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[New] Completions and Reconstructions of Musical Works - Part 5 by Stephen Barber

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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Tuesday February 25th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Complete Well-Tempered Clavier - George Lepauw (piano) rec. 2017 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100107 [5 CDs: 274:35] [SG] This production has been a true labour of love for everyone involved.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies No. 1 & 5 - Budapest Festival O/Iván Fischer rec. 2017 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA39719 SACD [61:47] [MG] Stylishly played with a refreshing emphasis on Beethoven’s elegance and finesse, albeit that his boisterous side is a little understated.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Messe Solennelle - Adriana Gonzalez (soprano) Julien Behr (tenor) Andreas Wolf (bass) Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. 2019 ALPHA 564 [51:19] [JQ] An important and fascinating, if uneven, early Berlioz score receives exceptional advocacy from Hervé Niquet.

Richard BLACKFORD (b. 1954) Pietŕ, Canticle of Winter - Jennifer Johnston (mezzo) Stephen Gadd (baritone) Amy Dickson (soprano saxophone) Bournemouth SO & Ch/Gavin Carr rec. 2019 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6396 [47.30] [PCG] Music of high quality in performances to match.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) For Bunita Marcus - Aki Takahashi (piano) rec. 2007 MODE 314 [74:18] [DC] Overdue release of something that delivers a magical connection with the composer.

Lars Petter HAGEN (b. 1975) Harmonium Repertoire - Cikada/Christian Eggen rec. 2019 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1190 [48:21] [RHa] The quietness of this extraordinary disc and its spare means of production are in completely inverse proportion to its impact.

Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Chamber Music - Mariam Kharatyan (piano), Adam Grüchot (violin), Leonardo Sesenna (cello), Stig Nordhagen (clarinet) rec. 2018 SIMAX PSC1373 [58:36] [GF] Deeply committed performances.

Henri LITOLFF (1818-1891) Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2; Violin Sonata - Leonore Piano Trio rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68305 [70:00] [BW]  Not an essential purchase, but an appealing one, especially for lovers of romantic piano music.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der Freischütz - Lise Davidsen (soprano) Andreas Schager (tenor) MDR Leipzig Radio Ch, Frankfurt SO/Marek Janowski rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186788 SACD [77:01+38:51] [SB] An excellent performance and a strong contender if you can cope with a narration instead of the dialogue.

Eugene Ormandy (conductor) The Philadelphia Orchestra: The Early Years Vol. 1 rec. 1936-42 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC578 [66:34 + 69:26] [JW] A rousing start to this series.

Monday February 24th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Concerti for Two Harpsichords - Emmanuel Frankenberg (harpsichord), Ensemble Masques/Olivier Fortin (harpsichord) rec. 2018 rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 572 [59:46] [DC] Excellent performances and a fine recording.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 - Bavarian RSO & Ch/Bernard Haitink rec. 2019 BR KLASSIK 900180 [71:58] [WH] A big, impressive performance of the Ninth which Haitink’s admirers will not want to miss.

Auguste DUPONT (1827-1890) Piano Concerto No. 3 Peter BENOIT (1834-1901) Symphonic poem for piano and orchestra - St Gallen SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68264 [62:49] [PRB] Very entertaining.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) & Carl STAMITZ (1745-1801) Concertos - Ana de la Vega (flute), Ramón Ortega Quero (oboe), Trondheim Soloists rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186823 [64:38] [MW] Interesting works with two fine soloists, but the accompaniment needed more loving care.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Sonata No.1, Moments Musicaux, Études-Tableaux - Alfonso Soldano (piano) rec. 2019 DIVINE ART DDA25155 [79:56] [JF] Soldano’s playing left me both impressed and amazed.

Camille SAINT-SAЁNS (1835-1921) Piano Concertos Nos 3 & 5, Rhapsodie d’Auvergne, Allegro appassionato - Louis Lortie (piano) BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner rec. 2018/19 CHANDOS CHAN20038 [66.51] [CRa] An exciting and dramatic record of under-appreciated music, but there are now many competitors.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Mathias Hedegaard (tenor) Tove Lřnskov (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD865 [75:45] [GF] An honest and deeply felt reading.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) String Quartet Nos 1, 2 & 6 - Dante Quartet rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0607 [79:17] [JW] The cycle of Stanford’s Quartets has now been completed in excellent style.

