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Monthly Listing
July 2020
232 reviews this month

Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER (1580-1651) Che fai tů? Villanelles - Les Kapsber'girls rec. 2017/18 MUSO MU-037 [64:55] [JV] The importance of this disc can hardly be overstated.

Cyrillus KREEK (1889-1962) The Suspended Harp of Babel - Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve rec. 2018 ECM NEW SERIES 2620 [69:47] [WH] Buy this disc.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concertos - Alina Ibragimova (violin) State Academic SO of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68313 [71:29] [LW] Performances that are a cause for celebration.

Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Viola Concerto, Symphony for Strings - Sinfonietta Rīga/Maxim Rysanov (viola) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2443 SACD [65:44] [ST] Poignant, heartfelt, unforgettable.

Lotte Schöne (soprano) The Complete Lotte Schöne rec. 1921-1950 MARSTON 55002-2 [5 CDs: 349:05] [SG] A voice of captivating charm, purity, extensive range and flexibility. 

Johann Friedrich AGRICOLA (1720-1774) & Gottfried August HOMILIUS (1714-1785) Easter Cantatas - Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2019 CPO 555 332-2 [77:21] [SSi] Do not wait for next year’s Easter season - enjoy this disc now.

Eleanor ALBERGA (b. 1949) String Quartets No. 1-3 - Ens Arcadiana rec. 2019 NAVONA RECORDS NV6234 [62:48] [GPu] Should be heard by all who love string quartets.

Carlo ARRIGONI (1697-1744) Tiranni affetti - Davide Ferella (mandolin) Marta Fumagalli (mezzo) Accademia degli Erranti rec. 2019 DYNAMIC CDS7878 [59:46] [MR] Committed and characterful performances.

Paul AYRES (b.1970) Rainbow Toccatas - Paul Ayres (organ) rec. 2015/16 PRIORY PRCD1159 [79:59] [MR] Despite some very uneven music, this is both a highly entertaining and musically attractive programme.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Piano Concertos - Michael Rische (piano) Berliner Barock Solisten rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19041 [57:07] [PRB] An interesting but not entirely successful contrast to Spanyi’s series on BIS.

Johann Bernhard BACH (1676-1749) Orchestral Suites - Thüringer Bach Collegium rec. 2019 AUDITE 97.770 [82:22] [JV] Overall I have quite enjoyed these performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Italian Concerto, Partitas, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue - Konstanze Eickhorst (piano) rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN20682 [60:58] [TB] An imaginatively conceived programme.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Complete Keyboard Edition Vol. 3 - Benjamin Alard (harpsichord/organ) rec. 2018/19 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902457.59 [3 CDs: 209:19] [SSi] An interesting approach to the keyboard music of Bach, with Benjamin Alard giving some wonderful performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Complete Cello Suites - Johnny Gandelsman (violin) rec. 2019 IN A CIRCLE RECORDS ICR013 [47:30 + 60:37] [ZT] Any loss in transcription is compensated for by the gain in the new performance aspects which this excellent recording offers.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cello Suites - Yo-Yo Ma (cello) rec. 2019 C MAJOR 754408 [2 DVDs: 161 mins] [DC] Fans of Bach and Yo-Yo Ma will want this.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Redemption: Arias and choruses from Cantatas - Anna Prohaska (soprano); Lautten Compagney/Wolfgang Katschner rec. 2020 ALPHA 658 [77:47] [BW]  I expect to return frequently to this album.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Leipzig Chorales - John O’Donnell (organ) rec. 2000 MELBA RECORDINGS MR301084-2 [75:58 + 64:33] [DC] Very fine, but academic rather than overtly pleasurable.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Art of Fugue - Accademia Strumentale Italiana/Alberto Rasi rec. 2019 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72842 [68:22] [BW]  Presents the music as it appears in Bach’s autograph – and makes a strong case for it.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Harpsichord Concertos Vol. 1 - Bach Collegium Japan/Masato Suzuki (harpsichord) rec. 2018 BIS BIS2401 SACD [66:34] [TB] A generously compiled combination of masterworks.

Semyon Alexeevich BARMOTIN (1877-1939) Piano Music - Christopher Williams (piano) rec. 2019 GRAND PIANO GP799 [77:49] [SG] Music that fans of Rachmaninov should feel drawn to.

Adolf BARJANSKY (1851-1900) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Julia Severus (piano) rec. 2020 GRAND PIANO GP796 [64:17] [JF] Looks back to Schubert, parallels Brahms and foretells Rachmaninov.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Concerto for Orchestra, Rhapsodies, Dance Suite - James Ehnes (violin) Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2016/17 CHANDOS CHSA5189 SACD [80:28] [ST] While the Rhapsodies delight, the Concerto is something of a disappointment.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Cello Sonatas - Alessandro Andriani (cello) Mario Sollazzo (fortepiano) rec. 2019 NOVA ANTIQUA NA20 [2 CDs: 120:34] [SSi] Very good performances.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Piano Concertos - Stephen Hough (piano) Finnish Radio SO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68291/3 [3 CDs: 172:18] [SB] A splendid new set of these inexhaustible works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Sonatas - André De Groote (piano) rec. 1995-1998 ETCETERA KTC1676 [10 CDs: 651:00] [SG] A cycle that proudly stands in exalted company.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Piano Concertos - Stephen Hough (piano) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68291/3 [3 CDs: 172:17] [MW] Hough’s keen insights are endlessly illuminating, though Lintu’s contributions are occasionally awkward.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 3 & 8 - O Ntl de France, Vienna SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1951/53 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC589 [78:38] [JQ] A deeply serious exploration of the ‘Eroica’; Horenstein’s is an interpretation that makes the listener think.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Choral works - Gächinger Kantorei, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmut Rilling rec. 1993-97 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC20027 [3 CDs: 176:11] [GPJ] Good performances, which do not however seriously challenge the best recordings of the Masses.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Quartet Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quintet - Il Tetraone rec. 2018 NOVANTIQUA RECORDS NA30 [66:42] [DD] Disappointing recordings of two favourite works in uncomfortable sound.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Trios Vol. 5 - Van Baerle Trio rec. 2019 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72801 SACD [73:15] [DC] Surprise extras: a fitting addition to a fine series.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trios Nos 3 & 7 - Vienna Piano Trio rec. 2019 MDG 942 2155-6 SACD [73:35] [DD] Thrilling and highly persuasive renditions of these wonderful works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trio 5, Triple Concerto - Beethoven Trio Bonn rec. 2018 CAVI-MUSIC 8553108 [62:20] [BW]  A surprisingly convincing account of the trio version of the Triple Concerto.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Trio 6, Symphony 2 - Beethoven Trio Bonn rec. 2019 CAVI-MUSIC 8553111 [65:12] [DJB] A good performance of the symphony is negated by a bland one of the E flat trio. 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The 6 Piano Concertos - Gottlieb Wallisch (fortepiano) O Wiener Akademie/Martin Haselböck rec. 2017-20 CPO 555 329-2 [3 CDs: 210:05] [SSi] A most rewarding set, which only the fiercest fortepiano detractors may not enjoy.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Beethoven Unknown - Matthias Kirschnereit (piano) BERLIN CLASSICS 0301409BC [74:08] [MZ] An interesting potpourri of little gems by Beethoven, played with verve and style but some unhappy diversions from the score are very ill-advised.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Folk Songs - Paula Sophie Bohnet (soprano) Daniel Johannsen (tenor) Georg Klimbacher (baritone) Josef Herzer (violin) Bertin Christelbauer (cello) Bernadette Bartos (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574174 [73:33] [GF] A wholly delightful programme, excellently performed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Trios, Serenade - Michel Debost, Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute), Le Trio à Cordes Français rec. 1963/70 DOREMI DHR-8106-08 [3 CDs: 190:04] [JW] Elegant and refined performances.

