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an inspirational performance

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Monthly Listing
January 2019

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets Vols 4-6 - Elias Quartet rec. 2014-15 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLL0089/92/93 [6 CDs: 324:32] [BW]  There’s no ‘best buy’ for these quartets, but the Elias Quartet are up there with a select handful of recordings.

Brett DEAN (b. 1961) Hamlet - Allan Clayton (tenor) Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Barbara Hannigan (soprano) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1254D [185 mins] [RHa] A superb presentation of Brett Dean’s outstanding 2017 Glyndebourne ‘hit’.

Kenneth HESKETH (b. 1968) Knotted Tongues, Of Time and Disillusionment, In Ictu Oculi – BBC Ntl O of Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2017 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0092 [54:42] [RHa] Three compelling orchestral essays in fastidiously prepared performances.

Elisabeth JACQUET DE LA GUERRE (1665-1729) Chamber Music from the Brossard Collection - The Bach Players rec. 2017 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV91815 [67:35] [JV] These sonatas have found enthusiastic advocates in The Bach Players.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) & Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Piano Trios - Stefan Zweig Trio rec. 2018 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38264 SACD [60:05] [SG] A stunning debut disc, and one that I shall be returning to often.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Symphonies 1 & 4; Jeux Vénitiens - Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec 2017/18 ONDINE ODE1320-5 SACD [57:21] [RHa] Lutosławski’s first and last symphonies in exemplary performances and outstanding sound.

James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) String Quartets Nos 1-3 - Royal String Qt rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68196 [71:00] [SB] Impressive and rewarding works.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1991) Symphony No. 6 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2018 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR180231 CD/Blu-ray [161.46] [JQ] The Berliner Philharmoniker here marks the end of the Rattle era in some style.

Gustav MAHLER (1860–1911) Rückert-Lieder, Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo) Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2016 LAWO LWC1157 [55:29] [GF] This will join the ranks of the very best Mahler I have in my collection.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 20, Piano Sonatas Nos 3 & 12 - Seong-Jin Cho (piano) CO of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4835522 [63:43] [SG] Mozart playing of authority and distinction.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas, 5 Melodies - Levon Ambartsumian (violin) Anatoly Sheludyakov, Alexander Ardakov (piano) PHOENIX USA PHCD184 [61:51] [CSe] Russian masterworks delivered by a master from the Russian tradition.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Ascanio - Jean-François Lapointe (baritone), Bernard Richter (tenor), Ch & O de la Haute École de Musique de Genève/Guillaume Tourniaire rec. 2017 B RECORDS LBM013 [190 mins] [SSi] A wonderful performance which is a must for all fans of Saint-Saëns and French Grand Opera.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Orchestral works - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Christopher Ward rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5348 [68:32] [NB] A really fine disc where the familiar works match or supersede known versions and the ‘new’ pieces prove to be exceptionally interesting and superbly performed.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Symphony No. 2, Serenade - Gothenburg SO/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2013/14 BIS BIS-2424 SACD [83:21] [JQ] An outstanding disc containing performances of distinction.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Bürger als Edelmann Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Le bourgeois gentilhomme - Norwegian CO/Terje Tonnesen rec. 2016 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1143 [75:37] [TB] A splendid issue that does full justice to two linked masterpieces from across the centuries.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Otello - Mario del Monaco (tenor), Victoria de los Angeles (soprano), Leonard Warren (baritone), Ch & O Metropolitan Opera/Fausto Cleva rec. 1958 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 154 [2 CDs: 123:32] [MMB] A gem to be enjoyed over and over again.

Dutch Cello Sonatas Vol. 8 Works by Witte & Hutschenruyter - Doris Hochscheid (cello), Frans van Ruth (piano) rec. 2018 MDG AUDIOMAX SACD 9032094-6 [71:14] [JW] This is another winner in this series – and one of the best yet.

Sidney Foster (piano) Rediscovering an American Master rec. 1941-74 MARSTON 57001-2 [7 CDs: 554:29] [SG] This outstanding production deserves a prominent place on the shelves of anyone with an interest in the history of pianists and piano performance.

Hélène Grimaud (piano) Memory rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4835710 [51:35] [EJW] A truly lovely album.

Italian Masterworks Works by Boito, Mascagni, Puccini & Verdi - Riccardo Zanellato (bass); Chicago SO & Ch/Riccardo Muti rec. 2017 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011801 [68:37] [DM] A peach of a programme, with playing, singing and sonics to match; quite possibly my first Recording of the Year for 2019.

John McCabe (piano) Mountains: The ‘Lost’ Australian Recording rec. 1985 MÉTIER MSV28585 [64:20] [JF] Wonderful technical skill, musicianship and immense understanding.

Melancholia Les Cris de Paris/Geoffroy Jourdain rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902298 [67:11] [JV] These performances deserve nothing but praise.

