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Friday March 31st

Frederic CLIFFE (1857-1931) Symphony No. 1, Cloud and Sunshine - Malmö Opera O/Christopher Fifield rec. 2003 STERLING CDS1055-2 [57.54] [JW] Cliffe can certainly stand proudly in the tradition of late nineteenth-century British symphonists.

Émile GOUÉ (1904-1946) Piano Works Vol. 2 - Diane Andersen (piano) AZUR CLASSICAL AZC083 [74:44] [SG] It has been gratifying to encounter this rarely performed music.

Vincent d'INDY (1851-1931) Symphony No. 2, Souvenirs, Istar - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Jean-Luc Tingaud rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573522 [80:03] [DJB] For those new to d’Indy’s music, this is an excellent place to start.

František JIRÁNEK (1698-1778) Concertos - Collegium Marianum/Jana Semerádová rec. 2016 SUPRAPHON SU4208-2 [69:09] [JW] This series hasn’t seemed like faltering at any stage and I’m glad to say it hasn’t done so here.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Il Sesto Libro de Madrigali - Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini rec. 1992 ARCANA A425 [72:50] [SSi] This enjoyable recording deals with Monteverdi’s music on the theme of loss. I find it easy to recommend.

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) Complete Works for Violin/Viola, Cello & Guitar -  Nils-Erik Sparf (violin/viola) Andreas Brantelid (cello) David Härenstam (guitar) rec. 2016 PROPRIUS PRCD2078 [61:11] [GF] This music may be a bit off the beaten track but it is charming and well worth anyone’s acquaintance, and also eminently well executed.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Turandot - Nina Stemme, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Ch & O Teatro alla Scala Milano/Riccardo Chailly DECCA 074 3938 Blu-ray [136 mins] [DBi] Puccini's final opera with Berio's well judged completion. A top recommendation.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier suites - Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-722 SACD [58.33] [NB] An impressive disc.  

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben - NHK SO/Paavo Järvi rec. 2015 RCA 88985391762 [61:29] [MB] A sensational Don Juan but a Heldenleben that only occasionally reaches the heights.

Charles Munch The Complete New York Philharmonic Recordings - P-SO New York rec. 1947/48 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC448 [56:00 + 76:58] [JQ] An enjoyable set which includes some useful additions to the Munch discography.

Thursday March 30th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete String Quintets - Mandelring Qt, Roland Glassl (viola) rec. 2016 AUDITE 97.724 [54.55] [MC] These masterclass performances of the String Quintets from Mandelring Quartett with Roland Glassl bear comparison with the finest accounts.

David GORTON (b.1978) Variations on Dowland - Longbow/Peter Sheppard Skærved; Stefan Östersjö (guitar) rec. 2015/16 TOCCATA TOCC0396 [62:22] [BW] A recording of two halves, well worth considering for the more approachable of them.

Armas JÄRNEFELT (1869-1958) Orchestral works - Gävle SO/Hannu Koivula rec. 1996 STERLING CDS1021-2 [62:53] [RB] A cleverly balanced cross-section of Järnefelt's orchestral music.

Robert KAHN (1865-1951) Works for Violin & Piano - Elina Vähälä (violin) Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2012 CPO 777 785-2 [64:52 + 73:04] [JW] Attractive works in good performances.

Michael KIMBER (b. 1945) Music for viola Vols. 4 & 6 - Marcin Murawski (viola) Boczniewicz Sisters (vocals) Mariusz Siejko (double-bass) Kameralna Concertino O/Marek Siwka; O dia Dyplomantów/Eugeniusz Dabrowski rec. 2014/15 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0335/349 [73.25 & 50.56] [PCG] Modern, but very accessible.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Complete Works for Piano Duet & Duo - Invencia Piano Duo rec. 2010-12 GRAND PIANO GP730X [4 CDs: 229:41] [SSi] This is a wonderful set, one in which The Invencia Piano Duo deserves our gratitude for their research, dedication and performance.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Piano Sonata No. 3 Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Sonata-Ballada - Risa Iwai (piano) rec. 2016 SHEVA SH165 [52:09] [SB] An interesting choice of works for a debut recital.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Walküre - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Petra Lang (soprano) Hong Kong PO/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.660394-7 [4 CDs: 236:32] [GF] Your first Walküre? Look no further. A jaded collector? Then you will find this a valuable addition to your collection.

Beneath The Northern Star The Rise of English Polyphony 1270-1430 - Orlando Consort rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68132 [72.13] [GH] Trusted performers in this repertoire, but there are some reservations.

Pina Carmirelli (violin) Works by Franck, Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart & Pizzetti - Friedrich Wilhelm Schnurr, Lothar Broddack, Maria Bergmann (piano) rec. 1966-69 MELOCLASSIC MC2031 [79:53 + 78:19] [SG] A treat for collectors.

Wednesday March 29th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1-9, Overtures - Gewandhaus O Leipzig/Franz Konwitschny rec. 1959-61 EDEL CLASSICS 0002672CCC [6 CDs: 428:08] [RMo] An outstanding set, the performances being natural, unforced, released and redolent of the untamed creative energy which evidently imbued the being of the composer.

Ermend BONNAL (1880-1944) Organ works - Vincent Grappy (organ) Christophe Giovaninetti (violin) HORTUS 132 [71:19] [JW] Revealing a largely unknmown name.

Doreen CARWITHEN (1922-2003) & Thomas PITFIELD (1903-99) Violin Sonatas & works by Berkeley, Delius, Ireland, Scott & Young - Fenella Humphreys (violin) Nathan Williamson (piano) rec. 2016 LYRITA SRCD359 [75:34] [BSt] A few minor quibbles do not seriously undermine this richly recorded and interesting selection.

Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Symphony No.2, Timbres, espace, mouvement, Mystère de l’instant - Françoise Rivalland (cimbalom) O Ntl Lille/Darrell Ang rec. 2015-2016 NAXOS 8.573596 [62:38] [JF] A splendid CD that presents the listeners with three undoubted masterpieces.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Nos 12, 60 and 70 - Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini rec. 2016 ALPHA 674 [79:55] [BW] Despite a reservations, this new Alpha recording is well worth considering, especially by those who have been collecting the series so far.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Max REGER (1873-1916) Works for Men's Choir Vol. 1 - Ens Vocapella Limburg/Tristan Meister rec. 2016 RONDEAU ROP6126 [79:32] [SSi] This is one of the finest discs of Max Reger’s choral music that I have heard; I look forward to volume two.

Katarzyna Dondalska (soprano) Love: Heaven on Earth - Natan & Monika Dondalska (violin) Malgorzata Niemiec (viola) Wiktor Cisoń (cello) rec. 2015 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0348 [60:36] [GF] Lovers of coloratura sopranos will have their fill here.

Musica Sacra of the Wawel Cathedral The Royal Rorantists/Stanislaw Galonski rec. 2016 DUX 1334 [59:32] [JV] Interesting repertoire and nice performances but poorly documented.

Orientale Lumen: Light of the East St Ephraim Male Ch/Tamás Bubnó rec. 2012 BUDAPEST MUSIC CENTER RECORDS BMCCD208 [52:39] [JW] One can enjoy the music's inspiring depth and breadth in this compelling disc.

Overtures, Preludes & Intermezzi Filarmonica della Scala/Riccardo Chailly rec. 2016 DECCA 4831148 [76.35] [MC] It’s hard to imagine these works receiving finer advocacy than this.

Tuesday March 28th 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies Nos 3 & 4 - NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Thomas Hengelbrock rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 88985405082 [75:49] [ST] A good disc, from its resident orchestra, to mark the opening of a new concert hall.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony in F minor - Hamburg PO/Simone Young rec. 2013 OEHMS CLASSICS OC686 [41:59] [SV] I have reservations, but this will do for the moment.

Ernö DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) & Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915) Piano Quintets - Wu Han (piano) Alexander Sitkovetsky, Nicolas Dautricourt, Arnaud Sussmann, Sean Lee (violin) Paul Neubauer (viola) David Finckel (cello) rec. 2014/16 MUSIC@MENLO [70:45] [RK] Either performance is well worth having for its own sake.

Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Orchestral Works Vol. 2 - Xiayin Wang (piano) Manchester Chamber Ch, BBC PO/Juanjo Mena rec. 2015/16 CHANDOS CHAN10923 [69:07] [NB] Juanjo Mena and the BBC Phil are getting into their stride with Ginastera.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Schoenberg) - Susan Platts (mezzo) Charles Reid (tenor) Roderick Williams (baritone) Attacca Qt, Virginia Arts Fest Ch Players/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573536 [81:08] [JQ] If the chamber version of Das Lied von der Erde appeals, then this disc is well worth your attention.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Les Contes d’Hoffmann - Kerstin Avemo, Mandy Fredrich, Daniel Johansson, Vienna SO/Johannes Debus rec. 2015 C MAJOR 735604 Blu-ray [174.44] [MC] This is a production where one senses a group of performers totally at one with the director’s vision.

