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Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano"
IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra

Sinfonie Concertanti for two flutes and orchestra



A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


World Premiere
Weinberg’s Concertino (cello)!


Irish-Appalachian Celebration


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

an inspirational performance

An indispensable acquisition

The finest we have had in years

bewitching sound

Simply amazing

A splendid addition

One of the most enjoyable

quite superb!

utterly essential

A wonderful introduction

An outstanding CD


One of the finest versions

Monthly Listing
December 2018


Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 - Vienna SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC542 [57:43] [RWM] A master conductor gives one of the all-time great Mahler performances, expertly restored in very serviceable sound.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concerto da Camera Vol. 1 - Camerata Köln rec. 2015 CPO 555131-2 [68:03] [BW] Yet another very fine and hugely enjoyable Telemann recording from Camerata Köln and CPO.

Prism I Works by Beethoven & Shostakovich - Danish String Qt rec. 2016 ECM NEW SERIES 2561 [78:12] [DC] Superlative performances: looks like turning into a series to covet.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Music for Christmas rec. 1974-2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95853 [11 CDs: ca 9 hrs] [SSi] A very welcome set, and a perfect antidote to the endless discs of Christmas Carols – to listen to throughout the year.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas - Dénes Zsigmondy (violin) rec. 1995 PALADINO PMR0093 [68:01+77:26] [JW] The most concentrated and elevated of Zsigmondy's surviving recordings.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suites BVW 1007-1012 - Kim Kashkashian (viola) rec. 2016/17 ECM NEW SERIES 2553/54 [65:05+77:26] [DC] Intriguing, but perhaps rather hard to love.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 3 Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Horn Concerto No. 1 - William Caballero (horn) Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2012-17 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-728 SACD [65.17] [MC] Bold and focused, compelling and uplifting Beethoven from Honeck, with Caballero in sterling form in the Strauss.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1-5 - Mitsuko Uchida (piano), Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR180241 CD/BD-A/Blu-ray [215 mins] [MC] With Uchida in such outstanding form this will be a much-valued set for devotees of the artist and the composer.

Nicolas BERNIER (1664 - 1734) Trois visages d'Hécate - Lieselot De Wilde (soprano), Apotheosis/Korneel Bernolet rec. 2016 ET'CETERA KTC1576 [75:56] [JV] This disc provides an ideal first acquaintance with the art of a neglected composer.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen - Grace Bumbry (mezzo) Mirella Freni (soprano) Jon Vickers (tenor) Vienna State Opera Ch, Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1967 ORFEO C866183D [2:42:20] [MS] An eccentric and inadequate Carmen that disappoints on most fronts.

Marco Enrico BOSSI (1861-1925) Musica da Camera - Giulio Giurato (piano) Roberto Noferini (violin) Andrea Noferini (cello) Anna Noferini (viola) rec. 2012-17 TACTUS TC862707 [65:42] [MR] Bossi’s chamber music speaks of love and affection, especially in these colourful and committed performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 1 - Ekaterina Litvintseva (piano) Klassiche Philharmonie Bonn/Heribert Beissel rec. 2017 PROFIL PH18065 [48:52] [RC] It holds up well even against the older classic performances.

Ferrucio BUSONI (1866-1924) Piano Concerto - Pietro Scarpini (piano) Bavarian RSO & Ch/Rafael Kubelik rec. 1966 FIRST HAND REMASTERS FHR064 [69:56] [SB] A legendary performance of this massive work now at last available in an excellent transfer.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895–1968) Violin Concerto No. 3, String Trio, Sonata for Violin & Cello - Davide Alogna (violin) Fiorenzo Pascalucci (piano) Roberto Trainini (cello) Federico Stassi (viola) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574003 [77:34] [RB] Three sun-soaked works in warm and virile sound and in performances that are far from bloodless.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - BBC PO/John Wilson rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5222 SACD [66:09] [NB] Performances to be considered alongside current favourites rather than supplanting them.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) L'Alchimiste: Un petit théâtre du monde - Bertrand Cuiller (harpsichord) Isabelle Saint-Yves (bass viol) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902375.76 [53:18 + 74:04] [RHa] An auspicious start to a new series.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes - Eloïse Bella Kohn (piano) rec. 2017 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC18085 [2 CDs: 90:21] [MC] Even if you already have these Debussy works, this album is worthy of your consideration.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Études Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Gaspard de la nuit - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2017 ONYX 4204 [64:54] [SG] A worthy tribute for the Debussy centenary.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Orchestral Favourites - Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1946-62 ALTO ALC1374 [75:15] [BW] Delius from the consummate master at an attractive price.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) La favorite - Veronica Simeoni, Celso Albelo, O & Ch Opera Firenze Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Fabio Luisi rec. 2018 DYNAMIC DVD 37822 [2 DVDs: 156 mins] Blu-ray 57822 [156 mins] CDS7822.02 [72:36 + 76:16] [RMo] Excellent visuals, but the singing is not up to standard.

