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Monthly Listing
August 2016
253 reviews this month

RECORDINGS OF THE MONTH

Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Stabat Mater, Mass, Judica me Michael BERKELEY (b. 1948) Touch Light - Marian Consort, Berkeley Ens/David Wordsworth rec. 2016 DELPHIAN DCD34180 [60.59] [MC] My abiding memory of this Berkeley release is a clear sense of authenticity and elevated reverential expression.

Antonio BERTALI (1605-1669) La Maddalena - Scherzi Musicali/Nicolas Achten rec. 2015 RICERCAR RIC367 [67:42] [JV] Very vivid and highly expressive interpretations.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2, In stiller Nacht - Cuarteto Quiroga rec. 2014 COBRA RECORDS COBRA0048 [73:05] [DHu] Were it within his temperament, Brahms surely would have exclaimed “Olé!”.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Lyric Pieces - Edward Rosser (piano) rec. 2012 CONNOISSEUR SOCIETY CD4276 [77:46] [BR] The best Grieg recitals combine an intimate artistic confession by the performer with a close affinity for the composer’s spirit - this CD is one of the best.

Jehan de LESCUREL (fl.c.1320)The Love Songs - Ens Céladon/Paulin Bündgen rec. 2015 RICERCAR RIC366 [76.30] [GH] Music that is personal, very beautifully shaped, very secular, often melismatic and elegant.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets Nos 3 & 5 - Parker Qt rec. 2015 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6327 [61.52] [MW] Inspired, energetic playing which goes to the heart of Mendelssohn’s genius.

Per NŘRGĹRD (b. 1932) Symphonies Nos 2 & 6 rec. 2015 DACAPO 6.220645 SACD [54:21] Symphonies Nos 4 & 5 - Oslo PO/John Storgĺrds rec. 2015 DACAPO 6.220646 SACD [55:52] [SG] Stunning.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) L’Heure espagnole - Suzanne Danco (mezzo) Jean Giraudeau (tenor) John Cameron (baritone) André Vessières (bass) BBC SO/Bruno Maderna rec. 1960 TESTAMENT SBT1511[49:20] [SG] Using pristine master tapes, this captivating performance is given a new lease of life.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) & Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) Violin Concertos - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2015 DECCA 478 8758 [59:05] [JQ] Two highly contrasting violin concertos, both of them superbly played.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies 3, 6 & 7 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2015 BIS BIS2006 SACD [82:00] [GPJ] Magnificent and authoritative performances of these three great symphonies.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Threni, Requiem Canticles - Collegium Vocale Gent, Royal Flemish PO/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 2014 PHI LPH020 [47:22] [SG] Comparative rarities, stylishly performed.

Nostalgia Stephanie Houtzeel (mezzo-soprano) Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2014 CAPRICCIO C5262 [50.45] [MW] A great recital – one to treasure.

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) Orchestral Works Vol. 5 - Anna Larsson (mezzo) Olle Persson (baritone)
Gothenburg SO & Ch/Neeme Järvi rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5166 SACD [62:49] [IL] The Seventh may say little new but the harrowing Ninth forges a newer and disturbing pathway.

Daniel-François-Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) Overtures Vol. 1 - O de Cannes/Wolfgang Dörner rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573553 [63:54] [GF] You are advised to savour these overtures by stages.

Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973) Tatiana - Hamburg Ballet, Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg/Simon Hewett rec. 2014 C MAJOR Blu-ray 737504 [169:00] [MMB] Full of beauty, depth, emotion and humanity.

Benedikt Anton AUFSCHNAITER (1665-1742) Choral works Franz Anton HUGL (1706-1745) Preludes & Fugues - St. Florianer Sängerknaben, Erich Traxler (organ) Ars Antiqua Austria/Gunar Letzbor rec. 2014 PAN CLASSICS PC10349 [52:49] [JV] This disc gives a good impression of Aufschnaiter's music and makes one hope to hear more from his oeuvre.

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Bürgercapitainmusik 1780 - Barokwerk Hamburg/Ira Hochman rec. 2014 CPO 555016-2 [62.57] [MW] Not an essential release, but an interesting one.

Wilhelm Friedemann BACH (1710-1784) Concertos - Il Convito/Maude Gratton (harpsichord) rec. 2012 MIRARE MIR162 [74:00] [MR] Perceptions about Bach’s eldest son demand a re-appraisal with these enthusiastic performances from an outstanding French early music group.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin - George Enescu (violin) rec. 1949 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR836-37 [61:59 + 68:16] [SG] Bach from an all-round musician.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) The Art of the Fugue - Martha Cook (harpsichord) rec. 2013 PASSACAILLE 1014 [2CDs: 83:26] [JFL] That I couldn’t get more into her faultless reading is surely due to some deficiency of mine more so than any on part of the recording.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos - Walter Schneiderhan (violin) Wiener Soloists/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1954 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC468 [2 CDs: 99:59] [RWM] Horenstein's forward looking 1954 Brandenburgs.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Zhu Xiao-Mei (piano) ACCENTUS MUSIC ACC30372 [76:24] [DC] Years of performing this work shine through in this new version.

Sir Granville BANTOCK (1868-1946) Omar Khayyám, Sappho, Fifine at the Fair, The Pierrot of the Minute - BBC SO & Singers, BBC Scottish SO/Norman Del Mar rec. 1968/79 LYRITA ITTER BROADCAST COLLECTION REAM.2128 [4 CDs: 257:17] [IL] The Omar Khayyám to treasure.

Woldemar BARGIEL (1828-1897) Sinfonia, Overtures - San Luis Potosi SO/Jose Miramoutes Zapata rec. 2014 STERLING CDS1105-2 [64:14] [RB] A very rare bird has his music convincingly done, well supported and very decently recorded.

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Concerto for Orchestra Walter PISTON (1894-1976) Symphony 3 - Boston SO/Serge Koussevitzky rec. 1944/48 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC463 [67:34] [JW] Outstandingly vivid performances of more than merely historical interest.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 2 Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphony No. 34 Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird – Berlin PO/Karl Böhm rec. 1968 TESTAMENT SBT1510 [80:14] [JW] An excellent example of Böhm on-the-wing in Salzburg.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Works for Piano Trio Vol. 3 - Swiss Piano Trio rec. 2015 AUDITE 97.694 [75:50] [CC] A lovely release, one that shows the dynamism of these works.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Fidelio - Adrianne Pieczonka (soprano) Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) Vienna State Opera Ch & Vienna PO/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2015 SONY 88875 193519 DVD [136:00] [TB] I’d be astonished if it would ever come off the shelf again for a second playing.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Fidelio - Camilla Nylund, Jonas Kaufmann, O & Ch Zurich Opera/Nikolaus Harnoncourt rec. 2004 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109224 [128 mins] [ST] The various fussinesses mean it isn’t a top choice.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Orchestral works - Isaac Stern (violin) Lukas Foss (piano) Symphony of the Air, New York Phil/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1950/56 MINUET RECORDS 428417 [77:25] [NB] The composer conducting his own work in persuasive performances and, though the sound is inevitably of its period, these are valuable documents.

