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[New] Soprano Angela Gheorghiu in conversation with Michael Cookson

“Untouchable” and ”Most Recommendable” Opera Recordings - a very personal guide by Ralph Moore

Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Summer 2019/2 by Brian Wilson, Johan van Veen and Simon Thompson

What is the meaning behind the Castellucci production of Salome? - an interpretation by Len Mullenger


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Publishing schedule
Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, jazz, other music); Friday: Articles
Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Tuesday September 17th

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust - Benjamin Bernheim, Véronique Gens, Flemish Radio Ch, Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1037 [3 CDs: 174:28] [MC] An essential purchase.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto No. 2 Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Concerto No. 1 - Haochen Zhang (piano) Lahti SO/Dima Slobodeniouk rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2381 SACD [66:29] [RC] Further evidence of Zhang’s superior gifts.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Symphonia domestica Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto - Ruggiero Ricci (violin) Boston SO/Charles Munch rec. 1959/60 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC568 [77:19] [RMo] Performances of timeless appeal.

Will TODD (b. 1970) Mass in Blue - Nonsuch Singers/Tom Bullard CONVIVIUM RECORDS CR047 [67:16] [JQ] An entertaining disc.

William Murdoch (piano) The Complete Columbia Solo Electrical Recordings rec. 1925-1931 APR 6029 [76:09 + 77:37] [JW] Clarity-conscious but brilliantly articulated.

South Of The Circle Siggi String Qt rec. 2018 SONO LUMINUS DSL92232 [59:55] [RHa] Persuasive accounts; Fair Flowers is the standout.

Monday September 16th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Toccatas - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68244 [76:53] [SSi] A wonderful disc.

Fritz BRUN (1878-1959) Complete Orchestral Works - Moscow SO, Bratislava SO/Adriano rec. 2003-15 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95784 [11 CDs: 716:50] [SSi] A real labour of love reflecting Adriano’s desire to bring the music of his compatriot Fritz Brun to a wider listening public.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2013/17 BIS BIS2068 SACD [82:42] [RC] Litton with this fine orchestra would be my first choice in these works, hands down.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia - Riccardo Stracciari (baritone), Ch & O/La Scala, Milan, Lorenzo Molajoli rec. 1927/29 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO161 [2 CDs: 125:49] [RMo] A gem of a historical recording.

Dobrinka TABAKOVA (b.1980) Choral works - Truro Cathedral Ch, BBC Concert O/Christopher Gray rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD530 [70.37] [MW] Immensely enjoyable – a disc to treasure.

Robin WALKER (b 1958) Turning Towards You - Manchester Camerata String Qt, Manchester Sinfonia/Richard Howarth rec. 1999 DIVINE ART DDA25180 [75:16] [RHa] A tender and moving double concerto is the large-scale highlight of an exceptional composer portrait.

Friday September 13th 

Johann Baptist CRAMER (1771-1858) Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5 - London Mozart Players/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68270 [60:52] - Impossible to choose between this and the same team’s earlier recordings of three more Cramer concertos – go for both.

Philip GRANGE (b. 1956) Homage - Gemini/Ian Mitchell rec. 2019 METIER MSV28591 [71:25] [JF] A thoroughly enjoyable programme.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 5 - London SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1958 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC567 [76:55] More buried Horenstein treasure: a fine performance of Mahler’s Fifth.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Eduardo e Cristina - Kenneth Tarver (tenor) Silva Dalla Benetta (soprano) Camerata Bach Ch Poznań, Virtuosi Brunensis/Gianluigi Gelmetti rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.660466-67 [74:02 + 67:22] [GF] Rossinians should be satisfied with this recording.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) A Sentimental Moment - Duo Morat-Fergo rec. 2018 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72791 [62:06] [DC] Old favourites in new, and very attractive garb.

Vox Feminina St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral Girls' Ch, Continuum Youth Ch/Blánaid Murphy, David Grealy (organ) rec. 2019 ST MARY'S PRO CATHEDRAL no number [49:17] [RCh] A fine celebration of choral music from a polished young choir.

Thursday September 12th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 3 Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony No. 8 - Bamberg SO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2018 TUDOR 1743 SACD [38:59 + 36:57] [WH] Low-key Brahms and excellent Dvořák.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) String Quartets Vol. 1 - Diogenes Qt rec. 2017 CPO 777 387-2 [66.36] [MW] Wonderful works in inspiring performances.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Concerti Grossi Op. 3 - Berliner Barock Solisten/Reinhard Goebel rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC 19031 [69:06] [MG] If you think Handel these days is played too lightweight and too fast, Goebel’s robust, firmly upholstered, steady yet urbane accounts are for you.

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria rusticana - Alexia Voulgaridou (soprano) Angelo Villari (tenor) O & Ch del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Valerio Galli rec. 2019 DYNAMIC 57843 Blu-ray [80 mins] [RC] Quite impressive.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I due Foscari - Leo Nucci (baritone), Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ivan Repušić rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900328 [73:00 + 28:40] [GF] Several good moments here but go for the Philips set instead.

Jascha Spivakovsky (piano) Bach to Bloch Vol. 8 rec. 1955-1966 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM080 [68:51] [JW] Valuable and rare surviving documents.

Wednesday September 11th

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Fantaisie dramatique sur la Tempête; Symphonie fantastique - Toronto Mendelssohn Ch & SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5239 SACD [70:07] [BW]  A very worthwhile account, but not one to alter existing recommendations.

Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) La donna serpente - Piero Pretti (tenor), Carmela Remigio (soprano), Erika Grimaldi (soprano), CH & O of Teatro Regio Torino/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2018 NAXOS NBD0096V Blu-ray [143 mins] [PG] A substantial improvement on the other version available.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE (1657-1726) Grand motets - Les Pages et les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, Collegium Marianum/Olivier Schneebeli rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD924301 [78:41] [SB] Authoritative versions of impressive examples of this uniquely French genre.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quartets Nos. 14-17 - Schäffer Quartet rec. 1956 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1646-47 [56:30 + 54:42] [JW] A fine ensemble who should be far better known.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Manon Lescaut - Licia Albanese (soprano), Jussi Björling (tenor), Frank Guarrera (baritone), O & Ch Metropolitan Opera/Dimitri Mitropoulos rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO158 [79:51 + 53:25] [PS] Well worth acquiring in every respect.

Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Organ works - Wolfgang Rihm (organ) rec. 1970 CYBELE RECORD SACD H061805 [70:22] [DC] Insights into Rihm’s early precociousness.

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