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Thursday February 23rd

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Cello suites Luigi DALLAPICCOLA (1904-1975) Ciaccona, Intermezzo e Adagio György LIGETI (1923-2006) sonata - Natalie Clein (cello) rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68155 [64:29] [DBi] A lovely disc of 20th century music for solo cello.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7 - Vienna SO/Yakov Kreizberg rec. 2004 PENTATONE PTC5186051 SACD [67:24] [DM] Bruckner Sevenths don’t come much better than this; one for the desert island.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) At the Boar's Head Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Riders to the Sea - Warsaw Chamber Opera Sinfonietta/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2016 DUX 1307-08 [55:11 + 38:29] [NB] Decent performances but they don’t seriously challenge the existing versions.

Pierre de MANCHICOURT (c.1510-1564) Sacred works - Ch of St. Luke in the Fields, New York/David Shuler rec. 2016 MSR CLASSICS MS1632 [65.44] [GH] Music that has been much overlooked, presented here in often moving performances.

William MATHIAS (1934-1992) Choral works - St. Albans Abbey Girls Ch,Lay Clerks of St Albans Cathedral Ch/Tom Winpenny (organ) Michael Papadopoulos (organ and piano secondo) Peter Foggitt (piano primo) O Nova rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573523 [71:44] [JQ] A fine collection of music by William Mathias, expertly performed.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 - Heath Qt rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMU907665 [66:24] [ST] The performance is outstandingly assured, and speaks of artists who have already attained a remarkable degree of maturity.

Daniel Behle (vocals) Mein Hamburg - Schnyder Trio rec. 2015/16 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300826BC [66:19] [GF] A wonderful disc that all admirers of Daniel Behle and of good singing should allow themselves to own.

Lachen und Weinen Songs by Hindemith, Schubert & Weill - Katja Stuber (soprano) Boris Kusnezow (piano) rec. 2014 CONDITURA CONREC005 [54:07] [SG] A varied programme that works well.

Mandala 3 Works by LeFanu & Lumsdaine - Gemini/Ian Mitchell rec. 1995/2015 MÉTIER MSV28565 [76:34] [JF] A fascinating release, exploring the work of two of Britain’s leading composers.

Sing Willow Les Sirènes Female Chamber Ch/Andrew Nunn ALBION RECORDS ALBCD030 [67:55] [JQ] A thoroughly attractive disc in every respect from a superb choir.

Wednesday February 22nd

György LIGETI (1923-2006) Bagatelles, Chamber Concerto, Pieces for Wind Quintet - Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2016 MUSICALES ACTES SUD ASM26 [44:01] [LW] Excellent accounts of Ligeti chamber works, though the CD could have accommodated more music.

Oskar LINDBERG (1887-1955) Requiem & other choral works - Stockholm University College of Music O/Hans Kyhle rec. 1980/86 STERLING CDS1013-2 [61:36] [SG] A release that makes a compelling case for Lindberg's music.

Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764) Concerti Grossi - Freiburger Barockorchester /Gottfried von der Goltz rec. 2004 HARMONIA MUNDI HMA1951889 [61:03] [DC] A real ear-opener.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture & Incidental Music - Monteverdi Ch/London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2016 LSO LIVE LSO0795 [55:09] [ST] With a film of the concert included, this is an excellent package.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Arias - Maria Bengtsson (soprano) Lausanne CO/Bertrand de Billy rec. 2016 MDG 9401973-6 SACD [67:09] [GF] One of the loveliest Mozart recitals I have heard in a long time.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Grand Piano Sonata, The Seasons - Sviatoslav Richter (piano) rec. 1954/56 PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 350076 SACD [79:01] [JW] There is nothing new or startling here and most collectors of Richter will have this material already.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Concertos 1 & 2, String Quartet No. 8 - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573666 [69:47] [ST] Snap this up! Giltburg and Petrenko work superbly together. Great value for money.

Cristina SPINEI (b. 1984) Music For Dance - Voxare String Qt, St Michel Strings/Jose Serebrier rec. 2009-16 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0371 [63:15] [DJB] Hypnotically rhythmic and melodically pleasing.

