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2019
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Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti



Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases


Anderson Choral music


colourful and intriguing


Artyomov
Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble


one of Berlioz greatest works


Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances


An attractive Debussy package


immaculate Baiba Skride


eloquent Cello Concerto


tension-filled work


well crafted and intense


Laangaard
another entertaining volume


reeking of cordite


Pappano with a strong cast


imaginatively constructed quartets


the air from another planet


vibrantly sung


NOT a budget performance


very attractive and interesting


finesse and stylistic assurance

Recommended Recordings 2019

Those marked with the ROTM symbol were chosen at the end of each month as the five best.

Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) Concertos for Trombone and Trumpet - Jörgen van Rijen (trombone), Alain De Rudder (trumpet), Antwerp SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2196 SACD [64:18] [DM] Two premium-quality concertos, stylishly played and magnificently recorded; Aho and BIS at their considerable best.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto, Partita IV, Chaconne - Federico Colli (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20079 [59:42] [RHa] Colli’s second Chandos disc is an hour long; its emotional impact far exceeds that.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Racines - Florent Boffard (piano) rec. 2018 MIRARE MIR410 [59:00] [RWe] An outstanding recital, the best playing of this music on disc since Zoltán Kocsis.

Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Piano Sonata, In the Night, Four Pieces, Legend Harriet COHEN (1895-1967) Russian Impressions - Mark Bebbington (piano) rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD0193 [79:20] [NB] One for both the dedicated Bax collector and the yet-to-be converted.

Amy BEACH (1867-1944) & Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Violin Sonatas Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Romances - Tasmin Little (violin) John Lenehan (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20030 [71:27] [SSi] This will certainly be a front runner in my deliberations for my choice for Recording of the Year.

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.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 8, 14 & 23 - Oleg Akkuratov (piano) rec. 2017 MELODIYA MELCD1002552 [60:13] [RC] A superb debut disc.

George BENJAMIN (b. 1960) Lessons in Love and Violence - Stéphane Degout, Barbara Hannigan, Royal Opera House O/George Benjamin rec. 2018 OPUS ARTE OABD7199D Blu-ray [93 mins] [DBi] A magnificent production of a superb new opera - hold your nerve and buy it at once.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Roméo et Juliette - Sasha Cooke (mezzo) Nicholas Phan (tenor) San Francisco Symphony Ch & O/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2017 SFS MEDIA SFS0074 SACD [67.42 + 36.49] [MC] An outstanding version of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, which is beautifully performed and recorded.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d’été - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Stéphane Degout (baritone) Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902634 [70:23] [JQ] Other Berlioz recordings this year will have to be pretty special to surpass the achievement of this terrific disc.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Billy Budd - Jacques Imbrailo (baritone) Toby Spence (tenor) Ch & O Teatro Real Madrid/Ivor Bolton rec. 2017 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC154 DVD [2 discs: 175 mins] [WH] An unforgettable staging of a masterpiece of the theatre.

John BUCKLEY (b. 1951) To the Northeast - Mornington Singers/Orla Flanagan rec. 2018 DIVINE ART DDA25187 [59:29] [JF] It is already shaping up to be one of my major discoveries of the year.

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Piano Concerto - Kirill Gerstein (piano) Tanglewood Festival Ch, Boston SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR024 [71:29] [ST] I’d be very surprised if this isn’t one of my discs of 2019.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Grohg, Billy the Kid - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2014 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559862 [62:45] [DM] An already promising cycle just got a whole lot better; super sonics from Soundmirror, too.

Marco Antonio CAVAZZONI (c1490-c1560) Complete Works - Glen Wilson (harpsichord) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.572998 [79:34] [JV] A disc of great importance.

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’.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes Book 1, Estampes - Javier Perianes (piano) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902301 [58:26] [RHa] Perianes’ modern Steinway account presents an outstanding, if contrasting approach to Alexander Melnikov’s revelatory Book 2.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Études Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Fauvettes de l’Hérault - Roger Muraro (piano) rec. 2017/18 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905304 [73:06] [SSi] A wonderful, committed performance and a fitting conclusion to Harmonia Mundi’s marking of the Debussy centenary.