John BLOW (1649-1708) Symphony Anthems - New College Ch, St James’ Baroque/Robert Quinney - rec. 2015 NOVUM NCR1389 [73:01] [BW] A strong case is made here for an unjustly neglected Purcell contemporary, including three hitherto unrecorded anthems.

Pierre BOULEZ (1925-2016) Complete Music for Solo Piano - Marc Ponthus (piano) rec. 2015 BRIDGE 9456 A/B [80:35] [RWe] Marc Ponthus is a superb guide to some of the most challenging and rewarding music of the mid 20th century.

Paul BOWLES (1910-1999) Piano Works Vol. 2 - Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2013/14 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559787 [58.44] [GH] Bowles certainly deserves his place in the Naxos American Classics series.

Paul BOWLES (1910-1999) Complete Piano Works Vol. 2 - Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.559787 [58:44] [PRB] The performers are totally committed to this strikingly original music.

William BOYCE (1685-1759) Symphonies - Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Ronald Thomas rec. 1979 CRD 3356 [59:39] [CRo] A good place to begin an acquaintance with these works.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Organ Works Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Variations on a Recitative - Tom Bell (organ) rec. 2015 REGENT REGCD484 [81:17] [DHu] The Schoenberg is worth hearing – the Brahms though needs stronger advocacy.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony 4 Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony 1 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) Symphony 4 - Jan Ekier (piano) Warsaw PO/Witold Rowicki rec. 1967 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDS CD15/2016 [71:46] [RB] A Huddersfield concert with no prisoners taken, vintage 1967. A fascinating record of a live event, sparks still flying. 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1879) Clarinet Quintet David BRUCE (b. 1970) Gumboots - Julian Bliss (clarinet/bass clarinet) Carducci String Qt rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD448 [58:00] [NH] The Brahms is good and worth hearing, and the Bruce truly is a ‘corker’.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) The Complete Songs Vol. 6 - Ian Bostridge (tenor) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDJ33126 [67:07] [RWe] An essential addition to Hyperion’s series devoted to all Brahms’s songs, from one of the great lieder singers.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1987) Chaconne, Klavierstücke, Rhapsodies, Fantasies - Anna Vinnitskaya (piano) rec. 2014 ALPHA 231 [72:51] [RWe] A well-planned and richly recorded selection of some of Brahms’s major collections of shorter piano works, given passionate advocacy by Vinnitskaya.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Cello Sonatas - Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (cello) Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2014 ALPHA CLASSICS 223 [52:39] [DHu] Performances that go into the top echelon for these works, in ideally balanced sound.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Orchestral Works Vols 1 & 2 - Victor Sangiorgio (piano) Sarah-Jane Bradley (viola) BBC Concert O/Johannes Wildner rec. 2013/14 CDLX7304/16 [75:32 & 74:44] [JQ] Persuasive advocacy for Walter Braunfels.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Lieder - Marlis Petersen (soprano) Konrad Jarnot (baritone) Eric Schneider (piano) rec. 2011 CAPRICCIO C5251 [73.01] [PCG] An essential acquisition for those interested in the development of the German lied in the twentieth century.

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) The Tinker’s Wedding, Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 13, English Suite No. 4 - Lorraine McAslan (violin) Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2012 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7296 [71:57] [JQ] An excellent selection of music by Havergal Brian in fine performances.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) String Quintet - Alberni String Qt, Garfield Jackson (viola) rec. 1990 CRD 3456 [46:46] [CRo] A generally lyrical and amiable reading, but one which fails to bring out the contrasts in the work.

Ole BUCK (b. 1945) Sinfonietta Works - Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen/Jesper Nordin rec. 2015 DACAPO 8.226589 [59:00] [RB] Shimmering, glowing music with an ostinato pulsation. Should quickly win new friends.

Arthur BUTTERWORTH (1923-2014) Symphonies Nos 1, 2 & 4 - BBC Scottish SO/Arthur Butterworth, Christopher Adey BBC Northern SO/Bryden Thomson rec. 1975-1986 LYRITA REAM1127 [67.48 + 38.13] [PCG] This is a valuable issue which provides the listener with readily available performances of three major symphonies.

George BUTTERWORTH (1885-1916) Orchestral Works - James Rutherford (baritone) BBC Ntl O of Wales/Kriss Russman rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2195 SACD [75:32] [HC] A very fine collection of well-known and lesser-known works by one of Britain's most promising composers.

André CAMPRA (1660-1744) Messe de Requiem, De profundis - ensemble3 vocal et instrumental/Hans Michael Beuerle rec. 2014 CARUS 83.391 [59.35] [MC] This desirable Carus release of the Campra’s striking Messe de Requiem also includes his setting of the De profundis.

Ricardo CASTRO (1864-1907) Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto, Oithona - Rodolfo Ritter (piano); Vladimir Sagaydo (cello) San Luis Potosi SO/Jose Miramontes Zapata rec. 2014 STERLING CDS1106-2 [62:54] [RB] That such enjoyable music was being written in these circumstances is a revelation.

David CHESKY (b. 1956) The Venetian Concertos - O of the 21st Century/David Chesky rec. 2015 CHESKY JD379 [62:20] [GH] Only occasionally arresting … once you have grasped the message there is little more to be added.

Frederick CHOPIN (1810-1849) Polonaise-fantaisie, Nocturnes, Fantaisie, Ballades, Berceuse - Imogen Cooper (piano) rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN10902 [80.49] [GH] No doubt this disc will sell well, and in many ways it should.

Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) Rhapsody, Cello Sonata, Epilogue John YORK Dialogue with Rebecca Clarke - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) John York (piano) rec. 2015 LYRITA SRCD354 [67:55] [JW] To be welcomed and admired for its excellence.

Juan Bautista COMES (1582-1643) Motets - Amystis Chamber Ch/José Duce Chenoll rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95231 [61:58] [JV] I am generally positive about these performances.

Claude DELVINCOURT (1888-1954) Works for Violin and Piano - Eliot Lawson (violin) Diane Andersen (piano) rec. 2012-2014 AZUR CLASSICAL AZC121 [73:25] [SG] Attractive music by an unsung composer.

Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Orchestral Works - James Ehnes (violin) Howard Shelley (piano) Clifford Lantaff (harp) BBC PO/Matthias Bamert rec. 1995-2004 CHANDOS CHAN10906(5)X [5 CDs: 336:26] [IL] A valuable collection for the adventurous comprising so much more than the too few well known works of Dohnányi.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Symphony No. 6 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony No. 1 - Cleveland O/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1946 OPUS KURA OPK7075 [64:07] [SG] Leinsdorf’s Cleveland inscriptions making a welcome return.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Cello Concerto Max BRUCH (1838-1920) Kol Nidre, Canzone - Antonio Janigro (cello) Vienna State Opera O/Dean Dixon; Royal PO/Arthur Rodzinski rec. 1950 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR183 [60:55] [SG] I’m more than grateful to Forgotten Records for making these wonderful recordings available again.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Piano Quintet, Sea Pictures - English SO, Rodolfus Ch, English CO/Kenneth Woods rec. 2013-15 AVIE AV2362 [60:00] [RB] Two well known Elgar works in very unfamiliar garb.

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Serenade for Strings, Piano Quintet, The Spanish Lady Suite - Xue Wei (violin) Pamela Nicholson (piano) Schubert Ens, ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner,  Royal Ballet Sinf/Gavin Sutherland rec. 1989-2001 ALTO ALC1321 [70:00] [NB] A disc to be dipped into rather than enjoyed in a single sitting.

