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[New] Strauss' Four Last Songs - a survey by Ralph Moore

[New] A Selection Box from Rachel Talitman's Harp & Co. - a survey by Rob Barnett

[New] George Walker - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

National discography update: Finnish & Baltic Symphonies ~ Scandinavian Concertos ~ Scandinavian Symphonies

Puccini's La rondine - a survey by Ralph Moore

Stanfordian Thoughts: 7. Not-Quite-Concertos by Christopher Howell

Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Autumn 2018/2 by Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan

Classical Music on Stamps This week: Chopin from Poland and France


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

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Wednesday November 21st

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin - Devy Erlih (violin) rec. 1969 DOREMI DHR-8061/2 [2 CDs: 130:41] [SG] This compelling cycle makes a welcome return in fresh and vibrant transfers.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Ballades, Nocturnes - Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075822932 [51.23] [RBe] Andsnes further demonstrates his versatility with a exceptionally fine recording.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Wind Band Music Vols 1-3 - Royal Norwegian Navy Band/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2014-16 NAXOS WIND BAND CLASSICS 8.573679-81 [3 CDs: 203:39] [RB] A naturally distanced perspective - the results are exciting and moving in equal measure.

Giovanni Simone MAYR (1763 – 1845) Che originali! Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 – 1848) Pigmalione - Bruno de Simone, Chiara Amarů, Antonino Siragusa, Aya Wakizono, O dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala/Gianluca Capuano rec. 2017 DYNAMIC CDS7811.2 [65:48 + 73:04] [GF] I can’t believe anyone listening to this recording can avoid smiling with pleasure.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets Vol. 1 - Doric String Qt rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN20122 [52:02 + 34:33] [MG] Exemplary performances that reveal the humanity at the heart of these works.

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Rediscovered Vol. 2 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20033 [62:35] [PRB] I was absolutely riveted for the complete duration of the CD.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Semiramide - Albina Shagimuratova (soprano), Daniela Barcellona (mezzo-soprano), Opera Rara Chorus, O Age of Enlightenment/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2016 OPERA RARA ORC57 [4 CDs: 231.43] [MC] This magnificent release makes a compelling case for Rossini’s grand opera.

Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768) Sonate a Violino solo e basso - Enrico Gatti (violin), Guido Morini (harpsichord), Alain Gervreau (cello) rec. 1994 ARCANA A456 [60.07] [GH] Gatti exhibits virtuosity, musicality and panache - a fascinating release.

À Portuguesa Baroque Iberian Concertos & Sonatas - O Barroca Casa da Música Porto/Andreas Staier (harpsichord) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902337 [64:53] [BW]  A real find, recommended for much more than the novelty value of much of the music.

Fritz Wunderlich (tenor) Lieder - Josef Müller-Mayen, Rolf Reinhardt, Hubert Giesen (piano) rec. 1955-1965 SWR MUSIC SWR19064CD [3 CDs: 158:45] [JQ] There are a few reservations, but it is marvellous to hear such great artistry caught on the wing.

Tuesday November 20th

William Sterndale BENNETT (1816-1875) Sextet, Chamber Trio, String Quartet - Villiers Qt, James Dickenson (violin) Nick Stringfellow (cello) Leon Bosch (double bass) Jeremy Young (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.571379 [77:30] [SG] Offers much to enjoy.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Sonatas - Isabelle Faust (violin) Alexander Melnikov, Tanguy de Williencourt, Javier Perianes (piano) Magali Mosnier (flute) Antoine Tamestit (viola) Xavier de Maistre (harp) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) rec. 2016-18 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902303 [54:00] [WH] A collection of music from Debussy’s final period in fine performances from some of Harmonia Mundi’s stars.

Théodore DUBOIS (1837-1924) Violin Concerto, Violin Sonata, Ballad - Ingolf Turban (violin), Lukas Maria Kuen (piano) Deutsche Radio Phil/Raoul Grüneis rec. 2014/16 CPO 777932-2 [59:59] [BS] Minor sonic reservations apart, this is a useful basis for sampling some agreeable works of a neglected composer.

Paul von KLENAU (1883-1946) Symphony No. 9 - Danish National Concert Ch, Danish Ntl SO/Michael Schønwandt
rec. 2014 DACAPO 8.226098-99 [88:49] [RB] A tall order but Klenau seemed to strive to capture hope in eternity and his aims were no less exalted than those of Beethoven in his last symphony.

