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MUSIC FOR LUTE AND MANDOLIN: Paul O'Dette, The Parley of Instruments Roy Goodman/Peter Holman. Hyperion CDA20160 58m DDD.

We begin our survey of ten selected Hyperion reissues for the 20th anniversary with this splendidly mercurial and invigorating offering. Paul O'Dette's virtuosity is immediately apparent in these spaciously conceived interpretations of some of Vivaldi's best known and much loved works. The Concerto in G Major that prefaces the disc is given a splendid rhythmic 'kick' with O Dette a persuasive advocate of the difficult mandolin part. Robin Jeffrey's also joins in here and is a sympathetic partner in this virtuosic display. Concertos in C and D are the mainstay of the CD which also has some exquisite chamber arrangementsd in the form of two Trios for chamber instruments. The splendid recording has been vividly remastered for this occasion thus refreshing an already excellent disc. Vivaldi connoisseurs should not hesitate in snapping up this Limited Edition version that comes in an attractive cardboard sleeve.

GRANVILLE BANTOCK: Celtic and Hebridean Symphonies, The Witch of Atlas, The Sea Reivers. CDA20450 74m DDD.

The wonderfully melodious strains of the Celtic Symphony demonstrate Bantock's compositional prowess at its very best and this has been brilliantly exploited by Hyperion. When this disc first came out, about ten years ago, I was still in my infant collector stage but remember being absolutely bowled over by the stupendous sound and magnificent music that was all a 17 year old hopeful could have ever imagined! Listening afreshto Handley's 'Hebridean', was a nostalgic experience, since these days there is not much time to dwell over particular works with the constant flood of discs coming our way. It is also magnificent to listen to such wonderful imagination as in 'The Witch of Atlas' which is brimful of mastery and translucent orchestral virtuosity. The disc has stood the test of time with flying colours and with two more Bantock releases under their belt, Hyperion have proved to be the label who has definitely resurrected this composer. No remastering here but there is no need, the sound really does bowl one over!

G.F. HANDEL: The Four Coronation Anthems, Musick for the Royal Fireworks. The Choir of New College, Oxford, The King's Consort Edward Higginbottom/Robert King CDA20350 57m

What a pompous and celebratory disc this is! Now newly remastered, the sound has come up even cleaner and clearer than before and that continues to add to the enjoyment of a disc that was always one of the stalwarts of the Hyperion catalogue. Robert King's mercurial direction in the Coronation Anthems is fantastically assured and he manages to bring out the thrill and nobility of 'Zadok the Priest' like no other. Still, the real joy of this disc has always been the authentic 1749 scoring of the 'Fireworks' music. The zest and vigour of the music is marvelously captured but I still cannot displace Fritz Lehmann's irresistible BPO recording from 1951 with the BPO. However newcomers should be urged to acquire this disc immediately especially since it is now available at mid price, a 'snip', if there ever was one!

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Serenade to Music, Five Mystical Songs, Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Flos campi. Various soloists, Noboku Imai: viola, Corydon Singers English Chamber Orchestra Matthew Best. Hyperion CDA20420 68m DDD.

This is definitely one of the highlights from the twenty releases. Hyperion's unshirking commitment to the English choral genre has been a sound and almost ever present feature in their catalogue and this release sums it all up. Four of RVW's finest works are included here and all are in splendid interpretations. Noboku Imai's playing in 'Flos Campi' is wonderful, to my mind he even eclipses Frederick Riddle's classic account now available on Chandos Collect. The decision to use the 16 soloist setup in Serenade to Music is also laudable, expression of clarity and romantic imagery are greatly enhanced with this choice of singers. I also enjoyed Thomas Allen's brooding 'Five Mystical Songs', interpretations that really do plumb the emotional depths of this work which is one of the finest group of songs that RVW ever wrote. Framing all this richness is the Fantasia on Christmas Carols, a work full of uninhibited zest and vitality. Best and his choral and orchestral forces are indeed to be praised for their sterling efforts and the disc comfortably rises to the top of my Hyperion shopping list!

Gerald Fenech

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