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Tuesday December 12th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Monday December 11th 

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.

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

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.

Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948) Die Juxheirat - Gerhard Ernst, Maya Boog, Alexander Kaimbacher, Sieglinde Feldhofer, Chor des Lehár Festivals Bad Ischl, Franz Lehár-Orchester/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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

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.

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.

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

Friday December 8th 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Thursday December 7th

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.

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday December 6th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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