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Monthly Listing
December 2019
150 reviews this month

Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) & Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concertos - Claire Huangci (piano), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Shiyeon Sung rec. 2018 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301096BC [75:31] [RC] This account of the Chopin First is not to be missed, and even if you’re not a fan of the Paderewski Concerto, you’ll have to admire Huangci’s thrilling performance.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony No. 9 - Scottish CO/Maxim Emelyanychev rec. 2019 LINN CKD619 [54:30] [ST] Take a bow, everyone involved.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No. 20, Minuets - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2017-19 SONY CLASSICAL 19075868292 [55:42] [RMo] Belongs in the collection of every devotee of Schubert’s piano music.

The Soldier: From Severn to Somme Christopher Maltman (baritone), Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD592 [73:54] [JQ] An outstanding release, rewarding in every way.

Katherine Watson (soprano) L'Opéra du Roi Soleil - Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP209 [73.25] [MC] An album to treasure.

Roy AGNEW (1891-1944) Piano Music - Stephanie McCallum (piano) rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0496 [77:42] [JW] Variable in quality, but given very sympathetic performances.

Isaac ALBENIZ (1860-1909) Piano Sonatas Nos. 3-5, Suites Ancienne Nos. 1 & 2 - Sebastian Stanley (piano) rec. 2019 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10194 [68:34] [JF] Thoroughly enjoyable.

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Symphony for Solo Piano; Concerto for Solo Piano - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2465 SACD [78:32] [DM]  Meet barrister Paul Wee, a pianist of no small talent; dazzling rep, superbly recorded.

John AMNER (1579-1641) Complete Consort Music - Fretwork; Dublin Consort Singers/Mark Keane rec. 2018 RUBICON RCD1032 [72:71] [RHa] Delightful, little-known fare from an obscure 17th century Fenland master.

Gilbert AMY (b. 1936) Concertos - Jean-François Heisser (piano) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Nouvelle-Aquitaine CO/Julien Leroy, O de Paris/Gilbert Amy rec. 2006-19 EDITIONS HORTUS 175 [55:34] [RHa] A pair of very different concertos from a somewhat underappreciated figure, cogently argued and clothed in arresting, beautiful sounds.

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) McKonkey’s Ferry Concert Overture, Capital of the World, Symphony No. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20080 [70:26] [JW] The third volume in this series proves just as gripping as the previous two.

Daniel François Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) Le Maçon - Walter Anton Dotzer (tenor), Franz Fuchs (baritone), Tonkünstler-O Niederösterreich/Kurt Tenner rec. 1950 ORFEO C985191 [52:48] [RJW] Performances are very acceptable, and the orchestra is particularly well rehearsed.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos - Kati Debretzeni (violin) English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2018 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG732 [70:15] [DD] Superb renditions of familiar and unfamiliar Bach violin concertos; sheer joy from start to finish.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Thomanerchor, Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Gotthold Schwarz rec. 2018 ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30469 [75:24 + 68:47] [GPJ] A simply magnificent performance of Bach’s great masterpiece, straight from the heart of Leipzig and the composer’s own church.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Cantata No. 63; Magnificat - Hana Blažíková (soprano), La Chapelle Harmonique/Valentin Tournet rec. 2018 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS009 [59:13] [JV] One of the best performances of the E flat version of Bach's Magnificat available right now.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Works Vol. 1 - Peter Kofler (organ) rec. 2017/19 FARAO CLASSICS B108110 [5 CDs: 358.22] [MC] Engaging and rewarding performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Orchestral Suites Nos. 1-4 Johann Bernhard BACH (1676-1749) & Johann Ludwig BACH (1677-1731) Ouvertures - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini NAĎVE OP30578 [2 CDs: 129:52] [BW]  This could well become my version of choice for Johann Sebastian’s Suites, with the music of his cousins an attractive bonus.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Septet Anton REICHA (1770-1836) Grande Symphonie de Salon No. 1 - Le Concert de la Loge rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP211 [74.48] [CRa] A delightful disc of popular Beethoven and a Reicha work rediscovered after 200 years.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 - Ann-Helen Moen (soprano), Marianne Beate Kielland (alto), Allan Clayton (tenor), Neal Davies (bass), Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2019 BIS BIS2451 SACD [66:28] [ST] A good but ummemorable performance.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Symphonies - Danish Ntl Concert Ch, Danish CO/Ádám Fischer rec. 2016-19 NAXOS 8.505251 [5 CDs: 328:56] [ST] Not perfect, but certainly a talking point.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios Nos 1 & 3 - George Malcolm Piano Trio rec. 1976 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR96 [56:45] [DD] Two charming and dedicated performances by fine musicians in unfamiliar territory. Worthy of reissue.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Works for flute & Piano - Duo FlautoPiano rec. 2018 MDG 903 2135-6 SACD [75:29] [DC] Beethoven-lite, but enjoyable nevertheless.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Symphonie fantastique; Overture Les Francs-Juges - Les Sičcles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902644 [65:45] [JQ] There’s only one possible verdict on this disc: like the symphony itself, it’s fantastique!

