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Reviews from the last week
223 reviews completed so far this month
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[New] Second Thoughts & Short Reviews - Spring 2019-2 by Brian Wilson

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

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Tuesday April 30th

Jacques BOYVIN (c1649 - 1706) Suites from the Premier and Second livres d'orgue - David Ponsford (organ) rec. 2017 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6358 [2 CDs: 158:40] [JV] Both the playing and the recording are outstanding; no organ aficionado should miss this.

Feruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Elegien, An die Jugend - Carlo Grante (piano) rec. 2013 MUSIC AND ARTS CD-1300 [61:00] [SB] The exploratory Elegies and the rare An die Jugend in a rewarding recital.

César CUI (1835-1918) Preludes - Jouni Somero (piano) rec. 2018 FC RECORDS FCRCD-9759 [70:48] SSi] A good recording which is superior to the only other version.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Incidental Music to Peer Gynt, Piano Concerto - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Bergen PO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2016/17 CHANDOS CHSA5190 SACD [83:12] [ST] Stacks up well against lots of fierce competition.

Jonathan LESHNOFF (b.1973) Symphony No. 4, Guitar Concerto, Starburst - Jason Vieaux (guitar) Nashville SO/Giancarlo Guerrero rec. 2016/18 NAXOS 8.559809 [RB] Blitzes along and does not set out to be difficult.

Stanislaw RADWAN (b. 1939) Theatre and Film Music - Beethoven Academy O/Rafał Jacek Delekta rec. 2017 DUX 1535 [61:53] [MW] A most enjoyable introduction to a most accomplished composer, in suitably theatrical performances.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Mass Via Victrix, At the Abbey Gate - BBC Ntl Ch & O Wales/Adrian Partington rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD382 [79:57] [JQ] After 99 years, Stanford’s Mass Via Victrix has finally emerged from the shadows in this splendid and important recording.

Leichte Muse Von Zemlinsky bis Gershwin - Ildikó Raimondi (soprano) Junge Philharmonie Wien/Michael Lessky rec. 2016 GRAMOLA 99173 [53:23] [GF] A truly delicious disc!

One Note Away Works by Destenay, Goepfart & Loeffler - Juliette Bausor (flute), Daniel Bates (oboe), Matthew Hunt (clarinet), Adam Newman (viola), Olga Jegunova (piano) rec. 2017 STONE 5060192780840 [58:43] [JW] A splendidly played, sensitive recital.

Opera Overtures, Choruses and Duets rec. 1959-1993 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95414 [3 CDs: 184:59] [NH] Best to enjoy it for what it is, rather than fretting too much about what it isn’t.

Monday April 29th

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Die Loreley - Michaela Kaune (soprano) Thomas Mohr (tenor) Prague Philharmonic Ch, Munich Radio O/Stefan Blunier rec. 2014 CPO 777 005-2 [3 CDs: 143:06] [JW] There’s no doubting the vitality of the music, the generosity of the writing, and the theatricality of the result.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Caractacus - Huddersfield Choral Society, O Opera North/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68254 [2 CDs: 96:16] [PCG] A welcome release, but does not supplant the Groves version.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763–1845) I Cherusci - Markus Schäfer (tenor) Yvonne Prentki (soprano) Simon Mayr Ch, Concerto de Bassus/Franz Hauk rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.660399-400 [71:38 + 81:24] [GF] Collectors of this series can invest with confidence in this latest issue.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies Vol. 1 - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5234 SACD [74:11] [MG] These spirited, state-of-the-art accounts are crowned by the most sensitive and satisfying account of the Unfinished I have ever heard.

Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 1 Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis & works Amirov & Kurka - New York P-SO/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1960/62 GUILD HISTORICAL GHCD2415 [73:06] [SFV] Enjoyable, but nothing that represents a significant contribution to the discography.

Galina USTVOLSKAYA (1919-2006) Complete Works for Violin and Piano - Evgeny Sorkin (violin), Natalia Andreeva (piano) rec. 2018 DIVINE ART DDA25182 [49:19] [RB] Nothing of glamour or neon.

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1966) Preludes - Gidon Kremer (violin) rec. 2017 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30476 [47:21] [CC] Kremer’s virtuosity is on full display, and also in absolute resonance with Weinberg’s language.

Blue Hour Works by Brahms, Mendelssohn & Weber - Andreas Ottensamer (clarinet), Yuja Wang (piano), Berlin PO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836069 [61:54] [LW] Ottensamer and Wang’s programme of clarinet and piano works disarms criticism.

Abdel Rahman El Bacha (piano) Queen Elisabeth Competition rec. 1978 MUSO MU013 [60:16] [RC] El Bacha’s many fans will want to hear these historic performances, which catapulted him to international success.

