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A MusicWeb Survey of Our Favorite Neglected Recordings

Edited by Mike Parr

In April of 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, physical isolation was keeping us all inside our residences. The idea was born to survey our reviewers about their favorite neglected recordings. My colleagues enthusiastically wrote in with their suggestions to be shared with our MusicWeb readers. Among the list of recordings you will find some that have never been released in any digital format. There are some recordings that have been overlooked or not well liked by critics but that we feel deserve more attention than they have received. In some cases the original label has ceased operations and the continued existence of the master tapes is questionable. In each entry you will find my note at the end of the listing indicating the current status of the release. 

About Sound Formats

For many of these recordings the CDs are no longer available, although used copies are listed on Amazon and other commercial sites. Most of them are available for streaming via a web music service. The Naxos streaming service seems to have the most complete classical catalogue of all of the companies that are out there. I have not been able to look extensively into I-tunes, Spotify, or E-Music. They may have albums available that Naxos doesn’t. For digital downloads the Presto Classical website seems to have the most extensive catalogue for purchasing both MP3 and the higher resolution FLAC files. These FLAC files can be played directly according to your equipment’s capabilities or they can be converted into CDs with virtually no loss of data. Some labels are now offering very High Resolution FLAC files at 96 kHz or 192 kHz for an experience that is pretty much what the musicians experienced in the recording studio. These files must be played using a USB compatible component. I recently purchased Leonard Bernstein’s 1965 recording for Sony/CBS of Haydn’s Creation at 192 kHz. I can happily report that the sound was quite a revelation and truly worth the purchase. It is important to note when using a web streaming service or purchasing digital downloads that the music labels and the performers are receiving the royalties that they are entitled to. In very rare cases where the recordings are no longer available in any format and the label is defunct I was able to locate a few of them which someone has uploaded on You Tube. I have provided links to these so that you can hear them if you wish.

It is the earnest hope of all of us that the recording companies will dust off the masters of the albums we suggest here and make them available again on CD, MP3, FLAC, and streaming formats to music lovers around the world to enjoy once more.

Mike Parr

Stephen Barber

 

Franck_Quartet_4768463.jpg César FRANCK (1822-1890)
String Quartet in D major (1889) [47:44]
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) [29:35]
Fitzwilliam Quartet: (Christopher Rowland, Jonathan Sparey (violins); Alan George (viola); Ioan Davies (cello)); Pierre Amoyal (violin); Pascal Rogé (piano)
rec. The Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, October 1978 (Quartet) ADD; Barbirolli Hall, Chorleywood, May 1994  (Sonata)
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 8463 CD [77:23] 

 

 

The Franck string quartet is a desert island work for me and this is one of the best recordings of it. Along with their Shostakovich cycle, it is the finest achievement of the original Fitzwilliam quartet. The sonata is a suitable coupling, but it is the quartet which makes this so special.

Read William Kreindler’s MusicWeb review here

 

Dunbarton Oaks.jpgIgor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Concerto in E flat ‘Dumbarton Oaks’; Concerto in D for strings; Danses Concertantes; Cantata on Old English texts
Patricia Kern, (mezzo-soprano); Alexander Young (tenor);
The St Anthony Singers; English Chamber Orchestra/Colin Davis
Recorded 1962
Decca 425 622-2 CD [71:07]

 

 

Colin Davis had a real flair for Stravinsky’s neoclassical period, as is shown by his classic recording of Oedipus Rex. Here we have wonderfully crisp and biting performances of the three concerto grosso-style works, together with a really haunting and powerful one of the strange introverted Cantata, obviously suggested by the example of Britten’s Serenade. It’s a shame that this has not been reissued more recently.

Editor’s Note: This CD is currently unavailable. It is available for streaming via the Naxos website.

 

Matthias.jpgWilliam MATHIAS (1934-1992)
Symphony No. 3; Helios; Requiescat; Oboe Concerto
David Cowley (oboe), BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra/Grant Llewellyn
rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 11 November 1991; 11 February 1992
Nimbus CD NI 5343 [72:22]


 

I was astonished when I first heard the symphony here and immediately considered it a masterpiece. I am amazed it hasn’t had many more performances. Those who like the symphonies of Rawsthorne or Tippett would enjoy it. It has driving rhythms, memorable themes and is very exciting. While the other pieces are good, the symphony is arguably Mathias’ masterpiece.

Read Rob Barnett’s MusicWeb review here

Editor’s Note: This CD remains available. It is also available for digital download and for streaming via the Naxos site.

 

  les noces.jpg

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Les noces (1917 and 1919 versions); Chant du Rossignol;
Symphonies of wind instruments (1947 version)
Gregg Smith Singers, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble (Les noces), Columbia Symphony Orchestra (other works) cond. Robert Craft
Recorded 1974
Sony 8887502616 [60:00]

 

Les noces had a long and complicated gestation, in the course of which Stravinsky tried out different instrumentations. The 1917 version uses a chamber ensemble; the 1919 one, of which only two scenes were completed, experimented with a strange ensemble including two cimbalons and a pianola. Although there have been other recordings of these versions, this one by Craft, coupling the two, has its own authority.

Editor’s Note: This is currently only available in the 56-CD Igor Stravinsky: The Complete Album Collection; it has never been issued as a single CD.

Nick Barnard

 

Lili Boulanger: Faust et Helene/ Pour Les Funerailles d'un
        Soldat - Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra Lili BOULANGER  ( 1893-1918)
Faust et Hélène (1913);
Pour les funerailles d'un soldat (1912-13)
André Mallabrera (tenor); Lyne Dourian (mezzo)
Choeur et L'Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte Carlo/Igor Markevitch
Released 1977, recording date unknown
FESTIVAL C LP FC 441 [36:20]

 

 

Igor Markevitch conducting L'Orchestre National de l'Opera de Monte Carlo in Faust et Hélène. This is by far the best performance of this great piece I have heard.  The recording is murky and the orchestra distinctly fallible BUT Markevitch has a real feel for Boulanger's music and the role of Faust is sung by Andre Mallabrera to golden-voiced perfection. Helene, sung by Lyne Dourian, is less of a joy!

Editor’s Note: While this performance is not available on CD, Digital Download or via steaming services, those who are curious to investigate Faust et Hélène from this LP can find it on You Tube here. There are no links currently available for  Pour les funerailles d'un soldat.

 

witch boy-2.jpgJacques IBERT ( 1890 – 1962)
Divertissement (1930)
Leonard SALZEDO (1921 – 2000)
The Witch Boy ballet 1956 [19:58]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Salzedo
Released in 1971, rec. date unknown
CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE LP CFP 179

 

One half of an old CFP LP.  Salzedo has been very under-represented in the catalogue - just a couple of discs of string quartets.  The Witch Boy is a greatly enjoyable ballet suite, played with real energy by the LPO under the conductor's baton.  The coupling of the Ibert Divertissement is less 'rare' but this performance was unusual at the time for being played by a very small/theatre ensemble and is another cracking performance.  Generally, I'd love to hear more Salzedo!