Peter EÖTVÖS (b.1944) Violin Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto Grosso, Speaking Drums - Midori (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Martin Grubinger (percussion) France Radio PO/Peter Eötvös rec. 2014 ALPHA 208 [71:02] [BW] Sampling strongly recommended: it won’t be most listeners’ cup of tea.

Peter EÖTVÖS (b. 1944) Violin Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto Grosso, Speaking Drums - Midori (violin) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Martin Grubinger (percussion) Radio France PO/Peter Eötvös rec. 2014 ALPHA 208 [71:02] [LW] Vivid accounts of three Eötvös concertos that both challenge and entertain.

Ulvi Cemal ERKİN (1906-1972) Symphony No. 2, Violin Concerto, Köçekçe - James Buswell (violin) Istanbul State SO/Theodore Kuchar rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.572831 [67:59] [SG] Well-managed and convincing interpretations of these alluring scores.

Guido Alberto FANO (1875-1961) Piano Works - Pietro De Maria (piano) rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95353 [56:23] [SG] An unsung composer I’m glad to have encountered.

Morton FELDMAN (1926-1987) Palais de Mari & other piano works George CRUMB (b. 1929) Processional, A Little Suite for Christmas ‘AD 1979’ - Steven Osborne (piano) rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68108 [62:45] [DM] Epiphanies aplenty for newcomers and old hands alike; ravishing sound, too.

Michael FINNISSY (b. 1946) Gershwin Arrangements - Dirk Herten (piano) WH'TE [60:08] [DC] Fascinating, but not the last word on this cycle.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) & Julien KREIN (1913-1996) Works for violin and piano - Zina Schiff (violin) Cameron Grant (piano) rec. 2013 MSR CLASSICS MS1508 [59:26] [CS] A truly harmonious partnership: these performances combine intimacy with eloquence. Fresh and refreshing playing.

Ignaz FRIEDMAN (1882-1948) Piano Music - Joseph Banowetz (piano) rec. 2012 GRAND PIANO GP711 [64:20] [JWe] Perfumed elegance.

Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785) Organ Sonatas - Luca Scandali (organ) rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95140 [75:17 + 64:31] [JV] A compelling recording of sonatas which are clearly above the average of what was produced in the mid-18th century.

John GARDNER (1917-2011) Symphony No. 2 John VEALE (1922-2006) Symphony No. 2 - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martin Yates rec. 2016 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7332 SACD [67:56] [RB] Two grand and triumphantly tonal symphonies written in an era of modernist abstraction.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) Symphonies 2 & 4 - Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz/Hermann Bäumer rec. 2013 CPO 777 848-2 [60:45] [RB] Approaching the last word in succinct expressive power and the invention is something of quality.

Jan van GILSE (1881-1944) Piano Concerto, Variations on a St-Nicholas Song - Oliver Triendl (piano) Netherlands SO/David Porcelijn rec. 2014 CPO 777 934-2 [63:26] [JW] A backward-looking aesthetic, with easy lyricism and unforced honesty of expression.

Jan van GILSE (1881-1944) Piano Concerto, Variations on a Saint-Nicolas Song - Oliver Triendl (piano) Netherlands SO/David Porcelijn rec. 2014 CPO 777 934-2 [63:26] [RB] Sure-footed and good-hearted.

Anthony GIRARD (b. 1959) Music for Harp - Rachel Talitman (harp) Alexei Moshkov (violin) O Il Sono/Michel Lysight HARP & COMPANY CD5050-36 [71:09] [RB] A composer adopting a serious manner and blending that manner with transparency and beauty.

Mats Larsson GOTHE (b.1965) Symphony No. 2, Autumn Diary, Apotheosis of the Dance - Västerĺs Sinfonietta, Helsingborg SO/Fredrik Burstedt rec. 2015 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD172 [64:00] [RB] Challenging scores with chastening brutality, but a predominance of inwardness and quiet.

Enrique GRANADOS (1867-1916) Orchestral Works Vol. 2 - Lieder Cŕmera, Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya SO/Pablo González rec. 2013/14 NAXOS 8.573264 [56:57] [JF] The highlight for me is Dante.

Lars GRAUGAARD (b.1957) Venus, Book of Throws, Layers of Earth, Three Places - NYU Contemporary Music & Percussion Ensembles, NYU SO/Jens Georg Bachmann, Jonathan Haas rec. 2011/13 DACAPO 6.220628 SACD [59:00] [RB] Superbly done but for avant-garde savants only.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Rodelinda - Sonia Ganassi (mezzo) Franco Fagioli (counter-tenor) Paolo Fanale (tenor) Gezim Myshketa (bass-baritone) O Internazionale d’Italia/Diego Fasolis rec. 2010 DYNAMIC CDS7724/1-2 [79:10 + 77:34] [GF] I found a lot to admire and I will certainly return to this set.

Johann Adolph HASSE (1699-1783) Johann Wilhelm HERTEL (1727-1789) & Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788) Cello Concertos - Musica Viva/Alexander Rudin (cello) rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN0813 [71:13] [DJB] Performances could be more characterful, but this is well and truly compensated for by the presence of the Hertel concertos.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Nos 57, 67 & 68 - Philharmonia Baroque O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2014 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PRODUCTIONS PBP-08 [78:29] [BR] A delight for Haydn lovers, this period-instrument recording features three witty if less well-known symphonies.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809), Friedrich SCHNEIDER (1786-1853) & August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902) Piano trios - TrioSono rec. 2015 GENUIN GEN16426 [67:21] [DJB] Collectors of the unsung will definitely want this one.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) & György LIGETI (1923-2006) Piano Concertos - Shai Wosner (piano) Danish Ntl SO/Nicholas Collon rec. 2015 ONYX 4174 [79:39] [LW] Wosner excels in an irresistible programme of Haydn and Ligeti piano works.

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Piano Sonatas - Enrique Bagaría (piano) rec. 2015 EUDORA SACD EUDSACD1601 [82:45] [CC] Despite the omnipresent technical polish and clear musicianship, the performances on this disc cannot come in as first choices.

Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Symphonies Vol. 1 - Czech Chamber PO Pardubice/Patrick Gallois rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573497 [70.43] [MW] Exciting and hugely enjoyable music.

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Being Beauteous, Kammermusik 1958 - NDR SO/Peter Ruzicka rec. 2013-15 WERGO WER73342 [63.54] Symphony No. 7, Sieben Boleros - Gürzenich O Köln/Markus Stenz rec. 2013 OEHMS OC446 [65.48] Complete Music for solo guitar - Andrea Dieci (guitar) rec. 2015- Andrea Dieci (guitar) rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95186 [72.32] [MC] These three releases are excellent examples of the rewards to be found in Henze’s extensive output.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963), Karl RANKL (1898-1968) & Norbert SPRONGL (1892-1983) Sonatas for double bass - Leon Bosch (double bass) Sung-Suk Kang (piano) MERIDIAN CDE84626 [64.04] [PCG] For those curious about the music, this disc can be heartily recommended.

