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Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande - a survey by Ralph Moore

John Langdon - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin - a survey by Ralph Moore

Romance in The Land of Heart’s Desire by Ben Janken

Second Thoughts & Short Reviews - Spring 2019-1 by Brian Wilson

Listening Studio Report by John Quinn


From Acte Préalable: Zygmunt Noskowski - Complete Songs Vols 1-3; Otton Mieczyslaw Zukowski - Opera Omnia Secularia vols 1-2; Romuald Twardowski - In the Night's Stillness

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Wednesday April 24th

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) The Late Works - Svetlana Belsky (piano) rec. 2018 RAVELLO RECORDS RR8007 [54:52] [SSi] A good choice for those who would prefer just a single disc selection of Busoni’s late piano music.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Via Crucis, Vater unser - Collegium Vocale Gent/Reinbert de Leeuw (piano), Marnix de Cat (organ) rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 390 [50:12] [RHa] Via Crucis is never an easy listen, but this absorbing account gets close to Liszt’s expressive and artistic aims.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Essen PO/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2018 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1890 [82:33] [WH] A deeply satisfying reading of Mahler’s masterpiece that earns its place in any collection.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Quartets - Joyce Yang (piano) Alexander String Qt rec. 2017 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2018 [64:09] [JW] Technically accomplished and expressively sensitive.

Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846 – 1909) Complete Songs Vol. 3 - Bogumila Tarasiewicz (mezzo-soprano), Karol Schmidt (piano) rec. 2015-18 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0423 [55:34] [GF] Completion of the series with some very recent discoveries.

Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace ROYER (1703-1755) Premiere Livre de Pièces de Clavecin - Mie Hayashi (harpsichord) rec. 2018 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10236 [65:11] [JV] The more lyrical, 'tender' pieces come off best in Hayashi's performances.

John TAVERNER (c.1490-1545) Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas; Gaude plurimum - Ch of the Queen’s College Oxford, Contrapunctus/Owen Rees rec. 2018 SIGNUM SIGCD570 [76:16] [JQ] Taverner’s wonderful music is brought vividly to life in assured and skilled performances.

Isang YUN (1917-1995) Isang Yun und das Cello - Adele Bitter (cello), Holher Groschopp (piano) CYBELE RECORDS 4SACD KiG011 [4 SACDs: 315:12] [DC] Another valuable volume from this source.

Grand Tour Cicerone Ens rec. 2018 GENUIN GEN19648 [72.33] [MW] A fascinating and enjoyable programme, superbly and sensitively performed.

Leningrad String Quartets by Basner, Okunev, Slonimsky, Chernov & Prigozhin - Taneyev Qt rec. 1966-73 NORTHERN FLOWERS NFPMA99129 [71:10] [RB] Clean and vivid … holding nothing back in advocating this very unfamiliar music.

Tuesday April 23rd

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas, Chorale preludes - Céline Scheen (soprano) Nicholas Scott (tenor) Benoît Arnould (bass) Le Banquet Céleste/Damien Guillon (countertenor) rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 448 [74.07] [MC] Indispensable listening for devotees of Baroque music.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas & Partitas - Theo Olof (violin) rec. 1974 DOREMI DHR8085-86 [2 CDs: 131:57] [SG] Traditional readings, informed by exceptional musicality and clarity of vision.

Andrzej CWOJDZINSKI (b. 1928) Chamber Music - Dariusz Drzazga (violin), Szymon Krzemień (cello), Karol Garwoliński (piano) rec. 2015-2017 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0439 [48:50] [SSi] An excellent introduction to music with a real national flavour.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Sinfonietta, Taras Bulba, Opera preludes - Pro Arte O/Charles Mackerras, Czech PO/Karel Ančerl rec. 1959-62 ALTO ALC1380 [68:00] [RB] So much more than a reminder of the arrival of Janáček’s music in an unsuspecting West.

Tamara KONSTANTIN (b. 1961) Rêverie - Tamara Konstantin, Marc Verter (piano) Jiaxin Lloyd Webber (cello) Yu-Mien Sun (violin) rec. 2017/18 NAXOS 8.579032 [76:56] [PRB] Like Marmite, you will either love it or hate it.

