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Monthly Listing
February 2022
158 reviews this month

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Nocturnes - Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2020 HYPERION RECORDS CDA68351/2 [57:15 + 54:13] [RCh] Magical playing in a set to treasure.

Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b. 1931) Dialog: Ich und Du, The Wrath of God, The Light of the End - Vadim Repin (violin) Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig/Andris Nelsons rec. 2019-21 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 1457 [62:46] [LW] A cause for celebration on the occasion of Gubaidulina’s 90th birthday.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, Poèmes pour mi, Chronochromie - Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano) Jenny Daviet (soprano) Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Kent Nagano rec. 2017-19 BR KLASSIK 900203 [3 CDs: 145:04] [DMD] A triumph for all concerned.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonatas Nos 17 & 21 - Anne-Marie McDermott (piano) rec. 2021 BRIDGE 9550A/B [39:35 + 43:28] [DC] Superb Schubert in demonstration sound quality.

Stylus Phantasticus Tekla Cunningham (baroque violin) Pacific MusicWorks/Stephen Stubbs rec. 2018 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-742 [74:40] [JV] A perfect display of the excitement of the stylus phantasticus.

Peter ABLINGER (b. 1959) Against Nature - Wider die Natur, Nichts, Überlegung 19, 8 Zeichnungen - Erik Drescher & Peter Ablinger (soloists) rec. 2020 KAIROS 0015104KAI [72:43] [RHa] Strange and intermittently beautiful flute (and toad) doodles which don’t quite hang together as an entity.

Ondřej ADÁMEK (b. 1979) Follow me, Where Are You? - Isabelle Faust (violin) Magdalena Kožená (mezzo) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle & Peter Rundel rec. 2017/21 BR KLASSIK 900638 [61:00] [DMD] A must hear recording that grabs the listener by the throat.

Kalevi AHO (b. 1949) Concertos - Dimitri Mestdag (cor anglais), Anneleen Lenaerts (harp), Storioni Trio, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra/Olari Elts rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2426 SACD [59:11] [SB] Confident performances of attractive concertos by the prolific Finnish master.

Sir Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Grand Concerto Gastronomique, Symphony No 9 - Liepāja Symphony Orchestra/John Gibbons rec. 2021 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0613 [57.40] [MW] Any new recording of Malcolm Arnold by committed players is welcome, but the Finale of the Ninth Symphony will divide opinion.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019 - Alexander Schneider (violin), Ralph Kirkpatrick (harpsichord) rec. 1945-1947 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1918/9 [46:31 + 51:19] [SG] Convincing performances.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Bach for Two -  Romina Lischka (viola da gamba) Marnix De Cat (organ) rec. 2019 RAMÉE RAM2005 [76:29] [JV] An interesting and musically highly rewarding disc which every lover of Bach's music will enjoy.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Works Vol. 2 - Peter Kofler (organ) rec. 2019/21 FARAO CLASSICS B108113 [5 CDs: 366:00] [SG] Volume 2 has certainly lived up to my expectations.

Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910) Complete Piano Works - Nicholas Walker (piano) rec. 2012-2019 GRAND PIANO GP864X [6 CDs: 462 mins] [SG] Melodically rich, well-crafted, but demanding a technique of mammoth virtuosity.

Béla BARTÓK (1881–1945) Violin & Viola Concertos, Rhapsodies, Violin Sonata - Yehudi Menuhin (violin), BBC Symphony Orchestra/Pierre Boulez, New Philharmonia Orchestra/Antal Doráti rec. 1965-1975 WARNER CLASSICS 5854872 [67:28 + 72:46] [SB] Classic performances available again.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Fidelio - Lise Davidsen (soprano) David Butt Philip (tenor) Ch & O  Royal Opera House/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2020 OPUS ARTE OABD7288D Blu-ray [138 mins] [GT] A fine if inconsistent production - Lise Davidsen is the outstanding star.

Raffaele BELLAFRONTE (b. 1961) Guitar Works 2021 - Davide Di Ienno (guitar) rec. 2021 TACTUS TC960204 [54:37] [GPu] Though not a guitarist, Bellafronte writes well for the instrument, in music which is sophisticated, without being challenging or especially innovative.

Sir Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) The One-Act Operas: A Dinner Engagement, Ruth, Castaway rec. 1966-1968 LYRITA REAM2144 [3 CDs: 188:49] [JW] Archive broadcasts of three contrasting one-act operas that show Lennox Berkeley’s variety and sensitivity.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grande messe des morts - Javier Camarena (tenor) Coro Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Concertgebouw O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2019 RCO LIVE RCO19006 SACD [83:41] [JQ] A magnificent achievement.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Candide - Leonardo Capalbo (tenor), Jane Archibald (soprano), Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Sir Thomas Allen (baritone), London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Marin Alsop rec. 2018 LSO LIVE LSO0834 SACD [73:13 + 43:30] [MP] Splendidlly engineered but mostly disappointing otherwise.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833 -1897) String Quartets 1-3, Intermezzo - Alexander String Quartet rec. 2020 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2022 [66:10 + 41:44] [RMo] Testimony to the supremacy of the Alexander Quartet as dedicated musicians and consummate communicators of Brahms’ genius.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Sonatas Opp 100 and 102 - Michael Collins (clarinet) Stephen Hough (piano) rec. 2020 BIS BIS-2557 SACD [63:22] [JQ] A disc which will grace any Brahms collection.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4 Sir James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Larghetto - Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-744 SACD [54:06] [PRB] Could this at last prove the millennium’s spiritual successor to Kleiber’s recording from the early 80s?

