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Monthly Listing
April 2021

John Luther ADAMS (b. 1953) The Become Trilogy - Seattle SO & Ch/Ludovic Morlot rec. 2013-18 CANTALOUPE CA21161 [3 CDs: 97:32] [SB] Adams’s breakthrough work together with its two companions make an impressive trilogy.

Franco ALFANO (1875-1954) Risurrezione - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Ch & O/Francesco Lanzillotta rec. 2020 DYNAMIC 57866 Blu-Ray [119 mins] [PCG] A first video recording of a rarity which will repay investigation.

Claudio AMBROSINI (b. 1948) Chamber Music - Sonia Visentin (soprano) Ex Novo Ens rec 1988-1999 KAIROS 0015084KAI [65:51] A remarkable juxtaposition of the lush and the spartan.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort I - Phantasm rec. 2019 LINN RECORDS CKD618 [66:55] [DMD] Revelatory performances uncover yet more treasures in Bach’s inexhaustible music.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Well-Tempered Consort II - Phantasm rec. 2020 LINN CKD657 [70:05] [PBr] Superlative chamber transcriptions, outstandingly well recorded - this second volume is an even greater triumph than the first.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Copyright J.S.Bach - Annegret Siedel (baroque violins), Ute Gremmel-Geuchen (organ) rec. 2020 AEOLUS AE11281 SACD [78:45] [SG] A delightful programme, embracing arrangements by Bach himself besides several more recent ones.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) String Quartets - New Budapest String Quartet rec. 1992 HYPERION CDD22003 [157:03] [DMD] One of the best cycles of this endlessly fascinating music, still sounding great and an outrageous bargain as a download.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Bluebeard’s Castle - Mika Kares (bass), Szilvia Vörös (mezzo); Helsinki Philharmonic O/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2388 SACD [59:54] [DM]  Although Mälkki’s Bluebeard doesn’t supplant the best in the catalogue, it deserves a place alongside them.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul van Kempen rec. 1953 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC623 [67:20] [DD] Epic performances from a Golden Age restored in sound that enables us to enjoy them unabated.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) König Stephan, Overtures: Fidelio & Leonora 1-3 - Bernd Tauber (speaker) Czech PO Ch Brno, Cappella Aquileia/Marcus Bosch rec. 2019 CPO 777 771-2 [70.57] [MW] König Stephan is worth exploring, but the overtures disappoint.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Erich Kleiber rec. 1953 Presto CD DECCA 4176372 [73:09] [DD] Two classic performances from one of the 20th century’s great conductors.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 9 - Christina Landshamer (soprano) Jennifer Johnson Cano (mezzo) Werner Güra (tenor) Shenyang (bass-baritone) Mendelssohn Ch & Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2019 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-741 SACD [62:44] [LD] A Beethoven’s Ninth of our times.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Triple Concerto; Symphony No. 2 (arr. trio) Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano); Freiburger Barockorchester/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902419 [66:15] [CSa] Very much limited in appeal to those who prefer HIP performances.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Beethoven Odyssey - BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis rec. 1962-85 ELOQUENCE 484 1728 [12 CDs: 7:50:03] [DC] Revel in the “rough-hewn power and a lucidity of thought” of Sir Colin Davis’s London Beethoven recordings.

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Violin Concerto, Seven Early Songs, Three Pieces for Orchestra - Gil Shaham (violin) Susanna Phillips (soprano) San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas rec. 2015/18 SFS MEDIA SFS0080 SACD [67:09] [MC] A valuable album to be savoured from start to finish.

Ernest BLOCH (1880–1959) Suite Hébraïque, Schelomo, Violin Concerto  - André Navarra (cello) Hyman Bress (violin) Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ančerl rec. 1964/66 SUPRAPHON SU3169-2 [69:02] [RB] Approachable music grippingly recorded and performed.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No 2, Academic Festival Overture - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186851 [55:00] [JQ] One of the finest performances of Brahms’ Second symphony that I can recall hearing in years.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Viola Trio, Viola Sonatas - Miguel da Silva (viola) Xavier Phillips (cello) François-Frédéric Guy (piano) rec. 2019 ALPHA 648 [70:54] [DMD] A very persuasive case for the viola versions of these works, played with great poetry and nobility.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4, Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel - Cleveland O/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 1992 DECCA 436 853-2 [70:30] [DD] A consummate version of Brahms’ epic final Symphony with a surprising and substantial encore.