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891–1975) The Enchantress, Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, Mary of Magdala - Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) James Platt (bass) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5242 SACD [76:58] [JQ] An excellent disc and a significant addition to the Bliss discography.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Choral Works - Antonio Adriani (horn) Elsie Bedleem (harp) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Deutsches SO/Gijs Leenaars rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075940722 [53:53] [MC] Glorious choral works in captivating performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) & Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Violin Concertos - Ayla Erduran (violin)  Paulette Zanlonghi (piano) O Suisse Romande/Richard Beck, Armin Jordan rec. 1970-79 GALLO CD-1087 [75:21] [SG] Recordings which pad out the discographic legacy of Ayla Erduran.

William BYRD (c.1540-1623) The Great Service - Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury First released 1987 WARNER CLASSICS 9029532656 [64:56] [BW]  Download only, but a very fine tribute to the memory of Stephen Cleobury.

Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676) L’Ipermestra - Emanuella Galli (Mezzo), Elena Monti (Soprano), Sergio Foresti (Bass), La Sfera Armonica/Mike Fentross rec. 2006 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72774 [3 CDs: 166:09] [MP] A pleasant discovery for both Cavalli enthusiasts and lovers of early music in general.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Impromptus, Waltzes and Mazurkas - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68273 [76:40] [MG] Kolesnikov conjures many magical moments.

Jean CRAS (1879-1932) La Flűte de Pan, Quintets - Sophie Karthäuser (soprano) Oxalys rec. 2018 PASSACAILLE 1067 [69:00] [JW] Cras’ allure proves difficult to resist.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Concertino; Second Grand Concerto; Rondino - Rosemary Tuck (piano), English CO/Richard Bonynge rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573998 [82:19] [PRB] This release could accord Czerny a higher ranking in the history of music than he currently enjoys.

Charles DIBDIN (1745-1814) The Jubilee, Datchet Mead, Queen Mab - Soraya Mafi (soprano) Heather Shipp (mezzo) Robert Murray (tenor) Stephen Higgins (piano) rec. 2018 RETROSPECT OPERA RO006 [68:37] [JW] A slice of eighteenth-century theatrical history is brought happily to life.

Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Piano Quintets Nos 1 & 2, String Quartet No. 2 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68238 [80.58] [CRa] A splendid recording of undervalued, infrequently played music.

Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Symphony No. 1, Symphonic Minutes - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Roberto Paternostro rec. 2019 CAPRICCIO C5386 [69.34] [MW] Charming performances of interesting but perhaps not essential works.

Egidio Romualdo DUNI (1708-1775) Trio Sonatas - DuniEnsemble rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96023 [48:20] [JV] These pieces are nice to listen to but probably more fun to play.

Leo FALL (1873-1925) Die Dollarprinzessin - Christiane Libor (soprano), Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2012 CPO 777906-2 [53:25 + 68:30] [MP] A pleasant romp through “operetta land”, reliably cast and well recorded.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839–1916) Verborgene Schätze - Gernsheim-Duo rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN19662 [58:55] [GF] The singing leaves a lot to be desired; it may have been a mistake to issue this disc at all.