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 4 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2021 PROFIL PH22010 [73:24] [RMo] Surely the best Bruckner recording Gerd Schaller has yet given us; his joy in the music infuses every bar.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Complete Symphonies - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2007-2020 PROFIL PH22007 [20 CDs: 1097 mins] [RMo] A bargain-box compendium of delights for the Bruckner aficionado, superbly performed and recorded.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 6 - Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2015 BR KLASSIK 900190 [54:25] [MZ] A solid and exciting Bruckner Sixth that can stand up with any other recording on the market.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 3, 4, 6 & 7 - Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra/Taijiro Iimori rec. 1998-2003 FONTEC FOCD 9852-55 [4 CDs: 254:29] [RMo] Vividly recorded and energetically played Bruckner, sometimes marred by a lack of subtlety and more damagingly by the conductor’s frequent all-too-audible vocalise.

Giulio CACCINI (1551-1618) Amarilli: Le Nuove Musiche 1601 - Robert Balconi (tenor) Fantazyas rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96254 [69:02] [JV] This recording attests to the value of studying contemporary sources, including what the composer himself has to say.

Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801) Il matrimonio segreto - Renato Girolami (baritone) Donato Di Stefano (bass) Loriana Castellano (mezzo) Academia Montis Regalis/Alessandro De Marchi rec. 2016 CPO 555 295-2 [3 CDs: 197:33] [DF] An excellent, unabridged recording of Cimarosa’s comic masterpiece.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) London Suite, Cinderella, The Selfish Giant & other works - Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Adrian Leaper rec. 1992 NAXOS 8.555178 [71:26] [RMay] Attractively delivered enjoyable light music well deserves this reissue.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Springtime Suite & other works - Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Penny rec. 1993 NAXOS 8.555194 [62:58] [JF] This may be a gift for the Coates enthusiasts who missed it thirty years ago.

Edward COWIE (b. 1943) Bird Portraits - Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), Roderick Chadwick (piano) rec. 2021 MÉTIER MSV28619 [69:40] [DC] A set of pieces you need to spend time with, to allow your mind to make the connections built into the score.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918) Debussy Orchestrated - O Ntl Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé rec. 2021 BIS RECORDS BIS-2622 SACD [65:07] [NC] Suave performances of some of the composer’s most enduringly alluring music.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Pelléas et Mélisande - Suite symphonique Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Pelleas & Melisande - Orchestre de La Suisse Romande/Jonathan Nott rec. 2019/20 PENTATONE PTC5186782 SACD [47:04 + 42:11] [RWe] A fine pair of recordings, and Nott’s Debussy arrangement is an intriguing one.

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Piano Sonata, Le Loup, 3 Préludes - Jean-Pierre Armengaud (piano) rec. 2020/21 GRAND PIANO GP790 [70:13] [SB] Dutilleux’s powerful sonata and the first recording of the piano version of Le Loup in authoritative performances.

Józef ELSNER (1769-1854), Karol KURPIŃSKI (1785-1857) & Franciszek LESSEL (1780-1838) Piano Works - Tomasz Lupa (piano) rec. 2019/21 DUX 1784 [73:32] [PRB] A sine qua non for lovers of Polish piano music before Chopin.

Sebastian FAGERLUND (b. 1972) Oceano - Paavali Jumppanen (piano) Christoffer Sundqvist (clarinet) Hervé Joulain (horn) Meta4 String Quartet rec. 2017/19 BIS BIS-2324 SACD [70:33] [WH] Six compelling chamber works stunningly performed and recorded.

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) The Spanish Soul - various performers rec. 1913-2016 WARNER CLASSICS 9029653730 [11 CDs: 788 mins] [MC] This valuable compilation brings together de Falla’s major works, among them many acclaimed recordings.

Richard FLURY (1896-1967) Die Helle Nacht - Julia Sophie Wagner (soprano), Stephanie Bühlmann (soprano), Magnus Vigilius (tenor), Göttingen Symphony Orchestra/Paul Mann rec. 2021 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0580 [48:24 + 58:25] [CL] Dramatic ingenuity within constraints, confidently sung and inventively scored.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne, Anthem for the Foundling Hospital Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Missa Brevis - Academy of Ancient Music/Simon Preston rec. 1977 L’OISEAU-LYRE 421654-2 [69:02] [GPJ] Fine choral and solo singing on this recording from the first flush of the ‘period’ movement.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Die Schöpfung - Yeree Suh (soprano) Tilman Lichdi (tenor) Mattias Winckhler (baritone) La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall rec. 2021 ALIA VOX AVSA9945 SACD [54:18 + 49:00][JQ] A superb account of Haydn’s life-enhancing masterpiece.