John IRELAND (1879-1962) & E.J. MOERAN (1892-1950) Part-songs - Carice Singers/George Parris, David Owen Norris (piano) rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573584 [77:48] [JF] Inspired singing.

Charles IVES (1874-1954) Complete Violin Sonatas - Annabelle Berthomé-Reynolds (violin) Dirk Herten (piano) rec. 2016 WH’TE 2016 [79.24] [GH] Not top-drawer Ives.

David Monrad JOHANSEN (1888-1974) Piano works - Rune Alver (piano) rec. 2015 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1101 [59:39] [DC] Magical evocations, Norwegian melancholy and stunning pianism.

Paul JUON (1872-1940) Music for Two Violins & Piano - Malwina Sosnowski, Rebekka Hartmann (violins) Benyamin Nuss (piano) rec. 2015 MUSIQUES SUISSES MGBCD6284 [67:42] [BR] Delightful light chamber music, an unexpected but unprofound pleasure.

Paul JUON (1872-1940) Orchestral Works Vols 1 & 2 - Moscow SO/Christof Escher rec. 2004/11 STERLING CDS 1103/4-2 [61:28 & 63:07] [RB] Charmers all. Never less than a pleasure but lacking an ineluctable presence.

Dmitry KABALEVSKY (1904-1987) & Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Violin Concertos, Cello Concertos  - Lydia Mordkovitch (violin) Raphael Wallfisch (cello) Scottish Ntl O/Neeme Järvi, London PO/Bryden Thomson rec. 1987/90 CHANDOS CHAN9866/10011 [72:37 & 46:10] [RB] Ingenuity and Chandos are inseparable when it comes to harnessing and re-harnessing recordings.

Lydia KAKABADSE (b. 1955) Cantica Sacra - Grace Durham (mezzo-soprano) Alumni Ch Clare College, Cambridge Instrumental Ens/Graham Ross rec. 2015 DIVINE ART DDA25135 [69.07] [MW] Accessible and enjoyable music, heartily recommended.

August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902) Lenore Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) Tondichtung - Anhaltische PO/Manfred Mayrhofer, SWR Radio O Kaiserslauten/Klaus Arp rec. 1995-2002 STERLING CDS1096-2 [51:07] [RB] Full-on works from close to the high noon of German late-romanticism.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Symphony, Violin Concerto, Film Music - Gil Shaham (violin) London SO/André Previn rec. 1993-2001 ELOQUENCE 482 3438 [78:30 + 78:18] [NH] An unequivocal recommendation.

Glenn KOTCHE (b. 1970) Drumkit Quartets - So Percussion CANTALOUPE MUSIC CA21116 [53:38] [BMC] I would have preferred a more focused exploration of the tonal qualities of the various percussion instruments, and less on special noise effects.

László LAJTHA (1892–1963) Symphonie Les Soli, Sinfoniettas Nos 1 & 2 - Budapest Ch Symphony rec. 2012/13 BMC RECORDS BMCCD189 [75:23] [SG] As an introduction to Lajtha’s music, this fascinating and well-recorded release is as good a place as any to start.

Giovanni LEGRENZI (1626-1690) Sonate & Balletti - Clematis rec. 2014/15 RICERCAR RIC356 [77:30] [DJB] Legrenzi’s music requires a few listens to appreciate its merits fully, and you couldn’t get a better guide than this wonderful ensemble.

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Lontano Tristan MURAIL (b. 1947) Le Désenchantement Du Monde George BENJAMIN (b. 1960) Palimpsests - Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano) Bavarian RSO/George Benjamin rec. 2012 NEOS SACD 11422 [62:17] [SG] A release that pays rich dividends.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Années de pèlerinage: Italie, Deux Légendes - Wilhelm Kempff (piano) rec. 1974. PENTATONE PTC5186220 SACD [57:05] [RWe] Kempff’s patrician playing is from another age, and this is still among the best Liszt recordings of all.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Complete Piano Music Vol. 43: Transcriptions of Symphonic Poems - Sergio Monteiro (piano) rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573485 [71.11] [IL] A mixed blessing - works often uninitiated by Liszt but polished performances.

Arthur Vincent LOURIÉ (1891-1966) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Giorgio Koukl (piano) rec. 2016 GRAND PIANO GP737 [64:47] [SA] Koukl‘s luminous playing makes this disc a superb place to begin to fire up one’s interest in such a musically fascinating find.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) Complete Piano Works - Corinna Simon (piano) rec. June 2013 C-AVI MUSIC 8.553341 [62:54] [LW] A delightful programme devoted to the early piano works of Lutosławski.

John McCABE (1939-2015) Requiem Sequence, Visions, Irish Song Book, Siberia, Desert IV Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971) Theme & Studies - John McCabe (piano) William Byrd Singers, Northern CO/Nicholas Ward rec. 1995-2015 PRIMA FACIE PFCD044 [71:56] [JF] A splendid survey of some treasures from McCabe’s catalogue.

Guillaume de MACHAUT (c.1300–1377) A Burning Heart - Orlando Consort rec. 2014 HYPERION CDA68103 [58:57] [BW] Either this or one of the two earlier recordings in the series would make an ideal introduction to Machaut’s secular music.

Joan MANÉN (1883-1971) Works for violin & piano Vol. 2 - Kalina Macuta (violin) Daniel Blanch (piano) rec. 2015-16 LA MŔ DE GUIDO LMG2138 [69:52] [JW] Some striking pieces by a violin virtuoso and composer

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Stín - Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson rec. 2015 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0249 [66:37] [JW] A splendidly buoyant performance, well recorded and expertly performed and directed.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Julietta - Juanita Lascarro (soprano), Frankfurt Opera and Museum O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2014 OEHMS CLASSICS OC966 [74.52 + 75.29] [PCG] Not the urgently needed substitute in modern sound for the 1964 Supraphon.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Piano Music Vols 1-6, Complete works for violin and piano, Piano Quintet & other works - Hamish Milne, Boris Berezovsky (piano) Manoug Parikian (violin) Pro Arte Qt rec. 1977-2000 CRD 3338/3339/3460/3461/3498/3509 [9 CDs: 589:54] [RB] A lifetime's study, reflection and poetry by one of the first Medtner pioneers after the composer.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Medtner plays Medtner Vol. 2: Piano Concertos 1-3, Sonata-Ballade - Nikolai Medtner (piano) Philharmonia O/George Weldon, Issay Dobrowen rec. 1947 MELODIYA MELCD1002274 [69:24 + 57:45] [RB] Three magisterial piano concertos played with ultimate authority by Medtner himself.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Sonata-Reminiscenza, Sonata Tragica Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Preludes - Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) rec. 2009-14 BIS BIS-1848 SACD [59:23] [RWe] Sudbin’s adds further to his stature as an interpreter of Medtner and Rachmaninov.

