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Gloria Dei Cantores
All Night Vigil


Whispering Mozart


absolutely essential release


The best recording I will hear all year


Long awaited recordings


Absolutely enthralling


Left me longing for more


A superb 90th birthday recording


A top recommendation.


Superb advocacy


Tchaikovsky Sibelius

 


Complete ballet

Recordings of the Month 2017

Thomas ADČS (b. 1971) Asyla, Tevot, Polaris, Brahms - Samuel Dale Johnson (baritone) London SO/Thomas Adčs rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0798 BD-A/SACD [62:55] [LW] Thomas Adčs’s orchestral trilogy in authoritative performances and stunning sound.

Eyvind ALNĆS (1872-1932) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - Latvian Ntl SO/Terje Mikkelsen rec. 2009 STERLING CDS 1084-2 SACD [77.14] [PCG] Both these symphonies are works of real substance and, happily, they get fine performances in excellent recorded sound.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) The Magic of Malcolm Arnold Vol. 1 - The Wallace Collection, Ntl Youth Brass Band of Scotland/Richard Evans, Russell Gray, Bede Williams rec. 2016 THE WALLACE COLLECTION TWC-FR2016-001 [62.28 + 31.06] [MW] An inspired collection of some of Arnold’s most inspired writing.

Johann Bernhard BACH (1676‒1749) Ouvertures - L’Achéron/François Joubert-Caillet (bass viol) rec. 2016 RICERCAR RIC573 [76:50] [NH] Virtuosic but sensitive performances that do full justice to the music.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas BWV54, 82 & 170 - Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68111 [64:51] [JQ] A simply outstanding Bach disc.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Beatrice Rana (piano) rec. 2016 WARNER CLASSICS 9029 588018 [77.45] [DJB] I suspect this will be the best recording I will hear all year.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck - Roman Trekel (baritone) Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Houston SO/Hans Graf rec. NAXOS 8.660390-91 [36:22 & 61:30] [GPJ] A fine and very powerful Wozzeck from Houston, with Anne Schwanewilms magnificent and moving as Marie.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Les Pęcheurs de perles - Diana Damrau (soprano) Matthew Polenzani (tenor) O & Ch Metropolitan Opera/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2016 ERATO DVD 9029 589361 [120 mins] [RJF] This tuneful opera by Bizet gets outstanding singing and a realistic, albeit updated, setting.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Alfred Deller, Jennifer Vyvyan, English Opera Group O/Benjamin Britten rec. 1960 TESTAMENT SBT21515 [71:09 + 66:40] [JQ] All Britten enthusiasts should seek out this set as a matter of urgency.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7 - Vienna SO/Yakov Kreizberg rec. 2004 PENTATONE PTC5186051 SACD [67:24] [DM] Bruckner Sevenths don’t come much better than this; one for the desert island.

Joan Bautista José CABANILLES (1644-1712) Keyboard Music Vol. 1 - Timothy Roberts (organ) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0391 [64:41] [BW] A most encouraging first volume: I can’t wait to hear the others in this series.

Bernard van DIEREN (1887-1936) Symphony No.1, Introit, Elegie - Rebecca Evans (soprano) Catherine Wyn-Rogers (alto) BBC Ntl O & Ch Wales/William Boughton rec. 2016 LYRITA SRCD357 [69:21] [SG] Long overdue, Lyrita have done van Dieren proud.

Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Piano Quintet No. 2, Sextet - Ens Raro rec. 2016 SOLO MUSICA SM250 [54.22] [SG] Chamber music playing of the highest calibre.

Ferenc FARKAS (1905-2000) Music for Wind Ensemble - Budapest Wind Symphony/László Marosi rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0349 [76:23] [DM] Toccata really do have the magic touch when it comes to less-familiar repertoire; huzzahs all round!

Peter Racine FRICKER (1920-1990) String Quartets - Villiers Qt rec. 2015/16 NAXOS 8.571374 [70:23] [SG] Long awaited recordings - the Villiers have done them proud.

Phillip GLASS (b.1937) Violin Concerto No.1 Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Serenade After Plato’s Symposium - Renaud Capuçon (violin), Bruckner O Linz/Dennis Russel Davies rec. 2010/16 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0114 [63:57] [MB] The reason to buy this disc is for the definitive performance of the Glass concerto.

Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets op. 50 - London Haydn Qt rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68122 [75:35 + 73:16] [CC] A simply stunning release.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Seasons - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Gabrieli Consort & Players, Ntl Forum Music Ch, Wrocław Baroque O/Paul McCreesh rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD480 [67:42 + 65:26] [JQ] A signal achievement.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Seasons - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Wrocław Baroque O, Gabrieli Consort & Players rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD480 [67:42 + 65:26] [ST] So excellent are this recording’s virtues that it jumps to the top if you want an English language performance.