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Complete Music for Piano - Peter Jacobs (piano) rec. 1990-1991 CONTINUUM CCD1016 [3CDs: 229:20] [SG] Well-crafted music in compelling performances.

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Piano Works - Christof Keymer (piano) rec. 2019 CPO 555 258-2 [66:43] [JW] An accomplished look at Bruch’s small corpus of piano music.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Triple Concerto - Anne-Sophie Mutter (violin) Yo-Yo Ma (cello) West-Eastern Divan O/Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 2019 UNITEL 803608 DVD [112 mins] [PCG] A video recording of a concert that really is something very special.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) & Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Concertos - Martha Argerich (piano) London SO/Claudio Abbado rec. 1968 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 061-2 [55:35] [DD] This disc is self-recommending but it’s always a considerable privilege and pleasure to return to these young firebrands.

Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) 24 Preludes, Nocturnes (selection) - Jorge Bolet (piano) rec. 1987 Presto CD DECCA 421 363-2 [65:00] [DD] A classic disc that thoroughly deserves another outing.

Marius CONSTANT (1925-2004) Orchestral works - Turner: 3 Essays, Brevissima, 103 Regards dans l’eau - Olivier Charlier (violin) Riverside SO/George Rothman rec. 2001/2006 DIVINE ART DDA25216 [64:36] [RB] Not for faint hearts but those who persist will hear a lyrical impulse given expression amongst the thrawn and thorn.

Arnold COOKE (1906-2005) Oboe Concerto, Oboe Sonata No 1 - Léon Goossens (oboe), Clifton Helliwell (piano), Jacques String O./Reginald Jacques rec. 1956/59 OBOE CLASSICS CC2317 [38:30] [JF] An opportunity to hear one of the most enjoyable and interesting oboe concertos by an English composer.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) & Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Clarinet Concertos Sir James MACMILLAN (b. 1959) Tuíreadh - Maximilian Martín (clarinet) O Sinfónica Tenerife/Lucas Macías Navarro rec 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34250 [62:49] [PBW] Fine playing but lacking in edginess where it is needed.

Stéphan ELMAS (1862-1937) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Tasmanian SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68319 [73:55] [RHa] Sparkling playing and recording as ever, but plodding, clunky and surprisingly dreary concertos.

Józef ELSNER (1769–1854) String Quartets - Mikołaj Zgółka, Zbigniew Pilch (violins), Dominik Dębski (viola), Jarosław Thiel (cello) rec. 2020 CD ACCORD ACD279 [63:39] [DC] Delightful discoveries.

August ENNA (1859–1939) Kleopatra - Elsebeth Dreisig (soprano) Magnus Vigilius (tenor) Danish Ntl Opera Ch, Odense SO/Joachim Gustafsson rec. 2019 DACAPO 8.226708-09 [47:17 + 64:16] [GF] The work may be uneven, but Dacapo should be applauded for making it available for the general music public.

Brian FERNEYHOUGH (b. 1943) Complete Piano Music 1965-2018 - Ian Pace, Ben Smith (piano) rec. 2005/2018 MÉTIER MSV28615 [2 CDs: 89:50] [JF] The music began to grow on me after I listened to this album twice.

Richard FLURY (1896-1967) Der magische Spiegel, Kleine Ballettmusik - Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra/Paul Mann rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0552 [65:23] [RB] A traditionalist well advocated in these works written with a melodious palette for lighter palates.

Eduard FRANCK (1817-1893) Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2 - Georg Michael Grau (piano), Württembergische Philharmonie/Fawzi Haimor rec. 2018 CPO 555 320-2 [74:57] [RB] Some conventional gestures but delightfully leavened by nobility, steam, stamina and dignity.

Giovan(ni) Battista GERVASIO (c.1725-1788) Sonate a mandolino e basso - Inchordis Ensemble rec. 2017 TACTUS TC720701 [55:12] [GPu] Will appeal to those with a fondness for the mandolin or a love of Naples and its music.

Stefano GERVASONI (b. 1962) Muro di Canti - Aldo Orvieto (piano) Monica Bacelli (mezzo) Alvise Vidolin (live electronics, sound direction) Marco Luni (computer music design) rec. 2017-2020 KAIROS 0015082KAI [62:07] [RHa] Haunting and playful, this vocally infused electroacoustica from Kairos impressed this reviewer even without a translation.

Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1824-1896) Alceste - Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Charles Castronovo (tenor), Michael Nagy (baritone), Dancers of the Companie Eastman Antwerp, Bavarian State Opera Chorus, Bavarian State Orchestra/Antonello Manacorda rec. 2019 C MAJOR 756804 Blu-Ray [135 mins] [PCG] A balletically enhanced performance of Gluck’s French reform opera.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Songs - Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo) Bengt Forsberg (piano) rec. 1992 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 476 1815 [67:32] [JQ] This recital is as rewarding as it is enjoyable.

Francisco GUERRERO (1527/1528-1599) Magnificat, Lamentations & Canciones - El León de Oro/Peter Phillips, Marco Antonio García de Paz rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68347 [60:53] [JQ] A most worthwhile overview of some of the music of Francisco Guerrero by an accomplished choir.

Thomas de HARTMANN (1885-1956) Chamber music - Elan Sicroff (piano), Anneke Janssen (cello), Natalia Gabunia (violin) rec. 2015 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6411 [77:51 + 72:52] [DC] You’ll want to find out for yourself just how good this is.

Sam HAYDEN (b.1968) Becomings - Ian Pace (piano) rec. 2020 MÉTIER MSV28611 [46:46 + 42:45] [JW] Powerful contrasts in the work of a leading British modernist.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas, Variations - Leon McCawley (piano) rec. 2016 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0162 [78.54] [RBe] Stylish and cultivated playing.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets - The London Haydn Quartet rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68335 [77.04 + 76.25] [MW] A triumphant set of profound performances of six of the greatest quartets ever written.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies No 98 & 100 - Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Claudio Abbado rec. 1995 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 439 932-2 [55:35] [DD] Lithe and joyful Haydn performances in fine sound.

Edward Swan HENNESSY (1866-1929) En passant...Selected works for piano - Moritz Ernst (piano) rec. 2020 PERFECT NOISE PN2006 [74:56] [JW] Descriptive delights from a French-based American expatriate.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Sonata 1.X.1905, In the Mists, On an Overgrown Path Books 1-2 - Lars Vogt (piano) rec. 2016, 2019 ONDINE ODE1382-2 [75:36] [DC] Top-notch for this essential repertoire.

Daniel JONES (1912-1993) Symphonies Nos 3 & 5 - BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra/Bryden Thomson rec. 1990 LYRITA SRCD.390 [68:03] [JQ] Those who are collecting Lyrita’s Jones symphony cycle can add this latest release to their shopping list with confidence.

Jurgis KARNAVIČIUS (1884-1941) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 - Vilnius String Quartet rec. 2020 ONDINE ODE1351-2 [76:25] [JW] The first two string quartets by one of the foundational figures in Lithuanian music.

Douglas KNEHANS (b. 1957) Unfinished Earth - Brno Philharmonic Orchestra/Mikel Toms ABLAZE RECORDS AR00036 [52:58] [WH] Brilliant performances of two challenging contemporary works.

Grigory KREIN (1879-1955) Piano Music - Jonathan Powell (piano) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0581 [84:01] [JW] Solo piano music that’s harmonically dense, strongly expressive and sulphurously attractive.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) & Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Piano concertos Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Variations on Là ci darem la mano - Orion Weiss (piano) The Orchestra Now/Leon Botstein BRIDGE 9547 [59:58] [RMay] A mixed bag of performances that do not displace their competitors.

Ilkka KUUSISTO (b. 1933) Symphony No.1; Concertino improvvisando; Kun talo alkaa soida - Pekka Kuusisto (violin) Jorma Hynninen (baritone) Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Jaakko Kuusisto rec. 2010 BIS BIS-CD-1847 [74:38] [RB] Ambitious works conducted by the composer’s son … a vivaciously communicative melodic tradition.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE(1657-1726) Les fontaines de Versailles, Grande Pièce en G-Ré-Sol, Le Concert d’Esculape - Boston Early Music Festival Vocal & Chamber Ensembles/Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs rec. 2019 CPO 555097-2 [72:55] [SB] A delightful entertainment by the French baroque master, in an exemplary performances and presentation.

Orlande de LASSUS (1532-1594) Le nozze in Baviera - Ensemble Origo/Eric Rice rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.579063 [61:04] [MS] A joyful, lively and thoughtful collection.