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Das verratene Meer - Vera-Lotte Boecker (soprano) Bo Skovhus (baritone) Vienna Opera Orchestra/Simone Young rec. 2020 CAPRICCIO C5460 [61:24 + 63:40] [SB] A beautifully presented version of a powerful opera.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Nusch-Nuschi-Tänze, Sancta Susanna, Symphony Mathis der Maler - ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop rec. 2019, 2020 NAXOS 8.574283 [61:01] [WK] Marin Alsop is equally adept at all of Hindemith’s musical styles.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Symphonia serena, Die Harmonie der Welt - Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 1996/97 DECCA 458 899-2 [67:03] [SB] Admirable performances of two of Hindemith’s less well-known symphonies.

Cevanne HORROCKS-HOPAYIAN (b. 1986) Welcome Party rec. 2021 NMC D268 [57:48] [DMD] Much to enjoy but perhaps a composer still finding her voice.

Toshio HOSOKAWA (b. 1955) Solo - Klangforum Wien rec. 2020 KAIROS 0015095KAI [55:30] [SW] A varied and enthralling selection of Hosokawa’s solo works.

HUANG Ruo (b. 1976) A Dust in Time - Del Sol Quartet rec. 2021 BRIGHT SHINY THINGS BSTC0158 [61:48] [MR] Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo responds to the crises of our time with a lengthy and rambling musical palindrome.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854–1921) Chamber Music & Songs - Nikolay Borchev (baritone), Thomas Probst (violin), Elenora Pertz (piano) rec. 2020 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC21022 [64:01] [MC] Mainly rare chamber works and songs, but unlikely to be regarded as essential.

Charles IVES (1874–1954) Piano Sonatas Bernhard GANDER (b. 1969) Peter Parker - Joonas Ahonen (piano, celesta) rec. 2019 BIS BIS-2409 SACD [61:27] [SB] Excellent performances of lesser-known Ives but a disappointing filler.

Karol KĄTSKI (1815-1867) String Quartets Nos 1-2, String Quintet - Tono Quartet, Aleksander Mazanek (double bass) rec. 2019 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0512 [75:06] [PRB] Kątski’s five-star Quintet deserves high-fives all round.

Egon KORNAUTH (1891-1959) Viola Sonata Robert FUCHS (1847-1927) Phantasiestücke, Viola Sonata - Litton Duo rec. 2020 BIS-2574 SACD [75:45] [PRB] The Litton Duo breathe life into two neglected works with this stunning release.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) String Quartets 2 & 3 - Alma Quartet rec. 2021 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72869 [49:35] [MR] Performances which really get to the core of two of Korngold’s string quartets.

Józef KROGULSKI (1815-1842) Sacred Music 1 - Hanna Zajączkiewicz (soprano); Donata Zuliani (mezzo-soprano); Marcin Pomykała (tenor); Robert Kaczorowski (baritone); Michał Kaleta (organ) rec. 2021 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0530 [78:04] [PRB] Attractive church music from the ‘Polish Mozart’.

Gail KUBIK (1914-1984) Divertimentos Nos. 1 & 2, Gerald McBoing Boing, Symphony Concertante - Boston Modern O Project/Gil Rose BMOP SOUND 1085 SACD [79:15] [CL] Kubik’s lively music receives performances of incredible energy and freshness; superior sound captures every detail.

Paul LACOMBE (1837-1927) Piano Trios - Victor Sangiorgio (piano) Sergey Levitin (violin) Josephine Knight (cello) rec. 2020 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7388 SACD [77:51] [PRB] Provincial French charm in a most appealing package.

Lowell LIEBERMANN (b. 1961) Frankenstein - San Francisco Ballet O/Martin West rec. 2018 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-148 [50:01 + 69.07] [MB] Liebermann’s Frankenstein is an imposing score, but it is also a symphonic masterpiece trapped within a ballet.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Harmonies poétiques et religieuses - Saskia Giorgini (piano) rec. 2021 PENTATONE PTC5186296 [84:49] [JWe] Saskia Giorgini is clearly a supremely talented pianist who thinks very deeply about the music she plays.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Piano Works Vol. 1: Death and Transfiguration - Kenneth Hamilton (piano) rec. 2020/21 PRIMA FACIE PFCD167/8 [76:57 + 75:03] [DMD] A superbly vivid portrait of Liszt’s shape shifting genius.

Franz LISZT (1811–1886) Schubert Transcriptions - Dominic Cheli (piano) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574172 [79:38] [JWe] Interesting, spontaneous playing of rarely heard Liszt transcriptions by a very talented young pianist.

Sir Andrew LLOYD WEBBER (b.1947) Symphonic Suites: Evita, Sunset Boulevard, The Phantom of the Opera - The Andrew Lloyd Webber O/Simon Lee rec. 2021 DECCA 3819953 [69.28] [MW] A delightful CD, and not only for Lloyd Webber fans.

Cecilia McDOWALL (b. 1951) Works for Organ - William Fox (organ) rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.579077 [65:04] [MZ] Moments of great loveliness and contemplation, as well as jubilation contrasted with sadness.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Lieder ohne Worte Vol. 1 - Peter Donohoe (piano) rec. 2021 CHANDOS CHAN20252 [79:56] [MG] Donohoe bears comparison with other valued interpretations and is ever distinctive.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908–1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Francesco Botti (organ), Don Giuseppe Fusari (vocalist) rec. 2021 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00474 [75:38] [DC] Doesn’t really stand out in a competitive field.

Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Cello Sonatas - Liliana Kehayova (cello) Kristina Miller (piano) rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7901 [47:15] [SB] Miaskovsky’s two cello sonatas in outstanding performances.

Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de MONDONVILLE (1711-1772) Titon et L’Aurore - Reinoud van Mechelen (tenor) Gwendoline Blondeel, Emmanuelle de Negri (soprano) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2021 NAXOS NBD0131V Blu-ray [127 mins] [DBi] An essential purchase for all those interested in pre-classical opera and cultural history.

Philippe de MONTE (1521-1603) Madrigals & Chansons - Ratas del viejo Mundo/Floris De Rycker rec. 2020 RAMÉE RAM2004 [50:59] [JV] Despite some issues, this disc is most welcome as it pays attention to an unjustly neglected composer.

William Beaton MOONIE (1883-1961) Music For Solo Piano - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2021 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0602 [83:00] [JF] Maybe one of the Scottish orchestras will look at airing some of Moonie’s orchestral scores.

Jean MOUTON (1459-1522) Ezekiel's Eagle - A Renaissance Brotherhood celebrates St John the Evangelist: Missa Tua est potentia - Cappella Pratensis/Stratton Bull rec. 2020 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72878 [60:14] [JV] A recording no lover of renaissance polyphony should miss.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies Nos 38 & 39 - NDR Radiophilharmonie/Andrew Manze rec. 2021 PENTATONE PTC5186765 [71:21] [WH] Magnificent performances played with period awareness - not to be missed.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Symphonies & Duo - Karolina Nowotczyńska (violin), Marcin Zdunik (cello), Elbląg Chamber Orchestra/Marek Moś rec. 2020/21 DUX 1690 [69:20] [MR] Highly impressive musicality from these Polish players under a conductor who has taken a great deal of care over the finer points of detail.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No 24 Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) Piano Sonata No 3 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No 1 - Aurelia Visovan (pianoforte) Anna Besson (flute) Cecilia Bernardini (violin) Marcus van den Munckhof (cello) rec. 2020 RICERCAR RIC417 [78:19] [JWe] Fascinating contemporary arrangements, performed with panache and exuberance by a talented ensemble.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concerti Nos 3 & 4, Violin Sonata K304 - Francesca Dego (violin), Francesca Leonardi (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Sir Roger Norrington rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20234 [56:26] [MG] Francesca Dego excels in delicacy, sweetness and finesse in these refined accounts.

Alessandro PERINI (b. 1983) The Expanded Body - Simone Beneventi (kalimba), Ars Nova Ensemble, Duo Dillon-Torquati rec. 2016-2020 KAIROS 0015061KAI [66:53] [RHa] Perini does inventive and unpredictable things with familiar instruments and achieves promising results.

Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863–1937) Saint Francis of Assisi, The Year One Thousand - Orchestre Radio Symphonique de Paris et Chœurs de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française/ René Alix, Jean Fournet rec. 1953/64 SOLSTICE SOCD392-3 [134:30] [JW] Rare historic broadcast examples of Pierné’s millennial anxiety and oratorio grandeur.

Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937) Suites - O Ntl de Lille/Darrell Ang rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573609 [62:38] [MR] Colourful and exotic orchestral music from a master of orchestral technique and directed with a strong sense of visionary purpose.

Florence Beatrice PRICE (1887-1953) Symphony No. 3 - ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/ John Jeter rec. 2020–2021 NAXOS 8.559897 [66:48] [LD] Prospective purchasers should try before they buy.

Florence PRICE (1887-1953) Symphonies 1 & 3 - Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2021 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 2029 [71:14] [NC] Efficient performances of very conservative music.

Florence Beatrice PRICE (1887-1953) Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 - Philadelphia O/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2021 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4862029 [71:14] [SG] Music steeped in the European tradition, yet betraying her Southern roots.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphonies 1–7, Scythian Suite, Lieutenant Kije, The Love for Three Oranges & Romeo and Juliet Suites - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2005-15 BIS BIS-2594 SACD [5 discs: 388:57] [RC] Prokofiev's symphonies and other major orchestral works get fine performances in excellent sound.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Dido and Aeneas - Malena Ernman, Christopher Maltman, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2008 NAXOS NBD0140V Blu-ray [66 mins] [RWe] A moving and well-staged account, intimate in scale and musically strong.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Hippolyte et Aricie - Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor) Elsa Benoit (soprano) Ch & O Ens Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. 2020 NAXOS NBD0138V Blu-ray [140 mins] [MP] A top-notch cast of native French performers override a hit and miss staging.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Orchestral Works - Sinfonia of London/John Wilson rec. 2020-2021 CHANDOS CHSA5280 SACD [83:45] [NB] Brilliantly played but lacking magic.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) La bella dormente nel bosco - Angela Nisi (soprano) Antonio Gandia (tenor) Chorus & Orchestra of the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari/Donato Renzetti rec. 2017 NAXOS DVD 2.110655 [88 mins] [RHa] Christmas may have passed, but Respighi’s delightful Sleeping Beauty opera will warm the cockles at any time of the year.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Complete Piano Music Vol. 2 - Giovanna Gatto (piano) rec. 2021 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0605 [67:44] [JWe] More fascinating and clever piano music, impeccably played.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Sadko - Nazhmiddin Mavlyanov (tenor) Aida Garifullina (soprano) Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra & Chorus/Timur Zangiev rec. 2020 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC488 Blu-ray [186 mins] [RWe] Despite some controversial elements in the production, this has much to commend it, not least some fine singing.

George ROCHBERG (1918–2005) Caprice Variations for Unaccompanied Violin - Léo Marillier (violin) rec. 2021 ALBANY TROY1883 [72:58] [SG] Oxygen rich with a kaleidoscopic array of auditory sensation.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Saint-Saëns Edition rec. 1904-2020 WARNER CLASSICS 9029674604 [34 CDs: 36 hours] [JW] Spanning over a century, an astutely selected collection of Saint-Saëns recordings in a 34-CD box.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Chamber Music with Wind - Pascal Godard, Laurent Wagschal (piano) Les solistes de l'orchestre de Paris rec. 2009 INDESENS RECORDS INDE149 [63:35 + 58:04] [MC] Admirers of Saint-Saëns who do not already have these recordings will find this re-issue hard to ignore.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Works for violin & orchestra - Jinjoo Cho (violin) Appassionato/Mathieu Herzog rec. 2021 NAÏVE V7422 [79:11] [MR] A debut disc from a fine Korean-American violinist and a first-rate French chamber orchestra.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Impromptus, Moments musicaux - Edna Stern (piano) rec. 2021 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100192 [53:38] [NC] Schubert for the “vinyls” generation?

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Carnaval, Novelette, Piano Sonata No. 3 – Luca Delle Donne (piano) rec. 2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00448 [70:08] [RCh] Plenty of passion in these young love inspired works.

Wolfram SCHURIG (b. 1967) Works for Ensemble - PHACE/Joseph Trafton, Nacho de Paz, Simeon Pironkoff, Lars Mlekusch rec. 2011-2021 KAIROS 0015113KAI [73:44] [RHa] Three challenging but immaculately crafted contemporary concertante works plus an elusive song cycle.

Anton SCHWEITZER (1735-1787) Die Auferstehung Christi - Thüringer Bach Collegium/Gernot Süßmuth rec. 2020 CAPRICCIO C5425 [2 CDs: 99:02] [JV] Shows that between the baroque and classical periods a lot of good (sacred) vocal music was written in Germany.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906–1975) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Eugenio Catone (piano) rec. 2020 STRADIVARIUS STR37201 [69:30] [NC] Some very fine performances in this first volume of a projected cycle.

Ronald STEVENSON (1928-2015) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Christopher Guild (piano) rec. 2014 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0272 [69:04] [JF] The perfect introduction to Ronald Stevenson’s piano music.

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) Victoria and Merrie England – RTÉ Sinfonietta/Andrew Penny rec. 1993 NAXOS 8.555216 [77:49] [RMay] By no means a masterpiece, but certainly a jolly piece of undemanding entertainment.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOSKY (1840–1893) Manfred Symphony Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Scherzo capriccioso - London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Mstislav Rostropovich rec. 1976/80 WARNER CLASSICS 0852872 [73:49] [MB] Rostropovich’s flawed 'Manfred' is another to add to the mountain of recordings that miss the mark in this elusive but great symphony.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Cantatas for the Hanoverian Kings of England - Hanna Zumsande (soprano) Dominik Wörner (bass) Barockwerk Hamburg/Ira Hochman rec. 2020 CPO 555 426-2 [70:16] [CRo] Brings to light a few of the buried gems that must lie within the vast body of Telemann’s cantatas.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Wind Overtures Vol. 2 - L’Orfeo Bläserensemble/Carin van Heerden rec. 2017 CPO 555 212-2 [58:42] [CRo] Intelligent and, above all, witty music making in some of Telemann's delectable compositions for wind instruments.

Felipe TÉLLEZ Songs of Longing Fate, Colombian Songs - TakeFive Ens rec. 2020 CENTREDISCS CMCCD28721 [33:01] [DJB] Two chamber works which hark back to much earlier times - pleasant but unmemorable.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Folk Songs Vol. 4 - Mary Bevan (soprano) Nicky Spence (tenor) Roderick Williams (baritone) William Vann (piano) rec. 2018/20 ALBION ALBCD045 [60:39] [JW] VW’s largely unchartered folk song quest ends in style.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Il Trovatore - Maria Callas (soprano), Fedora Barbieri (mezzo-soprano), Giuseppe di Stefano (tenor), Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO181 [67:56 + 61:41] [MP] A well-managed effort on Pristine Audio’s part.

Valentin VILLARD (b. 1985) & Frank MARTIN (1890-1974) Doubles messes a cappella - Académie Vocale de Suisse Romande/Renaud Bouvier & Dominique Tille rec. 2021 CLAVES 50-3003 [59:02] [MR] Two complementary Mass settings by two Swiss composers are sung with fervour and intensity by a fine Swiss choir.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Le Quattro Stagioni, La Folia - Francisco Fullana (violin), Apollo's Fire/Jeannette Sorrell rec. 2021 AVIE AV2485 [52:25] [MSJ] Francisco Fullana unites with Jeannette Sorrell's Apollo's Fire to take Vivaldi's musical storytelling to a new level.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Le Quattro Stagioni Giovanni Antonio GUIDO (ca. 1675-1729) Scherzi Armonici sopra le Quattro Stagioni Dell’Anno - Orchestre de l’Opéra Royal/Andrés Gabetta (violin) rec. 2020 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES SPECTACLES CVS042 CD/DVD [2 CDs: 93:26, DVD: 70 mins] [JV] An entertaining set of discs, and the concertos by Guido are an especially welcome addition to the catalogue.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Die Passagierin - Dshamilja Kaiser (mezzo) Will Hartmann (tenor) Chor der Oper Graz, Grazer Philharmoniker/Roland Kluttig rec. 2021 CAPRICCIO C5455 [77:36 + 78:29] [DC] Self-recommending to anyone interested in 20th century opera.

Oskar WERMANN (1840-1906), Gustav MERKEL (1827-1885) & Max REGER (1873-1916) Complete Works for Cello & Organ - Hannah Vinzens (cello) Gordon Safari (organ) rec. 2020 MDG 903 2206-6 SACD [72:45] [MR] Pleasing late 19th century German music for cello and organ which celebrates an all-too-rare instrumental pairing but will never turn heads.

William WORDSWORTH (1908-1988) Orchestral Music Vol. 4 - Liepāja Symphony Orchestra/John Gibbons rec. 2021 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0618 [59:21] [JF] Competent, sympathetic and commanding performances.

Xiaogang YE (b. 1955) The Road to the Republic, Cantonese Suite - China National Symphony Orchestra & Choir/Jia Lu. Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Franck Ollu rec. 2011/14 NAXOS 8.579089 [67:01] [MR] Further proof of Ye’s ability to marry Chinese and Western elements in vividly colourful and often intriguing scores.

Friedrich Wilhelm ZACHOW (1663–1712) Complete Organ Music - Simone Stella (organ) rec. 2019 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 96022 [79:00 + 77:18] [CRo] Much that is enjoyable and edifying to listeners, as well as a useful addition to the repertoire of practising organists.

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Lyrische Symphonie Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Vorspiel zu einem Drama - Karan Armstrong (soprano), Roland Hermann (baritone), ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Michael Gielen rec. 1989/93 ORFEO C210241 [62:17] [CL] Gielen’s studio recordings of these works are far better options.

Ad Contrapunctum 19th Century Polyphonic Piano Music - Alessandro Mercando (piano) DA VINCI CLASSICS C00465 [65:54] [RCh] A well played and intriguing recital with some pleasant rarities.

Around Mozart A journey through the golden age of the oboe quartet - Quartetto Bernardini rec. 2020 ARCANA A482 [67:29] [JV] The best display of classical music for oboe that I have heard in a long time.

Batucada South American Guitar Music - Graham Anthony Devine (guitar) rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574337 [55:31] [ZT] An exemplary guitar recording.

Bows Up! Works by Azevedo, Braga Santos & Fragoso - Camerata Atlântica rec. 2020 NAXOS 8.579105 [57:02] [DJB] Disappointing in too many respects.

Julian Bream (guitar) A Tribute Vol. 3 - Peter Pears (tenor) rec. 1969-1977 DOREMI DHR-8155 [65:11] JW] A representative hour with Julian Bream, live and in congenial surroundings, at Aldeburgh.

The British Project Works by Britten, Elgar, Vaughan Williams & Walton - City of Birmingham SO/Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla rec. 2019-21 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 486 1547 [71:55] [JQ] A disc which all enthusiasts for British music should try to hear.

Guido Cantelli (conductor) Works by Debussy, Dukas & Ravel - Philharmonia Orchestra rec. 1952-53 BEULAH 1PDR47 [73:23] [DMD] Beulah work their magic on these sensational performances.

Catalan Concertinos and Fantasias Kalina Macuta (violin) Sergi Pacheco, Daniel Blanch (piano) National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine/Volodymyr Sirenko rec. 2018 TOCCATA NEXT TOCN 0010 [77:14] [JW] The Catalan lineage in orchestral music offers traditional folklore in colourful garb. 

John Damgaard (piano) Works by Beethoven, Chopin & Brahms rec. 1979 DANACORD DACOCD910 [76:59] [JF] An outstanding CD of superb performances of music by three composers close to John Damgaard’s heart.

Suzanne Danco (soprano) The Decca Recitals rec. 1947–1956 ELOQUENCE 484 0868 [8 CDs: 558 mins] [GF] Belgian born Susanne Danco was one of the foremost French-speaking sopranos during the early post-war years.

Lea Desandre (mezzo-soprano) Amazone - Ensemble Jupiter/Thomas Dunford rec. 2020/21 ERATO 9029506584 [75:37] [MC] Lovers of baroque opera will surely value highly this striking album of rare arias.

Shani Diluka (piano) The Proust Album - Natalie Dessay (soprano) Pierre Fouchenneret (violin) O Chambre de Paris/Herve Niquet rec. 2020 WARNER CLASSICS 9029667625 [81:52] [SB] A charming exploration of Proust’s musical world.

D’Oyly Carte: The Decline and Fall of an Opera Company by Paul Seeley publ. 2021 Routledge [RW] The author's research here proves to be extensive; he uncovers fresh material and many intriguing situations.

Severin von Eckardstein (piano) Works by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin & Dupont rec. 2020 ARTALINNA ATL-A032 [62:08] [RCh] An impressive recital full of headstrong pianism.

Estonian Piano Trios Works by Eller, Lemba & Pärt - Mari Poll (violin) Henry-David Varema (cello) Mihkel Poll (piano) rec. 2020 DUX 1809 [63:16] [RCh] Rarities in top notch performances.

Fairy Tales Recital Music from Eastern Europe - Kyle Horch (saxophones), Yshani Perinpanayagam, Anya Fadina (piano) rec. 2019 NORWOOD RECORDINGS NR 202101 [67:39] [JW] Saxophonic works, new and older, original and arranged, offer colour, charm and vitality.

Renée Fleming (soprano) Voice Of Nature: The Anthropocene - Yannick Nézet-Séguin (piano) rec. 2021 DECCA 4852089 [56:56] [GF] The programme should be highly appreciated by every lover of good sensitive singing.

The Florentine Renaissance Works by Dufay, Binchois & Isaac - The Orlando Consort rec. 2020 HYPERION CDA68349 [72:37] [GH] A unique opportunity to discover the history of a great city in the music of three fifteenth-century masters.

David Garrett (violin) Unlimited rec. 2019 C MAJOR 759904 Blu-ray [105 mins] [MB] David Garrett is a beguiling combination of Niccolò Paganini and Kurt Cobain – perhaps not for everyone.

Michael Gielen (conductor) Gielen Edition Vol 10: Music after 1945 - SWR SO Baden-Baden/Freiburg rec. 1969-2010 SWR MUSIC SWR19111CD [6 CDs: 408 mins] [RWe] A highly valuable collection of superb performances of some elusive major works.

Elisabeth Grümmer (soprano) Die schönste Stimme der Romantik rec. 1946-61 DOCUMENTS 600215 [10 CDs: ca 11 hrs] [RMo] A super-bargain box set fairly representing the gifts of a beautiful lyric soprano.

Hail Caledonia City of Glasgow Pipe Band, Chorus & Philharmonic Orchestra/Iain Sutherland rec. 1995-96 SOMM ARIADNE 5014 [79:32] [GF] An attractive musical tourist brochure that should entice listeners to visit Scotland.

Bernard Haitink (conductor) The Early Years Vol. 4 - Works by Bartók, Dvořák & Mendelssohn - Concertgebouw O rec. 1959-1960 BEULAH 4PS51 [80:53] [DMD] Fiery Mendelssohn and Dvořák from the start of the great conductor’s career.

Hamilton Harty (conductor) Acoustic Concerto Recordings rec. 1919-1925 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC645 [76:26 + 58:17] [PSt] Superbly resurrected performances of fascinating early concerto recordings.

Jascha Heifetz in South Africa - Insights from 1932 by Michael Brittan publ. 2021 Pendragon Press [SG] A publication which fills a conspicuous lacuna in what we know of the artist’s career. 

Thomas Jensen (conductor) Legacy Vol. 7 - Tivoli Concert Hall O rec. 1940-57 DANACORD DACOCD917 [79:17 + 79:54] [JW] Jensen in light music, featuring the witty Lumbye and the lure of Copenhagen’s Tivoli.

Christopher Jessup (piano) The First Movements rec. 2021 Private Release [36:54] [DMD] An intriguing concept from a real talent.

The Jukebox Album Elena Urioste (violin), Tom Poster (piano, cello, descant recorder, kazoo, swanee whistle) rec. 2021 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100173 [63:51] [BMC] One of the (few) good things to have come out of lockdown.

Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Bach, Mozart, Schubert & Schumann: The complete Polydor recordings 1927-1936 APR 5638 [74:38] [SG] A release well-worth investigating.

Lennox in Paris Works by Lennox Berkeley, Lili Boulanger & Poulenc - Emmanuel Bach (violin), Jenny Stern (piano) rec. 2021 WILLOWHAYNE RECORDS WHR070 [73:31] [JF] An interesting album, full of good things, especially Berkeley’s violin sonata.

Leuven Chansonnier Vol. 2: Ou beau chastel Sollazzo Ensemble/Anna Danilevskaïa rec. 2020/21 PASSACAILLE PAS1109 [53:50] [GH] Twelve songs from a recently discovered fifteenth-century manuscript, performed with sensitivity and style.

Luca Luciano (clarinet) XX Century Music for Solo Clarinet rec. 2020 MUSICA NOVANTIQUA NA56 [48:24] [DMD] A most agreeable guide to off-the-beaten-track clarinet music.

Metamorphoses Works by Rachmaninov & Debussy - Alfonso Soldano (piano) rec. 2021 DIVINE ART DDA25215 [71:10] [RCh] Well crafted and richly rewarding transcriptions.

Orgues de Sicile Arnaud De Pasquale (organ) rec. 2019/2020 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905331 [80:17] [JV] De Pasquale is the ideal guide through the Sicilian organ landscape.

Pas d’École Demonstrations of the Paris Opera Ballet School, The School of Dreams - l’École de Danse de l’Opéra national de Paris rec. 2020 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC295 DVD [2 discs: 199 mins] [RMay] An engrossing documentary film raises more issues than you might expect.

Polish Music Vol. 1 Szymon Emil Parulski (clarinet) Witold Lutosławski Płock SO/Marek Wroniszewski rec. 2020  DUX 1624 [67:53] [CL] Imaginative programming but uncompetitive performances; seek alternative recordings.

Polish Music Vol. 2 Works by Kurpiński, Karłowicz, Lutosławski & Bacewicz - Witold Lutosławski Płock SO/Jakub Chrenowicz rec. 2020 DUX 1625 [69:21] [DJB] An enjoyable and varied programme.

Heinz Rögner (conductor) MDR-Sinfonieorchester & MDR-Kammerphilharmonie rec. 1994-2001 GENUIN GEN22742 [4 CDs: 262:09] [NB] An impressive and fitting tribute to an under-appreciated conductor.

Roots 21st Century Greek Music for Guitar - Dimitris Soukaras (guitar), Lotte Betts-Dean (mezzo-soprano), Anima String Quartet Ensemble, Audentia Ensemble/Ryan Blair rec. 2020 NAXOS 8579115 [56:53] [GPu] Interesting for its range of musical idioms, and valuable in allowing one to hear two fine young musicians.

Semina rerum Italian Baroque Violin Sonatas - Roberto Alonso (violin) Aglaya González (viola d'amore) Brais González (harpsichord) rec. 2020 IBS CLASSICAL IBS182021 [66:26] [JV] Technically immaculate and musically captivating performances.

Shostakovich: A Coded Life in Music by Brian Morton publ. 2021 Haus Publishing [NC] Ian MacDonald-lite mixed with some original insights for a quick and light read.

Tangorama Mirian Conti (piano) rec. 2020 GRAND PIANO GP856 [60:17] [BMC] Beautiful dynamics and phrasing, meticulous keyboard technique and solid intuition.

Coco Tomita (violin) Origins - Simon Callaghan (piano) rec. 2022 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100194 [57:34] [DMD] A fine debut full of spontaneity and gorgeous tone.

Ukrainian Piano Quintets Works by Lyatoshynsky, Silvestrov and Poleva - Bogdana Pivnenko, Taras Yaropud (violins), Kateryna Suprun (viola), Yurii Pogoretskyi (cello), Iryna Starodub (piano) rec. 2020 NAXOS 8579098 [77:21] [RB] Deserving yet unfamiliar works … the musicians’ virile advocacy communicates their strengths to sonorous advantage.

Enno Voorhorst (guitar) 840 rec. 2021 COBRA RECORDS COBRA 0084 {60:00] [ZT] Unique programme and superior playing.

Warsaw Music Salon Arte dei Suonatori Piano Qt rec. 2019 CD ACCORD ACD269-2 [77:48] [GPu] A famous work by Mozart and pieces by three interesting Polish composers, beautifully performed in top quality sound.

John Scott Whiteley (organ) A Worldwide Organ Tour rec. 1989-2019 PRIORY PRCD1236 [75:03] [MR] A somewhat variable tribute to John Scott Whiteley, featuring some unissued recordings.

Yokuwela Contemporary Piano Music from the African Continent - Silvia Belfiore (piano) rec. 2020 DA VINCI CLASSICS C00467 [62.21] [GH] Rare music, brilliantly performed and opening up a new world of musical discovery.

Articles and Notices

Favourite Recordings of Ten Donizetti Operas - a survey by Ralph Moore

A Shortlist of Bruckner Symphony Recommendations by Ralph Moore

Mahler's First Symphony - a survey by Lee Denham revised & updated

Ireland's An Island Spell - a possible first performance by John France


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