One of the most grown-up review sites around

Apollo's Fire

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano"
IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra

Sinfonie Concertanti


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

World Premiere
Weinberg’s Concertino (cello)!

Irish-Appalachian Celebration

an inspirational performance

An indispensable acquisition

The finest we have had in years

bewitching sound

Simply amazing

A splendid addition

One of the most enjoyable

quite superb!

utterly essential

A wonderful introduction

An outstanding CD


One of the finest versions

Monthly Listing
December 2018


Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concerto da Camera Vol. 1 - Camerata Köln rec. 2015 CPO 555131-2 [68:03] [BW] Yet another very fine and hugely enjoyable Telemann recording from Camerata Köln and CPO.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Music for Christmas rec. 1974-2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95853 [11 CDs: ca 9 hrs] [SSi] A very welcome set, and a perfect antidote to the endless discs of Christmas Carols – to listen to throughout the year.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Sonatas and Partitas - Dénes Zsigmondy (violin) rec. 1995 PALADINO PMR0093 [68:01+77:26] [JW] The most concentrated and elevated of Zsigmondy's surviving recordings.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 3 Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Horn Concerto No. 1 - William Caballero (horn) Pittsburgh SO/Manfred Honeck rec. 2012-17 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-728 SACD [65.17] [MC] Bold and focused, compelling and uplifting Beethoven from Honeck, with Caballero in sterling form in the Strauss.

Nicolas BERNIER (1664 - 1734) Trois visages d'Hécate - Lieselot De Wilde (soprano), Apotheosis/Korneel Bernolet rec. 2016 ET'CETERA KTC1576 [75:56] [JV] This disc provides an ideal first acquaintance with the art of a neglected composer.

Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Carmen - Grace Bumbry (mezzo) Mirella Freni (soprano) Jon Vickers (tenor) Vienna State Opera Ch, Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1967 ORFEO C866183D [2:42:20] [MS] An eccentric and inadequate Carmen that disappoints on most fronts.

Marco Enrico BOSSI (1861-1925) Musica da Camera - Giulio Giurato (piano) Roberto Noferini (violin) Andrea Noferini (cello) Anna Noferini (viola) rec. 2012-17 TACTUS TC862707 [65:42] [MR] Bossi’s chamber music speaks of love and affection, especially in these colourful and committed performances.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 1 - Ekaterina Litvintseva (piano) Klassiche Philharmonie Bonn/Heribert Beissel rec. 2017 PROFIL PH18065 [48:52] [RC] It holds up well even against the older classic performances.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895–1968) Violin Concerto No. 3, String Trio, Sonata for Violin & Cello - Davide Alogna (violin) Fiorenzo Pascalucci (piano) Roberto Trainini (cello) Federico Stassi (viola) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574003 [77:34] [RB] Three sun-soaked works in warm and virile sound and in performances that are far from bloodless.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - BBC PO/John Wilson rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5222 SACD [66:09] [NB] Performances to be considered alongside current favourites rather than supplanting them.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Préludes - Eloïse Bella Kohn (piano) rec. 2017 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC18085 [2 CDs: 90:21] [MC] Even if you already have these Debussy works, this album is worthy of your consideration.

Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Orchestral Favourites - Royal PO/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1946-62 ALTO ALC1374 [75:15] [BW] Delius from the consummate master at an attractive price.

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) La favorite - Veronica Simeoni, Celso Albelo, O & Ch Opera Firenze Maggio Musicale Fiorentino/Fabio Luisi rec. 2018 DYNAMIC DVD 37822 [2 DVDs: 156 mins] Blu-ray 57822 [156 mins] CDS7822.02 [72:36 + 76:16] [RMo] Excellent visuals, but the singing is not up to standard.

Raymond DRIVER Words that Sing in the Night - Laura Whittenberger (soprano) Peyson Moss, Alan Naylor (piano) Kah Yun Song, Sarah Casey (flute) Jessica Albrecht (cello) Joshua Hong (violin) Maximiliano Marques (guitar) Laura Stokes (harp) MERROW RECORDS MR002 [47:38] [JW] These settings will give pleasure, not least when played and sung as attractively as they are here.

