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Monthly Listing
June 2021
164 reviews this month

Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919) Pagliacci Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945) Cavalleria Rusticana - Dutch National Opera, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/Lorenzo Viotti rec. 2019 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0117V [157 mins] [ST] The most dramatically powerful, completely convincing performance of either opera I’ve seen in a very long time.

Matthew TAYLOR (b. 1964) Symphonies Nos 4 & 5, Romanza - BBC Ntl O Wales, English SO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2019-2020 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6406 [63:56] [RHa] Two formidable additions to Taylor’s ongoing and increasingly impressive symphonic cycle.

American Quintets Works by Beach, Barber & Price - Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20224 [63:58] [SG] A delight from beginning to end.

Chčre Nuit Louise Alder (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20222 [80:10] [RCh] An enchanting recital of gems from the rich catalogue of French mélodie.

Romantic Piano Encores Kenneth Hamilton (piano) rec. 2019/20 PRIMA FACIE PFCD160 [74:46] [JF] The playing is stunning from the first note to the last - every track here is a winner.

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) Le Corsaire - Ballet Co. & O Teatro alla Scala/Patrick Fournillier rec. 2018 C MAJOR Blu-ray 756304 [108 mins] [RMay] A high quality and welcome performance of a still-underappreciated ballet.

Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856) La filleule des fées - Queensland Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Mogrelia rec. 1996 NAXOS 8.574302-03 [67:51 + 60:52] [RMay] Adam’s score benefits from an accomplished performance in this welcome reissue.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos Nos 2, 4 & 5, Concerto for 2 Violins - Ana de la Vega (flute) Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin) Ramon Ortega Quero (oboe) Wurttembergisches Kammer O Heilbronn rec. 2020 PENTATONE PTC5186893 [62:26] [ZT] Creative adaptations that are lively, often joyous, and thoroughly engaging.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Six Partitas - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68311/2 [74:01 + 74:42] [SG] A combination of interpretive flair, expressive freedom and meticulous scholarship.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suites for Solo Cello - Michael Kevin Jones (cello) rec. 2002 EMEC E-056/7 [73:10 + 76:45] [DC] Not bad, but hard to recommend given the alternatives.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for viola (da gamba) and harpsichord - Marie Stockmarr Becker (viola) Ilaria Macedonio (harpsichord) rec. 2020 CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS43721 [44:37] [DC] Nice to hear these sonatas with viola.

Natasha BARRETT (b. 1972) Leap Seconds rec. 2016-2019 SARGASSO SCD28083 [67:41] [DC] A rare talent.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Bluebeard’s Castle - Mika Kares (bass) Szilvia Vörös (mezzo) Géza Szilvay (narrator) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Susanna Mälkki rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2388 SACD [59:54] [IJ] No matter how many alternatives you have, Susanna Mälkki’s performance brings special qualities in abundance and is not to be missed.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete String Quartets - Quatuor Stanislas rec. 1994-2019 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1701-08 [8 CDs: 512:32] [SG] A cycle with much to admire.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets Nos 12-16, Grosse Fuge - Léner String Quartet rec. 1926-35 PRISTINE AUDIO PACM110 [3 CDs: 190:48] [JW] The triumphantly transferred finale to a great pre-war quartet cycle.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Sonatas for Piano and Violin Nos 5-7 - Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2020 BIS-2527 SACD [68:32] [CSa] Performances which capture the depth and breadth of Beethoven’s writing.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Violin Concerto No.3 - Vadim Gluzman (violin); Lucerne Symphony Orchestra/James Gaffigan rec. 2017-20 BIS BIS-2392 SACD [67:28] [DMD] A masterly programme with a truly inspired account of the Beethoven.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 3 Étienne-Nicolas MÉHUL (1763-1817) Les Amazones ou La Fondation de Thčbes Overture - Les Sičcles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902421 [54:12] [DMD] An exemplary modern take on the Eroica.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 7 - musicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19439743772 [39:50] [DD] A highly stimulating version of the ever-stimulating symphony.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Concerto, Romance No. 2, Violin Sonata No. 1 - Manrico Padovani (violin) Igor Longato (piano) Prager Philharmoniker, Russisches Philharmonisches Orchester Moskau/Boris Perrenoud rec. 2016/18 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38585 [75:17] [MB] Beethoven in poor sound, and with almost no redeeming qualities.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies No. 5 & 7 - Westdeutsche Sinfonia/Dirk Joeres rec. 2017-2019 MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC3106 [75:25 + DVD: 65 mins] [DD] Splendid and committed performances suitably priced and with a bonus.

Michał BERGSON (1820-1898) Orchestral Works - Jonathan Plowright (piano) Aleksandra Kubas-Kruk (soprano) Poznan Philharmonic Orchestra//Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2020 DUX 1704 [60:35] [RB] You might perhaps have feared boredom but for Bergson there’s no such thing.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Lélio - Joachim Bissmeier (narrator) Herbert Lippert (tenor) Geert Smits (baritone) Wiener Singakademie, ORF Vienna Radio SO/Michael Gielen rec. 2000 ORFEO C210071 [55:30] [SB] A good performance of Berlioz’s curious sequel to the Symphonie Fantastique - be prepared for the narration in German.