Alma DEUTSCHER (b. 2005) Cinderella - Opera San José O, Ch & Dancers/Jane Glover rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075895049 DVD [2 discs: 150 min] [MBu] The vision of a young girl who had the chance to see her fairy-tale become reality.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Chamber Music with Harp and Guitar - Karolos rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573857 [81:57] [WH] Finely crafted music in performances that could not be bettered.

Pascal DUSAPIN (b. 1955) Wenn du dem Wind, Aufgang, À quia - Natascha Petrinsky (mezzo soprano), Nicolas Hodges (piano), Carolin Widman (violin), O Ntl de Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé rec. 2017 BIS SACD BIS2262 [78:58] [GH] The experience of hearing this disc lives with you for some time afterwards.

Steve ELCOCK (b. 1957) Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Veles Ens rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0506 [79:36] [RHa] This outstanding disc offers further compelling evidence that the previously unrecognised Steve Elcock is a compositional force to be reckoned with.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924), Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) & Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Violin Sonatas - Bomsori Kim (violin) Rafał Blechacz (piano) rec. 2018 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836467 [62:54] [SG] A stunning recording just too good to miss.

Géza FRID (1904-1989) Orchestral Music: Historical Recordings - Het Brabants O/Michel Tabachnik, Radio PO/Willem van Otterloo, Jean Fournet rec. 1952-2001 ET'CETERA KTC1633 [77:23] [SG] Music melodically gifted, rooted in Hungary and its folklore, and occasionally spiced with neoclassicism.

Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Symphonic Poems Vol. 1 - Bamberg SO/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 CPO 555 160-2 [70:19] [JW] An invigorating, heart-stirring and marvelous disc.

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.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day, Concerto Grosso - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Polish Radio Ch/Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN RECORDS CKD578 [61.15] [MC] An outstanding performance crammed with vitality and colour.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Johannes-Passion - La Capella Ducale, Musica Fiata/Roland Wilson rec. 2017 CPO 5551732 [77:34] [JV] Superior performance of a Passion, whose authorship is still not established, but which deserves much more attention.

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.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Creation - Mari Eriksmoen (soprano) Daniel Schmutzhard (baritone) Martin Mitterrutzner (tenor) Accentus, Insula O/ Laurence Equilbey rec. 2017 NAXOS NBD0080V Blu-ray [138 mins] [DBi] Haydn's great oratorio successfully re-imagined without loss of musical quality.

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.

Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Hummel Edition rec. 1995-2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95792 [20 CDs:] [SSi] An excellent collection which is sure to bring anyone interested in this period of music many hours of enjoyment.

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.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage, troisième année & other late piano works - Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68202 [80:15] [SB] A masterful introduction to the strange world of late Liszt.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage, troisième année & other late piano works - Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68202 [80:15] [RWe] One of the very best discs of these late works now in the catalogue.

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 (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Sara Mingardo (contralto); Gürzenich O Köln/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905314.15 [2 CDs: 93:23] [DM] A game-changing Mahler 3 from Roth and his German band; outstanding sonics, too.

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) Symphony No. 7 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2015 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38019 SACD [74:45] [DM]  Iván Fischer follows his revitalising Third with a similarly talented Seventh; as before, the engineering is first rate.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2015 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA38019 SACD [74:45] [JQ] Iván Fischer’s Mahler series ends on a very high note indeed.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Boston Philharmonic Youth O/Benjamin Zander rec. 2018 BRATTLE MEDIA BM 2CD-QZ8LQ18-06 [28:56+57:15] [JQ] A recording of the Ninth that can sit proudly in any Mahler collection.