Théodore DUBOIS (1837-1924) Works for Piano Vols 1-3 - Artur Cimirro (piano) rec. 2017-2018 ACTE PREALABLE AP0431-33 [61:43 & 67:13 & 61:44] [RB] Elevated salon invention that can slip out of this coastal anchorage into deeper emotional waters.

Heino ELLER (1887–1970) Violin Concerto, Symphonic Legend, Fantasy, Symphony No. 2 - Baiba Skride (violin) Estonian Ntl SO/Olari Elts rec. 2013-18 ONDINE ODE1321-2 [67:43] [RB] Whoops with joy and sighs with poetic sensibility.

Francesco Nicola FAGO (1677–1745) Cantatas for Solo Voice and Continuo Vols 1 & 2 - Riccardo Angelo Strano (counter-tenor); Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi rec. 2015/17 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0367/0437 [63:51 & 59:22] [BW]  An almost unknown composer, well worth checking out by lovers of baroque music.

Yuri Alexandrovich FALIK (1936-2009) Sinfonietta, Violin Concerto, Elegiac Music, First Concerto for Orchestra - Viktor Lieberman (violin), Leningrad CO/Eduard Serov, Leningrad PO/Gennadi Rozhdestvensky rec. 1977-91 NORTHERN FLOWERS NF/PMA99119 [71:29] [RB] Supremely studied yet spontaneous accounts of music by a little-heard Russian master whose standing has dipped since his death.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem, Pelléas et Mélisande Suite, Pavane, Fantaisie, Masques et Bergamasques - Sylvia McNair (soprano) Thomas Allen (baritone) John Birch (organ) William Bennett (flute) ASMF & Ch/Neville Marriner rec. 1993 ELOQUENCE 4824963 [77:58] [JWh] This disc showcases Fauré’s art to a tee.

Morten GAATHAUG (b.1955) Songs - Marianne E. Andersen (mezzo) Tore Dingstad (piano) rec. 2016/17 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1152 [78:49] [RB] Modern songs charting slow evolving bleakness, subtlety and sorrowing beauty.

Karl GOLDMARK (1830-1915) Symphonic Poems Vol. 1 - Bamberg SO/Fabrice Bollon rec. 2017 CPO 555 160-2 [69:53] [RB] CPO and Bollon in Bamberg leave us with a very much elevated impression of Goldmark.

Alexandre GUILMANT (1837-1911) Sonatas Nos 4 & 7  Louis VIERNE (1870-1937) Pièces de fantaisie Eugène GIGOUT (1844-1925) Toccata - David M Patrick (organ) rec. 2001/02 GUILD GMCD7802 [74:40]  If you like French organ music, I’m sure that this will convert you to the cause of Guilmant.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) An Ode for Saint Cecilia's Day, Concerto Grosso - Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Polish Radio Ch, Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN CKD578 [61:15] [RWe] This fine account of a noble work joins the very best available.

Gary HIGGINSON (b. 1952) Scenes & Messages - Laura Cioffi (flute) Patricia Auchterlonie (soprano) Oliver Brignall, Jonathan Hyde (baritone) Alessandro Viale (piano) rec. 2018 SHEVA SH209 [67:47] [RB] Adds valuably to the store of songful and pensive British pastoral invention.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) Orchestral Works Vol. 4 - Guy Johnston (cello), BBC PO/Sir Andrew Davis, rec. 2018 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5192 [77:02] [NB] A valuable addition to the series, though for those willing to pick and choose there are equally fine alternatives.

John IRELAND (1879-1962) A Downland Suite, Julius Caesar, The Overlanders - Royal Scottish Ntl O/Martin Yates rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH SACD CDLX7353 [79:51] [JW] Three Ireland novelties performed with creditable enthusiasm.