Editor’s Note: While this performance is not available on CD, Digital Download or via steaming services, those who are curious to investigate The Witch Boy from this LP can find it on You Tube here. There are no links currently available for Divertissement.

 

Rob Barnett

 

 

Elgar_piano_concerto.jpgSir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Piano Concerto (unfinished-sketches, drafts and recordings of his Piano Concerto realised for performance by Robert Walker)
Suite of Four Edward Elgar Songs (transcribed for orchestra by Haydn Wood
So Many True Princesses (orch: Anthony Payne) (1932)
Spanish Serenade, op. 23 (1892)
The Immortal Legions (from ‘Pageant of Empire’) (1924)
Anthony COLLINS (1893-1963)
Elegy in Memory of Edward Elgar
David Owen Norris (piano);
BBC Singers; BBC Concert Orchestra/David Lloyd-Jones

Recorded: Studio 1, Abbey Road, London, 18 and 19 October 2004.
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7148 [74:40]

The ravishingly lilting and indelibly memorable Spanish Serenade is the choice item here. The tambourine provides exotic atmosphere in this truly lovely troubadour song. It is a perfect piece which, incongruously for its Iberian claims, taps into the perpetual Nordic summer-nights and Brahms’ vocal ensemble Volkslieder; all done with Mendelssohnian delicacy. It would be a natural for repeat playings on Classic FM.

Read Rob Barnett’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD is no longer available but it is available as a digital download via I-Tunes.

 

Ivanov.jpgJanis IVANOVS (1906-1983)
Violin Concerto (1951)
on Baltic Violin Concertos: by Ivanovs, Sibelius and Sallinen Valdis Zarins (Violin); Latvian National Symphony Orchestra /Vassily Sinaisky
CAMPION CAMEO - CAMEO CD 2004

 

 

 

This romantic virtuoso concerto is written in language everyone will recognise. The impact of this music is immediate and winning. The first movement drives forward with a busy moto perpetuo figure with a Sibelian accent. I defy you not to smile as the solo violin takes to flight again at 11:00. The second movement is the gem of the whole work. The movement ends with the violin high in the stratosphere. In the final movement, the violin is soon in full flight.

Read Rob Barnett’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD is currently still available.

 

Lee Denham

 

Klemperer.jpgRichard STRAUSS (1864-1945)
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op.28 [15.04]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, February-March 1960
EMI CLASSICS 2484682 (now Warner Classics)

 

 

I'm not sure if the name Otto Klemperer is necessarily one I'd first associate with Richard Strauss - however once again I was proved wrong with this disc, tucked away amongst several others of more obvious Klemperer territory of bleeding chunks of Wagnerian operas (review). However, I've listened to the Richard Strauss disc several times now - a bit of a mixed bag, I have to say. Don Juan opens the disc and lumbers in with all the testosterone of a lothario in an electric mobility scooter; disappointing. Salomé's Dance of the Seven Veils starts in similar fashion, but actually gets considerably better as it progresses. Likewise, I wouldn't have thought Tod und Verklärung would be Klemp's cup of tea, but he makes a good job of it, especially the section immediately after the "death" with textures nicely clarified, where others sound muddy. The final climax, taken a little faster than usual, was magnificent in its grandeur as well - I was impressed, although not enough for it to displace Szell/Cleveland on CBS Sony or Karajan/BPO (DG Dig) at the top of my list. Even more surprising was Till Eulenspiegel - here the Philharmonia woodwind section has a riotous time, sardonic and sarcastic with Klemperer revealing a gruff humour. Till isn't my favourite Strauss work, but with Klemperer conducting it is probably up there with Solti/Chicago as my preferred versions. How it always gets overlooked just leaves me dumbfounded!

 Read Paul Corfield Godfrey’s  MusicWeb review here of the 5-disc set.
Editor’s note: The Strauss work remains available as part of a 5-disc anthology of Klemperer’s Wagner and Strauss recordings. It is also available for digital download and streaming from the Naxos site.

 

Markevitch.jpg
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 [23:30]
Orchestre Lamoureux/Igor Markevitch
rec. 1959 Paris
DECCA 464 090 2 & DG 4988005700858

In honour of Beethoven’s special year, I nominate this little-remembered recording of the iconic Fifth Symphony, originally issued on a single LP on Philips with the Eighth, then as part of a set of other Beethoven symphonies and overtures on DG and now on Decca CD (here). I first discovered it on YouTube when someone decided it was THE reference recording! Really? Not Kleiber's, Furtwängler's, Karajan's or the other usual suspects? A recording from a little-known Parisian orchestra under a Russian conductor, shorn of all its repeats in 1950's sound?! Well, no - the orchestra is not quite the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic. Nor will you find anything especially historically-informed here either. Instead, if it is a shot of white-hot Beethoven in the arm to knock your senses sideways that you need, then look further. Of course, one man's reference is another's rubbish - but I for one am very glad I stumbled across Markevitch's  recording of the C Minor in the most unlikely of circumstances. Well worth you tracking it down.

 Editor’s Note: This has been available as a single on Decca and as part of a 4-disc set on DG. Neither release is currently in the catalogue.

 

Paul Corfield Godfrey

Malcolm WILLIAMSON
The Happy Prince (1965)
Pauline Stevens; April Cantelo; Sheila Rex; Maureen Lehane; Guildhall Chamber Choir; ensemble/Marcus Dods
ARGO ZNF 5 [LP, 1965]

This one-act 'children's opera' must stand as one of the best settings of Oscar Wilde in the operatic repertory, and I have for years now been taking every available opportunity to lament the fact that the original LP recording has never made it onto CD. The end of the opera, skirting sentimentality by the skin of its teeth, is one of the most moving conclusions to any British stage work written in the twentieth century; and it is well served here by a cast of adult singers who can invest Wilde's text with all the feeling it demands. Pauline Stevens in particular is heart-breaking as the statue who comes to realise the weight of the world's misery, and the fact that the work was dedicated to her gives this recording an additional historical importance. The instrumental ensemble includes the composer and Richard Rodney Bennett on piano duet, with Neville Marriner as lead violin.

And while we're at it, how about a release of Williamson's other 'children's opera' Julius Caesar Jones written a year later and released by Argo at around the same time and featuring some of the same performers?

Amazon offer one solitary second-hand vinyl copy of The Happy Prince at a price of £36. There were at the time of writing no available copies of Julius Caesar Jones at all.

