> Classical CD Reviews January 2002 part 2 A-B: Classical MusicWeb (UK)

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John ADAMS (b. 1947) El Niño - opera Libretto by John Adams and Peter Sellars Soprano…………………Dawn Upshaw London Voices, Maîtrise de Paris Children’s Choir
Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin conducted by Kent Nagano The world premier production from the Théâtre de Paris-Châtelet, 2000 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD Video 100 220 [147 mins] [IL]

Adams new opera/oratorio has much to recommend it. The music is colourful and accessible notwithstanding that the production’s images are sometimes rather obscure. Certainly worth visiting. ...see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 Ekaterina Dershavina, piano Rec: November 1994, Musikstudio 1 of the Saarländischer Rundfunk. ARTE NOVA 74321 34011 2 [77.13] [KM]

A brilliant recording, and at a budget price as well! Snap it up for a rare example of pianistic excellence. …see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 Jory Vinikour, harpsichord Rec: October 2000, Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California. DELOS DE 3279 [85.39] [2CDs for the price of one] [KM]

This is a brilliant, lively recording of the Goldberg Variations, by a young harpsichordist who will certainly make a name for himself as a soloist in the years to come. ...see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 - 1750) Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 Käte van Trich, organ Rec: December 1990. MDG 318 0386-2 [72.33]

A disappointing recording. The Goldbergs are not apt to presentation on the organ. …. see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I BWV 846-869 [123.49] Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II BWV 870-893 [146.04] Ottavio Dantone (hpsch)
Rec: June 2000, Sala del Refettorio di S. Vitale, Ravenna, Italy ARTS MUSIC 47654-2 [123.49] (book I), 47657-2 [146.04] (book II)

The combination of the beautiful instrument, excellent recording and uniquely personal interpretation puts this among the few truly indispensable recordings of this work on harpsichord. … see Full Listing

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042 Violin Concerto in G minor, transcribed from Keyboard Concerto, BWV 1056 Double Violin Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin Concerto in C major, RV187 Violin Concerto in D major, RV209 Pinchas Zukerman (violin), Jose-Luis Garcia (violin, Bach Double Concerto) English Chamber Orchestra
Rec 1990 (Bach), 1992 (Vivaldi) RCA Red Seal 74321 68002 [77.32] [TB]

Zukerman's is stylistically aware but opts for 'modern' pitch and instruments rather than 'period'. The balance tendsto place him forward in the perspective. ...see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concerto no. 1 in A minor, BWV 1041 (1), Violin Concerto no. 2 in E, BWV 1042 (2), Concerto in D minor for Two Violins and Strings, BWV 1043 (3), Sonata for Solo Violin no. 3 in A minor, BWV 1003: Adagio (4) Yehudi Menuhin (violin), George Enescu (violin) (3), Paris Symphony Orchestra (1-3)/George Enescu (1, 2), Pierre Monteux (3) Recorded in Paris, 21.2.1936 (1), 24.6.1933 (2), 4.6.1932 (3, 4) NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110965 [54.21]

More than a myth, these first recordings provide a pleasant snapshot of Menuhin’s career at that moment. ...see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Music for Oboe and Harpsichord Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier Sonata in G minor, BWV 1030b Sonata in C major, BWV 103 Sonata in G minor, BWV 102 Prelude and Fugue in c minor, BWV 871, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II Sonata in Eb major, BWV 1031 ‘Organ’ trio sonata in C major, BWV 521 Gail Hennessy, oboe Nicholas Parle, harpsichord Rec: December 2000, St. Andrew’s Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire. SIGNUM SIGCD034 [68:39] [KM]

The music is quite attractive, but the recording puts the harpsichord too much in the background, giving a lack of balance that is unattractive. Unfortunately, this original disc does not have enough qualities to recommend it. … see Full Listing

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 Arleen Auger (soprano), Julia Hamari (contralto), Peter Schreier (tenor), Wolfgang Schöne (bass), Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling Recorded April/July 1984, Gedächtniskirche, Stuttgart HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 94.010 [3 CDs: 57.27, 47.49, 49.18] [CF]

A clean, clear and vital execution, three out of four superb soloists and beautiful sound. It’s up to you decide if this is enough....see Full Review

BACH. Christmas Oratorio. Juliane Banse, Cornelia Kallisch, Markus Schafer, Robert Swenson, Thomas Quasthoff, Windsbacher Knabenchor, Municher Bachsolisten,Karl-Friedrich Beringer. Recorded in Heilsbron Munster July 1991. Teldec video 4509-91124-3 (158 minutes) - [DW]

The star is Quasthoff. From his first entry we have a voice and a presence rare in music. He has a wonderful duet with the trumpet. The woodwind playing is a treat but, curiously, one of the most striking features is that when some orchestral players are tacet they seem to be enjoying listening to the music. That speaks volumes to me. … see Full Listing

Johann Sebastian BACH Bach On The Fritts! Bach organ Works: Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C-Major BWV 564, Partita on ‘Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig’ BWV 768, Prelude and Fugue in A-Minor BWV 543, Prelude and Fugue in A-Major BWV 536, Chorale Prelude ‘Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele’ BWV 654, Chorale Prelude ‘Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten’ BWV 668a, Passacaglia in C-Minor BWV 582. Jonathan Biggers, Organist Arizona State University Recorded: May 1994, Arizona State University, Temple, Arizona. Organ by: Paul Fritts and Co., 1992. CALCANTE RECORDINGS CAL CD009 [77.01] [ChA]

Biggers not caught at his best, but I do recommend to keep an eye open for his more recent performances. The Fritts organ is a fine instrument.... see Full Review

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ Works Prelude and Fugues BWV 543; BWV 536 Partita "O Gott, du frommer Gott" BWV 767 Allabreve BWV 589 Prelude BWV 568
Pastorale BWV 590 Choralvorspiel und Choral BWV 604 Hans Helmut Tillmanns (organ) Recorded: St Nicholas Church, Raeren, Belgium October 2001 DANACORD DACOCD 590 [67.04?] [JW]

The Weimbs organ has been splendidly recorded by Danacord who are making something of a speciality of sympathetic organ acoustics. This is a disc that can be recommended.... see Full Review

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) The World Of Béla Bartók
Suite no. 1, Opus 3
Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati Assai lento - Allegro molto (movement I from Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion) Vladimir and Vovka Ashkenazy (pianos) David Corkhill and Andrew Smith (percussion) Doors IV & V (from Bluebeard's Castle) Walter Berry (Bluebeard), Christa Ludwig (Judith) London Symphony Orchestra/István Kertesz Mikrokosmos, Book VI, Nos. 148-153 Zoltán Kocsis (piano) Adagio (second movement from Piano Concerto No. 2) Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano) London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti Elegia (third movement from Concerto for Orchestra) Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti Fast Dance (third movement from Contrasts for violin, clarinet and piano) Arvid Engegard (violin), Elmar Schmid (clarinet) András Schiff (piano) Allegro molto (fourth movement from Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta) Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Sir Georg Solti Rec Decca, 1966-1994 DECCA 470 129 2 [73.00] [TB]

There are some distinguished performances here but somehow the compilation seems less than the sum of its parts. ...see Full Review

Sir Arnold BAX (1883-1953) String Quartet No. 1 in G major (1918) String Quartet No. 2 in A minor (1925) Maggini String Quartet Rec 19-21 December 1999, Potton Hall, Suffolk NAXOS 8.555282 [54.00] [TB]

Good to find these quartets coupled in an appealing budget release from Naxos, pleasingly recorded by a talented ensemble already recognised for their prowess in British music. … see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat, Op. 73, ‘Emperor’. Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2. Artur Schnabel (piano); Gregor Piatigorsky (cello); London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent. Recorded on March 24th, 1932 in Abbey Road Studio No. 1 (Emperor) and December 6th and 16th, 1934 in Abbey Road Studio No. 3 (Cello Sonata). [ADD] NAXOS HISTORICAL mono 8.110640 [60.07] [CC]

Having heard a couple of disappointing ‘Emperors’ live in London recently, it is a relief to reacquaint oneself with the magnificent insights of Artur Schnabel in this recording. Here is a reminder of the true stature of this piece. The Cello Sonata, this alone makes the disc essential. ...see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827) Complete Piano Sonatas on Period Instruments Malcolm Bilson, Tom Beghin, David Breitman, Ursula Dütschler, Zvi Meniker, Bart van Oort, Andrew Willis, fortepiano Rec.: March, June, July, November 1996, Masterview Sound Studio, Ithack, New York, and Maria Minor Church, Utrecht, Holland. CLAVES CD 50-9707/10 [11.28.50] [KM]

This is a magnificent set of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, played on the type of instrument he used when composing them. Many listeners will be uncomfortable with the pianoforte; it is so very different from the modern piano. But these recordings give a totally new perspective on these essential piano works. … Full Review

FREDDY KEMPF PLAYS BEETHOVEN Ludwig van BEETHOVEN: Sonata No.30 in E major, Op.109, Sonata No.31 in A flat major, Op.110, Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111 Freddy Kempff (piano)recorded in March 2000 at Nybrokajen 11, Stockholm BIS CD 1120 [63.25] [MB]

Never less than fascinating this disc shows a young tiger with an absolute command of the keyboard. There are sublime touches and Kempf has an unerring ability to strike beauty from the piano. Do hear this disc but don’t assume that it is the last word on Beethoven – or Kempf. ...see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas – No. 13 in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1; No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2, ‘Moonlight’; No. 30 in E, Op. 109. Maria João Pires (piano). Recorded at Granja de Belgais, Portugal in June 2000 and May 2001 [DDD]
DG 453 457-2 [51.16] [CC]

This is a truly awe-inspiring offering from Pires which acts as a reminder of what a truly unique and inspiring musician she is. … see Full Listing

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No .3 "Eroica" Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 101 "The Clock"* Symphony Orchestra of Southwest German Radio, Baden Baden and Vienna Symphony Orchestra*/ Jascha Horenstein (Recorded in 1957) VOX LEGENDS VOX 7807 [79.02] [TD]

Whilst the Beethoven ultimately disappoints, the Haydn is sufficiently interesting to make this disc a welcome reissue from the Vox Horenstein collection. see Full Review

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125 'Choral' Edith Wiens (soprano), Hildegard Hartwig (mezzo soprano), Keith Lewis (tenor), Roland Hermann (bass) NDRSO/Günter Wand Rec 1987 by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi RCA RED SEAL 74321 68005 2 [66.23] [TB]

The performance is brimming full of vitality, with a good team of soloists and a top class orchestra who worked regularly with the conductor ...see Full Listing

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827)
Fidelio (highlights) Opera in two acts
Arnold Schoenberg Choir Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Nikolaus Harnoncourt Recorded at Stefaniensaal,Graz. June 1994 Teldec Classics International GmbH DDD WARNER CLASSICS APEX 0927 413742 [76.33?] [KM]

You will play this CD and then probably not replay it for some time. It is competent but without many compelling elements. … full review

Paul BEN-HAIM (1897-1984) The Piano Works of Paul Ben-Haim Suite No. 1 Op. 20a (1933); Suite No. 2 Op. 20b (1936); Five Pieces Op. 34 (1943); Sonatina Op. 38 (1946)
"Melody with Variations" Op. 42 (1950); Sonata Op. 49 (1954)
Gila Goldstein – piano
Recorded at Patrych Sound Studios, New York, January- February 2000 CENTAUR CRC 2506 [76.26]

Gila Goldstein’s superbly assured and dedicated readings of these enjoyable works pay a well-deserved tribute to Israel’s foremost composer …. See Full Review

Niels Viggo BENTZON (1909-2000) Piano Concerto No. 4 (1954) [39.28] Five Mobiles (1960) [20.16] Anker Blyme (piano) Aarhus SO/Ole Schmidt rec Kongreshuset Arhus, 1982 DACAPO 8.224110 [59.46] [RB]

Bentzon's productivity was phenomenal. The Piano Concerto flits between Beethoven, Berg and Stravinsky. The Mobiles are works of starry dissolution. ...see Full Review

