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[New] Second Thoughts & Short Reviews - Spring 2019-3 by Brian Wilson, Simon Thompson & Johan van Veen

[New] Schubert's Winterreise - a survey by Ralph Moore

Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel - a survey by Ralph Moore

Piano Trio Discography & Review Index: N, O, P & Q composers compiled by David Barker

Blandine Verlet - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

A Dozen Obscure Favorites by Andrew Hartman


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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday May 24th

Agustín BARRIOS (1885–1944) Guitar Music Vol. 5 - Celil Refik Kaya (guitar) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573898 [84:32] [GF] Impeccable playing.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) & Jean CRAS (1879-1932) String Quartets - Midi-Minuit Qt rec. 2018 KLARTHE RECORDS KLA071 [67:39] [SG] A satisfying pairing.

Richard Rodney BENNETT (1936-2012) Orchestral Works Vol. 3 - Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) BBC Scottish SO/John Wilson rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5230 SACD [64:34] [SB] The latest in this invaluable series has many good things.

Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887), Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-75) & Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) String Quartets - Dragon Qt rec. 2017 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS40919 [73.03] [MC] Beautifully judged performances.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 2, The Fair Melusine Overture - Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) Freiburger Barock O/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902369 [63:01] [SSi] Wonderful performances, although the sound of the fortepiano might deter some.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonatas Vol. 1 - Peter Donohoe (piano) rec. 2018 SOMM SOMMCD0191 [69:05] [MG] Donohoe gives Mozart’s piano sonatas a fresh, impactful voice, which is quite an achievement.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Symphonies Nos 7 & 9 - Timothy West (narrator) Rowan Pierce (soprano) Graham Eccles (organ) Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Andrew Manze rec. 2018 ONYX CLASSICS 4190 [83:26] [JQ] Severely compromised by the misguided presentation of Sinfonia Antartica.

Alexander Brailowsky (piano) The Complete Polydor Recordings Vols 1 & 2 rec. 1928-36 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM078/079 [4 CDs: 254:36] The Berlin Recordings 1928-1934 DANACORD DACOCD336-339 [4 CDs: 267:48] [JW] Even at his best in the Berlin sessions Brailowsky was never the most reliable of practitioners, which is disappointing as his touch can be delicacy itself.

Thursday May 23rd

Vazha AZARASHVILI (b. 1936) Complete Works for Cello & Piano - Alexander Suleiman (cello) Irma Issakadze (piano) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.579030 [66:59] [DJB] The sonatas are predominantly dark and gloomy, the miniatures sweeter but still sad, leading to an overall lack of atmospheric variety.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Piano Trios & Bagatelles - Bernard Roberts Piano Trio rec. 2002 CLAUDIO RECORDS CC5257-2 [63:50] Chamber Music Vol. 4 - Magnard Ens rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0453 [82:16] [SSi] Either, or indeed both, would make a worthy addition to a collection.

Guillaume DUFAY (c.1400-1474) Lament for Constantinople & other songs - Orlando Consort rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68236 [70:48] [GH] It’s good finally to have a disc completely of Dufay.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 6 - Boston Philharmonic Youth O/Benjamin Zander rec. 2017 BRATTLE MEDIA [59:23 + 30:50] [JQ] Another notable Mahlerian achievement by Benjamin Zander and his young orchestra.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Sonata No. 3, Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Drei Fantasiestücke, Gesänge der Frühe - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN200812 [74:26] [RHa] Lesser-known Schumann in fearless, lived-in and deeply empathic accounts from a Frenchman who remains at the top of his game.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Grand Sonata Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No. 1 - Albert Tiu (piano) rec. 2017 CENTAUR CRC3661 [71:23] [RWe] These fine accounts leave one feeling the Tchaikovsky work deserves more hearings, but certain that the Rachmaninov is one of the great piano sonatas.

Silvius Leopold WEISS (1686-1750) Suites - Alex McCartney (Baroque lute) rec. 2018 VETERUM MUSICA VM019 [48:41] [GPu] Early works, beautifully played on a version of the lute unavailable at the time of their composition.

Yevgeny Mravinsky (conductor) Edition Vol. 4 rec. 1940-63 PROFIL PH18045 [10 CDs: 669 mins] [JW] Historically interesting but the negligible documentation reduces its value.

Wednesday May 22nd

Joseph Bodin DE BOISMORTIER (1682 -1765) Music for flute, viola da gamba & b.c. - Umbra Lucis Ens rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95754 [62:35] [JV] First-class entertainment, but the choice of instruments is debatable.

Gabriel DUPONT (1878-1914) Les Heures dolentes; Jour d’Été; Le Chant de la Destinée - Royal PO Ličge/Patrick Davin rec. 2018 FUGA LIBERA FUG751 [57:59] [JW] Intensity, poignancy and vehemence.

Mikhail IPPOLITOV-IVANOV (1859-1935) Symphony No. 1, Turkish Fragments - Singapore SO/Choo Hoey rec. 1984 NAXOS 8.573508 [55:50] [SV] Music unmistakably in the Russian romantic tradition, played with empathy and enthusiasm.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) The Cunning Little Vixen - Louise Adler, Jenny Carltstedt, Frankfurt Opera & Museum O & Ch/Johannes Debus, Markus Ehmann rec. 2016 OEHMS CLASSICS OC982 [60:02 + 30:38] [LW] A new Cunning Little Vixen to challenge Mackerras, but not supplant it.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde - Anna Larsson (contralto) Stuart Skelton (tenor) Düsseldorf SO/Adam Fischer rec. 2018 AVI MUSIC 8553407 [61.33] [PCG] A recording of Das Lied which bears comparison with the very best of its highly distinguished competition.