Zara LEVINA (1906-1976) Piano Sonatas; Poème; Violin Sonata - Maria Lettberg (piano), Yury Revich (violin), Gernot Adrion (viola), Ringela Riemke (cello), Katia Tchemberdji (piano) rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5356 [75:59] [JW] Levina’s music continues to impress.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) Heimweh - Anna Lucia Richter (soprano), Gerold Huber (piano), Matthias Schorn (clarinet) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186722 SACD [80:58] [GF] I was deeply touched by the whole programme.

Zsigmond SZATHMÁRY (b. 1939) Organ Works - Martin Schmeding (organ) rec. 2018 CYBELE RECORDS 2SACD 061807 [2 discs: 56:44 + 54:12] [DC] Not ‘easy’, but a wealth of nuance and sonic revelations await.

Desires A Song of Songs Collection - ORA Singers/Suzi Digby rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905316 [71:20] [JQ] A stimulating sequence, superbly performed.

Serenata Mexicana Works by Basulto & Márquez - Morgan Szymanski (guitar), Jamie MacDougall (tenor), Gabriella Dall’Olio (harp) Shakespeare Sinfonia/David Curtis rec. 2018 TOCCATA NEXT TOCN0001 [62.50] [MW] Lovely lyrical music by contemporary composers – enjoyment guaranteed.

Monday April 22nd

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 2, Triple Concerto - Maria João Pires (piano), Lars Vogt (piano), Gordan Nikolitch (violin) Tim Hugh (cello) London SO/Bernard Haitink rec. 2005/13 LSO LIVE SACD LSO0745 [66:52] [ST] Makes a very good case for the piano concerto in particular.

Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887), Dmitri SHOSTAKOVITCH (1906-1975) & Mieczyław WEINBERG (1919-1996) String Quartets - Dragon Quartet rec. 2017 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS40919 [73:03] [MW] Buy this for the superb, and superbly performed, Weinberg quartet, and the other works will give much pleasure.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Violin Concerto, Clarinet Quartet, Cello Sonata - Henry Merckel (violin), Guy Deplus (clarinet), Robert Gendre (violin), Enrico Mainardi (cello), Fritz Lehmann (piano), O de l’Association Concerts Lamoureux/Roger Désormière rec. 1948/53 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1568 [73:49] [JW] A valuable restoration.

Johann Kaspar MERTZ (1806-1856) Fantasias - Giuseppe Chiaramonte (guitar) rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95722 [63:05] [GPu] The best performances of Mertz’s solo pieces that I have heard.

Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984) Symphonies Nos 9 & 10 - Slovak RSO/Ladislav Slovák rec. 1994/95 NAXOS 8.573654 [69.54] [RB] Two symphonies in - and out of - the disillusioned and cynical tradition.

Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846-1909) Complete Songs Vol. 2 - Bogumiła Tarasiewicz (mezzo-soprano), Karol Schmidt (piano) rec. 2015/16 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0422 [64:49] [GF] More enjoyment here, from songs of Noskowski’s maturity.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Complete Organ Works Vol. 5 - Jean-Baptiste Dupont (organ) rec. 2017/18 HORTUS 163/4 [66:34 + 69:34] [SSi] This is a very good release which makes me want to search out the other volumes in the series.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 1, En Saga - Gothenburg Symphony/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 440 [58.44] [MC] Gripping and distinctive performances that draw the listener in and definitely take a place near the top.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Cantatas - Ex Tempore, Mannheimer Hofkapelle/Florian Heyerick rec. 2016 CPO 555 083-2 [50:47] [JV] Nobody interested in Telemann's music should overlook this disc.

Olga Peretyatko (soprano) Mozart+ - Basel SO/Ivor Bolton rec. 2018 SONY 19075919052 [60:01] [GF] Some fine characterisation, and stylish accompaniment.

Friday April 19th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suites for Solo Cello - Jean de Spengler (cello) rec. 2018 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1575/7 [3 CDs: 163:52] [JW] De Spengler’s performances are highly personal and personalised.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Membra Jesu nostri - Chapel Ch, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Orpheus Britannicus, Newe Vialles/Andrew Arthur rec. 2018 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10238 [70:17] [SSi] Buxtehude’s masterpiece is given an excellent performance here.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) L’Ange de Nisida - Joyce El-Khoury (soprano) David Junghoon Kim (tenor) Ch & O ROH Covent Garden/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2018 OPERA RARA ORC58 [79.54 + 76.49] [MC] Donizetti devotees and opera lovers in general have no reason to hesitate.

