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Bax and the Veil of Enchantment by Ian Lace

Johann David Heinichen: Hidden Genius of the Baroque by Andrew Hartman

Classical Music on Stamps This week: Composers on Italian stamps Part 4


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Publishing schedule
Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, other music); Friday: Articles.
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Friday June 29th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Homage Cantatas - Katja Stuber (soprano) Franz Vitzthum (alto) Daniel Johannsen (tenor) Deutsche Hofmusik/Alexander Grychtolik rec. 2016 DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985410522 [52:49] [JV] This is a disc no Bach lover should miss.

Heinrich BIBER (1644-1704) The Mystery Sonatas, Passacaglia - Christina Day Martinson (violin) Boston Baroque rec. 2017 LINN CKD501 [72:41 + 47:40] [RHa] Fine performances of Biber’s instrumental magnum opus, but lacking something for this listener.

Henryk GÓRECKI (1933-2010) String Quartet No.3 - Dafô String Qt rec. 2016 DUX 1302 [48:35] [BW]  A fine recording of an important late-twentieth-century work but short value.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Messiah - Le Concert Spirituel Ch & O/Hervé Niquet rec. 2016 ALPHA 362 [46:29 + 68:49] [MG] Niquet’s Messiah is a chameleon: sometimes beguilingly smooth, sometimes vividly raucous.

Jaroslav KRČEK (b. 1939) Instrumental Music - Musica Bohemica Prague/Jaroslav Krček, Slovak CO/Bohdan Warchal rec. 1986-2017 ARCO DIVA UP0201-2131 [55:00] [JW] A fine retrospective and a salutary reminder of Krček’s warmth and human sympathies in his music-making.

Rolf MARTINSSON (b. 1956) Presentiment - Lisa Larsson (soprano) Royal Stockholm PO/Andrew Manze, Sakari Oramo rec. 2015/17 BIS BIS-2133 SACD [73:17] [DC] A real treat.

Pietro MASCAGNI (1863–1945) Cavalleria rusticana Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857–1919) Pagliacci - José Carreras (tenor) Montserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto (soprano) Ambrosian Opera Ch, Philharmonia O/Riccardo Muti rec. 1979 WARNER CLASSICS 7636502 [74:09 + 75:53] [RMo] Carreras in peak form.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La forza del destino – Alastair Miles (bass) Nina Stemme (soprano) Ch & O Wiener Staatsoper/Zubin Mehta rec. 2008 C MAJOR Blu-Ray 751104 [161 mins] [MC] This is a creative and very dramatic version of this problematic opera.

Passion & Polyphony Works by Martin & MacMillan - Sonoro/Neil Ferris rec. 2017 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10208 [66:31] [JQ] Sonoro’s debut release is a fine achievement.

Prague Symphony Orchestra Works by Dvořák, Kabeláč, Prokofiev, Ravel, Strauss & Walton - Peter Katin (piano) Zdeněk Košler, Václav Smetáček (conductors) rec. 1967/68 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD2/2008 & CD10/2010 [71.12 & 63.19]  [DBi] Two CDs of parts of three exciting Prague Symphony Orchestra concerts recorded in the late 1960s.

Thursday June 28th

John ADAMS (b. 1947) Absolute Jest, Naive and Sentimental Music - Sean Shibe (steel-string guitar), Doric String Qt, Royal Scottish Ntl O/Peter Oundjian rec. 2017 CHANDOS SACD CHSA5199 [71:25] [LW] A worthy addition to the growing John Adams discography.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Pavel CHESNOKOV (1877-1944) Teach Me Thy Statutes - PaTRAM Institute Male Ch/Vladimir Gorbik rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-727 SACD [67:14] [JQ] This disc is a stunner.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Masses rec. 1992-2008 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC15017 [4 CDs: 304:33] [SSi] Musically this set is a bargain, with all the performances being at least good, but be prepared for no notes or texts.

Jaroslav KRČEK (b. 1939) Vocal Music - Czech Girls's Ch Jitro, Gentlemen Singers, Iuventus pedagogica, Musica Bohemica Prague/Jaroslav Krček, Slovak CO/Bohdan Warchal rec. 1986-2017 ARCO DIVA UP0202-2131 [59:00] [JW] Affords great pleasure and warm-hearted, communicative music-making.

Igor RAYKHELSON (b. 1961) Piano & Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Ekaterina Astashova (violin) Alexander Kniazev (cello) Konstantin Lifschitz (piano) Borodin Qt - rec. 2011/17 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0315 [78:18] [SG] Neoclassicism, late-Romanticism, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and jazz all coalesce in these attractive and colourful scores.

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986) The Sacred Muse - James E. Jordan Jr. (organ) Gloria Dei Cantores/Elizabeth C. Patterson PARACLETE RECORDS GDCD130 [58:28] [WK] The choir has an enviable clarity to their singing, a truly reverential sense, and great beauty of sound.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2, La Muse et le Počte - Gould Piano Trio rec. 2016 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD140 [79.51] [DBi] A CD worth anyone's money.

Dmitri TYMOCZKO (b. 1969) Rube Goldberg Variations - Flexible Music, Atlantic Brass Qnt, Amernet String Qt, Matthew Bengtson, John Blacklow (piano) rec. 2017 BRIDGE 9492 [51:15] [DC] A whole barrow-load of new-music seedlings on offer to anyone with a fertile imagination.