Rutland BOUGHTON
Symphony No 2 (1927) Deirdre
Symphony No 3 (1939)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Edward Downes
BBC RADIO CLASSICS 15656 9189-2 [CD, 1997]

Boughton's second symphony was unpublished when Downes gave this performance in the 1980s, but its Celtic atmosphere and subject place the score in the same class as Brian's Sixth Symphony (also based on the same legend). For this commercial CD release BBC Radio Classics very sensibly coupled the recording with Downes's version of the Elgarian Third Symphony, which with its sense of romantic ardour makes a stronger impression here than in the rival Hyperion disc conducted by Vernon Handley. The CD survived in the catalogue for a very short time, not long enough to establish itself; and this remains the solitary recording that Deirdre has ever received. It should be revived. And now that Stanford's operas are finally making a comeback, what about the many totally neglected works of Boughton in the same vein, beginning with Alcestis and moving on to the King Arthur cycle?

And also while we're at it, the BBC also need to resurrect Downes's coupling of two of the Bax Northern Ballads, briefly available on BBC Radio Classics and also recorded with the BBC Philharmonic, in performances that challenge all rivals, coupled with Tintagel and Bantock's Pagan Symphony. Better still, they should add the first of the Northern Ballads (given at the same concert) to complete the set.

Amazon list available copies of the Bax disc at reasonable prices, but the Boughton symphonies are unavailable at rates below £21 - around three times the new price when originally released.

Frederick DELIUS
A Mass of Life (1908)
Kiri te Kanawa; Pamela Bowden; Ronald Dowd; John Shirley-Quirk; BBC Chorus, Choral Society and Symphony Orchestra/Norman del Mar
INTAGLIO INCD 702 [2 CDs, 1992]

This recording derives from a live 1971 BBC broadcast; it was issued as part of the first batch of CD recordings on the Intaglio label, but disappeared after only a few months presumably because of copyright reasons. In terms of sound it roundly trounces Beecham's 1953 recording, and in terms of performance it stands comparison with its successors. Norman del Mar conducts a reading of transcendent passion, John Shirley-Quirk is ideal as Zarathustra, and the young Kiri te Kanawa crowns the ensemble magnificently. Someone needs to get their hands on the tape, clear up the copyright issues, and reissue the recording. (They need not trouble themselves unduly about the coupled Delius Requiem, conducted by Groves in Liverpool; Heather Harper is very good but to be heard in the same part to better advantage elsewhere, while Thomas Hemsley's dry tone is done no favours by close microphone observation.)

And again while we're at it, what has happened to Norman del Mar's other Delius recordings in the shape of his unique accounts of the operas Irmelin and The Magic Fountain, once available on CD sets from BBC Artium but long vanished?

Amazon show quite a few copies of the Mass of Life left in stock at around double its original price; but second-hand copies of the operas (where there are no alternatives recordings) are priced at figures ranging up to an eye-watering £195.


 

Stephen Greenbank

 

bach.jpg

Johan Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin 
Masuko Ushioda (violin)
(EMI) Catalogue number unavailable

Masuko Ushioda recorded the cycle twice. The one that I'm interested in was recorded in 1971-2 and is her first traversal. It was difficult and extremely expensive to obtain in the UK. She later recorded a cycle in the 1990s - on the Fontec label. I once had the opportunity to hear it, and very fine it is. Ushioda commands beauty of tone, flawless technique and immaculate intonation. She has an intelligent grasp of the architecture and structure of these works and her clarity of contrapuntal strands in the fugues is impressive. The recording was made in an agreeable acoustic - I don't know where - and  has a warmth and intimacy with just the right degree of reverberation.

Editor’s Note: I have been unable to locate any further information on this recording other than the item number for Amazon. I was not able to track down a catalogue number for the disc.

 

Manfred GURLITT (1890-1972)
Violin Concerto in F major
Shigeo Watanabe (violin)
Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra/ Manfred Gurlitt
rec. 11 February1955, Hibiya Public Hall, Tokyo
World Premiere Recording
Mono
MITTENWALD MTWD 99025 [37:21]

Shigeo Watanabe (1941-1999) made his Japanese debut aged seven in 1948. In 1954, Jascha Heifetz who was visiting Japan, heard the young violinist and was very impressed. He arranged for him to study with Ivan Galamian at the Julliard School of Music, New York City. The whole thing had disastrous consequences. He couldn't speak English and found himself ostracized. He returned to Japan, became ill and never played the violin again. He made a number of fine recordings as a teenager in the early 1950s. I've collected several over the years. He commanded a near-perfect technique, fabulous tone and maturity of expression.

This is a live concert recording on the obscure Japanese Mittenwald label. Available on Amazon but expensive when you add on import duty. I managed to hear it on Youtube several years ago, but it has since been removed.

 

 

Michael Greenhalgh

 

Beethoven_Weingartner_PASC399.jpg
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67 (1808) [27:14]
Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68 Pastoral (1808) [33:38]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Felix Weingartner
rec. 18-19 January 1927 (op. 68), 28-29 January 1927 (op. 67), Scala Theatre, London.
The Columbia Beethoven Centennial Series – Volume 3
PRISTINE AUDIO PASC399 [60:55]

Why bother about a 1927 recording of the ‘Pastoral’, which is a standard work? Because something about the atmosphere and direction and the sheer joy in the playing this creates will illuminate your appreciation of the work. Having a small body of strings aids the transparency of the orchestration. Everything is finely balanced: high points are clear but nothing is overstated, yet the full arrival of the storm is still a shock. Weingartner manages to be both relaxed, where needed, and seamless in progression so you do feel you have experienced the wood as well as the clear detail of the trees. Of course, for fuller sonority you need more modern recordings, but they might not give you as rounded satisfaction.

Read Michael Greenhalgh’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: Currently this is available on CD and for digital download in multiple formats via the Pristine Audio website  here.

 

Schubert_quartet_NI5962.jpg
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

String Quartet No, 14 in D minor, D810, "Death and the Maiden" (1824) [43:41]
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) 
String Quartet No. 3 in E flat minor, op. 30 (1876) [38:25]
Kopelman Quartet
rec. live, 25 August 2003, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival, DDD
NIMBUS NI5962 [43:41 + 38:25]

 

Why bother about a concert recording of a standard work? The BBC one here is OK, but I’m sure I could get more vivid sound and sometimes more beautiful, or maybe slick, playing in a studio account. What comes here is far more valuable: real tension, immediacy, emotion. You can’t fake these: they are either there in the spontaneity of the performance or embarrassing in their contrived nature. Not here. There’s a roller-coaster feel as you get caught up in the range of emotions: awe, longing, desolation, contentment, despair all there. And you share these with the players.

Read Michael Greenhalgh’s MusicWeb review here.

 Editor’s Note: These CD’s are currently still available. They are also available as digital downloads and streaming from the Naxos site.

 

Gary Higginson

 

MUSICA_RESERVATA_FRENCH+COURT+MUSIC+OF+THE+THIRTEENTH+CENTURY-540219.jpg

French Court Music of the 13th Century
Musica Reservata
rec. 1967
DELYSE RECORDING COMPANY DS 3201

 

To Entertain a King.jpg

To Entertain a King 
Musica Reservata with the Purcell Consort of Voices
rec. c.1968
ARGO ZRG 566

 

Colombus.jpg

 Music from the Time of Christopher Columbus
Musica Reservata
rec.c.1967
PHILIPS  SAL 3697

 

 

These were iconic recordings of Musica Reservata . They were even controversial at the time they were released with the extraordinary Janita Norman as a soloist and such greats as Geoffrey Shaw and Grayston Burgess involved.  

Prior to the mid-60’s medieval and renaissance music had been performed by recitalists, even opera singers, and had been put into anthology records like ‘The History of Music in Sound’. Musica Reservata under Michael Morrow and John Beckett believed that the singers should imitate rather rough folk singers or the more ethnic vocal qualities found in eastern Europe very open and front of the mouth. They also took note of the Chaucer’s Wife of Bath who sang in the fashion of the day ‘through her nose’, producing, obviously, a nasal quality. 

But not everyone appreciated the sound; indeed, David Munro who was in the recording session for Landini’s ‘Questa fanciulla amor’ hated what he had heard from the soprano Janita Norman and when he recorded it six years later with his own group, it came out so very differently. Very little medieval music sounds like these recordings now. 

Editor’s Note: I am unable to find a current CD release for these recordings; however, a search on You Tube using the term “Musica Reservata” reveals that a huge number of their recordings are available for streaming there, including the three mentioned by Gary. Musica Reservata Albums on YouTube.

 

Des Hutchinson

 

Tortelier 1.jpg  
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)

Cello Concerto in A major, Wq 170/H430 (1750)
Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto in D major, Hob. VIIb/2 (1783)
London Chamber Orchestra / Paul Tortelier (cello & director)
Rec. 5 - 6 May, 1970, Christ Church, Chelsea
UNICORN  UNS 207 [50:00]

My nomination is for an LP I have which, as far I'm aware, has never been released on CD.  I approached a label (Regis, I think) a few years ago to sound them out about it - they initially showed some interest, but then I heard nothing more. Obviously I have no attachment to the current vinyl revival!

 It's a 1970 Unicorn recording of Paul Tortelier as soloist & director of the London Chamber Orchestra in the cello concertos of Haydn (in D) and CPE Bach (in A).  Critical reception at the time was lukewarm, but then again the English music press was often rather sniffy about Tortelier.  I find that it has its moments, both in performance and recording, as do friends of mine.  In fact, an audio club I once belonged to used the third movement of the Bach concerto for demonstration and speaker comparisons.  The Penguin Guide infers Tortelier's playing is restrained and lacks ripeness, but I find quite the opposite, which is why I'm so fond of this recording.

 Editor’s Note: I can find no further release of this recording

William Kreindler

 

Louis VIERNE (1870-1937)
Mass in C-sharp minor
Marche Triomphale
Ave verum
Two Pieces for Organ
M. Lagache (organ); M. Guyard (organ); Brass septet;
Ensemble Contrepoint; J. G. Gaussens (conductor).
Recorded in 1970 at the Church of St. Merry, Paris.
RCA 644 557

 

This LP was released on French RCA for the Vierne Centennial in 1970. I do not believe it has been seen since. What makes it special is the perfect combination of music, venue and performance. Vierne has rarely, if ever, been so well presented.

Margarida Mota-Bull

 

rossini.jpgGioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Matilde di Shabran (1821-22)
Annick Massis, Juan Diego Flórez; Prague Chamber Choir; Orquestra Sinfónica de Galicia / Riccardo Frizza; rec. live August 2004, Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro, Italy
DECCA 475 7688 [3 CDs: 68.23+52.56+67.36]

 

 

 

This is the role (Corradino) that made Juan Diego Flórez famous at the age of 23 when in 1996 at the Rossini Opera Festival, in Pesaro, he had to replace the scheduled Bruce Ford at the last minute. In this recording he reprises the part and gives a stunning performance. He was at the peak of his powers when the CD was recorded and this is a rarely heard or staged work by Rossini. Bel Canto at its very best.

Read Robert J. Farr’s MusicWeb review here of the CD.
Seen & Heard review of the Pesaro and Royal Opera House production of this work

 Editor’s Note: The CDs are not currently available but digital downloads are. It is also available for streaming via the Naxos site.

 

Gomes.jpgAntônio Carlos GOMES (1836-1896)
Il Guarany (1870)
Plácido Domingo, Verónica Villarroel, Carlos Álvarez; Chor & Extrachor der Oper der Stadt Bonn; Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn / John Neschling;
rec. live June 1994, Oper der Stadt Bonn, Germany –
SONY CLASSICAL  88985334982

 

 

This is a work close to my heart because I love and studied the novel O Guarani by Brazilian author José de Alencar on which it is based. Additionally, Gomes has been largely forgotten (to my mind unjustly) outside of his home country of Brazil, but he was a celebrated composer in his day, admired even by none less than Giuseppe Verdi. Gomes’s music has dramatic power and the score of Il Guarany is full of beautiful and memorable moments. This recording is a very good one and deserves to be listened to again and again.

 Editor’s Note: The CDs are not currently available but digital downloads, including the booklet are. It is also available for streaming via the Naxos site.

 

donizetti.jpg
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal (1837)
Vesselina Kasarova, Giuseppe Filianoti, Alastair Miles, Simon
Keenlyside, Carmelo Corrado Caruso;
Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden / Mark Elder;

rec. Royal Opera House, London, 10, 13 September 2005; Ballet Music: 11 September 2005, Cadogan Hall, London.
OPERA RARA ORC33 [3 CDs: 61.56 + 69.58 + 44.36] 

The singing is not all first class but this is a rarely presented work by Donizetti and worthy of having a detailed look at. Being Portuguese and very interested in history in general and of Portugal in particular, I was appalled at the complete lack of historical fact in the libretto (though it deals with real historical figures). However, most people will not know the history anyway and there is much to enjoy in Donizetti’s music.

Read Robert J. Farr’s MusicWeb review here of the CDs.
Seen and Heard review of the live concert performance.

 Editor’s Note:  These CDs are no longer currently available. The recording is available for digital download.

 

Richard Masters

 

seidel.jpg
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD

Much Ado About Nothing -Suite
Toscha Seidlel (violin)
"Complete RCA Victor Recordings 1938-1941"
From: Ten More Great Violinists of the Twentieth Century
Salvatore Accardo, Adolf Busch, Zino Francescatti, Bronislaw Huberman, Ginette Neveu, Ruggiero Ricci, Aaron Rosand, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Toscha Seidel, Oscar Shumsky
BIDDULPH  LAB8102 (10 CDs)

 

This is from a Seidel recital disc that was only briefly in print. I think it's one of the most beautiful recordings ever made!
Read Ian Lace’s
MusicWeb review here.

 Editor’s Note: The original CD that Richard mentions is not currently available. The recordings are currently available as part of a Biddulph 10-disc set. Those who want to investigate these historic recordings can also find them on YouTube uploaded from their original acetate recordings. 

