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[New] BIS's 40th anniversary promotion - 17 pocket-sized CD reviews - A feature by Brian Reinhart

A discussion of the life and songs of Robin Milford by Peter Hunter: Biography ~~ The early songs ~~ The middle period songs ~~ The late songs

Review index: Robin Milford

An interview with composer Bob Chilcott by John Quinn

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Martinů concertos & concertante works - A discography prepared by Mike Herman; an extract from the upcoming full national discography of Eastern European concertos


The Musicweb International Recordings of the Year will be announced on Monday!

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Friday November 29th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Gregorio ALLEGRI (1582-1652) Miserere Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (c.1525-1594) Stabat Mater, Missa Papae Marcelli, Tu es Petrus Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips rec. 2005 GIMELL GIMBD641 [CD + BD-A: 76:00] [DM] Gimell’s first BD-A is a resounding success; a landmark in every way.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1786) Empfindsamkeit! Symphonies & Concertos - Alfredo Bernardini (oboe) Christian Kjos (harpsichord) Barokkanerne rec. 2012 LAWO CLASSICS LWC 1038 [58:00] [BR] After two centuries of neglect, CPE Bach is coming into his own. As long as the albums are this good, it’s great news.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 4 Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1849) Symphony 4 - BBC SO/RPO/Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1972/1975 ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5093 [64:12] [DD] Another splendid release of live performances of two 19th century masterpieces conducted by a Grand Old Man of British music. 

John McDONALD Airy Joanna Kurkowicz (violin) John McDonald (piano) rec. 2010 BRIDGE 9402 [65:06] [Byz]

Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773) Flute Concertos - Mary Oleskiewicz (transverse flute) Concerto Armonico/Miklós Spányi rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573120 [77:36] [JV] This disc is full of good intentions but I find the result rather disappointing. 

Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828) Die schöne Müllerin Maximilian Schmitt (tenor) Gerold Huber (piano) rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 882 [66:41] [GF] Constantly beautiful singing but a certain lack of colour and drama. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Kreisleriana Per NØRGÅRD (b.1932) Grooving; Turn; Unfolding Katrine Gislinge (piano) rec. 2012 DANACORD DACOCD741 [63:29] [JF] A happy choice of music and alongside the Horowitz this will be my preferred Kreisleriana for some time to come.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Sonata Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Sonata 2 Poème mystique Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata- Midori (violin) Özgür Aydin (piano) rec. 2012 ONYX 4084 [66:55] [SG] A well-constructed recital of three masterpieces of twentieth century violin repertoire.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concertos for Strings - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini rec. 1988 TACTUS TB672258 [56:13] [DBi] An enjoyable issue containing six splendid concertos only some of which you might know.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre Robert Dean Smith, Melanie Diener, Petra Lang, Tomasz Konieczny, Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski rec. 2012 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC5186 407 [4 CDs: 217:17] [JPr] This Die Walküre is a triumph for Janowski and the wonderful Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin. 

Thursday November 28th

Adolf BUSCH (1891-1952) Chamber Music Volume 1: Clarinet and strings - Bettina Beigelbeck (clarinet) Busch Kollegium Karlsruhe rec. 2012/13 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0085 [75:26] [JW] Charming, occasionally droll and without much real depth.

Sparky DAVIS And One Last Waltz, Symphony, Fantasy Sonata - Karolina Rojahn (piano) Moravian PO/Vít Micka, Petr Vronský rec. 1998/2012 NAVONA NV5897 [66:35] [Byz] These are polite, slightly naive works, but lovingly crafted and melodious.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Der Messias (arr. Mozart) Donna Brown (soprano) Cornelia Kallisch (mezzo) Roberto Saccà (tenor) Alastair Miles (bass) Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD098.022 [55:33 + 76:00] [JS] Every Handel enthusiast should have at least one recording of Mozart’s arrangement and this would be a very satisfactory way of achieving that as well as giving considerable pleasure.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Complete Works for Viola Vol. 1 - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Deutsche SO Berlin/Hans Graf rec. 2012 MYRIOS CLASSICS MYR010 [79:59] [MC] Heartfelt passion and a robust edge blow away the cobwebs and bring these works very much to life.

Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) Rhapsodies, Organ Sonata 2 - David Newsholme (organ) rec. 2012 REGENT REGCD407 [76:46] [JF] Wisely chosen, balancing the more popular with the less-well-known. David Newsholme gives definitive accounts of these pieces.

Timothy SALTER (b.1942) Aerial, Piano Quartet, String Quartet 2 - Nephele Ens, Ens na Mara, Auriol String Qt rec. 1985-2010 USK 1230CD [37:44] [CR] Convincing and highly effective music performed effectively and with competence.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) Tenebrae Responsories Tenebrae/Nigel Short rec. 2012 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD344 [72:01] [JB] The sheer beauty and power here almost defy description.