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.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Concertos - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2016/17 BIS SACD BIS2264 [74.08] [DBi] Mendelssohn keyboard concerti performed to perfection with a recording to match.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KING’S COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE KGS0025 [67:40] [ST] This marvellous recording has helped me become a Messiaen convert.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria  - Furio Zanasi, Lucile Richardot, Monteverdi Ch & English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2017 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG730 [3 CDs: 185:10] [SG] Music-making of the highest order.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria - Furio Zanasi (baritone), Monteverdi Ch, English Baroque Soloists/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2017 SOLI DEO GLORIA SDG730 [3 CDs: 185:10] [RHa] A superb performance and terrific recording of Monteverdi’s late opera.

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.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 15 & 16, Piano & Wind Quintet - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20035 [71:03] [RBe] Worthy to sit alongside the great Mozart concerto recordings.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) The Final Quartets  - Alexander String Qt rec. 2017 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2016 [51:14 + 50:50] [DC] Performances and a recording to relish.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Phoenix Rising, Loch Ness, Poets in Love - BBC Ntl O Wales/William Boughton rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD372 [62:49] [JQ] The whole disc is rewarding but Phoenix Rising is something special.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Woodwind Quintet György LIGETI (1923-2006) Bagatelles Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12 - Ens Ouranos rec. 2018 NOMADMUSIC NMM056 [61:55] [MC] One of the finest albums of wind music I have had the pleasure of hearing for some time.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (ca.1525-1694) Missa Tu es Petrus - Ch St Luke in the Fields/David Shuler rec. 2017 MSR CLASSICS MS1698 [63:43] [MR] The combination of an outstanding choir, a deeply perceptive conductor and sumptuous recorded sound makes this an essential Palestrina recording.

Florence Beatrice PRICE (1887-1953) Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 - Fort Smith Symphony/John Jeter rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.559827 [69:04] [SG] Music steeped in the European tradition, embodying an American idiom and revealing the composer’s Southern roots.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Sonata for Two Pianos, 12 Improvisations - Onda Verde (pianos) rec. 2016/18 PALADINO MUSIC PMR0098 [75:00] [MR] Onda Verde bring out every facet of Poulenc’s astonishingly varied personality in these delightfully-tailored performances of his four-handed and two-piano music.

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.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Stuttgart Ballet, Stuttgart O/James Tuggle rec. 2017 C MAJOR 801008 DVD [2 discs: 220 mins] [SB] A wonderful realization of the Cranko version by its home company.

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 [150 mins] [RC] This is now my choice for this opera on video, particularly for the work of Ermonela Jaho.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Madama Butterfly - Ermonela Jaho (soprano), Marcelo Puente (tenor), O & Ch of The Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OA1268D DVD [149 mins] [RJF] Cast, set and musical performance, together with superb acted and sung realisations, make this one of the finest realisations of this work on film.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 4 - Daniil Trifonov (piano) Philadelphia O/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2015/18 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 5335 [70:17] [MC] This has been a near permanent fixture in my CD player.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos 1-4, Paganini Rhapsody - Sergei Rachmaninov (piano) Philadelphia O/Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy rec. 1929-41 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC544 [2 CDs: 137:25] [EJW] An astonishing remastering of these legendary recordings.

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

Antoine REICHA (1770-1836) Rediscovered Vol. 2 - Ivan Ilić (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20033 [62:35] [CC] Fascinating music … a fabulous disc.

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937), Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) & Enchaînées, André PRÉVOST (1934-2001) Violin Sonatas - Hélène Collerette (violin), Anne Le Bozec (piano) rec. 2016 RADIO FRANCE SIG11107 [64:11] [BSt] A splendid recital of unusual violin sonatas.

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 the music 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.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Complete Preludes - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95651 [56:51 + 63:43] [SB] A splendid new set of these demanding works.

