of this staging will count against it in a competitive field.

Roman BERGER (b. 1930) Chamber works - Berger Trio rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573406 [78:33] [RWe] This excellently recorded Naxos disc brings a distinctive compositional voice, and some very fine music, to the wider attention it deserves.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens - Joyce DiDonato (soprano) Michael Spyres (tenor) Strasbourg PO/John Nelsons rec. 2017 ERATO 9029576220 [4 CDs: 235:00] [MC] A credit to all concerned.

Oskar Gottlieb BLARR (b. 1934) Organ works - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2017 CYBELE RECORDS SACD 061701 [66:45] [SG] Imagination, ingenuity, sound painting and adventurous harmonic writing are all harnessed to produce some of the most captivating organ music I've ever heard.

John BLOW (1649-1708) An Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell - Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68149 [76:36] [MS] A thoroughly idiomatic, compelling and technically striking set of works.

Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755) Sonatas & Trios - Le Petit Trianon rec. 2015 RICERCAR RIC381 [69:20] [JV] An ideal introduction to the oeuvre of Boismortier.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonatas - DuoLeonore rec. 2016 SOLO MUSICA SM269 [53.51] [MC] Impressive performances throughout, stylish and unexaggerated but the competition in the record catalogue is fierce and firmly established.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897) Cello Sonatas, Vier ernste Gesänge, Hungarian Dance No.20 - Bartholomew LaFollette (cello) Caroline Palmer (piano) rec. 2015 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD134 [73:52] [WK] A splendid debut album by Bartholomew LaFollette.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) & Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Violin Concertos - Arabella Steinbacher (violin) Berlin RSO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186625 SACD [65.47] [MC] This is a special release, worthy of acclaim; Steinbacher combines technical proficiency with an abundance of poetry and is recorded in clear, detailed and well-balanced sound.

Gregory W. BROWN (b.1975) Moonstrung Air NAVONA RECORDS NV5989 [64:58] Missa Charles Darwin - The Crossing/Donald Nally, The Spring Ens/Eric Dudley, New York Polyphony rec. 2013/14 NAVONA RECORDS NV6126 [22:28] [SG] Deeply rewarding music.

Julián CARRILLO (1875–1965) Orchestral Works - San Luis Potosi SO/José Miramontes Zapata rec. 2015 STERLING CDS1107-2 [62:48] [JW] The performances are all committed and strong and certainly worth a listen or three.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Piano Works - Alfonso Soldano (piano) rec. 2016/17 DIVINE ART DDA25152 [74:28] [IL] Another entrancing Castelnuovo-Tedesco piano music collection.

Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842) Requiem, Marche funèbre, Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn - Frauenkirche Dresden Ch, Altenburg-Gera PO/Matthias Grünert rec. 2017 RONDEAU PRODUCTION ROP6142 [76:25] [LW] Cherubini works make for an enticing programme.

Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) In Winter’s Arms  - Choralis/Gretchen Kuhrmann, Cantus Primo Youth Ch, The Classical Brass Qnt rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD512 [65:55] [ST] A tribute to the performers, as much as to the composer of the music they sing.

Roger Sacheverell COKE (1912-1972) Piano Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 5 - Simon Callaghan (piano) BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68173 [69:09] [EJW] A strong recommendation for this CD of concertos by a severely neglected English composer.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Guitar Chamber Works - Mēla Guitar Qt rec. 2015/16 NAXOS 8.573762 [66:21] [SSi] An interesting disc that can only further the growing reputation of Stephen Dodgson.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Lucia di Lammermoor - Joan Sutherland (soprano) Richard Tucker (tenor) Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Silvio Varviso rec. 1961 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO141 [55:44 + 59:53] [RMo] A special thrill and atmosphere in hearing the youthful Sutherland live and in freshest voice here.

