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Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
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Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

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Performances to cherish

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rush out and buy this

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Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

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match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


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[New] Download News 2014/3 by Albert Lam & Brian Wilson

[New] A survey of some recently released recordings of Beethoven piano sonatas by Brian Reinhart

[New] National discography update: East-Central Europe & Balkan symphonies by Mike Herman

Collector's Edition: Piano 15 hours of great performances by legendary artists of the 20th century from Idéale Audience [LM]

MWI Recommends - Bach cello suites & Dvorak symphony 9.


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English Music Festival, May 23-26 - see here for details.

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Publishing schedule
Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, other music), Wednesday: MWI Recommends, Friday: Articles.
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Monday March 31st

Eyvind ALNÆS (1872-1932) Piano music - Erling R Eriksen (piano) rec. 2007/8 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0067 [75.27] [PCG] This music is rightly treasured in Norway and deserves wider circulation.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos - Freiburger Barockorchester rec. 2013
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902176-77 [44:43 + 45:26] [BW] Fairly recently there have been five very fine versions of the Brandenburgs: this now joins them.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 5 & 6 - Royal PO/Felix Weingartner rec. 1927 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC399 [60:52] [JS] Fascinating and convincing.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 3 Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) La Mer Ernest CHAUSSON (1856-1899) Poème de l'amour et de la mer - Janet Baker (mezzo) London SO/Evgeny Svetlanov rec. 1975
ICA CLASSICS ICAC 5123 [72:41] [SG] Svetlanov excelling in non-Russian fare.

Melchior FRANCK (c.1579-1639) Choral Works - Manja Stephan (soprano) Gero Parmentier (lute) Norddeutscher Kammerchor/Maria Jürgensen rec. 2013 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM 9021829-6 SACD [68:37] [JV] These motets are nicely sung but the expressive aspects are not fully explored.

Michael KIMBER (b.1945) Music for Viola Vol. 2 - Marcin Murawski (viola) Concertino CO/Marek Siwka rec. 2013 ACTE PREALABLE AP0321 [59:46] [Byz] Communicating Kimber's infectious, stylish music to the world.

Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b. 1933) Symphony 7 - Iwona Hossa, Izabella Kłosińska (sopranos) Agnieszka Rehlis (alto) Rafał Bartmi’nski (tenor) Wojciech Gierlach (bass) Podlasie Opera Ch, Polish Sinfonia luventas Orchestra/Krzysztof Penderecki rec. 2012 DUX 0900 [63:06] [DC] Impressive, problematic, but also irresistible.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto 3 Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Concerto 2 - Yuja Wang (piano) Simón Bolívar SO of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel rec. 2013 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4791304 [71:41] [DM] Decent Rachmaninov, misjudged Prokofiev; raw accompaniment and recording.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Suite on Verses by Michelangelo and other song cycles - Gerald Finley (bass-baritone) Helsinki PO/Thomas Sanderling rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE 1235-2 [62:00] Ildar Abdrazakov (bass) BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2005 CHANDOS CHAN10358 [72:49] Anatoli Kotscherga (bass) Cologne RSO/Michail Jurowski rec. 1994/96 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94649 [58:08] [DM] Finley's DSCH debut is a winner; Abdrazakov isn’t far behind, with Kotscherga a distant third.

Mortale, che pensi? Reliquie di Roma, III - Atalante/Erin Headley rec. 2011 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6266 [66:30] [JV] The performers' ability to communicate the emotional content of the music is this disc's main asset.

Other reviews

Early and Late Music from Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands - Gáman (Bolette Roed (recorder, tin whistle) Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen (violin, piano, carving board) Andreas Borregaard (classical accordion, melodeon, carving board) Poul Bjerager Christiansen (violin) rec. 2012/13 DACAPO 6.220640 SACD [49.52] [GH] Everything is beautifully recorded and enthusiastically and brilliantly performed. 

Frank Sinatra - At His Peak Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra rec. 1944-47 SOUNDS OF YESTERYEAR DSOY 953 [TA] A generous collection.

Friday March 28th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Inventions; Sinfonias - Simone Dinnerstein (piano) rec. 2013 SONY CLASSICAL 88883 795972 [53:30] [DC] Very nice.

Howard BLAKE (b. 1938) The Barber of Neville - Wind concertos - Jaime Martin (flute) Andrew Marriner (clarinet) Gustavo Núñez (bassoon) ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 2012 PENTATONE CLASSICS PTC5186506 SACD [68:24] [JQ] A delight from start to finish.

Ernst BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Sonata 2 Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Sonata - Midori (violin) Ogur Aydin (piano) rec. ONYX 4084 [2012] [JW] These fine performances have been beautifully recorded.