Carl Michael BELLMAN (1740-1795) Am I born, then I’ll be living - Torsten Mossberg (tenor), Stina Hellberg (harp), Jonas Isaksson (guitar & lute), Andreas Nyberg (violin) rec. 2019 STERLING CDA1841-2 [73:46] [GF] Should appeal to many tastes.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) L'Enfance du Christ - Tenebrae Ch London SO/Sir Colin Davis rec. 2006 LSO LIVE LSO0606 SACD [41:05 + 55:29] [RMo] Consistency and gentle beauty.

Blagoje BERSA (1873-1934) Complete Piano Music Vol. 2 - Goran Filipec (piano) rec. 2019 GRAND PIANO RECORDS GP832 [67:46] [RCh] An entertaining and exciting exploration of this Croatian Romantic.

Joly BRAGA SANTOS (1924-1988) Complete Chamber Music Vol. 2 rec. 2017/18 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0428 [71:20] [JW] There’s nothing I didn’t like about this release.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Songs of Loss and Betrayal - Simon Wallfisch (baritone) Edward Rushton (piano) rec. 2019 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10258 [62:03] [GF] A deeply satisfying programme.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4 Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Violin Concerto - Siegfried Borries (violin), Berlin RSO/Arthur Rother rec. 1949/51 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1727 [61:01] [SG] Two rarities restored – a fine performance of Busoni’s neglected concerto and an imposing Brahms 4.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonatas - Carl-Oscar Řsterlind (cello) Emil Gryesten (piano) rec. 2018/19 DANACORD DACOCD875 [74:47] [JF] Impressive and well-structured performances.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Serenade, Bridge Variations, Young Person’s Guide - Peter Pears (tenor) Dennis Brain (horn) Eugene Goosens, Herbert von Karajan, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1954-62 ALTO ALC1413 [78:20] [GPJ] Wonderful Britten works in strong, highly characterised performances by four great conductors, excellently re-mastered.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 4 & 7 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 1980/81 MDG 6502150-2 [66:59 + 67:47] [ST] In short, a winner!

Arthur BUTTERWORTH (1934-2014) Symphony No.1 Ruth GIPPS (1921-99) Symphony No. 2 Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Organ Concerto - Münchner Symphoniker, Royal Aarhus Academy SO/Douglas Bostock rec. 1998/2001 MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC3015 [77:37] [CSe] A lovely trio of compositions for those with a fondness for inventiveness, idiosyncrasy and whimsey, of a particularly English kind.

John CAGE (1912-1992) Solos for Voice - Electric Phoenix rec. 1999 PRIMA FACIE RECORDS PFCD122 [71:22] [DC] Unique performance of a late Cage work performed by its dedicatees.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Dedications - Angelo Arciglione (piano) rec. 2019 DIGRESSIONE MUSIC DCTT100 [45:47] [GPu] A persuasively played and well recorded CD, to which I shall certainly return frequently.

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Concert, Chanson perpétuelle - Simón Gollo, Benjamin Sung, Ingrid Gerling (violins), Randolph Kelly (viola), Mark Kubata (cello), John Navacek (piano), Mariola Cantarero (soprano) rec. 2019 IBS 62020 [50:26] [GH] An utterly convincing and persuasive performance of the Concert is spoiled by that of the Chanson.

Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842) Discoveries - Filarmonica della Scala/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2016 DECCA 483 1591 [74:25] [SV] Some fine discoveries here.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Chamber works - Johann Blanchard (piano) Parnassus Akademie rec. 2017/18 MDG 303 2110-2 [74:19] [SB] A curious exploration of some of the byways of Chopin’s works.

Nigel CLARKE (b. 1960) Mysteries of the Horizon - Grimethorpe Colliery Band/Nigel Clarke, David Thornton, Sandy Smith rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574097 [69:14] [RHa] Four visually inspired works for band in outstanding performances.

Johannes de CLEVE (c.1528-1582) Missa Rex Babylonis & other works - Cinquecento rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68241 [71:06] [GH] Not convincingly first-rate but technically flawless.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Violin Sonatas - Pleyel Ens rec. 2016/17 MPR 103 [71:21] [JF] Though often demanding, these works have lyricism and humour to reward the adventurous listener.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Complete Music for Oboe & Sonata for 2 Pianos - Melinda Maxwell (oboe) The Pleyel Ens, Harvey Davies, Helen Davies (pianos) rec. 2017/18 MPR 108 [75:48] [JF] A varied programme with music of high quality, splendidly played and recorded.

Paul CORFIELD GODFREY (b. 1950) Beren & Lúthien: Epic Scenes from the Silmarillion Part 2 - Soloists & Ch Welsh Ntl Opera, Quantum Leap SO rec. 2019 PRIMA FACIE PFCD110/1 [2 CDs: 140:38] [SSi] A rewarding recording of a rich and complex work which will bring enjoyment to many - and not just to Tolkien fans.

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Les Nations Réunies & Autres Sonades - La Simphonie du Marais/Hugo Reyne rec. 2017 MUSIQUES Ŕ LA CHABOTTERIE 605018 [72:10] [SSi] A very enjoyable and entertaining take on François Couperin’s Les Nations.

Francis CUTTING (c.1550-1596) Lute Music - Dominico Cerasani (lute) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96099 [56.00] [GH] A relaxing and pleasurable hour.

Michael DAUGHERTY (b 1954) This Land Sings – Annika Socolofsky (soprano) John Daugherty (baritone) Dogs of Desire/David Alan Miller rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.559889 [66:55] [RHa] Timely, attractive, unfailingly atmospheric and oddly reassuring.

William Levi DAWSON (1899-1990) Negro Folk Symphony Ulysses Simpson KAY (1917 - 1995) Fantasy Variations; Umbrian Scene - ORF Vienna RSO/Arthur Fagen rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.559870 [64:42] [NB] A valuable disc.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Images, Prélude ŕ l’aprčs-midi d’un faune - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2018/19 HALLÉ CDHLL7554 [60:44] [JQ] Another instalment in the distinguished Debussy series from Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé.