Amanda MAIER (1853-1894) Chamber works - Cecilia Zilliacus, Julia Maria Kretz (violin) Kati Raitinen (cello) Bengt Forsberg, David Huang (piano) Johanna Persson (viola) rec. 2017/18 DB PRODUCTIONS DBCD188 [63:45] [PRB] The final volume of a valuable tribute to a hitherto-neglected composer.

Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Thomas Albertus Irnberger (violin), Janáček Philharmonie Ostrava/Heiko Mathias Förster rec. 2016/18 GRAMOLA 99178 [51:10] [DC] Very high quality all round – a welcome addition to the Martinů catalogue.

Emilie MAYER (1812-1883) Symphony No. 4, Piano concerto, String Quartet, Piano Sonata - Klenke Qt, Yang Tai, Ewa Kupiec (piano) - Neubrandenburger Phil/Stefan Malzew, Sebastian Tewinkel rec. 2012-17 CAPRICCIO C5339 [66:37 + 64:54] [PRB] There is certainly a continuing appetite to have more recordings of her decidedly-attractive music available on CD.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) La Nativité du Seigneur - Richard Gowers (organ) rec. 2017 KINGS COLLEGE KGS0025 [67:36] [JQ] A conspicuous achievement.

Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Vespro della Beata Vergine - Ludus Modalis rec. 2017 RAMÉE RAM1702 [59:20 + 31:17] [DC] Enlightening and enjoyable.

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) Caprices - Lisa Jacobs (violin) rec. 2017/18 COBRA RECORDS COBRA0064 [47:18+39:46] [JWh] A fantastic recording, which overshadows many a version by star players.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symponies 1-3; The Isle of the Dead; The Rock; Symphonic Dances; Caprice Bohémien Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Sergie PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Romeo and Juliet - Rotterdam PO, London PO/Edo de Waart rec. 1972-80 ELOQUENCE 4828981 [4 CDs: 305:25] [JW] A thoroughly enjoyable set and a real bargain.

Steve REICH (b. 1936) Drumming - Kuniko (percussion, vocals) rec. 2017/18 LINN RECORDS CKD582 [70:04] [SSi] An incredibly nuanced performance, one in which every phase is minutely captured with clarity and accuracy.

Hugo REINHOLD (1854-1935) Traumbilder, Klavierstücke, Violin Sonata - Tomasz Bolsewicz (violin), Aleksandra Milcarz (piano) rec. 2014 DUX 1291 [57:51] [JW] Music that is attractive, and happy to bask in tradition.

Joaquín RODRIGO (1901-1999) Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, Concierto Serenata - Narciso Yepes (guitar) Nicanor Zabaleta (harp) Ataulfo Argenta, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Ernst Märzendorfer ALTO ALC1379 [71:41] Andrés Segovia (guitar) Guitar Fantasia - SO of Air/Enrique Jorda rec. 1952-58 ALTO ALC1395 [75:00] [RB] Sturdy catalogue bargain price contenders for an all-Rodrigo collection and a judiciously selected mix of elite Segovia solo and concertante.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Mosè in Egitto - Andrew Foster-Williams, Mandy Fredrich, Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Enrique Mazzola rec. 2017 C MAJOR 744808 DVD [150 mins] [RK] Fine musicianship, flawed staging.

Filippo SAULI (fl. 1705-22) Sei Partite per mandolino solo - Davide Rebuffa (mandolin) Rosanna Turone (harpsichord) rec. 2013 TACTUS TC671901 [61:04] [GPu] For many this will be too specialized a ‘dish’, but those who love the instruments of the lute family will surely find it rewarding.

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) O Penosa Lontananza - Deborah Cachet (soprano) Scherzi Musicali/Nicolas Achten rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC396 [70:01] [SSi] Excellent performances throughout.

Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958) Piano Quintet, À tour d’anches - Birgitta Wollenweber (piano) Solisten-Ens Berlin rec. 2008 NAXOS 8.570489 [74.03] Piano Music Vincent Larderet (piano) rec. 2009 8.572194 [76:45] Works for Violin & Piano - Beata Halska (violin) Claudio Chaiquin (piano) rec. 2014 8.573169  [65:43] [RB] Well suited to anyone wanting to explore Schmitt, the composer of chamber music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Verklärte Nacht Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Metamorphosen - London Festival O/Ross Pople rec. 1990 ASV QUICKSILVA CDQS6195 [55:03] [RMo] There is a palpable joy is the music-making here which readily communicates itself to the listener.

Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934) Infanta & Romantic Suites, Prelude - Berlin RSO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573821 [63:34] [RC] If this composer or genre interests you, you certainly won’t be disappointed by this fine new recording.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Sonata Arpeggione Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Cello sonata - Jonathan Swensen (cello), Filip Strauch (piano) rec. 2016/18 DANACORD DACOCD834 [65:51] [JF] Enjoyable performances, though the CD’s documentation leaves something to be desired.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) & Friedrich BURGMÜLLER (1806-1874) Die Nacht - Anja Lechner (cello) Pablo Márquez (guitar) rec. 2016 ECM NEW SERIES 2555 [55:49] [DC] Balm to quieten your moods on dark and stormy nights.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasy, Violin Concertos - Lena Neudauer (violin), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Pablo González rec. 2010 SWR MUSIC SWR19422CD [79:15] [JWh] Fine playing and some interesting novelties alongside the main fare.

Stefano SCODANIBBIO (1956-2012) Alisei - Daniele Roccato (double bass), Ludus Gravis double bass ensemble/Tonino Battista rec. 2014 ECM NEW SERIES 2598 [67:43] [DC] Seriously intriguing, with a reach far beyond the niche of double bass connoisseurs.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio No. 2 Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973) Piano Trios Nos1 & 2 - Delta Piano Trio rec. 2017 ODRADEK ODRCD350 [63:30] [LW] An enterprising disc of trios by Auerbach and Shostakovich in superb performances and sound.

Mikis THEODORAKIS (b. 1925) Theodorakis sings Theodorakis rec. 1990/91 WERGO INT30592 [34:08] [RB] Short measure but authentic delivery with breathy, quavery, tobacco-pungent passion.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Bolshoi Theatre Ch, St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2017 DELOS Blu-ray DV7013 [94.14] [DBi] Another grand but rather worthy Verdi Requiem on video from Temirkanov.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Violin Concertos - Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (violin) rec. 2017 NAÏVE OP30572 [68:45] [CR] Another winning issue in the Vivaldi Edition.

100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols Ch King’s College, Cambridge/David Willcocks, Philip Ledger, Stephen Cleobury rec. 1958-2018 KING’S COLLEGE RECORDINGS KGS0033 [2 CDs: 106:42] [RC] For lovers of this kind of choral music, this set is not to be missed.

All the Host of Heaven Works by Ešenvalds, Duruflé & Dove - Baylor A Cappella C/Alan Raines rec. 2014 ACIS APL55284 [53:03] [MR] Memorable performances by this Texan University choir on tour in France.

At the Pleasure of Mazarin Jessica Gould (soprano), Ensemble L'Aura Soave Cremona rec. 2017 MV CREMONA MVC/018-043 [64:17] [AY] A dramatic and historically informed album.

Leonard Bernstein at Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Justus Frantz (piano), Vienna PO/Leonard Bernstein rec. 1988 C MAJOR 746608 [3 DVDs: 215 mins] [JWh] A patchy set but worth acquiring for the extensive rehearsal sequences.

Cantilena Anglica Fortunae Works by Scheidemann & Scheidt - Yoann Moulin (harpsichord) rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC394 [55:35] [SSi] A very fine introduction to the harpsichord music of composers who provide a link between Sweelinck and Bach.

Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain An Irish-Appalachian Celebration - Amanda Powell (soprano) Ross Hauck (tenor) Jeffrey Strauss (baritone) Apollo's Fire/Jeannette Sorrell rec. 2017/18 AVIE AV2396 [68:22] [MSJ] One of the finest holiday albums I've ever encountered.

