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Thursday January 18th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio - Berlin Motet & RIAS Chamber Ch, Berlin PO/Fritz Lehmann & Günther Arndt rec. 1955/56 ELOQUENCE 482 7637 [3CDs: 166:38] [RHa] A revelatory early recording of the Christmas Oratorio under a legendary Bach specialist who died tragically young.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Yomiuri Nippon SO/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski rec. 2008 DENON COCQ-85385 [71:16] [RMo] Clarity and momentum are the hallmarks of Skrowaczewski’s interpretation.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) The Essence of an Iron Will - Craig Sheppard (piano) rec. 2017 ROMÉO RECORDS 7322 [71:16] [JW] A more sympathetic acoustic would have reflected Sheppard’s splendid playing better.

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem, Messe basse - Robert Bennesh (organ), Yale Schola Cantorum/David Hill rec. 2015 HYPERION CDA68209 [58:05] [MW] The real interest is the collection of delightful smaller pieces, despite a fine performance of Hill’s arrangement of the Requiem.

Nicolas de GRIGNY (1672-1703) Premier Livre d'Orgue, Hymns - David Ponsford (organ) L'ecole de Nivers/Deryck Webb, Russell Burton rec. 2016 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6342 [58:05] [JV] It is very satisfying that Grigny's complete output is now available in such fine performances on such a magnificent organ.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Works for Cello & Piano - Christian Poltéra (cello) Ronald Brautigam (piano) rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2187 SACD [60:18] [GF] The playing of and rapport between Poltéra and Brautigam is extraordinary.

Gaetano PUGNANI (1731-1798) Violin concertos - Roberto Noferini (violin), Nuove Assonanze/Alan Freiles Magnatta rec. 2014 TACTUS TC731601 [58:05] [JW] A valuable addition to the catalogue of eighteenth-century Italian concertos.

Robert VOLKMANN (1815-1883) Complete String Quartets, Piano Trios - Mannheim String Qt, Beethoven Trio Ravensburg rec. 1992-94 CPO 5551822 [4 CDs: 216:34] [SG] Neglected music making a welcome comeback.

Sir William WALTON (1902-1983) & Sir Arthur BLISS (1891-1975) Violin Concertos - Lorraine McAslan (violin) BBC Concert O/Martin Yates rec. 2015/16 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7342 SACD [72:11] [NH] This would grace anyone’s shelves and I recommend it most warmly.

Sappho, Shropshire & Super-Tramp Modern English art-song - Sarah Leonard (soprano) Johnny Herford (baritone) Nigel Foster (piano) rec. 2015/16 DIVINE ART DDA21230 [77:36 + 79:05] [JF] An excellent exploration of English art-song, proving that the genre is alive and well in the early 21st century.

Wednesday January 17th

Daniel-François-Esprit AUBER (1782 – 1871) Le Domino noir, Gustave III - Sumi Jo, Isabelle Vernet (sopranos) London Voices, English CO/Richard Bonynge rec. 1993/95 ELOQUENCE 482 7742 [74:47 + 69:14] [GF] Sumi Jo in sterling form – and that is something not to be missed.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 7 - Royal Concertgebouw O/Mariss Jansons rec. 2016 RCO LIVE RCO17006 SACD [79:55] [DM] A performance of pronounced character and contrast; is this a game-changer for Jansons?

Geraldine MUCHA (1917-2012) Macbeth Suite, Piano Concerto, Variations on an Old Scottish Song - Ivana Troupová (soprano) Patricia Goodson (piano) Hradec Králové PO/Andreas Sebastian-Weiser rec. 2013-15 ARCO DIVA UP0192 2231 [62:57] [JW] The standout work here is the Piano Concerto.

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97) Intermezzi Panayiotis DEMOPOULOS (b.1977) Farewells - Panayiotis Demopoulos (piano) rec. 2005 DIVERSIONS DDV24166 [53:06] [JF] A well-produced and conceived CD.

Sándor VERESS (1907-1992) String Quartets 1 & 2, String Trio - Doelen Quartet Rotterdam rec. 2012 CYBELE RECORDS SACD CYBELE3SACDKIG009 [222:03] [JW] A valuable set for its documentary nature, as well as the fine performances.

Leo WEINER (1885-1960) Serende; Divertimenti 1-5 - Estonian NSO/Neeme Järvi rec. 2015/16 CHANDOS CHAN10959 [83:05] [EJW] An appealing recording of Hungarian works by this little-known composer.

Horowitz at Carnegie Hall – Volume 1 Works by Haydn, Schubert, Scriabin, Kabalevsky & Chopin - Vladimir Horowitz (piano) rec 1948 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM071 [79:50] [DC] Fascinating window into a rather special Carnegie Hall concert.

Per Due Donne Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha (soprano) Monika Korybalska (mezzo-soprano) Krakow Opera O/Tomasz Tokarczyk rec. 2016 DUX 1351 [71:09] [RMo] Despite the undoubted care invested in the recording, reviewing it has been an ungrateful exercise.

Tesserae Medieval Music for Recorders & Percussion - Duo Enßle-Lamprecht rec. 2016 AUDAX ADX13712 [52:54] [SG] Artful and imaginative - one to dip into.

Variations on America – Organ Spectacular Simon Preston (organ) rec 1988 ELOQUENCE 482 8101 [66:32] [RHa] A second bite of the cherry for this exciting 1990 Argo issue of transcriptions and show-stoppers.

Tuesday January 16th

Marcus BLUNT (b.1947) Piano Concerto, Aspects of Saturn, Concertino, Symphony No.2 - Murray McLachlan (piano) Lesley Wilson (bassoon) Manchester Camerata/Stephen Threlfall rec. 2016 MÉTIER MSV28570 [63:21] [JF] A fascinating retrospective of Marcus Blunt’s orchestral music.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) Ceremonial - Mayumi Miyata (Sho) Tonkünstler SO/Yutaka Sado rec. 2017 TONKÜNSTLER TON2004 SACD [69:20] [RMo] A combination of superb sound and ideal interpretation makes it an easy recommendation.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) Piano Quartets - Busch Trio, Miguel da Silva (viola) rec. 2016/17 ALPHA 288 [71:05] [RKr] There are many fine recordings of these piano quartets. This version stands with the best.

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) The Handel Album - Artaserse/Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor) rec. 2017 ERATO 9029577445 [71:58] This disc will appeal unequivocally to Jaroussky’s many admirers.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Don Giovanni - James Pease (baritone) Sena Jurinac (soprano) Royal PO/Glyndebourne Fest Ch/Georg Solti rec. 1947-1954 NIMBUS PRIMA VOCE NI7964 [4 CDs: 267:40] [GF] I can’t be entirely enthusiastic about the complete Don Giovanni, but the extras are very worthwhile.

Sergei Vasilievich RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Miserly Knight - Sergei Leiferkus, Richard Berkeley-Steele - London PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2004 OPUS ARTE OA0919D DVD [95 mins] [EJW] A superb, inexpensive DVD of a neglected work.

Eric STOKES (1930-1999) The Lyrical Pickpocket - Riverside Winds, Maria Jette (soprano) Merilee Klemp (oboe) Sonja Thompson (piano) rec. 2009-15 INNOVA 962 [67:09] [MW] A lively and varied introduction to the music of a quirky, enjoyable composer.

Lena Belkina (mezzo) Classic Vienna - Andrea Bacchetti (piano) Siegfried Schenner (clarinet) Johannes Maria Bogner (harpsichord) ORF Vienna Radio SO/Andrea Sanguineti rec. 2015 SONY CLASSICAL 88985441842 [64:14] [DC] Superb programme by a sublimely talented mezzo.

Alexis Galpérine (violin) Works by Viotti, Bach, Yaye, Paganini & Mefano rec. 2002-2004 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1361 [46:18] [JW] A good souvenir of Galpérine’s artful musicianship.

Mordecai Shehori (piano) The Celebrated New York Concerts - Vol. 8 rec. 2000 CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD181 [48:52 + 48:44] [JW] The listener will have decide if the aural compromises involved are outweighed by the frequently fine playing.

Monday January 15th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 1 Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Invitation to the Dance  Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 - Philadelphia O/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1926/7 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC500 [70:01] [JW] The start of a vibrant and historically important cycle.

Thomas HYDE (b. 1978) That Man Stephen Ward - Damian Thantrey (baritone) Nova Music Opera Ens/George Vass rec. 2016 RESONUS RES10197 [62:57] [NH] Anyone who is the least bit interested in contemporary opera should hear this outstanding recording.