Peter DICKINSON (b. 1934) Chamber & Instrumental Music - Peter Sheppard Skćrved (violin) Roderick Chadwick (piano) Kreutzer Qt rec. 2017/19 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0538 [71:26][SSi] A varied and interesting disc, which would serve well as an introduction to the music of Peter Dickinson.

Hugo DISTLER (1908-1942) & Heinz Werner ZIMMERMANN (b 1930) Choral & organ works - Christina Roterberg (soprano) Arvid Gast (organ) Norddeutscher Kammerchor/Maria Jürgensen rec. 2019 MDG 902 2156-6 SACD [55:02] [RHa] My only quibble is that room could have easily been found to accommodate more of Distler’s fine choral music.

John DOWLAND (1563-1626) Whose heavenly touch - Mariana Flores (soprano), Hopkinson Smith (lute) rec. 2015 NAÏVE E8941 [56:44] [JV] The performers have taken some liberties, but overall I find the results quite convincing.

Robert DUSSAUT (1896-1969) & Hélčne COVATTI (1910-2005) Mélodies - Adriana González (soprano) Ińaki Encina Oyón (piano) rec. 2019 AUDAX ADX13722 [70:11] [MP] An exciting CD debut for a major new artist in a fascinating unknown repertoire, captured in splendid sound.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphonic Variations, Serenade for Strings - London SO/Sir Colin Davis rec. 1968 ELOQUENCE 482 9380 [49:42] [SV] The Serenade is as good as I remember, the Variations not so much.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) & Amy BEACH (1867-1944) Piano Quintets - Garrick Ohlsson (piano), Takács Quartet rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68295 [63:38] [SSi] Splendid performances of both works.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Violin Concerto, Sospiri, Salut d’amour, Chanson de nuit - Nicola Benedetti (violin) London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019/20 DECCA 4850949 [58:45] [JQ] An outstanding version of Elgar’s great concerto.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Cello Concerto Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Élégie - Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello) London SO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2019 DECCA 4850241 [68.55] [DD] An absolutely splendid performance of the Elgar … my go-to for a modern recording.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Sea Pictures, Falstaff - Elīna Garanča (mezzo) Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2019 DECCA 4850968 [58:58] [JQ] Some reservations about the performance of Sea Pictures but Falstaff is a fine achievement.

Carlisle FLOYD (b. 1926) Prince of Players - Keith Phares (baritone) Kate Royal (soprano) Florentine Opera Ch, Milwaukee SO/William Boggs rec. 2018 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-736 [41.40 + 54.01] [PCG] A fine performance representing a work which one would welcome the opportunity to encounter in the theatre.

Domenico GABRIELLI (c1659-1690) & Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Complete Cello Works - Guadalupe López Íńiguez (cello) Markku Luolajan-Mikkola (cello continuo) Olli Hyyrynen (archlute, guitar) Lauri Honkavirta (harpsichord) rec. 2016/17 ALBA ABCD412 SACD [74:53] [JV] A very fine debut in the field of early music.

John GARDNER (1917-2011) The Ballad of the White Horse, An English Ballad - Ashley Riches (baritone) City of London Ch, Paulina Voices, BBC Concert O/Hilary Davan Wetton rec. 2017 EM RECORDS EMRCD057 [64:30] [JQ] A disc of appealing music, all of which is performed with commitment and skill.

Philip GLASS (b. 1937) King Lear - Natalie Cummins, Martin Agee (violin) Christopher Cardona (viola) Stephanie Cummins (cello) Ruth Wilson (vocals) ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0141 [57.13] [MW] Well worth exploring, and not only for lovers of Glass.

Vinko GLOBOKAR (b. 1934) Les Soliloques décortiqués - Alwynne Pritchard, BIT20 Ensemble/Vinko Globokar, Trond Madsen rec. 2018 KAIROS RECORDINGS 0015059KAI [54:57] [DC] Dramatic and vibrant: very much worth experiencing.

Geoffrey GORDON (b. 1968) Cello Concerto, Fathoms, Ode to a Nightingale - Toke Mřldrup (cello), Mogens Dahl Chamber Ch, Copenhagen Phil/Lan Shui rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2330 [81:40] [RHa] The cello concerto is the highlight here; I was less convinced by the couplings.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Passion Cantatas Vol. IV - Ex Tempore Ens, Barock O Mannheimer/Florian Heyerick rec. 2020 CPO 5553482 [57:23] [TB] Excellent performances, conveying the devotional outlook to perfection.

Eivind GROVEN (1901-1977) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - Kristiansand SO/Peter Szilvay rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573871 [55:45] [EJW] A most attractive CD.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Opera Arias - Christophe Dumaux (countertenor) FestspielO Göttingen/Laurence Cummings rec. 2019 ACCENT ACC26413 [68.58] [MMB] A pleasant surprise.

Johan Peter Emilius HARTMANN (1805-1900) Piano Works Vol. 1 - Thomas Trondhjem (piano) rec. 2019 DANACORD DACOCD874 [70:31] [JF] Pleasant, if not demanding, piano music.

Sir Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941) Songs - Kathryn Rudge (mezzo) Christopher Glynn (piano) rec. 2018/19 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0616 [71:25] [JQ] Harty’s songs deserve to be much better known and have been very well served on this disc.

Ed HUGHES (b. 1968) Time, Space & Change - O Sound & Light/Ed Hughes, New Music Players/Nicholas Smith rec. 2018 MÉTIER MSV28597 [71:35] [RHa] Further evidence of Ed Hughes’ impressive mastery of the niche soundtrack genre and two more challenging but equally rewarding concert works.

Marc’Antonio INGEGNERI (1535/36-1592) Missa Laudate Pueri Dominum, Motets - Ch Girton College, Cambridge/Gareth Wilson, Historic Brass Guildhall School & Royal Welsh College Music & Drama/Jeremy West rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0556 [70:03] [MP] Excellent performances and sound in a recording which investigates the talents of a relatively unknown composer.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854–1928) Piano Sonata, On An Overgrown Path, In the Mists - Thomas Adčs (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD600 [66:50] [RHa] Janáček’s great piano trilogy has never sounded fresher, or more contemporary.

Lydia KAKABADSE (b. 1955) Ithaka - Ch Royal Holloway/Rupert Gough rec. 2019 DIVINE ART DDA25188 [67:56] [JQ] Odyssey is well worth hearing.

Rob KEELEY (b. 1960) Orchestral Music - Liepāja SO, Málaga PO/Paul Mann rec. 2018/20 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0462 [78:12] [JF] Music that balances modernity with tradition.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Violanta - Annemarie Kremer (soprano) Michael Kupfer-Radecky (baritone) Ch & O Teatro Regio Torino/Pinchas Steinberg rec. 2020 DYNAMIC DVD 37876 [88 mins] [EJW] A thoroughly committed performance.