Raymond DRIVER Words that Sing in the Night - Laura Whittenberger (soprano) Peyson Moss, Alan Naylor (piano) Kah Yun Song, Sarah Casey (flute) Jessica Albrecht (cello) Joshua Hong (violin) Maximiliano Marques (guitar) Laura Stokes (harp) MERROW RECORDS MR002 [47:38] [JW] These settings will give pleasure, not least when played and sung as attractively as they are here.

Théodore DUBOIS (1837-1924) Works for Piano Vols 1-3 - Artur Cimirro (piano) rec. 2017-2018 ACTE PREALABLE AP0431-33 [61:43 & 67:13 & 61:44] [RB] Elevated salon invention that can slip out of this coastal anchorage into deeper emotional waters.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) & Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Violin Concertos - Ning Feng (violin), Royal Liverpool PO/Carlos Miguel Prieto rec. 2017 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS40218 [71:05] [JW] Some cavils but I enjoyed and respected this brace of concerto performances.

Heino ELLER (1887–1970) Violin Concerto, Symphonic Legend, Fantasy, Symphony No. 2 - Baiba Skride (violin) Estonian Ntl SO/Olari Elts rec. 2013-18 ONDINE ODE1321-2 [67:43] [RB] Whoops with joy and sighs with poetic sensibility.

Daniel ERICH (1649-1712), Christoph Wolfgang DRUCKENMÜLLER (1687-1741) & Georg Wilhelm Dietrich SAXER (?-1740) Complete Organ Music - rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95284 [78:59] [JV] Tomadin is an excellent interpreter, who has much feeling for German baroque organ music.

Francesco Nicola FAGO (1677–1745) Cantatas for Solo Voice and Continuo Vols 1 & 2 - Riccardo Angelo Strano (counter-tenor); Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi rec. 2015/17 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0367/0437 [63:51 & 59:22] [BW]  An almost unknown composer, well worth checking out by lovers of baroque music.

Yuri Alexandrovich FALIK (1936-2009) Sinfonietta, Violin Concerto, Elegiac Music, First Concerto for Orchestra - Viktor Lieberman (violin), Leningrad CO/Eduard Serov, Leningrad PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1977-91 NORTHERN FLOWERS NF/PMA99119 [71:29] [RB] Supremely studied yet spontaneous accounts of music by a little-heard Russian master whose standing has dipped since his death.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem, Pelléas et Mélisande Suite, Pavane, Fantaisie, Masques et Bergamasques - Sylvia McNair (soprano) Thomas Allen (baritone) John Birch (organ) William Bennett (flute) ASMF & Ch/Neville Marriner rec. 1993 ELOQUENCE 4824963 [77:58] [JWh] This disc showcases Fauré’s art to a tee.

Morten GAATHAUG (b.1955) Songs - Marianne E. Andersen (mezzo) Tore Dingstad (piano) rec. 2016/17 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1152 [78:49] [RB] Modern songs charting slow evolving bleakness, subtlety and sorrowing beauty.

Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Symphonic Poems Vol. 1 - Bamberg SO/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 CPO 555 160-2 [69:53] [RB] CPO and Bollon in Bamberg leave us with a very much elevated impression of Goldmark.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Duo cantatas for soprano & alto - Miriam Feuersinger (soprano) Franz Vitzthum (alto) Capricornus Consort Basel rec. 2018 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77427 [65:09] [JV] If one wants to know what Graupner's sacred music is about, this is the disc to go for.