Johann Friedrich MEISTER (c1638-1697) Il giardino del piacere - Ens Diderot rec. 2015 AUDAX RECORDS ADX13705 [66:45] [JV] These compelling pieces receive an ideal performance from the Ensemble Diderot.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Songs without Words - Michael Endres (piano) rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC452 [62:58 + 54:55] [BR] Uncomplicated yet un-shallow, a recording by one of our most underrated and underappreciated piano geniuses.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) String Quintet 3 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) String Quintet 2 - Quatuor Voce, Lise Berthaud (viola) rec. 2015 ALPHA 214 [60:10] [BR] When the total package is such pure pleasure, comparisons are meaningless.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Symphonies 21, 27 and 34 - Haydn Sinfonietta Wien/Manfred Huss rec. 2006/15 BIS BIS-2218 [67:20] [BW] Not quite my first choice in each symphony individually but well worth obtaining as a whole.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Le nozze di Figaro - Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone), Christiane Karg (soprano), CO Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2015 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 5945 [3 CDs: 173:34] [GF] No revelations but very good singing from well-preserved veterans and the younger generation alike.

Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931) Symphony No. 5 Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Hallé O, BBC Northern SO/Sir John Barbirolli rec. 1960 BARBIROLLI SOCIETY SJB1084-5 [56:38 + 63:18] [JQ] A notable Mahler Seventh from Barbirolli. Mahler from the heart.

Selim PALMGREN (1878-1951) Piano Concertos 1-3, Pieces for violin & piano - Henri Sigfridsson (piano) Jan Söderblom (violin) Pori Sinfonietta/Jan Söderblom rec. 2014 ALBA ABCD385 SACD [71:52] [RB] A delightful disc. More Palmgren please.

Manuel PONCE (1882-1948) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2, Ferial, Preludios encadenados, Cuatro danzas mexicanas - Rodolfo Ritter (piano) San Luis Potosi SO/Zaeth Ritter rec. 2012 STERLING CDS1102-2 [60:26] [RB] Lividly lit, subtle, dreamy at times, lightly exotic but never cheesy.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Works for Piano Solo & Duo - Lucille Chung, Alessio Bax (piano) rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD455 [61:14] [RK] This provides a fine introduction to Poulenc's keyboard works.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas, Cinq mélodies - Franziska Pietsch (violin), Detlev Eisinger (piano) rec. 2015 AUDITE 97.722 [68:38] [RK] After listening for a few minutes and entering the sound-world of two outstanding performers, sound quality issues are forgotten.

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Symphony No. 6, Waltz Suite - Săo Paulo SO/Marin Alsop rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573518 [68:21] [BW] With several performances available that seem to me to get to the heart of this music better, I would look elsewhere.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Rondine - Dinara Alieva (soprano) Charles Castronovo (tenor) O & Ch Deutsche Oper Berlin/Roberto Rizzi Brignoli rec. 2015 DELOS DV7010 DVD [105.01] [IL] In a word - ugly.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Theatre Music Vol. 2 - Aradia Ens/Kevin Mallon rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573280 [63:01] [MG] The instrumental pieces are consistently well done; the songs aren’t always as effective.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 4 Maurice RAVEL (1873-1937) Piano Concerto George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Rhapsody in Blue - Daria Rabotkina (piano) Tatarstan Ntl SO/Alexander Sladkovsky rec. 2014 CONCERT ARTISTS GUILD CAG114 [66:18] [BR] Who are these artists, and how are they so good? A release that defies belief.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) All-Night Vigil - West German Radio Ch/Nicolas Fink rec. 2013 CARUS 83.471 [51.55] [WH] Beautifully sung and recorded, this Vigil might be too disciplined and restrained for some. 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Chamber Works - Nash Ens rec. 1986 CRD 3446 [58:09] [RB] Attentively beatific collegiate playing.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Dances and Fairy Tales - Joint Venture Percussion Duo rec. September 2014 BIS BIS-9054 CD [44:08] [DM] A treat for audiophiles and percussion fanciers alike; a duo to watch.

Carl REINECKE (1824-1910) Die wilden Schwäne - Ens of Swans/Hagen Enke rec. 2014 CPO 777 940-2 [52:30] [SV] Decent performance and recording of a rarity.

Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936) Sinfonia drammatica, Belfagor - Liège RPO/John Neschling rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2210 SACD [70:03] [NB] Collectors of Neschling's ongoing Respighi survey can buy with confidence.

Joaquin RODRIGO (1901-1999) Shadows & Light - Rodrigo at 90, Concierto de Aranjuez - Pepe Romero (guitar) ASMF/Sir Neville Marriner rec. 1992 EUROARTS DVD 2061118 [96:00] [RB] Rodrigo's life and personality presented with evident affection.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) La Gazzetta - Cinzia Forte, Enrico Marabelli, Laurent Kubla, Edgardo Rocha, O & Ch of Opéra Royal de Wallonie/Jan Schultsz rec. 2014 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57742 [145.00] [MC] Nothing to get too excited about as everything here is rather so-so.

Johann RUFINATSCHA (1812-1893) Symphony No. 3, Concert Arias - O Akademie St. Blasius/Karlheinz Siessl rec. 2012 MUSIKMUSEUM 21 CD13020 [78:49] [AHa] A talented composer with something to say and music worth hearing. Allow yourself a treat and give Rufinatscha a listen.

Leonid SABANEEV (1881–1968)  Piano Works - Michael Schäfer (piano) rec. 2014/15 GENUIN GEN15380 [2 CDs: 108:48] [RB] Confident and remorselessly hyper-romantic.

Erik SATIE (1866-1925) Piano Works Vol. 1 - Noriko Ogawa rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2215 SACD [78:02] [BW] Holds its own with other top Satie recordings; there’s the added incentive of a period piano and first-rate sound.

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) La Gloria di Primavera - Philharmonia Chorale & Baroque O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2015 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PRODUCTIONS PBP-09 [63:24 + 75:12] [JV] A good performance but not without some flaws.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Winterreise - Hermann Prey (baritone) Helmut Deutsch (piano) rec. 1987 SWR MUSIC SWR19012CD [72:13] [GF] Merits a place in your collection.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quintet, Arpeggione Sonata - Matt Haimovitz (cello) Itamar Golan (piano) Miró Qt rec. 2001/03 PENTATONE SACD PTC5186549 [76:55] [DBi] Reissues of two beautiful performances very well recorded.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) The Complete Choral Works for Male Voices Vol. 2 - Camerata Musica Limburg/Jan Schumacher rec. 2008-2015 GENUIN GEN16410 [66.48] [MW] Not essential Schubert, but an aspect of his talent worth getting to know.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphonies 1-4 - Camerata Salzburg/Sandor Végh rec. 1996 BUDAPEST MUSIC CENTER BMCCD201 [58:27 + 62:25] [RK] Interesting versions of Schubert’s first four symphonies, in which some slow tempi uncover neglected details.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Songs to Poems of Ernst Schulze - Christoph Prégardien (tenor) Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2015 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72670 SACD [72:39] [RWe] Christoph Prégardien and Julius Drake make a fine team in this distinguished and well-planned Schubert recital.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Schwanengesang & other Lieder - James Rutherford (baritone) Eugene Asti (piano) rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2180 SACD [69:48] [RWe] Rutherford and Asti add to the long list of the versions of Schubert’s last cycle which are well worth hearing.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony in g, Symphony No. 4 Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphony No. 4 - Bamberg SO/Marc Andreae rec. 2014 GUILD GMCD7412 [73:02] [BR] Alternative versions of two very popular symphonies, and a rewarding album for curious listeners.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Symphonies 1-4 - Ekaterina Sergeeva (mezzo) Alexander Timchenko (tenor) London SO & Ch/Valery Gergiev rec. 2014 LSO LIVE LSO0770 [2 SACDs 91:09] LSO LIVE LSO0771 [64:58] [RWe] Gergiev’s Scriabin has great strengths, and this might yet come to stand as one of the highlights of his tenure at the LSO.

