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Monthly Listing
January 2019
232 reviews this month

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’.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Enemies in Love - Natalia Kawałek (mezzo) Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor) Il Giardino d'Amore/Stefan Plewniak rec. 2016 ËVOE RECORDS 005 [56:29] [MC] A fascinating Handel collection outstandingly sung.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 82 Jean-Baptiste DAVAUX (1742-1822) & François DEVIENNE (1759-1803) Symphonies concertante - Le Concert de la Loge/Julien Chauvin rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP186 [64:38] [DJB] Wonderfully vivacious playing and two excellent unknown works to accompany a Haydn masterpiece.

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.

JOSQUIN Des Prez (c.1450/1455-1521) Sacred motets - Cappella Amsterdam/Daniel Reuss rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902620 [66:10] [DC] A gem of a disc.

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.

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Sextet, Double Sextet - Ekkozone/Mathias Reumert rec. 2014/16 MODE RECORDS MODCD300 [49:54] [DC] Second to none.

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.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Les Saisons Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition - Barry Douglas (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN10991 [75:46] [RBe] This performance is worthy of standing alongside that of Richter’s.

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.

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) Symphonies Nos 3 & 6 - BBC PO/John Storgårds rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN10982 [66.52] [IL] Another colourful and intriguing Antheil album from Chandos.

Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906) Piano Trios - Trio Carducci rec. 2017/18 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95636 [65.04] [MC] Ruined by a recording in unpleasant, excessively closely recorded sound.

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 PIERINI (b. 1971) Cantai un tempo - Delian Qt, Claudia Barainsky (soprano) OEHMS CLASSICS OC468 [63:41 + 48:43] [DC] Anyone for a ‘jaunty’ BWV 1080?

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Art of Fugue - Craig Sheppard (piano) rec. 2018 ROMÉO RECORDS 7328 [76:20] [JQ] There isn’t a dull moment in this.

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.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The 9 Symphonies - MDR Rundfunkcho, Dresdner PO/Michael Sanderling rec. 2015-18 SONY CLASSICAL 19075872472 [5 CDs: 233.38] [MC] Characteristically stylish and penetrating performances that are entirely compelling.

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.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) The Damnation of Faust Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Te Deum - Joan Hammond (mezzo) Richard Lewis (tenor) Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) BBC Ch Society, BBC SO/Sir Malcolm Sargent rec. 1953/54 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9108 [78.30 + 72.23] [PCG] Dramatic involvement comes and goes but Sargent rises to his reputation as a conductor of choral scores.

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.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Stolen Moments - Rikke Sandberg (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD835 [70:48] [JF] Some superb playing here.

Johannes BRAHMS (1933-1897) Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 - Concertgebouw O, London PO/Eduard van Beinum rec. 1946, 1951 ELOQUENCE 482 5499 [74:02] [JW] A direct interpretative stance which remains unsullied by any extraneous expressive gestures.

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.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.3 - Musikkollegium Winterthur/Thomas Zehetmair rec. 2018 MDG SACD 901 2090-6 [50.56] [DBi] A worthwhile demonstration of small scale Bruckner but dispatched too quickly by the conductor.

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.

Benet CASABLANCAS (b.1956) The Art of Ensemble - London Sinfonietta/Felix Krieger rec. 2017 SONY CLASSICAL 88985468422 [71:39] [GPu] Fine performances of fascinating works.

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.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Jeux, Nocturnes - Coro & O ciudad Granada/Héctor Eliel Márquez, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905291 [51:06] [JQ] An attractive Debussy package.

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.

Antoine de FÉVIN (ca.1470-1511/12) Missa Ave Maria, Missa Salve sancta parens - Brabant Ens/Stephen Rice rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68265 [79:13] [RHa] The Brabant Ensemble offer spirited advocacy for Févin’s cause, though I enjoyed the motets more than the masses.

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.

Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785) Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 4 - Peter Seivewright (piano) rec. 2007-14 DIVINE ART DDA25103 [49:53] [JF] There is much pleasant listening here, but nothing revelatory.

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…

Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) The Apocalypse - Sydney Philharmonia Ch & SO/Myer Fredman rec. 1982 LYRITA SRCD371 [78:29] [JW] Your only viable chance to hear this tension-filled work.