The 20th Century Concerto Grosso Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Concerto doppio for flute & piano Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Concertino for flute, violin & piano Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931) Concert for piano, flute & cello - Maria Prinz (piano) Karl-Heinz Schütz (flute) Christoph Koncz (violin) Robert Nagy (cello) Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10791 [61:41] This is a release with everything going for it [DC] Totally absorbing … fine music that is all too rarely heard. [SA]

Polish Violin Music Kinga Augustyn (violin) Efi Hackmey (piano) rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 9.70192 [79:45] [SA] Muscular playing and a beautiful singing tone in these rarely heard works.

Veni Emmanuel - Music for Advent Ch of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross; Nicholas Haigh (organ) rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907579 [76:48] [JQ] A marvellous programme of Music for Advent from the Clare College Choir.

Wednesday November 27th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704) Litanies de la Vierge - Motets for the House of Guise - Ens Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé rec. 2013 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 902169 [60:33] [JV] This disc is a treasure because of the repertoire and the performances.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Rodeo, Dance Panels, El Salón México, Danzón Cubano - Detroit S O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2012 NAXOS NBD0037 BD-A [70:11] [DM] Sonically this Naxos BD-A is a worthwhile improvement over the CD; it’s reasonably priced, too.

Kimmo HAKOLA (b.1958) Guitar Concerto Toshio HOSOKAWA (b.1955) Voyage IX, Awakening, Blossoming II Timo Korhonen (guitar) Oulu SO/Santtu-Matias Rouvali rec. 2012 ONDINE ODE 1219-2 [65:00] [Byz] Rouvali has full command of these demanding scores and the sound quality is very good indeed. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots Allan Clayton (tenor) Andrew Kennedy (tenor) Sophie Bevan (soprano), Orchestra of Classical Opera/Ian Page rec. 2012 SIGNUM SIGCD343 [52:52 + 31:50] [JS] A remarkable demonstration of the very considerable virtues of the composer’s very early works.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Petrushka Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) The Miraculous Mandarin - London SO/Kent Nagano rec. 1997 WARNER APEX 2564 673174 [64:54] [SV] Nagano serves up an expert Petrushka. 

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 4, Capriccio Italien - Gürzenich O Cologne/Dmitrij Kitajenko rec. 2010/11 OEHMS CLASSICS OC671 [62:12] [DBi] A fine (almost) completion of Kitajenko's cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies - wonderfully played by the Gürzenich Orchestra. 

Burr Van NOSTRAND (b. 1945) Voyage in a White Building I - Robert Stallman (flute) Jay Humeston (cello) Herman Weiss (prepared piano) Paul Severtson (violin) NEC Chamber Ens/Anthony Coleman rec. 1969-2012 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80742-2 [70:19] [DC] Uncompromisingly modern, but then, so were Picasso and Pollock. 

Archipel Machaut Medieval Music and New Music - Mixtura; Katharina Bäuml (shawm); Margit Kern (accordion) rec. 2012 GENUIN GEN13284 [66:39] [JB] Astonishing musicianship, brimming with atmosphere. A disc very much worthy of attention.

British Works for Cello and Piano Vol. 2Paul Watkins (cello) Huw Watkins (piano) rec. 2012 CHANDOS CHAN10792 [75:28] [JF] A fine programme of three stunning sonatas, inspiringly played and beautifully presented.

Great American Songbook - The King’s Singers, South Jutland SO/David Firman rec. 2013 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD341 [60:10 + 31:36] [JQ] Admirers of The King’s Singers will love this album. Admirers of these wonderful songs should, perhaps, look elsewhere.

Tuesday November 22nd

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Weihnachts Oratorium Agnes Giebel, Charlotte Wolf-Matthäus, Helmut Krebs, Walter Hauck, RIAS CO & Ch/Karl Ristenpart rec. 1950 AUDITE 21.421 [3 CDs: 155:55] [JQ] Sixty-three years on, Karl Ristenpart’s recording is a most welcome addition to the discography of Bach’s Christmas masterpiece.

Bela BARTÓK (1881-1945) String Quartets 1-6 Zoltan KODÁLY (1882-1967) String Quartets 1-2 - Alexander Quartet rec. 2012 FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2009 [3 CDs: 74:53 + 76:30 + 54:32] [DC] A set to acquire for long-term appreciation.

From the New World Antonín DVOŘAK (1841-1904) Symphony 9 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Chant du rossignol Charles IVES (1874-1954) The Unanswered Question John ADAMS (b. 1947) Slonimsky’s Earbox - Bavarian RSO/Andris Nelsons rec. 2010 C MAJOR 713408 [95:00] [LW] A most enjoyable concert by Nelsons and the BRSO. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Famous Choruses from Messiah - Barock Vokal, Mainz Neumeyer Consort/Michael Hofstetter rec. 2011 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 884 [54:28] [JB] An absolutely exquisite performance, and a must-have for any collection - brava!

Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933) The Complete Organ Works - Volume 10 - Stefan Engels (organ) rec. 2011 PRIORY PRCD 1074 [78:07] [JW] This series goes from strength to strength.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker and the Mouse King Anna Tsygankova, Matthew Golding, Holland Symfonia/Ermanno Florio rec. 2011 ARTHAUS MUSIK 108087 [108:00 + over 150:00 (bonus)] [BW] Well worth acquiring at the new lower price, or giving as a Christmas present. 

