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Short Reviews & Second Thoughts: Autumn 2019/2 by Brian Wilson, Dan Morgan & Johan van Veen

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November 2019 Recordings of the Month
Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique - Harmonia Mundi
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Praetorius - Lutheran Mass - Château de Versailles
Purcell - King Arthur - Signum Classics
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Thursday December 5th

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday December 4th

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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

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.

Tuesday December 3rd 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Monday December 2nd

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday November 29th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Complete String Quartets - Belcea Qt rec. 2011-2012 ALPHA CLASSICS 469 [8 CDs: 518:17] [DC] An excellent recording of Beethoven’s string quartets, and very good value as well.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20036 [70.39] [NB] A stunning start to what will surely be a life-enhancing series.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Water Music, Overtures Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Epistle Sonatas Nos. 10 and 13 - Philomusica of London/Thurston Dart; Boyd Neel O/Boyd Neel rec. 1954-61 ELOQUENCE 4828531 [76:14] [BW]  You really should hear Thurston Dart’s ‘Water Music’.

J.P.E. HARTMANN (1805-1900) Works for strings Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) String Quintet - Emil Telmányi (violin) Ilona Telmányi (violin, viola) Annette Telmányi (piano) Anika Telmányi (violin) Annete Telmányi (viola) Mihalyka Telmányi (cello) rec. 1965/83 DANACORD DACOCD853 [74:39] [JW] I enjoyed this restoration immensely.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto Nos 17 & 24 - English CO/Benjamin Hochman (piano) rec. 2019 AVIE AV2404 [59:18] [DD] First class performances of superb examples of Mozart’s supreme talent.

Ferdinand PFOHL (1862-1949) Strandbilder, Suite Élégiaque, Hagbert - Jamina Gerl (piano) rec. 2016 GRAND PIANO GP784 [86:20] [EJW] Very enjoyable works from a forgotten name.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Complete Piano Music Vol. 1 - Giovanna Gatto (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0405 [54:03] [JWe] Respighi’s style is quite unique.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Trout Quintet Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-47) Octet - Gerold Huber (piano) Alexandra Hengstebeck (double bass) Henschel Qt, Diogenes Qt rec. 2019 SOLO MUSICA SM332 [69:45] [MC] Perceptive performances of real maturity which have significant gravitas.


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