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[New] Piano Trio Discography: End of 2021 Update

[New] Brian Wilson - an appreciation by John Quinn (Brian passed away on December 1)

Listening Studio Report by John Quinn

Vocal Retrospective: Some lesser-known Christmas oratorios by Ralph Moore & Mike Parr

Strauss's Metamorphosen - a survey by Ralph Moore

Christmas 2021 - Some Seasonal Offerings by Brian Wilson


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Black Swan Band ~ Al Hammerman ~ Raul Gutierrez ~ Victor Feldman ~ Fifth Element

December 2021 Recordings of the Month
Aucoin - The Orphic Moment - BMOP Sound
Crumb - Metamorphoses - Bridge
Wagner - Tristan und Isolde - Pristine Audio

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MusicWeb International presents its 2021 Recordings of the Year

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AP0483 Rene de Boisdeffre Songs Vol 3
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Friday December 17th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas for solo violin - Rachel Kolly (violin) rec. 2020 INDESENS INDE141 [71:21] [MG] Admirable playing of clarity, dazzle and discipline, perhaps occasionally over objective.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The New Complete Beethoven: Essential Edition DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 0594 [95 CDs: ca 115 hrs] [TPo] Teems with performances which have won proven support among music-lovers and collectors, but is blighted by poor presentation.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 8 - Bruckner O Linz/Markus Poschner rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C8081 [76:16] [RMo] A splendid second instalment in this ongoing Complete Bruckner series; grand and beautifully shaped.

Johann Joseph FUX (c1660-1741) Arias for the Emperor - Maria Ladurner (soprano) Biber Consort rec. 2020 PAN CLASSICS PC10425 [61:17] [JV] This disc may well be one of the best surveys of Fux's output of vocal music.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Roméo et Juliette - Raoul Jobin, Janine Micheau, Ch & O Théŕtre Ntl de l’Opéra/Alberto Erede rec. 1953 DECCA 443 539-2 [75:40 + 67.00] [MP] Not a first choice, but some first-class performances make this set worth hearing.

Virgil THOMSON (1896–1989) Complete Chamber Works - Monadnock Music/Gil Rose rec. 2012 EVERBEST 1001 [80:59 + 79:33] [NC] The first-ever integral recording of chamber music by an American composer better known for writing about the music of others.

In the Bleak Midwinter Christmas Carols from King’s - Matthew Martin (organ) Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Daniel Hyde rec. 2020/21 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0060 [74:30] [ST] Not “just another King’s Christmas disc”, rather a unique memento of a Christmas Eve like no other.

Thursday December 16th

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Lulu excerpts, Konzertarie: Der Wein, Lyric Suite, Chamber Concerto - Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Robert Craft rec. 1960 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC646 [75:26] [NC] Even after over 60 years, these recordings remain essential for lovers of Berg’s music.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848) Belisario - Roberto Frontali (baritone) Carmela Remigio (soprano) Orchestra e Coro Donizetti Opera/Riccardo Frizza rec. 2020 DYNAMIC CDS7907.2 [61:28+ 65:22] [RMo] Moments of beauty and zestfully directed but with too many vocal flaws.

Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) Chamber music - Ensemble arabesques/Philipp Pointner rec. 2018 FARAO CLASSICS B108105 [56:32] [MC] Ensemble arabesques meets the challenges of Ibert’s chamber works handsomely.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Fantasy on Hungarian Folk-tunes, Piano Concertos, Totentanz - Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano), Montreal Symphony Orchestra/Charles Dutoit rec. 1990 DECCA 433 075-2 [68:32] [RWe] A valuable collection of performances that still impress.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Sonatas - Oscar Shumsky (violin), Leopold Mittman (piano) rec. 1951 BIDDULPH 85003-2 [73:40] [SG] Despite reservations in sound quality, this is artistry of the highest level.

Florence Beatrice PRICE (1887-1953) Symphony No 3, The Mississippi River, Ethiopia’s Shadow in America - ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/John Jeter rec. 2020/21 NAXOS 8.559897 [66:48] [NB] Curiously conservative scores played with commitment and conviction.

Wednesday December 15th

Maija EINFELDE (b. 1939) Violin Sonatas - Magdalēna Geka (violin) Iveta Cālīte (piano) rec. 2020 SKANI LMIC129 [50:32] [SG] A release well-worth exploring.

Robert FAYRFAX (1464–1521) Music for Tudor Kings & Queens - Ensemble Pro Victoria/Toby Ward rec. 2021 DELPHIAN DCD34265 [67:07] [JQ] Ensemble Pro Victoria bring to life the music of Robert Fayrfax.