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.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Das Leiden Jesu - Passion Cantatas II - Solistenensemble Ex Tempore; Mannheimer Hofkapelle/Florian Heyerick rec. 2017 CPO 555 170-2 [79:19] [JV] A further step in the process of discovering Graupner's sacred music.

Andreas HAKENBERGER (1573/74-1627) 55 Motets from the Pelplin Tablature - Polish Chamber Ch, Musica Fiorita/Jan Łukaszewski rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573743-44 [73:31 + 75:04] [RHa] Kudos to Naxos for releasing this fine set of motets by a little-known Polish contemporary of Schutz.

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.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Abbandonata: Italian Cantatas - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), The King’s Consort / Robert King rec. 2018 VIVAT 117 [74:51] [CC] A prime release.

Siegmund von HAUSEGGER (1872-1948) Lieder - Roman Trekel (baritone), Cord Garben (piano) rec. 2010 CPO 777 730-2 [68:39] [RMo] Despite the performers’ best efforts, these are unmemorable and meandering.

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.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Fantasia, Deutsche Tänze, Menuetti - Jenő Jandó (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573934 [73:45] [PRB] An enjoyable disc, combining a couple of the composer’s more significant standalone keyboard pieces with some light-hearted fun pieces.

Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Symphonies Nos 13 & 20, Notturno - Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss/Lovard Skou Larsen rec. 2015 CPO 555 042-2 [62:39] [TB] The playing is sensitive and beautifully judged in matters of tempo and phrasing.

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

Kenneth HESKETH (b. 1968) Knotted Tongues, Of Time and Disillusionment, In Ictu Oculi – BBC Ntl O Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2017 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0092 [54:42] [DC] Make a detour and find out what’s on offer from one of today’s top poets in sound.

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.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Brass sonatas - Eric Aurier (trumpet) David Alonso (horn) Nicolas Prost (alto saxophone) Fabrice Willischer (trombone) Stephane Labeyrie (tuba) Laurent Wagschal, Hélène Tysman (piano) rec. 2017/18 INDESENS INDE110 [66:00] [SB] Rewarding pieces, well played.

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.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets George BUTTERWORTH (1885-1916) A Shropshire Lad Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasia on Christmas Carols - NBC SO/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1943-44 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC546 [71:28] [JW] Pristine’s Stokowski series keeps up the good work with this well-programmed trio of recordings.

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

Elisabeth JACQUET DE LA GUERRE (1665-1729) L'inconstante - Marie van Rhijn (harpsichord) rec. 2017 EVIDENCE EVCD047 [65:49] [JV] Such a shame this isn't the complete harpsichord oeuvre by Jacquet de La Guerre, given the quality of the performances.

Armas JÄRNEFELT (1869-1958) Song of the Scarlet Flower - Gävle SO/Jaakko Kuusisto rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1328-2D [2 CDs: 99:34] [JW] Everything you’d want from a Nordic score of the time, or any time.

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.

Olav KIELLAND (1901–1985) & Arne DØRUMSGAARD (1921–2006) Songs - Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo-soprano), Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2016 LAWO LWC1145 [77:45] [GF] A fascinating disc, beautifully performed.

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.

Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Symphonies Nos 2 & 6; Unnoticed Morning Stars - Anu Komsi (soprano), Vienna PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017/18 DACAPO SACD 6.220653 [70:40] [JW] Equally salutary and convincing.

Paolo LORENZANI (1640-1713) Nicandro e Fileno - Nils Brown, Jean-Marc Salzmann, Suzie LeBlanc, Les Boréades De Montréal/Francis Colpron rec. 2017 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22770 [65:13] [GPu] This confirms one’s suspicions that Lorenzani was a finer composer than has been generally recognized.

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.

Boris LYATOSHYNSKY (1895-1968) Symphony No.3, Grazhyna - Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2018 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5233 [63.23] [DBi] An important addition to the catalogue in a fine surround recording.