An Ely Christmas Girl Choristers & Lay Clerks of Ely Cathedral/Sarah MacDonald, Aaron Shilson (organ) rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD527 [71:30] [MR] Not everything is a sure-fire winner, but there is plenty of magic to be found for the seasonal listener, sung by a particularly well-prepared group of girl choristers.

The Liberation of the Gothic John BROWNE (fl. c.1480-1505) Salve Regina I, Stabat Mater Thomas ASHWELL (c.1478-1527) Missa Ave Maria - Graindelavoix/Björn Schmelzer rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCDP32115 [79:48] [GH] The disc has made me hear this music with an utterly different pair of ears.

Movie Magic: Twenty Big Themes – Space, Action and Romance - London SO & Stanley Black O/Stanley Black rec. 1987 ALTO ALN1969 [79:13] [RB] Full-on treatment for a sometimes far from obvious selection of film scores.

Mihaela Oprea (violin) Danish & Romanian works - Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD831 [56:06] [JF] Do not expect masterpieces, just music that is hugely enjoyable and every so often quite special.

The Passinge Mesures Music of the English virginalists - Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68249 [77:43] [SG] An attractive disc, offering pleasing variety.

Poetical Humors Les inAttendus rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902610 [62:26] [DC] Get your intellect tickled and your emotions moved.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes (baritone) I’ll Walk Beside You - Karin Schaupp (guitar) Southern Cross Soloists rec. 2018 ABC CLASSICS 481 6826 [72:23] [GF] I didn’t like the singing as much as I perhaps should have, but the programme has alerted me to the multiplicity of musical expressions.

Russian Émigré Composers Works by Prokofiev, Medtner, Grechaninov, Rachmaninov & Stravinsky - Alexander Karpeyev (piano) rec. 2017 CLAUDIO BD-A CR6042-6 [69:33] [DBi] A well planned and well played programme, including an attractive Medtner rarity.

Sacrum Convivium Works by Durufle, Machaut, Poulenc & Messiaen - Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve rec. 2014 MIRARE MIR366 [55:37] [WH] A superb Estonian vocal ensemble in French music.

Solitude Works by Mendelssohn & Weinberg - Dudok Quartet Amsterdam rec. 2017 RESONUS RES10215 [54:37] Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) String Quartets - Minguet Quartett rec. 2013 CPO 777931-2 [71:27] [BW]  The Resonus appeals by reason of its themed programme, while the CPO will satisfy those who like this music a little on the cool side, but more profound performances are available.

Songs for Strings English CO, English SO/Donald Fraser rec. 2012/18 AVIE AV2391 [58:43] [JW] Arrangements that yield a pleasing range of textures.

Jascha Spivakovsky (piano) Concertos by Beethoven - Victorian State O/Clive Douglas, BBC Scottish O/Ian Whyte rec. 1953/61 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC539 [73:09] [JW] Focus on the G major and treat the Emperor as a bonus, given its poor sonics.

A Toast to Melba Lorina Gore (soprano) Tasmanian SO/Marko Letonja rec. 2017 ABC CLASSICS 481 6297 [60:38] [GF] By and large this is a worthy tribute to one of the legends from the Golden Age of Song.

Vienna: Fin de Siècle Barbara Hannigan (soprano) Reinbert de Leeuw (piano) rec. 2017 ALPHA CLASSICS 393 [77.41] [WH] Hannigan and de Leeuw excel in repertoire that fits them like a glove.

Other reviews

The Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters by Mark Wigglesworth publ. 2018 Faber & Faber [MW] A wise and readable insight into the art and purpose of conducting; an essential purchase.

The Gift of Poetry Sir Alec Guinness, Richard Burton, Sir John Betjeman, Robert Donat, Orson Welles, Laurie Lee (readers) ALTO ALN1968 [78:42] [RB] Imaginatively selected - discoveries ready to be made.

Articles and Notices

MusicWeb International Recordings of the Year 2018

Stanfordian Thoughts: 8. Part-songs by Christopher Howell

Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten - a survey by Ralph Moore

Christmas Music Past and Present - a short survey by Brian Wilson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger