> Summary of New Classical CD Reviews - June 2002 part 1- (last two days): MusicWeb: Len Mullenger
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Reviews for June 2002

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Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) 24 Preludes op. 28 - Prelude in C sharp minor op. 45 - Prelude in A flat major op. Posth. - Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor op. 35 Martha Argerich, piano - Recorded 1974 (sonata), 1975 (28 Preludes), 1977 (op. 45/posth) DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON Legendary Recordings 463 663-2 [61:17] [JL]

"Legendary Recordings" indeed! The cumulative power of the Preludes make it, for some, the greatest performance of the work ever recorded. … see Full Review

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Romance sans paroles, op.17 no.3 [2.45] - Nocturne No.1, op.33 no.1 [8.47] - Nocturne No.3, op.33 no.3 [4.33] - Impromptu No.2, op.31 [3.42] - Nocturne No.6, op.63 [9.36] - Barcarolle No.1, op.26 [5.37] - Nocturne No.11, op.104 no.1 [4.41] - Nocturne No.13, op.119 [8.43] - Improvisation (8 pièces brèves), op.84 no.5 [1.43] - Romance sans paroles, op.17 no.1 [1.54] - Prélude, op.103 no.2 [2.24] - Prélude op.103 no.7 [2.06] - Ballade, op.19 [15.48] Kun Woo Paik, piano - Rec Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 29-31 July 2001 DECCA 470 246-2 [72.21] [TB]

A very beautiful record that places these works in the context of their more celebrated relations, yet demonstrates their marvellous individuality at the same time. … see Full Review

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No 7 Berliner Philharmoniker, Claudio Abbado Live recording, Philharmonie, Berlin May 2001 Full Price DG 417 623-2 [78’07] [MB]

One of Abbado’s greatest recordings - and one of a handful of Mahler symphonies which are truly unequalled in their inspiration. … see Full Review

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Stabat Mater,Litanies à la Vierge Noire, Quatre Motets pour un temps de pénitence Judith Howarth, soprano The Choirs of Gonville and Caius Colleges, Cambridge BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Conductors Christopher Robinson (Stabat Mater), Geoffrey Webster (Litanies), Timothy Brown (Motets) DVD, recorded St.Wulfram’s Church, Grantham, UK (Stabat Mater) and Jesus College Cambridge UK (Litanies and Motets) 1996(?) BBC OPUS ARTE DVD VIDEO OA 0817D [GPJ]

A moving, compelling document regarding some of this unique composer’s finest music. … see Full Review

Swan Flight Veljo TORMIS (b.1930) Ocean; Swan Flight Claude DEBUSSY (1868-1918) La Mer Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Swan of Tuonela Estonian-Finnish Symphony Orchestra/Anu Tali Recorded Estonia Concert Hall, Tallin, Estonia July 200, June 2001 FINLANDIA 8573-89876 [70:41] [GPJ]

A disc to be treasured, and I can’t wait to hear more from this brilliant combination. … see Full Review



Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) The Complete Symphonies - CD1 to CD33
Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, cond. Adam Fischer, with *Rainer Küchl (violin), Wolfgang Herzer (cello), Gerhard Turetschek (oboe) and Michael Werba (bassoon) DDD: recorded at the Haydnsaal, Esterházy Palace, Eisenstadt, Austria BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99925 [PJL]

Fischer’s has been a memorable project: it began well, and got better and better. In the early days, it was competitive without ever being top of the class: now the race is run, it is most certainly a winner, and its rivals have their work cut out to match it, let alone surpass it. … see Full Review

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) String Quartet No.1 ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ , String Quartet No. 2 ‘Intimate Letters’ - Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) From Cypresses, B.152
New Helsinki Quartet - Recorded at Sigyn Hall, Turku, Finland, August 1996 DDD Super budget WARNER APEX 0927 40603 2 [59.02] [TH]

No-one investigating this marvellous release will have any cause for complaint. … see Full Review

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Sonata for solo cello, Op.8 (1915) Duo for violin and cello, Op.7 (1914) Jerry Grossman (cello) Daniel Phillips (violin) Recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City, October 1983 DDD WARNER APEX 7559 79672 2 [59.09] [TH]

Stimulating music that is as original as anything in Bartók, and in performances of real power and commanding stature. … see Full Review


What can they be thinking at Brilliant Classics? A 25-CD set of sacred music, including some of the greatest works ever written, at such a low price! It’s worth it ... and how! … see Full Review

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Chamber Symphony No.1, Op.9 (1906)[21.03]
Verklärte Nacht, Op.4 (1899)[31.45] Chamber Symphony No.2, Op.38 (1939) [21.32] Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Heinz Holliger - Rec. Casino Zogernitz, Vienna, June 1989 (1), Teldec Studios, Berlin, September 1992 (2 and 3) APEX 0927 44399 2[74.20] [AT]

Playing outstanding. Wind solos are played magnificently, and the brooding, searching mood is just right. A fantastic disc, budget price or not. … see Full Review

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Complete Symphonies WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne conducted by Rudolf Barshai DDD Stereo Recorded in the Philharmonie, Cologne (recording dates for each symphony above) BRILLIANT CLASSICS 6275[11 CDs]

The primary question any collector will want answered is, "Is this set worth buying?" The answer is a clear and unambiguous, "Yes." As a way to experience one of the greatest symphonic cycles of the 20th century this has to be an essential purchase at this price. … see Full Review

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) Symphony No 1 in B flat minor [43.10]* Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in B minor** [27.15] Concerto for Cello and Orchestra*** [29.43] Concerto for Viola and Orchestra in A minor**** [25.46] Sinfonia Concertante for orchestra with piano obbligato (original 1927 version) ***** [18.35] * London Symphony orchestra conducted by Andre Prévin. Recorded in 1966 ** Jascha Heifetz (violin); Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir William Walton. Recorded in 1950 *** Gregor Piatigorsky (cello); Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch. Recorded in 1957 **** Yuri Bashmet (viola); London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn. Recorded in 1994 ***** Kathryn Stott (piano); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley. Recorded in 1989 BMG RCA 74321 92575 2 [144.30] Superbudget ?? [JQ]

All five recorded performances are from the top drawer and in my opinion three are ‘best buys’. The set is an ideal introduction to Walton’s music … see Full Review
(Whilst the Amazon price holds)


A DICTIONARY-CATALOG OF MODERN BRITISH COMPOSERS by Alan POULTON Music Reference Collection, Number 82 Hardback in three volumes: vol. 1: A-C; Vol 2: D-L; Vol. 3 M-Z, 1700pp through numbered across the three volumes ISBN 0-313-31623-6 Library of Congress 00-026439 GREENWOOD PRESS, Connecticut publ. 2000 Volumes are available individually [AB] [RB]

This major book facilitates and decisively paves the way for the slowly rolling renaissance of British music from the period 1945-1970. ...see Full Review

Why Beethoven threw the stew And lots more stories about the lives of Great Composers. By Steven Isserlis; Faber; PB; £4.99

... like Plutarch’s "Lives", one wishes that he could have written like this about so many other composers. ...see Full Review



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Yevgeny Svetlanov, who died on 3rd May in Moscow, was one of the most mercurial of Russia’s post-war conductors – both in his temperament and his music-making. A frequent visitor to Britain he was due to conduct the Philharmonia on Sunday 5th May in a typical programme of Russian masterworks, music in which he excelled. Over the years, British orchestras, the LSO, LPO and BBC SO amongst them, entrusted the symphonies of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich to Svetlanov’s impulsive style of interpretation. But it was the Philharmonia with which he established the most long lasting relationship – one that started in the early 1970s and continued almost annually thereafter. It was rare indeed to find a Philharmonia season in which Svetlanov did not conduct at least one concert. It is, therefore, somewhat ironic that he recorded so little with the orchestra, although the recording he made with the Philharmonia of Glazunov’s Four Season’s is a very fine one.

His style of interpretation owed much to Mravinsky – and like him, Svetlanov was capable of securing a fabulous string sound from his players. His own USSR Orchestra had a profoundly sonorous string tone, and this was something which he partly relished in the European orchestras he guest conducted. Svetlanov never cared much for the brass or woodwind in an orchestra and in Russia at least the sound was often pungent and coarse. If it never sounded too distracting it was partly because Svetlanov’s interpretations inhabited a similar world. I remember a couple of years ago a Mahler 9th which Svetlanov conducted with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra – a performance as dynamic in extremes and explorative in manner as it would be possible to hear today, and a lifetime away from the refined interpretations so often heard in London, Berlin and Vienna. It was a cataclysmic performance which reached real heights of greatness in the great string perorations of the final movement. Typical Svetlanov.

His last concert in Britain was with the BBC SO and critics noticed the sublime playing of an orchestra clearly enjoying the opportunity to play with an inspirational conductor. His concerts were rarely less than inspirational events.

A difficult, even obtuse, man Svetlanov communicated with orchestras only through interpreters – and in one famous instance, with the LPO, by saying absolutely nothing at all for an entire hour and a half of rehearsal; the results were sublime and emphatic in the concert performance. Latterly he had spent much time in the Netherlands and guest conducting elsewhere, a position in part thrust upon Svetlanov by his summary dismissal as chief conductor of his USSR Orchestra two years ago, a position he had held without interruption since the 1960s. His sudden death robs us of a huge talent it is difficult to imagine being replaced: a younger generation of Russian conductors have become a little too westernised to give us the sort of authentic Russian performance Svetlanov excelled at.

Marc Bridle

This year's Proms season has just been announced and it looks like being a vintage season with opera and choral works forming the backbone of this greatest of music festivals. HIghlights of the season must include Prom 30, a performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony conducted by Simon Rattle (National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain) and Prom 44 a pairing of Martha Argerich and Claudio Abbado with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester in Bartok, Ravel (the G major piano concerto) and Debussy. Also promising to be of outstanding interest are three concerts by the Kirov Opera under Gergiev, including a complete performance of Boris Godunov and the UK premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's St John Passion. They conclude their visit to the Proms with a performance of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto (Toradzo) and Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony. Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming sing together in a Welsh National Orchestra Prom spanning Wagner, Strauss, Mozart and light music whilst there is a rare performance of Schoenberg's Romantic masterpiece Gurrelieder under the BBC SO and Donald Runnicles. Visiting orchestras come from Spain, France, Denmark and Holland with Riccardo Chailly conducting his Royal Concertgebouw in Mahler's Third Symphony. The Los Angeles Philharmonic under their chief conductor, Esa Pekka Salonen, play two concerts the first of Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev and in their second concert take on this years Choral Symphony (coupled with Shostakovich's Second). James Levine makes a welcome return to the Proms with the wonderful Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in an enterprising programme of HIndemith, Mozart, Varese (Ameriques) and Ravel. The LSO have two Proms this year - one under Jansons the other under Haitink, whilst the Philharmonia bring with them their Music Director, Christoph von Dohnanyi in Strauss, Beethoven and Dvorak. The LPO play Elijah under their chief conductor Kurt Masur.

Full details of all Proms can be read on the BBC's website at: www.bbc.co.uk/proms. Seen & Heard will be covering much of the season.

Marc Bridle



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