DOWNLOAD NEWS 2013/5
by Brian Wilson
See the Download News archive here.
Download News 2013/4 may be found here.
You can find the Osmo Vänskä recording of Sibelius Symphonies
Nos. 1 and 4, which I reviewed in 2103/4, at eclassical.com
(BIS-SACD-1996, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless).
Bach on a stick: Bargain of the Month
Classics are due to release a USB memory stick containing their Teldec
Complete Bach Edition on April 20th, 2013, Record Store Day, at
a special price of £120. (2564 66112-7). Thereafter it
will cost £180 from Amazon, still a bargain price for the equivalent
of 153 CDs plus one DVD the least expensive offer that I can
find for the CD edition is just under £250 but its
well worth looking out for the one-day special price; I presume that
you will be able to pre-order. Even if you miss out, however, I cant
think of a more spectacular bargain than to have the complete extant
works of JSB on a memory stick the size of a pencil eraser for under
The heart of the collection consists of recordings made by Nikolaus
Harnoncourt with Concentus Musicus, Wien, and Gustav Leonhardt with
his consort in the late 1960s and 1970s: the complete sacred cantatas,
passions, masses, orchestral suites, keyboard works and so on. In some
cases their contributions are complemented by such eminent contributors
as Ton Koopman (complete organ music) and Il Giardino Armonico (Brandenburg
Concertos), borrowed from other labels in the Warner Empire (chiefly
Erato) and occasionally licensed from Universal and other companies.
In addition to the music theres a 1-hour DVD documentary, a huge
pdf booklet with full track details, shorter booklets of notes on individual
works or groups of works and two indexes by BWV number, one of them
as an Excel spreadsheet.
The recordings are formatted as 320kb/s mp3. I would have liked to have
had lossless sound, as with the USB sticks which Chandos has made available,
but there isnt a USB stick large enough for that, so the best-quality
mp3 is a reasonable compromise.
In my complete review on the main MusicWeb International pages I shall
be suggesting some alternatives to supplement the Teldec versions and
I list some of these here, with more to follow in my next Download News:
I have been very impressed by Café Zimmermans 6-CD set
of Concertos avec plusieurs instruments, interweaving
the Brandenburg Concertos, Orchestral Suites, Violin and Keyboard Concertos.
and April 2012/1 Download Roundup:
also available separately). Only the Keyboard Concerto BWV1058
is missing from the collection thats available with BWV1052,
1055 and 1056 on Mirare MIR085 reviewed in the same April
2012/1 Download Roundup.
More recently Volume 1 has appeared of a very promising set from Æolus
with Aapo Hakkinen and the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra (BWV1052, 1053
and 1056, AE-10057 see 2013/3 Download
News.) Theres also a very fine selection of four of the keyboard
concertos, harbinger of another set, from Matthew Halls and the Retrospect
Consort (Linn CKD410: Recording of the Month
lute music on the Complete Edition is performed on the lute
which Bach probably couldnt play and the lute-harpsichord,
a keyboard instrument which emulated the sound of the lute and of which
Bach owned two. In order to avoid having to transpose any of the notes,
Stephan Schmidt has made a recording on a 10-string guitar with
extended bass; try this and youll hear the music with a degree
of extra sonority. This 2-CD set (Naïve V4861) is about
as good as it gets for a complete set on the guitar. Subscribers to
the valuable Naxos Music Library can listen to it there but its
best downloaded in mp3 and lossless sound from eclassical.com.
With a lossless copy for domestic playing and an mp3 CDR for use in
the car and in the bedroom on sleepless nights, Ive very much
enjoyed listening to this programme.
Those who dislike the use of boys voices in the cantatas, as employed
in the Teldec edition, will find an excellent range of alternatives,
one of which, Masaaki Suzukis series for BIS, now very close to
the end of its run, has just released its 53rd Volume see below.
Other period-instrument recordings of note include those directed by
John Eliot Gardiner (on his own SDG label, with a few also on DG Archiv),
Ton Koopman (Channel Classics) and Sigiswald Kuijken (Accent
one cantata for each Sunday or Feast Day: see Volume 13 below). For
those who prefer modern instrument theres the Hänssler series
with Helmut Rilling at the helm.
I shall be listening again during Holy Week to both of the Harnoncourt
recordings of the Passions included on the USB, but not to the exclusion
of the two new recordings of the St John Passion which I made
joint Recordings of the Month in 2013/4
News (Linn and Hyperion) and I shall also try to fit in one or both
of the John Eliot Gardiner Passions and the Linn recording of the St
Matthew Passion which I mentioned there.
Recording of the Month
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Le Corsaire, Op. 21 (1844) [8:03]
Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict (1862)
Overture to Les Francs-juges, Op. 3 (1826) [11:47]
Le Carnaval romain, Op. 9. Ouverture caractéristique (1844)
Waverley, Op. 1. Grande ouverture (1827-1828) [9:53]
Le Roi Lear, Op. 4. Grande ouverture (1831) [15:20]
Overture to Benvenuto Cellini Op. 23 (1838) [10:34]
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
rec. 11-14 June 2012, Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway
Pdf booklet included
CHANDOS CHSA5118 [72:00] from theclassicalshop.net
(mp3, 16-bit lossless, 24/96 stereo and surround)
to the Beecham classics, I was a little less than overwhelmed by this
recording last time round, so its only fair that I should agree
to Dan Morgans suggestion of making it a Recording of the Month
and to give his review pride of place:
Its good to see that ENO music director Edward Gardner is to succeed
Andrew Litton as chief conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic; even better
news is that Chandos will record the new partnership. Littons
BIS recordings with this band havent impressed me greatly, but
the Bergen orchestra certainly has; indeed, their recording of Messiaens
Turangalîla-Symphonie with Juanjo Mena was one of my picks
of the year for 2012 (review).
The sonics of the latter its a humble 16/44 original
are a triumph of good engineering, and I did wonder whether Chandos
could match Hyperions success in this regard.
Im rather more ambivalent about Sir Andrew Davis, whose Planets,
Japanese Suite and Beni Mora with the BBC Philharmonic
struck me as curiously bland and uninvolving (review).
Even the recording seemed to fall short of Chandoss usually high
standards. Is this Berlioz collection any better? Emphatically, yes.
Davis kicks off with a truly memorable Le Corsaire that had me
marvelling anew at the energy and fire of the piece, not to mention
the contribution of this fine ensemble. Bland is not a word one could
use to describe this now inward, now extrovert performance, captured
in sound thats wide-ranging without ever being self-consciously
Theres frisson aplenty in this recording and, with the
exception of Cellini, Daviss pacing is ideal; even more
impressive is his unfailing attention to Berliozs beguiling rhythms
and striking sonorities. Just sample that lovely, gently rollicking
tune near the start of Béatrice et Bénédict;
its beautifully articulated. As for the nicely scaled finale,
an aural exeunt omnes if you will, its despatched with
great élan. If anything the dark-toned Les Francs-juges
the magisterial brass writing looks ahead to the Requiem
is even finer. Ive long enjoyed Sir Colins Dresden
account of the piece on RCA/Sony, but Sir Andrews alert, highly
dramatic account knocks that old favourite into a cocked hat.