Michael STIMPSON (b.1948) Jesse Owens, Preludes in our time - Abigail Kelly (soprano) Jolhnny Herford (baritone) Philharmonia O/Stuart Stratford rec. 2014 STONE RECORDS 5060192780659 [65.41] [PCG] This has to be thought of as a sampler from from what is clearly an expertly constructed and well-written score. It is to be hoped that performances and recordings of the full work will follow.

The Tree of Life Choral works for Advent and Christmas - The Trinity Ch/Daniel Taylor rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 88985387302 [56:01] [JQ] It’s a joy to hear music such as this sung by so expert a consort of singers.

Tuesday February 21st 

Eyvind ALNÆS (1872-1932) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - Latvian National SO/Terje Mikkelsen rec. 2008 STERLING CDS1084-2 SACD [78:14] [JW] Both these symphonies are highly enjoyable, though the First is the more structurally convincing achievement.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks, Concerto Köln/Peter Dijkstra rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900910 [3 CDs: 178.48] [MC] Peter Dijkstra conducts an achingly beautiful live performance.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Partitas - Jory Vinikour (harpsichord) rec. 2014 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92209 [3 CDs: 153:07] [SSi] This recording may not be a first choice, but it is safe and steady one which presents the music well but without a flourish.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck - Roman Trekel (baritone) Anne Schwanewilms (soprano) Houston SO/Hans Graf rec. NAXOS 8.660390-91 [36:22 & 61:30] [GPJ] A fine and very powerful Wozzeck from Houston, with Anne Schwanewilms magnificent and moving as Marie.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) Roberto Devereux - Mariella Devia (soprano) Stefan Pop (tenor) O & Ch Teatro Carlo Felice/Francesco Lanzillotta rec. 2016 DYNAMIC Blu-ray 57755 [138 min] [RJF] Without the distractions of Regietheater or intrusive producer concepts, this performance and staging gets to the heart of Donizetti’s last Elizabethan opera.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956), Arnold BAX (1883-1953) & John IRELAND (1879-1962) Choral works - Daniel Cook (organ), Ch Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68167 [73.35] [EJW] Fine performances from all involved in this recording of English church music.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 - London SO/Sir John Eliot Gardiner rec. 2014-16 LSO LIVE LSO0769 [62:11] [ST] Delightful performances.

Leroy SHIELD (1893-1962) Laurel & Hardy: The Original Piano Music - Alessandro Simonetto (piano) rec. 2016 AEVEA AE16024 [66:48] [RMay] Evocative and quite delightful.

Marianne Crebassa (mezzo) Oh, Boy! - Mozarteum O Salzburg/Marc Minkowski rec. 2016 ERATO 9029592762 [72:36] [MR] A wide-ranging programme of mezzo-soprano “trouser-roles” sung with wonderful vibrancy by this most impressive French singer.

Recuerdos Works by Tarrega, Moller, Piazzola, Brookshire, Falla & Nordgren - Athens Guitar Duo rec. 2015 CLAUDIO RECORDS DVD-A CR6037-6 [60:23] [DBi] Another spectacularly well recorded disc.

Monday February 20th 

Kurt ATTERBERG (1887-1974) Orchestral Works Vols 4 & 5 - Gothenburg SO & Ch/Neeme Järvi rec. 1997-2015 CHANDOS CHAN10894 [62.23] CHSA5166 SACD [63.17] [JQ] The final instalments in Neeme Järvi’s Atterberg symphony cycle.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Beatrice Rana (piano) rec. 2016 WARNER CLASSICS 9029 588018 [77.45] [MC] Beatrice Rana is a pianist who makes you sit up and take notice.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Concerto for 2 Violins Antonio VIVALDI (1678–1741) Violin Concerto César FRANCK (1822-1890) Violin Sonata - David Oistrakh & Igor Oistrakh (violins) Leipzig Gewandhaus O/Franz Konwitschny, Anton Ginsburg (piano) rec. 1957/58 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300841BC [59:33] [JW] Well presented but there’s nothing here that is new to disc.