Marcin KOPCZYŃSKI (b. 1973) Przymykam oczy - Kamila Kułakowska, Anna Wilk (soprano) Wojciech Dyngosz (baritone) Dorota Kuczyńska Dorota, Marcin Kopczyński (piano) Opera Nova O/Piotr Wajrak rec. 2017 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0411 [62:47] An excellent survey of Kopczyński’s solo vocal music.

Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816) Arias for Castrato - Filippo Mineccia (counter-tenor) Divino Sospiro/Massimo Mazzeo rec. 2017 PAN CLASSICS PC10394 [66:54] [GF] Performed with such flair and commitment.

Owain PARK (b. 1993) Choral Works - Ch Trinity College, Cambridge/Stephen Layton rec. 2017/18 HYPERION CDA68191 [75:52] [CSe] Owain Park weaves new with old, glory with grace, and might with mysticism in this terrific collection of choral works.

Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918) Symphony No. 4, Proserpine, Suite moderne - BBC Ntl O Wales/Rumon Gamba rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHAN10994 [74:59] [JQ] Three important new additions to the Parry discography in splendid performances.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4 - Daniil Trifonov (piano) Philadelphia O/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2015/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5335 [70:17] [MB] Trifonov’s No. 4 might not supplant Michelangeli’s, but it can certainly stand beside it.

Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015) Piano Music Vols 1 & 2 - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2014-16 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0272/0388 [69:04 & 66:37] [RB] The music speaks nobly and with sincerity.

Monday November 19th 

Hans BRONSART von SCHELLENDORFF (1830-1913) & Anton URSPRUCH (1850-1907) Piano Concertos - Emmanuel Despax (piano), BBC Scottish SO/Eugene Tzigane rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68229 [75:25] [SSi] A welcome addition to the catalogues.

Søren Nils EICHBERG (b. 1973) Symphony No. 3, Concerto for orchestra - Danish National Concert Ch & SO/Robert Spano, Joshua Weilerstein rec. 2013/15 DACAPO 8.226144 [62:35] [RHa] The follow up to Dacapo’s 2013 disc of Eichberg’s first two symphonies doesn’t disappoint.

Fritz HAUSER (b. 1953) Laboratorio - Fritz Hauser (percussion) HAT[NOW]ART 216 [60:41] [MB] An experiment in sound, space, acoustics and spatial dimensions.

Gustav HOLST (1874–1934) Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - Guy Johnston (cello); BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5192 SACD [77:01] [BW]  Not essential Holst, but an attractive addition to the ongoing Chandos series. I look forward to the next volume.

Albert LORTZING (1801-1851) Der Wildschütz, Overtures - Stuttgart Winds rec. 2017 CPO 555 045-2 [56:36] [RMo] Charming, good-humoured music, judiciously arranged.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Complete Piano Music - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2017/18 GRAND PIANO GP768 [69:45] [SA] A revelation.

Rupert Ignaz MAYR (1646-1712) Psalms from Sacri Concentus - Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunar Letzbor rec. 2017 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72759 SACD [59.13] [DBi] Very beautiful music wonderfully well performed.

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) & Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948) Violin Concertos - Francesca Dego (violin), City of Birmingham SO/Daniele Rustioni rec. 2016/17 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4816381 [72:09] [RB] Richly enjoyable if you do not flinch from a high cream and sugar count.

Mihailo TRANDAFILOVSKI (b. 1974) Diptych, Duos 1-3, Fibers AND Coils - Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), Roderick Chadwick (piano), Kreutzer Quartet, Longbow rec. 2013-17 METIER MSV28582 [74:59] [RB] Sandstorms of sound and a gradient towards otherworldly peace.

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1996) Symphony No. 13, Serenade - Siberian State SO/Vladimir Lande rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573879 [53:04] [RC] Those with a liking for Shostakovich or Russian music from the mid-20th century of a darker bent will not be disappointed by this.

Other reviews
Oh! It's a lovely war Vol. 1 WW1 sound recordings CD41 CD41-001 [78:00] The Red Shoes Works by Vaughan Williams, Easdale & Gray CD41 CD41-002 [74:00] Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Sinfonia Antartica, Scott of the Antarctic CD41 CD41-024 [67.14] [RB] Discs that create a remarkable sensation of time-travelling.

Jazz reviews
Captain John Handy ~ Igor Frolov ~ Luzia von Wyl ~ Ernesto Cervini ~ Christopher Hollyday

Friday November 16th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas Nos 1, 5 & 10 - Lorenzo Gatto (violin) Julien Libeer (piano) rec. 2017 ALPHA 407 [70:32] [RHa] Searching and mature accounts of these sonatas by two youngish Belgians in deluxe sound that stand up extremely well in the face of some stiff competition.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Nocturnes - Ingrid Fliter (piano) rec. 2017 LINN CKD565 [2 CDs: 107:07] [SG] These Nocturnes rival the very best in the catalogue. 