Alan RICHARDSON (1904-1978) Piano Music - Martin Jones (piano) rec. 2017/18 LYRITA SRCD381 [72:18] [RHa] An introduction to a sadly forgotten figure whose agreeably crafted piano music may well appeal to British music aficionados.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 1-6 - Paris Opera O/Philippe Jordan rec. 2017 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109379 [3 discs: 340 mins] [RC] A true winner.

Giulini in Boston Works by Dvořák, Haydn, Rossini & Tchaikovsky - Boston SO/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1962 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC559 [59:05 + 53:50] [JQ] A unexpected and welcome opportunity for admirers of this great conductor to hear him at work with one of the USA’s leading orchestras.

Tuesday May 21st

Daniel Francois Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) La Sirène - Les Métaboles Ch, O des Frivolities Parisiennes/David Reiland rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.660436 [69:49] [RW] A welcome release, featuring very good performances.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Works for Cello and Piano - Enrico Dindo (cello), Alessandro Marangoni (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573881 [74:31] [SSi] A valuable addition to the growing catalogue of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music.

Gabriel DUPONT (1878-1914) Complete Piano Music - Bo Ties (piano) rec. 2017/18 MSR CLASSICS MS1699 [47:54 + 51:56] [EJW] Excellent recorded quality in some attractive and little-heard piano music.

Hans GÁL (1890-1967) Das Lied der Nacht - Lina Liu, Susann Vent-Wunderlich (sopranos) Extrachor Theaters Osnabrück Osnabrücker SO/Andreas Hotz rec. 2018 CPO 555 186-2 [54:25 + 82:42] An excellent first recording of the last of Hans Gál’s operas.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Chamber works - Ens Arabesques, Paul Rivinius (piano) rec. 2018 FARAO CLASSICS B108103 [72:48] [SG] Poulenc’s delicious chamber works lovingly brought to life.

Pehr Henrik NORDGREN (1944-2008) A Finnish Elegy - Juri Valo (violin) Jukka Harju (horn) Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas rec. 2016/17 ALBA ABCD425 SACD [60:20] [RHa] It is only a matter of time before the world outside Finland recognises Nordgren’s importance.

Arca de Música Instrumental Music in New Spain Vols 1 & 2 - La Fontegara México rec. 2017 MERIDIAN CDE84645/6 [61:47 & 60:31] [JV] I have greatly enjoyed these two recordings, not only because of the music, but also because of the fine performances.

Julian Olevsky (violin) Works by Handel, Kreisler & Scarlatti - Martin Ormandy (cello), Fernando Valenti (harpsichord), Wolfgang Rose (piano) rec. c. 1954-55 DOREMI DHR-8074-76 [3 CDs: 216 mins] [JW] Honest transfers ensure that Olevsky take centre-stage, a place he so richly deserves.

Monday May 20th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies, Piano Concertos & Serenades - Walter Gieseking, Géza Anda (piano) SWR O Baden-Baden/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1950-62 SWR CLASSIC SWR19069CD [6 CDs: 407 mins] [JW] Rosbaud raises extra-musical interpretative questions worth pondering.

Leon KIRCHNER (1919-2009) Sinfonia, Toccata, Music for Orchestra, Orchestra Piece, The Forbidden - Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose rec. 2008-17 BMOP SOUND 1060 SACD [62:39] [SG] This is one of the most compelling recordings of modern music I've ever come across.

Eduard LASSEN (1830-1904), Ludwig Philipp SCHARWENKA (1847-1917) & Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Violin Concertos - Linus Roth (violin), BBC Scottish SO/Antony Hermus rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68268 [76:37] [RB] Artistry that flickers, surges and pursues a legato path.

Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Music for Violin & Orchestra Vols 1 & 2 - Tianwa Yang (violin) Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573812/667 [52:05 + 76:24] [SB] Those wanting to explore the contemporary German master would do well to start here.

Kurt SANDER (b. 1969) The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom - Protodeacon Vadim Gan (bass), PaTRAM Institute Singers/Peter Jermihov rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FRESH! FR-731 [59:25 + 30:41] [JQ] An impressive and moving composition receives a recording which is excellent in every way.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 4-6 - Leningrad PO/Yevgeny Mravinsky rec. 1960 ALTO ALC1603 [67:22 + 59:36] [GPJ] Simply some of the finest Tchaikovsky performances ever recorded; firmly controlled, yet brimming with passion and drama.

Hallelujah Europäischer Kammerchor/Michael Reif, Stephen Görg (piano) rec. 2018 CARUS 2.104/99 [43.38] [GH] Interesting repertoire, but very short measure.

Benjamin Schmid (violin) My Favourite Paganini - Lisa Smirnova, Ariane Haering (piano) rec. 2001, 2013 OEHMS OC1893 [66:25] [GF] Marvellous playing throughout and every lover of violin playing should hear it.


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