Guido Alberto FANO (1875-1961) & Silvio OMIZZOLO (1905-1991) Works for cello and piano - Rocco Filippini (cello) Andrea Bacchetti (piano) rec. 2013 TACTUS TC870001 [63:00] [DJB] Fano is definitely worth exploring, but the choice of discmate is a mystery.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Sonata in B minor, Concert Études 1 & 2 - Daria Telizyn (piano) rec. 1987 CLAUDIO DVD-A CR3705-6 [53:53] [DBi] A remarkable pianist superbly recorded at the peak of her all-too-short career.

Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (1934-2016) Chamber works - Duccio Ceccanti (violin) Vittorio Ceccanti (cello) Matteo Fossi, Bruno Canino (piano) rec. 2009/16 NAXOS 8.573599 [63:10] ]JF] All fans of Max will require this CD.

Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (1846-1909) Orchestral works - National Polish Radio SO/Gabriel Chmura, Slawek A. Wróblewski, Zygmunt Rychert rec. 2001/2004 STERLING CDS1083-2 [64:35] [JW] This is the best of Noskowski I’ve yet encountered.

Jean PAPINEAU-COUTURE (1916-2000) String Quartets, String Trio - Quatuor Molinari rec. 2016 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22751 [60:01] [SG] Attractive quartets, stylishly performed. An immensely rewarding discovery.

Howard SHORE (b. 1946) A Palace Upon the Ruins, Peace, The Garden, Six Pieces, Catania - rec. 2016 HOWE RECORDS HWR-1020 [50:10] [MMB] Pleasant, solid work with some enchanting moments.

Dixit Dominus Choral works by Vivaldi, Mozart & Handel - La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall rec. 2015 ALIA VOX AVSA9918 SACD [68:45] [ST] Very well done and definitely worth a listen, particularly for the marvellous Handel.

Other reviews
Musicals The Household Troops Band of the Salvation Army/Carl Saunders rec. 2016 SP&S SPS398CD [66:27] [BMC] Fine songs and performances ... serenity and exuberance beautifully captured.

Friday February 17th

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Works for Oboe - Frank de Bruine (oboe) O of the Eighteenth Century/Kenneth Montgomery rec. 2015 GLOSSA GCD921123 [72:56] [MR] A witty and elegant exploration of Mozart’s relationship with the oboe.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Daphnis et Chloë, Une barque sur l’océan - Spirito, Lyon Ntl O/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2011-2015 NAXOS 8.573545 [65.43] [PCG] High on the list of currently available recordings.

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Opera Overtures & Concertos - Concerto de’ Cavalieri/Marcello Di Lisa rec. 2015 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985 370012 [54:03] [DJB] A fine production that presents these orchestral works in a very good light.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Gurre-Lieder - Gothenburg SO, Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2015 CHANDOS CHSA5172(2) SACD [56:12 + 46:46] [JQ] This new Gurre-Lieder has a lot going for it and is well worth hearing.

Emil SJÖGREN (1853–1918) Songs - Katarina Pilotti (soprano) Kristina Balstedt Tyrenius (piano) rec. 2009/10 STERLING CDA1669-2 [71:37] [GF] Excellent … should win new admirers for these songs and please all who like first-class ‘romanser’.

Joseph WOELFL (1773-1812) Piano Music Vol. 1 - Adalberto Maria Riva (piano) rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0383 [73:05] [JW] This looks like being an intriguing series.

Natalie Dessay (soprano) Pictures of America - Paris Mozart O/Claire Gibault rec. 2015/16 SONY 88985342842 [49:50 + 42:58] [ST] This set left me feeling baffled and actually slightly duped.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Emotions Works by Franck & Ravel - Kirill Troussov (violin) Alexandra Troussova (piano) rec. 2016 MDG 903 1984-6 SACD [65:29] [DBi] A magnificent disc of great music, superbly played and recorded.

 Guillaume Le Dréau (organ) Works by Faure, Delvincourt, Rabaud, Emmanuel, Roger-Ducasse & Schmitt rec. 2016 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR37LD [65:55] [SG] The inclusion of relatively unknown repertoire by lesser known composers is a compelling factor. It’s a release I cannot fault.

Made in Britain Royal Liverpool PO/John Wilson rec. 2010 AVIE AV2194 [72:39] [RB] This is a nicely filled fresh disc standing as enthusiastic and communicative testimony to John Wilson's gifts as an English music practitioner.



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