Barbara HELLER (b. 1936) Herbstmusik - Verdi Qt, Susanne Stoodt (violin) Katharina Deserno (cello) Gesa Lücker (piano) rec. 2015/16 WERGO WER51232 [70:54] [SSi] This is a super disc, one which introduced me to the music of Barbara Heller, and left me longing for more.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete String Quartets - Amar Qt rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.503290 [3 CDs: 203:15] [SSi] A recording which Hindemith’s string quartets have waited for and deserved. The Amar Quartet effortlessly prove that there is a lot more than counterpoint to this composer’s music.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Orchestral Set No. 2, Symphonies 3 & 4 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Melbourne SO &Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2014/16 CHANDOS CHSA5174 SACD [71.04] [MW] Outstanding recordings of astonishing and truly great music.

Daniel JONES (1919-1993) Symphonies Nos 1 & 10 - BBC Welsh SO/Bryden Thomson rec. 1990 LYRITA SRCD358 [69:44] [JQ] Two important scores available for the first time on CD and in excellent performances.

John JOUBERT (b. 1927) Jane Eyre - April Fredrick, David Stout, English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD263-2 [58:19 + 66:56] [JQ] Joubert's 90th birthday celebrated with a superb recording of his rich, inventive opera.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Chamber Concerto, Melodien - Christian Poltéra (cello) Joonas Ahonen (piano) BIT 20 Ens/Baldur Brönnimann rec. 2014/15 BIS BIS-2209 SACD [71:30] [DC] Beats even the classic recordings.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Opera and song transcriptions - Gábor Farkas (piano) rec. 2016 STEINWAY & SONS STNS 30065 [63:46] [DM] Farkas is a first-class Lisztian; the recording is top-notch, too. 

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Cello Concerto, Symphony No. 4 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Concert Overture - Gautier Capuçon (cello) Polish Ntl Radio SO/Alexander Liebreichrec. 2016 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30388 [59:33] [LW] An unmissable account of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto and a fine Fourth Symphony as well.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Gerhild Romberger (contralto) Augsburger Domsingknaben, Bavarian Radio Women's Ch & RSO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900149 [35.49 + 65.39] [MC] The vastly experienced Haitink presides over a quite magnificent rendition of an awe-inspiring work.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Gerhild Romberger (alto); Bavarian RS Ch, Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2016 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38817 [2 SACDs: 95:30] [DM] Without question, the finest instalment in Fischer’s Mahler cycle to date; the DXD download is a stunner, too.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900151 [80:45] [MC] Stunning playing in a memorable live account.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) & Fanny HENSEL (1805-1847) Duette - Judith Erb, Felicitas Erb (sopranos) Doriana Tchakarova (fortepiano) rec. 2016 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38201 SACD [67:02] [SSi] Wonderful … a disc that should be snapped up by all lovers of the great German lieder tradition.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Quartet for the End of Time Fabian MÜLLER (b. 1964) In the Beginning Volker David KIRCHNER (b. 1942) Exile - Christiane Boesiger (soprano) Zurich Ens rec. 2015 ARS PRODUCTION ARS38205 SACD [79:49] [MR] An outstanding recording and magnificent music-making bring to life three very powerful works which reflect political, social and religious issues facing the composers.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Mass in C minor, Exsultate, jubilate - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo) Makoto Sakurada (tenor) Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2015 BIS SACD BIS2171 [71:17] [SG] A tremendous achievement.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos - Isabelle Faust (violin) Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2015/16 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902230.31 [67:53 + 61:26] [ST] It brings all that is best about period performance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Whispering Mozart - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2014 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1111 [65:16] [GF] Comes closer to the true Mozart than anyone else I have heard.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No.23 Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No.3 - Grigory Sokolov (piano) Mahler CO/Trevor Pinnock, BBC PO/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 1995/2005 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 7015 [71:43 + DVD: 58:52] [MB] A fabulous and absolutely essential release that demands to be heard.

Ernst NAUMANN (1832-1910) & Wilhelm BERGER (1861-1911) String Trios - Dresdner Streichtrio rec. 2010 QUERSTAND VKJK1020 [52:34] [MC] These are exemplary, unaffected performances by the Dresdner Streichtrio of two rarely heard yet eminently attractive string trios.