Ida Presti & Alexandre Lagoya (guitar duo) rec. 1962/63 DOREMI DHR-8059 [56:14] [ZT] A rare recording of a legendary guitar duo.

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Le Diable à Quatre, Giralda, La Poupée de Nuremberg, Le Toréador overtures - London SO, New PO, Welsh Ntl Opera O/Richard Bonynge rec. 1964/69 ELOQUENCE 4828603 [77:26] [RW] Generally pleasing performances of music in danger of neglect.

Julian ANDERSON (b. 1967) Bell Mass, O sing unto the Lord, American Choruses Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643) Toccata quarta, Nunc Dimittis - Ch Gonville & Cauius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2017 DELPHIAN DCD34202 [61:54] [SB] Splendid and enjoyable new choral works.

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) Symphonies Nos 3 & 6, Archipelago, Hot-Time Dance, Spectre of the Rose - BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN10982 [66:52] [RB] Total Hollywood immersion in the super-confident American continent, north and south.

Vyacheslav ARTYOMOV (b.1940) A Sonata of Meditations, A Garland of Recitations, Totem - Academic SO Moscow State PO/Virko Baley, Mark Pekarsky Percussion Ens rec. 1983-92 DIVINE ART DDA25174 [69:44] [RB] Music with a welcoming yet far from facile surface and substance.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Die Kunst der Fuge Stefano PIEREINI (b. 1971) Cantai un tempo - Delian Qt, Claudia Barainsky (soprano) OEHMS CLASSICS OC468 [63:41 + 48:43] [DC] Anyone for a ‘jaunty’ BWV 1080?

Woldemar BARGIEL (1828-1897) String Quartets No. 1-4, String Octet - Orpheus Qt, Yume Sato and Amane Horie (violin), Julia Rebekka Adler (viola), Eva Freitag (cello) rec. 2013 CPO 555 095-2 [48:07 + 73:44] [DC] Fans of the Mendelsohn and Schumann sensibility will find much to enjoy here.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Columbia Beethoven Centennial Series Vol. 4 - Royal PO/Felix Weingartner, Concertgebouw O/Willem Mengelberg rec. 1926/36 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC414 [73:30] [SV] A disc which provides a fascinating look at bygone styles of Beethoven performance.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 4 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Night on Bald Mountain - Bruce Hungerford (piano), Staatskapelle Berlin/Boris Khaikin rec. 1964 KASP RECORDS 57791 DVD [53:16] [SG] This DVD will appeal to Hungerford devotees.

Ján Levoslav BELLA (1843–1936) Complete Piano Works - Peter Pažický, Martin Chudada (piano) rec. 2013 PAVLÍK RECORDS PA0114-2-131 [62:13] [SG] Peter Pažický's impressive technical arsenal does full justice to these captivating and compelling scores.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck - Christopher Maltman (baritone) Eva-Maria Westbroek (soprano) Sir Willard White (bass) Dutch Ntl Opera Ch, Netherlands PO/Marc Albrecht rec. 2017 NAXOS DVD 2.110582 [107:25] [SB] Good singing and playing, but the production is one for connoisseurs of Regie-theater.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck – Matthias Goerne, Asmik Grigorian, Vienna PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMD9809053.54 DVD/Blu-ray [101 mins] [SSi] An excellent production that is marked by a starring performance by Matthias Goerne in the title role of Wozzeck.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grande Messe des Morts - Bror Magnus Todenes (tenor), Bergen PO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5219 SACD [80:54] [MS] A sumptuous, convincing exciting yet restrained, respectful and sophisticated account of one of Berlioz greatest works.

Diogenio BIGAGLIA (1676-1745) Miserere, Missa Antonio LOTTI (1667-1740) Credo - Knabenchor Hannover, la festa musicale/Jörg Breiding rec. 2018 RONDEAU ROP7023 [81:02] [JV] This disc puts an unjustly neglected composer on the map.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello sonatas, Klavierstücke - Kate Bennett Wadsworth (cello) Yi-heng Yang (piano) rec. 2017 DEUX-ELLES DXL1181 [66:53] Cello sonatas, Songs - The Fischer Duo, Abigail Fischer (mezzo) rec. 2015/16 CENTAUR CRC3648 [66:39][SSi] Two quite diverse recordings of the Brahms Cello Sonatas, in which the Deux-Elles version comes out on top.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) String Quintet, Sinfonia Concertante - Munich RO/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2007/09 CPO 777 579-2 [70:16] [JW] The performances are good but neither work gifts its subtle secrets easily.