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681 - 1767) Klingende Geographie Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci rec. 2011 PAN CLASSICS PC10291 [68:55] [JV] For an hour of entertainment this disc will do. 

Anima Rising Works by Beethoven, Hearne, Janáček, Plews & Wright - Naomi Wright (cello) Annabelle Lawson (piano) ASC ASCCD116 [58:31] [JF] Excellent playing and an imaginative programme.

Bel Canto Bully - The musical legacy of the legendary opera impresario Domenico Barbaja - rec. 1988 - 2008 NAXOS 8.578237 [75:19] [GF] This is quite an interesting concept for a compilation disc and there are enough good things here to make it a good buy.

Alice Herz-Sommer (piano) Works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Schubert & Smetana rec. 1960s-95 AHS RECORDS [78:04] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Abegg Variations, Carnaval, Symphonic Etudes rec. 1983 AHS RECORDS [56:59] [SA] Refined elegance ... beauty and truth will always gain the upper hand.

Monday November 25th

Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) The Beatitudes, Introduction and Allegro, Things to Come Suite, Lie Strewn the White Flocks, A Colour Symphony, The Phoenix Jennifer Vyvyan (soprano) Richard Lewis (tenor) BBC SO, London SO/Sir Arthur Bliss, Jacques String O/Reginald Jacques, Philharmonia O/Constant Lambert rec. 1946-62 DUTTON CDBP 9818 [76:47 + 70:01]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
War Requiem Heather Harper (soprano) Peter Pears (tenor) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Melos Ens, City of Birmingham SO/Meredith Davies rec. 1962 TESTAMENT SBT 1490 [80:48] [JQ] Live recordings of two notable 1962 premières in Coventry, including an essential addition to the discography of War Requiem. 

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Choral Symphony, The Mystic Trumpeter - Susan Gritton (soprano) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5127 [69.20] [PCG] A superb release, in excellent sound. By far the best recording of the Choral Symphony available.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Violin Sonatas 1 & 3 - Chloë Hanslip (violin) Igor Tchetuev (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA67963 [68:39] Nikolai MEDTNER Violin Sonata 3 Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Violin Sonata 3 - Svetlin Roussev (violin) Frédéric D’Oria-Nicolas (piano) rec. 2008 FONDAMENTA FON0902002 [65:14] [JW] Hanslip plays charmingly and with reserve while Roussev is the more communicative and fluid player.

Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998) Discoveries Drosostalitsa Moraiti (piano), Nelly Lee (soprano) Alexander Ivashkin (cello), Ensemble Pentaèdre de Montréal/Jeremy Bell, Bolshoi Soloists’ Ensemble/Alexander Lazarev rec. 1984-2009 TOCCATA TOCC0091 [68:18] [DC] One for every true Schnittke collector.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Quintet Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Romances 1 & 2 Louis SPOHR (1784-1859) Violin Concerto 8 - Rudolf Koeckert (violin) Bamberg SO/Ferdinand Leitner, Bavarian RSO/Fritz Lehmann, Adrian Aeschbacher (piano) Koeckert Qt, rec. 1952-54 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR 845 [71:18] [JW] Koeckert brings to the table a certain clean-limbed, withdrawn, post-war cleanliness.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Execution of Stepan Razin, Zoya Suite, Suite on Finnish Themes - Tuomas Katajala (tenor) Mari Palo (soprano) Shenyang (bass-baritone) State Ch ‘Latvija’, Helsinki PO/Vladimir Ashkenazy rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE1225-2 [65:37] [DM] Ashkenazy and this Finnish band make a terrific team; more, please.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony 5, Swan Lake Suite - Arctic PO/Christian Lindberg rec. 2012 BIS BIS-SACD-2018 [70:48] [DBi] An imaginative performance, well recorded and well played but this choice of repertoire puts a small and young orchestra up against massive competition.

Charles TOURNEMIRE (1870-1939) Works for organ Vols. 1-3 - Vincent Boucher (organ) rec. 2006/08 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2470-72 [172:02] [Byz] Good value for money … a general sense of warm empathy for Tournemire's inspired music.

John Dowland and Friends Earth, Water, Fire and Air Consort of Musick/Anthony Rooley (director and lute) rec. 1998 ALTO ALC 1223 [71.10] [GH] The Consort are in great form and at their best. At budget price this is worth every penny. 

Glenn Gould - The Russian Journey A film by Yosif Feyginberg C MAJOR 714108 [56:00] [SG] At 56 minutes, many will feel shortchanged with this DVD, and more film of Gould performing could have been included.

Other reviews

Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) The Rose in the Middle of Winter and other carols - Commotio/Matthew Berry rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573159 [79:31] [JQ] A delightful disc which will enhance the musical side of Christmas for a lot of people.

Gracious Ladies: The Norbury Family and Edward Elgar by Kevin Allen. Published June 2013 [WK] A book for the committed Elgarian.


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