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[New] Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Spring 2018 Pt 2 by Brian Wilson and Dan Morgan

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Thursday April 26th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Clarinet Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Violin Sonata - Shirley Brill (clarinet) Jonathan Aner (piano) rec. 2015 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC17001 [59.12] [MC] Although it offers an attractive programme, its problematic sound makes this album impossible to recommend.

Stephen DODGSON (1924-2013) Chamber Music Vol. 3 - James Turnbull (oboe) Libby Burgess (piano) Eleanor Turner (harp) Robyn Allegra Parton (soprano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0444 [73:43] [SA] A highly enjoyable disc.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) In Nature’s Realm, Cello Concerto Josef SUK A Fairy Tale - Saša Večtomov (cello), Central Bohemia SO rec. 1973 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD9/2009 [79:08] [TPo] A mysterious disc, recommended for the interpretation of the Cello Concerto, as there are plenty of recordings of the other pieces.

Antimo MAGNOTTA (b. 1972) Inner Landscape - Antimo Magnotta (piano) rec. 2018 Private release [40:30] [JW] This is a case of art meeting disaster and, after paralysis and despair, triumphing.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concerto No. 15, Piano Sonatas Nos. 11, 17 - Solomon (piano), Philharmonia OO/Otto Ackermann rec. 1952/3 ARCHIPEL ARPCD0226 [59:58] [RMo] This collation certainly permits the listener to understand what it was about Solomon which made him so admired.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Henriette RENIÉ (1875-1956) Cello Sonata, Pièce symphonique, Piano Trio - Trio Nuori rec. 2017 LIGIA LIDI0302325 [60:03] [SG] This is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying chamber music discs I’ve heard in a quite a while.

Lars Björling (tenor) The Art of Singing: A Tribute to David Björling Vol. 1 - Lars Björling (tenor), Harry Ebert, Brita Lignell, Jan Eyron (piano) rec. 1980-90 STERLING CDA1822/23-2 [135:24] [GF] The ambition is praiseworthy, but the performances and recordings are variable in quality.

Fanfares Onyx Brass/John Wilson rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5221 SACD [59:03] [JF] Superb performances, but possibly a specialist market.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Song of the North 441 Hz Chamber Ch/Anna Wilczewska rec. 2017 DUX 1405 [50:06] [GF] If you love choral music and plan to buy just one CD this year, be sure you buy this one!

Variation5 (wind quintet) Works for wind quintet by Arnold, Françaix, Hindemith & Nielsen rec. 2017 BERLIN CLASSICS 0300974BC [66:54] [DHu] Musically hot, sonically a bit chilly.

Wednesday April 25th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Diabelli Variations - Martin Helmchen (piano) rec. 2017 ALPHA 386 [55:03] [ST] This new kid on the block has just carved out a very special niche for himself.

Anthony BURGESS (1917-1993) The Bad-Tempered Electronic Keyboard: 24 Preludes & Fugues - Stephane Ginsburgh (piano) rec. 2017 GRAND PIANO GP773 [82:18] [RHa] Avoid this – stick to his writing.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) String Quartet, Piano Quintet - Paavali Jumppanen (piano) Quatuor Danel CPO 555 088-2 [76.30] [RBe] A fine pairing of major chamber works by César Franck.

Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Manon - Germaine Féraldy (soprano), Louis Guénot (bass-baritone), Josef Rogatchewsky (tenor), Ch and O of the Opéra-Comique, Paris/Elie Cohen rec. 1928 ITALIAN MUSIC COMPANY 200206 [76.08 + 65.25] [RMo] Every lover of Massenet at his best will enjoy this.

Charles O’BRIEN (1882-1968) Sonata for Piano Trios 1 & 2; Two Waltzes - Yuri Kalnits (violin), Alexander Volpov (cello), Oleg Poliansky (piano) rec. 2017 TOCCATA TOCC0464 [59:54] [JW] This makes a good case for these works.

Sir William STERNDALE BENNETT (1816-1875) Piano Concertos 1, 2 & 3 - BBC Scottish SO/Howard Shelley (piano) rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68178 [79:31] [RWe] Sterndale Bennett is worth investigating, and this very well filled new disc is at least a recommendable starting point.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring Charles CAMILLERI (1931-2009) Concerto Bela BARTOK (1881-1945) Sonata - Kathryn Page, Murray McLachlan (pianos) Heather Corbett, Stephen Burke (percussion) rec. 2005/6 DIVERSIONS DDV24167 [82:14] [JF] An excellent CD: the recorded sound is ideal, and the performances enjoyable.

Light Divine Aksel Rykkvin (treble), Mark Bennett (trumpet), MiN Ensemble/Lazar Miletic rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD526 [63:47] [GF] The last opportunity to hear Aksel Rykkvin as a treble, but lend an ear to the fabulous playing of the instrumental music as well.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto) Quella fiamma: Arie antiche - Orfeo 55 rec. 2016 ERATO 9029 576529 [73:20] [NH] Conceived with great intelligence, creativity and sympathy, and performed with consummate virtuosity and dedication.

Tuesday April 24th

Vyacheslav ARTYOMOV (b.1940) Sola Fide, Ballet Suites Nos 3 & 4, Tempo Costante - Inna Polianskaya (soprano) Elmira Kugusheva (mezzo) Moscow PO/Dmitri Kitaenko, Moscow CO/Murad Annamamedov rec. Moscow 1988/94 DIVINE ART DDA25164 [70:06] [SG] Strikingly potent music, mined from the archives, yet sounding fresh and vibrant.

Roberto GERHARD (1896-1970) Dances from Don Quixote, Symphony No. 1 - BBC SO/Antal Dorati rec. 1965(?) THE DORATI EDITION ADE45 [53:45] [PBW] Near-ideal accounts of some stunning music by Gerhard, now unjustly neglected; this disc would make an excellent introduction to a fine composer.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Piano Concertos Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Piano Concerto, On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring - Mark Bebbington, Irene Loh (pianos) Royal PO/Jan Latham-Koenig rec. 2017 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD269 [74.59] [IL] A very rewarding album for fans of these composers.

John IRELAND (1879-1962) Piano Concerto, Cello Sonata Alfredo CASELLA (1883-1947) Triple Concerto - Annarosa Taddei, Alfredo Casella, John Ireland (piano) Antoni Sala, Arturo Bonucci (cello) Alberto Poltronieri (violin) O Sinfonica RAI/Alfredo Casella, Boston SO/Serge Koussevitzky rec. 1928-1946 FIRST HAND RECORDS FHR63 [76:29] [JW] An important release, but you need to have realistic expectations as to interpretation and sound quality.

Orlandus LASSUS (1532–1594) Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Mattheum - Musica Ficta/Bo Holten rec. 2015 NAXOS 8.573840 [88:18] [RHa] Lassus’s St Matthew Passion is exquisitely delivered by Bo Holten’s talented Danish group, and emerges as an austere ceremony, dominated by monophony.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) & Rebecca CLARKE (1886-1979) Piano Trios - Gryphon Trio rec. 2017 ANALEKTA AN29520 [50:42] [JF] An eminently serviceable account of two significant piano trios written around World War I.

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Il Dolore di Maria Vergine - Alessandro Scarlatti Consort/Estévan Velardi rec. 2001 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95534 [77.20 + 68.54] [GH] An interesting work gets a satisfactory first recording, but the absence of text or translation somewhat hampers appreciation.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Antoine et Cléopâtre Orchestral Suites, Symphony No.2 - BBC SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHSA5200 SACD [77:57] [EJW] An excellent CD of rarely recorded French orchestral music, presented in a recording of first class quality.

Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949) Lieder - Maria Bengtsson (soprano) Sarah Tysman (piano) rec. 2017 MDG 922 2062-6 SACD [63:25] [GF] Very competitive in a crowded field.

Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611) Tenebrae Responsories - Stile Antico rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902272 [71:21] [RMo] No-one is likely to be disappointed by the performance here of this extraordinary music.

Monday April 23rd 

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Altomonte O St Florian/Rémy Ballot rec. 2017 GRAMOLA 99162 SACD [61:29 + 28:00] [RMo] Those familiar with previous releases will know what to expect: very broad phrasing and slow tempi.

Joshua FINEBERG (b. 1969) Sonic Fictions - Pascal Contet (accordion), Arditti Quartet, Talea Ens/James Baker, Argento Chamber Ens/Michel Galante rec. 2016-2017 MÉTIER MSV28564 [63:15] [JF] There is enjoyment to be had here if one dumps the philosophy and just listens.

