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“Untouchable” and ”Most Recommendable” Opera Recordings - a very personal guide by Ralph Moore

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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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Friday August 30th 

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) Become Desert - Seattle SO/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2018 CANTALOUPE CA21148 CD/DVD [40:22] [RHa] Monumental music, thrillingly played, concealing a terrifying message.

Louis ANDRIESSEN (b. 1939) Chamber Music At Orlando rec. 2018 ETCETERA KTC1657 [69:55] [DC] Excellent live performances of rare repertoire.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.3 - Frankfurt Radio SO/Paavo Järvi rec. 2014 RCA SICC-10278 SACD [51:54] [RMo] One of the fastest performances on record, but does not sound rushed.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Tosca - Laila Andersson-Palme (soprano) Rolf Björling (tenor) Ch & O Royal Swedish Opera/Carlo Felice Cillario rec. 1984 STERLING CDA1837/1838-2 [42:42 + 68:12] [GF] A valuable document of the event.

Frank Merrick (piano) & Henry Holst (violin) rec. 1950s-60s NIMBUS NI8826 [4 CDs: 278 mins] [JF] Essential listening to all who are interested in 20th century music and its performance history.

Messe du Roi Soleil Chœur et Ensemble Marguerite Louise/Gaétan Jarry (organ) rec. 2018 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS008 [53:11] Les Grandes Eaux de Versailles: Musique des Fętes Royales 2019 Sampler CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS700 [68:27] [BW] The ‘Messe du Roi Soleil’ is very worthwhile, but the sampler is too bitty – save your money for some of the complete recordings included.

Songs & Sonnets From the reign of Queen Victoria - Belinda Williams (mezzo) Mark Wilde (tenor) David Owen Norris (piano) rec. 2016 EM RECORDS EMRCD054 [65:55] [MBu] Delicious!

Thursday August 29th

Perttu HAAPANEN (b. 1972) Choral works - Helsinki Chamber Choir, Nils Schweckendiek rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2452 [65:06] [MR] Vocal antics aside, there is not much else to commend in this extremely peculiar display of quasi-musical experimentation.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Dies Irć, De Profundis, Te Deum - Chœur de Chambre de Namur;
Millennium O; Cappella Mediterranea/Leonardo García Alarcón rec. 2018 ALPHA 444 [82:50] [BW]  Now my prime recommendation for this glorious music.

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria rusticana - Alexia Voulgaridou (soprano) Angelo Villari (tenor) O & Ch del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Valerio Galli rec. 2019 DYNAMIC CDS7843 [72:36] [GF] A lot to offer, in particular the singing of Voulgaridou and Villari.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Méditations sur le mystčre de la Sainte Trinité - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573979 [73:47] [DM] Winpenpenny’s finest Messiaen yet; superb sound, too.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly - Olga Busuioc (soprano) Joshua Guerrero (tenor) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Omer Meir Welber rec. 2016 OPUS ARTE OABD7166D Blu-ray [151 mins] [DBi] A performance on Blu-ray video that deserves to be in everyone's collection.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Works for Solo Piano Vol. 4 - Barry Douglas (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20086 [68.40] [RBe] Uneven performances which do not show Douglas at his best.

Clair de Lune: Orchestral Favourites New SO London/Raymond Agoult, National PO/Douglas Gamley rec. 1957-74 ELOQUENCE 482 7339 [66:17 + 74:18] [RMay] Raymond Agoult’s admired recordings make a welcome return to the catalogue.

Antal Doráti (conductor) Works by Blomdahl, Rosenberg, Berwald, Pettersson - Erik Saedén (baritone), Stockholm PO/Antal Doráti rec. 1967 DORÁTI EDITION ADE079 [76:21] [JW] Good to have the Pettersson finally available on CD.

Wednesday August 28th

Ernst BACHRICH (1892-1942) Piano works - Alexander Breitenbach (piano) Lola Rubio (violin) Anna Christin Sayn (soprano) rec. 2018 EDA EDA44 [70:04] [JW] The dedicated performers prove to be fine exponents of the different and difficult demands of the music.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Soundtracks Vol. II - Michael Riesman (piano) Chase Spruill (violin) rec. 2008-18 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0139 [73:09] [SSi] An enjoyable disc that no self-respecting Philip Glass fan will want to be without.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Horn Concertos - Felix Klieser (horn) Camerata Salzburg rec. 2018 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301188BC [52:31] [MR] Polished, pristine performances delivered with extraordinary fluency and flawless precision by the truly remarkable Felix Klieser.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto No. 2 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1841-1893) Piano Concerto No. 1 - Haochen Zhang (piano) Lahti SO/Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2018 BIS BIS2381 SACD [66:29] [RBe] Soloist and orchestra excel.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies - Dresdner Philharmonie/Michael Sanderling rec. 2015–19 SONY CLASSICAL 19075872462 [11 CDs: 718:11] [MC] Michael Sanderling and the Dresdner Philharmonie have put heart and soul into this Shostakovich cycle - if I had to choose a single set it would be this.

Alexander VEPRIK (1899-1958) Orchestral works - BBC Ntl O Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2019 MDG 901 2133-6 SACD [74:51] [SG] A revelation, which I hope will win over many followers.

Kristian Benedikt (tenor) Tenore di forza - Lithuanian Ntl SO & Opera Ch/Modestas Pitrenas rec. 2018 DELOS DE3571 [68:10] [GF] Really good dramatic tenors are still in short supply - Benedikt is a valuable addition to that supply.

