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16th-19th November

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


Reviews from the last week
119 reviews completed so far this month
This month's reviews
Last month's reviews


[New] Listening Studio Report - July 2018 by John Quinn

[New] Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro: A review of the discography by Ralph Moore

Stanfordian Thoughts: 3. The Second Violin Concerto by Christopher Howell

Mozart's Cosi fan tutte: A review of the discography by Ralph Moore

Bartók's Duke Bluebeard: A partial survey of the discography by Ralph Moore

Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Summer 2018 Pt 1 by Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan

Classical Music on Stamps This week: Organs


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Publishing schedule
Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, other music); Friday: Articles.
Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard
Jazz reviews posted weekly

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Friday July 20th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 5, Sonata No. 27 - Alessio Bax (piano) Southbank Sinfonia/Simon Over rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD525 [64.52] [RBe] Bax is not at his best here.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Cello concerto & Transcriptions - Brinton Averil Smith (cello) Evelyn Chen (piano) Houston SO/Kazuki Yamada rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573820 [58:07] [BSt] Another very attractive performance of this concerto - and this is probably the version to live with.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Brian FERNEYHOUGH (b. 1943) Liber Scintillarum, Plötzlichkelt, Missa Brevis, La Terre est un Homme - ensemble recherche, Olivia Robinson, Jennifer Adams-Barbaro (sopranos) Cherith Millburn-Fryer (alto) BBC SO/Martyn Brabbins, EXAUDI/James Weeks rec. 2006-12 NMC D231 [68:05] [SG] Exciting and challenging, yet the rewards are manifold.

Karel JANOVICKÝ (b.1930) Rainsongs - Manchester Camerata Ens rec. 2014/16 PRIMAFACIE PFCD060 [63:39] [JF] A well performed taster from a very large catalogue of compositions.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos. 9 & 12 - Andrea Bacchetti (piano) O Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova/Fabio Luisi rec. 2013/2015 CONCERTO CLASSICS 2106 [59:34] [DC] Uneven recordings, but fine performances.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca - Leontyne Price (soprano) Plácido Domingo (tenor) Sherrill Milnes (baritone) New Philharmonia O/Zubin Mehta rec. 1972 RCA 88697448122 [45:37 + 66:30] [RMo] Not the subtlest or most nuanced version but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

Thursday July 19th

Alexandre BOËLY (1785-1858) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Stephanie McCallum (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0471 [79:08] [PRB] The excellence of the playing, the fidelity of the recording and perfect piano sound, to say nothing of the erudition of the sleeve notes, all make this CD hard to resist.

Johann Gottlieb JANITSCH (1708-1762/1763) Rediscoveries from the Sara Levy Collection - Tempesta di Mare/Gwyn Roberts, Richard Stone rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN 0820 [67:28] [JV] A compelling disc which every lover of baroque music should add to their collection.

Marc MELLITS (b. 1969) Smoke - New Music Detroit INNOVA 004 [65:35] [DC] A highly entertaining alchemy.

Peter NAVARRO-ALONSO (b. 1973) Le Quattro Stagioni, Concerto in Si minore - Alpha, Ekkozone/Mathias Reumert rec. 2015/17 DACAPO 8.226591 [42:50] [RHa] Clever, entertaining, well-played and recorded but also a somewhat empty experience.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Piano works - Jonathan Plowright (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68198 [76:38] [SG] A sheer delight!

40 Years of Contemporary Music Grupo Encuentros/Alicia Terzian rec. 2008 NAVONA RECORDS NV6172 [71:39] [GH] A good overall view of some aspects of the period can certainly be gained and enjoyed.

Wednesday July 18th

Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Piano Quintets 1 & 2; Quartets - Silesian Qt, Wojciech Świtała (piano),  Polish Cello Qt rec. 2010/17 CHANDOS CHAN10976 [63:30] [SG] Well-recorded, gripping and exhilarating.

Giovanni CROCE (c1557 - 1609) Motetti & Sacrae Cantiones - Voces Suaves, Concerto Scirocco/Francesco Saverio Pedrini (organ) rec. 2015/17 ARCANA A439 [52:24] [JV] There is every reason to be thankful for this disc, which gives us a fairly good impression of Croce’s style.

