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Piano Concertos 1 and 2
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RECORDING OF THE MONTH


A Garland for John McCabe


ABRAHAMSEN Quartets


DIETHELM Symphonies


The best Rite of Spring in Years


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Recordings of the Month 2018

Hans ABRAHAMSEN (b. 1952) String Quartets Nos 1-4 - Arditti String Qt rec. 2015/16 WINTER & WINTER 910242-2 [68:24] [RHa] Fascinating, fragile, hibernal, beautiful. Hans Abrahamsen’s four magnificent quartets in outstanding performances. Unmissable.

John ADAMS (b.1947) The John Adams Edition - Berlin PO/John Adams, Alan Gilbert, Gustavo Dudamel, Kirill Petrenko & Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016/17 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR170141 [4 CDs: 298:04 + 2 Blu-ray] [JQ] If you admire the music of John Adams you must hear this superb set.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Etudes Op. 35 - Mark Viner (piano) rec. 2016 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10127 [68:27] [RBe] Viner must now rank as one of the pre-eminent Alkan interpreters.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano sonatas Nos 14 & 29 - Murray Perahia (piano) rec. 2016/17 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 8353 [55:42] [RMo] This disc represents the summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 1 - Martha Argerich (piano) Mito CO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 2017 DECCA CLASSICS 4832566 [60:41] [SG] Familiar repertoire given a fresh lease of life.

Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) Stabat mater Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartet No. 16 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Salve Regina - Dorothee Mields (soprano) Salagon Qt, Miriam Shalinsky (double bass) rec. 2016 CARUS 83.470 [72:08] [JV] Even if you already have a good performance of Boccherini's Stabat mater, this will surpass it.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - O Ntl RTF/Lovro von Matačić rec. 1963 ALTUS ALT380 [60:00] [MB] This is a quite remarkable Ninth to set beside the best.

Giovanni Paolo COLONNA (1637-1695) Sacre Lamentazioni - Massimo Lombardi (chant) I Musici di Santa Pelaga/Maurizio Fornero (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2015 CPO 555 048-2 [80:02] [JV] A most interesting and musically captivating contribution to the repertoire for Passiontide.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Christian Gerhaher, Magdalena Kožená, Gerald Finley, Franz-Josef Selig, Bernarda Fink, Joshua Bloom, Elias Mädler, London SO & Ch/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0790 SACD/BD-A [165:47] [ST] Worthy to stand alongside any Pelléas of the stereo era.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Children’s Corner, Suite Bergamasque, L’isle joyeuse - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4798308 [72:49] [SG] Seong-Jin Cho is a natural Debussy player, his myriad pastel shades and artful musicianship are arresting.

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.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Sextet & Quintet - Jerusalem Quartet, Veronika Hagen (viola), Gary Hoffman (cello) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902320 [66:57] [RMo] A superb pairing which supplants (just) my previous favourites.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Falstaff, Grania & Diarmid, Songs - Roderick Williams (baritone) BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5188 SACD [74.25] [DBi] A superb Falstaff coupled with some wonderfully enjoyable rarities.

Joel ENGEL (1868-1927) Chamber Music & Folksongs - Rachel Calloway (mezzo) Musicians Pittsburgh Jewish Festival rec. 2011-15 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0343 [58:42] [SA] A brilliant disc of magical repertoire which you won’t find elsewhere; seek it out and you’ll be completely won over.

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) Fantasia Baetica and other piano works - Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68177 [69:54] [DM] Distinguished pianism, a fine venue and a first-rate recording, in short, a perfect storm.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Complete Music for Wind Band Vol. 1 - Royal Norwegian Navy Band/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2014-2016 NAXOS 8.573679 [67:59] [RH] Bjarte Engeset conducts his remarkable Norwegian band in the first volume of what promises to be an unmissable series.

Raul KOCZALSKI (1885-1948) Piano Concertos 1 & 2 - Joanna Ławrynowicz (piano) Podkarpacka PSO im. Artura Malawskiego in Rzeszów/Massimiliano Caldi rec. 2017 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0501 [58:38] [EJW] A recording that has given me much pleasure – I hope to hear more of Raul Koczalski’s music.

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.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Kindertotenlieder Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Tod und Verklärung - Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo) Munich PO/Sergiu Celibidache rec. 1979-83 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER MPHIL0006 [60:49] [MC] Undoubtedly an early contender for one of my Records of the Year.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Bouquet of Flowers Jan NOVÁK (1921-1984) Philharmonic Dances - Prague RSO & Philharmonic Ch/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2016/17 SUPRAPHON SU4220-2 [65:36] [MW] An outstanding release, indispensable for lovers of Martinů, and a fine introduction to Jan Novák.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus - Jean-Rodolphe Kars (piano) rec. 1976 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10134 [57:14 + 69:54] [SB] Everyone who cares for this work or who wishes to explore it should hear this.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) María de Buenos Aires - Valentina Montoya Martinez (soprano), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Victor Villena (bandoneon) Mr McFall’s Chamber,  rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34186 [44:27 + 43:45] [RH] A fabulous outing for Piazzolla’s ambitious operita in an inspired collaboration between Scottish and South American forces.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) & Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787) Enfers - Stéphane Degout (baritone), Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. December 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902288 [78:17] [BW] A must for newcomers to the wonderful world of baroque opera, who will find it an excellent starting point, but equally valuable for the already converted.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata Nos 13 & 14 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Piano Sonata No. 2 - Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2017 SONY 88985465632 [67:47] [SG] Playing of freshness and spontaneity; Debargue certainly breaths new life into these works.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trio No. 2, Arpeggione Sonata - Antje Weithaas (violin) Marie-Elizabeth Hecker (cello) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2014/17 ALPHA 284 [73:24] [MW] Extraordinary, insightful performances.

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.

Franz SCHUBERT (1798-1828) Winterreise - Florian Boesch (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68197 [70:55] [ST] Altogether superb.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder Vol. 4 - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2015 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLIVE0091 [69:30] [JQ] A highly distinguished Schubert recital: artistry at the highest level.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Golden Age - Bolshoi Ballet & O/Pavel Klinichev rec. 2016 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC443 Blu-ray [103 mins] [DHu] Nobody puts a foot wrong.

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.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring, Concerto for 2 solo pianos - Marc-André Hamelin, Leif Ove Andsnes (pianos) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68189 [64:52] [RHa] An unmissable and possibly unprecedented match-up of true piano heavyweights; their account of the Rite of Spring defies belief.

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.

Antonio VANDINI (1691-1778) Cello sonatas - Bologna Baroque rec. 2016 TACTUS TC692202 [56:31] [JV] These sonatas are major additions to the repertoire.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Sinfonia Antartica, Four Last Songs, Concerto for two pianos - Roderick Williams (baritone) Hélène Mercier, Louis Lortie (pianos) Bergen PO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5186 SACD [77:47] [MG] Davis sets a new benchmark for the recordings of all three works.

Johann Gottfried WALTHER (1684-1748) Complete Organ Music - Simone Stella (organ) rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94730 [12 CDs: 658:35] [JV] This is a splendid musical monument for one of the most important composers for the organ of the 18th century.

Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931) Sonatas for Solo Violin - Stefan Tarara (violin) rec. 2017 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38241 SACD [75:00] [NB] An early disc of the year contender.

Pierre d’Assy (bass) Airs & melodies rec. 1908/9 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1683 [71:35 + 66:53] [JW] I can’t imagine this being done any better.

Eileen Joyce (piano) The Complete Studio Recordings rec. 1933-1958 ELOQUENCE 482 6291 [10 CDs: 762:20] [SG] This superb collection will grace any historical piano recordings collection.

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.

Organ Party Vol. 3 Kevin Bowyer (organ) rec. 2016 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1171 [79:51] [JF] A remarkably enjoyable CD.




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