George ENESCU (1881-1955) Violin Sonatas Nos 2 & 3, Impressions d'enfance - Duo Brüggen-Plank rec. 2018 GENUIN GEN19642 [72:31] [RWe] One for both the Enescu enthusiast and explorers of the violin and piano repertory.

Joseph MARX (1882-1964) Eine Herbstsymphonie - Graz PO/Johannes Wildner rec. 2018 CPO 555 262-2 [67:00] [RB] Super-glowing autumnal radiance never missing a glorious beat.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni - Ildebrando D'Arcangelo (bass) Myrto Papatanasiu (soprano) O Fondazione Regionale delle Marche/Riccardo Frizza rec. 2007 C MAJOR DVD 749308 [2 discs: 174 mins] [RJF] Superb singing and acting, but be aware that the visuals are bordering on adults-only at times.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No. 1, The Isle of the Dead - London PO/Vladimir Jurowsky rec. 2014-2016 LPO LPO0111 [64:51] [EJW] A knockout Isle of the Dead but a less than completely successful symphony.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Complete Late Piano Music - James Kreiling (piano) rec. 2015/17 ODRADEK ODRCD366 [77:04 + 52:38] [SB] Scriabin’s late works make a fine collection, played idiomatically and sensitively here.

Innovators Works by Bartók, Beethoven & Debussy - Benyounes Qt rec. 2018 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD147 [70:39] [PRB] Superb performances and recordings of three works that the Quartet members themselves describe as “part of their DNA”.

Sonates de la Côte d'Albâtre Violin sonatas by Delvincourt, Paray & de la Presle - Gautier Dooghe (violin) Alain Raës (piano) rec. 2016 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC164 [74:33] [SG] A rewarding musical journey to the Côte d'Albâtre.

Thursday April 18th

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) L’Enfance du Christ - Andrew Staples (tenor) Sasha Cooke (mezzo) Roderick Williams (baritone) Melbourne SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5228(2) SACD [53:25 + 36:27] [JQ] A very successful new recording of L’Enfance du Christ.

Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676) Missa 1660 - Galilei Consort/Benjamin Chénier rec. 2018 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS006 [69:05] [JV] An important addition to the Cavalli discography.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - Bernard Roberts(piano) rec. 1999 CLAUDIO RECORDS CC4941-2 [66:44] [SSi] Sonata No. 3 is the best introduction to Stephen Dodgson and his piano music.

Matej MEŠTROVIČ (b. 1969) Rhapsodies - Matej Meštrović (piano) Zagreb PO/Miran Vaupotić rec. 2018 NAVONA RECORDS NV6219 [58:09] [PRB] An easy-listening product which some will find lacking in any real musical substance or challenge whatsoever.

Alberto NEPOMUCENO (1864–1920) Symphony, Brazilian Suite, O Garatuja - Minas Gerais PO/Fabio Mechetti rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574067 [67:47] [RB] Bubbles, barks, struts, serenades and effervesces.

Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846-1909) Complete Songs Vol. 1 - Bogumila Tarasiewicz (mezzo-soprano), Karol Schmidt (piano) rec. 2016 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0421 [64:46] [GF] Some marvellous songs that should be more widely known.

Thomas WILSON (1927-2001) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4, Carillon - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Rory Macdonald rec. 2018 LINN CKD616 [73:20] [GH] An enterprising release of the first order.

Anaïs Gaudemard (harp) Solo rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMN916111 [58:42] [RHa] A carefully planned and beautifully played harp recital that avoids twee miniatures and bon-bons.

Bernard Haitink (conductor) Portrait - Bavarian RSO & 1997-2016 BR KLASSIK 900174 [11 discs] [ST] This set celebrates a great partnership of a great orchestra and a great conductor.

Lazare-Lévy and Victor Staub (piano) The Complete Studio Recordings rec. 1927-55 APR 6028 [77:29+74:18] [JW] A further release in what is developing into a valuable series.


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