 

Ralph Moore

 

denon.jpg
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto No. 5 ‘Emperor’ [38:40]
Hanae Nakajima (piano)
Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra/Zsolt Deaky/Räto Tschupp?
rec.1969? Released 1970 (Deacon) and 1973 (Windmill)
DEACON DEA 1007 (LP); WINDMILL WMD 173 (LP)
ESSENTIAL MEDIA GROUP EMG Classical 894231557224

DENON CD 19591 [169:00]

 

Over forty-five years ago I bought for 57p this recording on LP of Beethoven's Emperor Piano Concerto on the budget Windmill label and was enchanted by it. I well remember the sleeve cover featuring a white bust of Beethoven against a purple background (as above) and was subsequently delighted but not surprised to discover that Joseph Cooper, pianist and "TV personality" host of the classical music quiz, Face the Music - the kind of "highbrow" entertainment that once featured on BBC2 - had recommended it as his favourite choice of recording on the BBC Radio 3 programme Building a Library. I parted company with the LP long ago and then regretted it, as I had such fond memories of the dynamism and subtlety of the playing.

 I was thrilled to be able to find this available as a made-to-order CD and to rediscover its virtues. It is a wonderful performance, subtle and energised. The sound is excellent for its vintage: somewhat harsh and wiry but clear and full enough.

 For me, this is like rediscovering an old friend after many years and most punters buying this will, like me, have fond memories of it that they want to recapture, but it is certainly a performance to please the newcomer, too.

 Editor’s Note: This recording does not appear to be currently available on CD however, a digital download of the Denon’s release of Nakajima’s complete Beethoven concertos is available for a bargain price.


Len Mullenger

 

holst.jpg
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Egdon Heath, A Homage to Thomas Hardy, Op. 47
London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Sir Adrian Boult
rec. March 1961, Kingsway Hall, London [12:49]
DECCA 4701912

 

 

I have never heard Egdon Heath in a live concert performance and it only lasts 13 minutes so tends to be shoved on a CD as a filler. My copy is an addendum to the Decca recording of The Planets (LPO  / Solti Decca 425192-2). It is currently part of the 2-CD British Music Collection – Gustav Holst Decca 4701912

I have heard a number of recordings of this but none so magically evokes the desolation of an evening on the moors as the sun goes down and the mysterious darkness turns into something more frightening.

 Editor’s Note: Currently this is available on CD via the Presto Classical website link here. It is listed as a “Presto CD” which means that they are licensed to create copies to sell. It is also available as a digital download and for streaming via the Naxos site.

 

 
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Ein Heldenleben, op. 40 (1897-1898)
London Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Ludwig
rec. June 1959, Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London.
EVEREST SDBR 3038 [42:25]

 

 

 

 

I started buying LPs in the late 50s so I am fondly attached to those versions. I am delighted that they are still around today on CD or perhaps just a download. Everest used a recording method that involved magnetic film rather than tape and the results seemed spectacular at the time and still sound good today. I had never heard of Leopold Ludwig previously - or since! Still, he turned out a spectacular performance that still gives me pleasure today. Note the warning in Rob Maynard’s review that you need to increase the volume level when playing this!

Read Rob Maynard’s review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD is manufactured on demand by Presto Classical. It is available for digital download and streaming on the Naxos site

 

 
SIBELIUS Orchestral Songs
 Kirtsen Flagstad
 London Symphony Orchestra/Øivin Fjeldstad
 DECCA SXL 2030 recorded at Kingsway Hall (1958)
Reissued on DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 1804
review

 

 

 

 

I was still at school when I bought this (and I am 78 now). I hadselected it out of curiosity from the Leeds record library as I knew the 5th symphony and the violin concerto. I did not want to hand it back at the end of the week and eventually managed to afford it. Flagstad is imperious in these songs even though she was near the end of her career and this does tell on some high notes.

Read Göran Forsling’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This is available as a single Presto CD from Presto Classical. It is available as part of the 10 disc Kirsten Flagstad edition: The Recitals, as a digital download only. Both versions are available for streaming from the Naxos site.


Ravel-2.jpg
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
L'Enfant et les sortilèges
Jane Berbié; Jeanine Collard; Sylviane Gima; Colette Herzog; Françoise Ogéas; Michel Sénéchal; Camille Maurane; Heinz Rehfuss;
Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française/Lorin Maazel
Rec. Nov 1960 Salle de la Mutualité, Paris
DG E4497692


 

This was another discovery in the Leeds record library and even today the recording sounds fresh and it ranks as a top recommendation. Again, I saved up and bought it but suffered a disappointment. The Library copy had a gatefold sleeve with the text printed in it. The copy I bought was in a single sleeve. I wrote to DG to express my disappointment who said that I must have seen a German sleeve and that they would source one for me. I wonder if we would get this service today

Editor’s Note: This CD is not currently available. It is available for digital download as part of a 2-disc CD set that includes Ravel’s L’Heure espangole, Stravinsky’s Le Chant du rossignol, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol; all are conducted by Maazel. This version is also available for streaming on the Naxos site.

 

Mike Parr

 

Berganza-1.jpg
Canciones Españolas
Songs by Granados, Guridi, De Falla, Lorca, Turina, Montsalvage etc
Teresa Berganza (mezzo-soprano)
Narciso Yepes (guitar)
Felix Lavilla (pianoforte)
rec. June 1974, Studio Fonogram, Madrid and March 1975, Herkules-Saal, Munich
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON CD 435 848-2 [74:54 + 70:04]

This is a wonderful collection of 3 recital discs that appeared originally on LP in 1974, 1975 and 1977. The sunny, Mediterranean warmth of Berganza’s voice are combined with two sensitive instrumentalists. Yepes, a celebrated Guitar performer joins her for the songs from the middle ages, and Lavilla for the later period songs on piano. Lavilla was married to Berganza and they have a great chemistry in their songs together.  So, too, is the case with Yepes. The songs are prayers, outpourings of grief  and romances which are wonderfully redolent of lovers’ trysts in the shade of Spanish courtyards. DG released the entire collection on CD in a series called “España ’92” to coincide with the world attention given to things Spanish in 1992 because of the World Expo in Seville and the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Editor’s Note: Currently the first of the recitals with Yepes is available on CD from DG. Some of the other tracks are available in assorted digital downloads but cannot be found all together in any one location.

 

soderstrom.jpg
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1945)
Elisabeth Söderström sings Richard Strauss
Vier Letzte Lieder
, scenes from Capriccio and Der Rosenkavalier
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Our Hunting Fathers op. 8
Elisabeth Söderström (soprano)
Welsh National Opera Orchestra/ Richard Armstrong
Released in 1982
EMI  CD France 4-71939-2 [73:04]

This recording of the Strauss pieces was first issued on vinyl and cassette in 1982. I owned a cassette version for many years until it finally wore out. It was released on CD in France for a very brief period in 1998 which somehow I managed to miss. For this release EMI added the Britten cycle as a filler. The reason for acquiring it is to hear the ever incandescent Elisabeth Söderström, recording these pieces in studio conditions with Richard Armstrong. Her voice may not always be under perfect control but with each new phrase she handed you a piece of her inner soul. I hope that Warner will soon make it available as a digital download and for streaming. 

