DOWNLOAD NEWS 2016/3
By Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan
Reviews are by Brian Wilson unless otherwise stated at the end of the review.
DL News 2016/2 is here and the Index of earlier editions is here.
Im sorry to return to an old theme this month: the cost of downloads relative to the equivalent CDs and SACDs. I really cannot believe that providing a download costs more than producing the physical equivalent but it often does come more expensively, even from the same provider. Ive reviewed the Linn recording of Bach Violin Concertos, for example, in 16-bit even though I had free press access to the 24-bit because I believe the latter to be grossly over-priced at £18 from both Linn and Hyperion when the SACD can be found for around £12.75 or £11.50 as a special offer from one dealer.
Similarly theclassicalshop.net offer their own Chandos releases in studio-surround sound for a whopping £19.99 when the equivalent SACD can usually be found for much less usually £11.50 from Chandos themselves. I appreciate that the cost of the blank discs, cases and booklets is minimal for large quantities, but its not zero. Can the cost of providing the download really be 66% greater?
I can see even less logic in another case: 7digital.com were offering the Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos in the new Warner recording (below) when I checked for £8.99 in mp3, £9.03 in 24-bit and £12.49 in 16-bit. It seems most illogical to charge considerably more for 16-bit than for the superior-quality 24-bit. At least that download comes with a booklet another recurring grumble in Download News concerns those who dont but even the mp3 is more expensive than the £8.50 being quoted for the CD by one dealer and £8.98 by another neither marked as a special limited offer at the time of writing.
At first sight emusic.coms per-track charging policy £0.42 in the UK seems fair and it often means that a recording with a few long tracks can be bought very inexpensively: several have featured in DL News as bargains. On the other hand, a recording with many short tracks can work out twice or even three times the price of the CD or the download from another supplier, yet I often see such grossly expensive offerings listed among in their most popular category, suggesting that many buyers are not being at all savvy.
Hyperion offer a logical pricing policy for their own downloads: £8.99 for mp3 and 16-bit and £13.50 for 24-bit, with some shorter recordings at £7.99 and £10.10 or £12.00 respectively. For other labels they are presumably bound by the prices set by those labels, varying from £5.99 (16-bit) and £9.00 (24-bit) for the recent Signum release Only a singing Bird (SIGCD440) to the £18.00 for 24-bit Linn to which Ive referred.
BACH Violin Concertos_Linn
St Mark Passion_Rondeau
BIBER etc. Music from the Minoritenkonvent manuscript_Muso_Pan Classics
BRITTEN, KORNGOLD Violin Concertos_Warner
BRUHNS Organ Works (+ SCHEIDEMANN)_Dacapo
BYRD 5-part Mass and modern works inspired by Byrd (Upheld by Stillness)_Harmonia Mundi
CACCINI, PERI Li Due Orfei_Alpha
Il Giardino di Giulio Caccini_Alpha
COOKE Symphonies 4 and 5_Lyrita
DUTILLEUX Le Loup; La Fille du Diable, etc._BIS
HANDEL La Resurrezione_Decca_Harmonia Mundi
Duetti e terzetti_Glossa
HANSON Symphonies, etc._Mercury
Symphonies 4 and 5_Naxos
HORKÝ Symphony No.3; Fateful Preludes_Supraphon
JANÁČEK Glagolitic Mass, etc._Chandos
KORNGOLD Violin Concerto see BRITTEN
LALO Cello Concerto; Namouna_BIS
Piano Trios 1-3_Hyperion
MENDELSSOHN Piano Trios 1 and 2_Resonus
MOZART Piano Concertos Nos. I-III, 5 and 6_BIS
PARRY Symphony No.1; From Death to Life_Nimbus
The Souls Ransom; The Lotos-Eaters; Blest pair of Sirens; I was glad_Chandos
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No.2 (+ TCHAIKOVSKY)_Warner
Piano Concerto No.2; Piano Concerto No.5_Harmonia Mundi
SCHEIDEMANN, BRUHNS Organ Works_Dacapo
SCHOENBERG Chamber Symphonies_Dissonances
SCHUBERT Symphony No.9_Signum
STRAUSS Family_Wiener Symphoniker
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No.1 (+ PROKOFIEV)_Warner
VASKS String Quartets 2, 3 and 5_Wergo_Caprice
VIVALDI LEstro Armonico, Op.3_Chandos
Concertos Op.7 and Op.8_Brilliant Classics
The Seasons old and new_Signum
WIDOR Organ Symphonies 5 and 6_Signum
Great European Organs Volume 95_Priory
Narciso Yepes Complete Concerto Recordings_DG see Late News
Orford Six Pianos Volume 2_Atma
Upheld by Stillness see BYRD
Appendix: contents of Decca Baroque Era Volume 1 (25 CDs)
Upheld by stillness: Renaissance gems and their reflections Volume 1: Byrd
Philippe de MONTE (1521-1603) Super flumina Babylonis [4:46]
William BYRD (c.1540-1623) Quomodo cantabimus [7:02]
Mass for Five Voices [23:08]
Roxanna PANUFNIK (b.1968) Kyrie after Byrd * [3:44]
Francis POTT (b.1957) Laudate Dominum * [6:00]
Alexander LESTRANGE (b.1974) Show me, deare Christ * [13:10]
Owain PARK (b.1993) Upheld by stillness * [6:54]
Charlotte BRAY (b.1982) Agnus Dei * [4:40]
William BYRD Ave verum corpus [3:34]
Roderick WILLIAMS (b.1965) Ave verum corpus re-imagined * [5:46]
* Work commissioned by ORA and world premiere recording
rec. St Albans, Holborn, London, 16-18 February 2015. DDD
Texts and translations included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMW906102 [78:44] from eclassical.com (mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
Only those lovers of Byrd for whom mingling the old and new is anathema can fail to be impressed by this new recording. Others should not hesitate. I hope that this album succeeds as it deserves to do and look forward with interest to the forthcoming sequels. Please see my full review.
Li Due Orfei
Giulio CACCINI (1551-1618)
From Le nuove musiche (Florence 1602)
From Nuove musiche e nuova maniera di scriverle (Florence 1614); British Library, MS Add. 30491.3
JACOPO PERI (1561-1633)
From Le varie musiche (Florence 1609)
Marc Mauillon (baritone); Angélique Mauillon (double harp)
rec. Polish Radio Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio, Warsaw, 20-23 February 2015. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
ALPHA A393 [57:12] – from Qobuz: stream (for subscribers) or download (16- and 24-bit lossless), with pdf booklet. Due for release on CD on 18 March 2016.
Caccini and Peri vie for the honours of producing the first opera, both entitled L’Euridice: one performed first, the other published first, but this is not, as it might at first appear, a recording of those two works. Rather it is a selection of the music for solo voice and accompaniment which both composers – here billed as the ‘Orpheuses of their time’ – composed and, especially in the case of Caccini, sang.
It’s very enjoyable, even if it’s not what I was expecting and maybe not what the title led you to believe. Marc Mauillon, listed in the booklet simply as canto, has a wide- ranging and attractive baritone voice, here used mainly in its upper tenor-like register. He’s accompanied by his sister Angélique Mauillon on a harp strung in two rows, such an instrument as is known to have been introduced from Spain to Italy around 1600: one is specified in the score of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo to represent the lyre of Orpheus.
To date I have been able to hear only the mp3 press preview but that’s good enough to convince me that the finished article will sound fine. The booklet contains some very helpful notes, including an explanation of the title, chosen as a tribute to a founding text on renaissance music: Nino Pirrotta’s Li due Orfei. Da Poliziano a Monteverdi, 1975, 1981, Giulio Einaudi editore spa, Torino.
There’s one work by Caccini and other music by his contemporaries for voice and double harp – plus theorbo in some pieces – on an attractive Resonus recording La Lira di Orfeo (RES10124 – DL News 2014/2).
On an earlier Alpha release Il Giardino di Giulio Caccini offers a programme of music by Giulio and Francesca Caccini and contemporaries sung by Horvat Marco (mainly) and Olga Pitcarch and accompanied on theorbo, guitar, baroque guitar, percussion and lirone – and on the harp by none other than Angélique Mauillon. (Alpha 043: some tracks also included on RIC107 – review). Download from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless) albeit without the all-important booklet of texts. Subscribers can stream from Qobuz and it can also be purchased there, but still without the texts.
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Heinrich SCHEIDEMANN (c.1595-1663)
Præambulum in G, WV73 [5:58]
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland I, WV10 [11:08]
Dic nobis Maria, WV51 [6:27]
Fuga in d minor, WV42 [3:17]
Toccata in G, WV43 [8:53]
Nicolaus BRUHNS (1665-1697)
Præludium in e (Little) [5:25]
Præludium in G [9:54]
Adagio (ex D) [3:00]
Præludium in g [4:49]
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland [10:51]
Præludium in e (Great) [9:34]
Bine Katrine Bryndorf (Raphaëlis baroque organ)
rec. Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark, 10-13 January 2014. DDD/DSD
DACAPO 6.220636 [79:18] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet).
Subscribers stream from Naxos Music Library (mp3, NO booklet) or classicsonlinehd.com (NO booklet) or Qobuz (with booklet). NB: see review for pricing anomalies.
Also available as SACD.
I was toying with the idea of making this a Recording of the Month when Dan Morgan’s review arrived with the accolade awarded – see below – so that clinched it.
I reviewed several of Bine Bryndorf’s recordings of Buxtehude for Dacapo, now gathered together as a 6-CD set 8.206005, for around £28. I enjoyed those which I heard – review of Volume 6 – and this recording of two other important North German contemporaries of Buxtehude and predecessors of Bach is also recommendable. Bruhns, whose music was admired in JS Bach’s circle, whence all the copies of his few extant organ works stem, was a pupil of Scheidemann (and of Buxtehude) so their music – five pieces by the master, six by the pupil – goes very well together on this well-filled album.
