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20 reviews completed this month

Saturday April 2nd

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) The Unknown Beethoven Julius Berger (cello) José Gallardo (piano) rec. 2010 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72504 [DC]

Guaranteed to provide long-term enjoyment.

Luciano BERIO (1925-2003) Différences, Sequenza III & VII Cathy Berberian (soprano) Heinz Holliger (oboe) Juilliard Ens rec. 1969 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802040 [43:29] [MC]

For those new to Berio’s music I’m not sure that these chamber works are the best place to start.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Scandinavian Cantatas Theatre of Voices, The TOV Band/Paul Hillier, Bine Bryndorf (organ) rec. 2010 DACAPO 6.220534 [59:04] [JV]

A compelling programme of wonderful vocal music by Buxtehude.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879-1957) Songs of the Auvergne Netania Davrath (soprano) Unnamed O/Pierre de la Roche, Gershon Kingsley rec. 1963/1966 VANGUARD CLASSICS ATM-CD-1189 [68.04 + 51.29] [RB]

One of the last century’s greatest recordings.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de Pčlerinage - Deuxičme Année (Italie) Michael Korstick (piano) rec. 2009 CPO 777 585-2 [79:54] [DC]

Leaves you wanting more.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 9 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Rienzi overture Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) In a Summer Garden Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1955/6 SOMM BEECHAM29 [75:38] [JW]

A fantastic performance of Schubert 9.

Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937) Symphonies 4 & 5 Lahti SO/Jukka-Pekka Saraste rec. 2008 BIS BIS-CD-1703 [67:02] [RB]

Two astonishing symphonies. Diaphanously silky symphonic structures. Remarkable and moving. Well worth your meditation and contemplation..

Gerhard STÄBLER (b.1949) Zeichen Moravian PO/Vit Micka rec. 2009 NAVONA RECORDS NV5839 [21:09] [Byz]

For those in search of an aural challenge, this release is worth contemplating.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet Simón Bolívar Youth O of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2010 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 9355 [65:35] [RMo]

A real mixed bag hopelessly compromised by the best-known item but still desirable for the accounts of the lesser-known music.

Hans Knappertsbusch – The Complete RIAS Recordings Berlin PO rec. 1950-52 AUDITE 21.405 [5 CDs: 355:30] [JW]

The transfers are the finest now to be heard of this material … compiled with care.


Friday April 1st

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1-3, Coriolan & Egmont Overtures Vienna PO/Christian Thielemann rec. 2008-10 UNITEL/C MAJOR 704804 [405:46] [RC]

The more one listens, the more the performances sound new and revelatory.

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Norma Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé (soprano) Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) Chorus & O of Welsh NO/Richard Bonynge rec. 1984 DECCA 414 476-2 [3 CDs: 148:29] [DBe]

Admirable in many regards.

Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785) Keyboard Sonatas - Vol. 1 Matteo Napoli (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572263 [62:19] [Byz]

Galuppi is an original and Napoli's performance makes this a good choice for connoisseurs of 18th century keyboard music.

Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895) Piano Trios 1 & 2 Trio Parnassus rec. 2009 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG3031615-2 [59:47] [SV]

Enthusiastically recommended, particularly to devotees of the French Romantics.

Roy HARRIS (1898-1979) Complete Piano Music Geoffrey Burleson (piano) rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.559664 [56.38] [GH]

Harris fans or those with an especial interest in American piano music will find this well worth the small investment.

Bernard HERRMANN (1911 - 1975) Echoes, Souvenirs de Voyage, Psycho Suite Julian Bliss (clarinet) Tippett Qt rec. 2010 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD234 [56.59] [RB]

Scudding anxiety, ascending tension, broodingly nurtured violence and terror are all faithfully articulated.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Vocalise, Symphony 3 National PO/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1975 NEWTON CLASSICS 8802024 [46:19] [RB]

Stokowski wild-eyed with white hair flying amid the brilliant glitter and thunderous attack.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 1-6 and other orchestral works Göteborgs Symfoniker/Neeme Järvi rec. 2002-2005 BIS-CD-1897/98 [6 CDs: 452:43] [NB]

Too often here Järvi seems off-form.

Below - Music for Low Flutes Peter Sheridan (flutes) Claire Cooper (piano) rec. 2007-9 MOVE RECORDS MD 3330 [73:00] [DC]

Amazing what you can do with a bit of old tube. 

Jascha Heifetz Plays George Formby Jascha Heifetz (violin) Benjamin Trusselmont (piano) Vallee Blanche O/Otto von Frinkenflapp rec. 1948 ASCENT-CLASSIQUE FRANCE AF 0104 [36:24] [AM]

A treasure from the vaults finally sees the light of day.