Steve ELCOCK (b.1957) Orchestral works - Richard Casey (harpsichord) Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Mann rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0400 [72:16] [JW] A worthy introduction to the composer.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) & Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Songs - Claire-Louise Lucas (mezzo) Jonathan Darborough (piano) rec. 2002 CLAUDIO CB5258-2 [60.55] [PCG] The ‘Sea Pictures’ don’t work well in this version for voice and piano, rather than voice and orchestra, but some of the other songs are interesting.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) Trio - Ives Ens rec. 1996 HAT[NOW]ART 155 [76:04] [JW] A reissue that continues to impress.

Angelo Maria FIORÈ (1660-1723) Complete Cello Sonatas - Elinor Frey (cello) Suzie LeBlanc (soprano) Esteban La Rotta (theorbo) Lorenzo Ghielmi (harpsichord) rec. 2016 PASSACAILLE 1026 [74:38] [JV] If you have a special liking for the cello, do not hesitate to add this disc to your collection.

Peter Racine FRICKER (1920-1990) Symphonies 1-4 - BBC Northern SO/Bryden Thomson, Albert Rosen, Sir Edward Downes, Maurice Handford rec. 1980 LYRITA REAM.2136 [77:51 + 73:34] [SG] Rewarding scores – I am glad to have made their acquaintance.

Hans GÁL (1890-1987) & Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Cello Concertos - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Konzerthaus O Berlin/Nicholas Minton rec. 2016 CPO 555 074-2 [65:39] [SG] An auspicious start to a new series.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue, Catfish Row - Claron McFadden (soprano) Bart van Caenegem (piano) Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 289 [86:12] [NB] Unidiomatic, poorly documented, dull.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Piano Concerto, Cuban Overture, Variations on I Got Rhythm - Earl Wild (piano) Boston Pops O/Arthur Fiedler rec. 1959/61 MINUET 428423 [79:29] [SV] Fiedler’s conducting lets down Wild’s fine work in a recording that doesn’t live up to its earlier reputation.

Edvard GRIEG (1843 – 1907) Songs - Siri Karoline Thornhill (soprano) Reinild Mees (piano) rec. 2016 ARS PRODUCTION ARS38545 [62:04] [GF] This latest offering can now be confidently added to the recommendations for this repertoire.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) German Arias - Penelope Appleyard (soprano) Florisma rec. 2015 CONVIVIUM RECORDS CR043 [51:41] [CRo] A pleasant account which doesn’t challenge the very best recordings.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Complete ‘Amen, Alleluia’ Arias - Robert Crowe (soprano) Il Furioso rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0337 [57:46] [CRo] Handelians will naturally wish to explore these unusual and rewarding compositions, but these interpretations will give them a surprise.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) & Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) String Trios - Trio Zimmermann rec. 2016 BIS SACD BIS-2207 [60:00] [SB] Not only an enterprising coupling but an enjoyable one too which should make new friends for these works.

Cat HOPE (b. 1966) Ephemeral Rivers rec. 2011-15 HAT[Now]ART 200 [55:53] [JW] A portrait of the artist and a canvas for her regular colleagues.

Ketil HVOSLEF (b. 1939) Chamber Works IV - Hvoslef Chamber Music Project rec. 2015 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1130 [59:02] [SSi] An important release, the finest so far in the series, one in which the character and music of Ketil Hvoslef is brought to life.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Concord Sonata, Violin Sonata No. 4 - Joonas Ahonen (piano) Pekka Kuusisto (violin, viola) Sharon Bezaly (flute) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2249 SACD [58:51] [RBe] This recording contains some first rate playing from both performers and is highly recommended.

Charles IVES (1874-1954), William BOLCOM (b. 1938) & John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938) Violin sonatas - Ching-Yi Lin (violin) Zachary Lopes (piano) rec. 2016 MSR CLASSICS MS1553 [54:07] [SSi] A unique and enjoyable presentation.

David Hackbridge JOHNSON (b. 1963) Orchestral Music Vol. 1 - Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Mann rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0393 [68:09] [DC] A craftsman of skill on the large canvas.

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Chamber Music rec. 1980-2009 SWR MUSIC SWR19047CD [7 CDs: 509:04] [SSi] A wonderful set, one which I cannot praise highly enough, an ideal way to experience the chamber music of this neglected composer.