Alexandre GUILMANT (1837-1911) Sonatas Nos 4 & 7  Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Pièces de fantaisie Eugène GIGOUT (1844-1925) Toccata - David M Patrick (organ) rec. 2001/02 GUILD GMCD7802 [74:40]  If you like French organ music, I’m sure that this will convert you to the cause of Guilmant.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) An Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day, Concerto Grosso - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Polish Radio Ch, Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN CKD578 [61:15] [RWe] This fine account of a noble work joins the very best available.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Messiah - Jennifer O’Loughlin (soprano) Diana Moore (alto) Nicholas Phan (tenor) Sidney Outlaw (bass) Baltimore SO & Ch/Edward Polochick (harpsichord) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573798/9 [69:51 + 65:08] [WH] A brilliantly executed large-scale Messiah alive to period practice.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Vol. 24 - Heidelberg SO/Benjamin Spillner rec. 2018 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC18024 [67:12] [MC] Highly compelling, period-informed performances.

Gary HIGGINSON (b. 1952) Scenes & Messages - Laura Cioffi (flute) Patricia Auchterlonie (soprano) Oliver Brignall, Jonathan Hyde (baritone) Alessandro Viale (piano) rec. 2018 SHEVA SH209 [67:47] [RB] Adds valuably to the store of songful and pensive British pastoral invention.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - Guy Johnston (cello), BBC PO/Sir Andrew Davis, rec. 2018 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5192 [77:02] [NB] A valuable addition to the series, though for those willing to pick and choose there are equally fine alternatives.

John IRELAND (1879-1962) A Downland Suite, Julius Caesar, The Overlanders - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martin Yates rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH SACD CDLX7353 [79:51] [JW] Three Ireland novelties performed with creditable enthusiasm.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) The Complete Songs Vol. 5 - Allan Clayton (tenor), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2016/17 HYPERION CDA68179 [63:09] [RW] Another fine instalment to this superb series.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Complete Piano Music - Giorgio Koukl, Virginia Rossetti (piano) GRAND PIANO GP768 [69:45] [SB] The most comprehensive collection of Lutosławski’s piano music yet.

Amanda MAIER (1853-1894) Chamber works - Cecilia Zilliacus, Julia Maria Kretz (violin) Kati Raitinen (cello) Bengt Forsberg, David Huang (piano) Johanna Persson (viola) rec. 2017/18 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD188 [63:45] [PRB] The final volume of a valuable tribute to a hitherto-neglected composer.

Chrystel MARCHAND (b. 1958) Piano works - Aurélien Richard (piano) rec. 2012 SKARBO DSK1123 [63:50] [SG] Impressive and highly original scores.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin), Janáček Philharmonie Ostrava/Heiko Mathias Förster rec. 2016/18 GRAMOLA 99178 [51:10] [DC] Very high quality all round – a welcome addition to the Martinů catalogue.

Emilie MAYER (1812-1883) Symphony No. 4, Piano concerto, String Quartet, Piano Sonata - Klenke Qt, Yang Tai, Ewa Kupiec (piano) - Neubrandenburger Phil/Stefan Malzew, Sebastian Tewinkel rec. 2012-17 CAPRICCIO C5339 [66:37 + 64:54] [PRB] There is certainly a continuing appetite to have more recordings of her decidedly-attractive music available on CD.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KINGS COLLEGE KGS0025 [67:36] [JQ] A conspicuous achievement.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro della Beata Vergine - Ludus Modalis rec. 2017 RAMÉE RAM1702 [59:20 + 31:17] [DC] Enlightening and enjoyable.

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) Caprices - Lisa Jacobs (violin) rec. 2017/18 COBRA RECORDS COBRA0064 [47:18+39:46] [JWh] A fantastic recording, which overshadows many a version by star players.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies Nos 1 & 5, Chout, Lieutenant Kijé - Concerts Colonne O/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC538 [2 CDs: 1:49:24] [SB] Classic Horenstein performances in new transfers with the fifth symphony particularly impressive.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symponies 1-3; The Isle of the Dead; The Rock; Symphonic Dances; Caprice Bohémien Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Sergie PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Rotterdam PO, London PO/Edo de Waart rec. 1972-80 ELOQUENCE 4828981 [4 CDs: 305:25] [JW] A thoroughly enjoyable set and a real bargain.

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Drumming - Kuniko (percussion, vocals) rec. 2017/18 LINN RECORDS CKD582 [70:04] [SSi] An incredibly nuanced performance, one in which every phase is minutely captured with clarity and accuracy.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Complete Piano Music Vol. 3 - Henrik Löwenmark (piano) rec. 2016/18 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0243 [75:24] [PRB] Exceedingly well-played and faithfully recorded.