Corentin BOISSIER (b. 1995) Glamour Concerto, Philip Marlowe Concerto, Piano Sonata No 2 - Valentina Seferinova (piano) Ukrainian Festival Orchestra/John McLaughlin Williams rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0569 [69:31] [PRB] Imagine being locked in a cake shop overnight - could this just be too much of a good thing in the end?

Arrigo BOITO (1842-1918) Mefistofele - Ildar Abdrazakov, Ramón Vargas, Patricia Racette, San Francisco Opera O, Ch & Dance Corps/Nicola Luisotti rec. 2013 EUROARTS Blu-ray 2059674 [145 minutes] [ST] The first choice for this on film.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, Intermezzo - Yi Lin Jiang, Jacopo Giovannini (piano) rec. 2020 ANCLEF 20201031 [21:47] [DD] A delightful EP of two Brahms piano works, fulfilling the promise of Yi Lin Jiang’s first recording.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 2, Academic Festival Overture - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186851 [55:00] [ST] Two thumbs up.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartets Nos 1-3 - Eric Le Sage (piano) Pierre Fouchenneret (violin) Lisa Berthaud (viola) François Salque (cello) rec. 2017 B RECORDS LBM011 [67:41+46:48] [DMD] Passion and deep insight get this Brahms project off to a thrilling start

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartet No. 1, Symphony No. 3 - Notos Quartett rec. 2020 SONY 19439848002 [72:00] [DD] A captivating disc of Brahms’ chamber works, including one familiar piece in a novel arrangement which is beautifully performed.

Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Lieder - Rafael Fingerlos (baritone) Sascha El Mouissi (piano) rec. 2020 CPO 555 422-2 [60:38] [JW] Uneven inspiration but unusual repertoire featuring an overlooked cycle.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 2 & 8 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Prelude to Act I - Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Andris Nelsons rec. 2019 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 483 9834 [68:47 + 81:59] [RMo] A pleasing performance of the Second Symphony but an account of the Eighth which is no more than competent and emerges devoid of mystery.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 3 - Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2005 BR KLASSIK 900189 [56:19] [MC] Jansons and his Bavarian Radio orchestra excel in Bruckner’s Third.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 4 - Hiroshima SO/Tatsuya Shimono rec. 2020 BRAIN MUSIC OSBR 37010 [66:05] [RMo] This recording deserves serious consideration, even if there are plenty of others in the running.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 8 - Osaka Philharmonic O/Tadaaki Otaka rec. 2018 FONTEC FOCD9795/6 [41:57 + 51:27] [RMo] A fine account but not displacing the best.

William BYRD (1543-1623) The Melodious Birde - Colin Booth (harpsichord, virginals) rec. 2017 SOUNDBOARD RECORDS SBCD217 [75:50] [JV] This splendid disc is the ideal combination of music, instruments and performer.

Curt CACIOPPO (b. 1951) Illuminations - Kristina Bachrach (soprano) Curt Cacioppo (piano) Debra Lew Harder (piano) William Sharp (baritone) Wan-Chi Su (piano) rec. 2004-2020 MSR CLASSICS MS1777 [53:52] [GPu] One overwrought piece but even so this disc is eminently worth investigating.

John CARBON (b. 1951) Inner Voices - Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop rec. 1992-2009 CONVIVIUM CR058 [64:16 + 45:01] [JW] A timely Carbon retrospective.

Friedrich CERHA (b. 1926) I Keintate, Eine letzte Art Chansons - HK Gruber (chansonnier) Ens Die Reihe rec. 1984/93 KAIROS 0015100KAI [68:46] [RHa] A most edifying late-night Cerha revue.

Erik CHISHOLM (1904-65) Songs - Mhairi Lawson (soprano) Nicky Spence (tenor) Michael Mofidian (bass-baritone) Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34259 [67:50] [JF] Fine accounts of these remarkable songs.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Orchestral suites Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations Nöel COWARD (1899-1973) London Morning - New Symphony Orchestra of London/Eric Coates, London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Geoffrey Corbett rec. 1949-1950 ELOQUENCE 484 0190 [68:06 + 75:14] [NB] Mixed repertoire receiving mixed performances of sometimes limited historical interest.

Cecil COLES (1888-1918) & Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Piano Music - James Willshire (piano) rec. 2020 DELPHIAN DCD34209 [68:46] [SG] Hats off to Delphian for this enjoyable and rewarding release.

Marius CONSTANT (1927-2004) Turner, Brevissima, 103 Regards dans l’eau - Olivier Charlier (violin) Riverside Symphony/George Rothman rec. 2001/2006 RIVERSIDE SYMPHONY RECORDS RS1401 [53:34] [DC] Superb performances and recording of some rare repertoire.

John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938) The Ghosts of Versailles - Teresa Perrotta (soprano) Jonathan Bryan (baritone) Choir & Dancers Glimmerglass Festival, O de l’Opéra Royal/Joseph Colaneri rec. 2019 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CV5036 [2 CDs: 145:75 & DVD/Blu-Ray 149 mins] [SB] A very odd, but surprisingly rewarding opera.

Tansy DAVIES (b. 1973) Nature rec. 2014-18 NMC D260 [68:26] [SB] Imaginative and attractive works by a composer worth following.

Andrzej DZIADEK (b. 1957) Poem, Violin Concerto, Symphony No 2 - Krzysztof Bąkowski (violin), National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice rec. 1990/2002 DUX 1666 [51:45] [RHa] The violin concerto is certainly worth hearing; the other works are well-made but seem a tad predictable.

Jacopo FORONI (1825–1858) Cristina Regina di Svezia - Liine Carlsson (soprano) Daniel Johansson (tenor) Göteborg Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Tobias Ringborg rec. 2010 STERLING CDO1091/92-2 [57:25 + 72:07] [GF] Readers with an interest in 19th century Italian opera should definitely give this work a chance.

Richard FRANCIS (b. 1946) Solo Piano Music - Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2019 PRIMA FACIE PFCD108 [79:32] [JF] Duncan Honeybourne is an unmistakably powerful advocate of Richard Francis's piano music.

Eduard FRANCK (1817-1893) Piano Concerti Nos 1-2 - Georg Michael Grau (piano), Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen/Fawzi Haimor rec. 2018 CPO 555 320-2 [74:57] [RCh] Lots to admire in these richly orchestrated romantic concertos.

Jerzy GABLENZ (1888-1937) Piano Concerto Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) Polish Fantasy - Jonathan Plowright (piano), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68323 [66:27] [EJW] Very enjoyable: the Gablenz concerto is interesting and quite memorable.

Hans GÁL (1890-1987) Hidden Treasure 26 Unpublished Lieder, Five Songs - Christian Immler (bass-baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2543 SACD [72:25] [RHa] A valuable document which fills a crucial gap in the Gál discography.

Zoltán GÁRDONYI (1906-1986) & Zsolt GÁRDONYI (b.1946) Choral works - Cantabile Regensburg/Matthias Beckert rec. 2016 BECORD [66:04] [MR] Unfailingly beautiful and delightful music from a Hungarian father-and-son composing duo, sumptuously sung by Cantabile Regensburg.

Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948) Andrea Chénier - Yusif Eyvazov, Anna Netrebko, Luca Salsi, Annalisa Stroppa, Judit Kutasi, Mario Martone (stage director), Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2017 C MAJOR Blu-ray 757404 [128 mins] [ST] I will not be returning to this.

Bára GÍSLADÓTTIR (b. 1989) & Skúli SVERRISSON (b. 1966) Caeli - Bára Gísladóttir (double-bass) Skúli Sverrisson (electric bass) SONO LUMINUS SLE 70020 [70:04 + 59:48] [RHa] An experience of profundity, wonder and indescribable beauty.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) Faust - Michael Fabiano (tenor), Erwin Schrott (bass-baritone), Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House/Dan Ettinger rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE OA1330D DVD [2 discs: 184 mins] [SB] A sumptuous though occasionally peculiar production of this old favourite.

Gerre HANCOCK (1934-2012) Choral works - St Thomas Brass & Choirs New York/Jeremy Filsell; Benjamin Sheen & Nicholas Quardokus (organ) rec. 2020 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD631 [81:14] [JQ] A handsome tribute to Gerre Hancock.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Acis and Galatea - Norma Burrowes (soprano), Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Martyn Hill, Paul Elliott (tenors), Willard White (bass), English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner rec. 1978 Presto CD ARCHIV PRODUKTION 476 2520 [41:48 + 53:38] [RMo] Still holds its place, after more than forty years, as the most recommendable recording of the 1718 version – with one caveat.

Peter HEISE (1830-1879) Drot og Marsk - Peter Lodahl (tenor); Royal Danish O/Michel Schønwandt rec. 2019 DACAPO 6.200006 SACD [3 discs: 152:53] [MP] Fine conducting and committed singers who unfortunately exhibit some rough patches.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete Sonatas for Wind Instruments and Piano - Filippo Farinelli (piano) and various wind soloists rec. 2018-19 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95755 [71:38 + 62:47] [GPJ] Fine performances of these works by an important but often neglected composer.

José-Luis HURTADO (b. 1975) Parametrical Counterpoint - Talea Ensemble/José-Luis Hurtado (piano) rec. 2015-2019 KAIROS 0015093KAI [50:00] [RHa] One for those prepared to embrace ‘the shock of the new’.

Heinrich ISAAC (c.1450-1517) Missa ‘Wohlauff gut Gsell von hinnen’ & other pieces - Cinquecento rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68337 [78:03] [GH] One of the finest masses by this important Renaissance composer in a memorable performance.

Émile JAQUES-DALCROZE (1865-1950) Piano Music Vol. 2 - Paolo Munaň (piano) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0532 [59:16] [RB] Eloquence threaded through with darkness, trilling passion and moments of contentment at rest.

Susan KANDER (b. 1957) dwb - Roberta Gumbel (soprano) New Morse Code rec. 2020 ALBANY TROY1858 [41:09] [RP] Brilliant orchestration underpins a compelling story of mother and son.

Antoni KĄTSKI (1816-1899) Piano Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 - Anna Parkita (piano) rec. 2019 DUX 1682 [58:42] [RCh] Good to hear this attractive music from a forgotten figure.

