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Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky - a survey by Ralph Moore

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Short Reviews & Second Thoughts: Autumn 2019/1 by Brian Wilson, Dan Morgan, Johan van Veen & Simon Thompson

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Thursday November 21st

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 - Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5236 SACD [81:25] [DD] Rugged and tender values combined in magnificently recorded performances of old favourites which should tempt new listeners.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Samson - Joshua Ellicott (tenor) Sophie Bevan (soprano) Tiffin Boys’ Ch, Dunedin Consort/John Butt rec. 2018 LINN CKD599 [3 CDs: 204:14] [ST] The best Handel oratorio I’ve heard in years.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) & Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Piano Trios - Mannes-Gimpel-Silva Trio rec. 1951/53 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1601 [68:22] [SG] The recordings of a long-forgotten ensemble resurrected.

Fritz VOLBACH (1861-1940) Symphony, Es waren zwei Königskinder  - Münster SO/Golo Berg rec. 2019 CPO 777 886-2 [61:52] [RB] Accomplished and dedicated performances that carry conviction.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Siegfried Act III - Lise Lindstrom (soprano) Stefan Vinke (tenor) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Pietari Inkinen rec. 2018 SWR MUSIC SWR19078CD [59:12] [ECH] An enjoyable if bereft dramatic performance.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Chamber music for flute - Kazunori Seo (flute), Makoto Ueno (piano), Shohei Uwamori (cello) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573766 [74:39] [MZ] Even if not all the flute pieces on this disc are authentic Weber, there is certainly much to like about them.

Christmas at St George’s Windsor Luke Bond (organ), Ch St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle/James Vivian rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68281 [70:23] [MR] A magical celebration of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, sung with great sensitivity.

Trio À Cordes Français Vol. 1: Mozart rec. 1966-77 DOREMI DHR8091-4 [4 CDs: 296:00] [JW] A most enjoyable survey of this outstanding trio’s work.

Wednesday November 20th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartet No. 3, Piano Quintet - Hagen Quartet, Kirill Gerstein (piano) rec. 2014 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR021 [80:17] [SG] This has to be one of the highlights of my listening year.

Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787) Orphée et Eurydice - Marianne Crebassa (mezzo) Helene Guilmette (soprano) Ch & O Ens Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. 2018 NAXOS DVD 2.110638 [99 mins] [SB] Despite some quibbles about the staging, this is generally a fine account of the Berlioz version of this great opera.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets; The Perfect Fool - Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern rec. 2015 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-146 SACD [61:24] [NB] A rare miss for Reference.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921) Hänsel und Gretel - Elisabeth Grümmer (soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Maria von Ilosvay (contralto), Philharmonia O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO162 [2 CDs: 140:24] [GF] Retains its position as the “classic”, especially in its new sonic garb.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Alexander Nevsky; Lieutenant Kijé Suite - Alisa Kolosova (mezzo-soprano), Utah Symphony & Ch/Thierry Fischer rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-735 SACD [60:06] [RMo] No compelling reason for recommending this new recording over established classic versions.

Alexander VEPRIK (1889-1958) Orchestral works - BBC Ntl O Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2019 MDG SACD 901 2133-6 [74:51] [JW] Both generosity and melancholy.

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols The Centenary Service - Ch King’s College, Cambridge/Sir Stephen Cleobury, Guy Johnston (cello), Henry Websdale (organ) rec. 2018 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0036 SACD [81:55 (SACD), 76:44 (CD) [JQ] A very fine souvenir of a memorable occasion.

Forgotten Treasures Works by Schmidt, Weiner, Martucci, Pizzetti & Tcherepnin - Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2013-2017 BEAU FLEUVE RECORDS 605996-998531 [71:49] [RB] Sumptuous musical bouquet and an unpredictable choice of repertoire.

Tuesday November 19th 

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941), Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) & Joseph HOLBROOKE (1878-1958) String Sextets Cologne String Sextet rec. 2018 CAVI-MUSIC 8553079 [60:07] [JW] A gratifyingly exploratory programme.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony No.2, Dramatic Overture, Overture to Armida - Deutsche Radio PO Saarbrüken Kaiserslautern/Pietari Inkinen rec. 2018 SWR MUSIC SWR19083CD [73:09] [NB] Too many others versions offer more character and personality.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) Piano Quintets - Edouard Oganessian (piano) Art Vio String Quartet rec. 2009 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0099 [64:06] [RB] Strong-brewed romanticism.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) 52 Sonatas - Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2018 SONY 19075944462 [4 CDs: 235:06] [SG] A fusion of imagination, musicality, flair and technical prowess.

19th Century Russian Cello Music  Works by Tchaikovsky, Davidov, Liadov, Arensky & Rimsky-Korsakov - Dmitrii Khrychev (cello) Olga Solovieva (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573951 [64:06] [SA] Nicely balanced performances and a great sound – so plaudits all round!

The Farinelli Manuscript Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano) Stile Galante/Stefano Aresi rec. 2019 GLOSSA MUSIC GCD923521 [72.04] [MMB] If you admire beautiful singing and enjoy great performances of exceptional difficulty, this recording shouldn’t be missed.

