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Thursday November 23rd

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations on a Theme of Paganini Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata No. 6 - Mikhail Faerman (piano) rec. 1980 ELOQUENCE 482 5876 [50:40] [CC] A welcome reissue.

Félicien DAVID (1810-1876) A Portrait rec. 2014/16 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1028 [3 CDs: 234:35 + book] [SG] For anyone coming to this composer for the first time, as I suspect many will be, this set provides an ideal introduction.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Overtures - O Ntl de Lille/Darrell Ang rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573694 [65:40] [DM] Ang is a natural in this repertoire; inspired playing and top-notch sound, too.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Boheme - Giorgio Berrugi (tenor) Irina Lungu (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Regio, Turin/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2016 C MAJOR 742608 DVD [112 mins] [RJF] The stark modern setting does little to help Noseda bring all the emotion that is present in Puccini’s music to the fore.

Ernst TOCH (1887-1964) Solo Piano Pieces - Anna Magdalena Kokits (piano) rec. 2015/16 CAPRICCIO C5293 [61:02] [RK] An often surprising hour of carefully constructed keyboard miniatures, played with panache.

Laila Andersson-Palme (soprano) From Queen of the Night to Elektra rec. 1970/88 STERLING CDA1806/07-2 [79:39 + 79:40] [GF] Sterling deserve an armful of roses for releasing this full-length portrait of one of the great Swedish singers of the last few decades.

The Art of Dancing 21st-Century Concertos for Trumpet, Piano and Strings - Simon Desbruslais (trumpet)
Clare Hammond (piano) English String O/Kenneth Woods rec. 2015/16 SIGNUM SIGCD513 [63:02] [RHa] Simon Desbruslais’ missionary zeal reduces the chance of repertoire crises for today’s solo trumpeters - a quartet of entertaining new double concertante works.

Grandissima Gravita Works by Pisendel, Tartini, Veracini & Vivaldi - Brecon Baroque rec. 2016 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA39217 SACD [69:08] [DC] Full of verve and colour; rich pickings for fans of 18th century violin virtuosity.

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum 2016 rec. 2016 DANACORD DACOCD789 [78:31] [JW] Another sure-fire winner from Husum.

Telemandolin Works by Telemann, CPE Bach, Abel & Fasch - Alon Sariel (mandolin, archlute, baroque guitar) Concereto Foscari rec. 2016 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300934BC [66:03] [MR] Often stylistically questionable, but it is impossible not to be captivated by the vigour and enthusiasm of these enchanting performances.

Wednesday November 22nd

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin - Julia Fischer (violin)
rec. 2004 PENTATONE PTC5186682 SACD [73:08 + 76:52] [DC] Fancy a little SACD royalty?

Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896) Symphony No. 6 - Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Bernard Haitink rec. 2017 BR KLASSIK 900147 [55:15] [MC] This is a performance of the Sixth that can stand comparison with the finest recordings in the catalogue.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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] [RHa] Brilliant young Finn’s revelatory Concord in superb sound. Unmissable.

David Hackbridge JOHNSON (b. 1963) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Mann rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0393 [68:09] [NB] For the listener seeking the unusual and unknown this is a rewarding disc.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Litanies - Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano) St. Anthony Singers, Boyd Neel O/Anthony Lewis rec. 1954 ELOQUENCE 482 5041 [70:12] Scenes & Arias Works by Haydn & Mozart - Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano) Haydn O/Harry Newstone, London PO/Peter Maag rec. 1956-1958 ELOQUENCE 482 5049 [63:01] [HPR] Exciting and flawless performances of Classical masterpieces by Jennifer Vyvyan.

Jean-Féry REBEL (1666-1747) Dance Suites & Sonatas - Eco dell'Anima: Jeanne Johnson (violin) Brent Wissick (viola da gamba) Peter Marshall (harpsichord) rec. 2010 CENTAUR CRC3430 [76:56] [JV] An important release, for historical and musical reasons.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben, Tod und Verklärung - Gothenburg SO/Kent Nagano rec. 2016 FARAO CLASSICS B108092 [70:43] [SG] The performances compete favourably with the very best in the catalogue.

Camillo TOGNI (1922-1993) Works for Flute - Roberto Fabbriciani (flute) rec. 1980-2016 NAXOS 8.573731 [53:02] [RWe] I enjoyed getting to know this elusive music, and suspect many an adventurous collector will do the same.

