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LATEST REVIEWS

Thursday October 31st

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas 1-6 - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 1999 NIMBUS NI6207 [59:05 + 61:36] [OL] The macho Bach.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Kossuth, Concerto for Orchestra, Rumanian Folk Dances - ORF RSO Vienna/Cornelius Meister rec. 2011/12 CPO 777 784-2 [65:27] [NB] Not bad - simply not anywhere near being the best.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens Bryan Hymel, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Fabio Capitanucci, Robert Lloyd - O & Ch Royal Opera House/Antonio Pappano rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OA1097D [245:00: opera + 30:00: extra features] [ST] A triumph.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) The Definitive Eric Coates - Eric Coates conducts his own compositions - rec. 1923-57 NIMBUS NI 6231 [7 CDs: 8:50:00] [JW] Nirvana for the dedicated Coates collector.

Theodor GRIGORIU (b. 1926) Byzantium after Byzantium Trinity Concerto, The Great Passage, The Eternal Return Sherban Lupu (violin) Andrei Tanasescu (piano) Sinfonia da Camera/Ian Hobson rec. 1986-2005 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0131 [77.32] [GH] Heady and violent, beautiful and memorable ideas but what about consistent logical substance.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony 9 - Vienna PO/Bruno Walter rec. 1938 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC389 [71:00] [JQ] A new transfer of Bruno Walter’s remarkable 1938 Mahler Ninth brings mixed results.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Loïc MALLIÉ (b.1947) and Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Retour de Bayreuth - Onze improvisations dur des thèmes Wagnériens Loïc Mallié (organ) rec. 1998 EDITIONS HORTUS HOR917 [63:47] [HPR] A “where’s Wally” of Wagner themes and a truly interesting project.

Sir Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (b. 1934) Strathclyde Concertos 5 & 6 - James Clark (violin) Catherine Marwood (viola) David Nicholson (flute) Scottish CO/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies rec. 1993 NAXOS 8.572354 [59.27] [PCG] Many thanks to Naxos for rescuing these unique recordings. A most valuable restoration to the catalogue. Roll on the final two releases.

John MUSTO (b. 1954) Piano Concertos 1 & 2, Regrets, In Stride - John Musto (piano) Odense SO/Scott Yoo; Greeley PO/Glen Cortese rec. 2010/12 BRIDGE 9399 [68:27] [DM] Pyrotechnics aplenty; music of substance, too.

The Virtuoso Recorder II Michael Schneider (recorder) Cappella Academica Frankfurt rec. 2011 CPO 777 3162 [76:33] [JV] The inclusion of three first recordings make this disc an especially important release.

Wednesday October 30th

Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Symphonies 5 & 7 - Moscow Large RSO/Nikolai Golovanov rec. 1950-52 HISTORIC RECORDINGS HRCD00034 [67:32] [JW] A real sense of dynamism and intoxication. 

Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812) Flute Concertos Vol. 2 - Bruno Meier (flute) Prague CO rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 8.573040 [74:08] [Byz] Even-paced grace and thoroughgoing tunefulness reflect the composer’s canny craftsmanship rather than the hand of artistic genius.

Alvin LUCIER (b. 1931) Vespers and other early works - Members of Brandeis U Chamber Ch/Alvin Lucier; Rees Archibald (shakuhachi) Ryuku Mizutani (koto) Charlie Looker (electric guitar) Matt Welch (accordion) Shawn Onsgard (piano) rec. 1961/2002 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80604-2 [65:10] Wind Shadows The Barton Workshop rec. 2003 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80628-2 [59:29 + 78:12] Orchestra Works - Charles Curtis (cello) Janáček PO, San Diego Symphony rec. 2001/11 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80755-2 [76:04] [DC] One of those composers who prevent our creative pools becoming stagnant ponds.

Kevin PUTS (b. 1972) If I Were a Swan, To Touch the Sky, Symphony 4 - Conspirare/Craig Hella Johnson Baltimore SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU 907580 [60:02] [JQ] Attractive, accessible music from the USA in first rate performances. 

Dan VISCONTI (b.1982) Lonesome Roads - Horszowski Trio, Scharoun Ens Berlin/Members of the Berlin Phil O rec. 2009-2012 BRIDGE 9386 [66:37] [JW] A pluralist, vernacular turn of mind. 

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Catone in Utica - Topi Lehtipuu (tenor) Roberta Mameli (soprano) Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) Sonia Prina (alto) Il Complesso Barocco/Alan Curtis rec. 2012 NAÏVE OP 30545 [3 CDs: 158:00] [DBi] A magnificent recording of yet another splendid Vivaldi opera, the 18th in Naïve's great series.

Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Hunter's Bride (Der Freischütz) - Franz Grundheber, Benno Schollum, Juliane Banse, Rundfunkchor Berlin, London SO/Daniel Harding rec. 2010 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101692 [137:00 + 10:00 extras] This production sports an excellent cast and is well conceived. 

Canta la Serenissima Music from 17th century Venice by Monteverdi, Grandi & Castello - Argo rec. 2012 ALBA ABCD 360 [65:58] [JV] The emotional and dramatic character of this repertoire is barely conveyed. 

Mexican Piano Concertos Works by Samuel ZYMAN (b.1956) & José ROLÓN (1876-1945) Claudia Corona (piano) Nuremberg SO/Gregor Bühl rec. 2013 TYXART TXA13024 [58:33] [NB] Reinforces the impression that there is an awful lot of very fine Latin-American music that is little-known and indeed neglected. 

RECORDING OF THE MONTH De Profundis Sacred Music for Male Choir - Elin Rombo (soprano) Magnus Einarsson (percussion) Andrew Canning (organ) Orphei Drängar/Cecilia Rydinger Alin rec. 2013 BIS-SACD-2053 [66:22] [BR] I’m no choral music lover, but narrowing down my Recording of the Year list just got a lot harder.

Tuesday October 29th

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Beatrice di Tenda - Michele Kalmandi (baritone) Dimitra Theodossiou (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Massimo Bellini, Catania/Antonio Pirolli rec. 2010 DYNAMIC 33675 [161:00] [RJF] There is not much competition in the visual media and although the set has little relationship with the story this provincially sung performance saves you reading the libretto as you listen.  

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 1, Liebesliederwalzer, Hungarian Dances - Swedish CO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2011 BIS BIS-SACD1756 [64:27] [DD] A fresh and accomplished rendition of a much loved Symphony, very well played and recorded. 

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) Symphonies 22-24, English Suite 1 - New Russia State SO/Alexander Walker rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.572833  [65:26] [NB] One of the most rewarding and successful Naxos discs of the year. 

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Vocal works rec. 1942-2005 WARNER CLASSICS 0151642 [6 CDs: 411:03] [DC] Indispensable. 

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Etudes - Lukas Geniusas (piano) DUX DUX0834 [63:33] [GM] This Chopin playing is top of the league. 

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Mélodies de jeunesse Donna Brown (soprano) Stéphane Lemelin (piano) rec. 1999-2000 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2209 [54:04] Clair de lune Natalie Dessay (soprano) Philippe Cassard (piano) Le Jeune Choeur de Paris/Henri Chalet rec. November 2011 VIRGIN CLASSICS 7307682 [72:58] [JW] Brown the more penetrating Debussy stylist but Dessay’s programme is the more exploratory. 

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Bells, Symphonic Dances - Luba Orgonášová (soprano) Dmytro Popov (tenor) Mikhail Petrenko (bass) Rundfunkchor Berlin, Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2010-12 WARNER CLASSICS 9845192 [71:37] [MC] Under Rattle’s assured baton the playing on this Warner Classics release just glows with intensity.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928) Missa a cappella, Canticum Mariae Virginis, Die erste Elegie - Latvian Radio Ch/Sigvards Kļava rec. 2012 ONDINE ODE 1223-2 [63:34] [JQ] Choral works by Rautavaara, including his impressive recent Mass, in superb performances. 

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Un ballo in maschera - Massimiliano Pisapia (tenor) Chiara Tugi (soprano) Leipzig Op Ch & Children’s Ch; Leipzig Ballet Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2006 EUROARTS 2055107 [137.00] [PCG] The drama and musical passion are plentiful and the visual aspects are never unattractive. 

Martha Argerich and FriendsA Concert from the Munich Klaviersommer 1982 ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 671 [85:00] [SG] Allowance being made for technical filming deficiencies this is very distinguished music-making. 

Monday October 28th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Ein deutsches Requiem - Anna Lucia Richter (soprano) Stephen Genz (baritone) MDR Leipzig Radio Ch & SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.572996 [64:13] [LW] Collectors of Alsop’s Brahms recordings should not hesitate to add this.

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Piano Sonata, Three Poems, The Hour Glass, Three Lyrics, Gargoyle, In Autumn - Pascal Sigrist (piano) rec. 2012 TALENT DOM 2911 113 [72:58] [JW] Unsentimental but intensely argued ... this major British sonata receives a fine reading.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Sonata 3, Preludes - Nick van Bloss (piano) rec. 2012 NIMBUS NI 6215 [70:21] [RBl] Chopin playing up there with the best. 