Iberia y Francia Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20119 [77:14] [RHa] Imogen Cooper is a wonderful guide to early twentieth century France and Spain.

Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer and the Recorder in the Low Countries Erik Bosgraaf (recorder) Francesco Corti (harpsichord) rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95907 [79:57] [JV] A delightful disc which will appeal not only to recorder aficionados.

Monday November 18th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Songs Vol. 8 - Harriet Burns (soprano) Robin Tritschler (tenor) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDJ33128 [63:03] [GF] I look forward to hearing more from Harriet Burns.

Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925) Johanna d'Arc - Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0523 [59:26] [JW] Much to like in this well-drilled and responsive reading, though not all the music is convincing.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Piano concertos, Tzigane - François Dumont (piano) Jennifer Gilbert (violin) O Ntl de Lyon/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012/15 NAXOS 8.573572 [52:02] [RC] All three works are given very convincing performances.

Franz Xaver RICHTER (1709-1789) Flute Concerto, Trio sonata, Trios Johann STAMITZ (1717-1757) Flute Concerto - Jana Semerádová (transverse flute), Ensemble Castor rec. 2019 PAN CLASSICS PC10406 [79:57] [JV] The performances make the best possible plea for this forgotten repertoire.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Sigismondo – Hera Hyesang Park (soprano) Keneth Tarver (tenor) Bavarian Radio Ch, Munich Radio O/Keri-Lynn Wilson rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK CD 900327 [81:17 + 65:14] [MP] A splendid souvenir of a memorable musical event.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kullervo - Johanna Rusanen (soprano), Ville Rusanen (baritone), Estonian National Male Ch, Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2018 ONDINE ODE1338-5 SACD [72:28] [JQ] A most impressive account of Kullervo in superb sound.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Russian Impressions - Claudia Schellenberger (piano) rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19007 [58:23] [MC] A captivating album that should have significant appeal to Tchaikovskians and admirers of Russian music.

Four Works by Bozza, Françaix, Bennett, Ibert and Arrieu - London Myriad rec. 2014-2018 MÉTIER MSV28587 [55:31] [GPJ] Much delightful music, plus top class wind playing from this young ensemble.

Tauno Hannikainen (conductor) In Moscow: The Complete Melodiya Recordings - Moscow RSO rec. c.1957 MAESTRO EDITIONS ME007 [62:16 + 46:54] [JW] If you have not come across Hannikainen’s Moscow recordings, make haste to hear them.

Heroine Pauline Kim Harris (violin) Spencer Topel (electronics) rec. 2018 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92235 [71:43] [RHa] A winning collaboration between two artists at the cutting edge of genre crossing.

Friday November 15th 

Johann Christoph ALTNICKOL (1720-1759) & Johann Christoph Friedrich BACH (1732-1795) Motets - Kammerchor Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius, Sonntraud Engels-Benz rec. 2018 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC18014 [56:17] [JV] If you like choral music, this disc is a must have.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Clavier - Samuel Feinberg (piano) rec. 1958-1961 RUSSIAN RCD16231 [4 CDs: 221:154] [RMas] Engaging and thought-provoking.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Sonata, Légendes, Après une lecture du Dante - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2018 ONYX 4195 [63:44] [SG] Moog has a real affinity for Liszt, and I hope he will make a return journey in the future.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2018 BIS BIS2346 SACD [55:51] [RC] If you like your Mahler straight, bleached of emotional excess, you couldn’t find it better played or recorded.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Stabat Mater Alfred DESENCLOS (1912-1971) Messe de Requiem - Marion Tassou (soprano) François Saint-Yves (organ) Vlaams Radiokoor, Brussels PO/Hervé Niquet rec. 2018/19 EVIL PENGUIN EPRC0032 [60:08] [JQ] A highly desirable disc which offers magnificent performances of two wonderful and very different French choral works.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1865-1932) Piano Concertos Nos 3, 6 & 7 - Oliver Triendl (piano) Kristiansand SO/Hermann Bäumer rec. 2017 CPO 555 055-2 [70:16] [RB] Smiling emotions rather than thunderclouds and storms.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia - Riccardo Stracciari (baritone) Mercedes Capsir (soprano) Ch & O La Scala, Milan/Lorenzo Molajoli rec. 1927-1929 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO161 [64:49 + 60:59] [PSt] Essentially of historical interest, but there are things to enjoy, especially from Borgioli.

Avet TERTERIAN (1929-1994) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 - Tigran Aleksanyan, Vahe Hovanesian, (duduks, zurna) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5241 SACD [58:56] [RHa] An unmissable disc of unsettling symphonies by an inscrutable, singular and important Armenian figure.

“B” Like Britain Works by Bax, Britten, Bowen & Bennett - Ludmilla Berlinskaya, Arthur Ancelle (pianos) rec. 2018 MELODIYA MELCD1002565 [59:43] [NB] A strong Record of the Year contender.

Alfred Deller (countertenor) Works by Buxtehude, Milano, Campion & Purcell rec. 1953/55 ELOQUENCE 484 0518 [72:21] [JW] Faithful restorations of historically important LPs.

 



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