Percy SHERWOOD (1866-1939) Suite & Sonata for 2 pianos Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Grosses Duo - Parnassius Piano Duo rec. 2018 LYRITA SRCD.368 [79:01] [JW] There’s nothing to dislike here and much to admire.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) & Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987) Cello Sonatas - Steven Isserlis (cello) Olli Mustonen (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68239 [76:33] [SSi] Performances of real integrity and understanding.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 6 & 7, King Lear Suite, Festival Overture - Boston SO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 6728 [53:38 + 78:24] [JQ] Another significant addition to what is fast becoming a notable Shostakovich series.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No. 1; En Saga - Gothenburg Symphony/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2018 ALPHA 440 [58:44] [EJW] A truly superb disc, in excellent sound.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphony No.1; En Saga - Gothenburg Symphony/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2018 ALPHA 440 [58:44] [BW]  Strong claims to be considered a top recommendation in a very competitive field.

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.

Eugen SUCHOŇ (1908-1993) Complete Works for Piano rec. 2017 SOZA BIEM R1970003-2-3 [4 CDs: 276:07] [SG] A true labour of love offering a wealth of delights and guaranteed to captivate.

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Light of the World - Natalya Romaniw (soprano) Ben McAteer (baritone) BBC Symphony Ch & Concert O/John Andrews rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH 2CDLX7356 SACD [2 discs: 146.19] [MW] A ground-breaking and special performance of superb music.

Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) Piano Music - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2018 GRAND PIANO GP788 [66:21] [SA] The playing is radiant and comes to us through the fingers of an artist of the highest integrity.

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.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartet No. 1, Souvenir de Florence - Meccore String Qt, Isabel Charisius (viola) Valentin Erben (cello) MDG 903 2091-6 SACD [77:47] [RWe] A superb SACD of two essential works by the Russian master.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies No. 2 & 3 - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2016 LPO LPO0109 [77:03] [RC] Here’s a case where live performances clearly stand with the best studio efforts.

Sir Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 - BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68231/2 [57:49 + 62:48] [JF] Fine performances of works that have been somewhat neglected of recent.

Sir Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) Symphonies No. 3 & 4 - Rachel Nicholls (soprano) BBC Scottish SO/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68231/2 [57:49 + 62:51] [SB] Brabbins’s new Tippett cycle should now become the standard version of these rewarding works.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Sächsischer Staatsopernchor, Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 PROFIL PH16075 [43.43 + 37.37] [MC] This deserves to be placed in the elevated company of the classic Giulini.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Bolshoi Theatre Ch, St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2017 DELOS DE3563 [49:52 + 40:28] [RMo] This joins my select list of half a dozen favourite recordings.

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.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der Freischütz - Julia Kleiter (sop), Eva Liebau (sop), Michael König (tenor), Ch & O Teatro alla Scala/Myung-Whun Chung rec. 2017 NAXOS Blu-Ray NBD0092V [135 mins] [ST] By some margin the best opera film I’ve seen in 2019 so far.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) & Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas - Paul Lewis (piano) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902324 [57:34] [RBe] Lewis’ performances compare well with the very best in the catalogue.

Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937) Organ Symphonies 5, 6 & 8-10 - Christian Schmitt (organ) rec. 2012-14 CPO 777 706-2 SACD [3 discs: 182:06] [SSi] This is now my go-to set for the complete Widor organ symphonies.

Thomas WILSON (1927-2001) Symphonies no.3 & 4; Carillon - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Rory Macdonald rec. 2018 LINN CKD616 [73:20] [HC] A magnificent release from a major Scottish composer.

Isang YUN (1917-1995) Sunrise Falling - Bruckner O Linz/Dennis Russell Davies rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186693 SACD [74:58 + 73:01] [RHa] The words ‘undeservedly neglected’ are applied too often but they certainly apply to Isang Yun; hopefully this superbly recorded set will trigger more interest.

Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970) Die Soldaten, Photoptosis, Violin Concerto - Leila Josefowicz (violin) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2016/18 ONDINE ODE1325-2 [73.45] [GH] An outstanding release, in terms both of music and performance and, indeed, recorded sound.

Julien Behr (tenor) Confidence - Lyon Opera O/Pierre Bleuse rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 401 [65.37] [MC] A captivating collection, beautifully sung and recorded.

