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Monthly Listing
December 2017

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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 (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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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