Francesco Paolo TOSTI (1846-1916) Romanza da Salotto Italiana - Stanisław Daniel Kotliński (baritone) Marco Balderi (piano) rec. 2018 DUX 1482 [77:00] [RMas] Sensitive performances of Italian parlor songs.

Swing A Benny Goodman Story - Pierre Genisson (clarinet) BBC Concert O/Keith Lockhart rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP218 [54:50] [MC] Genisson is on unerringly fine form.

Other reviews
Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet publ. 2020 Elliott and Thompson [RMo] A thoroughly readable, digestible and entertaining biography.

Friday February 21st

Grażyna BACEWICZ (1909-1969) Complete Violin Sonatas - Annabelle Berthomé-Reynolds (violin) Ivan Donchev (piano) rec. 2018 MUSO MU-032 [54:04 + 71:15] [SB] A rewarding collection.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - O Wiener Akademie/Martin Haselböck rec. 2018/19 ALPHA 479 [80.16] [MW] As exciting as anyone could wish: thrilling, musical period performances in a venue Beethoven knew so well.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens - Ben Heppner (tenor) Michelle DeYoung (mezzo) London SO & Ch/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2000 ALTO ALC4006 [4 CDs: 239:28] [GF] A set that should satisfy even the most discriminating connoisseur, especially at Alto’s price.

Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Piano Quintets, String Quartet No. 2 - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) Takács Qt rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68238 [80.58] [DJB] Underappreciated works in performances that surely won’t be bettered.

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue, Second Rhapsody, Piano Concerto, Variations on I got Rhythm - Cecile Licad (piano) South Denmark PO/Gerard Salonga rec. 2019 DANACORD DACOCD869 [75:48] [JF] A classically valid interpretation.

Toivo KUULA (1883-1918) Complete Piano Works - Janne Oksanen (piano) rec. 2019 ALBA ABCD445 [80:03] [SSi] A most welcome disc, which has spent a lot of time in my CD player and has given me much enjoyment.

Fernand de LA TOMBELLE (1854-1928) Chamber, Choral & Symphonic Music & Melodies - Flemish Radio Ch, Brussels PO/Hervé Niquet rec. 2017/18 BRU ZANE BZ1038 [3 CDs: 199 mins] [JW] I can’t imagine a fairer or finer case being made for a little-known composer such as La Tombelle.

José SEREBRIER (b. 1938) Orchestral Works - Alexandre Kantorow (piano) Sharon Bezaly (flute) RTÉ Ntl SO, Barcelona SO/José Serebrier, Australian Chamber O/Richard Tognetti rec. 2003-18 BIS BIS-2423 SACD [76:40] [DC] Substantial concertos and stunning musicianship.

Be Still My Soul Jason Bergman (trumpet) Jared Pierce (piano) rec. 2019 MSR CLASSICS MS1740 [56:00] [DD] Smooth, skilful arrangements of hymns and songs; just the thing after a hectic day.

Ton Koopman (organ) Grandes orgues 1710: Chapelle Royale Versailles rec. 2019 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS016 [57:49] [JV] Under Koopman's hands the splendour of this great instrument is fully displayed.

Thursday February 20th

Allan Gravgaard MADSEN (b 1984) Nachtmusik Pelle GUDMUNDSEN-HOLMGREEN (1932-2016) For Violin and Orchestra - Christina Ĺstrand (violin) Danish Ntl SO/Ryan Bancroft, Nicholas Collon rec. 2017/19 DACAPO 8.226138 [60:25] [RHa] The Madsen did not engage me, but Gudmundsen-Holmgreen’s For Violin and Orchestra was utterly compelling in this outstanding performance.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Nos 6-8 - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68298 [74:21] [DM] White-hot performances, straight from the forge; superlative sound, even by Hyperion’s stellar standards.