Tālivaldis ĶENIŅŠ (1919-2008) Symphonies Nos 4 & 6, Canzona Sonata - Santa Vižine (viola), Latvian National Symphony Orchestra/Guntis Kuzma rec. 2021 ONDINE ODE1354-2 [52:40] [HC] One can but hope that more is to come soon.

Josef LABOR (1842-1924) Cello Sonata No 1, Violin Sonata No 1, Theme and Variations for Horn (or cello) and piano - Floris Mijnders (cello), Nina Karmon (violin), Přemysl Vojya (horn), Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2020 CAPRICCIO C5430 [56:11] [JW] Small-scaled but affectionate lyric late-Romantic pleasures.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 1 Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1872-1942) Maiblumen blühten überall - Lisa Larsson (soprano) Mythen Ens/Graziella Contratto rec. 2018 SCHWEIZER FONOGRAMM LC91357 [64:54] [LD] A ‘pocket-sized’ version of Mahler’s First Symphony.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Overtures & Preludes - Birgit Finnilä (contralto) James King (tenor) Stockholm PO/Jascha Horenstein, Bamberg SO/Heinrich Hollreiser rec. 1959/68 HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS 10410 [93:08] [JQ] A very welcome addition to the Horenstein discography.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 4 - Essi Luttinen (soprano) Turku Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam rec. 2019 ALBA ABCD454 [61:40] [GPJ] A wayward and ultimately unconvincing reading, despite some fine playing from the orchestra.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphonies Nos 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 & Das Lied von der Erde - Eva-Maria Rogner, Grace Hoffmann (mezzo) Ernst Haefliger (tenor) WDR SO, Cologne Radio SO/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1951-61 SWR MUSIC SWR19099CD [8 CD: 467 mins] [LD] Mahler recordings of great importance for the historical collector.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 6 Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Six Maeterlinck Songs - Jard van Nes (mezzo-soprano), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly rec. 1989 DECCA 430 165-2 [45:09 + 59:03] [RMo] A splendid finale cannot compensate for the disappointingly limp three movements dogged by inappropriately etiolated tempi.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - London Symphony Orchestra/Valery Gergiev rec. 2008 ALTO ALC1409 [71:55] [LD] Probably the best of Gergiev’s LSO Mahler cycle, but it doesn’t quite challenge the best.

Johann Simon MAYR (1763-1845) Messa di Gloria - Simon Mayr Chorus, Concerto de Bassus/Franz Hauk rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574203 [80:09] [RW] Delicate and endearing moments.

Alessandro MELANI (1639-1703) L’empio punito – Alessandro Ravasio (bass) Michela Guarrera (soprano) Reate Festival Baroque Ensemble/Alessandro Quarta rec. 2019 DYNAMIC 57871 Blu-ray [136 mins] [MP] A great deal to enjoy, if only it weren’t undermined by the somewhat deficient sound.

Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1840–1893) Complete Music For Solo Piano Vol. 1 - Ian Hobson (piano) rec. 2020 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0572 [76:32] [JWe] Marvellous music, very well played and recorded; I look forward to forthcoming volumes.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 17 - Olga Pashchenko (fortepiano) Il Gardellino rec. 2020 ALPHA 726 [63:12] [DMD] Elegance and exuberance in abundance.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21 - András Schiff (piano) Camerata Academica des Mozarteums Salzburg/Sándor Végh rec. 1989 DECCA 430 510-2 [59:02] [DD] Two exceptional performances of a couple of Mozart’s finest piano concertos; lovely to hear again.

Geraldine MUCHA (1917-2012) Chamber Music - Stamic Quartet, Prague Wind Quintet rec. 2015 BRILLIANT 95463 [79:25] [JW] Scottish heritage and Czech impulses in the works of Geraldine Mucha.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures from an Exhibition Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Bolero, Rapsodie Espagnole - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1985-87 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 413 588-2 [64:25] [DD] These musicians are in their element in this music.

Christopher Tyler NICKEL (b. 1978) Symphony No 2 - NorthWest Sinfonia/Clyde Mitchell rec. 2018 AVIE AV2456 [52:59] [RB] Moody, bleak yet consoling, troubling yet caressing.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphony No 4 Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Tapiola - Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1981/84 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4455182 [58:43] [LD] A near-miss Nielsen, coupled with one of the greatest Tapiolas of all.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Violin Sonatas Op 9 and Op 35 George ENESCU (1881-1955) Violin Sonata No 3 - Mihaela Oprea (violin), Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano) rec. 2020 DANACORD DACOCD879[70:42] [LW] Fine accounts.

Selim PALMGREN (1878-1951) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Jouni Somero (piano) rec. 2020 GRAND PIANO RECORDS GP867 [66:54] [RCh] A good start to an overdue exploration of Palmgren's piano music.

Geoffrey POOLE (b. 1949) A Pianist’s I Ching - Geoffrey Poole (piano) rec. 2019-2020 PRIMA FACIE PFCD150-52 [3 CDs: 171:25] [DC] Monumental and approachable at the same time.