The Roskilde organ is ideal for the music, dating back in part to 1554/55, added to over the years, and restored to its mid-17th-century state by Marcussen and Son in 1991. The performances are excellent and the recording very good, especially in 24-bit format.
Price, as so often with downloads, is an issue: the SACD retails for less than £13*, so why does the classicsonlinehd.com 24-bit cost £15.99 and why did it come without booklet when I checked? Even the eclassical.com 24-bit at $21.40, though slightly less than £15.99 at current exchange rates, seems overpriced. Best value for 16-bit is from classicsonlinehd.com at £7.99, but unless the booklet has been added since I checked, that comes with a caution. I should also add as another example of illogical pricing that Presto charge £28.50 for the 6-CD Naxos set of Buxtehude and £57.51 for the lossless download. Here classicsonlinehd.com are more reasonably priced at £47.99 but that’s still almost twice the cost of the CDs.
The booklet which Qobuz provide seems to be lacking some pages, including the important organ specification which the eclassical.com booklet does contain. There’s also a link for the registrations of individual works on the DaCapo website.
* £12.75 from Presto.
There’s actually more Bruhns here than on the ‘complete’ recording of his organ music from Helmut Winter on Harmonia Mundi, where it’s also combined with works by Scheidemann (HMX290799). I reviewed that together with the Naxos complete organ works of Scheidmann in DL News 2013/12 alongside two recordings of Bruhns’ cantatas – see below. At $16.59 the eclassical.com download of the Harmonia Mundi is rather steep for what used to be a budget-price CD: at £8.49 Qobuz is more reasonable – stream (for subscribers) or purchase. No booklet from any source.
Classicsonlinehd.com also offer an attractive selection of Bruhns’ German Cantatas performed by Cantus Cölln and directed by Konrad Junghänel – well worth streaming for subscribers, albeit without the all-important texts, but costing more as a download, at £12.24, than the budget-price CD (HMA1951752). Presto offer the CD for £6.75 and downloads for £4.98 (mp3) and £5.98 (lossless); the least expensive lossless download, however, comes from Qobuz at £4.29. The eclassical.com download, also devoid of booklet, is seriously over-priced at $16.59 – it’s actually gone up since I commented unfavourably on the price in reviewing this download in 2013/12. The Ricercar collection of Bruhns cantatas which I reviewed at the same time remains available in mp3 from 7digital.com: two and a half hours of music and the pdf booklet.
Dan Morgan has also reviewed this recording:
The Danish organist and pedagogue Bine Bryndorf came to my attention via Stuart Sillitoe’s glowing review of her recent Buxtehude box. Now it’s the turn of Heinrich Scheidemann and Nicolaus Bruhns, both members of the so-called North German School. Bryndorf plays the Raphaelis organ of Roskilde Cathedral, which dates back to 1554-1555. Marcussen & Son’s restoration was completed in 1991. As one would expect from Dacapo the booklet – with excellent notes by Bryndorf herself – also devotes a page to the organ’s impressive specs.
And what a gorgeous, woody sound those distinctive pedals make. Reverberation isn’t a problem here, so articulation and detail aren’t compromised at all. True, the music isn’t out of the top drawer, but when it’s played with such affection and sensitivity that hardly matters. The recording – in its 24/44.1 incarnation at least – is clear but never bright, and there’s a glow to the sound that’s most appealing. I usually prefer organ music of the 19th and 20th centuries, but on special occasions – and this is one of them – I’m more than happy to stray.
Glorious music, beautifully played and handsomely recorded; as usual with Dacapo the highest production values prevail.
Minoritenkonvent: Manuscript XIV/726 from the Convent of the Minorites, Vienna
Heinrich Ignaz BIBER (1644-1704) Sonata No.84 in E: Adagio; Anonymous: Sonata No.77 in A [8:14]
Anonymous Sonata No.87 in f minor [6:58]
Sonata No.4 in D [5:32]
Giovanni Buonaventura VIVIANI (1638-c.1693) Sonata No.90 in a minor [8:24]
Anonymous Sonata No.75 in c minor [9:10]
Jan Ignac František VOJTA (c.1660-c.1723) Sonata No.70 in b minor: tuning: B F-flat B E [8:37]
Nikolaus FABER (?-1673?) Sonata nr. 2 in E: tuning: B E B E [5:49]
Heinrich BIBER Sonata No.11 in e minor [11:12],
Johann Caspar TEUBNER (before 1661-1697) Toccata No.94 in a minor; Sonata No.88 in d minor [8:31]
Stéphanie Paulet (violin)
Elisabeth Geiger (André Silbermann organ of Haguenau 1730)
MUSO MU008 [72:31] – from emusic.com (mp3); subscribers stream from Qobuz; purchase for download (16- and 24-bit lossless). NO booklet from either source.
Manuscript XIV/726 in the library of the convent of the Minorite order in Vienna contains a wealth of violin music by Biber, Schmelzer and lesser-known contemporaries, many of them anonymous.
I’m really not sure why the image on the cover is split – it seems to be a Muso trademark: there’s nothing broken or unfocused about the music or the performances but it is a great shame that we don’t have the booklet from either of the sources listed. Two of the sonatas are in scordatura, i.e. with the violin strings unconventionally tuned, creating a striking effect as in Biber’s Mystery or Rosary Sonatas.
There are two other recordings of sonatas from MS XIV/726 on the Pan Classics label, containing Nos.1, 2, 6, 72, 70, 89 and 71 and a most impressive piece entitled Victori der Christen, depicting the victory over the Turks at the siege of Vienna and modelled on Biber’s Rosary Sonata No.10. The performers are Gunar Letzbor (violin) and Ars Antiqua Austria (PC10322: Scordato: Habsburg Violin Music – subscribers stream or download from classicsonlinehd.com, NO booklet). On another album entitled Anonymus (sic), they perform Sonata No.94, Sonatas No.87, 74, 4, 77, 73 plus Musikalisch Urwerck in A and Das Post-horn in B (PC10310: review. Subscribers stream or download from classicsonlinehd.com: with pdf booklet).
Letzbor is a lively and very accomplished soloist, perhaps even with an edge on Geiger, and he’s very well supported but the continuo provided by Ars Antiqua sounds a little conventional – I don’t mean dull – by comparison with the wonderful chamber organ on the Muso recording. You don’t, however, have to choose between them: there’s only a little overlap between the Muso and the two Pan albums.
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concertos for violin or oboe, Op.7/1-12 (1720)
Pier Luigi Fabretti (oboe: Nos. 1 and 8)
LArte dellArco/Federico Guglielmo (violin: Nos. 2-7, 9-12)
Released September 2015.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95044BR [1:29:40] subscribers stream from Qobuz; purchase download (16-bit lossless) No booklet.
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Il Cimento dellarmonia e dellinventione, Op.8/1-12 (including The Four Seasons, Op.8/1-4)
Pier Luigi Fabretti (oboe)
LArte dellArco/Federico Guglielmo (violin)
rec. Abbazia di Carceri dEste, Padua, Italy, 19-21 and 25-27 June, 2014. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95045BR [1:48:29] from Qobuz: subscribers stream or purchase download (16-bit lossless) NO booklet. Please see my review of the 2-CD set.
LEstro Armonico, Op.3 (1711)
Federico Gugliemo (violin)
LArte dellArco/Christopher Hogwood
rec. March 2002, Sala della Musica, Villa San Fermo, Lonigo, Italy.
CHANDOS CHAN0689(2) [103:18] from the classicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet)
For full details see review by Kirk McElhearn.
Its some time since I reviewed the Brilliant Classics 40-CD box of Vivaldi which contained some very decent but hardly outstanding recordings of the best-known sets of concertos, Opp.3, 4, 8 and 9 (94056 review). Now Brilliant Classics are gradually replacing these older recordings with separate releases performed by LArte dellArco, who contributed just the mandolin and lute concertos (CD10) and the concerti con organo obbligato (CD12) to the earlier box. They are also adding the less well-known sets, including this 2-CD recording of Op.7.
With the disappearance of the I Musici and AAM recordings of Opp.1-12, except as part of a 28-CD box containing the latter, this is the only available version of Op.7. For completists that 40-CD box has been replaced by a 66-CD set which includes all the Op.1 to Op.12 concertos and sonatas from LArte dellArco (94840BR, target price around £67). If you just want the Opp.1-12 concertos and sonatas, they are in a 20-CD box (95200BR) but at a target price of around £48, though a real bargain, thats not much less expensive than its big brother. Qobuz have split the 20-CD set in two, with each half costing £10.79, as have Amazon (£7.99 + £9.59) but with no booklet and RV numbers only on the tracks none of the more familiar Op. numbers its hard to tell which concerto is which.
Even though some of the Op.7 concertos, released in Amsterdam as a pirate edition, are of doubtful authenticity especially the two for oboe the music is all very enjoyable and its very well performed vigorous and forthright, though not to excess and recorded. Its much better than the old I Musici version. I particularly enjoyed hearing a trace of the continuo on both of these recordings it used to be too prominent on some early LPs but its too reticent on many modern CDs.
The new recording of the Op.8 set is advertised as strip[ping] the Four Seasons of centuries of misuse, romantic veneer and tasteless embellishments, going back to the roots of the music, and discovering the essential power and originality. Yes, but other recent period performances aim to do the same, dating right back to the DG Archiv recorded by Simon Standage, Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert, still one of my favourites (DG Originals E4746162, with RV548 and RV516). The Brilliant Classics blurb may be over-egging the pudding but theres plenty of pudding to enjoy here from LArte dellArco: I streamed their recording from Qobuz (for subscribers) and enjoyed it so much that I was tempted to download it at the absurdly cheap price of £6.47, despite the lack of a booklet, until I received the 2-CD set please see full review.
I shall be playing this alongside my other favourite recordings: Standage and Pinnock (above), Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi (Virgin 6025032, 2 CDs: Op.8, or 6484082, 4 CDs: Op.3 and Op.8, both at budget price review), and Alan Loveday with the ASMF and Neville Marriner (Decca Originals 4757531, for a very fine performance of The Seasons on modern instruments, with RV535, RV498 and RV443). All these have something different and exciting to say about these concertos the Marriner can throw up some new aspects even after all these years of familiarity but the new recording is outstandingly good and may even come to oust the Biondi from top place in my affections.
One grumble about both these albums as downloads: they come without a booklet, so I cant give timings or recording details and dates for Op.7. It would have been better, too, to have interspersed the violin and oboe concertos instead of leaving the latter to the end of the Op.8 collection.
Ive also included the older Chandos recording of LEstro armonico, Op.3, which again features Guglielmo and LArte dellArco, but with Christopher Hogwood directing. On its own Op.3 is rather short value as spread across two CDs but the download price partly compensates: £10.00 for mp3 and £11.99 for lossless and the download comes with booklet. By comparison with the Brilliant Classics recordings the recording sounds brighter and leaner but I was less troubled by this than Kirk McElhearn review. This is one of the best recordings of the brilliant Op.3 collection to set alongside Hogwoods earlier recording with the AAM (Decca 4580782, 2 CDs at budget price, with the Flute Concertos, Op.10), Fabio Biondi (the 4-CD set above or Erato Veritas 2564619520, 2 CDs at budget price) or Rachel Podger with Brecon Baroque (CCSSA36515, 2 CDs for the price of one) or, for modern instruments, Neville Marriner and the ASMF (Decca 4434762, 2 CDs at budget price, with 4 concertos for wind instruments).
For a more detailed look at various recordings of The Four Seasons, see Seasons Old and New in DL News 2014/7. The Signum recording which I reviewed then in mp3 only is now available in mp3, 16 and 24-bit lossless from hyperion-records.co.uk, with pdf booklet and the rather short playing time [41:27] means that its available for just £4.99 (mp3 and 16-bit) or £7.50 (24-bit); why would you want to follow the iTunes link to pay considerably more ($9.99 or £7.99) for a less than full bit-rate mp3? (SIGCD377: Kati Debretzeni with the OAE). Just dont ask me what the cover image is all about.
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Duetti e Terzetti italiani
Quel fior che allalba ride (Duetto XV) [7:00]
Giù nei Tartarei regni vandrem madonna, HWV187 [5:46]
Quando in calma ride il mare, HWV191 [4:10]
Amor gioie mi porge [6:41]
Caro autor di mia doglia (Arcadian duet), HWV182b [8:02]
Che vai pensando, HWV184 [4:56]
Va, speme infida pur, HWV199 [6:54]
Italian Duet No 10, Tacete, ohimè tacete, HWV196 [9:17]
Se tu non lasci amore, HWV201 [8:24]
Roberta Invernizzi (soprano), Silvia Frigato (soprano), Krystian Adam (tenor), Thomas E. Bauer (baritone)
La Risonanza (Caterina DellAgnello [violoncello], Evangelina Mascardi [theorbo])/Fabio Bonizzoni (harpsichord)
rec. Abbaye de Saint-Michel en Thiérache, France, 24-27 June 2014. DDD.
Texts and translations included.
GLOSSA GCD921517 [61:10] from eclassical.com (mp3 16 and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet, and from dealers on CD). Subscribers stream in 16 or 24-bit sound from classicsonlinehd.com (with pdf booklet).
This is the latest volume in a very fine series of recordings of music that ought to be much better known. The Recording of the Month accolade is awarded for the whole series. Please see my full review.
Easter Music recommendation
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
La Resurrezione (The Resurrection) HWV47 (1708) [109:18]
Emma Kirkby, Patrizia Kwella, Carolyn Watkinson, Ian Partridge, Paul Elliott and David Thomas
The Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood
DECCA COLLECTORS EDITION 4756731 (8 CDs) – download from Presto (mp3 and lossless NO booklet) or as part of BAROQUE ERA 4786753 (50CDs, with booklet) or BAROQUE ERA 1 (4787094 25 CDs, 25 hours+: download only) – from Presto (mp3 and lossless) subscribers stream from Qobuz (NO booklet from either).
Lisa Saffer, Judith Nelson, Patricia Spence, Jeffrey Thomas, Michael George;
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra/Nicholas McGegan
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC907027/28 [106:29] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)
Of the various recordings of this Easter cantata, composed in Rome, three have fallen into the download-only category – Nicholas McGegan (Harmonia Mundi), Emmanuelle Haïm (EMI – review), Mark Minkowski (DG Archiv) – and the Decca Oiseau-Lyre directed by Christopher Hogwood is available only in a box set, with Athalia, Esther and Messiah (E4756731) or in an even larger, albeit budget-price 50-CD box: Baroque Era or half of that set as a 25-CD-equivalent download (see above). The other currently available recordings come with Ton Koopman at the helm (budget-price Warner Apex), with Marco Vitale directing (budget-price Brilliant Classics – review – also in the 65-CD Handel Edition), John Eliot Gardiner and EBS (budget-price Warner, with Semele, Israel in Egypt, The Ways of Zion do mourn, Zadok the Priest and Dixit Dominus, 6 CDs) and on a live recording directed by Jan Willem de Vriend (Challenge Classics).
The Hogwood recording forms part of the Baroque Era set which I recommended back in 2014. If you followed my advice and obtained either the 50-CD box or Baroque Era 1 as a download, you already have a very good recording of this work. Both the box and the download of Volume 1 remain available, albeit that the latter is more expensive than it used to be: the Presto price is the most attractive that I could find and still very reasonable at £39.22 (mp3) or £49.03 (lossless). The Qobuz download now costs just over £50, but that’s still excellent value for over 25 hours of wonderful music mostly in performances at or very near the top of my recommendations. There’s no libretto but the online programme for a 2009 Barbican performance provides all that you want. Incidentally, Baroque Era 2 is no longer separately available, so if you want the first half it might be a good idea to snap it up in case it, too, disappears. I didn’t give a list of contents, so I’ve included one as an appendix to this DL News.
I couldn’t possibly fail to recommend any recording with Emma Kirkby and I see that I’m not alone: several of my colleagues, reviewing other recordings, have noted their preference for this Hogwood recording and for her part in it in particular. If you hear any of the Emma Kirkby recital CDs with extracts from this recording, you are likely to go for the whole work. This is the version to have: all the soloists are splendid, though my own preference would not have included Ian Partridge, the direction just right and the recording good.
If you don’t want to go for either of the big sets, Qobuz have just La Resurrezione alone – subscribers stream here, purchase here – but the cost of £14.03 represents almost a quarter of having the whole 25-CD set. If you also want the Kirkby/Hogwood Messiah, another work originally for Easter performance – and you could do a lot worse – that costs another £16 or so to download or £23 on CD, so the two together cost almost half of the 25-CD box, which also includes Messiah. 24-bit enthusiasts will find a recent (2014) re-mastering of the Hogwood Messiah on 2 CDs plus blu-ray (4788160 – target price £27.50).
McGegan, too, makes a very strong case for La Resurrzione. He has a very good set of soloists, with Judith Nelson and Michael George especially effective, and they are all well recorded.
The eclassical.com download of the McGegan recording is quite expensive for what was until recently a budget-price set (HMA prefix), especially when it comes without the booklet of words. (See above for a source). At $23.96 it works out slightly more than the Qobuz price for the Hogwood.
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Concerto for oboe, violin and strings, BWV1060R [12:59]
Violin Concerto No.2 in E, BWV1042 [15:52]
Cantata BWV21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis: Sinfonia [2:41]
Violin Concerto No.1 in a minor, BWV1041 [13:26]
Concerto for two violins in d minor, BWV1043 [14:31]
Cecilia Bernardini (violin), with Alfredo Bernardini (oboe, BWV1060R) and Huw Daniel (violin, BWV1043)
Dunedin Consort/John Butt
rec. Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, 17-20 November 2014. DDD/DSD
LINN CKD519 [59:29] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet) or linnrecords.com (as above plus 24/192 and SACD).
‘Bach Violin Concertos’ can mean many different things: in this case the two solo concertos and the double with the reconstructed violin-and-oboe version of BWV1060. That exactly matches the programme on the classic Arthur Grumiaux recording, with Herman Krebbers in the Double Concerto and Heinz Holliger in BWV1060R, still a clear recommendation among modern-instrument versions. (Decca 4207002, mid-price).
Cecilia Bernardini may not be famous. She’s the leader of the Dunedin Consort and leads and directs other modern- and period-instrument groups, rather than a well-known soloist, but that’s not necessarily a disadvantage in performing the Bach concertos where the soloist is more a first among equals than a showy virtuoso. I very much enjoyed hearing her contribution to this recording and I need hardly add that she receives first- rate support from John Butt and the other members of the Consort and from her partners in the two double concertos.
I’m slightly less bowled over than by the Dunedin Consort recordings of the Magnificat and Christmas Cantata (CKD469: Recording of the Month – review – review: also one of myRecordings of the Year), the b-minor Mass (CKD354 – DL Roundup July 2010) and the St John Passion (CKD419: Recording of the Month – review) but not by much. The only reason why I have not considered this for Recording of the Month is that it doesn’t cast quite as much new light on the music as those earlier Linn releases or the new Brilliant Classics Vivaldi Op.8 (above).
Because the Linn recording runs for less than an hour, £18 for the 24-bit download is surely rather over the top when the equivalent SACD is likely to sell for £13 from Linn, or less from some dealers. That’s why I downloaded it in the 16-bit format, though I could easily have obtained the 24-bit as a review copy. The 16-bit sounds fine and is reasonably priced at £10. All of which takes us back to my point about pricing at the start of this DL News.
Because I felt that this recording warranted a longer review than usual in DL News, you’ll find an expanded version on the main MusicWeb International pages.
Johann Sebastian BACH
Markus-Passion (St Mark Passion, BWV247, 1731: reconstructed by Dr Simon Heighes)
Veronika Winter (soprano); Anne Bierwirth (alto); Achim Kleinlein (tenor); Michael Jäckel, Albrecht Pöhl (bass)
Hannoversche Hofkapelle/Jörg Breiding
Text and translation included
RONDEAU ROP7015/6 [53:44 + 49:30] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)
There have been several more or less successful attempts to reconstruct Bach’s lost St Mark Passion. We have it on the authority of CPE Bach that he composed such a work and the libretto, adapted from Homilius’s older setting of the text, exists. Most surprisingly, Rondeau have two recordings: this of the 1731, recorded in 2013 and another, reconstructing the 1744 revision, recorded a year later (ROP6090/1). Simon Thompson recommended the latter, though without too much enthusiasm – review – and I listened to it as streamed from Qobuz, where it can also be purchased, with booklet, for £11.99.
Simon Thompson’s main problem with ROP6090/1 lay with the boys’ choir, whom he thought ‘windy’ and lacking focus. I don’t know what the boys sounded like in Bach’s day but I had no such problems with the Hannover Knabenchor on ROP7015/6. I was less troubled than ST about their Basel counterparts but spot checks between the two left me much in favour of the Hannover performance in all respects including a more focused recording.
I also listened to the Carus recording with the Kölner Akademie and Alexander Willens from classicsonlinehd.com, where it’s available, with booklet, for just £7.99. I liked the performance but if the lengthy recitatives are a problem on the other recordings – less so from Hannover than from Basel – the idea of speaking them on Carus is even more off-putting, though it allows Carus to fit the whole work on one CD. (83.244 – review)
Both Qobuz and eclassical.com include the booklets but the English translation – the same in both – is less than idiomatic at times: the opening Chorale
Geh, Jesu, geh zu deiner Pein! / Ich will so lange dich beweinen, / bis mir dein Trost wird wieder scheinen, / da ich versöhnet werde sein.
is translated ‘Go, Jesus, go unto thy pain! / I will unceasingly lament thee / till me thy comfort reappeareth, /when I am reconciled with thee.’ But the German word Pein is much stronger than its English cognate – more like ‘torment’ or ‘torture’ – and what on earth is the third line supposed to mean? (recte ‘Until thy comfort, or consolation, shines again upon me’.) I suppose it’s meant for singing but the concept of an English performance of this reconstruction seems bizarre. Even more bizarrely, the Carus recording uses the same stilted English text.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Concerto No.5 in D, K175 (1773) [19:21]
Piano Concerto No.6 in B flat, K238 (1776) [18:43]
Three Concertos after J. C. Bach, K107:
I in D [12:27]
II in G [9:19]
III in E flat [8:01]
Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)
Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens
(fortepiano and chamber ensemble in K107)
rec. December 2014, Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Cologne, Germany. DDD/DSD
BIS BIS-SACD-2084 [69:30] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
This series is now approaching its conclusion – just one more volume to go – with these first two concertos which were not pastiches of sonatas by other composers, together with three of the short concertos which were modelled on music by the ‘London’ Bach, whom Mozart met on his visit to England and whose style he admired.
If you have been collecting the rest of the series there is no reason to be put off by the fact that these are early works. The early concertos are more interesting than the early symphonies but those new to the series should start with the recordings of some of the more mature concertos. I enjoyed this album as much as the earlier volumes: only inveterate haters of the fortepiano need to stay clear. The 24-bit download sounds excellent.
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No.9 in C (‘Great’) [59:04]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Charles Mackerras
rec. live Royal Festival Hall, London, 10 June 2006. DDD
SIGNUM SIGCD133 [59:04] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless with pdf booklet)
When I recommended this in DL Roundup October 2008 it was in mp3 format from classicsonline.com. That’s no longer available though it can be obtained from the successor website classicsonlinehd.com but, at £6.99, with booklet, the Hyperion download is a better bargain. The live performance may be slightly rough around the edges but it’s still one of my favourites – a modern-instrument interpretation with many of the qualities of Mackerras’ earlier Virgin recording with the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Trio No.1 in d minor, Op. 49 (1839) [29:26]
Piano Trio No.2 in c minor, Op. 66 (1846) [29:53]
Fournier Trio (Sulki Yu [violin]; Pei-Jee Ng [cello]; Chiao-Ying Chang [piano])
rec. St John the Evangelist, Oxford (SJE Arts), 28-30 July 2014. DDD.
RESONUS RES10161 [59:25] – from resonusclassics.com (mp3, aac, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet, and CD).
Hyperion CDA67485 Trio No.1 [26:51]; Trio No.2 [26:54] The Florestan Trio [53:45] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet). ‘Very strongly recommended indeed’. See review by Colin Clarke and DL Roundup August 2010. The download is now slightly more expensive but still very good value at £6.99.
Champs Hill CHRCD088 Trio No.1 [27:52]; Trio No.2 [28:22] Gould Piano Trio (with Albumblatt and Song without Words in D, Op.109) [72:33] – see review.
RCA Sony Trio No.1 Rubinstein, Heifetz and Piatigorksy [26:38] (with Brahms or Ravel). No longer available on CD: subscribers stream from Qobuz (with Ravel); download from 7digital.com or sainsburysentertainment.co.uk (mp3, with Brahms).
The three recordings listed for comparison set the benchmark very high indeed, especially the classic recording from Rubinstein and friends, referred to at the time by RCA Victor as the million dollar trio. Their recording still sounds well for its age – released in the US in 1951 and in the UK in 1952 – albeit a touch dry and shrill. By comparison the Florestan Trio sound a little understated but both they and the Gould Trio cohere better as a group than the three soloists on RCA who tend to make the music sound more of a showpiece, especially for the violin and piano.
The very first release on the Resonus label was a ground-breaking recording of Mendelssohn: the original version of the Octet, which I found very impressive. (RES10101 – DL Roundup March 2011/2) Could their new release repeat the trick? They certainly start by making a strong first impression in the opening movement of the first trio: more dramatic than the Florestan Trio and, because of the modern recording, more so than even the ‘million dollar’ team whose recording I found needed to be played at slightly lower volume than normal if it is not to sound a tad too shrill, yet also responding to the lyrical moments. Thus they keep in balance what has been aptly described as the unease of this movement.
The slow movement receives some winningly lyrical playing, especially from the violinist. All these recordings are pretty well in agreement about the scherzo and my only reservation about the finale is that the Gould Trio make it sound more like the inspiration for the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio than either the Resonus or the Hyperion team.
The Fournier Trio tend to take their time in both trios – a whole three minutes longer than the Florestan Trio in both works – but there is never a moment in either when I thought them too slow. In both cases I liked the way that they bring extra gravitas to the opening movements, fully responding to the energico e con fuoco marking in the case of the second. The slow movement of the second is espressivo without being dragged – only seconds slower than the Florestans in this case. Overall I’m happy to concur with the Resonus publicity description of these performances as ‘fresh and exciting’ and ‘bring[ing] life and vitality to [the] music’.
The 24-bit download is very good. If the cello sounds slightly like the junior supporter underpinning the group, that tends to happen with most recordings. Of the rivals only Julia Fischer et al on Pentatone PTC5186085 come in 24-bit format but the Champs Hill CD and the Hyperion lossless download are hardly far behind.
Resonus download prices are pretty well in line with what you would expect to pay at full-price: £7.99 (mp3 or aac), £9.99 (16-bit lossless) and a not exorbitant £12.99 for 24-bit, the same price as for the CD, and they come with full documentation.
Édouard LALO (1823-1892)
Cello Concerto in d minor (1876) [25:57]
Symphony in g minor (1886) [26:17]
Namouna, Music from the ballet (1881) [21:24]
(Prélude (Andante) [5:29]; Sérénade (Allegro) [1:37]; Pas des cymbals (Moderato) [2:58]; Danses marocaines (vivace) [2:29]; Dolce far niente (allegretto) [5:09]; Fête foraine (presto-danse) [3:15])
Torleif Thedéen (cello)
Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra/Kees Bakels
rec. Dewan Filharmonik PETRONAS Hall, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 2002 (Concerto, Namouna); and December 2001 (Symphony)
BIS BIS-CD-1296 [74:51] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
‘Overall … this is a very exciting disc of music that should be heard more often’. See review by William Kreindler.
Overture Le Roi d’Ys [11:32]
Violin Concerto in F, Op. 20* [24:44]
Scherzo in d minor [4:14]
Concerto russe, Op.29* [31:04]
Olivier Charlier (violin)*
BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier
rec. New Broadcasting House, Manchester, 9–10 February 1998. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN9758 [71:49] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
Piano Trio No.1 in c minor, Op.7 (c. 1850) [21:09]
Piano Trio No.2 in b minor (c.1852) [28:53]
Piano Trio No.3 in a minor, Op.26 (1880) [29:12]
Leonore Piano Trio
rec. December 2014, Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth
HYPERION CDA68113 [79:16] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet, and on CD)
Lalo’s music generally seems not to be as popular as it once was: the Ansermet Decca recording of excerpts from Namouna, for example, reissued as part of an Eloquence 2-CD set, still has little competition. (4800049, 2 CDs, Lalo and Chabrier – review). Two recent recordings feature excerpts: the BIS recording listed above and a more complete 55-minute selection performed by the Monte-Carlo Orchestra and David Robertson on Naïve V4907, first released in 1994, also available from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet). With the music well performed in the order of the complete ballet, not of the suites, there’s much to enjoy there. The playing time is short but the eclassical.com per-second price policy compensates.
The BIS recording contains a shorter selection from Namouna but the Symphony and Cello Concerto are strong attractions here. With Beecham’s magic recording of the Symphony available only in a 6-CD box set, ominously out of stock from some dealers, BIS offer a very good alternative. (Qobuz have the single-disc Beecham recording of the Franck and Lalo symphonies – stream (for subscribers) or download for £9.09. Their price for the 6-CD set is more than for the discs when available.)
CHAN9758: the two violin works recorded here may not be as well-known as the Cello Concerto but this would make an excellent next move after the BIS recording.
There are rival recordings of the three Piano Trios on Meridian and MDG Gold, which I haven’t heard, but I doubt if either outclasses the new Hyperion. I’m in accord with Jonathan Woolf’s assessment: ‘Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield and Tim Horton make a very convincing case for this trio of trios and the production – recording, notes, and design – is up to Hyperion’s high standards’ – review. The 24-bit download sounds fine.
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Ouvertüre zur Operette Der Zigeunerbaron [7:49]
Josef STRAUSS (1827-1870)
Die Libelle, Polka mazur, Op. 204 [5:11]
Johann STRAUSS II
Furioso, Polka quasi Galopp, Op. 260 [2:15]
Eduard STRAUSS (1835-1916)
Die Biene, Polka française, Op. 54 [3:53]
Dorfschwalben aus Österreich, Walzer, Op. 164 [8:27]
Johann STRAUSS II
Im Krapfenwaldl, Polka française, Op. 336 [4:02]
Auf der Jagd, Polka schnell, Op. 373 [2:03]
Rosen aus dem Süden, Walzer, Op. 388 [8:20]
Tritsch-Tratsch, Polka schnell, Op. 214 [2:27]
Feuerfest!, Polka française, Op. 269 [3:07]
Johann STRAUSS II
Frühlingsstimmen, Walzer, Op. 410 [7:01]
Unter Donner und Blitz, Polka schnell, Op. 324 [2:50]
Wiener Symphoniker/Manfred Honeck
rec. 15-17 January 2014, Großes Festspielhaus, Salzburg, Austria
Pdf booklet included
WIENER SYMPHONIKER WS005 [57:35] – from eClassical (mp3 & 16-bit lossless)
Given that this conductor is such a hit in Pittsburgh – his recent recording of Beethoven’s 5th and 7th Symphonies has been particularly well received – I decided to sample his Strauss. Michael Cookson thought highly of this collection (review). An Austrian conductor and a Viennese band, what could possibly go wrong? Well, the performances are decent, but the unvaried programme is just too brisk and efficient for my taste. Also, the bass is somewhat boomy, and that makes the timps sound dull and diffuse at times. Not what one wants to hear in such light and wonderfully mobile music. Highlights? Die Libelle (The Butterfly) and the witty little French polka Feuerfest! Alas, Honeck’s no match for Boskovsky et al; and while the members of the Symphoniker play well enough they’re overshadowed by their distinguished colleagues at the Philharmoniker.
Entertaining, if a little unsmiling at times; unfocused sound.
[Don’t forget this year’s New Year’s Day concert from Vienna – review. BW.]
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841–1904)
Overtures: Nature, Life and Love (Príroda, život a láska)
In Nature’s Realm (V prírode), Op.91, B168 [14:49]
Carnival (Karneval) Overture, Op.92, B169 [9:38]
Othello Overture, Op.93, B174 [14:35]
My Home (Muj domov), Op.62, B125a [10:07]
Hussite (Husitská) Overture, Op.67, B132 [13:38]
PKF - Prague Philharmonia/Jakub Hrůša
rec. live Forum Karlin, Prague, January 2015. DDD
PENTATONE PTC5186532 [63:14] – from eclassical.com (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet)
I can’t think of any more life-enhancing music than these overtures and they receive performances here to match, as good as any that I have ever heard, including those of Karel Ančerl (Op.91 and Op.93 with Symphony No.9 SU36622; Op.62, Op.67 and Op.92 with Symphony No.9 SU36792) and Sir Charles Mackerras (Op.91 in Life with Czech Music SU40412, 6 CDs), two of the giants of recorded Czech music. Not that I was surprised: I’ve heard and enjoyed Jakub Hrůša with the Prague Philharmonia in the repertoire of his native composers before. (Dvořák American Suite; Suk Serenade and Fantastic Scherzo, Supraphon SU38822). After a less-than-inspiring start to In Nature’s Realm – a little too tentative and over-affectionate for me and maybe a bit sloppy for others – the rest of the programme is excellent.
One considerable advantage in favour of the new recording is the inclusion of Op.91 to Op.93 together in one programme, as the composer intended and as on a Supraphon collection of vintage Vaclav Talich recordings from 1940 to 1952 (SU38312). Vernon Handley also combined those three overtures with Scherzo Capricioso on a 1985 recording with the Ulster Orchestra, now download only but one which would be well worth considering were Chandos to reissue it at a lower price. I enjoyed hearing it but at £8.99 for the lossless download and playing for just 52:20 it’s not really competitive. (CHAN8453 – from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless).
With excellent recording to match, especially in 24-bit, this new recording doesn’t mean that I shall not be listening with affection to Ančerl or Mackerras, the former still sounding very acceptable for 1960s Supraphon, the latter better still.
For a radically different view of this recording please seen Dan Morgan's review.
Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937)
Organ Symphony No.6, Op.42/2 (1879) [37:54]
Organ Symphony No.5, Op.42/1 (1879) [40:50]
Joseph Nolan (organ)
rec. 18-24 May 2011, L’Église de la Madeleine, Paris. DDD
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD292 [72:35] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
The impending release of Volume 5 of this series, containing Symphonies Nos. 9 and 10 (SIGCD347) reminds me that I have not yet reviewed Volume 1, containing the two best-known, Nos. 5 and 6, including the Toccata, which Dominy Clements thought ‘amongst the top rank for these great works’ – review – and William Kreindler believed ‘could rival Ben van Oosten as the standard’ – review. Both had some reservations about the recording quality.
I thoroughly concur with my colleagues about the quality of the performances but was less troubled than them about the recording – perhaps because the 24-bit download brings greater clarity.
The Marie Claire Alain Warner Apex recording of excerpts from Nos. 1-3 plus Nos. 4-6 and 9 is now download only – from Presto (mp3 and lossless) albeit without booklet and more expensive than when it was on CD.
Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Orchestral Works, Vol. 3
Glagolitic Mass, JWIII/9 (126/27) [39:26]
Adagio for Orchestra, JWVI/5 (1890?) [5:47]
Zdrávas Maria (Ave Maria) JWII/14 (1904) [4:13]
Otce náš (Our Father) JWIV/29 [14:36]
Sara Jakubiak (soprano); Susan Bickley (mezzo); Stuart Skelton (tenor); Gábor Bretz (bass)
David Stewart (violin); Johannes Wik (harp); Thomas Trotter, Karstein Askeland (organ)
Bergen Philharmonic Choir; Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm; Edvard Grieg Kor; Bergen Cathedral Choir
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Edward Gardner
rec. Grieghallen (Glagolitic Mass, Adagio) and Bergen Cathedral (Otce náš, Zdrávas Maria,
organ part of the Glagolitic Mass), Bergen, Norway; 17–20 August 2015. DDD/DSD
CHANDOS CHAN5165 [63:22] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet)
Also available on SACD as CHSA5165
There are several surprises here: that three choral works should feature in a series entitled ‘Orchestral Works’, that Chandos should choose to release a rival to their earlier recording of the Glagolitic Mass with Sir Charles Mackerras, and that the new recording should stand up so well to the competition from that earlier Mackerras version and the classic Karel Ancerl, from which I got to know the work on a 17/6 (£0.87) Supraphon LP. The Mackerras is coupled with Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus (CHAN9310) and the Ancerl with Taras Bulba on Supraphon SU36672 and Beulah 1PD66.
I’ve praised Mackerras’s recording of the original version many times since I reviewed it alongside Antoni Wit’s recording (Naxos) in December 2011/1 and it and the Supraphon remain my benchmarks. Mackerras was almost as honoured an interpreter of Czech music, especially of Janácek, as Talich and Ancerl. The Psalmus Hungaricus is a more substantial work than any of the couplings on the new Gardner recording but there’s plenty of energy from Gardner and his team and the new recording, especially wide- ranging, is also available in 24-bit and surround formats. If you haven’t yet discovered the powerful Glagolitic Mass, now is your chance to do so: as well as the recordings discussed above you’ll find a recent Supraphon recording of the final version and an ArcoDiva of the original, both also well worth considering, in DL News 2014/13.
I have to make the usual observation about the new Chandos that the mp3 (£7.99) and 16-bit (£9.99) are reasonably priced but the 24-bit (£13.99) and the surround version (£19.99) cost more than the SACD and to ask why, yet again. Maybe if I keep hammering on your behalf on that door …
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No.2 in g minor, Op.16 (1912-1913) [35:42]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Piano Concerto No.1 in b flat minor, Op.23 (1874) [34:58]
Beatrice Rana (piano)
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano
WARNER CLASSICS 0825646009091 [70:40] Subscribers stream from Qobuz. (Wrong booklet provided). For download see below.
This recording has been so universally praised that it’s almost enough simply to give you the details. The vigorous performance of the Prokofiev provides an antidote to the too-luscious treatment meted out by Kholodenko (below). My only reservation concerns the incongruity of the coupling: surely the Prokofiev Fifth Piano Concerto, as on Harmonia Mundi, would have been more logical but I can’t complain when this is one of the most potent performances of both works I’ve ever heard.
The 16-bit Qobuz download is over-priced at £12.73 when one dealer has the disc for £8.50, especially as the booklet provided when I checked was for another recording completely, but 24-bit enthusiasts may be interested in obtaining that for £14.69. By another crazy fluke of pricing, 7digital.com charge less for the 24-bit version – £9.03 when I checked – than for 16-bit and only pence more than for mp3.
Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
Symphony No.1 in G [45:20]
From Death to Life (Mors et Vitæ) [18:34]
English Symphony Orchestra/William Boughton
rec. Great Hall, Birmingham University, 26-27 January 1991. DDD
NIMBUS NI5296 [64:04] – from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet)
Comparative recording: Complete Symphonies Chandos CHAN9120 (3 CDs) – see DL Roundup July 2011/2.
The Soul’s Ransom - A Psalm of the Poor (Sinfonia Sacra) for soprano, bass, chorus and orchestra [47:04]
The Lotos-Eaters, for soprano, chorus and orchestra [32:39]
Blest pair of Sirens, an Ode by Milton [11:53]
Invocation to Music, an Ode (in Honour of Henry Purcell) by Robert Bridges for soprano, tenor, bass, chorus and orchestra [54:57]
I was glad, Anthem, with words from Psalm 122 [7:10]
Anne Dawson (soprano)
Della Jones (mezzo)
Arthur Davies (tenor)
Brian Rayner Cook, David Wilson-Johnson (baritone)
London Philharmonic Choir
London Symphony Chorus
Roderick Elms (organ)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Matthias Bamert
London Symphony Orchestra/Richard Hickox
rec. Watford Town Hall, Blackheath Concert Halls and All Saints, Church, Tooting, 1988, 1991 and 1992. DDD.
CHANDOS 2-FOR-1 241-31 [79:55 + 74:19] – from theclassicalshop.net (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet). NB: avoid those download sources (not theclassicalshop.net) who charge for this as if for two full-price CDs.
Nimbus: This is one of the older downloads which emusic.com are gradually converting from variable bit-rate to best-quality (for mp3) 320kbs. It’s also something of a bargain for just £2.10, but it would be better still if they were to start offering the booklet, perhaps as an optional extra for a little more. For the booklet you need to obtain the CD – available from Musicweb-International at a competitive price – see review and review, both with purchase button.
This was the world premiere recording, beating the Chandos by a couple of years, though Chandos then went on to record the whole series – see above. It would be hard to claim the youthful symphony as a neglected masterpiece but the Brahmsian* From Death to Life is another matter: this performance makes a good case for both and the download sounds well, though still not as open as I presume that it would sound in a lossless format.
When first released, the CD contained a picture of a youthful, sporting Parry but presumably Nimbus felt that the public were more at home with Parry the old duffer – which he isn’t.
If you are looking for a good inexpensive introduction to Parry’s vocal and choral music, you should find just what you are looking for in the Chandos set – but please note the price warning above. For those seeking more recent recorded sound, in 24-bit, the Te Deum, Magnificat, Jerusalem and other choral works are included on Chandos CHAN10740 – review – review – DL Roundup September 2012/2. Download from theclassicalshop.net (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless with pdf booklet).
* Rob Barnett mentions the Tragic Overture and I also hear echoes of A German Requiem.
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Scaramouche, Op.71 [71:01]
Bendik Goldstein (viola), Roi Ruottinen (cello)
Turku Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam
rec. 8-12 September 2014, Turku Concert Hall, Finland
Pdf booklet included
NAXOS 8.573511 [71:01] - from Presto (mp3, 16- & 24-bit lossless)
These 24/96 files were downloaded from Qobuz late last year, at about the time the company changed hands. That hiatus resulted in a number of releases vanishing from their site – this one included – so I’ll direct listeners to Presto instead. Although Paul Corfield Godfrey enjoyed the CD in terms of performance and sound he points out that the music isn’t up to the composer’s usual standards (review). Despite a few good moments this score lacks charm or serious invention; indeed, I can’t imagine how it would work on stage, such is the music’s safe, rather static nature.
However, listening to Neeme Järvi’s 1991 account with the Gothenburg Symphony – available from eClassical *– is quite instructive. He has a lighter touch and his rhythms are more supple; also, he’s subtler and more colourful than Segerstam. The 16/44.1 BIS recording is good, but it’s nothing special; ditto the 24/96 Naxos one. In the latter case I’d opt for the cheaper 16-bit version. Pushed to choose I’d probably plump for Järvi; that said, not even he can improve what is essentially a sub-par piece.
Mildly diverting; of interest to die-hard Sibelians only.
* eclassical.com also include it in the 6-CD Theatre Music collection, Volume 5 of the complete BIS Sibelius (BIS-CD-1912/14). At $41.77 that’s less expensive than the CD set but Qobuz offer it, with booklet, for even less, at £23.99. [BW]
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)
Chamber Symphony No.1, Op.9 (1905/6) [20:56]
Chamber Symphony No.2, Op.38 (1906-1939) [21:05]
Les Dissonances/David Grimal
rec. live Opéra de Dijon 13 February 13 2013 and Cité de la musique - Philharmonie de Paris 21 October 2014. DDD.
DISSONANCES RECORDS LD0082 [42:01] – from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet) or Presto (mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, with pdf booklet) NB: no CD equivalent in UK.
Regular readers will be amazed to see Schoenberg among these reviews but, obdurately resistant as I am to full-blown Schoenberg, his earlier output, with the exception of Gurrelieder, is a very different matter. I’m very happy with Verklärte Nacht and Pelleas und Melisande and only slightly less so with the Violin Concerto and the Chamber Symphonies. Chamber Symphony No.1 already represented a break with neo- romanticism; the second, with its long gestation period, represented a late return to tonality: neither is an easy listen but these performances convinced me as much as any that I have heard.
42 minutes is short value – other recordings of the two Chamber Symphonies add something substantial – but the emusic price of £1.26 for 320kb/s mp3 compensates. Non-subscribers will find it not much more expensive from Presto, and with the important booklet, too.
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Piano Concerto No.2 in g minor, Op.16 (1913) [33:26]
Piano Concerto No.5 in G, Op.55 (1932) [23:30]
Vadym Kholodenko (piano)
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra/Miguel Harth-Bedoya
rec. October 2014 (No.2), March 2015 (No.5), Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth, Texas, USA. DDD/DSD.
Pdf booklet included
HARMONIA MUNDI HMU807631 [56:55] – from eClassical (mp3, 16- & 24-bit lossless)
Having just reviewed Sergei Babayan’s new recording of the fifth concerto I had hoped Van Cliburn Gold Medal winner Vadym Kholodenko would give his compatriot a run for his money. That said, Brian Renhart wasn’t sold on his earlier disc of solo Rachmaninov and Medtner (review). As for this Texas band and conductor how would they respond to these quirky, cosmopolitan scores? Minutes into the second concerto I had my answer; these are soft edged and rather cautious readings of works that require focus and brio if they’re to work at all. Kholodenko copes well enough with the notes, but where’s the volatility, the verve?
Listening to the risk-taking Michel Béroff, Kurt Masur and the ‘old style’ Leipzig Gewandhaus – a big, boisterous sound with fruity brass – confirms how risk averse these new performances are. The orchestra sounds pretty average, and their conductor doesn’t stand out either. And while the piano is reasonably well caught the orchestra sounds diffuse, with a lumpy bass. As a result vivifying detail is obscured at every turn. Incidentally, eClassical list the sampling rate on the 24-bit files as 96kHz; in fact it comes up on my DAC as 88.2khz.
Pedestrian Prokofiev in dull sound; doesn’t augur well for the rest of the series.
Virgil THOMSON (1896-1989)
The Plow that broke the Plains – Suite [16:02]
Louisiana Story – Suite [20:37]
Louisiana Story – Acadian Songs and Dances [14:58]
Power among Men – Fugues and Cantilenas [16:09]
The New London Orchestra/Ronald Corp
rec. October 1991, All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London. DDD
HYPERION HELIOS CDH55169 [67:46] – from hyperion-records.co.uk (mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet)
Please see 4-star review of original release by Ian Lace: ‘A most appealing programme played with dedication and enthusiasm’.
The Plow that broke the Plains – complete music (1936) [26:52]
The River (1937) [28:43]
PostClassical Ensemble/Angel Gil-Ordóñez
rec. Omega Recording Studios, Rockville, Maryland, USA, 11–12 June 2005. DDD.
NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559291 [55:43] – stream (subscribers) or download from classicsonlinehd.com (lossless, with pdf booklet)
‘Fine scores in such excellent sound’ – please see reviews by Bob Briggs and Dan Morgan: ‘this is a very desirable issue indeed’.
As much as the music of Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson’s film music evokes the people and spaces of North America without either composer conforming to the Hollywood Technicolor stereotype. The Hyperion recording offers a good introduction to three prime examples but Thomson fans will also want the Naxos recording of the whole music for The Plow that broke the Plains and the only recording of the music for The River.
As I was closing this edition I received the download of a 3-CD set of all Thomson’s Songs, promoted by the Virgil Thomson Foundation on New World Records, which I plan to review next time.
Howard HANSON (1896-1981)
Merry Mount Suite (1933) [15:46]
Mosaics (1958) [12:45]
For the First Time (1962) [20:30]
Piano Concerto Op.36 (1948) [20:14]
The Composer Talks - Howard Hanson discusses his music: Introduction - the four orchestral colours [3:26]; Merry Mount Suite (1933) - How does a composer write for orchestra; Pitch spectrum and the colours of the orchestra [30:32]; Mosaics (1958) - How the colours of music influence musical form in the composer’s mind [24:33]; For the First Time (1962) - Musical sound. Using the tonal vocabulary of music to describe the impression [19:55]
Symphony No.1 in E minor Op.21 (Nordic, 1923) [26:42]
Symphony No.2 Op.30 (Romantic, 1930) [27:54]
The Song of Democracy (1957) [12:04]
Symphony No.3 (1943) [33:12]
Elegy in Memory of My Friend Serge Koussevitzky, Op.44 (1956) [11:21]
The Lament for Beowulf (1925) [12:38]
Alfred Mouledous (piano)
Eastman School of Music Chorus;
Eastman Philharmonia; Eastman- rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson
rec. Eastman Theatre Rochester, New York. 1957-1965. ADD.
MERCURY 4756867 [4:35:48] – stream (subscribers) or purchase from Qobuz (16-bit lossless, No booklet: £21.70). Also in mp3 (£15.99) from 7digital.com – but lossless at £24.49 is more expensive than from Qobuz.
Howard Hanson is still an unjustly neglected composer. I have to admit that I haven’t dug out my CDs of his music recently, though when I do I’m completely convinced by his epic style, evoking the open spaces of America as much as Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, and also capable of some tender moments.
The only way now to obtain all these authoritative recordings on CD is to purchase two monster box sets: Mercury Living Presence 2 (4785092, 55 CDs: the symphonies and Beowulf) and Mercury Living Presence 3 (4787896, 53 CDs: Colors, Merry Mount, Mosaics, First Times). Otherwise Presto have released their own disc under licence of some of these recordings:
4343022: Symphony No.3, Elegy, Lament for Beowulf – from Presto (CD and download). Subscribers can stream from Qobuz but their download costs slightly more than that from Presto, who also offer a less expensive mp3 version.
Qobuz also offer Symphony No.1, Symphony No.2 and Song of Democracy, another Mercury recording deleted on CD: at £11.56 the download is over-priced – it’s more than half their price for the complete 4-disc set, which is much better value – but subscribers can stream.
Of the 4-CD set Rob Barnett wrote that it contains ‘definitive performances directed by the composer. This is a splendid and vibrantly played and recorded collection for Hansonians everywhere’ – review. I need add only that the streamed version sounds fine, if a trifle dry, and that these composer-conducted recordings will for many be preferable to the Naxos alternatives, though those receive a more recent recording. I’m sorry that I missed that Naxos set on disc apart from Nos. 4 and 5 (below) probably because I was happy with the two Mercury CDs of Nos. 1-3.
Hanson never recorded his Fourth Symphony (Requiem) in stereo but Naxos Classical Archives have a decent, if shrill and dry, transfer of his 1953 mono recording, coupled with Hanson conducting Roy Harris’s Third Symphony (9.81162 – DL News 2013/14). At $6.60 from eclassical.com in mp3 or lossless, though with no booklet, it’s a bargain, too.
For a more recent Fourth, coupled with the Fifth (Sinfonia sacra) and the Elegy for Koussevitzky there’s the Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz (Naxos 8.559703 – see DL Roundup January 2012/2). If you find the earlier symphonies a little too much like Technicolor movies – music for ET or Star Wars long before its time, as it were – these two later, more spiritual, works offer a corrective. Ignore the classicsonline.com link: subscribers can now stream from classicsonlinehd.com where the album can be purchased in lossless sound for £4.99, with booklet.
No.6 (Lumen in Christo) and No.7 (A Sea Symphony) are coupled in performances from the Seattle team on Naxos 8.559704:Recording of the Month – review – review – review. That’s available to stream (for subscribers) or to purchase from classicsonlinehd.com (lossless download with pdf booklet). I seem to have missed that when it was released but can confirm those very positive reviews and note that the sound of the download is very good.
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Violin Concerto in D, Op.35 (1945) [25:36]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
Violin Concerto in d minor Op.15 (1938-1939) [32:23]
Vilde Frang (violin)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony/James Gaffigan
Rec. 30 June-2 July and 28 August 2015, Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt. DDD
WARNER CLASSICS 0825646009213 [58:12] – subscribers stream from Qobuz with pdf booklet. NB: download from Qobuz is more expensive than the CD.
I would never have thought of these two concertos as likely companions: the sticky-sweet Korngold and the ascetic Britten seem most unlikely companions, even if they are Vilde Frang’s long-time favourites and both were composed in America around the same time. Listen to her take on the Korngold, however, and you begin to see the kinship which she perceives between the two works. There’s all the beauty that other performers find in the work but somehow the sweetness is less cloying and the concerto seems to have a greater degree of inner strength. The finale is positively bracing.
Conversely there is a touch more lyricism than usual in the Britten without skimping the power and virtuosity. Ultimately she may not persuade me that this is a logical coupling – the Britten Violin and Piano Concertos on Chandos work better together* – but she certainly made me sit up and take notice and I appreciated her performances of both works. With very able support and very good recording, if the coupling appeals this is a winner.
I enjoyed hearing the streamed version from Qobuz, to which I have given a link, but baulked at paying £12.73 for the download of a disc currently discounted by one dealer to £8.50 – and even their regular price of £10.90 is less than the Qobuz download, as is another dealer’s regular price of £8.99. 7digital.com are asking even more for a lossless download, at £12.99: even their price of £8.99 for mp3 is not competitive, though it comes with the pdf booklet.
* CHAN10764, Tasmin Little (violin); Howard Shelley (piano); BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner – review: Recording of the Month – DL News 2013/6.
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Gayaneh, Op. 50 (excerpts) (1943) (arr. Francis Perron) [12:46]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 ‘Classical’ (1917) (arr. Olivier Godin) [14:28]
Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Romeo and Juliet – fantasy overture (1880 version, arr. Perron) [18:35]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
St. John’s Night on Bald Mountain (1867) (arr. Louis Dominique Roy) [10:48]
Masquerade – suite, Op. 48a (arr. Perron) [16:55]
Orford Six Pianos (Sandra Murray, Claire Ouellet, Mariane Patenaude, Francis Perron, Pamela Reimer, Louis Dominique Roy)
rec. May 2015, Salle Gilles Lefèbvre, Centre d’arts Orford, Québec, Canada
Pdf booklet included
ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22733 [73:32] – from eClassical (mp3, 16- & 24-bit lossless)
On my regular trawl of eClassical’s new releases I spotted this and downloaded it without delay. According to the extended booklet interview with Mariane Patenaude, the group – made up of piano coaches at Quebec’s Orford Arts Centre – envisaged this six-piano project as a bit of fun. I’ve yet to hear the first volume in the series, but I’m delighted to report that this one is hugely entertaining. And don’t be fooled; this isn’t a case of pianistic overload, for these are fine arrangements played with plenty of skill and a good feeling for idiom.
Khachaturian’s Gayaneh and Masquerade suites are virtuosic vehicles that once launched are impossible to stop. Rhythms are infectious, colours are vivid and the full, well-balanced recording ensures oodles of nuance and detail. Yes, there are a few moments when textures get a little too dense, but otherwise clarity is king. For me the Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky pieces are the stand-outs; they’re sensitively done and, in the Romeo and Juliet especially, the pianos’ sonorities mirror those of the orchestral originals most beautifully. There’s also a drive here – and a firm commitment to musical values – that’s just riveting.
Serious fun; next stop, Volume 1 (ACD22566). [CD or download from Presto. BW]
Arnold Atkinson COOKE (1906-2005)
Symphony No.4 in E flat (1974) [27:10]
Symphony No.5 in G (1979) [32:34]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/John Pritchard (4)
BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Keeffe (5)
rec. live Royal Festival Hall, London, BBC Broadcast, 15 January 1975. First performance. ADD mono (4)
BBC Broadcast, 17 July 1981. ADD mono (5)
LYRITA REAM.1123 [59:44] from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet). Information and rear insert from wyastone.co.uk. CD available for £9 from MusicWeb-International.
Full marks to Lyrita for filling two gaps in the catalogue with yet another very valuable release please see my full review.
Karel HORKÝ (1909-1988)
Symphony No.3 (1969) [25:44]
Osudová Preludia (Fateful Preludes) for piano and orchestra [20:50]
Dagmar Baloghová (piano)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Václav Neumann
SUPRAPHON VT7551-2 [46:34] – from emusic.com (mp3). Subscribers stream, or download from Qobuz
I can give you very little information about Karel Horký or these two works apart from what I have listed above. One website which I consulted even appears not to have noticed that he died in 1988 and lists his age as 107!
His Third Symphony is a powerful work and receives a performance to match. The recording, which must have been made some time between 1969 and Václav Neumann’s death in 1995, does justice to the performances. Though powerful, the symphony is perfectly accessible to anyone who likes Bartók or Martinu but Fateful Preludes is a slightly tougher nut to crack. Subscribers to Qobuz should give this a try and it can be downloaded there for just £3.19. From emusic.com it’s an even more attractive £1.68 and it comes at 320kb/s. Unfortunately, neither source offers the booklet.
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
Le Loup – Complete ballet (1953) [29:18]
La Fille du Diable – Extracts from the film score (1945-1946) [11:00]
Trois Sonnets de Jean Cassou [9:50]
Quatre Mélodies, for voice and orchestra (1941-1943) [11:06]
Trois Tableaux symphoniques – For a stage version of Wuthering Heights (1944-1946) [11:37]
Vincent Le Texier – baritone (Sonnets, Mélodies)
Valérie Hartmann-Claverie – ondes martenot (Diable, Trois Tableaux)
Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire/Pascal Rophé
rec. July 2015, Auditorium Brigitte Engerer, Lycée Mandela, Nantes, France
Pdf booklet includes sung texts and translations
BIS BIS-SACD -1651 [74:20] – from eClassical (mp3, 16- & 24-bit lossless)
It’s the centenary of Dutilleux’s birth, so I imagine this collection of his less-familiar output is just a taste of what’s to come. I last heard Pascal Rophé in a rather fine coupling of Jongen’s Symphonie Concertante and Saint-Saëns’ ‘Organ’ Symphony with Olivier Latry at the console (review). This new release, much praised by Hubert Culot (review), starts with a fine account of the ballet Le Loup (The Wolf). There’s jazz and street music here, all folded into a score that reminds me of Malcolm Arnold at his balletic best. Stravinsky isn’t too far away, either.
The vocal items are comparatively disappointing, but that has more to do with the plaintive, vibrato-laden delivery of baritone Vincent Le Texier than the music itself. The excerpts from Dutilleux’s score for Henri Decoin’s 1946 film La Fille du Diable (The Devil’s Daughter) is curious, not least because it features the strange, sinuous tones of the ondes martenot. It certainly has plenty of drive and imagination, not to mention lush moments à la Korngold. Franz Waxman’s score for the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein – which also uses the ondes to brilliant effect – comes to mind as well.
Great fun, but those snippets are more than enough for me. Ditto the Trois Tableaux symphoniques, intended to accompany a stage performance of Wuthering Heights. At times the music for the latter seems better suited to a James Whale monster flick from the 1930s, although one could argue that Brontë’s darkly obsessive tale does invite the gothic treatment.
Unusual fare, attractively presented and recorded; worth it for the ballet alone.
For those happy with excerpts from Le Loup, the three Fragments Symphoniques, about half the work, are available on a 2-CD EMI/Warner 20th Century Classics set, 2068792 – review – also containing the cello concerto Tout un Monde Lointain (Mstislav Rostropovich), the violin concerto L’Arbre des Songes (René Capuçon), Symphony No.2, etc. It was until recently an attractive bargain on disc and remains available as a download from Presto or for streaming for subscribers from Qobuz. Some dealers are asking an exorbitant £24+ for the discs.
The alternative Lynn Harrell recording of Tout un Monde, also with L’Arbre des Songes (Pierre Amoyal) and conducted by Charles Dutoit is a real bargain for £5.44 from 7music.com or from sainsburysentertainment.co.uk (Decca 4443892, both mp3).
Eclassical.com also have the Seattle Symphony recording of Tout un Monde, with Symphony No.1 and Shadows of Time, which I reviewed in 2014/6. I also mentioned then the highly regarded Chandos recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 from the BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier on CHAN9194 [59:47] which can be downloaded from theclassicalshop.net in mp3 and lossless sound with pdf booklet. [BW]
DISCOVERY OF THE MONTH
David STOCK (1939-2015)
Concierto Cubano (2000) [18:59]
Oborama (2010) [19:53]
Percussion Concerto (2007) [21:15]
Andrés Cárdenes (violin)
Alex Klein (oboes)
Lisa Pegher (percussion)
Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose
rec. 30 May, 2012 (Concierto Cubano), 31 May, 2013 (Oborama) Distler Performance Hall,
Medford, MA; 1 July, 2014 at Jordan Hall, Boston, MA (Percussion Concerto).
BMOP SOUND 1047 [60:08] – reviewed from .wav press access files.
Subscribers stream from Qobuz or purchase there for download (NO booklet). Hybrid SACD from Amazon UK or ArkivMusic.
Yet another release from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) featuring unrecorded music and it’s yet another which bucks the trend of so much contemporary music to pass over the heads of or to annoy traditionalists like myself. There’s nothing here to take exception to: nothing harder to fathom than the Schoenberg Chamber Symphonies (above). While I don’t expect these three concertos ever to bring the same kind of fame to their composer as Schoenberg received, there’s so much here that I enjoyed that I intend to chase up some of the other available recordings of his music, including a whole CD in the Naxos Milken Archive series (8.559422 – review).
The enthusiasm of all the performers is clear and the recording, to which I listened in CD-quality wav sound, does the music and them full justice. Sadly the composer passed in 2015, before the album was released but he would have been able to hear these recordings and he wrote an introductory piece for the booklet which, most regrettably, is not included with the Qobuz download.
Much of Stock’s music is available in the UK as downloads only: you’ll find a more complete representation at Arkivmusic.com, including a collection entitled American Accents and containing the work of that name plus the Viola Concerto (Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola) and Symphony No.2. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra is conducted by the composer and Gerard Schwarz (Innova 586 [58:59]). I downloaded American Accents from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, no booklet) and enjoyed that, too. Don’t be put off by the bare tree on the cover: it’s not representative of the music.
Pēteris VASKS (b.1946)
String Quartet No.5 (2004)* [23:32]
String Quartet No.2 (Vasaras dziedajumi, Sommerweisen: Summer Melodies) (1984) [26:33]
Spikeru String Quartet
rec. Sesava Lutheran Church, August 2013 (Quartet No.5), City of Rezekne Concert Hall GORS, May 2014 (Quartet No.2). DDD
* First European performance and first recording worldwide.
WERGO WER73292 [50:05] – from emusic.com (mp3, NO booklet)
String Quartet No.2 (Vasaras dziedajumi, Sommerweisen: Summer Melodies) (1984) [23:59]
String Quartet No.3 (1995) [25:58]
rec. Riga, c.1999.
CAPRICE CAP21635 [49:57] – from eclassical.com (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)
I made a recording of Pēteris Vasks’ music on the Wergo label my Bargain of the Month in 2015/9 (Sala, Musica, Credo: WER73232), along with the Hyperion recording of his and Kurt Weill’s violin concertos (CDA67496)*. The emusic.com download of the two string quartets is only a little more expensive, at £2.10, and it comes at the full 320 kb/s which I’m pleased to see is now their norm.
Emusic.com also offer the Caprice recording for £2.95 but it’s a variable-bit-rate download so I recommend paying a little more for the eclassical.com, in full mp3 and lossless. Neither of these recordings is available to download with booklet.
Vasks’ music is not an easy listen – rather harder going than that of Arvo Pärt whose intensity it shares – but I find it rewarding to make the effort. Both these recordings present idiomatic and convincing performances but the Wergo contains the only available version of No.5 – a premiere, I think, though not so claimed.
* My thanks to M.V. who reminded me via the Message Board, that Vasks is Latvian. Not all modern composers from Baltic countries come from Estonia! Latvian is actually an ‘easier’ language than Estonian.
Great European Organs Volume 95
Rudolf Müller (Steinmeyer Organ)
rec. Monastery Church, Mariannhill, Würzburg, September 2013. DDD.
PRIORY PRCD1127 [69:41] – from Presto (mp3 and lossless, NO booklet)
Please see my full review: With idiomatic performances on a versatile organ, very good recording and Priory’s usual detailed documentation, this is a worthy successor to the many fine albums in this series. The apparent lack of the booklet from any download source that I can find makes me recommend the CD rather than the download, though Qobuz subscribers may wish to stream it.
I recently reviewed the Pentatone SACD reissue of Narciso Yepes 1977 and 1979 recordings of Joaquín Rodrigos Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasía para un gentihombre and Concierto madrigal, with the Philharmonia and ECO conducted by Garcia Navarro and with Godelieve Monden as second guitar in Concierto madrigal. (PTC5186209 review). Made in quadraphonic sound, an SACD release of this and several other DG and Philips quad recordings was a natural. I purchased the SACD and was very pleased, not least at the attractive price of £10.75 from Presto.
Now that recording has been reissued by DG as part of a budget-price 5-CD set of all Yepes concerto recordings, from his first shots at Rodrigo with Alonso (1969) via Vivaldi conducted by Kuenz (1971), Giuliani (1977), Bacarisse and Halffter with Alonso (1972), Ohana and Ruiz-Pipo with Frühbeck de Burgos (1975), Villa-Lobos and Castelnuovo-Tedesco with Navarro (1976) and concluding with the three Rodrigo works as per the Pentatone release. That means having two different versions of Aranjuez and the Fantasía but the set is competitively priced at around £24 currently £19.20 from Presto and their download is even more attractively priced at £6.34 (mp3) or £7.93 (lossless), complete with booklet (4795457). Thats even less expensive than Qobuzs £8.18 but Qobuz subscribers can stream here.
Appendix: Baroque Era 1 contents
CD1 Thomas ARNE Overtures
CD2 William BOYCE Symphonies
CD2-3 John BLOW Venus and Adonis
CD4 Henry PURCELL Incidental Music
CD5 Henry PURCELL The Indian Queen
CD6 John BLOW, Henry PURCELL, etc.: Vocal music
CD7 George Frideric HANDEL Water Music Suite No.1; Fireworks Music
CD8-9 George Frideric HANDEL Concerti Grossi, Op.6/1-12
CD10 George Frideric HANDEL, etc.: Emma Kirkby recital
CD11 George Frideric HANDEL, etc.: Emma Kirkby and Patrizia Kwella recital
CD12-13 George Frideric HANDEL Messiah
CD14-15 George Frideric HANDEL La Resurrezione
CD16-18 George Frideric HANDEL Orlando
CD19 Johann Sebastian BACH Goldberg Variations (Christophe Rousset)
CD20-21 Johann Sebastian BACH Brandenburg Concertos (New London Consort)
CD22 Johann Sebastian BACH Concertos for 3 and 4 harpsichords; Antonio Vivaldi Concerto Op.3/10
CD23 Johann Sebastian BACH Cantatas Nos.8, 78 and 99 (Joshua Rifkin)
CD24 Johann Sebastian BACH Coffee and Peasant Cantatas (Emma Kirkby, etc.)
CD25 Carl Philipp Emmanuel BACH Sinfonias, Wq182/1-6
All with The Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood except where otherwise stated.