 

Gershwin.jpg
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Of Thee I Sing (1931)
Let Em Eat Cake (1933)
Larry Kert, Maureen McGovern, Paige O’Hara, Jack Gilford, George Dvorsky
New York Choral Artists; Orchestra of St Luke’s/Michael Tilson Thomas
Released in 1987

SONY M2K42522 CD  [66.60 + 75.40]


The extremely un-boring world of American politics has long been a source of dramatic inspiration. These two musicals appeared on Broadway in the early 1930’s. Taken together, as on this set, I would argue that they constitute a true American operetta. Gershwin used orchestral and choral writing to beef up the usual array of popular songs, albeit in the 1930’s jazz idiom. The satire is charming, pointed and very witty. The sung impeachment trial in Of Thee I Sing still resonates with us today. I actually think these musicals are funnier and more brilliant in 2020 than in the 1930’s. Hindsight now shows that their musical world and those of the classical music establishment of Gershwin’s day are not terribly far apart at all. Let Em Eat Cake is the more musically complex and deserving of the title operetta. With its darker story lampooning the rise of brown shirt Fascism in Europe, it is less immediately appealing than Of Thee I Sing. However, it is the more striking achievement and led the way forward to Porgy and Bess for the Gershwin brothers. The cast used for the recordings is entirely excellent. Maureen McGovern’s faultless soprano is stylistically a little different from her more theatrical colleagues but this is not inappropriate considering she is playing a First Lady who is chosen to marry the President based on her ability to make “Corn Muffins.” Tilson Thomas knows how to put this music across and his musicians do so very stylishly. The original orchestrations were dug up for Of Thee I Sing, those for Let Em Eat Cake had to be recreated but they blend so perfectly with the authentic ones you simply can’t tell the difference. A superbly enjoyable 142 minutes of one’s time.

Editor’s Note: The CDs are not currently available but this recording is available for digital download. There is currently no option for web streaming. (We have been advised that "Of Thee I Sing" and "Let Them Eat Cake" are included in a compilation "Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Gershwin". Amazon has new and used copies available.)

 

Werther.jpg
Jules MASSENET
(1842-1912)
Scenes from Werther (1892)
Cesare Valetti (tenor); Rosalind Elias (mezzo); Gérard Souzay (baritone); Walter Alberti (Baritone)
Rome Opera House Orchestra/ René Leibowitz
Released in 1962
RCA VICTOR RED SEAL LP LSC-2615  [54:00]

 This recording of highlights captures the very elegant portrayal of Werther by Cesare Valetti. He was one of the stars of the 50’s and early 60’s until his voice deserted him. His was not a large sound but he used it with extreme taste, not unlike Juan Diego Florez today. I find that he captures a real sense of the “dreaminess” about Werther that he continues throughout the scenes that are recorded. Rosalind Elias is a vibrant Charlotte, a role which she stated preferred above all of her other roles. There is a brief contribution from the French stylist Gérard Souzay. René Leibowitz manages to make the Rome orchestra sound like Gallic specialists.

Editor’s Note:  This has never been made available on any digital platform although some excerpts can be found on You Tube. Hopefully Sony Music will at last release this for streaming and digital download.

 

spades.jpg

 Pyotr Illyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Queen of Spades (1890)
Vladimir Atlantov (tenor); Júlia Várady (soprano); Elena Obratzova (mezzo); Ludmila Shemchuk (mezzo); Alexendar Vosorshilo (baritone); Bodo Brinkman (baritione)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera/ Algis Zuraitis
Rec. 24 November, 1984 Munich National Theater
Orfeo d’Or CD C8111121 [72:29 + 62:04]

This CD has not merited the attention it should have because it derives from original tapes from a live Bavarian Radio transmission.  The opera has many cuts and the usual sonic issues of any live recording. However, it also has three sterling performances by artists performing at the very peak of their art. Júlia Várady had a wonderful lyric-dramatic voice and she certainly sings as well as any of her rivals on competing studio recordings but she really manages to convery Lisa’s neurotic restlessness in a way that none of her rivals can manage. Elena Obratzova is a thrilling Old Countess which admittedly is a role that is well sung on any of the available recorded versions. The real reason for acquiring this set is the superbly involved German of Valdimir Atlantov.  He recorded the role for Melodiya in the 70’s and for RCA in the 90’s. This is the best of all of them, mainly because he was recorded at a slight distance from the microphones so his portrayal actually has a better impact than the rather unyielding tone of his studio versions. He is passionate and involved and in truly superb voice on this occasion. On the Melodiya he sounds unyielding and harsh and frequently much too loud; on the RCA his voice was no longer as firm as it had been in 1984.  The rest of the cast, the conductor and other singers are perhaps less starry than those I have mentioned but they all give decent performances which makes for a wonderful evening of listening.

Editor’s Note: The CDs are currently still available. It is also available for digital download and streaming via the Naxos site.

 

Gwyn Parry-Jones

 

Swingle 11.jpg
Ralph VAUGHAN WIILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Three Shakespeare Songs
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
The Blue Bird Op.119, No. 3
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Hymn to St. Cecilia
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
The Shower Op.71, No.1
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Trois Chansons
Camille SAINT SAËNS (1835-1921)
 Les Fleures Et Les Arbres; Calme Des Nuits
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
 Trois Chansons
 Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Un Soir De Neige

David Beavan, John Lubbock (basses); Carol Hall, Linda Hirst (contraltos); Catherine Bott, Olive Simpson (sopranos); John Potter, Ward Swingle (tenors)
Rec. 1976 CBS Studios, London
RCA RED SEAL LP RL 25112

 Back in the early 70s, Ward Swingle formed his 'Swingle II' group - growing out of the famous Swingle Singers, but intended as a more serious ensemble.  They made a number of recordings that, as far as I'm aware, never found their way onto CD, but I am thoroughly prepared to be proven wrong! This is very hard to understand.

The first catalogue number RCA Red Seal RL 25112; the record was a wonderful collection of English and French unaccompanied numbers, including, memorably, the Three Shakespeare Songs by Vaughan Williams, Stanford's The Blue Bird, Ravel's Trois Chansons and some Saint-Saëns.  These were very much studio recordings, close miked, carefully balanced and mixed, and of course one voice to a part.  But they were incredibly beautiful nonetheless, and it's very sad as well as inexplicable that they have never found their way onto CD - possibly a contractual issue between record companies, I don't know.

 Editor’s Note: I am unable to find any digital format release of this recording. Perhaps Sony will make it available for download and streaming in the near future.