Johann KUHNAU (1660-1722) Frische Clavier-Früchte - Jan Katzschke (harpsichord) rec. 2009 CPO 777 532-2 [58:50] Biblische Sonaten - Federico Caldara (harpsichord) Luciano Bertoli (narrator) CONCERTO CD2070 [76:54] Neue Clavier-Übung Vol. 1 - Gabriele Micheli (harpsichord) rec. 2000 DYNAMIC CDS265 [60:57] [Byz] Kuhnau's music is unfailingly urbane and colourful.

Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899) Gasparone Anneliese Rothenberger, Hermann Prey, Günter Wewel, Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Heinz Wallberg rec. 1981 EMI CLASSICS 6150672 [44.27 + 37.41] [IL] An enjoyable production.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony 1, Prince Rostislav - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2013 WARNER CLASSICS 4095962 [59:18] [DM] Rachmaninov with plenty of brawn but very little brain; headbangers only need apply.

Chieh SHIH (b. 1950) Die Überquerung des Flusses, Ein Takt, Wanderschaft, Die Trennung - Anu Komsi (soprano) Anika Vavić (piano) Ens 'Die Reihe'/Georg Fritzsch; Ntl SO Taiwan/Chien Wen-Pin rec. 2010 CAPRICCIO C5111 [65:31] [Byz] An appreciation of the likes of Carter, Birtwistle or early Penderecki is a prerequisite for understanding Shih. Superbly responsive, empathetic musicianship.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Violin Concerto 2 - Isaac Stern (violin) Swiss Festival O/Lorin Maazel, Ernest Ansermet rec. 1956/8 AUDITE 95.624 [69:43] [SG] Two welcome additions to the Stern discography. I eagerly await other treasures from this source. 

Shura Cherkassky (piano)The Complete World Record Club Solo Recordings rec. 1958-63 GUILD GHCD 2398/99 [79:24 + 77:44] [JWh] An absolute must for serious collectors.

Times Go By Turns New York Polyphony rec. 2013 BIS BIS-SACD-2037 [77:58] [JQ] An enterprising programme immaculately sung.

Other reviews
David JENNINGS (b.1972) ‘Harvest Moon: A Suite for Piano' Goodmusic Publishing GM109 [JF]

Friday October 25th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Works for keyboard and violin - Aline Zylberajch (tangent piano) Alice Piérot (violin) rec. 2012 ENCELADE ECL1201 [70:47] [JV] The many twists and turns in Carl Philipp Emanuel's music come off perfectly here.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor; St Matthew Passion George Frederick HANDEL (1684-1759) Messiah Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Philharmonia Ch & O/Otto Klemperer rec. 1960-67 WARNER CLASSICS 9935602 [7 CDs: 580:45] [PCG] Two indubitably great recordings but only Klemperer completists will want to invest in all of these discs.

Johann Sebastian BACH The Italian Bach Andrea Bacchetti (piano) rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 751812 [77:03] [DC] A delight from beginning to end.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony 7 Hugo WOLF (1860-1903) Songs Richard STRAUSS (1864 -1949) Befreit Renée Fleming (soprano) Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2012 OPUS ARTE OA1115D [106:00] [JQ] Christian Thielemann’s tenure with the Staatskapelle Dresden auspiciously launched. 

Jesús GURIDI (1886-1961) String Quartets 1 & 2 - Bretón String Qt rec. 2011 NAXOS 8.573036 [55.15] [GH] This is definitely worth exploring and at Naxos price you can afford it. 

Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899) Der Bettelstudent - Mirko Roschkowski, Erwin Belakowitsch, Linda Plech, Cornelia Zink, Mörbisch Festival Ch & O/Uwe Theimer rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 432 [77.03] [IL] A pleasing performance of Millöcker’s most successful operetta.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Die Zauberflöte Kate Royal, Pavol Breslik, Michael Nagy, Ana Durlovski, Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2013 MEZZO BLU-RAY BD BPH 130012 [152:00] [MC] A triumph.

Günter RAPHAEL (1903-1960) Volume 3: Chamber music after 1946 - rec. 1955-1999 QUERSTAND VKJK 1220 [75:36] [Byz] What a pity that Raphael died before hearing his work played with such panache and commitment.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) String Quartets 3 & 4; Elegy; Intermezzo Stenhammar Qt rec. 2011/2012 BIS BIS-SACD-1659 [73:47] [JW] Rapt devotion and splendid tone make a very strong case.

Teatro Alla Scala - The Opera Classics Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze di Figaro Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Maria Stuarda Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Simon Boccanegra rec. 2006-10 ARTHAUS MUSIK 107535 [4 DVDs] [RJF] Despite the limitations of the Verdi opera compared with the competition this collection from La Scala is a good bargain at the price.


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