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.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos - Valerie Tryon, Peter Donohoe, Mishka Rushdie Momen (pianos) Royal PO/Jac van Steen, Boris Brott rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD2682 [77:03 + 72:21] [RMo] Fleet, musical and unpretentious but with formidable powers of concentration and intensity.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies Nos 35 & 36 - Netherlands CO/Gordan Nikolić rec. 2017 TACET 2304 SACD [65:32] [RMo] Thoroughly enjoyable recordings in exemplary sound.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos - Sviatoslav Richter (piano) Rudolf Barshai, Lorin Maazel, Kirill Kondrashin rec. 1966-94 PARNASSUS DVD PDVD1207 [139 mins] [JW] Not especially revelatory, though it does show how much more vivid and engaged he was in the 70s.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony No. 39 - Mozarteumsorchester Salzburg/Bernhard Paumgartner rec. 1966 BELVEDERE 10146 [74:56] [RMo] Traditional but also graceful and profoundly humane.

David MUNRO Undiscovered Reflections - David Munro (piano) rec. 2018 Private release [47:52] [JW] Fun and full of good, communicative things.

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.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI ((b. 1933) Hommage à Penderecki - Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin), Roman Patkoló (double bass), Lambert Orkis (piano), London SO/Krzysztof Penderecki DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5163 [49:48 + 38:04] [SSi] A must for all fans of the music of Penderecki and a worthy release in celebration of his 85th birthday.

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.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly - Ermonela Jaho (soprano) Marcelo Puente (tenor) Royal Opera House Ch & O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OABD7244D Blu-ray [149 mins] [RWe] A fine production is beautifully captured on this superb Blu-ray disc.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) King Arthur - Sophie Junker (soprano), Zsuzsi Tóth (soprano), Caroline Weynants (soprano), Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 430 [57:41 + 40:18] [DC] Perhaps a little buttoned-up, but if you can’t bear theatrical mucking about this could be the version for you.

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.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Trois tableaux symphoniques d’après, Bacchanale, Symphony No. 3 - Paul Jacobs (organ) Utah SO/Thierry Fischer rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68201 [75:15] [JQ] A most enjoyable CD - encore, s’il vous plait.

Leonard SALZEDO (1921-2000) String Quartets Nos 1, 5 & 10 - Archaeus Qt rec. 2017 MPR 104 [57:16] [NB] A showcase for the brilliance of one of Britain's most underrated but individual composers.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Humoreske; Davidsbündlertänze; Geister-Variationen - Gabriele Carcano (piano) rec. 2018 RUBICON CLASSICS RCD1022 [77:44] [SSi] Lacklustre.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Papillons, Kinderszenen Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Intermezzi, Klavierstücke - Sarah Beth Briggs (piano) rec. 2018 AVIE AV2398 [80:54] [SG] An intelligently constructed recital.

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) Swan Lake, The Nutcracker - London SO, Paris Conservatoire O/Anatole Fistoulari rec. 1951/52 ELOQUENCE 482 5225 [75:34 + 62:13] [JW] This enjoyable twofer shows Fistoulari in the best possible (mono) light.

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.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth - Roberto Frontali (baritone) Anna Pirozzi (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Massimo/Gabriele Ferro rec. 2017 NAXOS Blu-Ray NBD0077V [156] [RJF] A few idiosyncrasies of staging apart, this is as vibrantly sung and performed a Macbeth as one is likely to see these days.

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) Tenebrae Responsories from Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae - Stile Antico rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902272 [71:21] [AY] Another impressive outing for Stile Antico.

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.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Orlando Furioso - Sonia Prina, Michela Antenucci, I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis rec. 2017 DYNAMIC 57803 Blu-ray [161 mins] [SSi] An exciting and opulent production, if not the best sung version.

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.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Birgit Nilsson (soprano) Jon Vickers (tenor) Metropolitan Opera O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1961 PRISTINE PACO 153 [3 CDs: 195.46] [PCG] A mixed bag: superbly handled in parts, but in places displaying to a distressing degree the hazards of live recording.

Karl WEIGL (1881-1949) Chamber works - David Frühwirth (violin) Benedict Kloeckner (cello) Florian Krumpöck (piano) rec. 2012/16 CAPRICCIO C5318 [71:36] [JW] Astutely judged and well projected performances.

Hans WEISSE (1892-1940) Clarinet Sonata, Clarinet Quintet - Friederike Roth (clarinet) Berolina Ens rec. 2017/18 MDG 948 2078-6 SACD [70:33] [SSi] A rewarding disc of music by an interesting and unjustly neglected composer.