Paul DUKAS (1865-1935) The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Velléda; Polyeucte overture - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2011/12 MUSICALES ACTES SUD ASM12 [55:54] [JW] Another excellently performed and recorded Roth-directed disc.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Landkjenning; Sigurd Jorsalfar; Olav Trygvason Edmund NEUPERT (1842-1888) Resignation Malmö SO/Malmö Opera Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset rec. 2009/12 NAXOS 8.573045 [64.19] [NB] A very fine disc indeed.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1810-1849) Symphonies 4 & 5, The Hebrides overture - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013 CHANDOS CHSA5132 SACD [66:04] [JF] The playing is enthusiastic and balances the intimacy and drama of much of this music.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto 24 Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concerto 3 - Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2011/12 BIS BIS-SACD-1978 [66:16] [SG] These are highly polished and well-rehearsed performances that set the bar high.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures from an Exhibition; Songs and Dances of Death; The Nursery - New Zealand SO/Peter Breiner rec. 2012 NAXOS NBD0036 BD-A [78:26] [BW] A powerful performance of a very effective arrangement in stunning BD-A sound.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Le Sacre du Printemps; Capriccio; Symphony of Psalms Michel Béroff (piano) The English Bach Festival Chorus; LSO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1972 ICA CLASSICS ICAD5124 DVD [82:00] [JQ] A great exhibition of Bernstein at work.

Giaches de WERT (1535-1596) O mors, quam amara est - Motets, Book I - Collegium Musicum Amsterdam/Anthony Zielhorst rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94684 [74:41] [JV] The singing is good but a smaller ensemble would have been preferable.

Thursday March 27th

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Complete Recueils de Chants Vol. 2 - Stephanie McCallum (piano) rec. 2012 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0158 [79:19] [JW] McCallum is fully inside the music and deserves plaudits for her acutely perceptive dedication to the Alkan cause.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata 8 Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Etudes, Scherzo No. 2 Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Estampes - Katarzyna Pietroń (piano) rec. 2013 ACTE PREALABLE AP0328 [49:34] [Byz] The low sales that seem inevitable in the current climate are unlikely to dent Pietroń’s spirit; nor should they.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Cello Symphony, Cello Sonata - Zuill Bailey (cello) North Carolina Symphony/Grant Llewellyn; Natasha Paremski (piano) rec. 2013 TELARC TEL-34412-02 [56:10] [LW] Zuill Bailey’s Britten performances produce mixed results.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto in B minor William WALTON (1902-1983) Cello Concerto - Gregor Piatigorsky (cello) Boston SO/Charles Munch rec. 1957/60 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC 398 [72:08] [JQ] Two famous Piatigorsky performances now heard to best advantage in these very good Pristine transfers.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Works - Ivana Gavric (piano) rec. 2012 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD067 [66:02] [BR] Dry sound only barely hampers this outstanding pianist.

Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) & Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Violin Concertos - Thomas Magyar (violin) Vienna SO/Wilhelm Loibne, Rudolf Moralt rec. 1953/4 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR827 [66:44] [JW] A pliant and introspective slant. Convincing playing, adequately accompanied, drably recorded.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) & Tarquinio MERULA (1594/5-1665) Madrigals of Love and Loss - James Gilchrist, Thomas Walker (tenors) Katherine Watson, Anna Dennis (sopranos) Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68019 [70:01] [BW] An excellent introduction to the later books of madrigals.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Violin Concertos - Mirijam Contzen (violin) Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie/Reinhard Goebel rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC 862 [55:36 + 67:51] [DC] A serious prospect and full of fresh discovery.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) All Night Vigil, O mother of God vigilantly praying - Lorna Perry (alto) Andrew Shepstone (tenor) Joyful Company of Singers/Peter Broadbent rec. 2013 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6250 [57.21] This may prove to be an enjoyable new ‘take’ on the work [PCG] Much to commend this account of the All-Night Vigil but it’s not a first choice [JQ]

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) Complete Piano Music Vol. 1 - Jean-Pierre Armengaud (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573093 [64:14] [PRB] Highly-accomplished playing with an idiomatic sense of style.

Wednesday March 26th

Reinhold GLIERE (1875-1956) Symphony 3 Il’ya Muromets - Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573161 [71:40] [RMay] An excellent performance enhanced by its superb sound-picture and all that even without the attractive Naxos price.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) The Golden Hindemith - Henninge Landaas (viola) Vegard Landaas (saxophone) Rolf-Erik Nystrøm (saxophone) Elzbieta Nawrocka (piano) Bjørg Lewis (cello) rec. 2004-2007 LAWO CLASSICS LWC 1005 [55:25] [MC] Short playing time but a marvellous disc, impressively played and recorded. 

Leevi MADETOJA (1887-1947) Symphonies 1 & 3, Okon Fuoko Suite - Helsinki PO/John Storgårds rec. 2013 ONDINE ODE1211-2 [66:39] [DM] Fine performances of these two symphonies; Storgårds’ Okon Fuoko is no match for Sakari’s though.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Der Wanderer - Florian Boesch (baritone) Roger Vignoles (piano) rec. 2012 HYPERION CDA68010 [64:45] [RMo] All lovers of the Schubertian Lied will want to own this - indispensable.

Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957) Notturno Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Der Wind - Stephan Genz (baritone) Leipzig Str Qt, Stefan Arzberger (violin) Matthias Moosdorf (cello) Marco Thomas (clarinet) Clemens Röger (horn) Olga Gollej (piano) rec. 2013 MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 307 1815-2 [50:34] [NB] An enjoyable disc of very fine music in sensitive and subtle performances. 

Robert SCHUMANN (1813-1869) Scenes from Goethe’s Faust - Iwona Hossa (soprano ) Anna Lubanska (alto) Daniel Kirch (tenor) Jaakko Kortekangas (baritone) Andrew Gangestad (bass) Warsaw Boys’ Ch, Warsaw Philharmonic O & Ch/Antoni Wit rec. 2009 NAXOS NBD0015 BD-A [116.42] [PCG] The Britten recording brings the characters to life with a stunning immediacy which the performers in this Polish recording are unable to match.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Ernani - Neil Schicoff (tenor) Michèle Crider (soprano) Carlos Álvarez (baritone) Roberto Scandiuzzi (bass) O & Ch der Wiener Staatsoper/Seiji Ozawa rec. 1998 ORFEO C861132I [79:16 + 43:09] [ST] Only for die-hard fans of the artists involved. 

The Britannic Organ Vol. 7: Welte’s Swiss Organists - Rare Historic Welte Rolls OEHMS CLASSICS OC 846 [73:11 + 76:30] [JW] Technically the organ sounds in excellent estate and the production values throughout this release are very high indeed.

The Merton Collection Merton College at 750 - Anne Steppler (organ) Ch of Merton College, Oxford/Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2013 DELPHIAN DCD34134 [74:04] [BW] Shares the desirability of the previous two Merton/Delphian productions.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Road 66 American Piano Music - Shani Diluka (piano) rec. 2013 MIRARE MIR239 [69:55] [BR] A brilliantly crafted piano recital of American music is my first Recording of the Year contender.

Tuesday March 25th

Algernon ASHTON (1859-1937) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Daniel Grimwood (piano) rec. 2008 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0063 [74:25] [JF] The playing of these technically challenging works is superb … freshness and vitality always to the fore.

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) Orchestral works Vols 1 & 2 - Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2012/13 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5116 & CHSA5133 [70:14 & 61:12] [BR] This frustrating Atterberg series acts as a summary of Neeme Järvi’s entire career: adventurous but cold, lacking in empathy. 

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Symphonies 2 & 10 -Berlin RSO/Marek Janowski rec. 2012-2013 WERGO WER67252 [56:35] [MC] The cause of Henze and twentieth-century music in general couldn’t be better served than with this stunning Wergo release.

Julius ISSERLIS (1888-1968) Piano Music - Sam Haywood (piano) Steven Isserlis (cello) rec. 2013 HYPERION CDA68025 [62:27] [JW] Haywood plays this music with consummate sensitivity and has been well recorded.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1971) Song of the Forests, The sun shines over the motherland, Poems on Words of Revolutionary Poets - Vladimir Ivanovsky (tenor), Ivan Petrov (bass) Moscow PO/Alexander Yurlov, USSR SO/Konstantin Ivanov, Leningrad Radio & TV Ch/Grigori Sandler rec. 1961-1970 PRAGA SACD DSD350060 [79:00] [RB] A valuable and generously timed disc with ringingly authentic performances, still raw in their vehemence and zeal. 

Tracy SILVERMAN (b. 1960) Between the Kiss and the Chaos, Axis and Orbits - Tracy Silverman (electric violin) Calder Qt DELOS DE 3439 [57:20] [DC] Highly approachable and hugely enjoyable.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) On Wenlock Edge, Blake Songs Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959) The End Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) The Curlew - Mark Padmore (tenor) Nicholas Daniel (oboe) Britten Sinf/Jacqueline Shave rec. 2012 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807566 SACD [72:35] [ST] A very successful disc showcasing some very fine English song-cycles in first rate performances. 

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Overtures & opera excerpts Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Fraternité - Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2013 C MAJOR 714908 DVD [108:00] [ST] So all is good here, but I couldn’t help but wonder how wise it was to issue it as a DVD? 

Intermezzo Works by Dvorak, Sarasate, Massenet & others - Duo Intermezzo: Ralf Mathias Caspers (violin) Tamaki Takeda-Caspers (piano) rec. 2012 GENUIN GEN13544 [68:34] [JW] Let’s have more from this duo. 

A Tale of Two Cellos Julian Lloyd Webber & Jiaxin Lloyd Webber (cellos) John Lenehan (piano) Catrin Finch (harp) rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573251 [62:43] [BW] Too much slow and heartfelt music here for my liking, but I expect it to sell well.


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