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Wednesday January 31st

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Jeux, Khamma, La Boîte à joujoux - Singapore SO/Lan Shui
rec. 2014/15 BIS BIS2162 SACD [75:18] [DBi] Another winner from the Singapore Orchestra and Lan Shui.

Manolis KALOMIRIS (1883–1962) Complete Works for Solo Piano - Olivier Chauzu (piano) rec. 2016 GRAND PIANO GP748 [69:43] [SSi] A fine disc which makes me want to hear more by this neglected composer.

Orlandus LASSUS (1530/32 -1594) Responsories for Holy Week - Ars Cantica/Marco Berrini rec. 2003 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0404 [53:13] [JV] For those who would like to expand their horizons in this area of music for Passiontide, this fine production is not to be missed.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) The Argo Organ Recordings - Simon Preston (organ) rec August 1962-9 ELOQUENCE 482 4917 [2 CDs: 138:30] [RHa] A welcome return to the catalogue for these pioneering Messiaen recordings from the old Argo label; perhaps not a first choice but of uncommon historical interest.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos 11, 12 & 13 - Marie Kuijken/Veronica Kuijken (fortepiano) La Petite Band/Sigiswald Kuijken rec. 2016 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72752 SACD [74:34] [PB] A chance to hear these concertos in a more intimate form, well played and in excellent sound.

Johann Peter PIXIS (1788-1874) Piano Trios, Trio Concertant - Leonore Piano Trio rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68207 [64:54] Johann Peter PIXIS & Sigismond THALBERG (1812-1871) Piano Concertos - Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2011 HYPERION CDA67915 [70:07] [DJB] Pixis may not be a lost genius, but there is plenty of lovely music to be found in these two discs.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartets - Anton Quartet rec. 1993 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1297-98 [69:13 + 50:40] [JW] An accomplished set, technically adroit and with a sure sense of the music’s architecture.

Richard WAGNER (1813-83) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Badische Staatskapelle/Günter Neuhold rec. 1993-95 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99801 [14 CDs: 844:40] [RMo] A highly recommendable introduction to the tetralogy for the novice, given the price.

Georg Hendrik WITTE (1843-1929) Piano Quartet, Horn Quintet - Mozart Piano Qt, Radovan Vlatkovic (horn) Cornelia Gartemann (violin) rec. 2017 MDG 943 2046-6 SACD [69:58] [SG] For enthusiasts of the unsung, this is definitely a must-have.

Régine Crespin (soprano) A Tribute rec. 1960-76 WARNER CLASSICS 9029588671 [10 CDs: 544:14] [GF] Buy this box at once but perhaps ration the listening to a couple of discs at a time.

Tuesday January 30th

Franco ALFANO (1875-1954) Piano Works - Orazio Maione (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573754 [68:57] [PRB] It’s surely worth putting some of Alfano’s piano works to the test.

Georg BÖHM (1661-1733) The Complete Organ Works - Hans Davidsson rec. 2013 LOFT LRCD-1133-35 [3 CDs: 179:42] [BW] Combines scholarship and detailed documentation with reflective playing.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) & Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Violin Concertos - Arabella Steinbacher (violin) Berlin RSO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186625 SACD [65:47] [DBi] A lovely disc and a very valuable pairing of lesser-played works.

Johann Gottfried MÜTHEL (1728-1788) Complete Fantasies & Choral Preludes - Léon Berben (organ) rec. 2017 AEOLUS AE11131 SACD [67:22] [SG] Another fine addition to the Aeolus/Léon Berben collaboration.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Bo Skovhus (baritone) Stefan Vladar (piano) rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5291 [66:37] [GF] No single recording can give the whole truth about it, but this gets as close as possible.

Augusta Read THOMAS (b. 1964) Ritual Incantations NIMBUS NI6355 [77:59] [SSi] A fine introduction to the many aspects of the music of Augusta Read Thomas, all of which are given excellent performances.