Its not often that a recording makes one hear familiar works as
if for the first time, and this is one of them. Most gratifying, perhaps,
is that Sir Andrew like his illustrious namesake -simply reminds
us of the genius that is M. Berlioz. Indeed, Id say this new recording
eclipses Sir Colins Dresden collection in every respect; yes,
it really is that good. The supple rhythms of Le Carnaval romain
are an absolute joy, and I imagine the almost antiphonal interplay of
instruments would sound even more life-like in multichannel.
There are no duds here; even the Op. 1 Waverley gets a persuasive
and most impassioned performance. I simply cant
recall a reading of this early work that unearths so much detail and
is essayed with such disarming loveliness. As for Lear, those big, surging,
Beethovenian string passages have unusual breadth and weight, Berliozs
Shakespearian précis a vital mix of public pageantry and
personal pain. After all this turbulence Daviss measured account
of the overture to Benvenuto Cellini burns with a lower flame,
but then Sir Andrew finds some mighty bellows to stoke up the furnace
later on. Not quite as visceral as Zinman perhaps the Bergen
percussion is more tastefully recorded but its still a
rousing climax to this splendid programme. One can only hope that despite
Gardners appointment this isnt the end of the Davis/Bergen
partnership, for they clearly make great music together.
Huzzahs all round; a Berlioz collection to trounce all others.
Reissue of the Month
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525/6-1594)
Missa de beata Virgine (6vv) [40:24]
Missa Ave Maria (4vv) [33:20]
Westminster Cathedral Choir/James ODonnell rec. March 1989.
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55420 [73:44] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3 and lossless)
I really need do is to report the availability again, at budget price,
of these two Marian masses, since the performances, recording and presentation
from this source are self-recommending. Due for release in May 2013
on disc, its available now for download.
In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to remind readers of the earlier
CDs in this series of Palestrina recordings from Westminster Cathedral/James
ODonnell, all available for £5.99 in mp3 and lossless download
• Missa Æterna Christi munera, etc. CDH55368
and March 2011/1 Download Roundup
• Missa Ecce ego Johannes, etc. CDH55407
Hyperion at 30 Roundup
• Missa O Rex gloriæ; Missa Viri Galilæi
CDH55335 June 2010 Download Roundup
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Tallis Scholars: Sacred Music
From The Renaissance Era For Celestial And Secular Radio
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
GIMELL CDGIM212 [2CDs 151:46] from gimell.com
(mp3 and lossless)
[for full details please refer to 2013/3
a great anniversary collection this is. It serves to remind us of the
consistently high quality this ensemble has always achieved over a period
of many years. Congratulations to all involved during the past 40 years.
We have been introduced to so much fine music by this ensemble.
The first piece is a shortened version of Allegris Miserere,
beautifully sung with fabulous tone and impeccable intonation with good
contrast between the choirs. The excellence of this performance is mirrored
in all the succeeding pieces, motets and anthems, and movements from
longer works by a wide variety of composers from renaissance times.
Next we hear a lovely motet by Josquin followed by two more motets,
both in seven parts by Cipriano de Rore and Clemens non Papa, the latter
with its gorgeous sweeping phrases and performed at just the right tempo.
Moutons motet Salva nos, Domine, like so much of this composers
work, sounds quite simple but in reality the polyphony is complex. It
makes a nice contrast texturally with the previous pieces, beginning
as it does in the bass voices, richly performed here by the Tallis Scholars.
I particularly enjoyed Joseph lieber, Joseph mein, such a famous
carol by Praetorius. It is given a solid performance at a steady tempo
and this seems like perfection to me. The Agnus Dei II from Missa
Et ecce terrae motus (known as the Earthquake Mass) by Brumel
is one of the more unusual pieces in the collection. Even in the Agnus
Dei, the music is strong and sometimes disturbing.
The madrigals of Gesualdo with their extraordinary modulations and harmonies
are well-known to me, so I was pleased to hear some of his motets here.
Precibis et meritis is more traditional in style, and austere
and reflective in mood, without the crazy but thrilling harmonic excesses
of some of Gesualdos madrigals.
I was impressed by the majesty of Guerreros Ave virgo sanctissima.
It is beautifully performed and Peter Philips builds the work to a powerful
and moving central climax.
Amongst the Tallis works I particularly enjoyed O nata lux. The
Tallis Scholars make the most of the unusual harmonies and dissonances
which creep in unexpectedly at the cadences.
In a style all of his own, William Cornysh is represented on this recording
with his motet Ave Maria, magnificently performed by the men
of the Tallis Scholars. The performance of Whites Christe qui
lux es III gives us a chance to appreciate the beautiful quality
of the sustained tone in their high voices. Then follow three interesting
settings by Sheppard of In manus tuas.
Talliss Why fumth in fight is particularly interesting
because this was Vaughan Williams inspiration in his Fantasia
on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
The recording concludes with the Nunc dimittis from Byrds
the Great Service, a piece of notable inventiveness, nobility and beauty.
This provides a fitting climax to this fabulous recording.
Discovery of the Month
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1891)
Pictures from an Exhibition
Calvin Hampton (organ of Asbury First Methodist Church, Rochester, NY)
rec. live 1982. ADD.
HIGH DEFINITION TAPE TRANSFERS HDDL364 [33:10] from highdeftapetransfers.com
(24/96 and 24/192 lossless flac)
not greatly enamoured of the piano original of this music, even in Demidenkos
stunning performance July 2012/1 Roundup but this arrangement
for the organ makes an ideal compromise between the keyboard original
and the Ravel orchestration. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing this live
recording, never before commercially released as far as Im aware,
and sounding excellent in HDTTs 24-bit transfer. If your DAC will
cope with 24/192, thats the version to go for, but even the 24/96
is spectacular. I suppose the title Pictures at an Exhibition
has stuck now, but shouldnt it really be Pictures from
ALFONSO el Sabio (Alfonso the Wise) (1221-1284) Cantigas
de nuestro señor
CSM 423: La Creación del Mundo (Creation) [9:02]
CSM 424: Epifanía. La Adoración de los Reyes Magos
CSM 425 Resurrección (Easter) [4:13]
CSM 426 Ascensión (Ascension) [6:23]
CSM 427 Espíritu Santo (Pentecost) [10:32]
CSM 406 Las Mayas (May time) [13:14]
CSM 403 Los Siete Pesares [5:40]
Música Antigua/Eduardo Paniagua rec. 2011 (?) © 2012.
PNEUMA PN1280 [56:45] from emusic.com
is the most recent to date of the series of the Cantigas (roughly
songs) attributed to Alfonso el Sabio for the purpose of
recording which in their entirety Eduardo Paniagua founded Música
Antigua in 1994. The extent of Alfonsos own involvement remains
debatable, as do some aspects of Paniaguas approach to performance,
but the result is very enjoyable even to modern ears. Paniagua has worked
with Arab musicians in some of his recordings and the influence of Arabic
tradition is evident in these performances; given Alfonsos reputation
for tolerance of and interest in Jewish and Arab culture, that seems
more than reasonable.