 

SWINGLE-BERIO.jpg
Luciano BERIO (1925-2003)
A-Ronne; Cries of London
David Beavan, John Lubbock (basses); Carol Hall, Linda Hirst (contraltos); Catherine Bott, Olive Simpson (sopranos); John Potter  Ward Swingle (tenors)
originally released in 1976
DECCA CD 425620-2 [44:46]

 

From the same stable comes their recording of two pieces by Luciano Berio; A-Ronne and Cries of London. More challenging, but still superb.  This disc was first released in 1976 on Decca HEAD 15.

Editor’s Note: This album was released on CD in 1992 it is no longer available although there are second hand copies for sale on the internet. It is available for streaming on the Naxos site.

 

John Quinn

 

Bax.jpg
Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953)

Symphony No 3; The Happy Forest.
London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Edward Downes
Released in 1969
RCA Gold Seal GL 43347

 

 

 

Recorded, I believe, in 1969 and originally reissued as an RCA Red Seal LP (SB 6806). In its Gold Seal incarnation, this was one of the first Bax recordings I ever heard, borrowing it from the local record library. I don’t think it’s ever been issued on CD. To be truthful, it’s well over 40 years since I heard it so I can’t claim to remember its quality but I’ve read many positive comments about it. I suspect the sound quality will be pretty good as the engineer was Bob Auger. Having heard a lot more Bax recordings over the years, I’d love the chance to hear this one again and evaluate it. Perhaps it could be a candidate for Dutton Epoch’s series revitalising recordings of that era?

Editor’s Note: I am unable to find any digital format release of this recording. Perhaps Sony will make it available for download and streaming in the near future.

 

Bliss.jpg  
Sir Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)
Meditations on a Theme of John Blow; Checkmate – Ballet; Adam Zero Ballet excerpts.
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vernon Handley
rec. 1979
EMI CDC 7 47712 2

 


Meditations on a Theme of John Blow is one of Bliss’s finest achievements and deserves to be far better known. There have been other recordings, all of them very good, but this 1979 CBSO version conducted by Tod Handley is arguably the pick of the bunch. As far as I know, its been out of the catalogue for quite some time - too long, in fact. The remainder of the album, played by the RLPO, is excellent too. A reissue would be highly desirable

Editor’s Note: This CD is not currently available and there is no other digital format release at present. Perhaps Warner will make it available for streaming and digital download in the near future.

 

  spirit.jpg
Sir Edward ELGAR
(1857-1934)
The Spirit of England; Give Unto the Lord (Psalm 29); O Hearken Thou; The Snow; Land of Hope and Glory
Felicity Lott / London Symphony Chorus / Northern Sinfonia / Richard Hickox
Released in 1988
EMI CDC 7 49481 2 [51:53]

 

 

 

The recent commemoration of the 1914-18 Great War led to greater exposure for The Spirit of England. It’s a deeply felt work, written during the war years, and it rises to great eloquence in the final movement, ‘For the fallen’. There have been some good recordings in recent years but I find myself coming back to this Hickox version. It’s a performance that’s often full-blooded but sensitive too, and Felicity Lott is a fine soloist. It’s no longer available – though second hand copies are around, usually at silly prices. A reissue by Warner Classics would be very welcome.

Read Rob Barnett’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD is not currently available and there is no other digital format release at present. Perhaps Warner will make it available for streaming and digital download in the near future.

Barnaby Rayfield

Verdi
Requiem,
Anna Maria Rovere (soporano), Jean Madeira (contralto), Ralph Lambert (tenor), Giulio Neri (bass)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra , Vienna Singverein, Erich Kleiber
Melodram : CDM 28044(2CDs)

 

This is a thrilling but little known historical recording of Verdi's Requiem. Sound is bad although no worse than some of the live Toscanini's versions and due to ego politics between Herbert von Karajan and Erich Kleiber, the latter had to scrabble for last minute soloists. Two are awful: the tenor sounds like an out of shape Harry Secombe and the soprano's voice could strip paint. Jean Madeira, however, was a fabulous singer and Italy never produced a finer, more inky toned bass than Giulio Neri. Kleiber is fascinating; powerful, imposing, detailed and not overplaying the operatic side but it was a miserable experience for him. Post war Vienna was not kind to this brilliant musician who had fled the Nazis and he was dead two months later aged only 66. The double is expensively rare and out of print. Someone reissue this, please. The sound can be improved and this Requiem is a match for the likes of Toscanini, Fricsay and Pappano.

Ein festliches Konzert
Lucia Popp, Kurt Eichhorn,
Eurodisc 257672

This became something of an obsession as I collected everything that Lucia Popp recorded and this forgotten recital disc she did in 1987 was a phantom. For years the internet barely listed it, let alone had a photo so I never knew what cover I was looking for in all the trawls online and in every London charity and CD shop. Then years later I saw Chelsea library had it. Now it is easy to find although I note it is being sold for an extortionate price online.

As she died young, everything she did is in pristine voice but this is a particularly lovely collection of vocal evergreens like Exsulate Jubilate and Caro mio ben. Many of the pieces she had recorded previously but these are her only accounts of the orchestral Strauss songs Ich wollt' ein Sträusslein binden and Morgen all sung in that spinning, fresh girlish tone of hers. It was deleted soon after its release although Japan did reissue it expensively along with Popp's other RCA albums as a 3CD set. Sony still need to take care of their RCA/Eurodisc archives and reissue this gorgeous disc.

RUDI STEPHAN (1887-1915)
Liebeszauber (Magic of Love) for baritone and orchestra (1911)
Music for Orchestra (1913)
Music for violin and orchestra (1911)
Music for seven stringed instruments (1911)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Hans Maile (violin)
Deutsches SO, Berlin/Hans Zender
Recorded April 1983 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahlem
Koch Schwann 3-6709-2 [69:27]

MusicWeb have reviewed this but it needs pointing out how wonderful Stephan's music is. Had he not been shot in the trenches, he might have become as significant as Schoenberg. A go to name if you like Strauss, Zemlinsky and early Berg. Fischer-Dieskau is in good voice for this late period and this album shows both Stephan's orchestra and chamber guises. Rob Barnett's review is spot on.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
17 Songs and Romances
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Aribert Reimann (piano)
rec. Berlin, January 1981
PHILIPS LP 6514 116 [48:00]

Recorded at the dawn of the Compact Disc this digital recording has stubbornly only been available on vinyl and possibly cassette. Late period Fischer-Dieskau can be touch and go but he is on good form on this one off album of Tchaikovsky songs, all sung in carefully enunciated Russian. Don Juan's Serenade is a little hectoring but it has real swing and the baritone is at his usual honeyed, noble best in the opening My genius, my angel, my friend. Tchaikovsky is an unexpected fit for pianist and avant-garde composer, Reimann but he plays with real feeling and tasteful rubato. Easy and cheap enough to find the LP online and elsewhere but definitely one for Eloquence to put onto silver disc. It would make a great double album of the same team's disc of Nietzsche songs.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
12 Lieder in Orchestrations by Berlioz, Reger, Liszt, Offenbach and Brahms
Hermann Prey (baritone) Munich Philharmonic Orchestra/Gary Bertini
Rec. Bürgerbräukeller Munich January 1977
RCA RED SEAL LP RL30453 [41:00]

Although my heart belongs to Fischer-Dieskau I am also a huge fan of his chief rival and colleague, Hermann Prey. Although Fischer-Dieskau ungraciously hoovered up all the recording work, Prey did find some enterprising projects like these orchestrations of Schubert Lieder by composers as disparate as Berlioz, Reger, Offenbach and Liszt. Book ending the collection of favourites like Ständchen and Geheimes are two takes on Der Erlkönig by Liszt and Berlioz. Also notable is the hideous album cover. He made a second volume of these orchestrations, equally good, which includes Britten's very clever reworking of Die Forelle. Inexplicably neither volume has ever made it onto CD. The LPs are relatively easy to find secondhand but Sony, please pull your finger out and squeeze both these RCA records onto a single CD.