Halina KRZYŻANOWSKA (1867-1937) Cello Sonata, Violin Sonata, String Quartet - Anna Wróbel (cello), Grzegorz Skrobiński (piano), Andrzej Gębski (violin), Małgorzata Marczyk (piano), Camerata Vistula String Quartet rec. 2019 DUX 7647 [56:43] [JW] The fine performances and recording show these three works in the best light.

David LANG (b. 1957) The Loser - Rod Gilfry (baritone) Conrad Tao (piano) Bang on a Can Opera Ens/Lesley Leighton CANTALOUPE CA21155 [58:38] [RHa] Easy to admire and even enjoy, less easy to love.

Magnus LINDBERG (b. 1958) Accused, Two Episodes - Anu Komsi (soprano) Finnish RSO/Hannu Lintu rec. 2017/19 ONDINE ODE1345-2 [56:31] [SB] One disappointing and one rewarding work.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Works - Dean Erjavc (piano) rec. 2020 AUSTRIAN GRAMOPHONE AG0019 [60:26] [TB] La lugubre gondola is a highlight of this interesting recital.

Nicholas LUDFORD (c.1490-1557) Heavenly Songes - Christophe Deslignes (portative organ); La Quintina/Jérémie Couleau (tenor) rec. 2019 PARATY PTY220191 [60:45] [BW]  An excellent example of the daily Lady Masses composed by a neglected master of Tudor church music.

Torbjörn Iwan LUNDQUIST (1920-2000) Symphonies Nos 2 & 9 - Stockholm PO/Stig Westerberg, Umeĺ SO/Roy Goodman rec. 1972/99 STERLING CDM3006-2 [63:29] [SG] Dusted down from the archives, two symphonies of puissant style.

Sir Alexander MACKENZIE (1847-1935) Complete Music for Solo Piano Vol. 1 - Christopher Howell (piano) rec. 2016/17 SHEVA COLLECTION SH221 [65:44] [JW] Howell’s Mackenzie exploration seems likely to turn up admirable pieces.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Chen Reiss (soprano) Tamara Mumford (mezzo) Orfeó Catalŕ, Palau Música Catalana Chamber Ch, Munich PO/Gustavo Dudamel rec.  2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802904 [91 mins] [RC] Great Mahler in any format.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2386 SACD [77:70] [JQ] There’s a great deal to admire and enjoy.

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria rusticana - Melody Moore (soprano) Brian Jagde (tenor) MDR Rundfunkchor, Dresdner PO/Marek Janowski rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186772 SACD [66:06] [MC] This account does not pack sufficient emotional punch.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Thaďs - Erin Wall (soprano) Joshua Hopkins (baritone) Toronto Mendelssohn Ch, Toronto SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5258(2) SACD [72:37 + 59:31] [RMo] This is very good, but I will still reach for the Abel/Decca recording when I want to hear this lovely music.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Le due duchesse - Eun-Hye Choi (soprano), Markus Schäfer (tenor), Tina Marie Herbert (soprano), Concerto de Bassus/Franz Hauk rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.660422-23 [76:45 + 85:25] [MP] Lovely singing featured in a polished recreation of an essentially museum piece opera.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) & Boris LYATOSHYNSKY (1895-1968) Piano Concertos - Tatiana Nikolayeva (piano) USSR Radio SO/Evgeny Svetlanov, Ukraine State SO/Boris Lyatoshynsky rec. 1957/61 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1699 [66:01] JW] Performances propelled by vitality and a sense of colour.

Fanny MENDELSSOHN HENSEL (1805-1847) Lied Edition Vol. 1 - Anne Grimm (soprano) Roswitha Müller (mezzo) Kobie van Rensburg (tenor) Maarten Koningsberger (baritone) Kelvin Grout (piano) rec. 1999-2001 TROUBADISC TROCD01420 [60:32] [GF] Certainly not without merits but prospective buyers are advised to sample before placing their orders.

Felix MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Die erste Walpurgisnacht, Oedipus in Kolonos - Kammerchor Stuttgart, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Frieder Bernius rec. 2004/19 CARUS 83.503 [47:19] [GPJ] A beautiful performance of Die erste Walpurgisnacht, with fine solo and choral singing.

Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) Early String Quartets and Vocal Works Vol. 2 - Ulrike Sonntag (soprano) Fanny Mendelssohn Qt rec. 1995 TROUBADISC TRO-CD 01410 [63:32] [JW] Certainly worth your attention.

Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) Early String Quartets & Vocal Works Vol. 3 - Maarten Koningsberger (baritone) Rudolf Jansen (piano) Fanny Mendelssohn Qt rec. 1995 TROUBADISC TROCD01411 [72:27] [JW] As ever, there’s much to enjoy.

Barry MILLS (b. 1949) Interbeing rec. 2019 CLAUDIO BD-A CC6044-6 [82:15] [DBi] A very interesting issue in a long series dedicated to the music of Mills.

David MONRAD JOHANSEN (1888-1974) Piano Concerto, Pan, Epigrams on Norwegian Motifs, Symphonic Variations & Fugue - Oliver Triendl (piano) Kristiansand SO/Eivind Aadland rec. 2018 CPO 555246-2 [68:23] [JF] An interesting and varied CD in first rate performances.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro - La Tempęte/Simon-Pierre Bestion rec. 2018 ALPHA 552 [2 CDs: 142:07] [RHa] It’s Monteverdi’s Vespers, but not as we know it; a thoroughly life-enhancing experience.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Idomeneo - Eric Cutler (tenor) Anett Frisch (soprano) Teatro Real Ch & O/Ivor Bolton rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE OABD7276D Blu-ray [120 mins] [PCG] Singing, conducting, staging and directing all come together here.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Vol. 2 - Anne-Marie McDermott (piano) Odense SO/Kenneth Montgomery, Gilbert Varga, Andreas Delfs rec. 2017/18 BRIDGE 9523 [59:54] [TB] Vibrant and compelling.

Eduard NÁPRAVNÍK (1839-1916) Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Lana Trotovšek (violin), Ludmil Angelov (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0305 [86:28] [JW] Mixed results.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies Nos 3 & 5 - Felicity Palmer (soprano) Thomas Allen (baritone) London SO/François Huybrechts, O Suisse Romande/Paul Kletzki rec. 1969/74 ELOQUENCE 482 8570 [75:28] [PBW] One unconventional and one straightforward performance.

Henry Cotter NIXON (1842-1907) Complete Orchestral Music Vol. 3 - Ana Török (violin) Kodály PO, Liepāja SO/Paul Mann rec. 2016/20 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0374 [65:50] [JW] This series has added to our knowledge of British music of this period.

Patrick OZZARD-LOW (b. 1958) In Opposition - Andrew Zolinsky (piano); Elisabeth Smalt (viola) rec. 2015/17 KAIROS RECORDINGS 0015067KAI [67:02] [DC] Not easy, but ultimately worth the effort.

Leopold van der PALS (1884-1966) Concertos, Mönch Wanderer Suite - Gordan Trajkovic (violin), Tobias van der Pals (cello), Marianna Shirinyan (piano), Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Fredrik Burstedt rec. 2019 CPO 555 316-2 [62:10] [JW] Few truly heart-surging moments, but quietly valuable anyway.

Pietro Domenico PARADISI (1706/07-1791) Sonatas - Anna Paradiso (harpsichord, clavichord & fortepiano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2415 SACD [87:57] [DC] Excellent in every regard.

Owain PARK (b. 1993) Choral Works - The Epiphoni Consort/Tim Reader, Owain Park (piano) Gabriella Jones (violin) rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34239 [76:59] [JQ] An excellent showcase for the significant talent of Owain Park and for the expert singing of The Epiphoni Consort.

Ben PARRY (b. 1965) The Hours - Ch of Royal Holloway/Rupert Gough rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD629 [77:30] [GPJ] Attractive settings by the versatile and talented Ben Parry, sung with sensitivity by this fine young choir.

Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Songs of Farewell Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Motets, Magnificat Alan GRAY (1855-1935) Magnificat - Ch Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68301 [64:45] [ST] Just edged by the Tenebrae recording, but a close run thing.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Stabat Mater & other choral works - Gloriæ Dei Cantores/Richard K. Pugsley rec. 2018/2019 GLORIAE DEI CANTORES GDCD065 SACD [69:02] [WH] A fine Pärt collection from a choir that specialises in sacred repertoire.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI (1938-2020) St. Luke Passion - Sarah Wagener (soprano) Lucas Meachem (baritone) Matthew Rose (bass) Kraków Philharmonic Ch, Montreal SO/Kent Nagano rec. 2018 BIS BIS2287 SACD [66:52] [SB] An impressive performance of a celebrated avant-garde work

Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Stabat Mater Nicola Antonio PORPORA (1686-1768) Salve Regina Leonardo LEO (1694-1744) Beatus vir qui timet - Sandrine Piau (soprano) Christopher Lowrey (countertenor) Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset rec. 2018 ALPHA 449 [66:11] [MP] A bold and lively performance coupled with superb recording quality makes for refreshed listening.

Alfredo PIATTI (1822-1901) The Operatic Fantasies Vol. 2 - Adrian Bradbury (cello) Oliver Davies (piano) rec. 2018 MERIDIAN RECORDS CDE84659 [71:54] [RCh] A rewarding listen to these 19th century cello fantasies.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Wind Music - Ens Confoederatio rec. 2019 MDG 903 2152-6 SACD [69:05] [GPJ] Brilliant performances of this delightful and entertaining music by this Swiss-based ensemble.

Adam POUNDS (b. 1954) & Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Chamber works - Dinah Pounds (flute) Adam Pounds (guitar) Anna Lightbown (piano) Goldfield Ens, Bingham String Qt, Michaelhouse Chamber Ens CAMBRIDGE RECORDINGS CAMREC007 [59:31] [JF] An enjoyable disc of chamber music.

Gabriel PROKOFIEV (b. 1975) Concerto for Turntables & Orchestra No. 1, Cello Concerto - Mr Switch (turntables) Boris Andrianov (cello) Ural PO/Alexey Bogorad rec. 2018/19 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD628 [48:40] [RHa] A thrilling account of his legendary breakthrough piece and a fascinating cello concerto, as attractive as it is weird.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies 3 & 6 - Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Pietari Inkinen rec. 2018/2019 SWR MUSIC SWR19086CD [79:01] [RC] A very fine start to this series.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies Nos 3 & 6 - Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Pietari Inkinen rec. 2018/19 SWR MUSIC SWR19086CD [79:01] [LW] Estimable accounts.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Ural Opera Ballet & O/Pavel Klinichev rec. 2019 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES Blu-ray BAC580 [117 mins] [MMB] A very satisfying if not memorable production.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) The Fairy Queen - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Roderick Williams (baritone) Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh SIGNUM SIGCD615 [69:28 + 69:35] [JW] An elegant, refined and strongly realised performance.

Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773) Concertos for Flute & Strings - Eric Lamb (flute) Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2017 PROFIL PH18023 [63:57] [CRo] An undemanding hour of pleasure. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Complete Works for Piano Duo - Genova & Dimitrov Piano Duo rec. 2018/19 CPO 555 326-2 [2 CDs: 144:33] [RCh] Marvellous playing with a couple of rarities to boot.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Songs - Julia Sitkovetzky (soprano) Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68309 [58:20] [TB] A notable addition to the catalogue and a remarkable debut.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Le Langage des Fleurs - Ann Martin-Davis (piano) rec. 2019 GUILD GMCD7825 [68:42] [MR] Ann Martin-Davis’s often desiccated approach to Ravel pays dividends in its textural clarity and delicacy of touch.

Emil von REZNICEK (1860-1945) Five String Quartets - Minguet Quartet rec. 2015-2018 CPO 555 002-2 [67:43 + 51:06] [JW] These engaging works are certainly worth investigating, though with due caution.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Capriccio Espagnol; Russian Easter Festival Overture; Scheherazade - Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2019 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1198 [74:57] [RMay] First rate sound showcases a fine Scheherazade but somewhat underwhelming accounts of the other two pieces.

Christian Heinrich RINCK (1770-1846) Piano Trios - Trio Parnassus rec. 2019 MDG 9032171-6 SACD [56:09] [PRB] An enjoyable listening experience.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) & Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Piano Concerto - Piers Lane (piano), The Orchestra Now/Leon Botstein rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68297 [77:27] [JQ] The primary recommendation for Bliss's concerto, and a performance which may win new friends for Rubbra’s concerto.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) & Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Piano Concertos - Piers Lane (piano) The Orchestra Now/Leon Botstein rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68297 [77:27] [JW] I have huge admiration for Lane’s approach, but I do still feel vaguely disappointed.

Leonard SALZEDO (1921-2000) String Quartets Nos 1, 5 & 10 - Archaeus Qt rec. 2017 MPR 104 [57:16] [JF] Some remarkable music here – a major contribution to the catalogue.

Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1695-1750) Sonatas for Recorder & Basso Continuo Vol. 1 - Andreas Böhlen (recorder) Daniel Rosin (cello) Pietro Prosser (lute) Michael Hell (harpsichord) rec. 2018 AEOLUS AE10306 SACD [73:20] [JV] These performances are compelling and often outright exciting.

Philipp SCHARWENKA (1847-1917) Chamber works - Laurent Albrecht Breuninger (violin) Lise Berthaud (viola) Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5391 [72:24] [RCh] Rewarding highly romantic works in persuasive performances.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Vol. 4 - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2015 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6345 [65:15] [DD] Another totally absorbing volume in this fascinating, uncompromising and absorbing series.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Wanderer Fantasy, Piano Sonata D664 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations on a Theme by Handel - Christopher Park (piano), NDR Elbe Philharmonie O/Christoph Eschenbach rec. 2014 CAPRICCIO C5412 [71:03] [TB] A rather unusual combination of repertoire.

Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Piano Trio Fanny MENDELSSOHN (1805-1847) Piano Trio, String Quartet - Nash Ens rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68307 [71:49] [SB] A rewarding coupling of early romantic chamber works.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 9, Violin Concerto No. 1 - Leonidas Kavakos (violin) Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2011-2012 MARIINSKY MAR0524 SACD [63:31] [RWe] A unique coupling of two fine performances, very well recorded.

Leone SINIGAGLIA (1868-1944) Complete Works for String Quartet Vol. 1 - Archos Qt rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574183 [64:26] [JW] An hour’s worth of undiluted pleasure.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Songs; Double Concerto - Melinda Paulsen (mezzo-soprano), Renate Eggebrecht-Kupsa (violin), Franz Draxinger (horn), Angela Gassenhuber, Céline Dutilly (pianos) Ethel Smyth Ens/Johannes Schmeller rec. 1992 TROUBADISC TROCD01405 [61.37] [PCG] Valuable for the two sets of songs, though the presentation is problematic for non-German speakers.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Chamber Music & Songs Vol. 4 - Maarten Koningsberger (baritone) Friedemann Kupsa (cello) Anna Silova, Kelvin Grout (piano) rec. 1997 TROUBADISC TROCD01417 [67:53] [JW] A pioneering series.

Sir Arthur SOMERVELL (1863-1937) Maud, A Shropshire Lad - Roderick Williams (baritone) Susie Allan (piano) rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0615 [62.24] [NB] An exemplary disc - superbly crafted performances of music of unexpected stature.

Ronald STEVENSON (1928–2015) Piano Music Vol. 3 - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0403 [70:22] [CC] A release that stimulates and entertains in equal measure

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Macbeth, Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, Tod und Verklärung - Singapore SO/Lan Shui rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2342 SACD [71:57] [GPJ] An attractive programme, but delivered underwhelmingly.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) & Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Violin Concertos - Ayako Yonetani (violin) Slovak State PO Košice/Leoš Svárovský rec. 2018/19 VENUS CLASSICS 852-346-5732 [60:44] [RMay] Yonetani’s somewhat self-effacing approach suits Glazunov more than Tchaikovsky.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concertos and Ouverture - Vincent Lauzer (recorder), Mathieu Lussier (bassoon) Arion O Baroque/Mathieu Lussier, Alexander Weimann rec. 2015/2019 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22789 [59:41] [CRo] Winningly sophisticated performances.

Louis THIRION (1879-1966) Violin Sonata, Piano Sonata, Cello Sonata - Solenne Païdassi (violin), Henri Demarquette (cello), Laurent Wagschal (piano) rec. 2018 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1750 [74:06] [SG] Scores which simultaneously interest and stimulate.

Penelope THWAITES (b. 1944) From Five Continents: Choral Music and Songs - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor), William Dazeley (baritone), Penelope Thwaites (piano), Ex Cathedra/Jeffrey Skidmore rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0612 [72:06] [MR] Pianist Penelope Thwaites is revealed to be a confident composer firmly rooted in the European tradition despite the implications of the disc’s title.

Francisco VALLS (c.1670-1747) Missa Regalis - Ch Keble College, Academy Ancient Music/Matthew Martin rec. 2018/19 AAM RECORDS AAM008 [40.47] [GH] Superb presentation and fine performances, but the music itself arouses only moderate enthusiasm.

Ian VENABLES (b. 1955) Love Lies Beyond the Tomb – Mary Bevan (soprano); Allan Clayton (tenor) Carducci String Qt, Graham J. Lloyd (piano) rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD617 [78:42] [WH] Two glorious singers in a fine collection from a master of song.

Ian VENABLES (b.1955) Requiem - Jonathan Hope (organ) Ch Gloucester Cathedral/Adrian Partington rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0618 [59:01] [MR] A lovely performance of this heartfelt setting of the Requiem Mass.

Alexander VEPRIK (1899-1958) Orchestral Works - BBC Ntl O Wales/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2019 MDG 9012133-6 SACD [74:51] [EJW] Superlative – music of great individuality, melodic impact and appeal, with inspired conducted and outstanding recording.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901) Simon Boccanegra - Luca Salsi (baritone) Marina Rebeka (soprano) Vienna State Opera Ch Konzertvereinigung, Vienna PO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2019 UNITEL EDITION Blu-ray 802704 [142 mins] [RC] A most rewarding addition to the catalogue.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La forza del destino - Maria Callas (soprano) Richard Tucker (tenor) Ch & O La Scala/Tullio Serafin rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO172 [3 CDs: 167:51] [RMo] Superseded by others which enjoy better casting across the board.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La forza del destino - Maria Callas (soprano), Richard Tucker (tenor), Ch & O La Scala, Milan/Tullio Serafin rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO 172 [3 CDs: 165:00] [GF] Notable for Serafin’s superior conducting and Callas’s searing and beautiful reading.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Nabucco - Amartuvshin Enkhbat (baritone) Saioa Hernández (soprano) Ch Teatro Regio di Parma, Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini/Francesco Ivan Ciampa rec. 2019 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57867 [149] [RJF] The musical side honours Verdi’s first great opera, but the staging is the most excruciating I have ever seen.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Due Foscari - Vladimir Stoyanov (baritone) Stefan Pop (tenor) Maria Katzarava (soprano) Ch Teatro Regio di Parma, Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini/Paolo Arrivabeni rec. 2019 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57865 [120 mins] [RJF] The simplistic staging fails to give colour or excitement to this performance.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Il Trovatore - Yosif Eyvazov (tenor) Anna Netrebko (soprano) Ch & O Arena di Verona/Pier Giorgio Morandi rec. 2019 C MAJOR Blu-ray 754704 [145 mins] [RJF] The spectacular venue and Zeffirelli’s dramatic staging lend added grandeur to Verdi’s creation, despite the limitations of Eyvazov.

Giovanni Battista VITALI (1632-1692) Varie Sonate Op. 11 - Italico Splendore rec. 2017 TACTUS TC632206 [60:50] [JV] Among the discs in this project that I have heard, this is definitely one of the best.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The 4 Seasons Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Les vępres siciliennes - O La Scintilla/Riccardo Minasi (violin) rec. 2019 PHILHARMONIA RECORDS PHR0112 [68:21] [DC] High-octane Vivaldi but a very odd coupling.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal - Set Svanholm (tenor) Astrid Varnay (soprano) Hans Hotter (bass) Ch & O Metropolitan Opera/Fritz Stiedry rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO171 [4 CDs: 264:04] [CC] Plenty to offer, particularly from the triumvirate of Svanholm, Hotter and Varnay.