Polish Choral Music Polish Chamber Ch/Jan Łukaszewski rec. 2018 DUX 1505 [67:25] [SSi] An intriguing and excellently sung disc of attractive modern Polish choral music.

Other reviews
The Rite of Spring
by Gillian Moore publ. 2019 Head of Zeus [JQ] An excellent introduction to a truly seminal work in twentieth-century music.

Friday April 26th

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897–1957) Das Wunder der Heliane - Annemarie Kremer, Ian Storey, PO Freiburg/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.660410-12 [3 CDs: 161:33] [WK] For those new to the opera, this is the obvious choice.

Josef MYSLIVEČEK (1737-1781) Complete Music for Keyboard - Clare Hammond (piano) Scottish CO/Nicolas McGegan rec. 2018 BIS SACD BIS2393 [76:18] [CC] Hammond’s Mysliveček is as refreshing as a well-timed sorbet.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La bohème (Pavarotti’s debut) - O & Ch Teatro Municipale Reggio Emilia/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli rec. 1961 REVITALIZED CLASSICS [105.00] [MMB] A curiosity, but a compelling one, as it gives the listener a measure of the range, beauty and clarity of Pavarotti’s voice at the beginning of his career.

Dominique SCHAFER (b. 1967) Vers une présence réelle - ens proton bern/Matthias Kuhn rec 2018 KAIROS 0015036KAI [66:05] [RHa] Absorbing pieces by yet another contemporary figure seemingly known only to the cognoscenti.

Richard STRAUSS (1846-1949) Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben - Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1166 [79.56] [MC] Beautifully played readings that don’t quite challenge the finest.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake - State Academic SO of Russia "Evgeny Svetlanov"/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186640 SACD [2 discs: 151.46] [RC] A spirited and thoroughly idiomatic account.

French Music for Ballet Works by Sauget, Massenet & Ibert - Estonian Ntl SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20132 [68:19] [NB] Not the finest disc from this label or conductor that I have heard.

Jascha Heifetz (violin) Concertos by Mozart, Prokofiev & Mendelssohn - Boston SO/Serge Koussevitzky, Bell Telephone O/Donald Voorhees rec. 1947/1949 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC558 [68:30] [JW] Nothing new to the Heifetz discography here, and some of the transfers are less successful than usual for this label.

Soir Berceuses (mais pas que…) - Eugénie Warnier (soprano) Marine Thoreau La Salle (piano) Quatuor Les Heures du Jour rec. 2016 MUSO MU027 [60:28] [SSi] This is a lovely disc, one for all lovers of art song.

Supersize Polyphony Works by Hildegard, Striggio & Tallis - Armonico Consort/Christopher Monks, Ch Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD560 [61:37] [ST] The performances are excellent, but it’s the structure of the programme that really makes this disc a winner.

Thursday April 25th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 30-32 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68219 [65:09] [CC] A stunning release, Osborne’s readings will, beyond doubt, move you.

Richard Rodney BENNETT (1936-2012) Orchestral Works Vol. 3 - Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), BBC Scottish SO/John Wilson rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5230 SACD [64:34] [RB] Fluttering, delicate, steely, playful and mercurial.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Concerto, Double Concerto - Tianwa Yang (violin), Gabriel Schwabe (cello), Deutsches SO Berlin/Antoni Wit rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573772 [72:25] [RB] Very fine performances of both works.

Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986) Complete Choral Works - Houston Chamber Ch/Robert Simpson, Ken Cowen (organ) rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD571 [68.42] [GH] Richly luxuriant.

Stanisław MONIUSZKO (1819-1872) Straszny dwór - Ch & SO Stanisław Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk/Zygmunt Rychert rec. 2018 DUX 1500/1 [78:23 + 66:14] [GF] Worth any opera lover’s acquaintance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerti Nos 20 & 24 - Denis Matthews (piano), O Vienna State Opera/Hans Swarowsky rec. 1958 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1591 [61:23] [JW] All concerned are in fine, authoritative form.

Carl REINECKE (1824-1910) Complete String Quartets - Reinhold Qt rec. 2017/18 CPO 555184-2 [2 CDs: 123:33] [SG] Although they don't reach inspirational heights, these quartets do offer the listener a positive experience.

As You Like It Patrizio Mazzola (piano) Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie Konstanz/Kevin Griffiths rec. 2016/18 ORLANDO RECORDS OR0040 [63:42] [PRB] If you’re prepared to give this CD the time, then you should ultimately find it as rewarding as I have.

Deep Within Music of Arundel and Brighton in Lourdes - Michael Carver (keyboard), Arundel & Brighton Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes/Anne Ward rec. 2017 HERALD HAVPCD404 [77:52] [MW] An accomplished introduction to interesting and consoling contemporary Catholic music.

Double Trouble David Huang, Bengt Forsberg (piano 4 hands) rec. 2018 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD189 [65:29] [SSi] An interesting and delightful recording.

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.

 



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