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4 - Mori Trio rec. 2017 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC17072 [71.34] [MC] Excellent unity and intonation, but not ideal sound.

Steve ELCOCK (b. 1957) Orchestral Music Vol. 1 - Royal Liverpool PO/Paul Mann rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0400 [72:16] [RB] Troubled, restless and seething with action and incident.

George ENESCU (1881-1955) Strigoii, Pastorale fantaisie - Rodica Vica (soprano) Tiberius Simu (tenor) Rundfunk-SO Berlin/Gabriel Bebeșelea rec. 2017 CAPRICCIO C5346 [55:35] [RMo] An important release containing two premiere recordings.

Paul HINDEMITH Sonatas for solo viola - Laura Menegozzo (viola) rec. 2015 STEFANO SCIASCIA PRODUCTION SSP2016 [75:11] [SSi] Not the best version of Hindemith’s wonderful sonatas for solo viola, whilst the poor production values are lamentable.

Franz LACHNER (1803-1890) Catharina Cornaro - Kristiane Kaiser (soprano) Daniel Kirch (tenor) Bavarian Radio Ch, Munich Radio O/Ralf Weikert rec. 2012 CPO 777 812-2 [2 CDs: 151:58] [MBu] A very enjoyable issue.

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Drumming - Colin Currie Group, Synergy Vocals rec. 2017 COLIN CURRIE RECORDS CCR0001 [55:09] [PB-W] Strongly recommended if one does not dislike minimalism.

Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN (1928-2007) Klavierstücke I–VIII & XI - David Tudor (piano) rec. 1958/59 HAT[NOW]ART 172 [69.36] [MB] An important reissue.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Romeo and Juliet Overture, Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 - Concertgebouw O Amsterdam/Willem Mengelberg rec. 1927-1930 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC511 [59:29 + 68:17] [RB] One can see why Mengelberg's stirringly 'sticky' and heroic pace was so popular.

Thursday November 15th

Vyacheslav ARTYOMOV (b. 1940) Requiem - Kaunas State Ch, Moscow PO/Dmitri Kitayenko rec. 1988 DIVINE ART DDA25173 [76:11] [RB] Hard-hitting but not avant-garde.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 2 & 7 - Vienna SO/Philippe Jordan rec. 2017 WIENER SYMPHONIKER WS015 [72:01] [RC] Jordan and the Vienna Symphony players deliver the goods here in fine style and can thus stand proudly with the best of the competition.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Lieder: Transcriptions for Piano Four Hands - Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja (piano duo) rec. 2016 KNS CLASSICAL KNS A/069 [56:47] [RMo] Encompasses such a gamut of moods and tonal colours.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) & Carl August NIELSEN (1865-1931) Violin Concertos - Liya Petrova (violin) Odense SO/Kristiina Poska rec. 2017 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100086 [61.48] [DBi] Two fine performances with extremely beautiful solo playing, but the slightly confused orchestral sound takes away just a little zest.

Eldad TARMU (b. 1960) Stained Glass Stories - Eldad Tarmu (vibraphone), Woodwind Qnt 4TAY CD4052 [52:19] [RB] Shifting melodic input … clouds of ideas move in collision and consonance.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Trio Paul JUON (1872-1940) Litaniae - Boulanger Trio rec. 2017 CAVI-MUSIC 8553401 [67.49] [MC] Highly recommended.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Sea Symphony - Elizabeth Llewellyn (soprano), Marcus Farnsworth (baritone), BBC SO & Ch/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68245 [70:53] [MW] A recording to rival the finest, despite doubts about either ambience or soloists.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH 100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols - King’s College Chapel Ch Cambridge/Sir David Willcocks, Philip Ledger, Stephen Cleobury rec. 1958-2018 KING’S COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE KGS0033 [2 CDs: 106:42] [MR] Iconic Christmas carols drawn from the vast archive of BBC broadcast: no home should be without it!

Christmas with Sonoro Sonoro/Neil Ferris rec. 2018 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10226 [59:08] [JQ] A highly enjoyable and nicely varied Christmas programme, expertly sung.

Juan Diego Flórez (tenor) Bésame Mucho - Jonathan Bolivar (guitar) rec. 2017 SONY 19075822942 [72:10] [GF] I am convinced that those who invest in this disc will be deeply satisfied.

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