Cantelli In New York Vol. 2 Wilhelm Backhaus, Walter Gieseking (piano) New York PSO/Guido Cantelli rec. 1951/56 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC510 [71:46 + 71:50] [GPJ] More memorable recordings of Cantelli’s work brought to us by Pristine. His Don Juan in particular is sensational.

Olga Peretyatko (soprano) Russian Light - Arias by Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky & Shostakovich - Ural PO/Dmitry Liss rec. 2016 SONY 88985352232 [54:52] [GF] Highly attractive programme and classy singing!

Tuesday November 21st

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie Fantastique,Le Carnaval Romain, La Damnation de Faust (excpts) - Amsterdam Concertgebouw O/van Beinum rec. 1951/2 ELOQUENCE 4825569 [67:37] [GPJ] Great conductor and orchestra clearly relishing Berlioz’s wonderful music.

Manuel BLANCAFORT (1897-1987) Complete Songs Vol. 1 - Anna Alas i Jove (mezzo) Miquel Villalba (piano) rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.579012 [61:08] [RWe] If this first volume of the Catalan composer Blancafort’s complete songs is truly representative, the series will be well worth following.

Carl Heinrich GRAUN (1704-1759) Christmas Oratorio - Arcis-Vocalisten München, Baroque O L'arpa festante/Thomas Gropper rec. 2016 OEHMS OC1876 [77:11] [JV] A production which is musically largely convincing and sheds light on a very fine work, which deserves more attention.

Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) & Henriette RENIÉ (1875-1956) Trios - Antoine Bareil (violin) Stéphane Tétreault (cello) Valérie Milot (harp) rec. 2017 ANALEKTA AN29888 [64:16] [DJB] The quality of the two trios makes one wish that there were more works of substance for this combination.

Francis JACKSON (b. 1917) Sacred Choral Works - The Exon Singers/Mathew Owens, David Bednall (organ) rec. 2006 DELPHIAN DCD34035 [70:18] [JQ] A varied selection of Francis Jackson’s church music, excellently performed and recorded.

Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 - Stenhammer Qt rec. 2015 CPO 555 006-2 [62:58] [BSt] A disc of unfairly neglected quartets which is well worth a listen.

Michael Alec ROSE (b.1959) Unturned Stones, Il Ritorno - Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin) Diana Mathews (viola) rec. 2016 MÉTIER MSV28574 [57:01] [JF] Rose is a composer who can develop and maintain interest using the slenderest of instrumental resources.

From Beethoven to Present – The Sound of the Horn Works by Beethoven, Schumann Widmann & Brahms - Mischa Greull (French horn) Seung-Yeun Huh (piano) Andreas Janke (violin) rec. 2017 SOLO MUSICA SM268 [62.04] [MC] Quite outstanding playing in a judiciously chosen and engaging selection of works.

Bruce Hungerford (piano) Beethoven Sonata Recital 1965 KASP RECORDS 57741 [36:17 + 59:37] The Last Recital 1976 - Works by Mozart, Schubert & Beethoven KASP RECORDS 57761 [55:33 + 36:57] [SG] On the strength of the compelling musicianship found in these performances, Hungerford is a pianist that deserves to be better known.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Thousands of Miles Works by Weill, Alma Mahler, Korngold & Zemlinsky - Kate Lindsey (mezzo) Baptiste Trotignon (piano & arrangements) rec. 2016 ALPHA CLASSICS 272 [63:45] [GF] This is a recital to return to over and over again and find new insights and revelations every time.

Monday November 20th 

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphonies Nos 8, 21 & 26 - New Russia State SO/Alexander Walker rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573752 [70:27] [RB] An Odyssean feat completed … Brian's disorientatingly glorious world brought vividly to continuing life.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giovanni Stefano CARBONELLI (1694-1773) Sonate da camera - Bojan Čičić (violin) Illyria Consort rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34194 [63:46] [JV] Exciting music and exciting performances.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony No. 1 - Nuremburg State Philharmonic/Marcus Bosch rec. 2016 COVIELLO COV91718 SACD [51:09] [MR] Magnificent orchestral playing in vivid sound, but a performance which is unlikely to endear it to those who have not experienced this early Dvořák Symphony before.

