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Monday December 17th 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - Devy Erlih (violin) rec. 1969 DOREMI DHR8061-62 [2 CDs: 130:41] [JW] A formidable, craggy, individualistic set.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) & Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Cello sonatas - Steven Isserlis (cello) Dénes Várjon (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68227 [77:21] [RHa] Isserlis and Várjon provide a probing and beautifully coloured account of the Arpeggione and make a convincing case for Chopin’s more challenging sonata.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Music Makers, Sea Pictures - Linda Finnie (contralto), London PO & Ch/Bryden Thomson rec. 1991 CHANDOS CHAN9022 [64:04] [RMo] Indubitably lovely versions.

Johann Friedrich FASCH (1688-1758) Missa, Suite, Cantata - Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert / Hermann Max rec. 2017 CPO 555 176-2 [73:55] [SSi] A very fine disc that has quickly become one of my favourite recordings of Fasch’s music.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - Bochum SO/Steven Sloane rec. 2002 NAXOS 8.573831 [64:20] [RB] An impressionistic South German voice soaked in the quintessence of lyrical expression.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Orchestral Suites - O of the Eighteenth Century/Frans Brüggen rec. 1986-2000 GLOSSA GCD921125 [4 CDs: 265:19] [SG] Stunning performances which blow away the cobwebs of time.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Horn Concerto No. 1, Wind Serenade & Sonatina No. 1, Metamorphosen - Robert Langbein (horn) Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 PROFIL PH15016 [16:40 + 69:13] [MC] A memorable addition to a valuable series.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Cello concerto - Tibor de Machula (cello), Berlin PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler rec. 1942/51 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC545 [71:33] [MB] Andrew Rose has transformed the Tchaikovsky into something quite glorious, largely retaining the power of Furtwängler’s intensity where it matters.

Jörg WIDMANN (b. 1973) Arche - Ch Hamburgischen Staatsoper, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg/Kent Nagano rec. 2017 ECM NEW SERIES 2605/06 [74:58 + 26:08] [DC] An eclectic and highly effective modern oratorio.

Advent Live Ch St John's College Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2014-17 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD535 [60:19] [ST] There aren’t many discs of music specifically for Advent, so this one is self-recommending.

Friday December 14th

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

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.

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.

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.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

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

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.

Heinrich SCHÜTZ (1585-1672) Sacred Choral Music 1648 - Knabenchor Hannover/Heinz Hennig rec. 1981-84 RONDEAU ROP702122 [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.

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.

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.

Thursday December 13th

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) 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday December 12th

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 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.

Tuesday December 11th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 




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