Roberto ESPOSITO (b. 1984) Piano Concerto No. 1, Piano Sonata No. 1 - Roberto Esposito (piano), Michele D’Elia (electronics), Budapest Scoring SO/Eliseo Castrignano rec. 2017 GRAND PIANO GP781 [56:34] [PRB] Difficult to decide whether this is fully satisfying, but worth the effort to find out.

Joseph RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Piano Concerto Bernhardt SCHOLZ (1835-1916) Piano Concerto, Capriccio - Simon Callaghan (piano) BBC Scottish SO/Bern Gernon rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68225 [71:16] [EJW] None of the music here is particularly memorable, but no criticism can be levelled at the performers.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No.6 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No.4 - Takahiro Sonoda (piano) NHK SO Tokyo/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1954 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC2152 [2 CDs: 82:43] [MB] The Beethoven is the main interest here.

New Music for New Oboe Vol. 2 Christopher Redgate (oboe) Stephen Robbings (piano) Coull Qt, Paul Archbold (electronics) rec. 2012-17 METIER MSV28531 [80:31] [JF] This may not feature my preferred oboe sound-world, nevertheless there are many captivating and interesting moments.

Tuesday July 17th

Johann Sebastien BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Quatuor Ardeo rec. 2017 IBS CLASSICAL IBS112018 [79:08] [SSi] Not just for the curious, but one that all Bach and string quartet fans should enjoy.

Eric CRAVEN Entangled States - Mary Dullea (piano) rec. 2017 MÉTIER MSV28571 [56:41 + 56:14] [JF] This is an impressive and often quite beautiful production, but don’t allow the musical philosophy of the piece to detract from your enjoyment.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 2 Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Symphonic Dance, Elegiac Melodies -  Gürzenich-O Köln/Dmitrij Kitajenko rec. 2015/17 OEHMS CLASSICS OC457 [63:27] [NB] Fifty minutes of lumberingly dull Sibelius; I am not sure quite when a performance has disappointed me more.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Concert Overture, Violin & piano concertos - Leon McCawley (piano) Sergey Levitin (violin) Royal Northern Sinf/Martin Yates rec. 2017 DUTTON VOCALION CDLX7350 [70:06] [JW] Nothing subversive in the music – but engaging and direct pleasures.

Leonard Bernstein (conductor) The 1940s Vol 2: His Debut - Joseph Schuster (cello) William Lincer (viola) PSO New York rec. 1943 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC533 [74:26] [JQ] A genuine moment of musical history.

Dans les temps de révolutions Nicolas Bucher (organ) rec. 2017 HORTUS 149 [68:24] [JV] Noëls from this period in French music history are seldom recorded, and therefore this disc fills a gap in the discography.

Monday July 16th 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Mono Tapes - Friedrich Gulda (clavichord) rec. 1978/79 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301063BC [60:17] [SG] My own feelings are that this release, while having much to savour, will be restricted mainly to the niche market, appealing especially to aficionados and Gulda completists.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Mary Queen of Scots - Ashley Putnam (soprano) Virginia Opera Ch & O/Peter Mark rec. 1978 LYRITA SRCD2369 [53:28 + 79:11] [PCG] We could do with a modern revival and recording; in the meantime this reissue will have to do.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony No. 9 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900169 [60.22] [MC] This is great music-making of unshakable conviction.

Margarete SCHWEIKERT (1887-1957) Im bitteren Menschenland - Bernhard Berchtold (tenor), Jeannette La-Deur (piano) rec. 2013 TYXART TXA16086 [74:33] [GF] A renaissance for Schweikert’s music is well-deserved.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 4 & 11 - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5220 [2 CDs: 127:04] [DM] Performances of great strength and stature, peerlessly played and recorded; the pinnacle of Nelsons’ cycle thus far.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Robert Dean Smith, Iréne Theorin, Bayreuth Festival Ch & O/Peter Schneider rec. 2009 OPUS ARTE OACD9033D [4 CDs: 245:06] [SSi] A very fine performance of Wagner’s masterpiece, with strong characterisation and very good singing.


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