Hugo REINHOLD (1854-1935) Traumbilder, Klavierstücke, Violin Sonata - Tomasz Bolsewicz (violin), Aleksandra Milcarz (piano) rec. 2014 DUX 1291 [57:51] [JW] Music that is attractive, and happy to bask in tradition.

Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999) Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, Concierto Serenata - Narciso Yepes (guitar) Nicanor Zabaleta (harp) Ataulfo Argenta, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Ernst Märzendorfer ALTO ALC1379 [71:41] Andrés Segovia (guitar) Guitar Fantasia - SO of Air/Enrique Jorda rec. 1952-58 ALTO ALC1395 [75:00] [RB] Sturdy catalogue bargain price contenders for an all-Rodrigo collection and a judiciously selected mix of elite Segovia solo and concertante.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Mosè in Egitto - Andrew Foster-Williams, Mandy Fredrich, Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Enrique Mazzola rec. 2017 C MAJOR 744808 DVD [150 mins] [RK] Fine musicianship, flawed staging.

Filippo SAULI (fl. 1705-22) Sei Partite per mandolino solo - Davide Rebuffa (mandolin) Rosanna Turone (harpsichord) rec. 2013 TACTUS TC671901 [61:04] [GPu] For many this will be too specialized a ‘dish’, but those who love the instruments of the lute family will surely find it rewarding.

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) O Penosa Lontananza - Deborah Cachet (soprano) Scherzi Musicali/Nicolas Achten rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC396 [70:01] [SSi] Excellent performances throughout.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Piano Quintet, À tour d’anches - Birgitta Wollenweber (piano) Solisten-Ens Berlin rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.570489 [74.03] Piano Music Vincent Larderet (piano) rec. 2009 8.572194 [76:45] Works for Violin & Piano - Beata Halska (violin) Claudio Chaiquin (piano) rec. 2014 8.573169  [65:43] [RB] Well suited to anyone wanting to explore Schmitt, the composer of chamber music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Metamorphosen - London Festival O/Ross Pople rec. 1990 ASV QUICKSILVA CDQS6195 [55:03] [RMo] There is a palpable joy is the music-making here which readily communicates itself to the listener.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Infanta & Romantic Suites, Prelude - Berlin RSO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573821 [63:34] [RC] If this composer or genre interests you, you certainly won’t be disappointed by this fine new recording.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Sonata Arpeggione Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Cello sonata - Jonathan Swensen (cello), Filip Strauch (piano) rec. 2016/18 DANACORD DACOCD834 [65:51] [JF] Enjoyable performances, though the CD’s documentation leaves something to be desired.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) & Friedrich BURGMÜLLER (1806-1874) Die Nacht - Anja Lechner (cello) Pablo Márquez (guitar) rec. 2016 ECM NEW SERIES 2555 [55:49] [DC] Balm to quieten your moods on dark and stormy nights.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasy, Violin Concertos - Lena Neudauer (violin), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Pablo González rec. 2010 SWR MUSIC SWR19422CD [79:15] [JWh] Fine playing and some interesting novelties alongside the main fare.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Sacred Choral Music 1648 - Knabenchor Hannover/Heinz Hennig rec. 1981-84 RONDEAU ROP7021/22 [2 CDs: 154:40] [MR] The quality of the singing as well as the continually shifting combination of instruments and voices makes this a highly worthwhile re-issue.

Stefano SCODANIBBIO (1956-2012) Alisei - Daniele Roccato (double bass), Ludus Gravis double bass ensemble/Tonino Battista rec. 2014 ECM NEW SERIES 2598 [67:43] [DC] Seriously intriguing, with a reach far beyond the niche of double bass connoisseurs.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Symphony No. 2, Piano Concerto - Kirill Gerstein (piano) Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1139 [76:30] [MC] The performers display a real affinity for Scriabin’s music.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio No. 2 Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973) Piano Trios Nos1 & 2 - Delta Piano Trio rec. 2017 ODRADEK ODRCD350 [63:30] [LW] An enterprising disc of trios by Auerbach and Shostakovich in superb performances and sound.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 8 - London SO/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2018 LSO LIVE LSO0822 SACD [65:08] [RWe] A superb live version, very much more than a souvenir of the concert.