The Cantigas were meant to be much more than enjoyable and five
of the seven collected here were intended to remind the faithful of
aspects of the life of Jesus, so the lack of texts is a handicap. As
they were written in a language closer to Portuguese than modern Spanish,
thats a significant problem. Youll find the texts in the
original Galician with notes for singers at http://www.cantigasdesantamaria.com/index.html:
click on Index to find the pieces listed by CSM number. 423-427 are
what it says in the title Cantigas of Our Lord; 406 is a hymn
to the Virgin Mary, long associated with the month of May, while 403,
indicated as suitable for Quinquagesima, the Sunday before Lent, deals
with the seven sorrows of Mary during the life of her son. You may also
find the Oxford Cantigas database useful home page here.
The bit-rate of the mp3 download is not ideal around 200kb/s
but thats better than some of emusic.coms offerings
and the result is more than acceptable.
Youll find a good selection of the Cantigas in performances
that sound quite different from each other on:
• Pneuma PN680: Música Antigua/Eduardo
Paniagua March 2009 Roundup
• Nimbus NI5081: Martin Best Medieval Ensemble
• Warner Apex 2564 619242: Camerata Mediterreana/Joel
download earlier Erato release from classicsonline.com
• Naxos 8.553133: Ensemble Unicorn download
with booklet from classicsonline.com
or stream from Naxos Music Library
• Ambroisie AMB9973: Ensemble Gilles Binchois
download with booklet from classicsonline.com
or stream from Naxos Music Library
• Arts Music 47528-2: Soloists; Theatrum Instrumentorum/Aleksandar
Karlic download from classicsonline.com
or stream from Naxos Music Library
• Lyrichord LEMS8003: Russel Oberlin (counter-tenor);
Joseph Iadone (lute) download from classicsonline.com
or stream from Naxos Music Library
Ludwig SENFL (1489/91-1543) Missa Paschalis
(Easter Mass), Motets and Songs
Missa Paschalis (Kyrie) [5:36]
Missa Paschalis (Gloria) [10:35]
So ich sie dann [1:36]
Carmen in Re [1:41]
Im Maien [1:55]
Missa Paschalis (Sanctus) [6:11]
Missa Paschalis (Agnus Dei) [3:06]
Ach Elslein [1:45]
Ich Stuend [2:55]
Wohl auf [3:15]
Ave Maria (super Josquin) [11:21]
Was wird [2:01]
Carmen in La [1:33]
So man lang macht [4:30]
Fortuna ad voces musicales [3:28]
Quis dabit oculis (Festa; arr. Senfl?) [5:46]
QuintEssential (Christopher Watson (tenor), Robert Macdonald (bass),
Andrew Lawrence-King (harp))
The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge/David Skinner rec.
May-July, 2008. DDD.
OBSIDIAN OBSID-CD704 [66:51] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
you like the music of Josquin, whose Ave Maria provides the cantus
firmus for one of the tracks here, youre almost certain to
like that of Senfl too. Though apparently sympathetic to Luther and
his reformist cause and though he became laicised and married, Ludwig
Senfl seems to have remained faithful to the Roman Catholic Church
certainly he continued to compose music for its rite. The two are certainly
not incompatible, since even Erasmus, though accused of having laid
the egg that Luther hatched, backed off from supporting his hatchling
and the two began a long exchange in scholarly Latin on the nature of
Luther himself was a lover of polyphonic music and commissioned from
Senfl a setting of the compline text in pace in idipsum, now
lost, so he would probably have enjoyed all the music on this recording.
(See Johan van Veens review
of Works for Martin Luther and the Reformation, Christophorus
CHE1047-2. Download earlier release of this recording from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library).
This performance separates the Kyrie and Gloria, based
on an Easter chant, and the Sanctus and Benedictus, based
on an Advent chant. Though there are sound musical reasons for this
separation the second pair seems to have been borrowed
from another Senfl Mass I found the interposition between these
two pairs of the smaller-scale music, some of it secular, rather off-putting.
Thats my only grumble, however, and its a problem that can
be overcome if you find it really annoying by re-numbering the tracks
in Windows Explorer: tracks 06 and 07 become 03 and 04 and the original
03, 04 and 05 are re-numbered 05, 06 and 07. Back up the music first
and do the changes very carefully.
The performances are very good but steer clear if you hate polyphonic
music with sackbuts and cornets, as performed here by QuintEssential
as is the recording in lossless sound. As always with eclassical.com,
mp3 and lossless come at the same price and you can download one, then
return later for the other. Theres no booklet, but texts, translations
and notes are available at http://www.thegiftofmusic.com/acatalog/info_CD704.html.
Peter PHILIPS (1560/61-1628) Cantiones sacræ octonis vocibus
Benedictus Deus noster [3:33]
O quam suavis est II [4:57]
Jubilate Deo omnis terra [3:34]
Benedictus Dominus [3:49]
Veni Sancte Spiritus [4:38]
Beati estis [3:09]
Ecce panis angelorum [4:49]
Salve regina, vita, dulcedo [6:01]
Regina cæli lætare [4:01]
Panis sancte, panis vive [3:57]
Cæcilia virgo [7:33]
Veni Sancte Spiritus (organ solo) [5:31]
Gaudens gaudebo [3:09]
Beata Dei genitrix [3:42]
Alma redemptoris mater [4:17]
Hodie nobis de cælo [5:09]
Royal Holloway Choir
The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble/Rupert Gough rec. January
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
HYPERION CDA67945 [71:59] from hyperion-records.co.uk
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless)
Philips has been aptly described as the lost English composer of the
renaissance, having fled to continental Europe in order more openly
to profess his Roman Catholic allegiance. Like Byrd he made clear his
beliefs by choosing a preponderance of texts referring to the Eucharistic
Real Presence and prayer to the Virgin Mary, two major causes of dissension
at the reformation. Despite his probably having studied with Byrd and
adopted many aspects of the masters style, his music is, if anything,
more ardent, more intense and spectacular than Byrd and Tallis who,
though Roman Catholics, also composed some of the earliest masterpieces
for the Anglican liturgy. In this there is a parallel with Philips
contemporary, the poet Crashaw who became a Roman convert and whose
poetry is more intense than that of his Anglican contemporary, George
These 8-part settings are less well known than the 5-part works contained
in the earlier (1612) book, though some items from both collections
were included on a Naxos CD which received rather mixed reviews (8.572832
and January 2012/1 Download Roundup).
Oddly enough Naxos and Hyperion disagree on the title of the 8-part
collection, Naxos rendering the dative of octo as octonibus,
Hyperion as octonis.
In case you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask, I believe
from the remaining rags of my classical education that octonis
is correct and that octonibus is a mistake occasioned by the
ending of vocibus.
Despite what Ive said about the music not being well known, Hyperion
already had recordings of some of the 5 and 8-part motets on an
earlier recording made by the Choir of Winchester Cathedral and the
Parley of Instruments directed by David Hill, on budget-price Helios
CDH55254. O quam suavis est II and Salve regina
are contained on that collection, which I recommended alongside a Naxos
recording of the 5-part motets in the May 2010 Download Roundup;
that means that only around ten minutes are duplicated between the two
Hyperion recordings. There is also a Chandos recording of the 5-part
collection (CHAN0770 review
and July 2010 Download Roundup).