Luis Humberto SALGADO (1903–1977) The 9 Symphonies - Cuenca Symphony Orchestra/Michael Meissner rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96256 [3 CDs: 218:58] [NC] A welcome introduction to the music of an unjustly neglected Ecuadorian composer whose symphonies rank among the 20C’s finest.

George Philipp TELEMANN (1681–1767) Violin Concertos Vol. 7 - The Wallfisch Band/Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin) rec. 2013 CPO 777881-2 [57:04] [DJB] Elizabeth Wallfisch is a reliable guide to this mellifluous music.

In the Garden of Polyphony French Renaissance Music for Lute & Guitar - Israel Golani (lute, guitar) rec. 2020 SOLAIRE RECORDS SOL1010 [67:58] [DC] Atmospheric and intimate, this is renaissance lute playing at its finest.

Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) Celeste Aida: The Verdi Album rec. 1967-1995 DECCA 478 1497 [79:13 + 77:30] [RMo] A fine, mostly representative survey of Pavarotti’s eminence as a Verdi singer over almost three decades.

Tuesday December 14th

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) & Jean RIVIER (1896-1987) String Quartets - Mandelring Qt rec. 2019/20 AUDITE 97.710 [66:21] [RWe] A very fine account of the Debussy, and with fascinating unfamiliar couplings.

Aleksandr GRECHANINOV (1864-1956) All-Night Vigil - Dārta Paldiņa (mezzo) Kāris Rūtentāls, Jānis Kurševs (tenor) Jānis Kokins (bass) Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Kļava rec. 2021 ONDINE ODE1397-2 [46:01] [RMo] The sound and balances are impeccable but 46 minutes is short measure for a CD these days.

Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739) Psalms & Sonatas - Ens Salomone Rossi/Lydia Cevidalli rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7882 [65:18] [JV] This disc can be recommended for the vocal works, whereas the instrumental items are disappointing.

Mátyás SEIBER (1905-1960) Works for Orchestra and Violin & Piano - Nina Karmon (violin) Oliver Triendl (piano) Württembergisches Kammer O Heilbronn/Levente Török rec. 2021 HÄNSSLER HC21043 [73:42] [JF] This essential CD showcases music that is sometimes challenging, but always satisfying.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un ballo in Maschera – Piotr Beczała (tenor), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone), Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano), Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper/Jesús López-Cobos rec. 2016 ORFEO C210062 [60:52 + 74:20] [MP] A likeable memento in spite of the numerous flaws.

Paul WRANITZKY (1756-1808) Orchestral Music Vol. 3 - Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice/Marek Štilec rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.574289 [68:49] [DJB] Wranitzky shows that there was imaginative and characterful music of this era that wasn’t written by Mozart or Haydn.

Alexander von Zemlinsky (conductor) The Complete Recordings rec. 1927-1934 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC642 [58:33 + 55:30] [PSt] Despite slightly disappointing repertoire, these performances give a real idea of Zemlinsky’s exceptional ability as a conductor.

Monday December 13th

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Hulda - Meagan Miller (soprano), Joshua Kohl (tenor), Opernchor & Extrachor des Theater Freiburg, Freiburg/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.660480-82 [3 CDs: 162:25] [RC] Admirers of Franck will surely want this important rediscovery.

John PURSER (b. 1942) Consider the Story Private Release [79:17] [JF] A fascinating retrospective.

Arnold ROSNER (1945-2013) The Chronicle of Nine: The Tragedy of Queen Jane - Boston Modern Opera Project, Odyssey Opera/Gil Rose rec. 2020 BMOP/SOUND 1081 [131:18] [EJW] A truly splendid recording of Arnold Rosner’s only full-scale opera; readers who respond to his music need not hesitate.

Ludomir RÓŻYCKI (1883-1953) Violin Concerto, Works for Violin and Piano - Ewelina Nowicka (violin), Pola Lazar (piano), Michał Krężlewski (piano), Polish National RSO in Katowice/Zygmunt Rychert rec. 2001, 2010 CPO 555421-2 [49:31] [SG] Performances which truly capture the spirit of the music.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Ettore Bastianini (baritone) Renata Scotto (soprano) Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Gianandrea Gavazzeni rec. 1960 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO184 [55:35 + 63:48] [RMo] Another splendid remastering from Pristine but not necessarily a first choice in terms of either sound or singing.

Christmas Bells Organ Music from Belfast Cathedral - Matthew Owens (organ) rec. 2021 RESONUS RES10293 [78:29] [MR] Christmas-themed pieces both old and new are not particularly well-served by the Harrison & Harrison organ of Belfast Cathedral.

Hodie Christus natus est A Medieval Chistmas - Boston Camerata/Anne Azéma rec. 2021 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905339 [58:13] [JV] This disc makes for great company during the last weeks of the year.


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Recordings of the Month

(short month)

Orphic Moments

Metamorphoses Books I & II


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos