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Monday April 30th 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Les Troyens - Joyce DiDonato (soprano) Michael Spyres (tenor) Strasbourg PO/John Nelsons rec. 2017 ERATO 9029576220 [4 CDs: 235:00 & DVD: 86 mins] [SB] A splendid new version of Berlioz’s great opera.

Moritz EGGERT (b. 1965) Muzak, Number Nine VII: Masse - Moritz Eggert (voice), Bavarian RSO/David Robertson, Peter Rundel rec. 2010, 2016 NEOS 11730 SACD [60:21] [DC] Much to learn from this pair of fascinating works.

Gottfried August HOMILIUS (1714-1785) Complete Organ Chorales - Thomas Kientz (organ) rec. 2013 HORTUS 153/4 [2 CDs: 100:46] [JV] Homilius' organ chorales has been done full justice here.

Alan HOVHANESS (1911-2000) From the Ends of the Earth - Gloriæ Dei Cantores/Elizabeth C. Patterson rec. 2011 GLORIÆ DEI CANTORES GDCD052 SACD [75:28] [DM] Incisive and inspiring performances, superbly recorded; a very pleasant surprise.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839–1881) Boris Godunov - Anatoly Kocherga (bass) Liliana Nikiteanu (mezzo) Valentina Valente (soprano) Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado rec. 1993 SONY 19075811172 [3 CDs: 200:05] [GF] No lover of this flawed but eternally fascinating masterwork should be without this recording.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Concert Overture, Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto - Leon McCawley (piano), Sergey Levitin (violin), Royal Northern Sinf/Martin Yates rec. 2017 DUTTON VOCALION CDLX7350 [70:06] [RB] Early works, but a solidly enjoyable addition to the Stanford shelf.

Crossing Borders Works by Holmboe, Nielsen, Stenhammar & Tjørnhøj - Ars Nova Copenhagen, Paul Hillier rec. 2015-17 DACAPO 6.220626 SACD [58:32] [SSi] An exploration of the stylistic, national, language and physical borders of Danish music that I wanted to listen to again and again.

Laura Menegozzo (viola) In Alto rec. 2017 STEFANO SCIASCIA PRODUCTION SSP2019 [63:32] [JW] This is confident, probing musicianship to be heard here.

Rediscovered Treasures from Dresden La Folia Baroque O/Robin Peter Müller rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985415902 [47.07] [MC] A fascinating album of baroque concertos from Dresden, superbly played.

Toscanini 150th Anniversary Works by Bizet, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Verdi & Waldteufel - Harmonie Ens, NY/Steven Richman rec. 2015 BRIDGE 9493 [62:18] [RMay] This supposedly Toscanini-themed programme is generally enjoyable.

Other reviews
Debussy - A Painter in Sound
by Stephen Walsh publ. 2018 Faber & Faber [SG] A well-researched, profoundly readable biography.

Friday April 27th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Katherine Watson (soprano) Tim Mead (countertenor) Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor) André Morsch (bass) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8905293.94 [52:16 + 52:47] [ST] Explore and be surprised and delighted.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Theme & Variations, Handel & Haydn Variations - Christoph Schoener (organ) rec. 2017 MDG 949 2051-6 SACD [69:34] [DC] An artistically subtle and highly enjoyable journey.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 7 - Bruckner O Linz/Kurt Eichhorn rec. 1990 CAMERATA CM-165 [67:10] [RMo] One of the very best.

Umberto GIORDANO (1867–1948) Fedora - Daniela Dessì (soprano) Fabio Armiliato (tenor) Genoa Carlo Felice Theater Ch & O/Valerio Galli rec. 2015 DYNAMIC Blu-Ray 57772 [109 mins] [MC] Thoroughly enjoyable.

Ed HUGHES (b 1968) Symphonic Visions: Music for Silent Films - O of Sound & Light, New Music Players/Ed Hughes rec. 2015/16 METIER DVD MSVDX103 [109:44] [RHa] By turns colourful, enigmatic, and thought-provoking, Hughes’s music is never dull and always accessible.

Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950) Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Ballade Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915) Canzona - Pavel Gomziakov (cello) Andrei Korobeinikov (piano) rec. 2017 ONYX 4176 [61:02] [JW] Solid performances that could have done with a touch more in the way of personal identification and drama.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924) La bohème - Bidú Sayão (soprano) Richard Tucker (tenor) Metropolitan Opera Association Ch & O/Giuseppe Antonicelli rec. 1947 SONY 19075810742 [48:38 + 46:02] [GF] Recommended mainly for Tucker and Sayão.

Delight in Musicke Klaartje van Veldhoven (soprano) Seldom Sene Recorder Quintet rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95654 [53.29] [GH] A very pleasing disc, with lots of rare pieces.

A Garland for John McCabe Linda Merrick (clarinet) John Turner (recorder) Alistair Vennart (viola) Peter Lawson (piano) rec. 2017 DIVINE ART DDA25166 [79:35] [SSi] A fitting memorial to John McCabe, one in which his friends, colleagues and former students pay him homage in some beautifully performed music.

Music of the Americas Works by Bernstein, Gershwin, Piazzolla & Revueltas - Houston SO/Andrés Orozco-Estrada rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186619 SACD [65:42] [NB] A little more spontaneity would go a long way.

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.

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 O/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.

 

 




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