As on the Winchester recording, the music on the new release is accompanied
instrumentally, in this case with sackbuts, cornets and organ, but the
effect is varied and never overdone and I found myself enjoying the
result more than when Chandos recorded Byrds Great Service
with the same instrumentalists, which I thought too much of a good thing
and May 2012/2 Roundup).
The practice is ably defended in the booklet of notes and supported
by an illustration of sackbuts and cornets in use at High Mass.
My inclination would be to recommend the earlier, inexpensive Hyperion
recording first to those coming fresh to Philips and then to move on
to the new Hyperion collection. Both Hyperion recordings and that of
the five-part motets on Chandos are preferable to the Naxos recordings,
though those, too, are not to be dismissed. All five recordings have
been regular late-night listening recently.
Gregorio ALLEGRI (c.1582-1632) Miserere (Psalm 51: reconstructed
original and elaborated versions)
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers rec. October 2012. DDD
Pdf booklet included and score with de luxe version.
CORO COREPSIN1 [11:42] from thesixteendigital.com
(mp3, aac, alac and flac versions)
The Sixteen already had a very creditable recording of Allegris
Miserere (COR16014) indeed, its something
of a theme tune for them and The Tallis Scholars their 2013 Choral
Pilgrimage will feature this reconstructed version which begins with
the closest that we can get to the original, from Vatican manuscripts,
gradually adding the accretions which the work developed over the centuries
and ending with the thoroughly inauthentic version with the top C that
is normally sung today the result, it appears, of a fortunate
scribal error. Downloads are available in various qualities and each
can be had with or without the score. Weve had other reconstructions
of the earlier version(s) of the Miserere, but this one is fascinating.
The Trio Sonata in 18th-century Italy
Tomaso Giovanni ALBINONI (1671-1750) Balletto in G, Op.3/3 (1701)
Francesco Antonio BONPORTI (1672-1749) Sonata in g minor, Op.
6/7 (1705) [4:54]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Folia, Op.1/12 (1705) [9:13]
Giovanni BONONCINI (1670-1747) Sonata II from XII Sonatas for
the Chamber (1732) [8:06]
Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768) Sonata, Op.2/III (London, 1736) [10:56]
Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1695-1750) Sonata V from XII Sonate a
due Violini, e Violoncello, e Cembalo, se piace, Opera Terza (Paris
Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764) Sonata in D, Op.8/8 (1744) [13:10]
Domenico GALLO (c. 1730 ?) Sonata No.1 in G (c. 1750?)
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770) Suonata a tre in d minor
(undated manuscript) [8:47]
London Baroque (Ingrid Seifert, Richard Gwilt (violin); Charles Medlam
(cello); Steven Devine (harpsichord)
Pdf booklet included
BIS-CD-2015 [77:14] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless)
is the last in a series of recordings which London Baroque have made
for BIS of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Trio Sonata
and I really need only report that its well up to the distinguished
standard of the earlier volumes. Its predecessor, The Trio Sonata
in Eighteenth-century England, reviewed by Johan van Veen in January
2013 (BIS-CD1726 here)
is also available from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless).
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/1 in F, RV433 La tempesta di mare
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/2 in g minor, RV439 La notte [8:48]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/3 in D, RV428 Il gardellino [10:09]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/4 in G, RV435 [7:01]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/5 in F, RV434 [8:41]
Flute Concerto, Op. 10/6 in G, RV437 [8:31]
Concerto in D, RV783 [9:54]
Concerto for 2 flutes, strings and continuo in C, RV533 [6:52]
Barthold Kuijken (transverse flute)
La Petite Bande (Annelies Decock (violin I); Ann Cnop (violin II); Marleen
Thiers (viola); Benjamin Alard (harpsichord); Frank Theuns (transverse
flute II in RV 533))/Sigiswald Kuijken (violoncello da spalla)
rec. October 2010. DDD.
ACCENT ACC24241 [66:34] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library (with pdf
you have been listening to BBC Radio 3s month of Baroque Spring,
you may be feeling a little sated with Vivaldi. I hope you arent,
however, and that youre prepared to look beyond the Four Seasons
to the rest of his Op.8 there are eight other concertos in that
collection and beyond. Not too far beyond come these flute concertos,
assembled and published as his Op.10, though mostly written before,
as you can see from the RV numbers above.
In recommending a recent Nimbus recording I forgave the short value
represented by just the six Op.10 works because the proceeds are going
to a good cause, but Im pleased that Accent give us better value,
with two extra concertos. I dont know of any better performances,
on period or modern instruments, and the recording sounds well in the
eclassical.com lossless download. If you want to come back for the mp3
version, you can always do that with ecalssical.com: theres no
once-for-all policy with them, as there is with some others. If you
want the booklet, however, youll have to obtain that from the
ever-valuable Naxos Music Library or go for the classicsonline.com download
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantatas, Volume 53 (Leipzig,
Cantata No.97: In allen meinen Taten, BWV97 (Unknown occasion,
Cantata No.177: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV177 (Trinity
IV, 1732) [23:01]
Cantata No.9: Es ist das Heil uns kommen her, BWV9 (Trinity VI,
Hana Blaíková (soprano); Robin Blaze (counter-tenor);
Gerd Türk (tenor); Peter Kooij (bass); Kiyomi Suga (flauto traverso);
Masamitsu Sannomiya (oboe); Yukiko Murakami (bassoon); Natsumi
Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. February 2012. DSD.
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
BIS BIS-SACD-1991 [67:37] from eclassical.com
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless)
I was writing about the wonderful bargain of having all Bachs
music on a single USB and enjoying the chance to listen again to performances
of all the sacred cantatas directed alternately by Nikolaus Harnoncourt
and Gustav Leonhardt, BIS produced their latest and one of the
last volume in their strongly competitive series. My only complaint,
as with earlier volumes, is that the cantatas included are connected
by only the slenderest of links but thats no more tenuous
than Teldecs run of BWV numbers.
For a short time the 24-bit version is available at the same price as
the 16-bit and mp3 and Masaaki Suzukis 1998 performance of Buxtehudes
Membra Jesu Nostri (BIS-CD-871) is available at a 30%
discount. Even if these offers have ended when you read this review,
look out for similar offers theres always one.
Cantatas for the Church Year, Volume 13: Cantatas for Easter
Kommt, eilet und laufet (Easter Oratorio, 1725) [42:18]
Cantata No.6, Bleib bei uns, den es will Abend werden (Cantata
for Easter Monday) [17:19]
Yeree Suh (soprano), Petra Noskaiová (alto), Christoph Genz (tenor),
Jan van der Crabben (bass)
La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken rec.2009. DDD.
Texts not included
ACCENT ACC25313 [59:37] from eclassical.com
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
[If you find [Suzuki or Gardiner] too regimented and too detail-focused,
then Kuijken might just be the man for you. See review
by Gavin Dixon.]