Berthold GOLDSCHMIDT (1903-1996) Beatrice Cenci - Christoph Pohl (baritone) Gal James (soprano) Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Johannes Debus rec. 2018 C MAJOR 751504 Blu-Ray [107 mins] [PCG] Numerous problems in both the singing and the staging.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) La nonne sanglante - Michael Spyres (tenor) Vannina Santoni (soprano) Accentus Chamber Ch, Insula O/Laurence Equilbey rec. 2018 NAXOS NBD0097V Blu-ray [143 mins] [PCG] Let us welcome a chance to hear this rarity.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Complete Symphonic Works - WDR SO/Eivind Aadland rec.  2009-14 AUDITE 21.439 SACD [5 discs: 327:16] [NB] Beautiful music, well played but ultimately uncompetitive.

Perttu HAAPANEN (b. 1972) Compulsion Island, Ladies’ Room, Flute Concerto - Helena Juntunen (soprano) Yuki Koyama (flute) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu, Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2016-18 ONDINE ODE1307-2 [62:41] [RHa] Major composer alert: three bright new works from an invigorating, original voice.

Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947) Complete Songs - Tassis Christoyannis (baritone) Jeff Cohen (piano) rec. 2018/19 BRU ZANE BZ2002 [4 CDs: 253.09] [MC] A delight to dip into this collection.

Stuart HANCOCK (b. 1975) Raptures, Violin Concerto - Jack Liebeck (violin) BBC Concert O/Levon Parikian rec. 2019 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100111 [60:24] [EJW] An enjoyable collection in passionately committed performances.

George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Joseph and his Brethren - Diana Moore (mezzo-soprano), Philharmonia Baroque Ch & O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2017 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PBP-11 [3 CDs: 175:30] [MP] Worth investigating.

Fritz HART (1874-1949) Violin Sonatas No. 1-3 - Susan Collins (violin), Stephanie McCallum (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0470 [58:43] [JW] A noteworthy sense of form and structure and a propensity for singing lyricism and compression too.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Organ Concertos - Iain Quinn (organ) Sophie Gent (violin) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20118 [69:41] [MR] Intelligent and affectionate performances which help support the assertion that these works were intended all along for the organ.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4, American Hymns - San Francisco Symphony Ch & O/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2017 SFS MEDIA SACD 8219360076-2 [68.53] [MC] One feels that Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco Symphony are completely at home with Ives’ soundworld.

Joseph JONGEN (1873-1953) Mélodies Vol. 1 - Sarah Defrise (soprano) Craig White (piano) rec. 2019 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1993 [64:54] [MR] A very important and welcome new release.

JOSQUIN des Prés (c.1450/55-1521) Missa Mater Patris Noel BAULDEWEYN (c.1480-1530) Missa Da pacem - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips GIMELL CDGIM052 [72:26] [BW] Well up to the very high standard of earlier Josquin recordings in this series.

Juris KARLSONS (b 1948) Oremus, Adoratio, Le lagrime dell’anima, Ora pro nobis - Vestards Šimkus (piano) Sinfonietta Riga, Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Kļava rec. 2014-19 ONDINE ODE1342-2 [61:30] [RHa] Another exemplary release from the matchless Latvian Radio Choir.

Aaron Jay KERNIS (b. 1960) Flute Concerto, Air, Symphony No. 2 - Marina Piccinini (flute) Peabody SO/Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.559830 [65:38] [RHa] An engaging, unusual flute concerto and a rather grim symphony constitute a surprising and at times unsettling programme.

Alexander KREIN (1883-1951) Chamber Music - Musicians of the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival rec. 2012/18 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0546 [69:23] [JW] There is valuable work going on here, but one should sample the music judiciously.

Josef LABOR (1842-1924) Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet - Nina Karmon (violin) Pauline Sachse (viola) Justus Grimm (cello) Niek de Groot (double-bass) Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5390 [67:18] [PRB] If you appreciate good tunes, rich invention, and well-honed musicianship, then Josef Labor is well worth getting to know.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929–1988) Sacred Choral Works - St Mary’s Cathedral Ch, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34218 [79:36] [BW] A very fine recording from which to get to know Leighton’s choral music, or, better still, to add to other collections.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Isis - Čve-Maud Hubeaux, Ambroisine Bré (mezzo) Bénédicte Tauran (soprano)  Ch Chambre Namur, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP216 [77.00 + 79.00] [MC] Plenty to relish and the performance could hardly be bettered. 

