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225 reviews completed so far this month.

Tuesday April 30th 2013

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784) Keyboard Works - vol. 4 Concerto for 2 harpsichords, 3 Keyboard Sonatas - Julia Brown, Barbara Baird (harpsichords) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573027 [78:57] [Byz] A quality entry in a rewarding series.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas 4, 14 & 24 Jonathan Biss (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX4094 [70:43] [JQ] A very impressive second volume in Jonathan Biss’s Beethoven cycle.

Carl Ditters von DITTERSDORF (1739-1799) Complete works for solo double bass - Leon Bosch (double bass) Robert Smissen (viola) Acad of St. Martin in the Fields/Kenneth Sillito rec. 2011 MERIDIAN CDE 84610 [69:36] [BR] Double bass concertos from the 1700s! Probably not essential, but great for curious listeners.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) 100th Anniversary set rec. 1967-1997 WERGO WER 6956 2 [3 CDs: 73:28 + 79:32+ 74:43] [BR] Of all the Françaix tribute albums in 2012, this is my top pick, thanks to the emotional depth of the two-pianos concerto and the hilarious tribute to Mozart.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - New Philharmonia O/Sir John Barbirolli rec. 1969 EMI CLASSICS 4332902 [74.27] [PCG] I would like to feel that it is more than nostalgia which makes me love this version so much despite its failings.

Peter PHILIPS (1561-1628) Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus Ch of Royal Holloway/English Cornett and Sackbut Ens/Rupert Gough rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67945 [71.59] [GH] A fine CD that will speak strongly to anyone with an interest in the rarefied world of late renaissance church music.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasiestücke, Kreisleriana Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Theme and Variations in D minor - Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN 10755 [75:32] [SG] The first volume of a projected Schumann cycle. Given this high quality I hope that there are many more to follow. An exciting prospect.

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948) Serenade for Strings, Violin Concerto - Laura Marzadori (violin) Orch Città di Ferrara/Marco Zuccarini rec. 2012 TACTUS TC 872303 [60:39] [JW] An attractive early work coupled with one of the most inchoate concertos you will ever hear.

After Grand Hotel Works by Sarola, Adler & others - Ananda Trio PIERIAN 0021 [68:33] [JW] An enjoyable and enterprising selection paying tribute to the days of the Palm Court.

Chansons, Madrigali and Villanelle Works by Willaert & contemporaries - Romanesque/Philippe Malfeyt rec. 1994 RICERCAR RIC 331 [65.18] [GH] The joy of this disc is its variety.


Monday April 29th 2013

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Johannes-Passion sung within reconstruction of Bach’s Passion Liturgy - Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) Matthew Brook (bass) Joanne Lunn (soprano) Clare Wilkinson (alto) Robert Davies (bass) Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord, organ preludes) Univ Glasgow Chapel Choir/James Grossmith (liturgy) rec. 2012 LINN CKD419  [69:46 + 69:00][JQ] A very fine performance of the St. John Passion, likely to become a landmark in the work’s discography.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony 7, Egmont Overture and incidental music - Sharon Rostorf-Zamir (soprano) Israel PO/Kurt Masur rec. 2012 HELICON 02-9660 [PCG] A decidedly unnecessary addition to the catalogue.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Concertos Choral Fantasia - Daniel Barenboim (piano) John Alldis Choir/New Philh O/Otto Klemperer rec. 1967-68 EMI MASTERS 4332722 [3 CDs: 69:25 + 77:28 + 64:13] [ST] Still has the capacity to surprise though it’s far from perfect.

Richard EILENBERG (1848-1927) Waltzes, Polkas and Marches WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln/Christian Simonis rec. 2006/10 CPO 777 342-2 [BR] One of the best waltz and polka composers not named “Strauss”. For fans of Viennese light music.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Concerto for cello and orchestra Elliott CARTER (1908-2012) Cello Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidrei - Alisa Weilerstein (cello) Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim rec. 2012 DECCA 478 2735 [62:27][DC] Another Elgar? Yeh, why not: gwaaannn … 

Sharon RUCHMAN (b.1950s) Chamber Music/Arrival of Spring Mary Costanza (cello) Janet Boughton (violin)
Sharon Ruchman (piano) PRIVATE ISSUES [70:35] and [64:56] [Byz] Thoughtful, unpretentious with an emotional depth reminiscent of early 20th-century late-Romanticism.