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Concerto for clarinet & viola, Eight Pieces - Eva Katrine Dalsgaard (viola) Giovanni Punzi (clarinet) Tanja Zapolski (piano) Copenhagen Phil/Vincenzo Milletari rec. 2017/18 BRILLIANT 95673 [53:00] [RB] Music with its roots, trunk, branches and foliage struck joyously deep in the 19th century.

John BRUNNING (b. 1954) Swansongs: Songs of Remembrance - Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) Daniel Grimwood (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD561 [12:57] [JQ] Songs with an immediate melodic appeal.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Violin Concerto No.3; String Trio; Sonata for Violin and Cello - Davide Alogna (violin), Fiorenzo Pascalucci (piano), Roberto Trainini (cello), Federico Stassi (viola) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574003 [78:21] [BSt] Very listenable performances of unfamiliar music.

Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) Viola Sonata Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Cello Sonata Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Six Studies in English Folk Song - Natalie Clein (cello), Christian Ihle Hadland (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68253 [60:07] [JW] High-octane performances.

Georgiy CONUS (1862-1933) Piano Music - Jonathan Powell (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0513 [77:30] [JW] Rewarding things to be heard here but you must be selective.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Violin Sonatas - The Pleyel Ens rec. 2016/17 MPR 103 [71:21] [JW] Cooke’s violin works are both appealing and successful.

Jon DEAK (b. 1943) The Passion of Scrooge - William Sharp (baritone), 21st Century Consort/Christopher Kendall ZEN VIOLENCE FILMS DVD 85007 75068 [62:00+60:00] [RB] Shifting perspectives and lap-dissolves: opera, film, morality and fantastic story-telling.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Études Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Gaspard de la Nuit - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2017 ONYX 4204 [64.54] [RBe] First-rate Etudes, but Gaspard is less successful.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) La favorite - Veronica Simeoni (soprano) Celso Albelo (tenor) O & Ch Opera Firenze Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Fabio Luisi rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7822.02 [72:36 + 76.16] [PS] Perfectly respectable and enjoyable, but it won’t join the pantheon of great performances.

Heino ELLER (1887-1970) Violin Concerto, Symphonic Legend, Fantasy, Symphony No.2 - Baiba Skride (violin) Estonian Ntl SO/Olari Elts rec. 2013-18 ONDINE ODE1321-2 [67:43] [JW] Beautifully played and recorded, splendidly documented.

Sebastian FAGERLUND (b. 1972) Höstsonaten - Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Ch & O Finnish National Opera/John Storgårds rec 2017 BIS BIS-2357 SACD [76:26 + 42:54] [GF] Not an easy work to come to terms with, but a valuable addition to the repertoire nonetheless.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) Atlantis, String Quartet & Orchestra, Oboe & Orchestra - Han de Vries (oboe) Pellegrini Qt, Frankfurt RSO/Lucas Vis rec. 1997 HAT[NOW]ART 206 [54:26] [DC] A valuable reissue.

Alfonso FERRABOSCO the Younger (c.1575-1628) The Art of Fantasy: Music for Consort and Lyra Viol - Hathor Consort/Romina Lischka rec. 2018 RAMÉE RAM1806 [76:32] [BW]  One for specialists; for others to dip into – or to sample first.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Cello Concerto, Eclogue, Nocturne, Grand Fantasia and Toccata - Paul Watkins (cello) Louis Lortie (piano) BBC SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5214 [70:40] [JQ] An excellent Finzi collection which includes a very fine performance of his eloquent Cello Concerto.

Ida Henriette d'FONSECA (1806-1858) Complete Works - Helene Hvass Hansen (soprano) Cathrine Penderup (piano) Kammerkoret Musica rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD777 [65:10] [MBu] Utterly charming.

Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762) Concerti Grossi Op.7 - Café Zimmermann rec. 2017 ALPHA 396 [64:05] [BW] If you think that baroque music is sedate, these committed performances of adventurous concertos should disabuse you.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) Melodies, Gradus, Piece in the Shape of a Square - Craig Morris (trumpet) rec. 2013 BRIDGE RECORDS 9508 [51:55] [DC] Not what you might expect – in a good way…

Joël GRARE Des pas sous la neige - Joël Grare (percussion), Matthieu Desbordes, Yula Slipovitch (percussion & voice), Anne Isambert (voice), Simon Buffaud (double bass), Alice Julien-Laferrière (violin) rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 436 [58:38] [DC] Fascinating musicianship and very intriguing sounds.

Lars GRAUGAARD Engage and Share, Slonk, Blind Lemon - Grup Instrumental de València/ Joan Cerveró rec. 2017 KAIROS 0015039KAI [42:40] [RHa] Graugaard wears a lot of different hats as a performer and composer but all of these three pieces occupy similar sonic terrain.

