Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett,  Reviewers: Rob Barnett, Ian Lace, Len Mullenger, and:  Richard Adams, Colin Anderson, Terry Barfoot,  Marc Bridle, Arthur Butterworth, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Gary Dalkin, Andy Daly, Tony Duggan, Harry Downey,  Gerald Fenech,  Lewis Foreman, David Frieze, Malcolm Galloway,  Ian Marchant, John Phillips, Ailís Ní Ríain, Humphrey Smith, Philip Scowcroft, Colin Scott Sutherland, Andrew Seivewright, Richard Whitehouse, Reg Williamson, Peter Grahame Woolf, David Wright. A complete list of contributors can be seen here

2000 Reviews   [Dec]  [Nov]  [Oct]  [Sep]  [Aug]  [Jul]  [Jun]  [May]  [Apr]  [Mar]  [Feb]  [Jan]

Click here for 1999 reviews  1998 reviews


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BARBER (1910-81) Essay No. 2 for Orchestra (1942) 10.07 Music for a Scene from Shelley (1933) 8.52 A Stopwatch and an Ordnance Map (1940) 5.46 A Hand of Bridge - chamber opera (1959) 9.30 Serenade for Strings (1929) 8.47 Adagio for Strings 5.58
Symphony of the Air/Vladimir Golschmann rec 1960 VANGUARD CLASSICS USA SVC 123 [49.55] [RB]

The collection has classic status .....Golschmann directs a luxuriantly expansive anthology ....The collection is valuable as a challenging and intrinsically satisfying sampler.

BARBER Orchestral Works Volume 1 The School for Scandal Overture. Op.5. Symphony No. 1, Op.9 First Essay for Orchestra, Op.12 Symphony No. 2, Op.19 Royal Scottish National Orchestra - Marin Alsop Playing Time 69.47, Digital Recording, Recorded 8-9 / 12 / 98.At Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow Naxos 8.559024  [CC]

In both of the symphonies, one can sense the RSNO's lack of familiarity with the notes and there is a resultant unconfident edge. So, whilst Barber's additive processes towards climaxes are effectively realised in the first movement of the first Symphony and the finale is appropriately heart-on-sleeve, the Allegro molto second movement lacks the visceral edge it so needs.

Bela BARTOK  Viola Concerto (1945)(completed Tibor Serly)  Peter EOTVOS  Replica (1998) Gyorgy KURTAG  Movement for viola and orchestra (1955) Kim Kashkashian (viola) Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra/Peter Eötvös ECM New Series 1711 465 420-2 [RB]

Kashkashian's playing is notable for her dead true intonation and flare. This is heard, together with considerable concentration. ...A brave and peppery collection which will appeal to pursuers of the avant-garde as much as to dedicated Bartokians.

BARTOK (1881 - 1945) The String Quartets 2 CDs CD1 [79.12] Quartet No 1 Op 7 (1908-09) [29.42] Quartet No 2 Op 17 (1915 - 1917) [26.08] Quartet No 4 Sz 91 (1928) [23.11]
CD2 [74.52] Quartet No 3 Sz 85 (1927) [15.14] Quartet No 5 Sz 102 (1934) [29.42] Quartet No 6 Sz 114 (1939) [29.42]
Hagen Quartett Recorded Polling, Bibliothekssaal 12/95 (Nos 1 - 3), and Salburg, Mozarteum, Grosser Saal. 9 /1998 (Nos 4 - 6). DDD Deutsche Grammophon 463 576-2 [154.04]

A strong recommendation for these masterpieces on this new release and a contender for the best version currently available - vying with the Emersons, also on DG, for the honour. Any potential buyer could choose this version without hesitation

BAX (1883-1953) Symphony No. 5 The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew David Lloyd-Jones conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. NAXOS 8.554509 [57:51] [IL] [CC]

Lloyd-Jones reading is crisper and more strongly accented; and, again, as in his other Bax symphonies readings in this Naxos series, he drives the music firmly forward, he is more concerned with the form of the work. His view is harder-edged, more ferocious... ..So to the new recording. Certainly Lloyd-Jones seems to get under the skin of this work and realises its potential more fully than most have done.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies - No. 2 in D, Op. 36; No. 4 in B flat, Op. 60.
Berlin State Opera Orchestra/Erich Kleiber (No. 2), Hans Pfitzner (No. 4). Naxos Historical 8.110919 [AAD] [62'39] [CC]

[Kleiber] Ultimately I cannot feel convinced by this performance.
[Pfitzner]...this performance is one to return to and learn from.

BEETHOVEN  Symphonies - No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55, 'Eroica'; No. 8 in F, Op. 93. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Hans Pfitzner. Naxos Historical 8.110910 [AAD] [69'40]

A fascinating historical document.

BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies Nos 5 & 7 Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Richard Strauss Naxos Great Conductors, 8.110926 ADD, Playing time 60'01, Bargain Price [MB]

These Beethoven recordings, dating from 1926 and 1928, will not be for everyone, but they are certainly fascinating.

BERG Lulu orchestration of Act 3 completed by FRIEDRICH CERHA Teresa Stratas, Franz Mazura, Yvonne Minton, Kenneth Riegel, Gerd Nienstedt, Toni Blankenheim , Robert Tear , Helmut Pampuch,  Jules Bastin, Ursula Boese, Claude Meloni, ; Pierre-Yves Le Maigat, Hanna Schwarz, Jane Manning, Anna Ringart, Paris Opéra Orchestra/Pierre Boulez.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 463 617-2 DG Originals series [JP]

A welcome return to this version of Berg's masterpiece, beautifully sung, played and recorded, and now issued at mid-price with full libretto and notes.

DVD Opera Review
(1803-1869) La Damnation de Faust - Legende dramatique in four acts.
Faust……………………………………..Paul Groves
Mephistopholes………………………….Willard White
Marguerite……………………………….Vesselina Kasarova
Brander…………………………………..Andreas Macco
Orfeón Donostiarra de San Sebastian, Tölzer Knabenchor, Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Sylvain Cambreling. ARTHAUS MUSIK 100 003 [146 mins] subtitles in German English and Dutch.

This production has great imagination but its effect is somewhat hit and miss.....Too often Cambreling opts for slow tempi. I expected much more fire and dynamism - especially in the big orchestral numbers.

LORD BERNERS (1883-1950) Songs and Piano Music Ian Partridge (tenor)
Len Vorster (piano) MARCO POLO 8.225159 [51.44] [RB]

Summary: good disc but facing the toughest competition from the more generous Albany collection.

LORD BERNERS Complete vocal and solo piano music.   Felicity Lott, Roderick Kennedy. Peter Lawson (piano)   Albany Troy 290 [60]

This disc is the obvious choice. A word of appreciation is warranted for Philip Lane's exceptionally informative notes for this delightful recording.

LORD BERNERS: the last eccentric, by Mark Amory. Chatto & Windus, 1998. xiv, 274pp, £20.00
Amazon UK paperback £10  AmazonUS  paperback $18.36 ISBN: 0712665781

BRAHMS (1833-97) Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83. Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56)
Introduction and Allegro appassionato, Op. 92.
Idil Biret (piano); Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Katowice/Antoni Wit. Naxos 8.554089 [DDD] [67'17][CC]

To be avoided

BRAHMS The Four Symphonies Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Horst Stein KOCH CLASSICS 3-1640-2 (4 CDs) [CA]

These structurally cohesive, organic traversals of Brahms's Symphonies happily marry instrumental incident and passionate statement. A deeply satisfying set well worth investigating.

'ORIGINAL BRAHMS' on BEULAH JOHANNES BRAHMS conducted by Max Fiedler CD1 Academic Festival Overture 9.45 Symphony No. 2 38.36 CD2 Symphony No. 4 41.14 Berlin PO/Max Fiedler
(all from Polydor electric process 78s, rec 1929, 1931, ADD)  BEULAH 1-2PD18

These historic recordings will be highly prized by Brahms and Fiedler enthusiasts.

BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) An American Overture, Ballad of Heroes, Diversion for Piano (left hand) and Orchestra, The Building of the House - Overture, Praise we Great Men, Suite on English Folk Tunes: "A time there was...." , Canadian Carnival, Young Apollo, Quatre Chansons Francaises, Scottish Ballad, Occasional Overture, Sinfonia da Requiem
Peter Donohoe (pno) Jill Gomez (soprano) CBSO Chorus Sir Simon Rattle  EMI CLASSICS British Composers CZS 5 73983 2 CD1 [78'07] CD2 [77'34"] [HD]

Throughout these two CDs I was constantly aware that whatever the value of the work Britten was writing, be it a commissioned pot-boiler or something more, then his imaginative scoring and technical mastery must be admired. There is a wealth of good music on these two discs. Highly recommended.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) Suite for Violin and Piano , Elegy for Solo Viola, Cello Sonata in C, Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe William WALTON (1902 - 1983) Piano Quartet, Violin Sonata, Five Bagatelles for Guitar Soloists of the LSO & Israela Margalit
Jon Alley & John Lenehan (piano) Israela Margalit (piano) Tom Kerstens (guitar) EMI British Composers CZS5 73989 2 [HD]

The recordings, from various venues and times, are excellent, and the playing magnificent. Not perhaps the easiest of going for the general listener but there are some gems in there. Well worth buying.

BRUCKNER - CELIBIDACHE EDITION Part 2 Symphonies 3, 4 "Romantic", 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 (+ rehearsal of No.9) Te Deum*; Mass in F minor**
Margaret Price (soprano)*/**, Christel Borchers (contralto)*, Doris Soffel (contralto)**, Claes H Ahnsjo (tenor)*, Peter Straka (tenor)**, Karl Helm (bass)*, Matthias Holle (bass)**, Munich Philharmonic Choir*/**, Munich Bach Choir* Munich Philharmonic Orchestra Sergiu Celibidache
EMI CDS 5 56688 2 [12 CDs]

This second (of three) EMI boxes devoted to Celi's work with the Munich Philharmonic is dominated by a composer that even Celi's staunchest critics respected him in. Thus I could simply report these are remarkable performances and recommend immediate acquisition of them. However, Celi's individualism, despite much CD activity, still requires introduction - to give some idea of what makes him unique.

BRUCKNER Symphonies - No.7 in E (Haas/Nowak), No.8 in C minor (1890 version edited Nowak) & No.9 in D minor;  SCHUBERT Symphony No. 5 Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sergiu Celibidache DG 445 471-2 (4 CDs + bonus CD of rehearsals of Bruckner 7 & 8) [237'28" + 40'48" rehearsal]

This is sublime music-making combining the intimacy of chamber-music and an infinite world of declaration - musicians corporately bearing Bruckner's soul, inspired by Celi's strictures.

CHARPENTIER Messe et Motet pour les trepasses/Miserere des Jesuites etc.   Choeur de chambre de Namur/Ensemble La Fenice/Jean Tubery Virgin Veritas VBD5 45394 2 8 [62.36]

This sequence of funeral music composed in the late 17. C by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, is of consistent, exquisite beauty, and celebratory rather than morbid in general effect, much of it light and fast......Recommended most warmly.

CHAUSSON  Piano Quartet in A, Op.30.SAINT-SAËNS Piano Quartet in B flat Op 41. Touchwood Piano Quartet. ASV CD QS 6241 (DDD) [67.05] [DW]

The performances are exquisite, technically secure, stylistically correct, very warm and mellow. There is a compelling innocence and open-air feel about them.The recording and balance is also exemplary.

CHAUSSON (1855-1899) String Quartet in C minor, Op. 35. VINCENT D'INDY (1851-1931) String Quartet No. 1 in D, Op. 35. Chilingirian String Quartet. Hyperion CDA67097 [DDD] [64'49] [CC]

..... Indeed, this is so perfectly realised in the performance of the Chausson one could be forgiven for expecting this disc to be one in a thousand......

Rebecca CLARKE; MARTINU  Viola Sonatas, REGER Viola suites Op. 131d Vladimir Bukac (viola) Jaromir Klepac (piano) Wallace Collection, London. 9 July 2000 Calliope CAL 9285 (72.10) [PW]

The Martinu sonata is rarely heard and a good reason to purchase this CD.

AMERICAN PIANO WORKS PAUL CRESTON Piano Sonata (1936) Six Preludes (1945) VITTORIO GIANNINI Piano Sonata (1963) NICHOLAS FLAGELLO Two Waltzes (1953) Piano Sonata (1962) Tatjana Rankovich (piano) rec 6, 21 Jan 1998, 29 Apr 1998, 24 June 1999 PHOENIX PHCD 143 [70.32] [RB]

Recommended to devotees of the Italian neo-romantic vein in American music. We need to hear more of Ms Rankovitch preferably in pioneering repertoire of this type.

DEBUSSY: Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien - Symphonic Fragments MUSSORGSKY orch Ravel:
Pictures at an Exhibition
  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg/Gunter Wand.
RCA RED SEAL 74321 72788 2. [54'59"] [CA]

Very good sound, well-balanced and natural - just like Wand's conducting. The Debussy is exceptional; Mussorgsky's music is tellingly revealed and Ravel's orchestration is shown in a new light.

FREDERICK DELIUS - The Historic EMI Recordings issued on Naxos' Great Conductors series

DELIUS Orchestral works Vol. 1
On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, Summer Night on the River, Eventyr, Koanga - Closing Scene, Hassan: Interlude; Serenade, Paris - Song of a Great City
RPO/LPO conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham rec 1927-34 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110904 [61.11] [RB]

When first issued the Delius Society volumes were luxury items available only to the moneyed classes....I recall buying the seven LP set on World Record Club LPs at some hideous price. Naxos have turned that world on its head.

DELIUS Orchestral works Vol. 2
The Walk to the Paradise Garden, Sea Drift, Fennimore and Gerda - Intermezzo, In a Summer Garden, Over the Hills and Far Away John Brownlee (bar) London Select Choir
RPO/LPO conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham rec 1927-36 NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.10905 [62.42] [RB]

DELIUS Orchestral works Vol. 3
Brigg Fair 13.45, La Calinda 3.25, Hassan - Closing scene 7.23, Irmelin Prelude 4.12, Appalachia 37.07, (all rec Abbey Rd, Studio 1, London) Jan van der Gucht (ten) Royal Opera Chorus LPO/Beecham NAXOS 8.110906 [66.12] [RB]

DELIUS  Danish Masterworks Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Aarhus Chamber Choir cond Bo Holten,  Henriette Bonde-Hansen (sop), Johann Reuter (bar) Danacord DACOCD 536 [70.26] [PW]

This is a first recording in Danish of Delius's orchestral songs. They are all well recorded and will be essential purchases for Delius collectors.

DVORAK Symphonies 6 & 8 Vienna Philharmonic, Myung-Whun Chung DG 469 046-2, 76 minutes, Full-Price

These are enormously empathetic readings - wonderfully played and beautifully recorded. The surprise must surely be that Chung, a conductor who does not have this music in his blood, is so obviously able to enter the sound world of Dvorak so convincingly.

ELGAR (1857 - 1934) Piano Quintet in A Minor Op. 84 35'34" Sospiri Op.70* 3'28" The Farm Yard (Harmony Music No 4)** 13'49" Frederick DELIUS (1862 - 1934) Violin Sonata No 3 16'47" Violin Sonata No 2* 11'27" Violin Sonata No 1* 20'30" Cello Sonata* 14'20" Soloists of the London Symphony Orchestra & Isreala Margalit. EMI British Composers CZS 5 73992 2 [HD]

Chamber Music by Elgar and Delius, two of the triumvirate of English composers who died in the same year of 1934 (Gustav Holst was the third), is combined to make up this double CD in the British Composers Series from EMI. Musically there is not a lot of common ground between the two men. Neither is best remembered for his chamber music and this recording may introduce it to new listeners.


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