Altri canti d’amor 17th Century Instrumental Works - L’Estro d’Orfeo/Leonor de Lera rec. 2016 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72760 [50:02] [GH] With much exquisite playing of rare and magical music, this is warmly recommended, unless the short playing time troubles you.

Vilde Frang (violin) Homage - José Gallardo (piano) rec. 2017 WARNER CLASSICS 9029580532 [54:51] [JW] Frang has selected an attractive programme that will appeal to violin fanciers who don’t expect or want expressive devices associated with the originals.

Great Hymns from Liverpool Liverpool Cathedral Ch/David Poulter, Ian Tracey (organ) rec. 2016 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1180 [78:08] [MR] Great English hymns and Great English hymn singing, with the added bonus of simply spectacular sound.

Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown (piano duo) Works by Busoni, Casella, Debussy, Herschel-Hill, Poulenc & Satie rec. 2016 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0178 [79:18] [IL] Rewarding for the adventuresome listener.

Monday January 29th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1675-1750) Violin Concertos Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Piano Concertos Vol. 4 - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), Serge Zimmermann (violin), Michael Rische (piano), Berliner Barock Solisten rec. 2017 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC17046/HC17034 [61:14 + 56:28] [MC] The Berliner Barock Solisten excels with these winning period informed concerto recordings of Bach father and son.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) et la virtuosité - Takuya Otaki (piano) rec. 2017 SOLSTICE SOCD350 [67:49] [EJW] A sonically superb recording of a selection of Bartók’s piano music in splendid performances, demonstrating the evolution of his style as he matured.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Orchestral Works Vol. 3 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5195 SACD [68:17] [IL] Uncomfortable works, but delivered with verve and panache by Wilson and the BBC Philharmonic.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Caspar DIETHELM (1926-1997) Symphonies - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Rainer Held rec. 2016 GUILD GM3CD7808 [68:17] [MR] Outstanding playing, perceptive direction, superlative recording, but most of all, absolutely amazingly good music from a seriously-overlooked Swiss symphonist.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Legacy - Tomás Cotik (violin), Tao Lin (piano) rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573789 [68:17] [BMC] Classical or jazz? It doesn’t matter – just enjoy it.

Max REGER (1873-1916) String Trios Nos 1 & 2, Piano Quartet No. 2 - Trio Lirico, Detlev Eisinger (piano) rec. 2017 AUDITE 97.714 [83:31] [SG] For the uninitiated, especially, this is a highly recommended Reger chamber music primer.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Rare Piano Works - Mario Patuzzi (piano) rec. 2016 DYNAMIC CDS7796 [66:22] [PRB] An hour’s worth of the composer’s music you are unlikely to have encountered before.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Igor STRAVINSKY (1882–1971) Le Sacre du printemps Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918 Printemps Serge RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Vesna - Rodion Pogassov (baritone) Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 ONYX 4182 [66:51] [ST] The best Rite of Spring in years.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 4 & 5, Romeo & Juliet, Serenade for Strings - Concertgebouw O/Willem Mengelberg rec. 1927-30 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC511 [60:01 + 68:38] [JW] These recordings belong in any historic collection of the Tchaikovsky symphonies.

Simon Preston (organ) The Argo Organ Recordings: at Westminster Abbey rec. 1963-65 ELOQUENCE 482 4933 [2CDs: 95:24] [RHa] A curious compilation but the performances and recordings withstand the test of time pretty well.

Other reviews
Peter Dawson The Floral Dance: His 49 Finest rec. 1925-39 RETROSPECTIVE RTS4306 [77:44 + 77:51] [JW] The lighter side of his repertoire.

Friday January 26th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Missa in F, Magnificat, Cantata 151 - Monteverdi Ch/English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2016 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG728 [73:53] [JQ] A most welcome addition to Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach discography.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas Nos 1-6 - Jean-Léon Cohen (piano) rec. 2015-17 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR40-41C [71:20 + 77:44] [JW] Unmannered and direct.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896) Symphony No. 6 - Bavarian RSO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2017 BR KLASSIK 900147 [55:15] [RMo] The intensity and purposefulness of Haitink’s direction throughout make this a recording to esteem highly.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Psalm settings - Ch des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Howard Arman rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900519 [59:16] [SB] Good performance, but no texts or translations.