Georg Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Semele - Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano), Helen Watts (contralto), St Anthony Singers, New SO London/Anthony Lewis rec. 1956 ELOQUENCE 482 5055 [71:59+65:26] [JW] Lewis and Vyvyan remain the greatest assets here, for those who want to savour them.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets Op. 64 - London Haydn Qt rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68221 [79:48 + 65:33] [RWe] Those who collect the LHQ Haydn series will surely want this instalment too.

Wim HENDERICKX (b. 1962) Nostalgia - Boho Strings/David Ramael rec. 2018 ANTARCTICA RECORDS AR011 [58:02] [DC] Enjoyable and deeply intriguing.

HILDEGARD von Bingen (1098-1179) Laudes de Sainte Ursule - Ensemble Organum/Marcel Pérès rec. 1996 HARMONIA MUNDI HMO8901626 [78:50] [BW]  Look elsewhere; other recordings of Hildegard are much more amenable.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Viola Sonata, Trauermusik Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Viola Sonata, Rhapsody-Concerto - Kristina Fialová (viola), Martin Levický (piano), Czech Ntl SO/Tomáš Brauner rec. 2017/18 SOUND TRUST OUT095 [63:07] [JW] The performances are admirably direct though not invariably expressively satisfying.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) A Winter Idyll; Cotswolds Symphony; Invocation; A Moorside Suite; Indra - Guy Johnston (cello), BBC PO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5192 SACD [77.02] [PCG] Generally excellent performances, save that of Invocation.

Jānis IVANOVS (1906-1983) Symphonies for Strings - Sinfonietta Rīga/Normunds Šnē rec. 2018 SKANI LMIC068 [51:50] [SG] Well-crafted and intense.

JOSQUIN des Prés (c. 1440-1521) Masses - The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 2018 GIMELL CDGIM050 [66:48] [MC] The Tallis Scholars’ series of Josquin des Prés masses goes from strength to strength.

Karl KLINGLER (1879-1971) Violin Concerto, Viola Sonata - Ulf Hoelscher (violin), Karl Klingler (viola), Michael Raucheisen (piano), Bavarian RSO/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach rec. 1979 MDG 642 2103-2 [82:31] [JW] Neither work is a repertoire piece but both shed light on a significant string player.

Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Chamber Music & Songs Vol. 1 - Laura Aikin (soprano) Bernarda Fink (mezzo) Florian Boesch (baritone) Ernst Krenek Ens rec. 2014-16 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0295 [75:15] [JW] A thoroughly persuasive and well-rounded disc.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Das Lied der Liebe - Lilli Wünscher (soprano) Adam Sanchez (tenor) O der Musikalischen Komöde Leipzig/Stefan Klingele rec. 2018 RONDEAU PRODUCTIONS ROP6167 [81:35] [NB] One for the completists only.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897–1957) Das Wunder der Heliane - Annemarie Kremer (soprano) Ian Storey (tenor) Theater Freiburg Ch, Freiburg PO/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.660410-12 [3 CDs: 161:33] [RC] Perhaps most attractive to those already enthusiastic about Korngold.

László LAJTHA (1892-1963) Capriccio - Pécs SO/Nicolás Pasquet rec. 1994 NAXOS 8.573649 [77:01] [RB] Music that is soft of focus, rounded of edge yet lively not lifeless, fizzing rather than flat.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE (1657-1726) Grands Motets - Les Chantres et Les Pages du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, Collegium Marianum/Olivier Schneebeli rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD924301 [78:41] [BW]  There is not much competition and these most enjoyable performances stand up well against what there is.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893–1952) Complete Works for Violin & Piano Vol. 2 - Gunvor Sihm (violin) Berit Johansen Tange (piano) Per Salo (organ) Danish Ntl SO/Thomas Søndergård rec. 2016-18 DACAPO 8.226131 [59:03] [BSt] Splendidly performed and recorded throughout.

Aubert LEMELAND (1932-2010) Symphonies Nos 8 & 9, Battle Pieces - Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) O Ntl do Porto/Marc Tardue rec. 2005 SKARBO DSK3046 [60:27] [SG] A composer well-deserving of more recognition.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Poems - Goran Filipec (piano) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573794 [70:02] [RC] Anyone interested in this mostly early Liszt repertoire won’t be disappointed by this disc.

Nicholas LUDFORD (c.1490-1557) Missa Videte miraculum, Ave Maria, ancilla Trinitatis etc. - Ch Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell (organ) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68192 [62:40] [CRo] An important addition to the relatively slender discography of this composer.

Giovanni Lorenzo LULIER (c.1660-1700) Cantatas and Sonatas for Cardinal Ottoboni - Francesca Boncompagni (soprano), Accademia Ottoboni/Marco Ceccato (cello) rec. 2017 ALPHA 406 [54:16] [BW] Fine performances of music which, while not essential, is enjoyable to explore.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) & Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Cello Concertos - Johannes Moser (cello) Rundfunk-SO Berlin/Thomas Søndergård rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186689 SACD [53:52] [DC] Well worth having.