Mohammad Saeed SHARIFIAN (b.1955) Eclipse - Oltenia Philharmonic Ch & O/Alexandru Iosub rec. 2007 NEYDAVOOD 79917 [42:51 + 64:53] [RB] A sea-change into something imaginatively blessed and strange.

Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b. 1932) The Left-Hander - Andrei Popov (tenor), Kristina Alieva (soprano), Mariinsky O & Ch/Valery Gergiev rec. 2013 MARIINSKY MAR0588 Blu-ray/DVD [119.00] [MC] Shchedrin triumphantly merges politics, art and satirical humour in this lavishly produced opera.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 5 - Berlin SO/Kurt Sanderling rec. 1982 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300750BC [50:04] [DM] A fresh, unaffected Fifth, chock-full of insight and character; not to be missed. 

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 5 - Berliner SO/Kurt Sanderling rec. 1982 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300750BC [50.39] [MC] Kurt Sanderling gives a performance that lingers long in the consciousness.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Violin Concerto No.1 Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Violin Concerto - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Bournemouth SO/Kirill Karabits rec. 2015 DECCA 4788758 [58:57] [BW] Now my first choice for the Shostakovich, with the Glazunov a welcome bonus.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Symphonies Nos 3, 6 and 7 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2006 SACD [82:00] [BW] Even better than Vänskä’s earlier Lahti recordings, so strong contenders in a competitive market.

Valentin SILVESTROV (b. 1937) Orchestral Works Vols 1 & 2 - Ivan Sokolov (piano) Sergej Jakovenko (baritone) Ural PO/Andrej Borejko rec. 1992 MEGADISC MDC7836/7 [66:25 & 68.10] [SG] Silvestrov makes a welcome return.

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884) Czech Dances - Garrick Ohlsson (piano) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68062 [62:13] [SB] A delightful discovery and a companion to the dances of Brahms and Dvorak.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) The Boatswain’s Mate, The Wreckers Overture Lontano Ens/Odaline de la Martinez, The Symphony Orchestra/Ethel Smyth rec. 1916-2016 RETROSPECT OPERA RO001 [47:12 + 73:44] [JF] An outstanding first release from Retrospect Opera.

Louis SPOHR (1785-1859) Nonet, Octet - Nash Ens CRD 3354 [56:20] [SB] I have been very taken with the charm of the Nash Ensemble and I am now tempted to explore their coupling of Spohr’s septet and piano quintet.

Alessandro STRADELLA (1639 - 1682) Complete String Sinfonias - Ens Arte Musica rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95142 [73:18] [JV] These sonatas confirm Stradella's reputation as one of the most original and dramatic composers of his time.

Johann STRAUSS II (18251899) Der Zigeunerbaron - Nikolai Schukoff (tenor) NDR Ch & Hannover Radio PO/Lawrence Foster rec. 2015 PENTATONE PTC5186482 [2CDs: 118:11] [NH] Conductor, orchestra and chorus are excellent, some of the soloists less so.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Die Seejungfrau - Luxembourg PO/Emmanuel Krivine rec. 2015 ALPHA CLASSICS 236 [60:46] [NB] If only the recording quality was better, I would give this an unreserved welcome.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Violin Sonata Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) Hika César FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata - Akiko Suwanai (violin) Enrico Pace (piano) rec. 2016 DECCA UCCD-1427 [62:44] [SG] Beautifully etched readings.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) L’histoire du soldat, Violin Concerto, Jeu de cartes, Dumbarton Oaks - Lamoureux O, Berlin PO, Dumbarton Oaks Fest O/Igor Stravinsky rec. 1932-47 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC462 [79:20] [JW] If you’ve not heard these powerful, sonically variable inscriptions before, this honest and finely transferred disc will make a fascinating appendix to your ‘Stravinsky Conducts’ shelf.

Josef SUK (1874-1935) Works for String Quartet - Suk Qt rec. 1994? CRD 3472 [73:22] [RB] A sensible and substantial entry in the Suk stakes.

Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) Complete Works for Solo Piano - Paul Crossley (piano) rec. 1990? CRD 3526 [66:35] [RB] A generous, liquid, poised, airy, slow-paced collection.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Tchaikovsky Edition BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94650 [55 CDs] [RB] Will educate, surprise and delight time after time.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1848-1893) The Snow Maiden - Annely Peebo (mezzo) Vsevolod Grivnov (tenor) MDR Leipzig RSO & Ch/Kristjan Järvi rec. 2014 SONY 88875 176562 [76:27] [RW] A fine account of Tchaikovsky’s folk-inspired incidental music, caught live in Leipzig.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 1, 2 & 5 - Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2014/15 ONYX 4150 [74.08 + 43.53] [IL] Good to be reacquainted with the early hesitant Tchaikovsky as symphonist. Petrenko's Fifth disappoints a little but it is a high voltage reading.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Grand Sonata, The Seasons - Freddy Kempf (piano) rec. 2014 BIS BIS-2140 SACD [66:28] [RWe] This ideal coupling makes a useful addition to the catalogue.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) The Oboe Album - Marcel Ponseele (oboe, oboe d'amore), Il Gardellino rec. 1995/2005 ACCENT ACC24314 [69:48 + 64:32] [JV] This set of discs is a feast for the ear.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Due Foscari - Plácido Domingo (baritone) Francesco Meli (tenor) Maria Agresta (soprano) Royal Opera House Ch & O/Antonio Pappano rec. 2015 OPUS ARTE OA1207D DVD [122:00] [PSt] The production is a curate’s egg, but in purely musical terms there is much to enjoy.

Anatol VIERU (1926-1998) Orchestral Works Vols 1 & 2 - rec. 1964-99 TROUBADISC TROCD01446/9 [76:20 & 71:09] [SG] Challenging music, audacious and, at times, venturing into uncharted waters.

Ignatz WAGHALTER (1881-1949) Violin Concerto, Rhapsodie, Violin Sonata - Irmina Trynkos (violin) Giorgi Latsabidze (piano) Royal PO/Alexander Walker rec. 2010-13 NAXOS 8.572809 [59:33] Mandragola, New World Suite, Masaryk’s Peace March - New Russia State SO/Alexander Walker rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573338 [53:36] [RB] Fascinating again but the Violin Concerto is quite a discovery and one longs to hear the complete Mandragola.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Ramon Vinay (tenor), Birgit Nilsson (soprano), Metropolitan Opera Ch & O/Karl Böhm rec. 1960 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO135 [3 CDs: 202.30] [RMo] A highly desirable memento of a great occasion.

Bruno WALTER (1876-1962) Violin Sonata, Piano Quintet - Ekaterina Frolova (violin); Mari Sato, Le Liu (piano); Patrick Vida, Lydia Peherstorfer (violin), Sybille Häusle (viola), Stefanie Huber (cello) rec. 2012/13 NAXOS 8.573351 [59:26] [RB] Romantically high flown, exultant, demonstrative, tense and brimming with cantabile.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) London Concert - Kyung-Wha Chung (violin) Sir Thomas Allen (baritone) Philharmonia O & Ch/André Previn rec. 1982 ARTHAUS MUSIK DVD 109110 [86:00] [RB] Walton visibly moved - performances that were special indeed.