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (cello) The Danish Recordings 1966-2002 - Claus Myrup (viola) Royal Danish O/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski DANACORD DACOCD844 [69:13 + 76:27] [JF] Danacord continues its tribute to this fine cellist.

Anita Cerquetti (soprano) Recital - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Gianandrea Gavazzeni rec. 1956/7 ELOQUENCE 4828601 [53:02] [PSt] One wonders sadly what a Cerquetti recital recorded at the age of 46 might have been like, but there is plenty here to enjoy.

Bernard Haitink (conductor) The Early Years: Vols 1 & 2 - Concertgebouw O rec. 1958-63 BEULAH 1PS51/2PS51 [65:32 & 69:24] [BW] While not essential purchases, these downloads offer an interesting sidelight on the early part of Haitink’s career.

Tuesday August 27th

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Il castello di Kenilworth - Jessica Pratt, Carmela Remigio (soprano) O & Ch Donizetti Opera/Riccardo Frizza rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7834.02 [73:17 + 57:22] [GF] Admirers of Donizetti – and we are many – should definitively give it a listen.

Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Piano Trio No. 3, Piano Quintet - Czech Trio, Ondříček Quartet, Jan Heřman (piano) rec. 1941/51 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1626 [69:50] [JW] Historically valuable and interpretatively convincing.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) 50 Years of the Philip Glass Ensemble rec. 1971-75 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0136 [61:39 + 74:11] [DC] The Philip Glass time-capsule.

Bengt Wilhelm HALLBERG (1824-1883) & Joseph DENTE (1838-1905) Symphonies - Malmö SO/Per Engström; Swedish RSO/Ola Karlsson rec. 1984/92 STERLING CDS1120-2 [55:04] [SSi] An interesting and most welcome release, with the Dente Symphony being a real find.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Las vie d’une rose - Sally Silver (soprano) Christine Tocci (mezzo) Richard Bonynge (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0600 [71:41] [IL] Excellent throughout.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Octet César FRANCK (1822-1890) Piano Quintet - Medici & Alberni String Quartets, John Bingham (piano) rec. 1988 NIMBUS NI7108 [67:37] An outstanding performance of the Mendelssohn Octet paired with a sonically compromised Franck Quintet.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Die schöne Müllerin - Roderick Williams (baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20113 [65:15] [JQ] A perceptive, deeply considered and poetically sung interpretation.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Orchestral Music - MET O, Berlin PO/James Levine rec. 1991 ELOQUENCE 484 0636 [78:55 + 72:18] [JF] A perfect selection for those only wanting the orchestral highlights.

Cobbett’s Legacy Berkeley Ens rec. 2015 RESONUS RES10243 [50.44] [GH] A fascinating disc, well programmed and played with splendid commitment.

Ruggiero Ricci (violin) Discovered Tapes: Sonatas rec. 1952-84 RHINE CLASSICS RH-013 [4 CDs: 285:07] [SG] A worthy centenary tribute – a veritable feast.

Monday August 26th

Jeffrey BROOKS (b. 1956) The Passion - Molly Netter, Lucy Dhegrae, Philippa Thompson (voices), Bang on a Can All-Stars and Contemporaneous/David Bloom rec. 2018 CANTELOUPE CA21146 [40:31] [RHa] A disc which utterly satisfies on both aesthetic and emotional levels.

Johann Baptist CRAMER (1771-1858) Piano Concerti Nos 4 & 5 - London Mozart Players/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68270 [60:52] [DJB] Another excursion into the byways for the indefatigable Howard Shelley.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Die Kunst der Präludierens - Kolja Lessing (piano) rec. 2016-18 CPO 555 169-2 [58:01 + 58:25] [DC] Surprise of the month.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Brockes-Passion - NDR Ch, FestspielOrchester Göttingen/Laurence Cummings rec. 2017 ACCENT ACC26411 [2 CDs: 151:00] [DBi] A fine new recording of Handel's Brockes Passion that takes top place on the current list.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Violin Sonatas Op. 42 - Renate Eggebrecht (violin) rec. 2000 TROUBADISC TRO-CD01422 [54:03] [SSi] A very fine release which all fans of Reger’s music will not want to be without.

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 - Berliner PO/Kirill Petrenko rec. 2017 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR 190261 SACD [44:07] [RC] An utterly outstanding performance of a great symphony.

Marcin Józef ŻEBROWSKI (fl.1748-1780) Rorate coeli, Magnificat, Missa Pastoritia - NFM Ch, Wrocław Baroque O/Andrzej Kosendiak rec. 2018 CD ACCORD ACD258-2 [59:39] [JW] A little known Polish composer gets some deserved attention.

Fabiola Kim (violin) 1939: Violin Concertos by Bartók, Hartmann & Walton - Münchner Symphoniker/Kevin John Edusei rec. 2018/19 SOLO MUSICA SM308 [53:15+38:25] [JF] A splendid introduction to three important works and composers who were active at a time of great crisis.

Wei-Wei Le (violin) Works by Bruch & Khachaturian - Pueblo SO/Jacob Chi rec. 2015/17 BLUE GRIFFIN BGR507 [62:43] [MR] Luscious violin playing from Wei-Wei Le compromised by a poor recording.

Graziella Sciutti (soprano) A Portrait rec. 1960-1964 ELOQUENCE 482 9637 [59:07] [GF] A reminder of one of the best lyric sopranos of the 1950s and 1960s.


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