Jonathan LESHNOFF (b 1973) Piano Concerto, Symphony No 3 - Joyce Yang (piano) Stephen Powell (baritone) Kansas City SO/Michael Stern rec. 2016/19 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-739 SACD [60:21] [MW] Music which is both approachable and exciting from a significant composer.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das klagende Lied - Brigitte Poschner-Klebel (soprano) Marjana Lipovšek (mezzo) David Rendall (tenor) Manfred Hemm (baritone) Wiener Singakademie, ORF Vienna Radio SO/Michael Gielen rec. 1990 ORFEO C210021 [62:10] [JQ] A valuable supplement to Michael Gielen’s existing Mahler discography.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 2 - Tünde Szabóki (soprano) Nadine Weissmann (alto) Ch Städtischer Musikverein Düsseldorf, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker/Adam Fischer rec. 2019 CAVI-MUSIC 8553485 [81:01] [ST] Too mixed for overall recommendation.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 6 in A minor ‘Tragic’ - Berlin PO/Kirill Petrenko rec. 2020 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR2003645 [77:12] [CCC] A performance of consummate musicality, perhaps not always reaching the level of the greats.

Žibuoklė MARTINAITYTĖ (b. 1973) Saudade, Millefleur, Horizons, Chiaroscuro Trilogy - Gabrielius Alekna (piano) Lithuanian Ntl SO & Ch O/Giedrė Šlekytė rec. 2020 ONDINE ODE1386-2 [69:25] [HC] A fine composer’s portrait.

Jean-Paul-Égide MARTINI (1741-1816) Requiem pour Louis XVI - Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet rec. 2019 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS022 [61:25] [JV] Niquet obviously enjoyed the large noise he was allowed to produce.

Cecilia McDOWALL (b 1951) Organ works - William Fox (organ) Lucy Humphris (trumpet) rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.579077 [65:04] [JQ] A fine and enjoyable disc which serves Cecilia McDowall’s organ music very well indeed.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Violin Concerto Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) & Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Violin sonatas - Fredell Lack (violin) Leonid Hambro (piano) Stadium Concerts SO New York/Alexander Smallens rec. 1949/1953 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1740 [62:33] [SG] The Hindemith and Copland make a welcome appearance on CD.

Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864) Alimelek oder Wird und Gast - Jan Kobow (tenor) Lars Woldt (bass) Irene-Britta Stallmeister (soprano) Chamber Ch Europe, Württemberg Philharmonie Reutlingen/Ola Rudner rec. 2010 STERLING CDO1125/1126-2 [55:48 + 46:59] [MP] A valuable and reasonably solid premiere recording of Meyerbeer’s interesting first opera.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quintets Nos 1 & 2 - Melos Qt, Franz Beyer (viola) rec. 1987 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 423 697-2 [47:56] [DD] Two very fine performances of somewhat neglected works.

Johann Peter MÜLLER (1791-1877) Woodwind Quintets - The Richards Wind Quintet rec. 1976 CRYSTAL RECORDS CD252 [47:04] [GPu] Sensitive and technically assured readings.

Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Complete Symphonies Nos 1-27 - USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Federation/Evgeny Svetlanov rec. 1965-94 ALTO ALC3141 [14 CDs: 21 hrs] [RB] A real blessing at an accessible price.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) and George ENESCU (1881-1955) Violin Sonatas - Mihaela Oprea (violin) Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano) rec. 2020 DANACORD DACOCD879 [70:42] [JF] My big discovery here is Enescu’s splendidly played Violin Sonata.

Per NØRGÅRD (b. 1932) Cello Sonatas Poul RUDERS (b. 1949) Bravourstudien - Wilhelmina Smith (cello) rec. 2019 ONDINE ODE1381-2 [62:21] [RHa] A compelling and surprisingly accessible collection by a pair of modern Danish masters.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Complete Piano Sonatas - Dinara Klinton (Piano) rec. 2019/20 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10191 [3 CDs: 170:18] [RC] In a crowded field of distinguished pianists, young Dinara Klinton comes out on top in Prokofiev's sonatas.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonies and Orchestral Music - Singapore SO/Lan Shui rec. 2008-2015 BIS-2512 SACD [4 discs 296:11] [IJ] A stand-out and compelling set well worthy of investigation.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No 1, Symphonic Dances - Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2018/19 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4839839 [80:52] [RMo] This easily merits admittance into the ranks of the top recommendations for both works.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphonies Nos 1-3, Symphonic Dances, The Rock, The Isle of the Dead - Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Sladkovsky rec. 2020 SONY CLASSICS 19439864962-4 [220:22] [GT] Sladkovsky’s superb Rachmaninov symphonic collection is a top recommendation.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No.2 - Tokyo Symphony Orchestra/Jonathan Nott rec. 2018 EXTON OVCL-00691 SACD [64:21] [MB] One of the best Rachmaninov Seconds to have appeared for quite some years.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No. 2 - London SO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2019 LSO LIVE LSO0851 [58:50] [IJ] The considerable qualities of this new performance demand to be heard.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) & Fernand de LA TOMBELLE (1854-1928) String Quartets - Mandelring Quartett rec. 2018 AUDITE 97709 [57:13] [MC] The Mandelring Quartett is entirely responsive to the challenges presented by both scores.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) The Snow Queen - Scottish Ballet O/Jean-Claude Picard rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE Blu-ray OABD7284D [99 mins] [RMay] An inventive new production that might benefit from the odd tweak but still offers a highly enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Florian ROSS (b. 1972) Architexture - Florian Ross (piano), Sebastian Gille (soprano and tenor saxophones), David Helm (bass), Fabian Arends (drums), Event Wind Ensemble/Susanne Blumenthal rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574066 [56:10] [GPu] I know few other recordings which do so much for the reputation of ‘Third Stream Music’.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures - Quintetto a Plettro “Giuseppe Anedda” rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95904 [62:32] [MZ] Anyone looking for a different take on familiar classics will be interested in these vividly rendered works of frothy fun.

Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (1883-1953) Phoenix Concerto Pyotr Il'yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto - Janusz Wawrowski (violin), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Grzegorz Nowak rec. 2019 WARNER CLASSICS 9029519170 [60:02] [NB] Well played but underwhelming.

Frederick RZEWSKI (b. 1938) Songs of Insurrection - Thomas Kotcheff (piano) rec. 2020 COVIELLO COV92021 [70:42] [SB] Disappointing: a sad come-down after The people united.

Guillaume SAINT-JAMES (b. 1967) La Symphonie, Sketches of Seven - Didier Ithusarry (accordion) O Victor Hugo Franche-Comté/Jean-François Verdier, O Ntl Bretagne/Aurélien Azan Zielinski rec. 2019-2020 INDESENS RECORDS INDE147 [63:05] [RB] Vitality and mood painting let loose in these two works bridging jazz to classical orchestra and back.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Works for 2 Pianos Vol 3 - Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) & Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano sonatas (arr. Saint Saens) - Hiro Takenouchi, Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2019 NIMBUS NI5997 [55:29] [RCh] Interesting arrangements in fantastic performances.

Erik SATIE (1866-1925) An Erik Satie Entertainment - Meriel Dickinson (mezzo-soprano) Peter Dickinson (piano) rec. 1975 HERITAGE HTGCD171 [68:09] [JF] Satie may have been a genius, a charlatan, a joker or a lunatic - this fantastic disc shows he was a bit of each!

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) 20 Sonatas - Margherita Torretta (piano) rec. 2019 ACADEMY 2462 [50.19 + 49.56] [GH] Thoughtful, scholarly, but highly involving performances of twenty great sonatas.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies No. 3 & 8 - Vienna Philharmonic/Carlos Kleiber rec. 1979 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 601-2 [45:30] [DD] A surprisingly charmless Schubert 3 coupled with a superb Unfinished.

Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Romance - Isata Kanneh-Mason (piano) Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Holly Mathieson rec. 2019 DECCA 485 0020 [76:19] [RB] Deserves attention for the music and the performances.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Piano Sonatas - Elina Christova (piano) rec. 2020 Private Release [63:41 + 75:02] [RCh] Not my top choice but an impressive set nonetheless.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1974-1951) Verklärte Nacht, String Trio - Donal McInnes (viola 2), Jonathan Pegis (cello 2), LaSalle Quartet rec. 1982 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 423 250-2 [46:28] [RMo] A reading of Verklärte Nacht sadly lacking in starlit magic paired with … something else.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Pierrot Lunaire - Patricia Kopatchinskaja & ensemble rec. 2019 ALPHA 722 [72:49] [DMD] An enthralling Pierrot that may not be to every taste.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies Nos 9 & 10 - London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2019, 2020 LSO LIVE LSO0828 SACD [79:05] [JQ] An excellent account of the Ninth, but Noseda doesn’t shake my loyalties in the Tenth.

Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937) Handsome Skies - Alessandro Stella (piano) rec. 2017 KHA RECORDS KHA019 [53:39] [DC] A warm bath of soothingly sophisticated piano sounds.

Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1973-80 LYRITA SRCD389 [72:05] [NB] One of the most revelatory archive/historical discs of the year.

Robert SIMPSON (1921-1997) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6 - London Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Charles Groves rec. 1973-80 LYRITA SRCD389 [72:05] [RHa] Unmissable: the first concrete souvenir of 2021’s most important centenary.