Thursday March 31st

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) Complete Organ Works - Volume 3 Christopher Herrick (organ) rec. 2010 HYPERION CDA67855 [75:21] [Byz]

Bold and rollicking music and Herrick puts in performances that are light and fleet of finger and foot, instinctive and brilliant.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862 - 1918) Complete Orchestral Music Vol.5 La boîte à joujoux, Six épigraphes antiques Lyon Ntl O/Jun Märkl rec. 2009/10 NAXOS 8.572568 [73:04] [NB]

Lacking the last degree of fantasy that can transform this already wonderful music into something extraordinary. 

Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Octet, Piano sextet I solisti Filarmonici Italiani Jolanda Violante (piano) rec. 2009 CPO 777 524-2 [62:28] [DC]

A recommendable alternative with a period approach. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Exultent caeli O of Age of Enlightenment/Robert Howarth rec. 2010 SIGNUM SIGCD237 [49:08 + 47:59] [JS]

In a word: magnificent.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1971) Sonatas for four hands Marie and Veronica Kuijken (pianoforte) rec. 2009 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72363 [76:48] [DC]

Another winner from Challenge Classics. 

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphonies 1 & 5, Helios Overture, Flute Concerto, Clarinet Concerto, Maskarade Svend Simon SCHULTZ (1913-1998) Serenade Gilbert Jespersen (flute) Ib Erikson (clarinet) Danish State RSO/Thomas Jensen, Erik Tuxen, Mogens Wöldike rec. 1952/4 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 1858 [78:46 + 77:56] [RB]

Nielsen recordings from the 1950s vanguard in recordings that sound as good as they are ever likely to sound. 

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ariadne on Naxos, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite Christine Brewer (soprano) Robert Dean Smith (tenor) Scottish CO/Sir Richard Armstrong rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN3168 [75:11 + 77:43] [GF]

This can confidently be listed among that select company of excellent Ariadnes. 

Daniel Barenboim (piano) - Jubilee concert in Buenos Aires/Portrait: Multiple Identities rec. live, 2000 EUROARTS 2050427 [2 DVDs: 230:00] [KM]

A summing-up of Daniel Barenboim’s musical career, through a concert and a documentary. 

Sir Thomas Beecham - English Music Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Over the Hills and Far Away, Brigg Fair, Florida  Suite, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, Summer Night on the River, Songs of Sunset, Dance Rhapsody 1, Violin Concerto, The Song of the High Hills, Paa Vidderne, A Village Romeo and Juliet, Sea Drift Edward GERMAN (1862-1936) Gypsy Suite Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946) Fifine at the Fair Arnold BAX (1883-1953) The Garden of Fand Lord BERNERS (1883-1950) The Triumph of Neptune Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1946-57 EMI CLASSICS 9099152 [6 CDs: 426:03] [RB]

A treasury of Beecham’s EMI English music recordings including those precious stereo sessions. 

Con Chitarrone - Italian sonatas from early renaissance to baroque Leupold Trio rec. 2010 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72369 [74:35] [JV]

Lively and energetic performances of baroque music on two non-period string instruments.  


Wednesday March 30th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Sonata for Piano and Violin* [11:00] Henry WALFORD DAVIES (1869-1941) Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano* (1893 rev 1895) [21:56] York BOWEN (1884-1961) Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 112 [20:10] Rupert Luck (violin); Matthew Rickard (piano) rec. 2010 *world premičre recordings EM RECORDS EMR CD001 [53:06] [RB]

This is magnificent impassioned music-making in works of real and dazzling substance. We must hope to hear much more of Luck and Rickard.

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) The Complete Piano Music Martin Jones (piano)
rec. 1989/1991. NIMBUS NI 1767 [5 CDs: 71:35 + 58:56 + 68:26 + 77:19 + 78:13] [JW]

What a splendid undertaking.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) String Quartet No. 1, The Kreutzer Sonata (1924) [18:27] String Quartet No. 2, Intimate Letters (1928) [24:58] Gabriel FAURE (1845-1924) String Quartet in E minor, Op. 121 (1924) [29:10] Medici String Quartet rec. Nimbus Records, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, November 1987 (Intimate Letters) and January 1988 NIMBUS NI5379 [72:35] [WH]

A late Fauré masterpiece and Janáček’s two overwhelming quartets in magnificent performances.