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 6 - Oslo PO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 2010 SIMAX CLASSICS PSC1316 [80:20] [SV] A very fine, no-nonsense account.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Le Tombeau resplendissant, Les Offrandes oubliées, Un sourire, L'Ascension - Tonhalle-O Zürich/Paavo Järvi rec. 2019 ALPHA CLASSICS 548 [64.48] [SB] A collection of Messiaen’s shorter orchestral works in fine performances which would make an admirable introduction to the composer.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) - Youth Symphonies, Contredanses - Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP215 [64:38] [BW] A very enjoyable release; no masterpieces, but youthful Mozart enticingly presented.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Flute Quartets - Karel Valter (traverse flute), Pablo Valetti (violin), Peter Biely (viola), Petr Skalka (cello) rec. 2018 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38285 SACD [63:14]  [DC] Very fine indeed - a ‘winner’.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonatas No. 8, 12-14 - Virginia Black (piano) rec. 2017 CRD 3538 [66:00] [DRD] Accomplished performances but just missing that special quality.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - Jean Muller (piano) rec. 2016 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19074 [68:28] [DD] First rate execution of these four sonatas including three early examples of Mozart’s unique qualities.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Nannerl Mozart - Helga Váradi (harpsichord & fortepiano) Jörg-Andreas Bötticher (harpsichord) Plamena Nikitassova (violin) rec. 2018/19 CLAVES 50-1908 [61:22] [MR] A life-affirming disc of Mozart played with unusual intimacy and a sense of real involvement with the music, by performers who themselves seem to be transported back to 1780s Salzburg.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Spartacus - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2019 ONYX 4211 [73:51] [CR] Don’t judge the book by its cover – some fascinating Russian music, gloriously played.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Le Royaume de Neptune - Deutsches SO Berlin/Howard Griffiths rec. 2019 CPO 555301-2 [60:25] [RW] Captivating from start to finish with bubbles of champagne popping throughout the music.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) La Périchole - Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1036 [51:40 + 51:11] [SSi] An enjoyable romp through Spanish Peru in the hands of Offenbach, a worthy celebration in his two hundredth anniversary year.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525/6-1594) Lamentations Book 2 - Cinquecento rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68284 [72:11] [DC] Offers the best of worlds in Palestrina’s immersive Lamentations.

Flor PEETERS (1903-1986) Organ Music - Roberto Marini (organ) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95637 [79:34+78:50] [MR] A valuable compendium of a surprisingly versatile and flexible composer whose knowledge of the organ and its potential was as vast as his own output.

Giovanni Maria PELAZZA (1847-1936) Suonate sui varii tuoni - Bruno Bergamini (organ) rec. 2017 TACTUS TC841601 [51:35] [DC] Something of a novelty, but such fun.

William PERRY (b.1930) Toujours Provence - Michael Chertock (piano) Richard Hayman (harmonica) Slovak Philharmonic Ch & O/Paul Phillips, William Perry rec. 1982-2019 NAXOS 8.573954 [74.26] [MW] Blameless, amiable music in more than decent performances.

Pēteris PLAKIDIS (1947-2017) Canto, Variations, Legend, Glance Back - Latvian Ntl SO/Vassily Sinaisky rec. 2019 SKANI LMIC076 [71:15] [SG] Thought-provoking music, performed with infectious enthusiasm and zeal.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata Nos 3, 8 & 9 - Freddy Kempf (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2390 SACD [56:06] [RC] A most attractive issue.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo & Juliet, Piano Pieces - Stanislav Khristenko (piano) rec. 2015-17 STEINWAY & SONS 30114 [56:38] [RC] Khristenko impresses greatly.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Tales of an old Grandmother, Études, Visions fugitives, Piano Sonata No. 6 - Florian Noack (piano) rec. 2019 LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV74 [72:13] [RCh] Classic Prokofiev played with exemplary pianism.

Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - Alexander Melnikov (piano) rec. 2018/19 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902203 [58:20] [RWe] A fine second issue of an important cycle.

Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) & Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Cello Sonatas - Gert von Bűlow (cello) Merete Westergaard (piano) rec. 1982 DANACORD DACOCD843 [57:17] J.P.E. HARTMANN (1805-1900) Character Pieces nos. 1-3, Suite Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) String Quintet - The Telmányi family rec. 1983 DACOCD853 [74:39] Leif KAYSER (1919-2001) Horn Concerto, Trio, Danish Dream, Bagatelle - Albert Linder (horn) Wincent Lindgren (oboe) Viva Holmstrand (bassoon) Leif Kayser (piano) Gothenburg SO/Doron Salomon rec. 1983 DACOCD857 [78:39] Anton Grigorevich RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Cello Sonatas, Piano Trio No. 5 - Gert von Bülow (cello) José Ribera (piano) Péter Csaba (violin) rec. 1984 DACOCD858 [61:20+38:43] [JF] An imaginative series of re-releases.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Variations and Fugue, Four Tone Poems after Arnold Böcklin - Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester/Ira Levin rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.574074 [56:36] [MW] A splendid introduction for those who have thought Reger as too forbidding, and packed with insights for those who love him.

Josef Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Symphony No. 1 - Liechtenstein SO/Florian Krumpöck rec. 2019 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38284 SACD [49:50] [NB] An enjoyable discovery for those of Romantic disposition.

Jean ROGER-DUCASSE (1873-1954) Piano works Vol. 1 - Patrick Hemmerlé (piano) rec. 2018 MELISM MLS-CD-013 [68:13] [JW] Hemmerlé is going to be well worth following in this series.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1865-1932) Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 6 & 7 - Oliver Triendl (piano) Kristiansand SO/Hermann Bäumer rec. 2017 CPO 555 055-2 [70:16] [JW] Personable, light, deft and charming.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868) Giovin fiamma - Levy Sekgapane (tenor) Münchner Rundfunk O/Giacomo Sagripanti rec. 2018 PRIMA CLASSIC PRIMA002 [63:54] [GF] Lovers of Rossini and/or lovers of good tenor singing should have their fill here.

Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921) Symphonies No. 1 & in A, The Carnival of the Animals - Utah SO/Thierry Fischer rec. 2017/18 HYPERION CDA68223 [82:05] [MR] Early symphonies to complete the cycle, but the real joy on this disc is a stirring performance of the Carnival of the Animals

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Complete Piano Works 5: Rarities & Transcriptions - Geoffrey Burleson (piano) rec. 2017 GRAND PIANO GP626 [71:51] [JWe] A marvellous recording, perhaps best heard in parts rather than in one sitting.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trios - Paul Badura-Skoda (piano) Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin) Boris Pergamenschikow (cello) rec. 1981/84 GRAMOLA 99176 [76:36] [RC] The admirers of Badura-Skoda will certainly want these versions.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Schwanengesang Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897) Vier ernste Gesänge - Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68288 [73:21] [GF] Utterly attractive readings.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas D958-960 - Francesco Piemontesi (piano) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186742 [74:12 + 42:37] [DC] Schubert brought forward to shake hands amicably with Liszt.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Pavol Breslik (tenor), Amir Katz (piano) rec. 2018 ORFEO C934191 [74:35] [RWe] A fine live account of the greatest of all song cycles.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trio No. 2, Notturno - Trio Hamlet rec. 2018 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS41719 [58:29] [DD] Very fine performances of two cornerstones of the piano trio repertoire; more please.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Peter Mattei (baritone), Lars David Nilsson (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2444 SACD [69:07] [GF] A truly valuable addition to the Winterreise discography.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Myrten - Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Camilla Tilling (soprano), Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2017-2019 SONY 19075945362 [49:00] [RWe] This new instalment in Gerhaher’s Schumann series is outstanding.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies Nos 1-4 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2018 C MAJOR 708504 Blu-ray [182 mins] [RWe] These performances combine thoughtful preparation with very fine playing.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Fęte Galante Liza LEHMANN (1862-1918) The Happy Prince - Charmian Bedford (soprano) Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo) Dame Felicity Lott (reciter) Lontano Ens/Odaline de la Martinez rec. 1918-39 RETROSPECT OPERA RO007 [76:34] [EJW] These world premičre recordings are very good indeed.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) The Travelling Companion - David Horton (tenor), Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone), Kate Valentine (soprano), New Sussex Opera O & Ch/Toby Purser rec. 2018 SOMM RECORDINGS CÉLESTE SOMMCD274-2 [66:47 + 57:12] [JQ] A release that Stanford admirers need to hear.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Quixote, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche - Louisa Tuck (cello), Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2017 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1184 [76:27] [LW] Vasily Petrenko excels in Strauss tone poems on this well-programmed disc.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)  Otto Edelmann (bass) Philharmonia Ch & O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO167 [3CDs: 190:58] [RMo] For the most part this is one of the glories of the catalogue.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Salome, Elektra - Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Gerhard Stolze (tenor)  Wiener PO, Bayerishes Staats O/Georg Solti rec. 1952/61 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO165 [78:35 + 66:55] [SB] Solti’s famous Salome in a new issue and with valuable excerpts from Elektra.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY(1840-1893) Nutcracker & Mouse King - Ballett Zürich, Junior Ballett, Philharmonia Zürich/Paul Connelly rec. 2018 ACCENTUS MUSIC DVD ACC20449 [110 mins] [RMay] An interesting and enjoyable remodelling of an old favourite.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Serenade Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Chamber Symphony - Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson rec. 2014/15 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS37119 [57:10] [DD] A lovely disc with a very well-loved piece and a fresh discovery, beautifully realised.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) & Arno BABAJANIAN (1921-1983) Piano trios - Vadim Gluzman (violin) Johannes Moser (cello) Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) rec. 2017 BIS BIS2372 SACD [73:21] [CRa] A disc of the highest standards of recording and performance; a less known but interesting work is a bonus.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Telemann’s Garden - Elephant House Qt rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186749 [58:56] [MC] Admirers of Telemann should be delighted with the results.