Richard WAGNER (1813–1883) Das Rheingold - James Rutherford (bass-baritone) Katarzyna Kuncio (mezzo) Duisburger PO/Axel Kober rec. 2019 CAVI-MUSIC 8553504 [72:06 + 71:56] [GF] Significant shortcomings in some of the lead roles.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der fliegende Holländer - Thomas Gazheli (baritone) Marjorie Owens (soprano) Coro Ars Lyrica, Ch & O Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Fabio Luisi rec. 2019 C MAJOR 753904 Blu-ray [146 mins] [PCG] A fine performance, which adheres pretty closely to the composer’s directions.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Euryanthe - Jacquelyn Wagner (soprano), Norman Reinhardt (tenor), Arnold Schoenberg Ch, ORF Vienna RSO/Constantin Trinks rec. 2018 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0107V [167 mins] [MP] A superlative cast and thoughtful, illuminating production make for a revelatory experience of an opera long known for its insurmountable difficulties.

Johann Samuel WELTER (1650-1720) Gott sey uns gnädig - ecco la musica/Heike Hümmer & Matthias Sprinz rec. 2018 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77440 [73:37] [JV] A major contribution to our knowledge of German music of the late 17th century.

Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Der Zwerg - David Butt Philip (tenor), Elena Tsallagova (soprano), Ch & O Deutsche Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles rec. 2019 NAXOS DVD 2.110657 [95 mins] [SB] An impressive though problematic work, musically strong, in a contemporary staging.

Agnes ZIMMERMANN (1847-1925) Violin Sonatas - Mathilde Milwidsky (violin), Sam Haywood (piano) rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0541 [84:36] [DC] Three substantial and impressive sonatas by a contemporary of Brahms.

Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970) Complete Piano Music - Eduardo Fernández (piano) rec. 2019 BIS BIS2495 SACD [74.02] [GH] Early works that show Zimmermann’s development in fine performances.

Pedro Aguiar (guitar) Brazilian Guitar Music rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574069 [63:48] [GF] A must for guitar lovers and fans of Brazilian music.

Ambarabŕ sixty1strings rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN20694 [66:05] [CSe] Full of surprises and excitement: puffs of magic dust, mesmerising sonic sound-clouds, and hot sensuousness.

Amours, Toujours! Smoking Joséphine rec. 2019 NAĎVE V5469 [60:29] [RCh] Quality arrangements of familiar works in vigorous performances.

Arion: Voyage of a Slavic Soul Natalya Romaniw (soprano) Lada Valešová (piano) rec. 2019 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100131 [73:22] [GF] A disc that should appeal to song enthusiasts at large.

L’Arte di diminuire L’Estro d’Orfeo/Leonor de Lera rec. 2019 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72843 [69:13] [CSe] Fantasy and refinement come together on this disc.

Lydia Maria Bader (piano) Chinese Dreams rec. 2019 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38566 [63:08] [RCh] A welcome treasure trove of evocative piano music.

Sir John Barbirolli (conductor) 70th Birthday Concert - Hallé O rec. 1969 BARBIROLLI SOCIETY SJB1098-99 [48:57 + 79:01] [JQ] A fine tribute to a much-loved conductor.

Baroque Wind Die Freitagsakademie rec. 2019 WINTER & WINTER 910263-2 [59:49] [JV] Mostly fine performances, but the Zelenka is a bit too restrained.

Lisa Batiashvili (violin) City Lights - Berlin RSO; Georgian Philharmonic O/Nikoloz Rachveli  rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4838586 [65:55] [BW]  Not a great recording but a very enjoyable release which deserves to sell well.

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) The Beethoven Connection: Sonatas by Wölfl, Clementi, Hummel & Dussek rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20128 [82:29] [RC] If the repertoire appeals, you won't be disappointed by this fine CD.

Benaud Trio Trios by Buc, Edwards, Hindson & Stanhope rec. 2010 MELBA MR301139 [64:30] [NB] Offers listening pleasure from first to last.

Bluetongue Works by Westlake, Charlton, Houghton & Kats-Chernin - Guitar Trek rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.579060 [77:07] [GPu] This should interest lovers of the guitar, but will perhaps be too specialised for others.

British Violin Sonatas Vol. 3 Tasmin Little (violin), Piers Lane (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20133 [70:07] [MW] A glorious valedictory offering from a great artist.

Malin Byström (soprano) Orchestral Songs by Berg, Duparc & Rangström - Helsingborg SO/Stefan Solyom rec. 2018/19 SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD1168 [51:15] [PCG] Good performances, subpar booklet. 

Café Beethoven Elvira Bill (mezzo) Thomas Weissengruber (actor) Christopher Bruckman (piano) Chorwerk Ruhr/Florian Helgath rec. 2019 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV92006 [73:32] [RHa] A terrific concept for sure; cultured, musical performances of rare Beethoven in excellent sound.

Cantos Sagrados Ntl Youth Ch Scotland, Royal Scottish Ntl O/Christopher Bell rec. 2017/19 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD604 [64:06] [WH] A magnificent youth choir in an attractive programme.

Dmytro Choni (piano) Works by Debussy, Ginastera & Prokofiev rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574136 [66:23] [JWe] Keep your ears open for this young pianist.

Pierre Cochereau (organ) Raretés et inédits rec. 1954-1984 SOLSTICE SOCD365/84 [19 CDs: 22 hrs + DVD: 2 hrs] [SG] A remarkable tribute to a great artist.

A Concert in Paris Vestard Shimkus (piano) rec. 2019 ARTALINNA ATL-A023 [58:43] [RCh] Preludes in the grand style from an exciting pianist.

Continuo, addio! Duets, Sonatas & Caprices for violin & cello - Duo Tartini rec. 2018 MUSO MU-031 [75:32] [JV] An interesting and musically compelling journey.

Di corte in corte Humanism in Music - Anonima Frottolisti rec. 2019 TACTUS TC400007 [76.32] [GH] The pieces reflect the wide variety of styles found in the courts of the period.

Couples in Love and Music Sabina Bisholt (soprano) Bengt-Ĺke Lundin (piano) rec. 2019 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD192 [60:57] [GF] Anyone interested in the byways of art songs should find a lot of interest here.

Divertimenti Viennesi Works by Dittersdorf, Vaňhal & Haydn - Musica Elegantia/Matteo Cicchitti rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96127 [54.02 + 34.13] [MW] Divertimentos are supposed to entertain and delight – and in these performances, they certainly do.

French Piano Rarities Works by Debussy, Messiaen, Boulez & Ravel - Ralph van Raat (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573894 [77:41] [JF] Often incredibly exciting and beautiful.

Elinor Frey (cello) Guided by Voices rec. 2018 ANALEKTA AN29162 [77:40] [GPu] A pioneering ‘cross-breeding’ between new composers and an old instrument, which has produced some consistently interesting music.