Volume 15 (ACC25315), the last in this mini-series of one cantata
for each Sunday of the year here
sent me back to some of Sigiswald Kuijkens earlier volumes.
I also enjoyed Volume 9 (ACC25309), Cantatas for Advent
December 2010 Roundup
so I wasnt surprised to find his take on these two Eastertide
works equally to my taste. After the various recordings of the Bach
Passions which Ive mentioned above, Kuijkens recordings
of these two works will be on my menu for Easter Sunday and Monday.
The most economical way to obtain the Easter Oratorio is on a
budget-price Virgin twofer, directed by Andrew Parrott, together with
another Eastertide Cantata, No.4, the Ascension Oratorio and
the Magnificat: just £5.99 from classicsonline.com,
whose mp3 downloads are usually at the full 320kb/s.
If it has to be SACD or lossless sound, then its Masaaki Suzuki
on BIS-SACD-1561, the Easter and Ascension Oratorios
by Paul Shoemaker or the Retrospect Ensemble and Matthew Halls
in the same coupling (Linn CKD373: Recording of the Month
and May 2011/1 Roundup).
If you already have a recording of the Easter Oratorio and are
looking for a good performance of Cantata No.6, youll find it
conducted by Christophe Coin together with other concertos featuring
the violoncello piccolo on Naïve E8918, a mid-price CD:
Bargain of the Month review. At $11.16 the eclassical.com
download of this recording in its original incarnation on E8555
will save you mere pence over the CD (guide price £8 or a little
less) and the same is true of downloads from other providers at £7.99.
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Concerti Grossi, Op.6/1-12
Aradia Ensemble/Kevin Mallon rec. August 2011. DDD.
Pdf booklet included.
NAXOS 8.557358-60 [3 CDs: 48:44 + 60:29 + 58:28] from
(mp3 and lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library
should be the least expensive set of the Op.6 concerti currently available,
though the fact that it spreads to three discs for £14.97/$20.97
(mp3) or £17.99/$23.99 (flac) means that it isnt; Linn (Avison
Ensemble/Pavlo Beznosiuk Download
of the Month), Harmonia Mundi (AAM/Andrew Manze) and ABC
Classics (Australian Baroque/Paul Dyer) manage to fit their sets onto
two CDs the Linn can be downloaded for prices ranging from £13
to £25, or for around £20 on SACD; the Manze can be bought
for around £20 on CD and the Dyer set is on sale on disc for as
little as £13.
Additionally the classic recordings of Op.3 and Op.6 with Trevor Pinnock
at the helm of the English Consort are coupled with the Water Music,
Fireworks Music and Concerti a due cori in a budget-price 6-CD box set
(DG Archiv 463 0942 around £30; download for £17.49/£20.99
(mp3/lossless) from deutschegrammophon.com).
Avie have squeezed Christopher Hogwoods Op.3 and Op.6 (formerly
Decca Oiseau Lyre) onto three CDs, available for £25 post paid
Mallons performances are light and airy but the versions which
Ive listed above are not only more economically available, in
the last resort they all carry rather more weight in a positive
sense than the new Naxos release. The qualities which make Mallons
Water Music and Fireworks Music (8.557764) so attractive
are not quite enough for the Op.6 concertos.
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Septem verba a Christo in cruce moriente prolata (Seven words
of Christ as He died stretched out upon the cross) (1736)
Sophie Karthäuser (Soprano)
Christophe Dumaux (Counter-tenor)
Julian Behr (Tenor)
Konstantin Wolff (Bass)
Akademie für alte Musik, Berlin/René Jacobs rec.
immediately after concert premiere, Beaune Festival, August 2012. DDD
Pdf booklet with texts and translations included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902155 (33205695) [80:30] from
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless)
cannot possibly during his short life have written all the music that
has been attributed to him at one time or another hardly any
of his music which Stravinsky borrowed for Pulcinella
is now thought to be by him but these Seven Words from the
Cross do now seem to be securely attributed. More importantly the
music is extremely moving and the performances and recording, especially
the 24-bit version, are excellent. The Gospel texts are sung in plainsong
and each is followed by Pergolesis comments
if you know Haydns Seven Words, especially the choral version,
youll be familiar with the format.
Im delighted to report that theres a booklet of texts and
translations has someone been paying attention to my grumbles?
The only problem is that, as is becoming common with pdf booklets, its
the wrong shape and size to print and fit into a CD case.
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Quartet in d minor, Opus 76/2 (1797-1799)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Quartet in d minor, D.810, Death
and the Maiden (1824-26) [37:53]
Jörg WIDMANN (b.1973) Jagdquartett (3rd String Quartet,
Ragazze Quartet (Rosa Arnold, Jeanita Vriens (violin); Annemijn Bergkotte
(viola); Geneviève Verhage (cello)) rec. September 2012.
Pdf booklet included
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA34613 [69:00] from channelclassics.com
(SACD, mp3, 24-bit lossless and DSD)
notes in the booklet make it clear that the Ragazze Quartet were well
aware that they were competing on strongly contested turf and were somewhat
taken aback when they were invited by Channel Classics to make this
recording. Though the comment applies especially to the Schubert, getting
Haydns late quartets right is no easy matter, either. Though I
have my own favourite and much-heard recordings of both these works,
I tried as much as possible not to make comparisons. In one important
respect the new recording has no rivals since I dont know of any
other version of either work in 24-bit sound.
Modern instruments are employed but with classical bows, specially made
for the quartet for the occasion. Whether assisted by the bows or not
I dont know, but the Haydn begins with a vigorous and convincing
account of the opening movement. The quality of the recording helps,
too not just left-and-right but with central placing also convincingly
conveyed. The second movement has to be a compromise between the slightly
contradictory halves of Haydns indication: andante o più
tosto allegretto and the Ragazze Quartet steer an excellent coursed
between Scylla and Charybdis; more importantly, they convey the charm
of the music without sounding Dresden China-ish.
I said that I wouldnt compare but after listening and forming
a favourable impression of this performance of the Haydn I checked against
the Kodály Quartet on Naxos one of the most consistent
series of recordings of the whole of Haydns quartet output
and found tempi very similar, confirming my impressions that the Ragazze
Quartet judge this work admirably throughout, yet, from recollection,
the Naxos performance is slightly less adventurous. Though that was
one of the very first CDs that I bought from Woolworths
and was amazed that even a budget label (£3.99 in those days)
could sound so bright and fresh, the new Channel Classics recording
improves on that experience.
The Kodály Quartet have also recorded Schuberts string
quartet output, but it was with a younger group in mind, the Belcea
Quartet (EMI: Recording of the Month review*),
that I listened to the new Death and the Maiden Quartet. The
Belcea 2-CD set with the String Quintet and Quartets 14 and 15 contains
the repeats in the opening allegro, which the Ragazze dont
take its possible to argue either way on this one, but
the repeats make the movement very long, over 16 minutes from the Belceas,
and the Takács Quartet dont include them, either. Otherwise
the new performance captures all the power and the beauty combined in
this movement in a manner so typical of Schubert with more than
a nod in the direction of his hero Beethovens late quartets.