Tobias MICHAEL (1592-1657) Sacred Madrigals - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2014 CPO 777 935-2 [65:35] [JV] This is an excellent disc, establishing Michael as a composer of stature.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Don Giovanni - Jean-Sébastien Bou (baritone) Robert Gleadow (bass) Myrtò Papatanasiu (soprano) Ch de Radio France, Le Cercle de L’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer rec. 2016 ALPHA CLASSICS 379 [3 CDs: 175:47] [GF] There are several other recordings that are safer recommendations.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No.11 - London SO/Mstislav Rostropovich rec. 2002 LSO LIVE LSO0535 SACD [72:24] [DM] Rostropovich’s London Eleventh: how does it compare with his Washington one?

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Die Liebe der Danae - Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano) Tomasz Konieczny (baritone) Vienna PO/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2016 EUROARTS Blu-ray 4297024 [176 mins] [PCG] Those who do not know this opera, or do not know it well enough, should certainly take advantage of this recording to encounter some spectacularly good music.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Fantasias - Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba) rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD920417 [56:05 + 44:53] [SSi] An excellent conclusion to the commemoration of the anniversary of the composer’s death.

Fait pleurer les songes Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Sonate Posthume Francis POULENC (1899-1963) & Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas - Guro Kleven Hagen (violin) Marianna Shirinyan (piano) rec. 2016 SIMAX PSC1354 [58:46] [NH] Performances which are very fine without leading the field.

Thursday January 25th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Bach in Black - La Voce Strumentale/Dmitry Sinkovsky (violin, countertenor) rec. 2016 NAÏVE OP30567 [61:23] [CP] A fresh and intoxicating period-instrument take on some very well-known works.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Lucia di Lammermoor - Joan Sutherland (soprano), Richard Tucker (tenor) Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/Silvio Varviso rec. 1951 PRISTINE PACO141 [54:50 + 60:45] [SG] Readers with an interest in opera history, opera nostalgia, Joan Sutherland or just live opera have a goldmine here.

Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Requiem Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Requiem Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Valiant-for-truth - Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Fifth Avenue, New York/John Scott rec. 2010 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10200 [63:14] [JQ] Another set of very successful performances from St Thomas Fifth Avenue led by John Scott.

Cat HOPE (b. 1966) Ephemeral Rivers rec. 2011-15 HAT[Now]ART 200 [55:53] [SSi] An enjoyable disc of music which is both challenging and enthralling.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Tod und Verklärung - Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo) Munich Phil/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1979/83 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER MPHIL0006 [60:49] [RMo] I am captivated every time I listen to this.

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Childhood Manuscripts - Alexandre Dossin (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573435 [79:53] [SSi] An interesting disc that any self respecting Prokofiev fanatic will want.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) The Wagner Project - Matthias Goerne (baritone), Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902250.51 [62:56 + 59:12] [ST] This might even qualify as a Wagnerian guilty pleasure.

Slava Grigoryan (guitar) Songs Without Words - Leonard Grigoryan (guitar) rec. 2017 ABC CLASSICS 4815101 [53:34] Migration - Australian String Qt rec. 2016 ABC CLASSICS 4815428 [58:24] [DHu] The Grigoryan art in ordinary and outstanding guises, but which would you listen to more?

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Mallorca Edition Historic Organs Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2011 CYBELE RECORDS 001404 [6 SACDs: 458:29] [SG] For connoisseurs of historical instruments and distinguished organ playing this set is indispensable.

Sounds of Transcendence Works by Griffes, Scriabin & Franck - Reed Tetzloff (piano) rec. 2017 ROMÉO RECORDS 7323 [72:10] [JW] Mature playing but a somewhat unbalanced programme.


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