Boris LYATOSHYNSKY Symphony No. 3 & Grazhyna - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2018 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5233 [63:52] [RB] Reeking of cordite and resonant with tocsins, full of foreboding but often idyllic and colourful.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 - Vienna SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC542 [57:43] [RMo] The restoration and the highly personal execution qualify this for inclusion on the shelves of any Mahler enthusiast.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Anja Harteros (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 BR KLASSIK 900167 [80:56] [RC] This new version by Jansons will greatly please most listeners.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 5 - Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902366 [73:23] [RMo] Solid but uninspiring.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 6 - MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 19075822952 [84:20] [JQ] A provocative but compelling reading of Mahler’s Sixth.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9, Symphony No. 5 Adagietto - Vienna PO/Bruno Walter rec. 1938 OPUS KURA OPK2121 [78:22] [SG] A valuable historical document in fresh, vibrant transfers.

Carlo MARTELLI (b.1935) Sredni Vashtar, The Curse of Christopher Columbus, Serenade for Strings - Simon Callow (narrator) Lesley-Jane Rogers, Olivia Robinson (soprano) Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Ronald Corp rec. 2018 CARMA RECORDS CARMA001 [58:00] [JF] A fascinating CD, handsomely produced and finely performed.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) What Men Live By, Symphony No. 1 - Martinů Voices, Czech PO/Jiří Bělohlávek rec. 2014/16 SUPRAPHON SU4233-2 [75:57] [JW] Some production issues in the opera, but the symphony is very fine.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Overtures Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Rosamunde - Vienna PO/Carl Schuricht, Pierre Monteux rec. 1954/1957 ELOQUENCE 482 4955 [69:41] [JW] Warmth and refinement in the Schubert, well-balanced and thoughtful Mendelssohn.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) La clemenza di Tito - Rolando Villazón (tenor) Joyce DiDonato (mezzo) RIAS Kammerchor, CO of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5210 [69:09 + 71:31] [GF] The quartet of female singers are exceptionally fine, but some may be less positive about Villazon’s reading of the title role.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Choral Fantasia - Andor Foldes (piano) Berlin PO/Fritz Lehmann, Leopold Ludwig, Paul Schmitz rec. 1954-63 ELOQUENCE 4828533 [79:52 + 79:54] [SG] Satisfying performances make a welcome return.

Roman PALESTER (1907-1989) String Quartets Nos 2 & 3 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) String Quartet No. 2 - Apollon Musagète Qt rec. 2017 UNIVERSAL 4816901 [79:45] [JW] This well-recorded release makes a splendid case for the quartets.

Boris PAPANDOPULO (1906-1991) Small Concerto, Harpsichord Concerto, Orchestral Songs, Judenliedchen - Jörg Halubek (harpsichord) Miljenko Turk (baritone) Südwestdeutsches CO Pforzheim/Timo Handschuh rec. 2015/16 CPO 777 941-2 [60:50] [RB] Unfailingly tuneful concertos and excoriating libation from the songs.

Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) The Wanderer - Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin), Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2016 EM RECORDS EMRCD050-52 [3 CDs: 165:19] [CSe] A fine and worthy collection, even if the works do not startle with their innovation or variety.

Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Celebrating Piazzolla - Neave Trio, Carla Jablonski (mezzo) rec. 2017 AZICA RECORDS ACD71324 [47:42] [DJB] If you are wanting lush Piazzolla, look elsewhere.

Adam POUNDS (b. 1954) Symphony, The Martyrdom of Latimer, London Cantata - Matt Wilkinson (baritone) Stapleford Ch Society, Academy Great St Mary’s, O/Adam Pounds rec. 1985-2018 CAMBRIDGE RECORDINGS CAMRECS006 [58:55] [JF] One can overlook the variable nature of the performances for the pleasures in the music.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Bohème - Michael Fabiano (tenor) Nicole Car (soprano) Royal Opera House Ch & O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OA1272D DVD [110 mins] [RJF] The set varies between the Spartan and the sumptuous, as does the singing.

Matthew QUAYLE (b. 1976) String Quartets - Avalon String Qt rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.559851 [54:35] [SG] Committed performances of imaginatively constructed quartets.

Johann Adam REINCKEN (c.1640-1722) Toccatas, partitas & suites - Clément Geoffroy (harpsichord) rec. 2017 ENCELADE ECL1705 [73:12] [JV] Expressive and imaginative performances.