* By one of those crazy anomalies,
I see that amazon.co.uk are asking more for the download than for the
CDs. Only sainsburysentertainment.co.uk
(mp3) seem to charge slightly less for the download.
The slow movement is highly affective in places and
jaunty in others again there are two halves to the tempo indication,
andante con moto, and its all too easy to over-stress one
or other of these, but the Ragazze get it about right. Maybe they could
have afforded to have been just a little more expansive, but the multi-award-winning
Takács Quartet (Hyperion CDA67585 or CDA30019,
with Quartet No.13: Recording of the Month review
and December 2009 Roundup)
are a little faster still and I dont recall them sounding breakneck.
Excellent accounts of the scherzo and finale follow
the latter sounding especially strong and vigorous at just a few seconds
short of the time on the Takács recording and even closer to
that taken by the Belcea Quartet.
The programme is rounded off with a contemporary work. The booklet notes
prepare the reader for a stormy work in the manner of Schumanns
more extrovert persona but the opening shout took me rather by surprise.
Widman does to traditional hunting music what Ravel did to the Viennese
waltz in la Valse the result sounds like Mozarts
Musical Sleighride on steroids and, for me, it ends the wonderful
performances of the Haydn and Schubert on the wrong note.
I find that download speeds from Channel Classics vary tremendously
some imponderable variable between Holland and my home in SE
London sometimes as low as 100kb/s, which means that it takes
hours to download a 24/96 file, sometimes ten or fifteen times that
rate. This one, downloaded in the small hours on a sleepless night,
came down the line at a very creditable 1500kb/s.
Joachim RAFF (1822-1882)
Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 140 (1866) [33:08]
Orchestral Prelude to Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' WoO 49 (1879) [14:10]
Orchestral Prelude to Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' WoO 50 (1879) [11:22]
Orchestral Prelude to Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' WoO 51 (1879)
Orchestral Prelude to Shakespeare's 'Othello' WoO 52 (1879) [8:14]
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Neeme Järvi - rec. 25-27 June 2012,
Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland
Pdf booklet included
CHANDOS CHSA5117 [76:59] - from theclassicalshop.net
(mp3, 16-bit lossless, Studio 24/96 stereo)
Schweizerdeutsch composer Joseph Joachim Raff is new to me, which is
hardly unusual as much of his prolific output - including 11 symphonies,
a number of concertos and two operas - has been largely forgotten. Musically
self-taught Raff numbered Hans von Bülow, Richard Strauss and Franz
Liszt among his friends and mentors; indeed, he was the latter's assistant
at Weimar from 1850 to 1853. As for recordings there are more than I
expected to find, several by Czecho-Slovak forces under Urs Schneider
on the old Marco Polo label.
This Chandos release is the first in a projected series of Raff recordings
from Neeme Järvi and Ernest Ansermet's legendary old band, the
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Recorded in the equally famous Victoria
Hall, Geneva, this new disc makes use of the venue's high-res recording
set-up RAVENNA, technical details of which are provided a the end of
the booklet. More than half a century ago Decca engineers were making
history with some of their first stereo recordings, so it seems fitting
that today's OSR should benefit from the newest recording technology
too. That said, Ansermet/OSR remasters have astonishing range and presence,
a testament to the skill of those early pioneers.
As for Järvi's return to Chandos and the Royal Scottish National
Orchestra it's been a patchy affair; their Saint-Saëns collection
is pleasing if not exceptional (review)
and their disc of Suppé overtures is simply outclassed by the
likes of Charles Dutoit and the Montreal orchestra (review).
All too often Järvi seems a little disengaged and/or peremptory,
and the sound of these high-res downloads doesn't strike me as anything
remarkable either. Not surprisingly I approached this Raff set with
From its quietly atmospheric opening the Second Symphony is very soon
revealed as a work of solid craft and engaging character. Vaguely Mendelssohn-by-way-of-Haydn
in spirit the first Allegro has plenty of buoyancy and thrust, not to
mention some echt-Romantic brass writing. Happily Järvi seems rather
more genial than of late, and the Andante con moto emerges with a charming
blend of warmth and lilt. True, there are grey patches in Raff's writing
- and a hint of prolixity - but there's enough invention to keep one
listening to the end.
The OSR are in splendid form and the high-res recording is remarkably
detailed and three-dimensional; tuttis bloom with ease and the firm,
muscular bass pays dividends in those strong, timp-led passages. Does
the symphony outstay its welcome? In the Allegro vivace - Trio perhaps,
but then Raff makes amends with a taut, fizzy finale that keeps Järvi
and his band on their toes. At the risk of being accused of damning
with faint praise I'd say this is a most entertaining work, persuasively
played and very well recorded. And even though it's written for large
orchestra Raff uses his resources sparingly.
What of the four Shakespeare Preludes? 'The Tempest' has some ear-catching
tunes - the recording has tremendous presence, which really brings out
the felicities of Raff's string writing - and the piece has a real sense
of drama. This music certainly grew on me, and I found myself admiring
Raff's deft, understated style. 'Macbeth' is somewhat low-key but it's
as robustly scored and executed as anything here. As for 'Romeo and
Juliet' it has plenty of ardour, a strong vein of lyricism and some
lovely horn playing. The virile 'Othello' is perhaps the most striking
of the four pieces; there's an almost Verdian line here and a palpable
sense of tension that builds to an imposing - but characteristically
restrained - climax.
After an initial encounter some listeners may be tempted to bury this
download in the darkest recesses of their hard drives; indeed, that
was my first impulse, but subsequent auditions were far more positive.
A commendable enterprise, and one that promises to be eminently collectable.
I Was Glad Sacred Music of Stanford and Parry
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in A, Op. 12 (1880) [11:12]
Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) I was glad (1911 version) [6:61]
STANFORD Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in G, Op.
81 (1902) [8:15]
PARRY Coronation Te Deum in D (1911) [14:25]
STANFORD Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in B flat,
Op. 10 (1879) [7:18]
PARRY Blest Pair of Sirens (1887) [9:11]
STANFORD Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in C, Op.
115 (1909) [7:31]
PARRY (orch. Elgar) Jerusalem (1916) [3:03]
Carolyn Sampson (soprano); David Wilson-Johnson (bass)
Choir of The Kings Consort
The Kings Consort/Robert King rec. September 2012. DDD
English texts included
VIVAT101 [67:52] from vivatmusic.com
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless)
release of this recording caught my eye just as I was closing the previous
Download News how could it not when Im on record as considering
both composers overdue for reappraisal? In the event, John Quinn, who
has made it a Recording of the Month, has said it all
so I need only add that the download also includes the CD booklet
not always provided with downloads and that the CD-quality
16-bit lossless version sounds fine. I had to pay for this download
no review access but its money well spent; by bringing
us closer to how the composers intended their music to sound, these
performances join a growing list of recordings which show that it need
not sound at all stuffy.
Manuel Maria PONCE (1882-1948) Concierto del sur [25:03]
Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999) Fantasia para un gentilhombre
Andrés Segovia (guitar); Symphony of the Air/Enrique Jorda
rec. May 1958. ADD.