Joachim RAFF (1822-1882) Benedetto Marcello - Detlef Roth (baritone) Melba Ramos (soprano) SWR Radio O Kaiserslautern/Grzegorz Nowak rec. 2002 STERLING CDO-1123/24-2 [36:28 + 68:34] [JW] A hugely welcome release.

Hans WINTERBERG (1901-1991) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Brigitte Helbig (piano) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0531 [63:21] [SG] Energy, humour and chromatic complexity rolled into one.

British Classics for Wind Orchestra Andreas Martin Hofmeir (bass tuba), Sächsische Bläserphilharmonie/Thomas Clamor rec. 2018 GENUIN GEN20658 [71:14] [NB] The Vaughan Williams tuba concerto is the stand-out success.

Angela Gheorghiu (soprano) Plaisir d’amour - Alexandra Dariescu (piano) rec. 2018 DECCA 483 4999 [67:19] [GF] This should be a disc for the wish list of Angela Gheorghiu’s many admirers.

Hush! Papagena rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0608 [65:40] [JQ] Another winner from Papagena.

Kate Lindsey (mezzo) Arianna - Works by Handel, Haydn & A Scarlatti - Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2019 ALPHA 576 [72:13] [BW] Beautifully varied and dramatic singing of passionate music of loss.

Percy & Friends Richard Masters (piano) rec. 2019 HERITAGE HTGCD179 [67:49] [JF] A splendid CD.

The Sea Between The Lands Italy and Spain: Five Centuries of Mediterranean Music - Salvatore Foderà (guitar) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95862 [52:07] [ZT] An excellent performance combined with an entertaining and enjoyable programme.

Wednesday February 19th

George Frideric HANDEL (1685 - 1759) Tribute - L'Apothéose rec. 2018 IBS CLASSICAL IBS162019 [58:55] [JV] This is the ensemble's debut disc, and it is a very fine one.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets Vol. 11 - Leipzig String Qt rec. 2019 MDG 307 2141-2 [65:51] [MR] Clarity and sharp focus are the hallmarks of the Leipzig Quartet’s approach.

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809–1847) Piano Concerto No. 1, Double Concerto - Lachezar Stankov (piano) Ivo Stankov (violin) Royal PO/Linus Lerner rec. 2019 MERIDIAN CDE84656 [64:06] [GF] A disc to treasure.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Complete Solo Piano Works Live - Sergio Fiorentino (piano) RHINE CLASSICS RH-006 [6 CDs: 429 mins] [SG] Rachmaninoff fans will not be disappointed with the complete solo works, captured with the spontaneity and freshness of the live recital.

Camillo SCHUMANN (1872-1946) Works for horn & piano - Leo Halsdorf (horn) Kae Shiraki (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.579051 [64:02] [WK] A fine disc with which to make the acquaintance of this composer.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Stephen Costello (tenor), Wiener Symphoniker/Enrique Mazzolarec. 2019 C MAJOR Blu-ray 751704 [154 mins] [CRa] An unusual but gripping version of a favourite opera, musically first-rate and with eye-opening staging.  

Jenö Hubay & His Pupil Emil Telmányi Gerald Moore (piano), Budapest O/Ferenc Fricsay, Royal O Copenhagen/Thomas Jensen rec. 1928-59 DANACORD DACOCD851 [77:21] [JF] Style, enthusiasm and technical wizardry - enthusiasts of music in the Kreisler style will find this essential listening.

Nicola Meecham (piano) Works by Enescu, Janáček & Kodály rec. 2006 SOMM SOMMCD081 [71:03] [DD] A very auspicious debut that presents unusual repertoire, excellently executed and recorded; a stirring experience.

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (soprano) Reine de cœur - Juliane Ruf (piano) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186810 [66:24] [MC] Full marks to both artists for this thoroughly enjoyable recital album.

Karl Münchinger: The Baroque Legacy L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande & Stuttgarter Kammerorchester rec. 1951-75 ELOQUENCE 484 0160 [8 CDs: 752 mins] [JW] Eloquence continues its excellent retrieval work on behalf of Karl Münchinger.


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