Tadeusz SZELIGOWSKI (1896-1963) Piano works - Elżbieta Tyszecka (piano) rec. 2015/18 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0429 [46:25] [SSi] An excellent disc introducing Szeligowski’s piano music in a wonderful performance that leaves me wanting more.

Mikis THEODORAKIS (b. 1925) Theodorakis sings Theodorakis rec. 1990/91 WERGO INT30592 [34:08] [RB] Short measure but authentic delivery with breathy, quavery, tobacco-pungent passion.

Romuald TWARDOWSKI (b. 1930) Spanish Fantasia, Serenade, Violin Concerto, Niggunim, Capriccio in Blue - Kinga Augustyn (violin), Toruń SO/Mariusz Smolij rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.579031 [RB] Catchy and accessible music that’s likely to have most audiences in the palm of the composer's hand.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Bolshoi Theatre Ch, St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2017 DELOS Blu-ray DV7013 [94.14] [DBi] Another grand but rather worthy Verdi Requiem on video from Temirkanov.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin Concertos - Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (violin) rec. 2017 NAÏVE OP30572 [68:45] [CR] Another winning issue in the Vivaldi Edition.

Jörg WIDMANN (b. 1973) Polyphone Schatten; Drittes Labyrinth - Jörg Widmann (clarinet), Christophe Desjardins (viola), Sarah Wegener (soprano), WDR SO/Heinz Holliger & Emilio Pomarico rec. 2002/14 WERGO WER7369-2 [59:48] [RHa] Two more fascinating orchestral products of the seemingly limitless sonic imagination of Jörg Widmann.

Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1745) Trio Sonatas - Ensemble Berlin Prag rec. 2017 SUPRAPHON SU4239-2 [47:10 + 47:33] [CR] Irresistibly playful accounts of these works.

100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols Ch King’s College, Cambridge/David Willcocks, Philip Ledger, Stephen Cleobury rec. 1958-2018 KING’S COLLEGE RECORDINGS KGS0033 [2 CDs: 106:42] [RC] For lovers of this kind of choral music, this set is not to be missed.

All the Host of Heaven Works by Ešenvalds, Duruflé & Dove - Baylor A Cappella C/Alan Raines rec. 2014 ACIS APL55284 [53:03] [MR] Memorable performances by this Texan University choir on tour in France.

At the Pleasure of Mazarin Jessica Gould (soprano), Ensemble L'Aura Soave Cremona rec. 2017 MV CREMONA MVC/018-043 [64:17] [AY] A dramatic and historically informed album.

Leonard Bernstein at Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Justus Frantz (piano), Vienna PO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1988 C MAJOR 746608 [3 DVDs: 215 mins] [JWh] A patchy set but worth acquiring for the extensive rehearsal sequences.

Cantilena Anglica Fortunae Works by Scheidemann & Scheidt - Yoann Moulin (harpsichord) rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC394 [55:35] [SSi] A very fine introduction to the harpsichord music of composers who provide a link between Sweelinck and Bach.

Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain An Irish-Appalachian Celebration - Amanda Powell (soprano) Ross Hauck (tenor) Jeffrey Strauss (baritone) Apollo's Fire/Jeannette Sorrell rec. 2017/18 AVIE AV2396 [68:22] [MSJ] One of the finest holiday albums I've ever encountered.

An Ely Christmas Girl Choristers & Lay Clerks of Ely Cathedral/Sarah MacDonald, Aaron Shilson (organ) rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD527 [71:30] [MR] Not everything is a sure-fire winner, but there is plenty of magic to be found for the seasonal listener, sung by a particularly well-prepared group of girl choristers.

A German Christmas Margaretha Consort/Marit Broekroelofs rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.551398 [78:15] [ST] Rather thin gruel.

The Liberation of the Gothic John BROWNE (fl. c.1480-1505) Salve Regina I, Stabat Mater Thomas ASHWELL (c.1478-1527) Missa Ave Maria - Graindelavoix/Björn Schmelzer rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCDP32115 [79:48] [GH] The disc has made me hear this music with an utterly different pair of ears.

Renée Anne Louprette (organ) Une Voix Française rec. 2016 ACIS APL01609 [69:58] [MR] A programme of French music which suits both Louprette’s style of playing and the superb instrument to a tee.