Alexander Afanasyevich SPENDIAROV (1871–1928) Complete Piano Works & Chamber Works with Piano - Mikael Ayrapetyan (piano); Yulia Ayrapetyan (piano); Vladimir Sergeev (violin); Demian Fokin (cello) rec. 2019 GRAND PIANO GP852-53 [2 CDs: 130:39] [RB] Grand Piano continue their strong Armenian line.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben - Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1985 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 508-2 [46:47] [JF] A splendid opportunity to revisit Herbert von Karajan’s 1985 recording of Strauss’ great tone poem.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Complete Tone Poems - SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2012-15 SWR CLASSIC SWR19426CD [5 CDs: 357:16] [GPJ] Brilliant and often inspired performances of these great works, in outstanding modern recordings.

Marco STROPPA (b. 1959) Miniature Estrose: Primo Libro, per pianoforte d’amore - Erik Bertsch (piano) rec. 2020 KAIROS 0015071KAI [63:00] [RHa] Demanding and invigorating – new music for a new kind of piano.

Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Suonate a violino e violoncello e cimbalo - Enrico Gatti (violin), Gaetano Nasillo (cello), Guido Morini (harpsichord) rec. 2000-2001 ARCANA A908 [2CDs: 129:40] [JV] Gatti emphasizes the intimate and poetic features of Tartini’s music.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 2 & 4 - Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich/Paavo Järvi rec. 2019-20 ALPHA 735 [76:10] [DMD] A real contender amongst Seconds, with a fine Fourth.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker - Los Angeles PO/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 6274 [45:39 + 44:05] [DM] A dull, monochrome take on a bright and colourful classic; lacklustre sonics, too.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Polonoise - Aisslinn Nosky (violin), Holland Baroque rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186878 SACD [67:50] [BW]  A fine addition to the available recordings of Telemann

Antonio VALENTE (c1520-c1580) Intavolatura de Cimbalo, Napoli 1576 - Paola Erdas (virginal, harpsichord) rec. 2019 HITASURA HSP005 [67:52] [JV] Paola Erdas's playing is a joy to listen to.

Edgard VARÈSE (1885-1965) The Complete Works - Royal Concertgebouw O, ASKO Ens/Riccardo Chailly rec. 1992-98 DECCA 475 487-2 [2 CDs: 150:36] [RB] An elite production showcasing a composer whose orchestral whispers, shouts and howls still startle even today.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Hugh the Drover - Corydon Singers and Orchestra/Matthew Best rec. 1994 HYPERION CDD22049 [101:42] [DMD] An English operatic gem given an exemplary performance

Francesco VENTURINI (1675-1745) Concerti di camera, Op 1 No 2, 9, 11 etc. - la festa musicale rec. 2019 AUDITE 97.775 [63:32] [JV] It is regrettable that the excellent playing is compromised by an unfounded addition of percussion.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Il Giustino – Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone rec. 2018 NAÏVE OP30571 [3 CDs: 188 mins] [CRo] Another valuable instalment of Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition with a vivid recording of an underrated opera.

Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978) Six Exotic Preludes, Ten Impressions - Nadejda Vlaeva (piano) rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68327 [79:52] [RB] Music of aristocratic power and beauty softened, in the case of one set, by salon-like concessions.

Pancho VLADIGEROV (1899-1978) String Concertos - Georgi Badev, Dina Schneidermann, Emil Karmilarov (violin) Ventseslav Nikolov (cello) Bulgarian Ntl Radio SO/Alexander Vladigerov, Bulgarian Ch O/Pancho Vladigerov rec. 1970-75 CAPRICCIO C8064 [65:33 + 61:35] [JW] Brilliantly punchy and colourful performances of Vladigerov’s string concertos.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786—1826) Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2, Konzertstück - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2018 BIS-2384 SACD [56:17] [BW]  For all but those who completely cannot abide the fortepiano, this is my version of choice.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) The Freischütz Project. Highlights from the opera - Accentus/Frank Markowitsch, Insula/Laurence Equilbey rec. 2019 ERATO 9029510954 [79:35] [MC] Top marks for the audio version but the staging on the DVD is uncompetitive.

Joseph WÖLFL (1773-1812) Piano Concertos Nos 1, 5 & 6 - Yorck Kronenberg (piano) SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserslauten/Johannes Moesius rec. 2006/7 CPO 777 374-2 [76:06] [RB] Amiable stuff: chipper, poetic and suffused with charm and calm.

Joseph WÖLFL (1773–1812) Piano Concertos Nos 2 & 3, Concerto da Camera - Nataša Veljkovic (piano) Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim/Johannes Moesus rec. 2016 CPO 555 149-2 [70:34] [RB] Two piano concertos freshly brought out and delivered with sleight, conviction and splendour.

Ballade landaise Works by Duparc, de Castéra, Bonnal & Le Junter - Patrick Le Junter (piano) rec. 2012 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC103 [60:04] [SG] Charming and lyrical first encounters.

Emma Boynet (piano) The Complete Solo 78-rpm Recordings and Fauré LPs rec. 1933-1952 APR 6033 [82:42 + 82:15] [JW] A valuable exponent of the august French School in an excellently compiled twofer.

British Piano Collection Vol. II Peter Jacobs (piano) rec. 1984-1991 HERITAGE HTGCD406 [4 CDs: 236:04] [JF] An ideal opportunity for a new generation to hear this superbly performed repertoire of British piano music.

Il Cannone Works by Paganini, Szymanowski, Schnittke and others - Francesca Dego (violin), Francesca Leonardi (piano) rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20223 [64:03] [JW] Paganini’s favourite violin unveiled in a fine programme, beautifully recorded.

Concertos for Mallet Instruments Works by Alrich, Jenkins & Rorem - Dame Evelyn Glennie (percussion) City Ch O of Hong Kong/Jean Thorel rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.574218 [71:01] [GPu] The Rorem is the finest and, I suspect, the most enduring work here.

Confessions of a Music Critic by Christopher Morley publ. 2021 Brewin Books [JQ] An entertaining book, but it’s something of a missed opportunity.

This Curious Harp 20th Century British Music for Solo Harp - Eleanor Hudson (harp) rec. 2020 MPR 110 [68:33] [JW] Venturesome British repertoire, much new to disc, spanning the twentieth-century.

Lise Davidsen (soprano) Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi - London PO/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2020 DECCA 4851507 [63:28] [RMo] Often mightily impressive vocally but interpretively unvaried singing.

A Dream Piano Transcriptions - Jürgen Geiger (piano) rec. 2020 GENUIN GEN21726 [68:19] [RCh] A marvellous treasure trove for fans of piano transcriptions.

Entente Musicale Music for Violin and Piano by Delius, Scott, Debussy, Ravel, Ireland and Bax - Clare Howick (violin) Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2019 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0625 [80:35] [SG] Compelling and captivating.

Sergio Fiorentino (piano) Live in USA rec. 1996-98 RHINE CLASSICS RH-015 [9 CDs: 673:02] [JW] A comprehensive and Olympian overview of Fiorentino’s American concerts.

French Duets Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne (pianos) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68329 [68:28] [RWe] Two fine pianists enjoy themselves in enchanting repertoire.

French Works for Flute Works by Saint-Saens, Franck, Widor & Duruflé - Adam Walker (flute) Timothy Ridout (viola) James Baillieu (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20229 [71:01] [JF] Listeners will find every piece here captures their imagination from the first to the last bar.

Galop! Orchestral transcriptions - Rachmaninov, Godowsky, Liszt & Stanhope - David Stanhope and his Orchestra TALL POPPIES TP265 [73:24] [NB] Interesting and effective arrangements compromised by sampled orchestra.

Gems of the Polish Baroque Ensemble Giardino di Delizie/Ewa Anna Augustynowicz rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95955 [49:20 + 48:39] [MW] These are true, if unfamiliar, gems; a joy for anyone who loves Baroque music.

Glass-Bach Dresden Works by JS Bach & Philip Glass - Mark Steinbach (organ) rec. 2019 ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0150 [50:03] [DC] Glass and Bach with plenty of ‘get up and go’.

Good night, beloved The Sixteen/Harry Christophers rec. 2020 CORO COR16184 [68:48] [JQ] A lovely, nicely varied album.

Friedrich Gulda (piano) Two Solo Recitals  rec. 1959 SWR MUSIC SWR19098CD [3 CDs: 158:15] [SG] A must-have for those who admire Gulda’s artistry.

Jascha Horenstein (conductor) Horenstein in Gothenburg, Vol 4 - Works by Mozart & Mahler rec. 1968 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC620 [76:27] [DD] A captivating live performance of the Mahler 4th under a great practitioner.

Ionisation Music of Penderecki, Varèse & Ligeti rec. 1969-72 VOX CDX-5142 [2 CDs: 130:43] [RB] Echoes of the mainstream avant-garde continue to resonate.