Roger REYNOLDS (b. 1934) Aspiration - Irvine Arditti (violin) Paul Hembree (computer) inauthentica/Mark Menzies rec. 2015 KAIROS 0015051KAI [42:04 + 54:55] [RHa] A lavish introduction to the immaculately crafted music of Roger Reynolds and an affecting tribute to a creative partnership of a standing of almost 40 years.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868) Aureliano in Palmira - Juan Francisco Gatell (tenor), Silvia Dalla Benetta (soprano), Poznań Virtuosi Brunensis/José Miguel Péres-Sierra rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.660448-50 [3 CDs: 167:05] [GF] Price conscious readers can invest with confidence without feeling too much regret.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La Cenerentola, Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Ruxandra Donose (mezzo) Maxim Mironov (tenor) Danielle de Niese (soprano) Björn Bürger (baritone) Glyndebourne Ch, London PO/Vladimir Jurowski, Enrique Mazzola rec. 2005/16 OPUS ARTE OABD7253D Blu-ray [2 discs: 359 mins] [DBi] Two essential Rossini performances in one doubly-essential package.

Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Complete Piano Works - Stefan Irmer (piano) rec. 1997-2007 MDG 618 2098-6 [8 CDs: 568:52] [SSi] This is an entertaining and infectious set, one that would perfectly extend the collection of any Rossini lover.

Kaija SAARIAHO (b.1952) Tocar, Cloud Trio, Light and Matter, Aure, Graal théâtre - Jennifer Koh (violin) Curtis 20/21 Ens/Connor Gray Covington rec. 2016/17 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR90000183 [68.06] [GH] Worth exploring and represents the composer fairly for anyone new to her.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Concertos Nos 1, 2 & 4 - Louis Lortie (piano) BBC PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20031 [70:58] [TB] Splendid performances in well-engineered sound.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Vorspiel zu einem Drama, Der Geburstag der Infantin, Romantische Suite - Berlin RSO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573821 [64:10] [EJW] A considerable treat to anyone wanting to become familiar with Schreker’s art.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Complete Preludes - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95651 [56:51 + 63:43] [MC] More than a match for celebrated accounts.

Padre Antonio SOLER (1729-1783) Organ Concertos - Jürgen Essl and Jeremy Joseph (organs) rec. 2018 CYBELE 031802 SACD [53:40] Obra vocal en latín - La Grande Chapelle/Albert Recasens rec. 2017 LAUDA LAU018 [76:24] [BW]  No reservations about the Lauda recording, and very few about the Cybele, though my marginal preference in the concertos is for the earlier Decca recording.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Works for violin & orchestra - Arabella Steinbacher (violin) WDR SO Köln/Lawrence Foster rec. 2017 PENTATONE SACD PTC5168653 [60.35] [MC] Hard to imagine finer performances than these, and the disc is beautifully recorded too.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) The Golden Cockerel Suite - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2017 ONYX 4175 [75:29] [SSi] An excellent and colourful recording of both works.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Sacre du Printemps, Chant Funèbre, Jeu de Cartes, Concerto, Agon - Luxembourg PO/Gustavo Gimeno rec. 2017/2018 PENTATONE PTC5186650 SACD [2 discs: 104:40] [RW] Fine performances and sound, if not quite an ideal selection of works.

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Overtures - Münchner Rundfunk O/Ivan Repušić rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900326 [59:29] [MBu] Lacking a little in sensitivity but still a good introduction to Suppé’s operatic output.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker - London SO/André Previn rec. 1972-76 WARNER CLASSICS 9029597489 [DM] Three classic sets remastered; not an unqualified success, though.   

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Queen of Spades - Aleksandar Marinković (tenor) Melanija Bugarinović (contralto) Belgrade Ntl Opera Ch & O/Krešimir Baranović rec. 1955 ELOQUENCE 4826903 [3 CDs: 168:50] [RMo] Whilst not superior to more recent versions, it will not disappoint.

Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1849-1893) Swan Lake - Gstaad Festival O/Kristjan Järvi rec. 2015 SONY CLASSICAL 88875187472 [68:14] [SV] Unsatisfactory arrangements and tempi make this hard to recommend.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Trio Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Trio Élégiaque No. 1 - Klára Würtz (piano), Dmitri Makhtin (violin), Alexander Kniazev (cello) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95632 [57:31] [RWe] This partnership on Brilliant offers superb musicianship for a modest price.