Bernstein at 100 The Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood - Boston SO rec. 2018 C MAJOR DVD 747608 [141 min.] [LW] An indispensable tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

Chansons Françaises NDR Ch/Philipp Ahmann rec. 2013-17 ES DUR ES2074 [67:44] [WH] Outstandingly fine singing in modern French repertoire.

Choral Classics from Chester Ch Chester Cathedral/Philip Rushworth rec. 2018 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1205 [64:16] [MR] With its selection of largely overlooked choral gems, magnificent singing and excellent organ accompaniments, this is an absolute must-have for all lovers of the English cathedral tradition.

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.

An English Coronation 1902-1953 Gabrieli Consort & Players, Chetham’s Symphonic Brass Ens/Paul McCreesh rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD569 [81:18 + 78:03] [JQ] A truly exciting release.

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.

Silvestro Ganassi: La Fontegara Le Concert Brisé/William Dongois rec. 2017 RICERCAR RIC395 [65:47] [JV] A most intriguing and thought-provoking disc.

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

Marianna Henriksson (harpsichord) Frammenti del discorso amoroso - rec. 2017 SIBA RECORDS SRCD1020 [57:25] [GPu] An outstanding recital which exploits to the full the early baroque idea of musical rhetoric.

In a Strange Land Elizabethan Composers in Exile - Stile Antico rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902266 [71:34] [ST] It’s difficult to imagine how these performances could be bettered.

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.

Locus iste Ch St John’s College Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD567 [73:51] [JQ] It would be hard to imagine a finer celebration of the 150th anniversary of St John’s College Chapel.

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

Mantra Espen Aalberg (gamelan), Trondheim Sinfonietta/Kai Grinde Myrann rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2340 SACD [54:59] [RHa] Seemingly disparate works, all enjoyable, but Lindquist’s gamelan concerto is a revelation.

Marais Meets Corelli Lina Tur Bonet (violin) Ens Musica Narrans/Jakob Rattinger (viola da gamba) rec. 2015 PAN CLASSICS PC10395 [64:56] [RHa] A delight from first bar to last.

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

Michelangelo's Madrigal Kate Macoboy (soprano), Robert Meunier (lute) rec. 2016/2017 ET'CETERA KTC1623 [56:36] [JV] A wonderful disc which requires attentive listening.

Elisa Netzer (harp) Toccata rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573835 [51.49] [MW] An outstanding debut recital from an exciting young Swiss artist: a must-buy for lovers of the harp.

L’Opéra des Opéras Katherine Watson (soprano) Karine Deshayes (mezzo) Reinoud van Mechelen (counter-tenor) Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 442 [74:10] [SSi] This recording represents one of the finest recordings of French baroque musical drama that I have heard in a long time.

Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) A Simple Song - Bengt Forsberg (organ) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2327 SACD [69:01] [GF] A disc for overwhelming sonic and musical rapture.

Jennifer Pike (violin) The Polish Violin - Petr Limonov (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20082 [75:16] [MR] Remarkable variety and quality from both composers and performers.

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

Marina Rebeka (soprano) O Teatro Massimo di Palermo/Jader Bignamini rec. 2018 PRIMA CLASSIC PRIMA001 [77:57] [GF] This is a splendid album, for the repertoire as well as for the singing.

Rostropovich: The Indomitable Bow A film by Bruno Monsaingeon NAXOS NBD0082V Blu-ray [167 mins] [RWe] One of the best films about a musician that even Bruno Monsaingeon has ever given us.

Roger Sayer (organ) The Grand Organ of Temple Church - rec. 2018 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100090 [74:15] [MR] Roger Sayer has achieved the near-impossible of rendering this heavyweight programme accessible.

So Many Stars Fenella Humphreys (violin), Nicola Eimer (piano) rec. 2016 STONE RECORDS 5060192780826 [75:18] [JF] A fascinating CD.

A Walk with Ivor Gurney Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Simon Callow (narrator) Tenebrae, Aurora O/Nigel Short rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD557 [44:06 + 43:30] [MG] The programme has an illuminating quality; add Sarah Connolly in glorious voice and the whole product is special.

 



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