Marcel POOT (1901-1988) Symphonies Nos 1-7 rec. 1960-2021 NAXOS 8.574292-93 [65:47 + 75:39] [GH] A chance to discover the symphonies of one of Belgium’s leading twentieth-century composers.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Aubade, Le Bal masque, Flute Sonata, Sextet - Mark Bebbington (piano) Roderick Williams (baritone) Emer McDonough (flute) Royal PO/Jan Latham-Koenig rec. 2020 RESONUS RES10276 [67:53] [GPJ] Well worth hearing for the outstanding performances of the Flute Sonata and the Sextet.

Florence PRICE (1887-1953) Fantasie Negre - Samantha Ege (piano) rec. 2020 LORELT LNT144 [53:56] [RC] Bold, romantic piano works reveal more of this neglected composer.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Complete Symphonies - Săo Paulo SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2011-2016 NAXOS 8.506038 [6 CDs: 380:27] [RC] Alsop's Prokofiev Symphony cycle is among the finest; the inclusion of many other orchestral works adds to the appeal.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No 5, Lieutenant Kijé Suite - Andreas Schmidt (baritone) Berlin PO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 1990 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435029-2 [61:39] [DD] A very fine performance of an epic Symphony with a substantial bonus. If you want a single disc, not a complete set, this fits the bill.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cinderella (complete), Summer Night: Suite from The Duenna  - Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev rec. 1994 Presto CD DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4762233 [2 CDs: 136:44] [RMo] Easily the best option for a recording of the complete ballet, in terms of both sound and performance.

Sergej RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Variations on a theme of Corelli, Études-tableaux, Piano Sonata No.2 - Massimiliano Motterle (piano) rec. 2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00396 [64:30] [NB] Well-planned recital that rarely challenges the best alternatives.

Emil REESEN (1887-1964) The Art of Emil Reesen rec. 1941-1969 DANACORD DACOCD899 [76:24] [JW] Folklore, romance and prankish delights from a Danish stalwart.

Carl REINECKE (1880-1910) Piano Trio No 1 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Triple Concerto  - Duccio Ceccanti (violin), Vittorio Ceccanti (cello), Matteo Fossi (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.573969 [64:31] [PRB] The first recording of a Reinecke piano trio, but a letdown of a Beethoven revamp.

Jakub Jan RYBA (1765-1815) Cello Concerto, Horn Concerto, Cassatia - Eduard Šístek (cello) Radek Baborák (horn) L’Armonia Terrena/Zdeněk Klauda rec. 2020 NIBIRU 01692231 [65:50] [SSi] Sparkling performances.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Works for 2 Pianos Vol. 3 - Hiro Takenouchi, Simon Callaghan (pianos) rec. 2019 NIMBUS NI5997 [55:29] [JWe] Interesting repertoire, well played and nicely recorded but the Liszt doesn’t grab my imagination.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Violin Concerto No 3 Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Concerto gregoriano, Poema autunnale - Pierre Amoyal (violin) Orchestre National de France/Charles Dutoit rec. 1993 DECCA 443 324-2 [68:57] [DD] A delightful disc of violin works, superbly executed.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Gurrelieder - Camilla Nylund (soprano) Christa Mayer (mezzo) Stephen Gould (tenor) MDR Rundfunkchor, Staatsopernchor Dresden, Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2020 PROFIL EDITION PH20052 [50:43 + 50:49] [MC] Thielemann and his huge forces provide a compelling and perceptive performance.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Pierrot lunaire, Phantasy Johann STRAUSS JR (1825-1899) Emperor Waltz - Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) Meesun Hong (violin, viola) Júlia Gállego (flute) Reto Bieri (clarinet) Marko Milenković (viola) Thomas Kaufmann (cello) Joonas Ahonen (piano) rec. 2019 ALPHA 722 [72:49] [LW] PatKop’s Schoenberg is sui generis.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Nos 14 & 20 - Jorge Bolet (piano) rec. 1989 DECCA 425837-2 [58:41] [DD] Bolet’s only recordings of Schubert - a thoroughly stimulating listening hour.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) String Quartets Nos 1-3 - Emerson String Quartet rec. 2018/19 PENTATONE MUSIC PTC5186869 [76:46] [SV] A fine balance between sweetness and firmness.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Mazurkas, Počmes & Impromptus - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95931 [3 CDs: 230:08] [MC] Alexeev brings his captivating series of Scriabin piano works to a trimphant conclusion.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos Nos 1 and 2, Piano Trio No 2 - Simon Trpčeski (piano), Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra/Cristian Macelaru; Aleksandar Krapovski (violin), Alexander Somov (cello) rec. 2020 LINN RECORDS CKD659 [69:38] [CCC] Three very different portraits of an extraordinary composer – the trio stands out as an excellent performance of one of Shostakovich’s finest, underappreciated works

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Violin Concerto, Humoresques Nors S. JOSEPHSON (b. 1942) Celestial Voyage - Fenella Humphreys (violin) BBC Ntl O of Wales/George Vass rec. 2020 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10277 [63:16] [SG] A concerto recording bathed in Nordic chill and majestic landscapes.

August SÖDERMAN (1832-1876) Orchestral Music Vol 2 - Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera/Roy Goodman rec. 2000 STERLING CDS-1040-2 [73:39] [GF] A motley assortment of orchestral pieces by an important pioneer in Nordic Romantic music.