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.

Felix WOYRSCH (1860-1944) Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 - NDR Radiophilharmonie/Thomas Dorsch rec. 2015 CPO 555063-2 [60:44] [EJW] Uninvolving music, fine recording.

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

Józef ZEIDLER (1744-1806) Mass - Camerata Silesia, Sinfonia Varsovia/Jerzy Maksymiuk rec. 2017 DUX 1474 [35:59] [MW] Interesting but not essential listening, very well-performed on a rather brief disc.

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.

Ah! If I but Knew the Way Back … Songs of Children and of Fairy Lands - Kateryna Kasper (soprano), Hilko Dumno (piano) rec. 2016 TYXART TXA18117 [72:59] [GF] A delectable programme.

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.

Amarae Morti El Léon de Oro/Peter Phillips rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68279 [66:24] [JQ] A very rewarding disc.

Wilhelm Backhaus (piano) Chopin, Liszt, Schumann & encore pieces rec. 1925-1937 APR 6026 [2 CDs: 160:09] The complete pre-War Beethoven recordings rec. 1927-1937 APR 6027 [2 CDs: 142:18] More Backhaus - very much to the profit of listeners and collectors alike.

Rachel Barton Pine (violin) Blues Dialogues - Matthew Hagle (piano) rec. 2017/18 CEDILLE CDR90000182 [75:51] [JW] Barton Pine shows the finesse and stylistic assurance of the first-class performer she is.

Bernstein at 100: The Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood Boston SO/Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Williams rec. 2018 C MAJOR Blu-ray 747704 [141 mins] [MMB] If you admire Bernstein and his music, this is definitely one you shouldn’t miss.

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.

Capriccio EnAccord String Quartet rec. 2016 ET’CETERA KTC1608 [53:56] [SSi] This is a well thought out and executed program, a must for all lovers of music for the string quartet.

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.

Compostela ad Vesperas Sancto Iacobi Ens Organum/Marcel Pérès rec. 2004 HARMONIA MUNDI HMO8905301 [78:30] [GH] Not all that interesting.

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.

Maurice Gendron (cello) Works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin & Schumann - Madeleine Lipatti (piano) rec. 1953 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1355 [68:33] [SG] A well-preserved event that carries its age well.

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.

Albert Markov (violin) Legendary Treasures Volume 1 - Serafima Chernyakhovskaya (piano), Moscow RSO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky rec. 1956-63 DOREMI DHR-8067/8 [80:20 + 81:20] [JW] A questing attitude to new repertoire and by communicative bravura in more standard fare.

Yehudi Menuhin (violin) The First Concerto Recordings - London SO/Landon Ronald, Sir Edward Elgar rec. 1931/32 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC459 [72:36] [SV] If you're a devotee of Menuhin or of Elgar, you will want this.

Minuetto Alessandro Stella (piano) rec. 2017 KHA RECORDS KHA0017 [46:47] [JW] A tough but rather intriguing sell.

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.

Out of the Shadow Works by Tartini, Haydn & Mendelssohn - Rebekka Hartmann (violin) Salzburg Chamber Soloists/Lavard Skou Larsen rec. 2017 SOLO MUSICA SM291 [63:18] [PRB] Superb playing and strikingly-faithful recordings.

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.

Ruggiero Ricci (violin) Discovered tapes: Concertos rec. 1951-1978 RHINE CLASSICS RH-008 [6 CDs: 430:57] [JW] A worthy and significant addition to Ricci’s discography.

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.

Song of Songs Cappella Mariana/Vojtech Semerád rec. 2017 ET’CETERA KTC1602 [57:20] Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525-1594) Volume 7 - The Sixteen/Harry Christophers rec. 2017 CORO COR16155 [72:01] [BW]  Two very worthwhile collections, one from very promising newcomers, the other part of an ongoing series.

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.

The Violin Concerto Collection Scottish CO/Joseph Swensen (violin) rec. 2002-04 LINN CKR614 [261:16] [SSi] This is a most welcome reissue with performances that are at least good, with the Dvořák and the Prokofiev being the highlights.

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.

A Year at Lincoln Ch Lincoln Cathedral/Aric Prentice rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD532 [76:12] [JF] A rare treat, thanks to excellent performances and great sound quality.

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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