Józef NOWAKOWSKI (1800-1865) Piano Quintet Józef KROGULSKI (1815-1842) Piano Octet - Nelson Goerner (piano); Lena Neudauer (violin) Marcin Zdunik (cello) Jan Krzeszowiec (flute) Radosław Soroka (clarinet) rec. 2014 FRYDERYK CHOPIN INSTITUTE NIFCCD105 [61:25] [PRB] The most enjoyable chamber music offering and the most fascinating find I have encountered for some considerable time.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot - Nina Stemme, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala Milano/Riccardo Chailly DECCA 074 3938 Blu-ray [136 mins] [DBi] Puccini's final opera with Berio's well judged completion. A top recommendation.

Kevin PUTS (b.1972) Symphony No. 2, River’s Rush, Flute Concerto - Adam Walker (flute) Peabody SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2015 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559794 [56.36] [PCG] After this, my first encounter with the music of Kevin Puts, I very much look forward to hearing more of it.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) All-Night Vigil - Gloria Dei Cantores/Peter Jermihov rec. 2015 GLORIA DEI CANTORES SACD GDCD063 [66:34] [JQ] A splendid achievement. Listening to this recording is an uplifting and rewarding experience.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Complete Organ Works - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2014/16 CYBELE RECORDS 051500 [17 SACDs: 19:24:00] [SG] An impressive achievement.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Works for Men's Choir Vol. 1 - Ens Vocapella Limburg/Tristan Meister rec. 2016 RONDEAU ROP6126 [79:32] [SSi] This is one of the finest discs of Max Reger’s choral music that I have heard; I look forward to volume two.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Mélodies avec Orchestre - Yann Beuron (tenor) Tassis Christoyannis (baritone) O Della Svizzera Italiana/Markus Poschner rec. 2016 ALPHA 273 [58:05] [RJW] The quality of performance is excellent.

Adam SCHOENBERG (b 1980) Finding Rothko, American Symphony, Picture Studies - Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern rec. 2014 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-139 SACD [64:58] [JQ] Artistically and sonically this is an exciting disc.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartets Nos 12 & 15 - Doric String Qt rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHAN10931 [61:50] [GPJ] Dramatic readings of these masterpieces from this brilliant young British quartet.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet No. 15 Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartet Op. 20/3 - Tetzlaff Qt rec. 2015 ONDINE ODE1293-2 [73:51] [RMo] A pairing that succeeds so triumphantly.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Johan Reuter (bass-baritone) Copenhagen String Qt rec. 2014 DANACORD DACOCD759 [76:00] [GF] I urge every Schubert enthusiast to give this disc a listen.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Quintet, Märchenbilder, Fünf Stücke im Volkston - Benvenue Fortepiano Trio, Jodi Levitz (viola) Carla Moore (violin) rec. 2016 AVIE AV2365 [59:48] [SSi] A most desirable disc bringing new life and light to this music.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasy, Geistervariationen Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Fantasia, Piano Sonata No. 14 - Piotr Anderszewski (piano) rec. 2006/16 WARNER CLASSICS 9029588855 [79.14] [MC] Some remarkable pianism in a recital of very special quality.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos 1 & 2, String Quartet No. 8 - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573666 [69:47] [ST] Snap this up! Giltburg and Petrenko work superbly together. Great value for money.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Alan Gilbert rec. 2012-2015 BIS BIS-2247 SACD [61:41] [JQ] Superb advocacy for Shostakovich’s violin concertos.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kullervo, Finlandia Olli KORTEKANGAS (b. 1955) Migrations - Lilli Paasikivi (mezzo) Tommi Hakala (baritone) YL Male Voice Ch & Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2016 BIS BIS-9048 SACD [79:29 + 33:40] [JQ] The finest recording of Kullervo that I’ve ever heard, presented in magnificent sound.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má Vlast - Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2015/16 TUDOR 7196 SACD [81:11] [JQ] A very fine achievement.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Eine Alpensinfonie, Tod und Verklärung - Bavarian Radio SO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2014-2016 BR KLASSIK 900148 [75:10] [RMo] Magnificent performances for the devotee of Big Band Strauss.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Also Sprach Zarathustra Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets - CBSO Youth Ch, NYOGB/Edward Gardner rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5179 SACD [79:53] [ST] A very decent Zarathustra, coupled with a remarkable and quite outstanding Planets.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben- NHK SO Tokyo/Paavo Järvi rec. 2015 RCA 88985391762 [61:29] [ST] A hit, then! I look forward to the next instalment.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 - Heath Qt rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907665 [66:24] [ST] The performance is outstandingly assured, and speaks of artists who have already attained a remarkable degree of maturity.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concertos - Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini (recorder, tenor chalumeau) rec. 2012/13 ALPHA 245 [74:09] [MR] What is there not to like about this fabulous disc of exuberant Telemann performed with flamboyance and élan by these exquisite Italian musicians?