György KURTÁG (b.1946) and Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Play With Infinity: Extracts from Játékok (1979) and Átiratok (Transcriptions, 1973) Jean Sébastien Dureau and Vincent Planés (piano duet) rec. 15-18 July 2010, church of Saint Germain de Talloires (Haute Savoie). DDD HORTUS 082 [50.10] [GH]

Nothing should put you off if you fancy delving into the unique world of Kurtag’s extraordinary imagination.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) A Symphony of Life ("No. 7," arr Bogatyryov) (1892) [35:11] Elegy in Memory of Samarin for Strings (1884) [7:34] Serenade for String Orchestra, Op. 48 (1880) [29:22] Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Sergei Skripka CLASSIC TALENT DOM 2910 83 [73:19] [SV]

Control problems become an increasing liability as things progress.

Wladislaw ZELENSKI (1837-1921) String Quartets Four Strings Quartet rec. 2010 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0236 [71:33] [JW]

The A major quartet is tautly argued with elastic urgency, considerable warmth and high melodic inspiration.

Duo Teres Nicolň PAGANINI (1782-1840) Sonata no.1 in A (after 1828) [8:01] Sonata no.4 in A (after 1828) [9:42] Jan TRUHLÁR (1928-2007) Two Compositions for Violin and Guitar, op.71a (1952/1986) [8:40] Jan NOVÁK (1921-1984) Sonata Serenata for Violin and Guitar (1981) [17:42] Antonín TUČAPSKÝ (b.1928) Duo Concertante for Violin and Guitar (1989/1998) [21:24] Duo Teres (Lucia Kopsová (violin); Tomáš Honek (guitar)) rec. 2010. DDD ARCODIVA UP0132 2231 [66:16] [Byz]

This is a highly attractive programme.

Music from the English Courts HANDEL, DOWLAND, PURCELL, LOCKE, JOHNSON, GIBBONS, LANIER, ADSON, HENRY VIII ANONYMOUS The Fine Arts Brass Ensemble with Tristram Fry (percussion) rec. 1994, NIMBUS NI 5546 [58:46] [JW]

Whilst this recital has its jaunty moments, it also has very serious ones too.

Prague Brass Ensemble BUDČE, ČERNOHORSKÝ, OTTO, PACHELBEL, TELEMANN, VERDI, ORFF, BARTÓK, JANÁČEK, JEŽEK, KOZEL Prague Brass Ensemble rec. National Theatre, Prague. No date given. DDD ARCODIVA UP0131-2 131 [64:06] [Byz]

The Prague Brass Ensemble perform well enough on this CD, but the programme is hardly profound or difficult.

Joan Sutherland – Art of the Prima Donna Joan Sutherland (soprano) Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden/Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
rec. 1960. ADD. Stereo Taken from a 2 CD set entitled Joan Sutherland - Art of Prima Donna Decca Legends - Legendary Performances 4671152 ALTO ALC 1125 [75:40] [DBe]

An historic recital from the start of a legendary career.

Tuesday March 29th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Hamburger Quartalsmusiken Nun danket alle Gott, Herr lehr uns tun, Siehe! Ich begehre deiner Befehle, Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe Himlische Cantorey, Les Amis de Philippe/Ludger Rémy rec. 2009 CPO 777 594-2 [48:03 + 51:27] [JV]

Compelling performances of first-rate sacred cantatas by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano) Elina Garanca (mezzo) Michael Schade (tenor) Franz-Josef Selig (bass) Sächischer Staatsopernchor, Dresden Staatskapelle/Christian Thielemann rec. 2010 UNITEL CLASSICA 705408 [90:00] [ST]

An undeniably big-boned approach. A performance of real stature.

Paul DUKAS (1865-1935) Orchestral Music Fanfare to La Péri, La Péri – Počme Dansé, Symphony, The Sorcerer's Apprentice Radio PO, Netherlands/Jean Fournet rec. 1992? REGIS RRC1344 [74:21] [RB]

Wonderfully characterful and exalted by an imagination unremittingly engaged.

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) String Quartets 1 & 2 Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Cypresses The Lindsays rec.1991 REGIS RRC1361 [74:54] [JW]

A concentrated level of commitment and intensity.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Trios: in d; in c Schweizer Klaviertrio: Angela Golubeva (violin) Sebastien Singer (cello) Martin Lucas Staub (piano) rec. 2010 AUDITE 92.550 [57:08] [KS]
Splendid performances of some sublime music. A near perfect hour of music-making.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) String Quartets 1, 3, & 4 Maggini Qt rec. 2009 NAXOS 8.572555 [54:51] [JF]

Played with sympathy and enthusiasm … an impressive addition to the catalogue.