Niels Viggo BENTZON (1909-2000) Symphony No. 5 Op. 61 Ellipser (1950) [36.19] Symphony No. 7 Op. 83 Tre Versioner (1952) [28.54] Aarhus SO/Ole Schmidt rec Kongreshuset Aarhus, 5 Apr 1980 (sym 7); 4 Mar 1982 (Sym 5) DACAPO 8.224111 [65.13] [RB]

These symphonies are examples of Bentzon's metamorphic style in which the voices of Bartok, Simpson and Shostakovich nudge and jostle ... see Full Review

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-69) Les nuits d’été. La mort de Cléopâtre. La captive. La belle voyageuse. Zaïde. Véronique Gens (soprano); Lyon National Opera Orchestra/Louis Langrée. Recorded in Opéra National, Lyon on January 28th-29th, 2000 (Cléopâtre) and in Auditorium Maurice Ravel on February 1st-3rd, 2001 (other works). [DDD] VIRGIN CLASSICS VC5 45422-2 [61.17] [CC]

Véronique Gens joins the exalted ranks of Crespin and Baker for top placing in Les nuits dété, and comes top of the list for modern recordings. A truly beautiful record. ...see Full Review

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen (highlights) Carmen - Grace Bumbry (mezzo soprano) Don Jose - Jon Vickers (tenor) Michaela - Mirella Freni (soprano) Escamillo - Kostas Paskalis (baritone) Frasquita - Eliane Lublin (soprano) Mercedes - Viorica Cortez (mezzo soprano) Morales - Claude Meloni (baritone) Zuniga - Bernard Gontcharenko (bass) Chorus and Orchestra of the Paris Opera Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (conductor) Recorded in the Salle Wagram, Paris, July and September 1969, January and February 1970 EMI CLASSICS CDE5 74955 2 [76.11]
Superbudget [CF]

I’m not very keen on bleeding chunks of operatic excerpts but this Carmen is an exception. If you haven’t got, and don't want to buy, the whole opera, this will more than suffice. …see Full Listing

Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Introduction and Allegro, Cello Concerto, Meditations on a theme by John Blow Robert Cohen (cello) Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth Antiphonal Fanfare, Flourish, Fanfare for the Lord Mayor of London, Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Suite: Things to Come National Philharmonic Orchestra/Bernard Herrmann Welcome to the Queen, Theme and Cadenza for violin, Introduction and Allegro Alfredo Campoli (violin)
London Philharmonic Orchestra London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Arthur Bliss Rec 1955 (Theme and Cadenza, Introduction and Allegro - Bliss), 1959 (Welcome to the Queen), 1970, Antiphonal Fanfare, Flourish), 1975 (Things to Come), 1979 (Fanfare), 1993 (Introduction and Allegro - Wordsworth, Cello Concerto, Meditations) DECCA 470 186-2 [2CDs: 124.21] [TB]

This Bliss collection contains some enterprising repertoire in good recordings and performances, stretching across a period from 1955 to 1993. ...see Full Review

Carey BLYTON The Early Songs Three a.m. Op. 9; Two Pensive Songs Op. 10; Toi et Moi Op. 11; Moresques Op. 14; Symphony in Yellow Op. 15; The Poetry of Dress Op. 25 What then is Love? Op. 26; The Sea Dog’s Song Op. 28; Prayers from the Ark Op. 48; The Flea Op. 100½; The Rose and the Nightingale by Rimsky-Korsakov arr. Blyton; Indigo Blues Op. 103½ Beryl Korman, soprano; Ian Partridge, tenor; Stephen Roberts, piano; Jennifer Partridge, piano; David Campbell, clarinet and "Scheherazade". Recorded at Snape, Maltings November 2000
UPBEAT URCD 160 [79.23] [GH]

In Blyton's songs the urban world is beautifully evoked with a sense of sleazy decorum and run-down sophistication. …see Full Review

Dmitri Stepanovich BORTNYANSKY (1751-1825) Sacred Concertos, Volume 5: Nos. 30-35. Russian State Symphonic Cappella/Valeri Polyansky. Recorded in the Dormition Cathedral of Smolensk and St Sophia’s Cathedral, Polotsk in 1989/90. [DDD] CHANDOS CHAN9956 [60.33] [CC]

