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


August 2000 part 1

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STRAVINSKY Shadow Dances. Tangoa. Suitesa - No. 1; No. 2. Concerto in Db. Concertinob. Octetb. Three Pieces for String Quarteta. Praeludiuma. Ragtimea. Duetc. Fanfare for a New Theatrec. Scherzo à la Russea. Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Producer Christian Gansch. Engineer Wolf-Dieter Katwatky. Date aApril 1996, bDecember 1995, cDecember 1996. DG 453 458-2 (full price, 1 hour 7 minutes).  

Michael Oliver

A Survey of the Mahler

Tony Duggan completes his  series of comparative reviews of recordings of the Mahler :
Song Cycles

Previously: Symphony No.1  No. 2   No.3  No. 4  No.5 No.6 No.7  No.8 No. 9  No. 10 The Song of the Earth  

Symphony No.4 (1944) 31.36

Statements (1935)
LSO/Eugene Goossens (Antheil): Copland (Copland)
rec 1958, Walthamstow Town Hall, London
EVEREST EVC 9039 [49.41] [RB]

A nice disc though short on playing time.

Symphonies 1 & 6; Archipelago
Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt/Hugh Wolff
CPO 999 604-2 [62.35]
[PW] [MB]

If you question whether Antheil deserves to be taken seriously (his Bad Boy tag has stuck firmly) try the slow movement of No 6; an extremely beautiful Larghetto, Prokfievian obviously, but good music which Prokofiev himself might have been proud to have conceived and orchestrated so movingly. On this showing the larger works of Antheil are unfairly neglected, fully deserving discovery or rediscovery.

WIND-UP Chamber Music

Peter Hill (piano) Hugh Webb (harp) Bridget Carey (viola) Francesca Hanley (flute) Barry Webb (trombone) with Julian Warburton (percussion). Ensemble Exposé/Roger Redgate
Metier MSV CD92042 [70.40] [PW]

A good CD for the tough-minded.

Symphony No. 5,
Divertimento No. 2,
Symphonic Study: 'Machines',
Sarabande and Polka,
The Belles of St. Trinians.
Munich Symphony Orchestra Douglas Bostock.
Classico CLASSCD294 61m DDD.

The best possible case is put forward by the Munich Symphony Orchestra and Bostock, complementing rather than displacing the composer himself in 1972 Bostock importantly avoids unnecessary melodrama so that the music flows eloquently and naturally.

Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Film Music: Lola Montez. Notre-Dame de Paris. Farandole.
Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adriano
Marco Polo 8.225070 [63:33] [IL]

An outstanding album; heartily recommended.

Toccata in C Minor BWV 911
Partita No. 2 BWV 826
English Suite No. 2 in A minor BWV 807
Martha Argerich, piano
DG The Originals 463-604-2. 50m ADD. [GF]

The superb and rare artistry of Martha Argerich is demonstrated in this technically watertight collection of Bach recordings that appeared in the middle of the 80's on a now legendary DG LP..... DG's recording is slightly dry but the new transfers have refurbished the sound moderately well. But that is indeed a small price to pay in the light of such fantastic music making.

Johann Sebastien BACH
Art of Fugue, BWV1080
Concerto Italiano - Rinaldo Alessandrini
OPUS 111 OPS 30-191 [74.27]
recorded digitally in Frascati, Italy, June 1998. [JP]

A reissue of a superb recording which will bring new light to bear on a difficult work. A period performance of the best kind.

Johann Sebastien BACH
Goldberg Variations, BWV988
Pierre Hantai (harpsichord)
Instrument made by Bruce Kennedy, Amsterdam 1985, after Michael Mietke, Berlin 1702 - 1704?
recorded digitally in Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem, Netherlands, 9-11 June 1992.
OPUS 111 OPS 30-84 [77.26] [JP]

A reissue of an award winning recording which has lost nothing of its attraction.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750)
Goldberg Variations
John Metz (harpsichord)
20 bit recording.Recording date not available.DDD
Soundset Recordings SR1013 [69.02] [HD]

A decent enough Goldberg but there's lots of opposition.

The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 also including Toccata in F-sharp minor, BWV 910 & Musical Offering: The two ricercres, BWV 1079
Andrew Rangell
Dorian -DOR90138  [73:00] [GD]
Amazon USA  

...a recording for which I can find little enthusiasm.

Sonatas for Viola da Gamba, BWV 1027-28-29-30a
Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, viola da gamba / Miklós Spányi, tangent piano
BIS CD 1061    [63:39] [GD]
 Amazon UK  Amazon USA

It all adds up to an unusual but outstanding Bach recital.