Scarlatti, Hasse: Salve Regina - Cantatas and Motets Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Salve Regina Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Su le sponde del Tebro Johann Adolf HASSE (1699-1783) Salve Regina Alessandro SCARLATTI Infirmata vulnerata, O di Betlemme altera Deborah York (soprano) James Bowman (alto) Crispian Steele-Perkins (natural trumpet) The King's Consort/Robert King rec. 1996 HYPERION HELIOS CDH55354 [77:04] [JV]

James Bowman's performances are the main attraction of this disc.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Best of La Cetra II Concertos 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 & 11 L’arte Dell’arco/Giovanni Gugliemo (violin/conductor) rec. 1995 DYNAMIC DM8011 [76:35] [DC]

Robust and rustic.

English Music for Viola Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) Sonata for viola and piano William WALTON (1902-1983) Two Pieces for Viola and Piano (transcribed by Matthew JONES) Canzonetta and Scherzetto Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Four Pieces (transc Veronica Leigh JACOBS) Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Legend for Viola and piano Theodore HOLLAND (1878-1947) Suite in D for viola and piano Matthew Jones (viola) Michael Hampton (piano) rec. 2008/2009 NAXOS 5.572579 [73:39] [JF]

This is essential listening for all chamber music enthusiasts, be they committed to the cause of British music or not.

Herbert von Karajan in rehearsal and performance Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concerto 5 Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Yehudi Menuhin (violin) Vienna SO/Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1966 UNITEL CLASSICS DVD 704008 [107:00] [JW]

A revealing example of the art of the conductor.

Monday March 28th

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Schelomo; Voice in the Wilderness Robert OBOUSSIER (1900-1957) Antigone Walther GEISER (1897-1993) Symphony Elsa Cavelti (alto) Zara Nelsova (cello) Suisse Romande O, London PO/Ernest Ansermet rec. 1954/55 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 0814 [80:01] [RB]

A fascinating generously timed collection including some very out of the way music.

Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (c.1637-1707) Membra Jesu nostri, Laudate, pueri, Dominum Matthias WECKMANN (c.1616-1674) Kommet her zu mir alle Elin Manahan Thomas, Emma Kirkby (soprano) Michael Chance (alto) Charles Daniels (tenor) Peter Harvey (bass) Purcell Qt, Fretwork rec. 2009 CHANDOS CHAN0775 [78:56] [JV]

A performance which fails to explore the expressive depth of Buxtehude's masterpiece.

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854 – 1921) Hänsel und Gretel Gisela Litz (mezzo) Rita Streich (soprano) Res Fischer, Münchner Philharmoniker/Fritz Lehmann rec. 1953 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94207 [57:23 + 41:10] [RMo]

A dull re-issue.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 9 Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2009 UNITEL/C MAJOR 703708 [74:09 + Bonus 22:34] [RC]

A splendid performance of this complex symphony.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Daphnis et Chloé Suites 1 & 2; Pavane pour une infante défunte; Alborado del gracioso; Rapsodie espagnole Concertgebouw O/Bernard Haitink rec. 1961/71 DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 2381 [56:58] [RB]

Healthy Ravel exegesis compromised somewhat by blunted dynamic contrast.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908) The Tsar's Bride Ekaterina Kudriavchenko (soprano) Vladislav Verestnikov (baritone) Arkady Mishenkin (tenor) Nina Terentieva (mezzo) Sveshnikov Russian Academic Choir, Bolshoi Theatre O/Andrey Chistiakov rec. 1992 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93969 [75:33 + 70:41] [RMo]

Despite its distinct price advantage, it is hard to recommend this bargain Brilliant issue over the Philips.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Der Rose Pilgerfahrt Christoph Prégardien (tenor) Anna Lucia Richter (soprano) Michael Dahmen (baritone) Michael Gees (piano) South German Chamber Choir/Gerhard Jenemann rec. 2009 CARUS 83.450 [62:33] [CC]

Well worth experiencing the piano version especially when as sensitively delivered as this.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Piano Trio 1 Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteńas Lucio BRUNO-VIDELA (b.1968) Yumba-Verwandlung Villa-Lobos Trio OEHMS CLASSICS OC776 [56:05] [Byz]

An excellent, if rather short, disc.

And So It Goes - Works by Tallis, Byrd, Bruckner, Stanford, Sullivan, Mayerl, de Pearsall, Kern, Joel, McCartney and Manilow Priory Singers/Stephen Benavente rec. 2010 PRIORY SINGERS PS001 [44.02] [GH]

A few cavils but there is much here to enjoy.

Viva Domingo! Plácido Domingo (tenor) EMI CLASSICS 6487572 [4 CDs: 307:11] [RJF]

This diverse collection is good in parts.

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