NAXOS CLASSICAL ARCHIVES 9.80916 [46:28] from classicsonline.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
recordings, made for MCA as part of the Segovia Golden Jubilee celebrations,
were first released in the UK on the Brunswick label, then allied to
Decca, and subsequently subsumed into the Universal empire, hence their
availability on the DG Segovia Collection (471 4302 review;
also on a single CD, with Boccherini, DG Originals E474 4252).
The Rodrigo is the sort of music that I wallow in music from
the classical period and earlier, reshaped for a modern orchestra in
the manner of Respighis Ancient Airs or Gli Uccelli
or Warlocks Capriol and it receives an authoritative
performance which not even Julian Bream was to excel. The Ponce, the
result of his tour of South America in 1941, is much less of a masterpiece
but well worth hearing in this performance.
The recording hardly sounds fresh-minted I imagine that the DG
transfer from the master tapes is preferable but it will do very
nicely. I suppose it was sensible to omit the original short track on
which Segovia spoke a few words in English.
Theres also an eclassical.com download; its a little more
expensive than from classicsonline.com (£1.99) but mp3 and lossless
come at the same price. This version, however, currently has a blank
fifth track, the ricercare of the Rodrigo Fantasia
as has the mp3 version from emusic.com and, apparently the over-priced
version from amazon.co.uk. Ive reported the problem to eclassical.com,
but it hasnt yet been fixed, so classicsonline.com is currently
the only show in town for this.
Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Early Chamber Works
Quintet in G for two violins, viola and two cellos (1908) [38:17]
String Quartet in A (1902) [31:26]
Divertimenti Ensemble (Paul Barritt, Rachel Isserlis (violin), Jonathan
Barritt (viola), Josephine Horder, Sebastian Comberti (cello)).
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7131 [69:43] from amazon.co.uk
[Highly recommended, not only to Bax enthusiasts but to anyone
who feels like exploring some attractive, out-of-the-way English music
from the early years of the twentieth century. See review
by Graham Parlett.]
music is every bit as enjoyable and the performances as adept as Graham
Parlett says. Add the fact that the mp3 sound is much more than adequate
and we were all set for a strong recommendation but the first
two tracks failed to download and were declared time-expired within
seconds of having been purchased. Eventually I was able to retrieve
the missing tracks from the Cloud but not before I had posted a one-star
grumble on the Amazon website which, surprisingly, was placed online
and allowed to stand apparently without anyone reading it certainly
before anyone made any attempt to contact me. I did receive a reply
eventually, but it wasnt particularly helpful, as it was couched
in terms more suitable for a novice when Id indicated that I was
a seasoned downloader. Amazon should think carefully about customer
relations and why there are so many adverse comments on their site.
Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960)
Concertino for piano and orchestra [26:17]
Concerto quasi una fantasia for piano and orchestra [14:36]
Lamar Crowson (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Arthur Benjamin rec. ? First released
in UK 1972.
NAXOS CLASSICAL ARCHIVE 9.80978 [40:53] from emusic.com
(mp3) or stream from Naxos Music Library
the only piece of music that I knew by Arthur Benjamin before I encountered
the Dutton recording of his music for violin, viola and orchestra (CDLX7279
and January 2012/2 Roundup*)
had been his Jamaican Rumba, which may lead you to expect middle-of-the-road
music here. The Concertino is not demanding, so I suppose that
it might just qualify for that description, though the Concertino
is not all easy going.
With Benjamin himself in command and with Lamar Crowson, who had previously
recorded some of his piano music for Lyrita as soloist (review),
these are authoritative and enjoyable performances and the recording
is very good for its age hardly surprising when its provenance
stems from Everest. The transfers are at 230kb/s and sound more than
adequate; classicsonline.com have the album in 320kb/s sound, but at
£1.99 as opposed to emusic.coms very economical £0.84.
Theres no current rival for either work.
* the download from amazon.co.uk
is slightly less expensive than that from iTunes to which I gave a link.
Giles SWAYNE (b. 1946) Stations of the Cross (2004/5)
1. Jesus is sentenced to death [4:50]
2. Jesus takes up the cross [2:13]
3. The first fall [2:20]
4. Jesus and his mother [5:10]
5. Simon of Cyrene [4:18]
6. Veronica [3:51]
7. The second fall [7:52]
8. The women of Jerusalem [5:00]
9. The third fall [3:13]
10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes [4:33]
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross [2:49]
12. Jesus dies on the cross [3:43]
13. Jesus body is laid in his mothers arms [2:47]
14. Jesus body is laid in the tomb [7:40]
Simon Niemiński (organ of St Marys Metropolitan Cathedral,
Edinburgh) rec. 3-5 October, 2012. DDD.
All tracks are world premiere recordings
Pdf booklet included, with full specification of the organ
RESONUS CLASSICS RES10118 [60:28] No CD equivalent. Download
(mp3, aac and lossless) or eclassical.com
(mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless) or stream from Naxos Music Library.
is another very welcome first from Resonus, introducing us to Giles
Swaynes meditations on the suffering of Jesus. Though he is an
avowed atheist put off by his Roman Catholic boarding school, a large
amount of music on religious themes features in Swaynes musical
output, including a setting of the Stabat Mater, music inspired,
like these Stations of the Cross, by the Passion. John Quinn,
though clearly not at ease with Swaynes music generally, found
that the most approachable work on a Naxos recording made by Clare College
Robert Hugill, who seems rather more at home with the idiom, if thats
the right expression, thought the Naxos recording a hugely impressive
achievement: Bargain of the Month review.
There are also Four Passiontide Motets on a Delphian recording
Having heard none of Swaynes music apart from the rather daunting
Cry (NMC NMCD016) and tending to align myself with John
Quinns tastes in music, I approached the new recording with some
trepidation. I need not have worried; Swayne studied for a time with
Messiaen and there are clear echoes of the masters organ music
here indeed, I would go so far as to say that theres nothing
that you couldnt relate to if, like me, you love Messiaens
organ music without finding it at all easy.
The performance sounds idiomatic as with almost all Resonus Classics
recordings, the repertoire is ground-breaking, so there are no benchmarks
to consider and the (2007) organ of St Marys Roman Catholic
Cathedral, Edinburgh, is well suited to the music. With good recording
I listened to the 24/96 flac supplied for review and helpful
notes in pdf form, I strongly recommend giving this a try.
Eric WHITACRE (b.1970) Sainte-Chapelle (2013)
The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. Merton College Chapel,
Pdf booklet includes Latin text and English, French, German & Spanish
GIMELL GIM802 [8:37] from iTunes
is The Tallis Scholars first digital single, a recording of music
commissioned for their 40th anniversary celebrations. The music is beautiful
and compelling a phrase lifted from John Quinns review,
which I recommend that you read possessing the quality that Ive
encountered in other music by Eric Whitacre* of being clearly modern
yet equally clearly the heir of centuries of tradition without sounding
at all imitative. The performance is by definition authoritative and
the recording good, though I hope that Gimell will at some point in
the near future be offering it in something better than iTunes
variable bit-rate m4a (this recording hovers between around 170kb/s
Im less positive about the Latin text a piece of modern
kidology designed to sound authentic and the booklet
which contains just a few pictures and the text with multi-lingual translations
and doesnt even print out at the right size to fit in a CD case.