La Magnifique Flute Music for the Court of Louis XIV - Barthold Kuijken, Immanuel Davis (transverse flute) Arnie Tanimoto (viola da gamba), Donald Livingston (harpsichord) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.579083 [68:45] [JV] Kuijken is a master of refinement and subtlety, Davis is his congenial partner.

Margaret Marshall (soprano) Songbird - Rediscovered recordings from my career rec. 1974-79 Private release [76:13] [RMo] I urge all devotees of fine singing to enjoy this previously unheard testimony to the enduring appeal of Margaret Marshall’s lovely voice.

Miniatures Russes Rarities for Piano by Arensky & Lyadov - Swetlana Meermann-Muret (piano) rec. 2020 GENUIN GEN21730 [59:04] [RCh] Charming piano miniatures winningly played.

Music for the King of Scots Inside the Pleasure Palace of James IV - Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68333 [55:20] [GH] A fascinating and unique dive into little-known corners of early Scottish polyphony.

Music of the Four Realms Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonia of London HERITAGE HTGCD169 [77:26] [JF] A delightful exploration of favourite and forgotten British music culled from the Four Realms of the still-United Kingdom.

Nightingale A Tribute to Jenny Lind - Elin Rombo (soprano) Västerås Sinfonietta/Simon Crawford-Phillips rec. 2019 DB PRODUCTION DBCD196 [66:32] [GF] A mixed blessing: the orchestral works are excellent but the singing is not up to the mark.

Nordic Choral Music Youth Concert Ch of the Choral Academy Dortmund/Felix Heitmann WDR Radio Ch/Stefan Parkman rec. 2011-2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSICS HC20064 [72:45] [GPJ] Masterful performances of challenging repertoire from both choirs.

Antonio Oyarzabal (piano) La Muse Oubliée rec. 2020 IBS CLASSICAL IBS52021 [73:17] [NB] A wholly successful recital of high quality music, perceptively performed.

Rediscovered British Clarinet Concertos - Peter Cigleris (clarinet) BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Ben Palmer rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD656 [77:19] [JF] I hope that clarinettist Peter Cigleris keeps up the good work and rediscovers many more forgotten scores.

Røta Ragnhild Hemsing (violin/hardanger fiddle); Mario Häring (piano); Benedict Kloeckner (cello) rec. 2020 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301692BC [63:30] [JW] Norwegian folkloric impulses on the violin and Hardanger fiddle.

Ruta 100 Works by Piazzolla, Beytelmann & Ellington - Patagonia Express Trio rec. 2017 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301569BC [70:08] [MR] The Piazzolla centenary is marked by a piano trio giving a most unusual take on his music along with pieces written in homage to him by a friend and musical partner.

Sacred Treasures of Spain London Oratory Schola Cantorum/Charles Cole rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68359 [69:49] [JV] The pieces recorded here are treasures indeed, especially in these excellent performances.

George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra The Forgotten Recordings rec. 1954-1955 SOMM ARIADNE 5011-2 [69:44 + 73:13] [JQ] A revelatory set.

Il Transilvano Musical bridges between Italy and Hungary around 1600 - Prisma rec. 2020 EDITIONS AMBRONAY AMY312 [57:55] [JV] A model of creative and stylish music making.

Visions of Childhood April Fredrick (soprano) English Symphony Orchestra/Kenneth Woods rec. 2020 NIMBUS NI6408 [79:30] [DC] An unusual but entirely engaging production.

Voyage Clarinet and Piano Around the World. Works by Cahuzac, Kovacs, Rezso, Lutoslawski, Jacob & Schubert - Eleanor Weingartner (clarinet) Alfredo Isaac Aguilar (piano) rec. 2017 URTEXT JBCC315 [54:25] [JW] Enticing clarinet repertoire.

A Celebration of Conductor and Composer Stephen Wilkinson John Powell (baritone) BBC Northern Singers, William Byrd Singers/Stephen Wilkinson PRIMA FACIE PFCD147 [61:00] [JF] This very fine disc of moving and accomplished choral music deserves every success.

Articles and Notices

Vocal Retrospective: 2. Trial of the Titos by Ralph Moore & Mike Parr

Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben - a survey by Ralph Moore

Cello Concerto Project: 1971-80 - a new timeline by Patrick Waller



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Recordings of the Month

March


piano music Vol 4


Charpentier


Songs of Love and Sorrow


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January


Linda BUCKLEY
From Ocean’s Floor