Avet Rubeni TERTERIAN (1929-1994) Symphonies No. 3 & 4 - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5241 SACD [58:56] [EJW] Tremendous aural impact, but difficult, even startling music at times.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Orchestral Works - James Ehnes (violin), Royal Liverpool PO/Andrew Manze rec. 2017/19 ONYX 4212 [69:23] [EJW] Five popular pieces and a comparative rarity in performances that match any, and maybe the best sound yet.

Fritz VOLBACH (1861-1940) Es waren zwei Königskinder, Symphony - Münster SO/Golo Berg rec. 2019 CPO 777 886-2 [61:52] [JW] Let’s hope there is more Volbach from this team.

Andrew WAGGONER (b.1960) Violin, Piano & Guitar Concertos - Michael Lim (violin) Gloria Cheng (piano) Kenneth Meyer (guitar) Seattle Modern O/Julia Tai rec. 2018 BRIDGE 9521 [47:06] [RHa] Waggoner has contrived three busy, absorbing concertos, and there is more than enough in this invigorating 48 minutes.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Peter Schmoll - Paul Armin Edelmann (baritone) Ilona Revolskaya (soprano) ORF Vienna RSO/Roberto Paternostro rec. 2019 CAPRICCIO C5376 [79:57] [MBu] A real pleasure.

Hermann Matthias WERRECORE (c.1500–after 1574) Music for Milan Cathedral - Siglo de Oro/Patrick Allies rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34224 [66:28] [BW]  The ideal follow-up recording for lovers of the music of Josquin des Prez.

Graham WHETTAM (1927-2007) Radiant with Celestial Fire - Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin) rec. 2018 EM RECORDS EMRCD058-059 [44:03 + 50:34] [JF] An excellent contribution to Graham Whettam’s slowly evolving discography.

Heinz WINBECK (1946-2019) Complete Symphonies - ORF Vienna RSO & Beethoven O Bonn/Dennis Russell Davies rec. 1985-2017 TYXART TXA17091 [5 CDs: 291:50] [SG] Prompted by the need for existential expression, the music is intense, exciting and uncompromising.

Abendmusiken Works by Buxtehude, Theile, Erlebach & Reincken - Ens Stravaganza rec. 2017 MUSO MU-025 [50:59] [JV] If you are not acquainted with this kind of repertoire, this is a perfect introduction.

Black Swans rec. 1918-22 PARNASSUS PACD96067 [79:02] [JW] A release of real historical importance.