Johannes Matthias SPERGER (1750-1812) Double Bass Concertos Nos 1 & 8, Sinfonia No 15 - Roman Patkoló (double bass) Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim/Douglas Bostock rec. 2020 CPO 555 404-2 [60:18] [DC] Brilliant all-round.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Tirfing (excerpts) - Ingrid Tobiasson (mezzo-soprano); Carina Morling (soprano); Jesper Taube (baritone) Royal Opera Orchestra Stockholm/Leif Segerstam rec. 1999 STERLING CDO-1033-2 [57:25] [GF] Gifted Wagnerian eclecticism by a young Stenhammar.

Ronald STEVENSON (1928–2015) Piano Music Vol. 5 - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2020/21 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0606 [80:57] [JF] An imaginative and rewarding programme of Ronald Stevenson’s transcriptions.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ariadne auf Naxos - Soile Isokoski, Johan Botha, Vienna State Opera Orchestra/Christian Thielemann rec. 2014 ORFEO C996202 [73:35 + 55:06] [PSt] A set which can stand beside Kempe and Böhm’s recordings.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Divertimento, Histoire du Soldat Suite, Octet for Winds etc. - London Sinfonietta/Riccardo Chailly rec. 1980 DECCA ENTERPRISE 4330792 [75:41] [BW] A very worthwhile taster for the recent 11-CD box set.

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Harmonious Echo - Mary Bevan (soprano) Kitty Whately (mezzo) Ben Johnson (tenor) Ashley Riches (bass-baritone) David Owen Norris (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20239(2) [47:00 + 46:03] [MG] Not all roses, but if you already like what Sullivan does well, here are some new friends.

Alexander TCHAIKOVSKY (b. 1946) Orchestral Music Vol. 1 - Siberian Symphony Orchestra/Dmitry Vasiliev rec. 2019/20 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0587 [60:12] [WK] Contrasting, but dynamic, works from a composer who should be better known in the West. 

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893) Children’s Album, Serenade for Strings - Orchestra Arcangelo Corelli /Jacopo Rivani rec. 2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00390 [63:47] [NB] A delightful Children’s Album hampered by a routine Serenade.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Polonoise - Aisslinn Nosky (violin) Holland Baroque re. 2020 PENTATONE PTC 5186 878 SACD [67:52] [JV] What is written in liner-notes and books about Telemann and the 'barbaric beauty' of traditional music is demonstrated at length here.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Aldo Protti (baritone) Hilde Gueden (soprano) Mario Del Monaco (tenor) Coro e orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia/Alberto Erede rec. 1954 DECCA LONDON 440 242-2 [52:38 + 59:44] [RMo] A thoroughly enjoyable version, even if several other mono recordings from the 50’s are superior.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un ballo in maschera (Maskeradbalen) - Nicolai Gedda (tenor), Siv Wennberg (soprano), Chorus and Orchestra of the Stockholm Royal Opera/Eri Klas rec. 1985 STERLING CDA1802/03-2 [68:32 + 63:54] [GF] A very attractive Ballo – sung in Swedish, also very listenable for non-Swedes.

Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Complete Organ Symphonies - Roger Sayer (organ) rec. 2020 FUGUE STATE FILMS FSFDVD014 DVD/CD [DVD: 210:35 & 2 CDs: 210:35] [SG] Richly rewarding interpretations.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin Sonatas; The Four Seasons - Dénes Kovács (violin); János Sebestyén (harpsichord); Mária Frank (cello) Hungarian Radio Chamber Orchestra/Lamberto Gardelli rec. 1967-68 DOREMI DHR-8145-6 [75:14 + 56:29] [JW] Dedicated Vivaldi performances from the 1960s with limited wider appeal.

WANG Lu (b. 1982) An Atlas of Time - Ryan Muncy (saxophone), Daniel Lippel (electric guitar), Momenta Quartet, Miranda Cuckson (violin), Boston Modern Orchestral Project rec. 2020 NEW FOCUS FCR277 [47:12] [MR] While not all the music here is a success, it is honoured by outstanding performances and a top notch recorded sound.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Piano Quintet, Children’s Notebook No. 3 - Elisaveta Blumina (piano) Noah Bendix-Balgley (violin) Shanshan Yao (violin) Máté Szücs (viola) Bruno Delepelaire (cello) rec. 2020 OEHMS OC487 [58:07] [PRB] Blumina is a great ambassador for a composer whose works deserve far better recognition.

Joseph WOELFL (1773-1812) Piano Music Vol. 2 - Adalberto Maria Riva (piano) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0599 [69:49] [PRB] Just the kind of music to make you want to go straight to the piano, and play it yourself.

Joseph WÖLFL (1773-1812) Piano Concertos - Nataša Veljković (piano) Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim/Johannes Moesus rec. 2016 CPO 555 149-2 [70:34] [PRB] A perfect anti-stress remedy, but with none of the usual side effects.

Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Mörike-Lieder, Goethe-Lieder - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Daniel Barenboim (piano) rec. 1974/76 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 192-2 [66:34] [DD] One of the finest lieder singers with a perfect accompanist in a fine and diverse recital.

Album Für Die Frau Lieder by Robert and Clara Schumann - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2473 SACD [71.46] [MW] Glorious music-making makes this a must for any lovers of the musical world of the Schumanns.