Karina Gauvin (soprano) Nuits Blanches: Opera Arias at the Court of Russia in the 18th Century - Pacific Baroque O/Alexander Weimann (fortepiano) rec. 2019 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22791 [57:04] [GF] Gauvin is simply superb.

Friedrich Gulda (piano) Concertos by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven & Strauss rec. 1959-62 SWR CLASSIC SWR19088CD [3 CDs: 158:35] Much valuable music-making in this set.

Sir Hamilton Harty (conductor) Music of the British Isles London PO & Hallé O rec. 1926-35 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC592 [74:52] [PCG] Mostly of historical interest, but Harty’s Enigma Variations is a real discovery.

History of the Salon Vaughan Jones (violin), Marcus Price (piano) rec. 2019 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR80 [82:50] [JW] You don’t have to bathe in the lulling waters of nostalgia to enjoy this disc.

Katherine Hunka (violin) Works by Piazzolla, Schnittke & Schubert - Irish CO rec. 2016/19 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100130 [58:02] [CSe] ‘Nuevo tango’ meets neoclassical bite with dynamism and style.

Impromptus, Songs and Consolations Works by Liszt & Schubert - Viacheslav Apostel-Pankratowsky (piano) rec. 2018/19 GENUIN GEN20556 [75:12] [DD] A promising debut recital and an interesting selection of pieces.

In the Wake of the Great War Works by Bax, Bridge, Delius & Vaughan Williams - Benjamin Martin (piano) rec. 2006-09 MELBA PANTHEON MR301146 [62:08] [JF] Played to perfection with huge technical accomplishment and a great sympathetic understanding of each piece. 

Invitation au Voyage Don Quixote & French Songs - Giorgos Kanaris (baritone) Thomas Wise (piano) rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19068 [67:36] [WH] An attractive programme of French song.

Rudolf Kerer (piano) Concertos & Sonatas rec. 1961-84 DOREMI DHR-8086-90 [5 CDs: 380:24] [RCh] A treasure trove from an unfamiliar Russian master.

Jonas Khalil (guitar) Kharacter rec. 2019 HANSSLER CLASSIC HC20004 [41:22] [ZT] Superior playing, and a refreshingly different programme.

LA Phil 100 Centennial Birthday Gala - Zubin Mehta, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2019 C MAJOR 753504 Blu-ray [137 mins] [LW] A hugely enjoyable celebration.

Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia Cappella Romana/Alexander Lingas rec. 2016 CAPPELLA ROMANA CR420 [CD: 76:50 & Blu-ray: 80 mins] [JQ] I’ve never experienced a disc like this but it’s a real ear-opener and a formidable achievement.

Willem Mengelberg (conductor) Columbia Concertgebouw Recordings Vol. 1 rec. 1926-31 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC595 [2 CDs: 153:24] [PSt] Some performances which are simply superb, and none that are without interest.

Men’s Songs, Women’s Voices Georgine Resick (soprano) Warren Jones (piano) rec. 1997 BRIDGE 9152 [70:08] [GPu] A thoughtfully planned and inventive programme of songs.

Nachtstücke Duo Amaris rec. 2019 PASCHEN RECORDS PR200060 [52:50] [ZT] A thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and luminous experience.

New England Trios Works by Piston, Bernstein and Perera - Joel Pitchon (violin), Marie-Volcy Pelletier (cello), Yu-Mei Wei (piano) rec. 2019 BRIDGE 9530 [66:38] [CSe] An intriguing, but somewhat strange disc, worth purchasing for Piston’s youthful Trio and Perera’s mournful song of the ‘White Whale’.

Of Being Works by Lu, Mochizuki & Emily Praetorius - Ning Yu (piano) NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS FCR242 [48:49] [DC] Vibrant and imaginative contemporary piano music.

Marlis Petersen (soprano) Dimensionen Innenwelt - Stephan Matthias Lademann (piano) rec. 2019 SOLO MUSICA SM316 [65:01] [MC] I feel a profound admiration for Petersen at having created such a compelling album.

Asier Polo (cello) Concertos by Boccherini, Vivaldi & Haydn - O Barroca de Sevilla rec. 2019 IBS CLASSICAL IBS52020 [62:58] [DJB] Soloist and orchestra dazzle in all four works.

Rosa Mystica Musical Portraits of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Ch/Paul Spicer rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0617 [62:45] [JQ] A discerning and interesting programme, stylishly delivered. 

Russian Colours Camerata Tchaikovsky/Yuri Zhislin rec. 2019 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100136 [63:27] [NB] An undemanding programme played with skill and poise.

Victor Schiøler (piano) The Great Danish Pianist Vol. 5 rec. 1925-1962 DANACORD DACOCD872-73 [77:49 + 77:48] [JW] Far showier famous performers have proved far less musical and convincing.

Ekaterina Siurina (soprano) Amour éternel - Kaunas City SO/Constantine Orbelian rec. 2019 DELOS DE3583 [76:11] [MC] A most rewarding album.

Sleeper’s Prayer Ch Merton College Oxford/Benjamin Nicholas (organ) Merton Brass rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34232 [63:35] [MR] A programme of modern American sacred music, convincingly sung under the ever-alert directorship of Benjamin Nicholas.

Soir Paďen Anna Reinhold (mezzo) Emmanuel Olivier (piano) Sabine Devieilhe (soprano) Alexis Kossenko, Magali Mosnier (flute) rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP227 [68.00] [MC] A highly appealing collection.

Grigory Sokolov (piano) Works by Beethoven, Brahms & Mozart rec. 2017-2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4836570 [CD: 47:52 + 79:03; DVD: 139 mins] [SG] Inspirational performances, created on the wing.

Leopold Stokowski (conductor) Symphonies by Hindemith, Hovhaness & Stravinsky - NBC SO rec. 1942/43 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC587 [76:42] [SV] Three historically important symphonies in three different styles.

They that in ships unto the sea down go Music for the Mayflower - Passamezzo rec. 2019 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10263 [61.23] [GH] An attractive and fascinating programme.

Other Reviews

Music in the Landscape by Em Marshall publ. 2011 Robert Hale [IL] Adds considerably to our fuller appreciation and understanding of British music.

Strings for Peace Sharon Isbin (guitar) Amit Kavthekar (tabla) Amjad Ali Khan, Ayan Ali Bangash, Amaan Ali Bangash (sarod) rec. 2019 ZOHO ZM202004 [50:47] [GPu] This music reminds one of possibilities which the modern world seems all too eager to ignore or destroy.

Articles and Notices

Verdi's Macbeth - a survey by Ralph Moore

The Life and Music of Rutland Boughton by Alan Senior

We’ll be back! The CBSO Weathering the Covid-19 Storm by John Quinn

Looking at Reizenstein's Oboe Sonatina by John France

Piano Trio Discography: Ludwig van Beethoven - Variations, Arrangements & Fragments

Strauss's Arabella - a survey by Ralph Moore

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