William HAYES (1708-1777) Music for the Georgian University - Ch Keble College Oxford, Instruments of Time & Truth/Matthew Martin (organ) rec. 2017 CRD RECORDS 3534 [79:12] [MB] This makes a fine introduction to the accomplished music of William Hayes.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868) Ricciardo e Zoraide - Randall Bills, Maxim Mironov (tenors) Alessandra Marianelli (soprano) Camerata Bach Ch, Poznan, Virtuosi Brunensis/José Miguel Pérez-Sierra rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.660419-21 [3CDs: 165:41] [GF] This will give a lot of pleasure at a good price.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) The Poisoned Kiss Overture, Fantasia on Sussex Folk Tunes, Bucolic Suite, In the Fen Country, Three Portraits from The England of Elizabeth - Martin Rummel (cello), Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Karl-Heinz Steffens rec. 2017 CAPRICCIO C5314 [72:33] [NH] A highly appealing disc.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La forza del destino - Carlos Álvarez (baritone) Nina Stemme (soprano) Salvatore Licitra (tenor) Ch & O Vienna State Opera/Zubin Mehta rec. 2008 C MAJOR DVD 751008 [161 mins] [RJF] Since this performance was first issued several better productions and singing have come available on video.

 The Bohemian Quartet Works by Dvořák, Smetana & Suk rec. 1928 PARNASSUS PACD96058 [80:53] [JW] A cornerstone quartet purchase for the historically minded.

Early 20th Century Jewels Works by Debussy, Huybrechts, Roussel & Schulhoff - Nozomi Kanda (flute, piccolo), Daniel Rubenstein (viola), Ingrid Procureur (harp), Didier Poskin (cello), Koenraad Hofman (double bass) rec. 2014 DUX 1340 [70:09] [SG] Works showcasing a pleasing blend of sonorities.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Exiled Works by Philips, Dering, Dowland, Morley & Holborne - Rose Consort of Viols, Ch of King’s College, Aberdeen/David J. Smith (harpsichord) VOX REGIS VXR0004 [66:32] [JV] This disc deserves the attention of all lovers of English renaissance music.

Laudazioni Alla Vergine Maria Heidemarie Röttig (soprano) Angela Metzger (organ) Ens ‘L’armonia del Belcanto’ rec. 2016 RONDEAU ROP6139 [60.37] [MW] A lovely disc of unfamiliar but attractive bel canto religious pieces.

Friday April 20th

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Duke Bluebeard’s Castle - Jerome Hines (bass) Rosalind Elias (mezzo) Philadelphia O/Eugene Ormandy rec. 1960 SONY CLASSICAL 19075810782 [55:36] [RMo] This performance is essential to any devotee of this extraordinary psychodrama.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934), Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) & John IRELAND (1879-1962) Violin Sonatas - Susanne Stanzeleit (violin) John Thwaites (piano) MERIDIAN CDE84648 [70:25] [JW] Adept performances are let down by an unsympathetic acoustic.

Christopher FOX (b.1955) Headlong - Heather Roche (clarinets) rec. 2017 METIER MSV28573 [74:02] [RHa] The superb clarinettist Heather Roche proves a committed advocate for Christopher Fox’s solo oeuvre; the works themselves are best appreciated individually.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Nos 93-104 - Heidelberg SO/Thomas Fey, Benjamin Spillner rec. 1999-2015 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC16001 [4 CDs: 304:02] [DC] Haydn has rarely sounded so new and fresh as in these excellent recordings.

John JENKINS (1592-1678) Complete Four-part Consort Music - Fretwork rec. 2016 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD528 [42:35 + 40:27] [SB] Those who already know Jenkins’s other music need not hesitate. Others who want to explore viol consort music will find this a good place to start.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphonies Nos 1–9 - Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Daniel Harding & Yannick Nézet-Seguin rec. 1996–2016 BR-KLASSIK 900714 [11 CDs: 690:03] [MC] This Mahler cycle from Munich deserves comparison with the finest sets around.

Nikolai MEDTNER (1880-1951) Songs - Ekaterina Siurina, Justina Gringytė, Oleksiy Palchykov, Robin Tritschler, Rodion Pogossov, Nikolay Didenko, Iain Burnside (piano) rec. 2016/7 DELPHIAN DCD34177 [2 CDs: 143:50] [RWe] A rare and important collection of songs from a master of the genre.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le Nozze Di Figaro - Golda Schultz, Diana Damrau (soprano) Carlos Álvarez (baritone) Marianne Crebassa (mezzo) Ch & O La Scala, Milan/Franz Welser-Möst rec. 2016 C MAJOR 743108 DVD [124 mins] [RJF] This La Scala production and performance is mediocre in comparison with what it replaced.

Thomas Ebenstein (tenor) Premičre Portrait - Charles Spencer (piano) rec. 2017 CAPRICCIO C3007 [69:16] [GF] Good, entertaining songs performed by a really expressive character singer.

Irish Holidays John Finucane (clarinet) Elisaveta Blumina (piano) rec. 2017 GENUIN GEN18495 [76:44] [JF] An excellent introduction to English and Irish music for clarinet and piano.


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