Fabien Armengaud (harpsichord) Etienne Richard, Professeur du Roy Soleil rec. 2020 ENCELADE ECL1903 [70:24] [JV] A very interesting and compelling survey of the rich culture of French harpsichord music of the mid-17th century.

Stefan Askenase (piano) Piano Recitals in Germany rec. 1952-1968 MELOCLASSIC MC1051 [2 CDs: 157:30] [SG] A mixed bag.

Baltikum Séverine Ballon (cello) SWR Vokalensemble/Marcus Creed rec. 2019 SWR CLASSIC SWR19108BD Blu-ray [82 mins] [PCG] Most frustrating presentation for some most rewarding music.

Baroque Concerti from The Netherlands Combattimento Consort Amsterdam/Jan Willem de Vriend; Musica ad Rhenum/Jed Wentz rec. 1991-1995 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95809 [4 CDs: 258:01] [SSi] A most rewarding and very entertaining set.

Sir Adrian Boult (conductor) The NBC Recordings rec. 1938 PRISTINE PASC626 [2 CDs: 160:41] [JW] Boult in vibrant form in pre-war New York.

Dennis Brain (horn) Homage - Centenary Edition rec. 1938-57 WARNER CLASSICS 9029501992 [11 CDs: 817:48] [MC] A suitable celebration of the centenary of the remarkable horn player Dennis Brain.

British Celebration Vol 4 - Various orchestras and conductors rec. 1972-2004 HERITAGE HTGCD165 [79:08] [JF] A varied and engaging programme of light and not so light music.

British Music for Strings II Works by Bantock & Wilson - SW Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Douglas Bostock rec. 2020 CPO 555 395-2 [76:47] [JW] Works that charm but don’t dig deep.

The Children’s Hour Fairy Tales, Adventures, Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies - Gareth Brynmor John (baritone) William Vann (piano) rec. 2018 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD156 [65:11] [JQ] An imaginatively conceived and very well executed recital.

Paula Coronas (piano) Femmes d'Espagne rec. 2020 IBS CLASSICAL IBS22021 [61:05] [RCh] A vivid collection portrayed in bold, bright colours.

Duets for Baroque Lute & Mandolino Works by Baron, Durant, Hagen, Blohm & Weiss - Schneiderman-Yamaya Duo HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC21006 [76:08] [GPu] Though not ‘authentic’, these performances are brilliant examples of historical scholarship used creatively.

Echoes of an Old Hall Gothic Voices rec. 2018 LINN CKD644 [76:03] [DMD] A deliciously varied exploration of English music of the late 14th and early 15th centuries and the European composers it influenced.

Echoes of Autumn and Light  New Chamber Music from Luxembourg - Mariette Lentz (soprano), Kammerata Luxembourg/Camille Kerger rec. 2020 TOCCATA TOCN0011 [67:30] [HC] Well worth exploring, for there is really much to enjoy here.

Encounters Works by Brahms, Hindemith, Schumann and Enescu - Joaquín Riquelme (viola), Enrique Bagaría (piano) rec. 2019 EUDORA EUD-DR2102 SACD [59:28] [CSa] Fine performances, recorded in excellent sound, but with a controversial technique.

French Music for the Stage Works by Auber, Boieldieu, Delibes, Massenet & Thomas - Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi rec. 2018/19 CHANDOS CHAN20151 [78:40] [SSi] Swagger and panache: wonderful.

French Romantic Church Music - Elizabeth Barrow (soprano) Emily Tan, Paulina Vayenas (mezzos) Leighton Triplow (tenor) James Emerson (bass) Robert James Stove (organ) rec. 2020 ARS ORGANI ARS003 [62:58] [MR] Charming, delightful, but generally unexceptional French church music is given delicate, often rather fragile performances.

Cécile Genhart (piano) The Recording Legacy of Artist-Teacher - The Existing Piano Recordings rec. 1936-1961 THE AMERICAN MATTHAY ASSOCIATION FOR PIANO [3 CDs: 200:57] [SG] A wonderful opportunity to savour the sublime artistry of this distinguished pianist.

Horn and Sound Sören Hermansson (horn with electronics), Dana Johnson (voice) rec. 2020 BLUE MUSIC GROUP BMG5189 [63:13] [JW] Sometimes challenging repertoire that offers glimpses of the filmic and pictorial.

Evlyn Howard-Jones & Edward Isaacs (piano) The Complete Solo Recordings rec. 1926-1928 APR 6035 [78:53 + 58:02] [SG] Two long lost English pianists remembered.

IV-XXI (In Memoriam) Works by Brahms & Clara & Robert Schumann - Yi Lin Jiang, Jacopo Giovanni (piano) rec. 2020-2021 ANCLEF 20210421 [63:20] [DC] Excellent, impressive and touching performances.

Eugen Jochum (conductor) The Choral Recordings on Philips rec. 1952-72 ELOQUENCE 484 2000 [13 CDs: 822:00] [JW] Jochum’s choral legacy - reverential, moving and still exemplary.

