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Reviewer’s Log - June/July 2009
Patrick C Waller 

Time permits only very brief comments at the moment but I hope that some of the links given below will be of interest to readers.

The NMC songbook (NMCD150) is a magnificent achievement and certain to be one of my records of the year. Almost at the same level is René Jacobs recording of Telemann’s Brockes Passion (HMC902013.14). I also have enjoyed exploring Rautavaara’s Music for Male Voice Choir (Ondine ODE11252).

The latest English Music Festival was held in Oxfordshire at the end of May. The Saturday evening concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra under David Lloyd-Jones was excellent. Most notably, Philippe Graffin resurrected Frederick Cliffe’s Violin Concerto from 1896 and I hope that he will record this work. A reconstruction of Delius’s early tone poem Hiawatha also featured on the programme and has been recorded by these forces for a new Dutton issue . On the same label, I can recommend a disc of Violin Concertos by Guirne Creith, Thomas Pitfield and Richard Arnell played by Lorraine McAslan (CDLX7221). John France drew my attention to the current issue of the Maud Powell Society journal Signature which focuses on women in music and contains an interesting article on Guirne Creith.

There has been a very good crop of Naxos discs recently, of which the following are the ones which have grabbed and held my attention:

Emma Johnson playing Dankworth, Bernstein and Copland (8.572240)
Telemann - Twelve Fantasies for solo violin (8.570563)
Giannini - Symphony No. 4 and Piano Concerto (8.559352)
Schubert - Music for Flute and Piano (8.570754)
Shostakovich - reconstructed film score The Girlfriends (8.572138)
Malipiero - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (8.570879)
Janáček - Suites from Kát’a Kabanová and The Makropulos Affair (8.570556)
- Violin Concerto and Sinfonia Concertantes (8.570320). 

The Naxos Music Library continues to expand at an amazing rate and the Nimbus catalogue has recently been appearing so that very interesting piano recordings by Vlado Perlmuter and Shura Cherkassky can now be heard. I was also fascinated by Shura Gehrman’s (a pseudonym for Numa Labinsky, the founder of Nimbus) recordings of both Schubert song cycles. His voice and interpretative style were very unusual and provoked extreme reactions at both end of the spectrum from critics - my reaction was positive.

A recent recording of Bruckner’s Second symphony by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra under Jaap van Zweden is gripping indeed and the sound is spectacular.

A disc of piano miniatures composed and played by MusicWeb reviewer Christopher Howell is perfect for late evening relaxation.

I haven’t downloaded much recently, only a couple of irresistible bargains from Amazon UK - Mendelssohn’s String Quintets, Octet and Op. 13 Quartet by Hausmusik and Wagner’s Ring as performed in concert in Rome in 1953 under Furtwängler. This comes in two parts each costing a mere £6 (Part I, Part 2). There are literally hundreds of tracks and some loud clicks to be put up with at the joins. Nevertheless this is fantastic value and the sound quality is not bad at all. Whilst downloading the second part, my computer ran out of battery and I had to ask Amazon to allow to me access to some of the tracks again - this they did promptly and without any fuss.

An equally amazing bargain from Amazon UK is the Karajan Symphony Edition which I obtained for £33 although it has since increased to £37. This contains 38 discs with all the symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Tchaikovsky plus Haydn’s Paris and London symphonies and Mozart’s late works. The motivation here was to replace my Bruckner LP set with CDs at last and it was much cheaper to get this giant compilation than to buy the same Bruckner recordings on their own (see review by John Quinn). From what I have heard so far, I think this set is only really for Karajan fans although there are some high spots - Beethoven 9 (from 1977) and Bruckner 5 being the most obvious. After a while, the smoothness of many of these recordings becomes a bit monotonous so I have given up for the moment and will come back to it.

Finally, I was interested to see David Barker’s survey of recordings of Shostakovich’s Eleventh symphony. It would be good to see more articles on specific works and their recordings on MusicWeb.

Patrick C Waller 

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