Georg Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767) Per Tromba & Corno da Caccia - Ensemble Eolus, Philippe Canguilhem (oboe), Jean Chamboux (drum) rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC397 [57:48] [CR] An attractive slant upon one of the uses to which the art of music was put in the Baroque era.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Chamber Music Treasures from Dresden & Darmstadt - Les Esprits Animaux rec. 2018 MUSICA FICTA MF8029 [64.13] [MC] Spirited performances somewhat tarnished by the sound quality.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Sea Symphony, The Lark Ascending - James Ehnes (violin) Sarah Fox (soprano) Mark Stone (baritone) Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Andrew Manze rec. 2017 ONYX 4185 [77:32] [JQ] A good Sea Symphony but it doesn’t challenge the best in the catalogue.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) I Lombardi alla prima crociata - Giuseppe Gipali (tenor) Lavinia Bini (soprano) O & Ch Teatro Regio Torino/Michele Mariotti rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7826.02 [75:24 + 59:05] [GF] There are not many good recordings of I Lombardi, and this release doesn’t change the situation.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) L’Incoronazione di Dario - Carlo Allemano, Sara Mingardo, O Teatro Regio Torino/Ottavio Dantone rec. 2017 DYNAMIC 37794 DVD [160 mins] [CRo] A generally stimulating and convincing account.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Siegfried - Hans Hopf (tenor) Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Metropolitan Opera Ch & O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1962 PRISTINE CLASSICAL PACO155 [3 CDs: 226:19] [RMo] This new issue from Pristine makes all previous incarnations redundant, it is so superior in sound quality.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Hong Kong PO/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2015-18 NAXOS 8.501403 [14 CDs: 893 mins] [ST] It’s a budget price Ring but not a budget performance.

Juliusz WERTHEIM (1880-1928) Preludes, Variations, Impromptus, Drei Weisen im polnischen Volkston - Elżbieta Tyszecka (piano) rec. 2018 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0428 [80:32] [SSi] Yet another neglected Polish composer unearthed by Acte Préalable.

Hans WINTERBERG (1901-1991) Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Arizona Wind Quintet rec. 2017/18 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0491 [74:15] [JW] I’m keen to encounter more Winterberg.

Dag WIRÉN (1905-1986) String Quartets Nos 2-5 - Wiren Qt rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573588 [70.36] [GH] These works will prove rewarding with ample, repeated listening.

Ernst Wilhelm WOLF (1735-1792) Jesu, deine Passion will ich jetzt bedenken - Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2017 CPO 777 999-2 [81:23] [JV] A very interesting and musically compelling addition to the discography of 18th-century music for Passiontide.

Haydn WOOD (1882-1959) Orchestral Suites - BBC Concert O/Gavin Sutherland rec. 2017 DUTTON SACD CDLX7357 [77:02] [JW] Wood’s suites are brought to life with care, affection and a real sense of colour and charm.

Andrew WRIGHT (b. 1967) Piano Impressions - Andrew Wright (piano) rec. 2014-18 Private recording [68:08] [JW] An eclectic and enjoyable admixture of influences.

17th Century Sacred Music in Wrocław Gli Angeli Genève, Concerto Palatino, Wrocław Baroque O/Stephan MacLeod rec. 2016 CLAVES 50-1805 [77:54] [CRo] A well-researched and recorded project; a pity there are no texts.

All the Host of Heaven Works by Dove, Duruflé & Ešenvalds - Baylor A Cappella Ch/Alan Raines rec. 2014 ACIS APL55284 [53:03] [JQ] Duruflé’s Requiem recorded in the Parisian church that he served as organist for over 50 years.

Alfredo Campoli (violin) Violin sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms & Mozart - Peter Katin (piano) rec. 1963/73 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD3/2009 [69:27] [PSe] These captivating live performances by a winning combination of two supreme artists may well topple your favourites off their perches.

Giulio Cesare - A Baroque Hero Raffaele Pe (countertenor), La Lira di Orfeo rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD923516 [70:47] [JW] Too many problems to make this worth considering.

Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain An Irish-Appalachian Celebration - Amanda Powell (soprano) Ross Hauck (tenor) Jeffrey Strauss (baritone) Apollo's Fire/Jeannette Sorrell rec. 2017/18 AVIE AV2396 [68:22] [BMC] An unusual programme of holiday and seasonal folk arrangements, well performed.

Le Cor Mélodique Works by Gounod, Meifred & Gallay - Anneke Scott (horn) Stephen Devine (piano) rec. 2018 RESONUS RES10228 [75:57] [MBu] A worthy celebration of Gounod’s 200th birthday.

Danish and Romanian Pieces Mihaela Oprea (violin), Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD831 [56:06] [JW] A genial well-recorded selection.

The Devil’s Trill Works by Brahms, Hába, Mozart & Tartini - Dan Auerbach (violin), Joshua Pierce (piano) rec. 2017 MSR CLASSICS MS1618 [70:59] [JW] Interesting programming imperatives at work here.

Plácido Domingo (vocal) Volver - Pablo Sainz-Villegas (guitar) rec. 2017 SONY 88985416852 [45:31] [GF] A somewhat small-scale Indian Summer atmosphere but it still makes this album glow.

Dream American Music for Electric Guitar - Sergio Sorrentino (electric guitar) rec. 2015/17 MODE RECORDS MODCD301 [67:23] [RB] For those who crave sound warmth while exploring an instrument that is moving steadily into classical territory.