British Cello Works Works by Smyth, Lutyens, Maconchy & Clarke - Lionel Handy (cello) Jennifer Hughes (piano) rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD.383 [73:06] [GH] Consistently superb performances with spacious but immediate recording of four little-known but very fine works.

Fritz Busch (conductor) The Hamburg Concert Works by Berlioz, Reger & Schumann - NWDR SO rec. 1951 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC576 [79:38] [DD] Very fine transfers of epic and vital historic performances.

Robert Casadesus (piano) The Complete French Columbia Recordings rec. 1928-39 APR 7404 [4 CDs: 281 mins] [JW] Vital and athletic performances.

Cor Europć Christmas in Mediaeval Prague - Tiburtina Ensemble/Barbora Kabátková rec. 2019 RICERCAR RIC410 [60:12] In Natali Domini Christmas songs from Staniątki Cantional and Renaissance dances - Ensemble QuattroVoce/Jacek Urbaniak rec. 2019 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0457 [61:27] [BW]  Two very different but equally fine recordings of unfamiliar Christmas music from Central and Eastern Europe.

The deeper the blue… Works by Vaughan Williams, Hesketh, Dutilleux and Ravel - Janet Sung (violin), Simon Callaghan (piano), Britten Sinfonia / Jac van Steen rec. 2018 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD275 [72:21] [DC] An unusual but highly successful programme.

Delicate Omens Works by Bergeron & Maret - Folias Duo rec. 2019 FOLIAS MUSIC FM-02 [55:09] [JW] This enjoyable album gives a strong taste of the duo’s musical and literary interests and enthusiasms.

Jean Doyen (piano) Chopin, Liszt and Music from France rec. 1930-1943 APR 6030 [76:40 + 69:31] [JW] Unruffled technical brilliance and nonchalant refusal to exaggerate.

The Farinelli Manuscript Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) Stile Galante/Stefano Aresi rec. 2019 GLOSSA MUSIC GCD923521 [72.04] [JW] Hallenberg makes a striking impression.

A Fearful Fairy Tale Helena Basilova (piano) rec. 2019 TRPTK TTK0041 [60:10] [JW] Basilova proves a thoughtful and sensitive guide.

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols The Centenary Service - Ch King’s College Cambridge/Sir Stephen Cleobury rec. 2018 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0036 [76:44] [MR] A centenary celebration of a great British institution which has spread across the world, and a fitting (if accidental) memorial to Sir Stephen Cleobury.

Norma Fisher (piano) At the BBC - Vol. 2 rec. 1969-85 SONETTO CLASSICS SONCLA004 [57:57 + 56:45] [RC] Exceptional playing from a pianist who deserves to be better known.

Samson François (piano) The Salle Pleyel Recital rec. 1965 MELOCLASSIC MC1045 [79:18] [SG] A highly individual performer, some would say a maverick.

The French Romantic Experience rec. 2008-19 BRU ZANE BZ2001 [10 CDs: 732.54] [MC] A valuable and a fascinating insight into rarely known French Romantic music.

Gottlob Frick (bass) Portrait rec. 1949-64 PROFIL PH18047 [4 CDs: 246.27] [MC] A valuable addition to my collection.

Reine Gianoli (piano) Recitals in France 1962-1966 MELOCLASSIC MC1044 [78:36 + 79:15] [JW] At her best an artist of probity and emotional candour, and capable of witty characterisation.

Göttinger Stadtmusik Works by WF Bach, Rudorff & Quantz - Hanna Zumsande (soprano) Nicole Pieper (contralto) Consortium Vocale Berlin, Göttinger Barock O/Antonius Adamske rec. 2018 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV91911 [79:29] [JV] I am impressed by the quality of the music and the performance.

Franco Gulli (violin) ReDiscovered rec. 1957-97 RHINE CLASSICS RH-005 [11 CDs: 774 mins] [SG] An amalgam of engrossing repertoire, refined musicianship and passionate commitment.

Her Voice Works by Beach, Clarke & Farrenc - Neave Trio rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20139 [72:04] [SG] Three trios, each displaying a unique voice and distinct style.

Italia per sempre Annelies Van Gramberen (soprano), Redherring Baroque Ensemble/Patrick Denecker (recorder) rec. 2018 ANTARCTICA AR014 [79:49] [JV] These concertos have more to offer than just pleasant entertainment.

Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Wien - Vienna PO/Ádám Fischer rec. 2019 SONY 19075950412 [77:57] [GF] Kaufmann even in less than mint condition is still worth a listen.

Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Recitals in France 1959-1967 MELOCLASSIC MC1042 [79:45 + 77:57] [JW] Lively, human, sometimes fallible, but always elevated music-making in variable sound.

Like to the Lark Maria Forsström (mezzo-soprano), Jennifer Pike (violin), Swedish Chamber Ch/Simon Phipps rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5255 SACD [63:54] [EJW] A highly approachable disc, with a lovely alternative version of The Lark Ascending.

Memories of Vienna London SO, New SO, Vienna PO/Josef Krips rec. 1948-57 ELOQUENCE 484 0692 [76:01] [RMay] Quite delightful recordings, idiomatically delivered and expertly performed.

Mitteleuropa Jean-Louis Beaumadier (piccolo), Jordi Torrent (piano), Pierre-Henri Xuereb (viola), Gjorgji Cincievski (double bass) rec. 2012 SKARBO DSK4132 [50:45] [SA] Genuinely collaborative music-making of the highest standard.

Nowell Synge We Bothe Al And Som Gothic Voices rec. 2018 LINN CKD591 [77.10] [GH] Enough here to enjoy and some very fine singing indeed.

O Holy Night London Choral Sinfonia/Michael Waldron rec. 2014 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100110 [71:53] [MR] A programme of largely traditional texts but elevated by some inspired arrangements and settings and all delivered with superb artistry.

Progetto Italiano Works by Martucci, Respighi & Rota - Vladyslava Luchenko (violin) Christia Yuliya Hudziy (piano) rec. 2017 CLAVES RECORDS 50-1910 [72:54] [WK] It would be hard to find more exciting and committed performances.

Ripples Clarion CRYSTAL RECORDS CD961 [64:10] [MR] An organ and trumpet duo which has inspired five original and distinctive pieces by contemporary American composers.

Routes du café Ensemble Masques/Olivier Fortin rec. 2018 ALPHA 543 [71:39] [BW] A concept album that works well – but don’t overlook the classic Emma Kirkby ‘Coffee’ cantata.

Sommernachtskonzert 2019 Yuja Wang (piano); Wiener Philharmoniker/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2019 SONY CLASSICAL 19075943542 [71:53] [BW] A very fair idea of an occasion that must have been more enjoyable to attend than to watch or to hear.

Jascha Spivakovsky (piano) Bach to Bloch Vol. 9 rec. 1953-61 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM081 [78:09] [JW] More from this refined colourist.

Sung Hee Park (soprano) Birds and Love - Yuki Koyama (flute), Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec. 2017 SKARBO SK3174 [77:25] [JW] A different programme might suit better.

The Symphonic Euphonium II David Childs (euphonium), BBC Philharmonic/Ben Gernon rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN10997 [70:06] [JW] So much here that is approachable and finely done.

György Cziffra (piano) Besancon Recital rec. 1961 MELOCLASSIC MC1046 [75:12] [JW] This notably fine recital shows the fire and the poetry at the heart of Cziffra’s art.

Vintage Soundscapes and More Ken Perlman (banjo), Arthur Campbell (clarinet), Rocco Parisi (bass clarinet), North/South CO/Max Lifchitz rec. 2011/16 NORTH/SOUTH NSR1064 [75:59] [JW] A beguilingly played selection of attractive new music.

Other Reviews

Forward. 100 Years of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra by Richard Bratby publ. 2019 Elliott and Thompson [JQ] An excellent and comprehensive centenary history of the CBSO which will be of great value way beyond the boundaries of Birmingham itself.

Thoughts Around Great Singing by Linda Esther Gray & Ian Partridge publ. 2019 Green Oak Publishing [GH] A reminder of the great heritage of singing and singers.

Articles and Notices

MWI Recordings of the Year 2019

Piano Trio Discography: "R" Composers - compiled by David Barker

Short Reviews & Second Thoughts: Winter 2019-20/2 by Brian Wilson & Johan van Veen

 Listening Studio Report by John Quinn


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