The choir displays almost chameleon responses to Bortnyansky’s music. Polyansky’s sense of timing seems always spot-on, and the recording is exemplary, capturing the cathedral acoustic convincingly. ...see Full Review

William BOYCE (1711- 1779) Pindar’s Ode,New Year Ode 1774 Patrick Burrowes (boy soprano) Andrew Johnson (boy soprano) Christopher Josey (high tenor) Charles Daniels (tenor) Michael George (bass-baritone) Choir of New College Oxford – director Edward Higginbotham Hanover Band/Graham Lea-Cox (conductor) Rec 2001? ASV CD GAU 232 [74.20] [JW]

Whilst not as consistently impressive as that earlier recording by these forces this disc is yet more evidence of Boyce’s high status in eighteenth century music making. … see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor, op. 15 *, Intermezzo in E flat, op. 117/1, Intermezzi in A m, op. 116/2; Rhapsody in G minor, op. 79/2 Artur Schnabel (pianoforte), London Philharmonic Orchestra/George Szell* Recorded 9.1. and 18.12.1938, EMI Abbey Road Studio no. 1 (concerto) 4.6.1947, EMI Abbey Road Studio no. 3 (solo pieces) NAXOS Historical 8.110664 [61.34] [CH]

Schnabel was a very complete Brahmsian indeed and these recordings are essential documents, as well as an unmissable bargain at Naxos price. …see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D, Op.73 Felix MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 4 in A, Op.90, The Italian National Philharmonic Orchestra (1972), conducted by Leopold Stokowski recorded in EMI Studio One, Abbey Road, London, 4th ,5th & 9th April 1977 (Brahms) and 31st May, 2nd and 4th June 1977 (Mendelssohn). ADD CALA CACD0531 [73.43] [JP]

Stokowski seems to have more life in his little finger than many a younger conductor appears to be able to muster in his / her whole body. A pair of wonderful performances, beautifully recorded and presented. … see Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Opus 115 Piano Quintet in F minor, Opus 34 Ralph Manno (clarinet), Alfredo Perl (piano), Michaela Paetsch Neftel, Rahel Cunz (violins), Hartmut Rohde (viola), Guido Schiefen (cello) Rec 14-15 August 1995, Iglesia San Francisco de Telde, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ARTE NOVA 74321 30493 2 [74.24] [TB]

There are other performances of either of these pieces which will give equal pleasure, but none are available at remotely so competitive a price. …. See Full Review

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Two Sonatas for clarinet and piano, op. 120: no. 1 in f minor, no. 2 in E flat Ralph Manno (clarinet), Alfredo Perl (pianoforte) Recorded 24 & 27 August 1992, Sendsaal Radio Bremen ARTE NOVA 74321 27767 2 [45.34] Super Budget [CH]

Not much of a bargain here, I’m afraid ...see Full Review

Frank BRIDGE (1879 – 1941) Enter Spring (1927) Isabella (1906) Two Poems for Orchestra (1915) Mid of the Night (1903) BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox Recorded: Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, November 2000 CHANDOS CHAN 9950 [75:48] [HC]

Hickox conducts finely paced performances of all these pieces and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales respond with wholehearted enthusiasm and dedication. Warmly recommended. .. see Full Listing

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Enter Spring Summer – Tone Poem for Orchestra
Christmas Dance – Sir Roger de Coverley Academy of St Martins in the Fields
(recorded 1996)
Sonata for Cello and Piano Mstislav Rostropovich (cello) and Benjamin Britten (Piano) (recorded in 1968) Go Not Happy Day Kathleen Ferrier (contralto) accompanied by Frederick Stone (piano) (recorded in 1952 ) DECCA 470 189-2 [57:11] Midprice

A worthy compilation of Bridge works from his middle and late periods: beautiful works splendidly played – especially the Cello Sonata. Recommended. … see Full Review

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No 8 Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski Recorded Kongresshalle, Saarbrucken October 1993 ARTE NOVA 74321 34016 2 (2 CDs) [82.24] Superbudget [JW]

An excellent, well-recorded and thoroughly convincing account worthy of the highest interest. …see Full Review

[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Y] [Part 6 Misc]  

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