Marcel TYBERG (1893-1944) Masses Nos 1 & 2 - Christopher Jacobson (organ) South Dakota Chorale/Brian A. Schmidt rec. 2016 PENTATONE PTC5186584 SACD [64:36] [JQ] Distinguished first recordings of two fine settings of the Mass by a composer whose voice was silenced in Auschwitz.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Piano Music - Mark Bebbington, Rebecca Omordia (piano) rec. 2016 SOMM SOMMCD0164 [70.55] [IL] An important addition to the Vaughan Williams discography.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber Symphonies Nos 1-4, Piano Quintet - Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer (violin), Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla rec. 2015 ECM NEW SERIES 2538/39 (4814604) [79:45 + 79:40] [SG] Refined and polished performances, in convincing interpretations.

Giaces de WERT (1535-1596) Sacred Motets - Stile Antico rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI SACD HMM807620 [67.19] [GH] A disc which is as good as they come.

British Symphonies rec. 1968-2007 LYRITA SRCD.2355 [4 CDs: 315:45] [JQ] There’s only one way to describe this set: a stupendous bargain.

Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) In War and Peace - Il Pomo d’Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2016 ERATO 9029592846 [79:07] [BW] Very minor reservations apart, this is a stunningly good recording.  

Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) In War and Peace - Il Pomo d'Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2016 ERATO 9029 592846 [79.12] [GF] No lover of great singing can afford to be without this disc.

Dream with Me Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano, violin) Timur Enikeev (piano) Michelle Perry (horn) rec. 2016 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0370 [77:19] [GF] You will love this: beautiful melodies performed by wonderful artists.

Emotions Works by Franck & Ravel - Kirill Troussov (violin) Alexandra Troussova (piano) rec. 2016 MDG 903 1984-6 SACD [65:29] [DBi] A magnificent disc of great music, superbly played and recorded.

Yvonne Lefébure (piano) Une Légende du Piano rec. 1951-1983 SOLSTICE SOCD321/44 [24 CDs: 27:23:00] [SG] Lovers of French pianism, indeed pianophiles in general, will find this set indispensable.

Yvonne Lefébure (piano) Une Légende du Piano rec. 1951-83 SOLSTICE SOCD321/44 [24 CDs: ca 27 hrs] [JW] An absolutely superb collection.

Il pianto della Madonna Works by Monteverdi & Frescobaldi - La Compagnia del Madrigale rec. 2014 GLOSSA GCD922805 [68:34] [JV] This is a splendid disc which offers something of a new perspective on parts of Monteverdi's oeuvre.

Llibre Vermell de Montserrat - La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI/Jordi Savall rec. 2013 ALIA VOX AVSA9919 SACD/DVD [71:46] [ST] I felt like an enriched, more enlightened person after listening to this.

Wanda Luzzato (violin) Sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms, Grieg, Hubay, Schubert, Schumann & Strauss - Hans Priegnitz (piano) rec. 1955-60 MELOCLASSIC MC2026 [79:29 + 67:20] [SG] Violin buffs, take note.

Wanda Luzzato (violin) Unreleased Recordings - rec. 1955/79 RHINE CLASSICS RH-002 [8 CDs: 510:00] [SG] Valuable recorded documents from the Wanda Luzzato Archive. I would encourage all violin afficionados to explore this compelling collection.

Mary Star Of The Sea Gothic Voices rec. 2015 LINN CKD541 [74.00] [MW] One to treasure – sheer beauty from beginning to end.

The Masque of Moments Theatre of the Ayre/Elizabeth Kenny, Salisbury Cathedral Ch, Lay Clerks rec. 2015 LINN CKD542 [68:18] [GH] This beautifully recorded disc will no doubt be one of my highlights of 2017.

The Routes of Slavery 3MA, Tembembe Ens Continuo, La Capella rec. 2015 ALIA VOX AVSA9920 SACD/DVD [60:21 + 67:14] [ST] A triumph of history, of music-making, of world music, and of humanitarianism in general.

Camilla Tilling (soprano) Loves me … loves me not - Musica Saeculorum/Philipp von Steinaecker rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2234 SACD [65:51] [GF] All in all: this is a marvellous disc!

Trios From Our Homelands Piano trios by Babajanian, Clarke & Martin - Lincoln Trio rec. 2015 ÇEDILLE CDR90000165 [64:15] [DJB] Three cracking works in performances that are as good as any.

Virgin and Child Music From the Baldwin Part Books Vol. 2 - Works by Tallis, Taverner, White, Fayrfax & Sheppard - Contrapunctus/Owen Rees rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD474 [75:18] [ST] This is a very fine disc, if anything even finer than the first volume.




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