Les Maîtres du Motet Works by Bouteiller, Brossard & Raison - Les Arts Florissants/Paul Agnew rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8905300 [67:05] [SSi] A wonderful recording of three French baroque composers who, especially in the case of Brossard, are unjustly overshadowed by their contemporaries.

Metamorfose Frida Fredrikke Waaler Wærvågen (cello) Ingrid Andsnes (piano) rec. 2017 LAWO RECORDS LWC1150 [66:03] [WK] An enterprising choice of music, well-played and recorded.

Movie Magic: Twenty Big Themes – Space, Action and Romance - London SO & Stanley Black O/Stanley Black rec. 1987 ALTO ALN1969 [79:13] [RB] Full-on treatment for a sometimes far from obvious selection of film scores.

Now may we singen Music for Advent & Christmas - Ben Bloor (organ) Ch Westminster School/Timothy Garrard rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD595 [67:15] [RB] A nicely selected and executed programme: familiar and unfamiliar.

Mihaela Oprea (violin) Danish & Romanian works - Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD831 [56:06] [JF] Do not expect masterpieces, just music that is hugely enjoyable and every so often quite special.

The Passinge Mesures Music of the English virginalists - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68249 [77:43] [SG] An attractive disc, offering pleasing variety.

Poetical Humors Les inAttendus rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902610 [62:26] [DC] Get your intellect tickled and your emotions moved.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (baritone) I’ll Walk Beside You - Karin Schaupp (guitar) Southern Cross Soloists rec. 2018 ABC CLASSICS 481 6826 [72:23] [GF] I didn’t like the singing as much as I perhaps should have, but the programme has alerted me to the multiplicity of musical expressions.

Russian Émigré Composers Works by Prokofiev, Medtner, Grechaninov, Rachmaninov & Stravinsky - Alexander Karpeyev (piano) rec. 2017 CLAUDIO BD-A CR6042-6 [69:33] [DBi] A well planned and well played programme, including an attractive Medtner rarity.

Sacrum Convivium Works by Durufle, Machaut, Poulenc & Messiaen - Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve rec. 2014 MIRARE MIR366 [55:37] [WH] A superb Estonian vocal ensemble in French music.

Solitude Works by Mendelssohn & Weinberg - Dudok Quartet Amsterdam rec. 2017 RESONUS RES10215 [54:37] Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets - Minguet Quartett rec. 2013 CPO 777931-2 [71:27] [BW]  The Resonus appeals by reason of its themed programme, while the CPO will satisfy those who like this music a little on the cool side, but more profound performances are available.

Songs for Strings English CO, English SO/Donald Fraser rec. 2012/18 AVIE AV2391 [58:43] [JW] Arrangements that yield a pleasing range of textures.

Jascha Spivakovsky (piano) Concertos by Beethoven - Victorian State O/Clive Douglas, BBC Scottish O/Ian Whyte rec. 1953/61 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC539 [73:09] [JW] Focus on the G major and treat the Emperor as a bonus, given its poor sonics.

A Toast to Melba Lorina Gore (soprano) Tasmanian SO/Marko Letonja rec. 2017 ABC CLASSICS 481 6297 [60:38] [GF] By and large this is a worthy tribute to one of the legends from the Golden Age of Song.

De Vez En Cuando La Vida Works by Serrat & others - Cappella Mediterranea/Leonardo García Alarcón (harpsichord) rec. 2017/18 ALPHA 412 [61:49] [RHa] A classy homage to the doyen of living Spanish/Catalan singer/songwriters.

Vienna: Fin de Siècle Barbara Hannigan (soprano) Reinbert de Leeuw (piano) rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 393 [77.41] [WH] Hannigan and de Leeuw excel in repertoire that fits them like a glove.

Other reviews

The Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters by Mark Wigglesworth publ. 2018 Faber & Faber [MW] A wise and readable insight into the art and purpose of conducting; an essential purchase.

The Gift of Poetry Sir Alec Guinness, Richard Burton, Sir John Betjeman, Robert Donat, Orson Welles, Laurie Lee (readers) ALTO ALN1968 [78:42] [RB] Imaginatively selected - discoveries ready to be made.

Articles and Notices

MusicWeb International Recordings of the Year 2018

Stanfordian Thoughts: 8. Part-songs by Christopher Howell

Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten - a survey by Ralph Moore

Christmas Music Past and Present - a short survey by Brian Wilson


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