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MusicWeb International wishes you all the best for the festive season. We are having a Christmas break this year: reviews will resume on January 4.

NEW & RECENT ARTICLES

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

[New] Forgotten Artists - 25. Ian Whyte by Christopher Howell

[New] Michel Chapuis - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

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

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

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LATEST REVIEWS

Friday December 22nd 

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.

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.

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday December 21st

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

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

Wednesday December 20th

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Advent Calendar A collection of contemporary Christmas carols - ORA/Suzi Digby, Joby Burgess (percussion) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI [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.

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.

Tuesday December 19th

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.

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.

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

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.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Musique de Table - Schola Cantorum Basiliensis/August Wenzinger rec. 1964/5 DG 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Monday December 18th 

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

 




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