Bob Stevenson

 

Moeran_symphony_5851542.jpg Ernest John MOERAN (1894-1950)
Violin Sonata in E minor (1923) [19:36]
Lonely Waters; Whythorne's Shadow (1931) [7:01; 6:34]
Symphony in G minor (1937) [45:46]
Geraldine O'Grady (violin); Charles Lynch (piano)
English Sinfonia/Neville Dilkes
rec. Aisling Studios, Dublin, 16-17 Dec 1974 (sonata); No. 1 Studio Abbey Road, London, 2 June 1971 (Two Pieces); 12-13 Mar 1973 (Symphony). ADD
 EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 85154 2 8 [79:21]

 

 

How this wonderful symphony is not better known I have never been able to understand. I can’t help thinking it would be if this performance (recorded March 1973) were to be played more often. This recording is still available but, for some reason, the performance tends to be side-lined these days. I feel the same about it as Rob Barnett did in his review and I personally feel that this performance is superior to all others I have heard.

 The disc also contains a rare (and very acceptable) bonus performance of Moeran’s Violin Sonata (recorded December 1974), previously issued on LP - EMI Green Label (LEAF 7007), originally coupled with Howard Ferguson’s superb 2nd sonata.

Editor’s Note: This CD is not currently available and there is no other digital format release at present. Perhaps Warner will make it available for streaming and digital download in the near future.

 

ravel.jpg  Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Violin Sonata,
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Early Violin Sonata (1897),
Tzigane
(featuring the first recording of the Lutheal): Theo Olaf (violin), Daniel Wayenberg (piano/lutheal)
Released in 1980
EMI 1A 057-26469

 

According to the sleeve notes of the original LP, Theo Olaf’s detective work was largely responsible for finding the original Lutheal in the Conservatoire of Instrumental Music in Brussels. He also financed its restoration. There have since been other versions of the Tzigane accompanied on the Lutheal (according to Ravel’s original intention) but this was the first and – to my mind – the best. The moment when the Lutheal comes in after the violin solo is revelatory and Wayenberg uses the various stops very intelligently – rather better than in subsequent rival performances. This was also one of the first (if not the first) recordings of Ravel’s 1897 Violin Sonata – also given a splendid performance.

Editor’s Note: There has not been a CD release and there is no other digital format release at present. Perhaps Warner will make it available for streaming and digital download in the near future.

 

Delage baker.jpg Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Trois Poemes de Stephane Mallarme/Chansons Madecasses
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855–1899)
Chanson Perpetuelle
Maurice DELAGE (1879–1961)
Four Hindu Poems
Decca CD 425948-2   Eloquence CD ELQ4803670 [42:00]



 

Maurice Delage was Ravel’s only pupil. His output was fairly small and he is poorly represented on record – a situation which might change if the wonderful, subtle performance (recorded in 1966) of his Four Hindu Poems by Janet Baker and the Melos Ensemble were to be played more frequently on radio. As Bob Briggs says in his review of a rival performance: “It was a revelation to discover this work…”.  The other performances on the CD are pretty special as well…..

Editor’s Note: This CD is still available in its Eloquence release. It is also available for streaming from the Naxos site.

 

Rootham_Holbrooke_CDLX7219.jpg Joseph HOLBROOKE (1878-1958)
Violin Sonata no.3 in F ‘Orientale’ op.83 (1926) [12:34]
Sir Henry WALFORD DAVIES (1869-1941)
Violin Sonata no.2 in D minor op.7 (1896) [18:10]
Cyril ROOTHAM (1875-1938)
Violin Sonata in G minor (1925) [19:49]
Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960)
Sonatina for cello and piano (1939)* [11:56]
Jacqueline Roche (violin); Robert Stevenson (piano); Justin Pearson (cello); Sophia Rahman (piano)      rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 14-16 February 2008
      World premiere recordings except *first CD recording
      DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7219 [63:00]

The Rootham Violin Sonata is a beautiful work, with a pastoral quality similar to the sound of Vaughan Williams, and it should be better known – as, no doubt, should the rest of his output. I still hope to record his Piano Trio one day.

Read Rob Barnett’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD remains available. There are no options for digital download or streaming.

 

Raymond Walker

 

Cellier_Dorothy_8660447.jpg      Alfred CELLIER (1844-1891)
Dorothy (1886) [70.52]
Majella Cullagh (soprano - Dorothy)
Lucy Vallis (mezzo-soprano - Lydia)
Stephanie Maitland (mezzo-soprano - Phyllis)
Matt Mears (tenor - Wilder)
John Ieuan Jones (baritone - Sherwood)
Edward Robinson (baritone - Bantam)
Patrick Relph (baritone - Tuppitt)
Michael Vincent Jones (tenor - Lurcher)
Sebastian Maclaine (tenor - Strutt)
Victorian Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Richard Bonynge
rec. 2018, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK
NAXOS 8.660447 [70.52]

Within six months two recordings were made of this hitherto unknown composer and this is the lighter of Cellier’s two works. He is a composer worth exploring for he worked with Sullivan to stage the early Savoy Operas.

It is a breath of fresh air to have post graduate college students providing the orchestra, chorus and principal singers working with a conductor of such calibre.

Like a lot of late Victorian music, the music’s charm comes across on a second hearing. Richard Scott’s sound engineering brings across the excellent diction, yet the fidelity of the orchestra is never lost behind the voice. 

Read Paul Corfield Godfrey’s MusicWeb review here.

Editor’s Note: This CD remains available and is also available for digital download and for streaming via the Naxos site.

 

Leslie Wright

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Le bourgeois gentilhomme, suite for orchestra, Op. 60 (1917)
Dance Suite after Couperin (1923)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Erich Leinsdorf
rec. Konzerthaus, Vienna, released 1988
COE RECORDS CD COE 809 [63:25]



These wonderful performances of two of Strauss's most delightful works have remained my favourites for these pieces. Leinsdorf chose perfect tempi and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe plays like a dream, all captured in clear, but warm sound. They never fail to put a smile on my face when I hear them.



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