£0.79/$0.99/€0.99 is not unreasonable for an 8-minute piece
but adding the booklet bumps that up to a less feasible
* Cloudburst and other works, Hyperion see October 2010
Water Night, Decca see May 2012/2 Download Roundup.
Muir Mathiesons Classics
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Serenade No.13 (Eine kleine Nachtmusik)
Franz SCHUBERT Symphony No.5 in B-flat [21:56]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.6 in b minor [44:19]
Sinfonia of London/Muir Mathieson rec. 1958. ADD/stereo
BEULAH 1PD934 [80:51] from iTunes
(mp4) or amazon.co.uk
these recordings have been released before on separate Beulah Extra
• Eine kleine Nachtmusik on 2BX93
• Schubert Symphony No.5 on 1BX93 both in November
2010 Download Roundup
• Tchaikovsky Symphony No.6 on 5-8BX93 in June
2012/2 Download Roundup
The Sinfonia of London didnt actually exist: the title conceals
an ad hoc group of top musicians from the London orchestras who
came together, in different permutations, to record for EMI and their
subsidiary, World Record Club. Their recording of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
with Muir Mathieson is light and sprightly without ever sounding
superficial and the 1958 stereo is still easy on the ear. The same comments
apply to the stylish Schubert Symphony No.5 but dont forget
the superb Beecham recording of Schuberts Third, Fifth and Sixth
Symphonies (EMI Great Recordings see May 2009 Roundup).
Muir Mathieson, better known as an arranger and conductor of film music,
with the Sinfonia of London in the Sixth Symphony, Pathétique,
from 1958 is not in the same class as Beulahs reissue of Mravinskys
recording of the Fourth. Nevertheless, though there are no revelatory
insights, this is a sound performance with power where its needed
and theres tenderness, too, while the recording still sounds fine.
The third movement goes with real abandon and the lamentoso aspect
of the finale is all the more effective for not being overdone. The
tempi are remarkably similar to those chosen by Mravinsky on his classic
version of this symphony with the Leningrad PO (DG). I prefer both to
Beulahs earlier reissue of Munchs 1948 recording on 6-9BX32.
The Amazon download is marginally less expensive than that from iTunes
and comes (I presume) at the same bit-rate of 256kb/s. The separate
Beulah Extra releases remain available at 320kb/s.
Colin Davis conducts Overtures
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Guillaume Tell [11:28]
La Gazza ladra [10:09]
Il signor Bruschino [4:56]
LItaliana in Algeri [7:35]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Idomeneo, Re di Creta, K366 [4:52]
Die Entführung aus dem Serail [5:30]
Die Zauberflöte, K620 [7:01]
la Clemenza di Tito [4:55]
Don Giovanni, K527 [6:06]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis rec. 1962. ADD/stereo
BEULAH 2PD44 [79:07] from iTunes
(mp4) or amazon.co.uk (mp3)
is a very generous helping of early Colin Davis recordings. The Mozart
overtures were included in a set of nine released on HMV CSD1406 in
1962, then considered a generous helping and offered at slightly less
than full price. I agree with Edward Greenfield, who thought some of
the performances a little too powerful, but thats much better
than making Mozarts music sound too delicate and the strength
of the music is by no means over-stressed here.
The Rossini overtures followed on CSD1436 a little later that year.
I thought the William Tell overture just a little too refined,
but probably thats because I watched the Lone Ranger too
much in my mis-spent youth, with its break-neck version of the end of
this overture as its signature tune. As in the other overtures, its
the affectionate charm of the performances that wins the day.
These recordings marked Sir Colins promotion from World Record
Club and HMV Concert Classics to the slightly more up-market CLP/CSD
label soon, of course, he was commanding top price on a number
of labels, and these recordings helped him on his way.
The remaining overtures from the Mozart LP have been separately released
by Beulah Extra: La finta Giardiniera on 34BX129, Der
Schauspieldirektor on 35BX129 and Le Nozze di Figaro
on 36BX129. All from eavb.co.uk
and all still very much worth having.
All the recordings, top of the class in their day, still sound very
well indeed thanks to Beulahs re-mastering. Weve already
had some classic Davis recordings from Beulah, including Beethovens
Seventh Symphony (15BX129) and Mozart Symphonies Nos. 29 (1BX129)
and 39 (4BX129). Now, please, may we have a release of the World
Record Club recording of Mozarts Symphony No. 34 and Oboe Concerto,
the latter with Eugene Goossens, which first made Davis famous and which
used to be available on Classics for Pleasure? The concerto is on Testament
SBT1130, with some other Goossens recordings, but theres
a strong case for its separate release.
colleague Patrick Waller, who has been investigating the vagaries of
download pricing alerted me to two bargain versions of Wagners
complete Ring cycle on 7digital.com: from Hans Swarowsky and
a pick-up team of Czech singers and instrumentalists who had fled the
Soviet invasion of that year (1968) to East Germany and a more recent
set of live recordings from the 2008 Bayreuth Festival, directed by
Christian Thielemann. Though Im hardly short of recordings of
Wagner, I decided that I could afford £4.49 for the Swarowsky
yes, that really is the price for the whole cycle and, crazily,
for each of the four constituent operas if bought separately.
Downloading was far from uneventful only the first nine of the
ten CDs downloaded with the Download Manager; the other tracks had to
be obtained one at a time manually and the resulting download
suffers from rather nasty glitches at the joins of tracks, even when
played in Songbird, which usually eliminates such problems, once common
with mp3 but far less so nowadays. Otherwise the sound quality of the
320kb/s transfer is decent and the performances are at least good enough
to provide an impecunious beginner with a respectable performance of
the whole Ring.
I had thought that this might make a Bargain of the Month listing, but
I wouldnt recommend it if you can afford better. Patrick Waller
reports problems downloading the £7.99 Thielemann, too, which
leaves Barenboims 1991/2 recording, at £28.99, apparently
the least expensive safe offering from 7digital. Be aware, however,
that I havent sampled it and that 7digital also offer exactly
the same recording for £44.99! Sainsburysentertainment.co.uk also
offer the Barenboim for £28.99 and £40.99 thus neatly
making Patricks point about the illogicality of download pricing.
Richafort Requiem for Josquin
In my recent review of the Harmonia Mundi reissue of the Richaford Requiem
I stated that this was one of only two recordings of this work.
An eagle-eyed reader with an excellent memory, Alfred Jacobsen from
the Netherlands, has reminded me that the work was recorded some time
ago by Opus 111, when the music was attributed not to Richafort but
to a mysterious composer called Engarandus Juvenis, about whom nothing
is known. That recording is no longer available, but we both missed
a Signum recording which spreads the sections of the Requiem
across the programme (SIGCD005: Chapelle du Roi/Dixon
and Signum have just released yet another recording of this work with
the Kings Singers which Ill be looking out for (SIGCD326).