Miloš Karadaglić (guitar) The Moon & The Forest  Music by Joby Talbot, Howard Shore & others - BBC Symphony Orchestra/Ben Gernon, National Arts Centre Orchestra/Alexander Shelley rec. 2019, 2020 DECCA 4851525 [51:39] [EJW] The ear is occasionally intrigued and pleased by the colourful, shimmering orchestral textures.

Lowering The Tone and Raising The Roof By Raymond Gubbay [224 pages ISBN: 9781846893520] pub. 2021 Quiller Publishing Ltd [RB] A lively and colourful autobiography.

Sir Charles Mackerras (conductor) Kaleidoscope - London Symphony Orchestra rec. locations and dates not provided ELOQUENCE 482 9360 [73:38 + 66:18] [RMay] Vintage Mackerras in an enjoyable collection of orchestral lollipops.

Magnificat Vol. 2 Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha rec. 2019 SIGNUM RECORDS SIGCD667 [74:22] [MR] A release which magnificently shows that this is a genre of music which can thrive outside the hallowed confines of an English cathedral, church, or chapel.

Manhattan to Montmartre Works by Bernstein & Gershwin - Julian Jacobson, Mariko Brown (piano duo) rec. 2020 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0635 [72:30] [JF] Great playing, excellent liner notes and a splendid recording.

Monody Music for Cor Anglais Vol. 3 - Martin Frutiger (cor anglais), Petya Mihneva Falsig (piano) rec. 2020 GUILD GM2CD7823 [132:37] [JW] Beautifully presented examples of the lyric French cor anglais repertoire.

A Musical Zoo Ashley Riches (bass-baritone) Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2020 CHANDOS CHAN20184 [75:13] [JQ] A thoroughly entertaining disc.

Occurrence ISO Project Vol 3 - Pekka Kuusisto (violin) Mario Caroli (flute) Iceland SO/Daniel Bjarnason rec. 2018-2020 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92243 BD-A/CD [70:42] [RHa] An appropriately thrilling conclusion to Sono Luminus's signature ISO Project.

One Movement Symphonies Works by Barber, Scriabin & Sibelius - Kansas City Symphony/Michael Stern rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-149 [62:28] [DM] Stern and the KCS at their very best; top-drawer sound, too.

Original Music for Violin and Guitar Virtuoso Pieces - Giles Colliard (violin) Agustín Maruri (guitar) rec. 2001 EMEC E-041 [70:38] [GPu] The case for these largely-forgotten composers is put very well in this recording.

Per voi ardo Italian madrigals - Carlos Mena (alto) Manuel Minguillón (vihuela) rec. 2019 IBS CLASSICAL IBS12021 [63:53] [JV] A highly entertaining disc, thanks to the excellent music and the impressive performances.

Phoenix Nicola Hands (oboe/cor anglais), Jonathan Pease (piano) rec. 2019 EM RECORDS EMRCD066 [77:18] [SSi] A pleasing recital.

André Previn (conductor) The Warner Edition - Complete HMV & Teldec Recordings rec. 1971-87 WARNER CLASSICS 9029506573 [96 CDs] [MC] Celebrating a substantial portion of Previn’s voluminous recording legacy. 

Max Rostal (violin) Twentieth-Century Violin Sonatas - Max Rostal (violin) rec. 1952-58 ELOQUENCE 4829059 [80:29+74:05] [JW] A finely transferred, well annotated and handsome twofer.

Leopold Stokowski (conductor) 20th Century American Composers - NBC Symphony Orchestra rec. 1941-44 PRISTINE PASC625 [79:38] [JW] A well-balanced and cleverly laid-out programme charting Stokowski in wartime.

The Story in Tones 20th Century Historical Recordings from Iceland - Björn Ólafsson (violin), Wilhelm Lanzky-Otto, Jón Nordal, Árni Kristjánsson and Jórunn Viđar (piano) rec. 1947-1974 4TAY CD4063 [63:36] [JW] A pioneering Icelandic musician promotes his country’s violin music in style.

Joan Sutherland (soprano) In Performance 1957-1960 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9133 [68:58 + 45:46] [RMo] The Donizetti opera is surely no masterpiece but the arias are priceless.

Violeta Vicci (viola/violin, vocals) Mirror Images rec. 2018 ALDILA RECORDS ARCD010 [60:47] [DD] A real talent in rapport with the listener … an enterprising and varied collection.

Visions Works by Debussy, Poulenc, Prokofiev & Mariani - Maria Gabriella Mariani (piano) rec. 2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00377 [76:00] [RCh] Visions conjured and grand passions expressed.

Oksana Volkova (mezzo-soprano) Poison d'Amour - Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian rec. 2019 DELOS DE3584 [63:50] [MC] A very effective performance of a collection of arias.

Yuu Gentleness and Melancholy - Kaori Uemura (viola da gamba) rec. 2019 RAMEE RAM1915 [67:08] [JV] A very compelling recording which lovers of the viola da gamba should not miss.



Forgotten Artists: Erminia Romano by Christopher Howell

Vocal Retrospective: Christa Ludwig by Ralph Moore & Mike Parr

Catching up with the Baroque and Before Part I by Brian Wilson

An Eclectic Selection of Rossini Operas - a survey by Ralph Moore

Listening Studio Report June 2021 by John Quinn

Mozart’s Don Giovanni - a survey by Ralph Moore


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