David Ross LAWN (b. 1992) Songs Of The Sun - David Ross Lawn (piano) rec. 2016 Private release [12:41] [BMC] Thoughtful and restful but very short measure and little variation.

Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948) Die Juxheirat - Gerhard Ernst, Maya Boog, Alexander Kaimbacher, Sieglinde Feldhofer, Franz Lehár O/Marius Burkert rec. 2016 CPO 555 049-2 [63:12 + 59:42] [GF] Those who have followed this extended series of Lehár operettas will find much to enjoy in this issue.

Franz LEHÁR (1870–1948) Der Graf von Luxemburg - Daniel Behle (tenor) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Frankfurt Opera Ch & Museum O/Eun Sun Kim rec. 2015/16 OEHMS CLASSICS OC968 [35:11 + 51:15] [GF] Daniel Behle’s superlative singing makes this a definite contender.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Une Divine Tragédie - Thomas Ospital (organ) rec. 2015 HORTUS 145 [67:16] [DC] A transformative concept and a masterclass in musicality.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Music: 46 – Berlioz Transcriptions - Feng Bian (piano) rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573710 [64:10] [JWe] Fine pianism in some of Liszt’s remarkable transcriptions from Berlioz.

George LLOYD (1913-1998) Symphonies Nos 6 & 7 - BBC Northern SO/Sir Edward Downes rec. 1979-1980 LYRITA REAM.1135 [72:36] [MC] The Downes recordings are good, but Lloyd’s own readings make more impact.

Elizabeth MACONCHY (1907-1994) Héloïse and Abelard - Hannah Francis (soprano) Tom McDonnell (baritone) Philip Langridge (tenor) Croydon Philh Ch/English SO/James Gaddarn rec. 1979 LYRITA REAM.1138 [72:04] [MR] An obscure choral work from a largely forgotten British composer performed with such intensity and commitment.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Annette Dasch (soprano) Karen Cargill (mezzo) Royal Concertgebouw O/Daniele Gatti rec. 2016 RCO LIVE RCO17108 Blu-ray [88:25] [JQ] A performance which has much to commend it but it is not one which challenges the best in a highly competitive field.

Gustav MAHLER (1864-1911) Symphony No.4 - Genia Kühmeier (soprano) Munich PO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2017 MÜNCHER PHILHARMONIKER MPHIL0005 [56:44] [RMo] Gergiev carries through his thoroughly consistent, coherent vision of this symphony, abetted by simply exquisite orchestral playing of the greatest delicacy and virtuosity.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 5 - Gürzenich O Köln/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905285 [70:42] [DM] Old Vienna, refracted through a strange new lens; try it, if you dare!

Biagio MARINI (1594-1663) Madrigali & Symphonie op. II - I Musici Affetti/Fabio Missaggia, RossoPorpora Ens/Walter Testolin rec. 2016 TACTUS TC591304 [73:33] [JV] Considering the historical importance of this collection of music by Marini this is a ground-breaking production.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Works for Cello & Piano - Christian Poltéra (cello) Ronald Brautigam (piano) rec. 2016 BIS BIS2187 SACD [60:18] [RHa] Poltéra and Brautigam produce probing and accomplished accounts of Mendelssohn’s delightful cello works in glorious BIS sound.

Leopold MOZART (1719-1787) Peasant Wedding & Toy Symphony Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony No.1 - Amsterdam Baroque O/Ton Koopman rec. 2006 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72266 [59:42] [DBi] A lively programme of Mozart, father and son, with period instruments and toys making a merry racket.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Sonatas Vol. 4 - Alina Ibragimova (violin) Cédric Tiberghein (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68164 [54:19 + 64:58] [DC] Living proof that there are as many ways to play great music as there are great musicians.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Violin Sonatas - Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin) Antonio Pappano, Konstantin Lifschitz (piano) rec. 2006-2009 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC17013 [4 CDs: 295:31] [DC] Very fine, but maybe not definitive Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Serenades & Divertimenti - Camerata Nordica/Terje Tønnesen (violin) rec. 2015/16 BIS BIS-2326 SACD [65:02] [MG] On the whole, I found this iconoclastic approach to Mozart more stimulating than irritating.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 - Estelí Gomez (soprano), John Taylor Ward (baritone), Seattle Symphony/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2015/17 SEATTLE SYMPHONY MEDIA SSM1017 [70:50] [DM] Muscular performances that fall short of the best; ditto the sound.

Otakar OSTRČIL (1879 – 1935) Honzovo království, Křížová cesta - Přemysl Kočí (bass-baritone) Milada Jirásková (soprano) Prague Radio SO & Ch/Václav Jiráček, Czech PO/Václav Neumann rec. 1954-57 SUPRAPHON SU4224-2 [72:57 + 74:27] [GF] These two works make an ideal coupling.

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] [JW] These concertos are full of infectious rhythmic brio and exciting melodic and lyric panache.

Louis PELOSI (b. 1947) Preludes and Fugues - Mateusz Borowiak (piano) rec. 2011/12 KASP RECORDS 57731 [40:58 + 45:43] [SG] An intriguing encounter.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Boheme - Giorgio Berrugi (tenor) Irina Lungu (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Turin/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2016 C MAJOR Blu-ray 742704 [112 mins] [MC] Despite some impressive singing I wasn’t entirely convinced by the acting which often felt uninspiring.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Piano works - Sandro Ivo Bartoli (piano) rec. 2017 SOLAIRE RECORDS SOL1007 [47:12] [DC] Open a bottle of fine Tuscan wine, sit back, and be transported to your happy place.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) All-night Vigil - Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo) Adam Tunnicliffe (tenor) Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse rec. 2017 VASARI MEDIA VIMACD003 [58:23] [MR] A disc more concerned with the joy of choral singing than anything particularly insightful in interpreting Rachmaninov’s glorious choral masterpiece.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (1928-2016) Fantasia Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Violin Concerto No. 1 Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Tzigane - Anne Akiko Meyers (violin) Philharmonia O/Kristjan Järvi rec. 2016 AVIE AV2385 [48:09] [MC] If the programme appeals, there is no reason to baulk at Anne Akiko Meyers’s outstanding new album.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Reicha Rediscovered Vol. 1 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10950 [66:47] [JW] This is an auspicious start to what I hope proves to be a long-running sequence of discs.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Amor fatale - Marina Rebeka (soprano) Münchner Rundfunk O/Marco Armiliato rec. 2016/17 BR KLASSIK 900321 [68.43] [RMo] Everything is neatly executed but, accomplished as she is, much of what Rebeka does is for me devoid of interest.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868) Sigismondo - Margarita Gritskova (mezzo) Maria Aleida (soprano) Virtuosi Brunensis/Antonino Fogliani rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.660403-4 [70:27 + 78:45] [GF] The target group is primarily Rossini-lovers, but general opera lovers should also derive a lot of pleasure from this set.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas Vol. 2 - Angela Hewitt (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68184 [79:14] [DJB] All the grace and elegance that one has come to expect with Angela Hewitt’s Baroque is here.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas D 959 & 960 - Krystian Zimerman (piano) rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 7588 [82:08] [DC] Schubert: up close and personal.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Schwanengesang - Bo Skovhus (baritone) Stefan Vladar (piano) rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5292 [62:39] [GF] I’m already looking forward to this pair’s Winterreise.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies Nos 1-8 - Berliner PO/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 2003/2006 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR150063 [5 SACDs: 273.00] [DC] If you only want just the one all bells-and-whistles set of these works, then this will do very nicely indeed.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) The Complete Piano Works - Gilbert Schuchter (piano) rec. 1969/70 TUDOR 1640 [12 CDs: 808:24] [DC] Affectionate Schubert, and still attractive after nearly 50 years.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Karl Münchinger: The Schubert Recordings - Vienna PO, Klassische Philharmonie Stuttgart & Stuttgart CO/Karl Münchinger rec. 1955-69 ELOQUENCE 482 5379 [4 CDs: 301:42] [NH] One wonders whether this set as it stands will appeal far beyond the circle of those who simply want to hear Münchinger again.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Kinderszenen, Waldszenen, Piano Sonata No.4 Santiago MANTAS (b.1949) Poppy Fields - Santiago Mantas (piano) rec. 2014/15 CLAUDIO RECORDS BD-A CR6033-6 [76.11] [DBi] Two of Schumann's well known piano cycles, but mainly a completion of the sketches for the 4th Piano Sonata, make for an issue worth investigating.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Symphonies Nos 1-4 - San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2015/16 SFS MEDIA SFS0071 [2 SACDs: 74.17 + 67.55] [MC] The San Francisco Symphony is on outstanding form playing exquisitely with gratifying tonal refinement.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Psalmen - Dresdner Barock O & Kammerchor/Hans-Christoph Rademann rec. 2006-16 CARUS 83.016 [74:50] [CRo] A useful sample of Carus’s complete edition of Schütz’s works for those who do not want to commit to the whole cycle.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 5 Samuel BARBER (1910-81) Adagio - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2013 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-724 [60:17] [MC] Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony is outstanding played, and this is one of the finest accounts of Barber’s Adagio for Strings I have heard.

Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Gadfly, The Counterplan - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Mark Fitz-Gerald rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573747 [61:46] [NB] By no means vital but certainly fascinating and fun.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2, Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 - Peter Donohoe (piano) Hugh Davies (trumpet) O of the Swan/David Curtis rec. 2015/16 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD493 [79:43] [GPJ] Peter Donohoe on top form in these beautiful Shostakovich performances.

Antonio STRADELLA (1639-1682) Lagrime e Sospiri - Chantal Santon Jeffery (soprano) Galilei Consort/Benjamin Chénier rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 297 [58:05] [CRo] Fans of Baroque vocal music should hear this, both for the singer and the engaging repertoire.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome rec. 1961 DECCA 483 1498 CD/BD-A [100:36] Elektra rec. 1966 DECCA 483 1494 CD/BD-A [107.50] Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Vienna PO/Sir Georg Solti [DHu] There’s really nothing more that can be said about these legendary performances, but what about the sound?

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) The Complete Songs Vol. 8 - Nicky Spence (tenor) Rebecca Evans (soprano) Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68185 [64:23] [GF] A glorious finale to this series!

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben, Tod und Verklärung - Gothenburg SO/Kent Nagano rec. 2016 FARAO CLASSICS B108092 [70:43] [MC] Outstanding performances but overall the finest of the competition is more gratifyingly recorded.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Oboe Concerto, Sonatina No. 2, Serenade - Andris Nelsons/Concertgebouw; Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe) Winds of the Concertgebouw rec. 2014/16 BIS BIS-2163 SACD [74:12] [DBi] A satisfying coupling of fine performances in clean and up-front recordings.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) & Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Violin Sonatas Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Duo-Concertant - Joseph Fuchs (violin), Artur Balsam, Leo Smit (piano) rec. 1950/55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1331 [63:23] [JW] Nothing will impede enjoyment of the three works.

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) 30 Sonate piccole Vol. 4 - Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin) rec. 2011 TOCCATA TOCC0363 [74:09] [JW] On we go with performances of personality and profound identification.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 1, 2 & 4, Nutcracker Suite - Boston SO/Michael Tilson Thomas, New Philharmonia O & Vienna PO/Claudio Abbado, Berlin PO/Ferdinand Leitner rec. 1959-75 ELOQUENCE 482 6168 [2 CDs: 142:34] [CC] A wonderful selection of performances of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies, small blemishes notwithstanding.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Musique de Table - Schola Cantorum Basiliensis/August Wenzinger rec. 1964/5 ELOQUENCE 4825864 [4 CDs: 276:15] [BW] Tempi are a little more easy-going than on more recent recordings but this set is still well worth considering.

Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Choral works - Ilze Reine (organ) Latvian Radio Ch, Sinfonietta Riga/Sigvards Klava rec. 2017 ONDINE ODE1302-2 [67:57] [MS] Well-conceived and performed performances of five mournful but compelling works.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Due Foscari - Plácido Domingo (baritone) Francesco Meli (tenor) Anna Pirozzi (soprano) rec. 2016 C MAJOR DVD 742008 [138 mins] [RJF] Not perfect but the better of Domingo’s efforts in the title role.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Il Trovatore - Piero Pretti (tenor) Anna Pirozzi (sop) Enkelejda Shkosa (mezzo) Marchigiana PO/Daniel Oren rec. 2016 DYNAMIC DVD 37769 [138 min] [RJF] Despite the setting and production not helping the singing cast to bring off this challenging opera, the two female principals give outstanding performances.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - São Paulo SO/Isaac Karabtchevsky rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573829 [75:26] [BSt] A disc that provides a taste of the young composer and casts light on what was to come.

Christian WESTERHOFF (1763-1806) Viola Concertos Nos 1 & 3, Flute Concerto - Barbara Buntrock (viola) Gaby Pas-Van Riet (flute) Osnabrück SO/Andreas Hotz rec. 2014 CPO 777 844-2 [62:30] [JW] Let’s hope we don’t need to wait too long before CPO releases more Westerhoff.

Roderick WILLIAMS (b.1965) Sacred Choral Works - Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Ch/Ralph Allwood, Jonathan Eyre (piano) rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASICS SIGCD517 [80:12] [JQ] This disc shows another, equally distinguished side to one of the UK’s leading singers. It’s very well worth hearing.

Carl ZELLER (1842-98) Der Vogelhändler - Elena Puszta (soprano) Dagmar Schellenberger (mezzo) Rupert Bergmann (baritone) Mörbich Fest Ch & O/Gerrit Priessnitz rec. 2017 OEHMS CLASSICS OC461 [79.49] [PCG] Those who wish to explore this operetta will probably be better served by the Boskovsky recording.

Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Die Seejungfrau, Es war einmal: Prelude & Interlude - ORF RSO Vienna/Cornelius Meister rec. 2010/12 CPO 777 962-2 [5.34] [PCG] The performance and recording of ‘Die Seejungfrau’ deserve qualified praise, but Ondine’s version under Storgårds is probably the better option.

Silvius Leopold WEISS (1687-1750) & Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Works for violin & lute - Johannes Pramsohler (baroque violin) Jadran Duncumb (baroque lute) rec. 2015/16 AUDAX ADX13706 [77:32] [SG] A well-planned disc which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Adventslieder Schwesterhochfunf rec. 2016 RONDEAU PRODUCTIONS ROP6128 [49:30] [EML] A truly beautiful disc of Advent music, sung by five sisters.

All Through the Night Traditional Welsh Songs for Tenor & Harp - Huw Rhys-Evans (tenor) Ieuan Jones (harp) rec. 1991 CLAUDIO CR4114-2 [63:55] [MR] This very dated looking disc hides some utterly beguiling music making.

Susanna Andersson (soprano) This is Me - Helsingborg SO/Tecwyn Evans rec. 2015 ORLANDO RECORDS OR0029 [74:12] [GF] A disc to treasure for singing and repertoire alike.

Azul Works by Golijov, Stevens, Aghaei/Jacobson, Dvorak, Stockhausen - Yo-Yo Ma (cello), The Knights rec. 2015 WARNER CLASSICS 9029587521 [58:43] [SA] The whole listening experience is as joyful as it is involving.

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (cello) A SR Tribute: Swedish Radio Recordings 1957-1980 DANACORD DACOCD778 [74:38 + 59:45] [JW] I hope that there is much more from the radio archives to augment this already quite extensive series.

Les Blasphèmes Mélodies Fin-de-siècle - Sarah Laulan (contralto) Maciej Pikulski (piano) Quatuor Hermès rec. 2016 FUGA LIBERA FUG741 [59:29] [GF] A couple of songs at a time could be an adequate dose.

Brazilian Landscapes Michala Petri (recorder) Marilyn Mazur (percussion) Daniel Murray (guitar) rec. 2016 OUR RECORDINGS 6.220618 [71:11] [GF] A happy journey in the company of these performers.

British Music for Piano Duet Alan MacLean, Peter Lawson, Gavin Sutherland (piano) rec. 1994/2015 HERITAGE HTGCD202 [77:00] [JW] A varied and well-played recital.

A Cavalier Christmas The Ebor Singers, Chelys Consort Viols/Paul Gameson, David Pipe (organ) rec. 2015 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10202 [66:28] [JV] The performances here are good enough to show that this music by the likes of Lawes and Jeffreys is well worth being performed.

The Cello in Wartime Steven Isserlis (cello) Connie Shih (piano) rec. 2016 BIS SACD BIS2312 [65:38] [JW] A moving reminder of music in wartime.

Ceremonyes of Carolles Psallite Women’s Ch/Nancy Hadden rec. 2006 CRD 3514 [54:17] [EML] Satisfactory performances, but there are better options.

The Christmas Album American Horn Qt, Queensland SO Horns, Harry Wilson (didgeridoo) Lachlan Hawkins (percussion) rec. 2015 MSR CLASSICS MS1650 [49:34] [CC] Not just for horn players.

Christmas Gambols & The Musical Tour of Mr Dibdin Simon Butteriss (baritone) Stephen Higgins (fortepiano) rec. 2017 RETROSPECT OPERA RO003 [74:40] [RBl] Good fun, and Gambols are not just for Christmas.

Christmas Presence The King’s Singers rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD497 [52:50] [ST] It’s perhaps not the most original or brilliant of Christmas discs, but King’s Singers fans will love it.

Christmas at Westminster Abbey Christopher Herrick (organ), Ch Westminster Abbey/Simon Preston rec. 1984. ELOQUENCE 4828564 [57:12] [BW] Christmas music very well covered in just under an hour.

Marianne Crebassa (mezzo) Secrets - Fazil Say (piano) rec. 2017 ERATO 9029576897 [69:20] [RHa] Marianne Crebassa’s gorgeous voice is tailor-made for the songbook of her native land.

Echoes of Land & Sea Works by Britten, Holst, Ireland Leighton, Stevenson & Williams - Maria Marchant (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD0174 [73.04] [JW] A well-selected work list that will reward close listening.

Himlische Weyhnacht Marie Luise Werneburg (soprano) Klaus Mertens (bass) Bell’arte Salzburg/Annegret Siedel rec. 2015 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300687BC [79:12] [EML] Looking for something different from the usual carol compilations?

Imagine Christmas rec. 2016/17 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92216 [38:16] [BMC] A wonderful collection of holiday tunes, re-imagined in new arrangements and performed by an intriguing group of musicians and ensembles.

In Schubert’s Company Works by Schubert, Desyatnikov, Akhunov & Tabakova - Yakov Katsnelson (piano) Riga Sinfonietta/Maxim Rysanov (viola) rec. 2016 ONYX 4183 [50:43 + 65:00] [GF] A fascinating programme with excellent sonics.

Joyeux Noel Aradia Ens/Kevin Mallon, La Fantasia/Rien Voskuilen, Christian Lambour (organ) rec. 1996-2003 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95569 [3 CDs: 184 mins] [EML] Consider this set if you seek something slightly different from the usual carol collections, yet seasonal and festive.

Last Leaf Danish String Qt rec. 2017 ECM NEW SERIES 2550 [48:07] [RHa] A truly worthy follow-up to the artistically and commercially successful ‘Wood Works’.

Lieder im Volkston Regula Mühlemann (soprano) Okka von der Damerau (mezzo) Wolfgang Schwaiger (baritone) Tareq Nazmi (bass) Adrian Baianu (piano) rec. 2016 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1875 [66:19] [GF] You will find great pleasure in savouring these fresh, youthful, well-schooled and expressive singers.