Erasmus WIDMANN (1572–1634) Musicalischer Tugendtspiegel Michael PRĆTORIUS (1571–1621) Terpsichore Musarum - Accademia del Ricercare/Pietro Busca rec. 2006 CPO 7776082 [57:28] [BW]Slightly less unbuttoned than David Munrow’s Prćtorius but the Widmann makes it well worth having alongside the older recording.

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (18761948) I gioielli della Madonna - Kyungho Kim (tenor) Natalia Ushakova (soprano) Slovak National Theatre Opera Ch, Slovak RSO/Friedrich Haider rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.660386-87 [2CDs: 122:51] [NH] An eminently worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection.

Eugene ZÁDOR (1894–1977) A Christmas Overture, Biblical Triptych, Rhapsody, Fugue Fantasia - Budapest SO MÁV/Mariusz Smolij rec. 2014/15 NAXOS 8.573529 [67:15] [RB] Strengths lying in wide-screen magnificence and singing sincerity.

Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810-1876) Anthems - Ch New College, Oxford/Edward Higginbottom (organ) rec. 1989/90 CRD 3463 [66:50] [MR] Clean, precise but very dated recordings of Wesley’s church music.

125 Years of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra rec. 1972-2013 CHANDOS CHAN241-55 [2 CDs: 162:21] [MR] A celebration, not so much of the RSNO’s 125th anniversary, but of their 37-year relationship with Chandos.

Amours Divins! French Arias & Scenes ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109241 [126:00] [RJF] A welcome variety of styles from the French repertoire albeit the supporting documentation is abysmal.

Martha Argerich (piano) The Complete Sony Classical Recordings rec. 1975/92 SONY CLASSICAL 88985 320352 [5 CDs: 225:53] [SG] A worthy tribute to a great pianist.

Bach and the Stile Antico Choral works by Bach, Palestrina & Bassani - St Salvator’s Chapel Ch, Ars Eloquentiae, Fitzwilliam String Qt/Tom Wilkinson (organ) rec. 2015 SANCTIANDREE SAND0003 [61:44] [MR] An own label release which focuses on academic issues but contains some excellent music-making.

Beecham: The ABC Blue Network Concerts Vol. 2 Blue Network SO/Thomas Beecham rec. 1945 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC470 [57:50] [JW] A historic recording of a tribute concert in memory of President Roosevelt.

The Britannic Organ Vol. 12 Last Voyage OEHMS OC1841 [2 CDs: 144:05] [JW] The final volume in this splendid series.

British Serenade Works by Arnold, Carr, Elgar, Jenkins, Lewis & Shearman - Chamber Ensemble London/Peter Fisher rec. 2015 HERITAGE HTGCD204 [65:22] [JWh] A valuable collection of premieres.

British Symphonies rec. 1968-2007 LYRITA SRCD.2355 [4 CDs: 315:45] [GPJ] An issue of major importance in the discography of British music. Fine performances of magnificent music, much of which is unfairly neglected.

Bulgarian Musical Evenings in Munich Marian Kraew (violin) Ivajla Kirova, Nadejda Vlaeva, Ivajla Kirova (piano) Maria Hristova (viola) rec. 2015 CON BRIO RECORDINGS CBR21653 [52:15] [PRB] If you’re not familiar with Bulgarian music, then this CD could be an ideal way to get started.

Buxtehude and his Circle Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier rec. 2013 DACAPO SACD 6.220634 [75:27] [JV] This is a most enjoyable disc in which every single piece receives a convincing interpretation.

Carmen Arrangements from Bizet's opera - Ksenija Sidorova (accordion) Itamar Doari (percussion) Reentko Dirks (guitar) Michael Abramovich (piano/musical direction) Nuevo Mundo, Borusan Istanbul PO/Sascha Goetzel rec. 2015 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 5224 [52:36] [RB] Brace yourself: this album is not for the strait-laced.

Casta Diva Famous Italian arias & scenes ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109243 [136:00] [RJF] Having singers themselves introduce their contribution is innovative. However, the absence of recording details, and no titles for the performances are serious drawbacks over improved visual and sound quality.

CME Presents Piano Celebration Vol. 1 rec. 2015 MSR CLASSICS MS1559 [76:19] [BR] An hour-plus of colorful international encores, meant to showcase young pianists.

Dancer on a Tightrope Works by Bacewicz, Cage, Gubaidulina, Hindemith, Prokofiev & Schnittke - Bartosz Woroch (violin) Mei Yi Foo (piano) rec. 2015 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD114 [73:01] [JW] For the adventurous listener with performances that are stylistically apt and technically imposing.

Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2015 SONY CLASSICAL 88875 192982 [77:28] [BR] An eccentric pianist’s debut is sure to be controversial; it promises great things but does not deliver them.

Dichter.Liebe Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe Heinrich HEINE (1797-1856) Lyrisches Intermezzo - Cornelia Horak (soprano) Stefan Gottfried (piano) Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz (recitation) rec. 2014 GRAMOLA 99059 [59:22] [GF] A deeply engaging experience.

Emancipation of Consonance Lukas Geniušas (piano) rec. 2015 MELODIYA MELCD1002409 [68:10] [BR] A disc of miniatures for serious pianophiles, but they will like it a lot, as I did.

An English Fantasy Works by Dankworth, Hawes, Reade & Todd - Emma Johnson (clarinet) BBC Concert O/Philip Ellis rec. 2015 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6328 [69:19] [RB] A predominance of contentment and poetry with the accent on the understated.

Escenas Argentinas  SO de Entre Ríos/Gabriel Castagna rec. 1999 CHANDOS CHAN10185 [58:49] Fiesta Criolla Württembergische Phil Reutlingen/Gabriel Castagna rec. 2010 CHANDOS CHAN10675 [77:10] [RB] Substantial samplers of Latin-America's outpouring of varied and often colour-saturated classical music.

Expresivo Jacob Cordover (guitar) rec. 2016 CALA CACD77022 [74:28] [JW] A well recorded disc of autobiographical resonance.

Christian Ferras (violin) Forgotten Ferras - Pierre Barbizet, Ernest Lush, Shuku Iwasaki (piano) rec. 1948-71 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4825037 [75:46] [JW] A release of some interest to devotees of this short-lived violinist.

French Composers Conduct Works by Gaubert, Ravel, Schmitt & Tomasi rec. 1930/35 DUTTON CDBP9789 [75:28] [RB] A superb collection well worth running to ground for the jaded yet open-minded.

From Bohemia to Wessex Cello Music from the Twentieth Century by Armstrong, Martinu & Thompson - Lionel Handy (cello) Nigel Clayton (piano) SLEEVELESS RECORDS SLV1011 [54:28] [RB] A far from hackneyed collection, well performed and presented. All the more welcome for leaning towards the provocative. 

Hilde Gueden (soprano) The Early Years rec. 1949/54 DECCA ELOQUENCE 482 0262 [78:21] [GF] A must for all lovers of lyric soprano singing.