Édouard LALO (1823-1892) Piano Trios Nos 1-3 - Leonore Piano Trio rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68113 [79:16] [MC] An engaging and beautifully played album from the Leonore Piano Trio, guaranteed to delight chamber music lovers.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - London SO/Georg Solti rec. 1967 ELOQUENCE 482 7163 [80:03] [RWM] Solti’s ‘perfection’ is no compensation for his relative emotional coolness.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Mount of Three Lights, Hymn to St James Petr ŘEZNÍČEK (b.1938)
Dies Irae Petr FIALA (b.1943) Regina coeli laetare - Czech Philharmonic Ch, Brno/Petr Fiala rec. 2017 ARCO DIVA UP0188-2 [67:41] [DBi] A very impressive disc for Martinů enthusiasts with some excellent new music to enjoy as well.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Die Frau ohne Schatten - Birgit Nilsson, Siv Wennberg (soprano) Royal Stockholm Hovkapellet/Berislav Klobukar rec. 1975 STERLING CDA-1696/1698-2 [3 CDs: 176:10] [PCG] Sterling should be thanked for rescuing this from obscurity and making it readily available.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Celebrating English Song Roderick Williams (baritone) Susie Allan (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0177 [72:42] [JQ] This is, quite simply, an exemplary recital of English song.

Chorale Masses & Sacred Concertos  Works by Schein, Bernhard, Zachow & Fischer - Rheinische Kantorei/Hermann Max rec. 1985 MDG 6020169-2 [44.27] [GH] An odd but interesting selection, well-performed and recorded.

The Tudors – I love, alas Robert Spence (lute) Jeremy Brett (reader) Purcell Consort of Voices/Grayston Burgess rec. 1969 ELOQUENCE 482 2570 [48:42] The Tudors – Lo, country sports James Tyler (lute) John Neville (reader) Purcell Consort of Voices/Grayston Burgess rec. 1969/70 ELOQUENCE 482 2562 [44:58] [ST] These two discs give you a window into a lovingly crafted historical experience.

Other reviews
Fascinating Jane Morgan The Days the Rains Came rec. 1956-62 RETROSPECTIVE RTS4314 [79:39 + 78:42] [JW] Her enduring legacy is the sequence of Kapp LPs and singles that she made in her heyday on disc and they sound excellent here.

Friday November 17th 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto, Romances Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Rondo - James Ehnes (violin) Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Manze rec. 2016 ONYX 4167 [71:21] [ST] If you’re looking for a recent digital version of the Beethoven concerto, then I think this could well now be first choice.

Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755) Winds in Versailles - I fiori musicali rec. 2014/16 URANIA RECORDS LDV14026 [51:56] [JV] An important release, even though the performances are not entirely satisfying.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) For Bunita Marcus - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68048 [72:38] [JW] A performance that is both absorbed and absorbing.

Hans HUBER (1852-1921) Violin Concerto No. 2 Paul JUON (1872-1940) Violin Concerto No. 1 - Maria Solozobova (violin) Collegium Musicum Basel/Kevin Griffiths rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 8035811832 [55:15] [BSt] A very worthwhile addition to the catalogue.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Rikard NORDRAAK (1842-1866) Songs & Piano Music - Helene Wold (soprano) Eugene Asti (piano) rec. 2015 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1119 [66:30] [SSi] A wonderful disc, one in which Helene Wold and Eugene Asti give first rate performances, whilst demonstrating that Grieg was not alone in his search for a Norwegian national music.

Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 2, Études-tableaux - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Scottish Ntl O/Carlos Miguel Prieto rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573629 [66:58] [RWe] Rachmaninov’s music for piano is being superbly well served on disc nowadays, and this Naxos CD is yet another notable example.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Overtures & Preludes - Philharmonia Zurich/Fabio Luisi rec. 2017 PHILHARMONIA RECORDS PHR0109 [62:97 + 64:47] [RP] This recording delivers the full impact of Verdi the dramatist without a single note being sung.

O Holy Night A Merton Christmas - Merton College Ch, Oxford PO/Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34192 [68:19] [JQ] This excellent and highly enjoyable disc has definitely put me in a Christmas mood.

Venetia, Mundi Splendor Ens Oktoechos/Lanfranco Menga rec. 2016 TACTUS TC390001 [79:55] [GH] A disc worth exploring if taken in short bursts.

Bruno Walter in Vienna, London & New York Works by Haydn, Schumann & Wagner - Vienna PO, London SO, New York PO rec. 1935-41 OPUS KURA OPK2120 [70:55] [SG] Valuable historical documents, brought vividly to life.



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