Dimitry Masleev (piano) Works by Scarlatti, Prokofiev & Shostakovich - Tartarstan Ntl SO/Alexander Sladkovsky MELODIYA MELCD1002517 [58.15] [RBe] This is an outstanding disc and it is clear that Dimitry Masleev is a major new talent.

Ossy Renardy (violin) The Complete Remington Recordings Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) 24 Caprices César FRANCK (1822-1890) & Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Violin Sonatas - Eugene List, Eugene Helmer (piano) rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM103 [67:09 + 42:17] [JW] A rounded view of a tragically truncated career.

Royal Air Force - 100th Anniversary Royal Air Force Bands rec. 2005-17 CHANDOS CHAN10973(2) [56:16 + 64:50] [JW] A confident and suitably sensitive salute to the service.

A Russian Journey Works by Cui, Lyapunov, Glazunov, Slonimski, Shaversaschvili & Mussorgsky - Gail Archer (organ) rec. 2016 MEYER MEDIA MM17035 [58:11] [SA] This disc makes it clear as to why Gail Archer’s recitals are so highly thought of and successful.

Stille Works by Christou, Haas & Johnson - Ens Musikfabrik rec. 2010-14 WERGO WER6865 2 [77:59] [DC] An intriguing collection of modern music.

Elisabet Strid (soprano) Leuchtende Liebe Arias by Beethoven & Wagner - Bulgarian National Radio SO & Mixed Ch /Ivan Anguélov rec. 2016 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1882 [53:46] [GF] An attractive disc with the latest link in the long chain of outstanding Scandinavian Wagner singers.

Yekwon Sunwoo (piano) Cliburn Gold 2017 DECCA 4815527 [59:30] [RBe] Sunwoo is clearly destined for great things in the classical music world.

Thys Yool A Medieval Christmas - Martin Best Ens rec. 1988 NIMBUS NI7103 [64:07] [BMC] A timely reissue of holiday tunes performed centuries ago.

To Drive The Cold Winter Away St George’s Canzona/John Sothcott rec. 1975 CRD 3319 [48:46] [EML] Makes for pleasant listening whilst doing something festive and undemanding.

Il Violoncello del Cardinale Accademia Ottoboni/Marco Ceccato (cello) rec. 2016 ALPHA CLASSICS 368 [63:27] [CRo] Lovers of Baroque music should find this unusual programme as pleasurable as it is stimulating and edifying.

The Violin's Delight Plamena Nikitassova (violin) Matthias Müller (violone) Julian Behr (theorbo) Jörg-Andreas Bötticher (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2016 CLAVES 50-1727 [70:02] [JV] The performances display the qualities of the repertoire to its full glory.

Voices of Defiance Works by Ullmann, Shostakovich & Laks - Dover Qt rec. 2016 CEDILLE CDR90000173 [73:06] [JW] Performed with refinement and expressive balance as well as driving rhythm and abrasion.

A Year at Saint Patrick’s Ch of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin/Stuart Nicholson, David Leigh (organ) rec. 2017 REGENT REGCD504 [75:53] [ST] An excellent example of how successfully the English tradition of church music can export itself beyond England’s borders.

Other Reviews

Yves Montand Les Feuilles Mortes - His 26 Finest rec. 1947-1952 RETROSPECTIVE RTR4313 [75:27] [GF] A nice mix of entertainment and serious material that presents Yves Montand at his very best.

Articles and Notices

A Survey of the Piano Trio Repertoire: "H" Composers by David Barker

Second Thoughts & Short Reviews: Winter 2017-1/Christmas 2017 by Brian Wilson & Dan Morgan

MusicWeb International 2017 Recordings of the Year

A Survey of the Piano Trio Repertoire: Joseph Haydn by David Barker

 Forgotten Artists - 25. Ian Whyte by Christopher Howell

 Michel Chapuis - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

 A database of piano trios compiled by Ben Potter (Excel file)



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