Grand Tour Works by Cardew, Riley, Sikorski, Wolff & Krauze - John Tilbury, Zygmunt Krauze (pianos) rec. 2015 DUX 1288 [63:14] [DC] Reaffirmation of the significance of Poland to contemporary music.

Hora Cero The 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 88875 143462 [68:47] [DJB] Some lesser known Piazzolla tangos, brilliantly performed, in arrangements that mostly succeed.

José Iturbi (piano) Victor & HMV Solo Recordings - rec. 1933-1952 APR 7307 [3 CDs: 211:46] [JW] A mixed bag; overly flashy in places, but his vitality and rhythmic verve are strongly alluring.

Djansug Kakhidze (conductor) The Legacy Vol. 5: Works by Kancheli, R. Strauss & Terterian - Tbilisi SO rec. 1997 CUGATE CLASSICS CGC005 [74:09 + 60:31] [NB] A set for the specialist collector, either for those interested in the conductor or in the music of Terterian or Kancheli.

Herbert von Karajan: Maestro for the Screen rec. 1967/68 C MAJOR 737704 DVD [84:00] [IL] A tribute to a monumental ego.

Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) An Evening with Puccini - O Filarmonica della Scala/Jochen Rieder rec. 2015 SONY 88875130249 DVD [116:00] [PSt] The quality of both sound and vision are excellent - hugely enjoyable.

Paul Kletzki (conductor) Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4 Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony 'Unfinished' Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Leonore Overture No. 3 - Swiss Fest O rec. 1946 AUDITE 95.642 [76:39] [JW] Audite has done well to restore this concert.

Li Due Orfei Marc Mauillon (canto) Angélique Mauillon (arpa doppia a tre registri) rec. 2015 ARCANA A393 [57:12] [CSe] An outstanding recital, in which the vocal melodies unfold with exquisite ease and directness, enhanced by the expressive freedom of the continuo accompaniment and the sound quality is superb.

Love & Death Piano Transcriptions of Wagner and Verdi Operas - Abdiel Vázquez (piano) rec. 2014 PIANO CLASSICS PCL0101 [74:32] [BR] An impressive young pianist romps through opera transcriptions.

Fumiaki Miura (violin) Works by Bloch, Dvořák, Sarasate, Tartini & Wieniawski - Hibiki Tamura (piano) rec. 2016 AVEX CLASSICS AVCL25902 [55:15] [SG] Fumiaki Miura steps up to the mark fusing commanding virtuosity with intelligent musicianship.

Musique Française Vol. 2 rec. 1992-97 NAĎVE V4912 [5 CDs: 4:57:00] [RB] A valuable and often pleasing cross-section of little frequented byways of the French repertoire.

Neglected Works For Piano Bengt Forsberg (piano) rec. 2015 dB PRODUCTIONS DBCD170 [69:49] [RK] Immaculate performances full of unexpected pleasures.

New World Serenade Sinfonietta of Riverdale/Mark Mandarano rec. 2011/14 ALBANY TROY1623 [62:52] [DBr] A delightful and splendidly planned disc.

Orchestral Transcriptions of Leopold Stokowski BBC PO/Matthias Bamert rec. 1993-2004 CHANDOS CHAN10900 [80:19] [JW] Bamert brings much commitment to these performances.

The Pleasures of the Imagination English 18th Century Music for the Harpsichord - Sophie Yates (harpsichord) rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHAN0814 [75:20] [JV] Sophie Yates is a most eloquent advocate of this neglected repertoire.

Quando cala la notte Enea Sorini (voice) Corina Marti (harpsichord) rec. 2015 CARPE DIEM RECORDS CD-16308 [65:49] [JV] An attractive and entertaining programme of vocal and keyboard pieces which receive splendid performances.

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss von Husum 2015 rec. 2015 DANACORD DACOCD779 [74:37] [JF] A fine CD that introduces a number of rare piano pieces: just as it says ‘on the tin’

Rhapsody Works by Chabrier, Gershwin, Enescu, Ravel & Liszt - Denis Matsuev (piano) Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2015 BR KLASSIK 900146 [63.57] [MC] A release with an attractive and highly popular programme. However Jansons and his Bavarian orchestra could have performed this programme better.

The Royal Ballet Works by Liebermann, Debussy, Tchaikovsky & Bizet - Royal Opera House O/Emmanuel Plasson, Martin Yates rec. 2015 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1212D [134:00] [RMay] A somewhat problematic Carmen, but the rest is a delight.

Roma Ćterna Works by Guerrero, Palestrina & Victoria - New York Polyphony rec. 2015 BIS BIS-2203 SACD [72:07] [DBi] Gorgeous performances and recordings of wonderful music.

Russian Organ Preludes and Fugues Konstantin Volostnov (organ) rec. 2013 KONSTANTIN VOLOSTNOV KVCD008/ART CLASSICS ART-334 [73:20] [BW] A very enjoyable experience. The same recordings are available on Priory but this alternative release may be easier to obtain in some countries.

Schöne Welt … Lieder by Schubert, Korngold & Schreker - Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2015 CAPRICCIO C5233 [73:27] [GF] Interesting songs by Schreker and Korngold coupled with some of Schubert’s best – all superbly sung.

Songs to the Moon Myrthen Ens rec. 2015 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD443 [2CDs: 80:47] [DHu] It’s what follows the Lieder that impresses.

The Story of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps A film by Peter Rump rec. 1999 ARTHAUS MUSIK 109211 Blu-ray [57:00] [RWe] This 1999 film feels dated, and its main value now is in seeing and hearing Gergiev’s close and enduring relationship with a great masterpiece.

Venice to Hamburg Bach Players, Nicolette Moonen (violin) Silas Wollston (harpsichord, organ) rec. 2014 HYPHEN PRESS MUSIC HPM009 [55:17] [JV] These pieces offer the instrumentalists plenty opportunities to show their skills, and these are impressive.

Katsuya Watanabe (oboe) Pastororale - Romance - Poem - Ulugek Palvanov, David Johnson (piano) rec. 2012-15 PROFIL PH12024/14009/15049 [61.56 & 57.31 & 59.30] [MC] This is distinguished oboe playing of real finesse from Katsuya Watanabe with some genuine discoveries to be made.

What Artemisia Heard Music & Art from the Time of Caravaggio and Gentileschi - El Mundo/Richard Savino rec. 2014 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92195 [76:26] [GPu] There’s plenty to enjoy here, in a project that perhaps suffers from excessive ambition.

Wine Dark Sea Texas Uni Wind Ens/Jerry Junkin rec. 2014 REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-137 [69:46] [BR] An engaging collection of newish American works for wind band.

 

Other Reviews

Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad by Rufus Jones Jr, publ. 2015 Rowman & Littlefield [CF] A convenient summary of Dixon's career.

Bach in Brazil Original Motion Picture Soundtrack BERLIN CLASSICS 0300746BC [41:55] [DHu] Want to samba to Bach?

Articles and Notices

Forgotten Artists: Denis Matthews by Christopher Howell

Tribute to Lydia Mordkovitch - a survey by Rob Barnett

The Hickox Legacy series from Chandos - a survey by Rob Barnett

Jules Massenet: His Life and Works - a major survey by Nick Fuller (6 Mb PDF file)

 




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