Echoes of Bach Works by JS Bach, Ligeti, Saygun, Gabrielli & Sollima - Mike Block (cello) BRIGHT SHINY THINGS BTSC-0124 [40:04] [JW] Personalised views of single movements in a contextualised kind of way.

Till Fellner (piano) In Concert rec. 2002/10 ECM NEW SERIES 2511 [75:39] [SG] Rich in musical insights.

Forgotten Russians Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2018 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6377 [74:19] [RWe] Anyone curious about those paths not taken in Soviet music should hear this disc.

For the Fallen Choral Music from the Time of the Great War - Martin Toyer (organ), Pegasus/Matthew Altham rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD825 [67:19] [WK] A few less satisfying moments don’t detract from this.

The French Piano School Works by Debussy, Fauré & Ravel - Marius-François Gaillard, Carmen Guilbert (piano) rec. 1928-38 APR 6025 [73:10 + 76:23] [SG] A stimulating release, in impressive transfers.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Live - Vienna State Opera O rec. 1994-2016 ORFEO C966181B [78:08] [GF] A valuable tribute to one of the greatest singers of his generation.

Robert Irving (conductor) The Decca Recordings - New SO, London SO rec. 1952-55 ELOQUENCE 482 7289 [78:57+63:54] [RMay] A valuable and enjoyable reminder of a great ballet conductor’s work.

Music for my Love Vol. 2 Ukrainian Festival O/Paul Mann rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0370 [71:33] [RB] This second disc glowingly continues a series started auspiciously.

Norwegian Saxophone Works by Aagaard-Nilsen, Habbestad & Romberg - Ole Asdahl Rokkones (saxophone) St. Petersburg Northern Sinfonia/Fabio Mastrangelo rec. 2016 LAWO LWC1162 [71:41] [RB] Three styles across three composers in recent, substantial and discursive works for saxophone and orchestra.

Onegin Stuttgart Ballet, State Theatre Stuttgart O/James Tuggle rec. 2017 C MAJOR Blu-ray 801304 [198 mins] [RMay] A hugely enjoyable performance of what many see as John Cranko’s masterpiece.

Nikolai Orloff (piano) The Decca Recordings  - Ntl SO/Anatole Fistoulari rec. 1945 ELOQUENCE 482 8710 [60:16] [JW] The transfers have done the best they can with some difficult source material.

Praise My Soul Ch Jesus College Cambridge/Richard Pinel rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD545 [66:32] [ST] If you’re looking for a taster of the English hymn tradition, you could do a lot worse.

Sinfonia English CO/Richard Bonynge, Emanuel Hurwitz; Richard Hickox O/Richard Hickox rec. 1966-76 ELOQUENCE 482 8794 [75:40 + 77:34] [JW] If you’re nostalgic for chamber-sized performances of the Baroque, this restoration should make your day.

Tea for Two Clémentine Decouture (soprano) Philippe Brocard (baritone) Chloé Ducray (harp) Frivol’Ens rec. 2017/18 NAXOS 8.573973 [57:32] [MBu] Enjoyable and refreshing.

Verbum Caro Factum Est Masato Suzuki (organ) Bach Collegium Japan Ch/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2291 SACD [68:21] [RHa] Daquin’s Noëls are delightful pieces but there is a lot that is sickly sweet Christmas stodge.

Violin Concertos from Darmstadt Works by Telemann, Kress, Fasch & Endler - Darmstädtler Barocksolisten/Johannes Pramsohler (violin) rec. 2017 AUDAX RECORDS ADX13716 [68:07] [DJB] Very much worth considering for the four premiere works.

Worcester Spectacular! Christopher Allsop (organ) rec. 2018 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1214 [75:40] [JF] All organ buffs will be keen to add this superb CD to their collection.

Other Reviews

The Doggy Tales Of Arnold by Carey Blyton; illustrations by Maurice Stevens publ. 2018 Austin Macauley Publishers [GH] I can only hope that this slim volume will be brilliantly successful.

Light Music While You Work Vol. 5 rec. 1943-46 GUILD LIGHT MUSIC GLCD5211 [79:18] [SV] Of most appeal to nostalgia buffs. 

The Mid-Twentieth-Century Concert Pianist - An English Experience by Julian Hellaby publ. 2019 ROUTLEDGE [MMB] Very informative and well-written.

Articles and Notices

Wagner's Parsifal - a survey by Ralph Moore

John Joubert - an obituary by John Quinn

Strauss' Salome - a survey by Ralph Moore

Stanfordian Thoughts 9: His most played work by CHristopher Howell

Second Thoughts & Short Reviews Winter 2018/19-1 by Brian Wilson & Dan Morgan


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