Max REGER (1873-1916) Songs - Susanne Langner (mezzo) Ullrich Böhme (organ) rec. 1988-2016 RONDEAU ROP6133 [67:03] [SSi] A most valuable addition to the Reger catalogue, one which presents unusual music in excellent performances.

Sergei Ivanovich TANEYEV (1856-1915) String Trios Nos 2 & 3 - Lubotsky Trio rec. 2015 MELODIYA MELCD1002456 [51:00] [JW] Performances that don't challenge the best in these works.

Otton Mieczysław ŻUKOWSKI (1867-1942) Opera Omnia Religiosa Vols 2, 3 & 4 - Podkarpacki Ch Męski, Strzyżowski Ch Kamaralny/Grzegorz Oliwa rec. 2014/15 ACTE PRÉALABLE APO343/47/54 [3 CDs: 164:16] [MW] Little-known works of enormous beauty in committed performances; ones to treasure.

Nadia Reisenberg (piano) Live Chamber Recitals & Home Solo Performances - Galimir & Budapest String Qts, David Glazer (clarinet) David Soyer (cello) rec. 1951-80 ROMÉO 7318/19 [78:20 + 74:50] [JW] Performances that attest to her superior musicianship. 

Monday March 27th 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 2 Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonata No. 14 - Mindru Katz (piano) Jerusalem PO/Mandi Rodan rec. 1967/71 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD180 [64:09] [JW] It’s good to know that the Katz archive is still yielding such treasures.

Celso GARRIDO-LECCA (b. 1926) Orchestral Works - Norwegian Radio O, Fort Worth SO/Miguel Harth-Bedoya rec. 2010-16 NAXOS 8.573759 [54:14] [MW] An excellent, colourful introduction to a fine composer too little known and recorded.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Sonata, Après une lecture du Dante Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921) Danse Macabre - Ludmila Berlinskaya & Arthur Ancelle (pianos) rec. 2016 MELODIYA MELCD1002463 [61:55] [JWe] This is my favourite Liszt disc of the year so far, and I award full marks to all concerned!

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Organ works - Anders Eidsten Dahl (organ) rec. 2015 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1108 [69:51 + 36:25] [SSi] Dahl proves a consummate interpreter of Mendelssohn’s music, with this recording soon becoming a firm favourite of mine.

Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) Adriano in Siria - Yuriy Mynenko, Franco Fagioli (counter tenors) Romina Basso (contralto) Capella Cracoviensis/Jan Tomasz Adamus rec. 2015 DECCA 483 0004 [3 CDs: 177:59] [JW] An opera which is uneven in inspiration and weighted toward some virtuoso flourishes for the star turn, Fagioli in this case.

Philipp SCHARWENKA (1847-1917) Works for Violin & Piano - Natalia Prishepenko (violin) Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2015 TYXART TXA16075 [65:50] [RK] Old-fashioned even at the time of composition, but well-worth a listen.

Giovanni SGAMBATI (1841-1914) Piano concerto, Cola di Rienzo, Berceuse-Rêverie - Francesco Caramiello (piano) Nürnberger Philharmoniker/Fabrizio Ventura rec. 2000 TACTUS TC841908 [70:29] [SV] A pleasing reissue.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Works for piano - Mark Bebbington, Rebecca Omordia (pianos) rec. 2016 SOMM CD0164 [70:55] [NB] A valuable if not essential disc.

The Cardinal King Music for Henry Benedict Stuart in Rome, 1740–91 Cappella Fede, Harmonia Sacra/Peter Leech rec. 2015 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0300 [73:07] [BW] Yet again Toccata bring us convincing performances of music which has languished in undeserved obscurity.  

Queen Mary’s Big Belly Hope for an heir in Catholic England - Gallicantus/Gabriel Crouch rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD464 [77:42] [ST] A programme of wonderful music from singers of the highest order.

Other reviews
Of Gods and Kings
Foden's Band/Michael Fowles rec. 2016 DOYEN DOYCD367 [62:02] [NB] Music-making worthy of Gods and Kings, brilliantly played and superbly recorded.



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