Jan Pieterszoon SWEELINCK (1562-1621) Sweelinck and the Art of Variation Brisk Recorder Quartet Amsterdam; Camerata Trajectina rec. 2012 GLOBE GLO 5253 [56:32] [JV] Sweeliinck's genius is amply demonstrated here.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Extracts from operas - Klaus Florian Vogt (tenor) Camilla Nylund (soprano) Bamberg SO/Jonathan Nott rec. 2012 SONY 88765445152 [57.25] [PCG] Vogt uses a lighter voice than usual in Wagnerian roles generally regarded as the preserve of more heavyweight singers.

English Recorder Works by Arnold, Bowen & Lennox Berkeley - Jill Kemp (recorder) Aleksander Szram (piano) Brodowski Qt rec. 2010 MUSIC MEDIA MMC103 [70:58] [JF] This CD will appeal to all recorder enthusiasts.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Whither must I wander? Songs by Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) David John Pike (baritone) Isabelle Trüb (piano) rec. 2011/12 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 314 [65.09][PCG] Should draw in anyone who cares about British song and the future of British singing. They will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Friday April 26th 2013

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas 2 & 6; Toccata - David Fray (piano) rec. 2012 VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709442 [65:32] [DC] Vanilla Spice Latte Bach - yum.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas 1-10 - David Galoustov (violin) Caroline Sageman (piano) rec. 2010/11 LYRINX LYR2267 SACD [3 CDs: 79:57 + 76:44 + 79:57] [DC] Alas, a self-discounting release.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH   Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Turn of the Screw Miah Persson, Toby Spence, Susan Bickley, Giselle Allen, LPO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2011 FRA MUSICA FRA007 [111:00 (opera); 22:00 (extras)] [ST] Outstanding musical values and a brilliant sense of drama that will pin you to your seat.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Longed for Light - Elgar’s Music in Wartime - Simon Callow (speaker) Susan Gritton (soprano) BBC Concert Orchestra/John Wilson rec. 2012 SOMM SOMMCD247 [75:10] [JQ] No Elgar fan will want to miss this disc.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 5 - Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1951 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5091 [66:01] [JQ] A notable addition to the discography of Mahler’s Fifth symphony.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas 1 & 2; Cinq Mélodies - Isabelle van Keulen (violin) Ronald Brautigam (piano) rec. 2011 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72580 [60:59] [SA] A disc of beauty and superb musicianship; a winning combination.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH   Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Quartet; Piano Quintet; Barcarolle - Cristina Ortiz (piano) Fine Arts Quartet rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572904 [71.12] [IL] A gorgeous programme of Saint-Saëns’ beguiling chamber music played with great authority and flair.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) Sonatas (in arrangements) - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2011 ONYX CLASSICS 4106 [62:40] [BR] 19th- and 20th-century Scarlatti “re-compositions” that prove to be fascinating novelties. Sometimes they don’t sound like Scarlatti at all.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Má Vlast Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Slavonic Dances - NHK Symphony Orchestra/Václav Neumann rec. 1978/90 KING INTERNATIONAL KKC2037-38 [77:18 + 78:53] [JW] Neumann in unfamiliar circumstances in ancillary recordings of canonic Czech repertoire.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH   Martha Mödl - Portrait of a Legend Martha Mödl (soprano, mezzo) rec. 1950-82 PROFIL EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER DCD PH12006 [79:04 + 79:13] [MC] Opera-lovers everywhere will delight in this stunning voice.

Thursday April 25th 2013

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Works for Violin and Piano - Volume 2: Sonata for solo violin, Sonata for violin and piano, Hungarian Folksongs & folktunes, Romanian Folk Dances - James Ehnes (violin), Andrew Armstrong (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10752 [78:08] [TB] Commanding in the solo Sonata and the interpretations of the duo compositions are equally assured.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) The Rape of Lucretia Ian Bostridge, Susan Gritton, Christopher Purves, Angelika Kirchschlager, Aldeburgh Festival Ens/Oliver Knussen rec. 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 6026722 [46:35+58:38] [ST] This recording acts as a solid advocate for a problematic opera. 

Christopher GUNNING (b. 1944) Guitar concerto, Clarinet concerto, Flute concertino - Craig Ogden (guitar) Michael Whight (clarinet) Catherine Handley (flute) Royal PO/Christopher Gunning rec. 2011/12 DISCOVERY MUSIC & VISION DMV104 [67:20] [JQ] Three impeccably crafted and highly enjoyable concertos: music for pleasure.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Petite Messe Solenelle Ch & O Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Roma/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2012 EMI CLASSICS 4167422 [58:26 + 26:53] [JQ] A fine and very enjoyable new Rossini recording from Antonio Pappano.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Overtures - Uppsala Kammarorkester/Paul Mägi rec. 2006/7 SWEDISH SOCIETY DISCOFIL SCD1155 [49:22] [JS] I can see little reason to favour this disc over the many earlier discs of this repertoire.