Mario PILATI (1903-1938) Violin Sonata, Cello Sonata, Bagatelles Books 1 & 2 etc. - Francesco Manara (violin), Luca Signorini (cello), Dario Candela (piano) rec. 2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95352 [64:13 + 63:56] [JW] A welcome and valuable release.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution - Ernst Senff Ch, Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits rec. 2017 AUDITE 97.754 [41:55] [JQ] A very interesting Prokofiev rarity in a fervent and dynamic performance.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Metropolitan Opera O & Ch/James Levine, Fabio Luisi rec. 2010-12 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON DVD 0734770 [8 discs: 18 hrs 31 mins] [SB] A very satisfying production, especially for those who want a traditional Ring but with imaginative staging.

Juliusz ZARĘBSKI (1854-1885) Complete Works for Piano - Piotr Sałajczyk (piano), Maria Szwajger-Kułakowska (piano 4 hands), rec. 2014 DUX 1181/84 [4 CDs: 277:00] [SG] The set has given me many hours of pleasure.

Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN (1918-1970) Late symphonic works - SWR RSO Stuttgart/Bernhard Kontarsky rec. 2012 CYBELE RECORDS SACD KiG008 [3 discs: 198:58] [DC] Challenging but significant music in a usefully educational package.

Daniel Behle (tenor) Nostalgia - WDR RSO & Ch Cologne/Helmuth Froschauer rec. 2016 CAPRICCIO C5317 [54:50][GF] Buy and enjoy!

Christmas at Westminster Abbey Ch Westminster Abbey/Simon Preston, Christopher Herrick (organ) rec. 1984 ELOQUENCE 482 8564 [57:12] [RHa] The return of this celebrated recording to the catalogue is very welcome.

The Maryla Jonas Story Complete piano recordings rec. 1946-51 SONY 88985391782 [4 CDs: 193:07] [JW] Everything she recorded is stamped with individuality.

Other reviews
Richard RODGERS (1902-1979)
South Pacific, Oklahoma! - Original 1943 Broadway Casts rec. 1943/49 ALTO ALN1964 [77:59] [GF] Everyone with an interest in Broadway musicals should lend an ear to these classic recordings.

Friday January 12th

John ADAMS (b. 1947) American Berserk - Liviu Neagu-Gruber, Axel Hess (violin) Jens Brockman (viola) Michael Hablitzel (cello) Holger Groschopp, Majella Stockhausen (piano) rec. 2017 CRAGG FOUNDATION CF003 SACD [77:08] [DC] A fine programme from an interesting source.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Concerto No. 2 Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Burleske - Joseph Moog (piano) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Nicholas Milton rec. 2016 ONYX 4169 [66:39] [SG] A satisfying coupling.

Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625) Fancies for the Viols - L’Achéron/François Joubert-Caillet rec. 2017 RICERCAR RIC384 [74.07] [GH] An important addition to the catalogue.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Occasional Oratorio - Bavarian Radio Ch, Alte Musik Akademie Berlin/Howard Arman rec. 2017 BR KLASSIK 900520 [75:38 + 62:49] [CRo] This performance has an edge-of-the seat drama, but I suspect that many Handelians will remain committed to Robert King’s account on Hyperion.

Dorothy HINDMAN (b. 1966) Tightly Wound INNOVA 965 [67:17 + 68:41] [MW] Innovative, lyrical and fascinating music from an exciting contemporary composer.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pierre d’Assy (bass) Airs & melodies rec. 1908/9 MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE MEW1683 [71:35 + 66:53] [JW] I can’t imagine this being done any better.

Paul Bazelaire (cello) Ses 78 tours rec. 1929-51 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1202/3 [2 CDs: 148:44] [JW] An outstanding release in every way.

Beecham at the Royal Festival Hall Vols 1, 2 & 3 Frederick Riddle (viola) Royal PO rec. 1959 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC502/4/7 [3 CDs: 185:14] [RWM] Beecham and the RPO mostly at their greatest – but expect no sonic revelations.

Reiner Ginzel (cello) Works by Brahms, Popper, Beethoven, Fauré, Martinů & Suk - Annette Weisbrod (piano) rec. 2009 TYXART TXA17088 [76:05] [JW] A somewhat odd programme, played with committed artistry.

Dame Nellie Melba (soprano) Melba’s Farewell rec. 1926 ELOQUENCE 4828093 [77:24] [GF] Important historically, but beware the sound.

 




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