Goldberg Variations

Viola da Gamba sontatas

Johann Sebastien BACH
A Musical Offering, BWV1079
Canons BWV 1072 - 1078, 1086
14 Canons BWV 1087

Hanssler Edition CD92.133 [57.55] [JP]

A fascinating issue in superb recording quality which will bring the listener great pleasure. A period performance of the best kind.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750)
Cantatas for Ascension Day
Gott fähret auf mit Jauchen BWV 43 [18.02]
Auf Christi Himmelfahrt allein BWV 128* [16.30]
Wer da gläubet und getauft wird BWV 37 [15.30]
Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen BWV 11 [28.13]
Oratorio for Ascension Day
Nancy Argenta (soprano)
Michael Chance, Robin Blaze* (counter-tenors)
Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Christopher Genz* (tenors)
Stephen Varcoe, Reinhard Hagen* (basses)
The Monteverdi Choir,
The English Baroque Soloists,
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
DDD Recorded 10/93 (BWV 11,37,43). 4/99 (BWV 128)
Archiv 463 583-2 [78.30]

There is no reason whatsoever for anyone to whom the works appeal not to buy this splendid disc.

Cantatas BWV 102 & 151


Celebrate this Festival
ECO/Britten with soloists
Decca 466 819-2 79 mins

Bach's Susser Trost cantata brought me up with a surprised shock. The heavy vibrato of Heather Harper & Helen Watts, and too that of Richard Adeney in what Philip Reed cites as his 'exceptionlly liquid flute-playing', now sounds anachronistic..... I find Britten's rather heavy manner with the English Chamber Orchestra has been completely eclipsed by the likes of Robert King and his King's Consort....I do not feel able to recommend this CD as a whole to the general collector.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1695-1750) (recomposed Jirásek after an idea by Carl Orff).
St. Luke Passion.
Marc Clear (tenor) Evangelist; Furio Zanasi (bass) Jesus; Ulrik Cold (bass) Pilatus; Steven Kronauer (tenor) Petrus; Rüdiger Ballhorn (tenor) Servus; Miyuki Matsui Eichhorn (soprano) Anclla; Mathias Banholzer (bass) Poenitens, Hauptmann; Boni Pueri Bors' Choir; Munich Oratorio Choir and Symphony Orchestra/Douglas Bostock.
Classico CLASSCD278 [DDD] [70'47] [CC]

Bach purists will find plenty to outrage them here and should perhaps give this disc a wide berth, but those endowed with open minds may well emerge uplifted after hearing this thought provoking CD.

Johann Sebastian BACH
St. Matthew Passion arr. Mendelssohn

Wilfried Jochens (tenor), Peter Lika (bass), Angela Kazimierczuk (soprano), Alison Browner (Alto) Markus Schaefer (tenor) and Franz-Joseph Selig, (bass).
Chorus Musicus and Das Neue Orchester - Christoph Spering
OPUS111 OPS 2022-23 [132.25] recorded digitally in 1993 [JP]

Wonderful opportunity to hear a stylish performance of a little heard version of a masterpiece in a shortened version which was instrumental in widening our appreciation of Bach's music.

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Leonard Slatkin
CHANDOS CHAN 9835 [73' 03"] [CA]

.this is a super CD - one thoughtfully planned regarding key and mood which encourages continuous listening. This `Bach through the ages' release eloquently testifies to Bach's incorruptible invention and how successfully successors have illuminated his music through the orchestral medium...

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.

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.

Viola Concerto (1945)(completed Tibor Serly)

Replica (1998)

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.

Bela 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

Sir Arnold 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]

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.


Ludwig van 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.



Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphonies - No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55, 'Eroica'; No. 8 in F, Op. 93.
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Hans Pfitzner.
Naxos Historical 8.110910 [DDD] [69'40]

A fascinating historical document.


No. 8


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.


Marc Bridle

No rating applied

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
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.

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.

Geoffrey Self


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

Lewis Foreman

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83.
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

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.


JOHANNES BRAHMS conducted by Max Fiedler
Academic Festival Overture 9.45
Symphony No. 2 38.36
Symphony No. 4 41.14
Berlin PO/Max Fiedler
(all from Polydor electric process 78s, rec 1929, 1931, ADD)

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

Benjamin 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) City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra CBSO Chorus Sir Simon Rattle
Recorded Warwick Arts Centre 23/24 May 1984* 15-17 July 1990** Cheltenham Town Hall 22/23 April 1982 DDD
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 Op.6 16'00"
Elegy for Solo Viola (1930)* 5'50"
Cello Sonata in C Op. 65** 22'16"
Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe Op.49*** 14'13"
William WALTON
(1902 - 1983)
Piano Quartet 28'52"
Violin Sonata* 26'00"
Five Bagatelles for Guitar ** 14'10"
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.

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.

Individual ratings

Symphonies - No.7 in E (Haas/Nowak), No.8 in C minor (1890 version edited Nowak) & No.9 in D minor;

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.

Bruckner 8, Schubert 5

Bruckner 7 & 9

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