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894) Symphony 4 - State SO of Russia/Igor Golovchin rec. 1993 DELOS DRD2012 [65:24] [Byz] Hugely lyrical, moderately melancholic and eminently likeable.

John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) Music for Wind Band Volume 11 - The Royal Swedish Navy Band/Keith Brion rec. 2010 NAXOS 8.559690 [68:06] [JS] Another desirable addition to a very desirable series.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Scenes from the operas, Wesendonck-Lieder Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Ch & O Deutschen Oper Berlin/Donald Runnicles DECCA 4785189 [74:21] [ST] A high profile treat that reminds us of the greatness of both the singer and the composer.

Helmut WALCHA (1907-1991) Chorale Preludes Vols. 1-3 - Wolfgang Rübsam, Delbert Disselhorst (organ) rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.572910-12 [181:25] [Byz] A certain uniformity of form and expression: short, generally sober, even-paced, reflective.

Thomaskantoren vor Johann Sebastian Bach Hartmut Becker (cello) Daniel Beilschmidt (organ) Kammerchor Josquin des Préz/Ludwig Böhme rec. 2012 CARUS 83.342 [66:58] [BW] Of much more than scholarly interest. 

Wednesday April 24th 2013

François COUPERIN (1668-1733) Messe à l’usage ordinaire des paroisses, por les fêtes solennelles (1690) [51:00] Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues (1674) [15:58] David Ponsford (organ) rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6225 [66:54] [DC] The real deal when it comes to Churchy Couperin.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) A Land of Hope and Glory -organ music - Jean-Luc Etienne (organ)
HORTUS 103 [71:43] [HP-R] Essentially English Elgar but with strong French overtones. Elgar’s organ music is great, but the performance of these transcriptions is missable.

Hans HUBER (1852-1921) Works for Violin and Piano Sonata no.2 , Sonata Graziosa (Sonata no.7), Poetic Pieces, op.99, nos. 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 17-20 - Agnieszka Marucha (violin) Tomasz Pawlowski (piano)
rec. 2010/2011. ACTE PREALABLE AP0266 [68:23] [Byz] The three sonatas heard here lie somewhere between Brahms and early Strauss.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Album for the Young, Echo rustique, Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2002 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6211 [67:46] [JW] Strongly argued, consistent, well characterised, surmounting a somewhat clangy, unsympathetic recorded.

Ludomir RÓZYCKI (1883-1953) Piano Quintet, Rhapsody for violin, cello and piano, Cello Sonata- Jerzy Godziszewski (piano) Wilanów String Quartet rec. 2007 2008 2010 ACTE PRÉALABLE APO253 [72:43] [SA] I hope that these works will find their way back into the repertoire where they belong.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartet No.15 in G major, D. 887 (1826) [52.20] String Quartet No.12 in C minor, D.703 Quartettsatz (1820) [9:45] Wihan Quartet rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6221 [62:12] [MC]  The strong and positive Wihan certainly deserve to be heard.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828) Die schöne Müllerin plus 5 Bonus Lieder Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Gerald Moore (piano (tr. 1-20), Jörg Demus (piano) (tr. 21-25) rec. 1961/1962 ALTO ALC 1207 [77:51][GF] No one will regret buying this disc.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 (1893) [49:23] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Overture to Manfred, London Symphony Orchestra/Yondani Butt rec. 2012, NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6222 [62:36][DC] Good performances.

Sir Philip Ledger - A Musician’s Legacy Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Piano Quintet Antonin DVORAK (1841-1904) Piano Quintet No. 2 - Sir Philip Ledger (piano) Alberni Quartetrec. 2001 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6220 [68:05] [SG] A very welcome release, and a worthy tribute to a great musician.

POLISH SONGS Tadeusz BAIRD (1928-1981) Trouveurs’ Songs Zygmunt KRAUZE (b.1938) Malay Pantuns Joanna BRUZDOWICZ (b. 1943) Harbour drawings (1967) Juliusz LUCIUK (b. 1938) Lyrical portraits Liliana Górska (mezzo), rec. 2011 ACTE PRÉALABLE APO 274 [42.51] [PCG] Presentation lacking - a great shame, because the performances themselves are excellent.

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