American Symphonies Works by Albert, Jones & Piston - London SO/Lance Friedel rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2118 SACD [78:08] [DM] A terrific trio, the LSO let off the leash at last; huzzahs all round!

20th Century Polish String Quartets Works by Bacewicz, Panufnik & Szymanowski - Diverso String Qt rec. 2017 RECART 0024 [47.59] [GH] Rather short measure, though the programme is well-balanced and pleasing, and the performances are good.

Wednesday June 27th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Violin Sonatas No. 5 & 6 - Nap de Klijn (violin), Alice Heksch (piano) rec. 1954 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1447 [48:27] [SG] Delightful performances by a duo that will not be on the radar of many.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Missa Solemnis - Bach Collegium Japan/Masaaki Suzuki rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2321 SACD [74:07] [JQ] A considerable performance of Beethoven’s mighty Mass.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896) Symphony No.3 - Munich PO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2017 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER MPHL0009 [55:28] [BW]  Not my first choice, even among recordings of the final 1889 version, but well worth considering.

Gerhard FROMMEL (1906-1984) Symphony No.1, Symphonic Prelude - Jena PO/Jürgen Bruns rec. 2017 CAPRICCIO C5338 [57:21] [NB] Others may find more to enjoy than I.

Joachim MENDELSON (1892-1943) Symphony No. 2, Quintet, Violin sonata, Chamber Symphony - Polish RSO/Jürgen Bruns, Tatiana Blome (piano), Ulrike Petersen (violin) rec. 2010/11 EDA 040 [67:16] [SFV] I rather enjoyed this; you might, too.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No. 21, Impromptus - Marc-André Hamelin (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68213 [81.51] [RBe] An exceptional recording, which deserves a place in the pantheon of great Schubert recordings.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trio No. 2 Lera AUERBACH (b. 1973) Piano Trios 1 & 2 - Delta Piano Trio rec. 2017 ODRADEK ODRCD350 [63:30] [RHa] The recording career of a brilliant Dutch trio starts here.

Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986) Le Train de nuit, Sonate, Fantaisie, La Grande Ville - Duo d’Accord rec. 2017 SWR MUSIC SWR19053CD [55:00] [DC] Tremendous fun and searing, elusive expressiveness in one superb programme.

XXIV Fantasie per il flauto Tabea Debus (recorder) rec. 2017 TYXART TXA18105 [79:51] [JW] Never less than fluent and engaging.

Slava! Works by Stravinsky, Bartok, Kodaly, Bardos, Penderecki & Lukaszewski - Maîtrise de Toulouse/Mark Opstad, Jeremiah Stephenson (organ) rec. 2017 REGENT REGCD513 [69:53] [WH] A children’s choir to rival the finest in a splendid programme.

Tuesday June 26th

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) & Zoltan KODÁLY (1882-1967) Concertos for Orchestra - Berlin RSO/Jakub Hrůša rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186626 SACD [55.30] [DBi] Two fine works, extremely well performed and recorded.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphonies 1-9 - NDR SO/Günter Wand rec. 1982-1988 RCA RED SEAL 19075818872 [5 CDs: 356:35] [DC] A superb cycle – certainly in the top tier for all-round reliably high quality.

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Arminio - Max Emanuel Cencic, Gaia Petrone, Armonia Atenea/George Petrou rec. 2017 C MAJOR 744504 Blu-ray [168 mins] [RWe] It is hard to imagine that a better-filmed Arminio production than this one will come along any time soon.

Michel-Richard de LALANDE (1657-1726) Grands Motets for the Sun King - Ensemble Aedes/Mathieu Romano; Le Poème Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre rec. 2017 ALPHA 968 [74:32] [MS] An enticing and thoughtful set of performances of music which ought to push this under-appreciated composer out of the shadows.

Thea MUSGRAVE (b. 1928) Mary, Queen of Scots - Ashley Putnam (soprano) Jake Gardner (baritone) Virginia Opera O & Ch/Peter Mark rec. 1979 LYRITA SRCD2369 [53:28 + 79:11] [JF] A lyrical, approachable and satisfying performance.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Adventlied; Ballade vom Pagen und der Königstochter, Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Cantata - Carolyn Sampson (soprano) Estonian Phil Chamber Ch, Helsinki Baroque O/Aapo Häkkinen rec. 2017 ONDINE ODE1312-2 [70:56] [SSi] An excellent disc of rare Schumann, with wonderful performances by all those involved.

Leone SINIGAGLIA (1868-1944) Violin Concerto, Romanza and Humoresque -  Laura Marzadori (violin), Fernado Caida Greco (cello) O Città di Ferrara/Marco Zuccarini rec. 2013 TACTUS TC861901 [55:06] [JW] The performances are polished and careful, but lacking a little adrenalin and passion.

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-93) String Quartet No. 2 Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) String Quartet No. 1 - Manfred Qt rec. 2016 PARATY 117152 [65:45] [PBW] I was very impressed by these fine players and shall look out for their future recordings.

John WILLIAMS (b. 1932) John Williams at the Movies - Christopher Martin (trumpet); Dallas Winds/Jerry Junkin rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FR-142 SACD [75:43] [DM] Quietly sensational; a must for movie fans and audiophiles alike.

Russian Piano Concertos rec. 1964-2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95520 [15 CDs: 945:21] [SG] A fascinating survey. I’ve made many new discoveries along the way.

Monday June 25th 

Vyacheslav ARTYOMOV (b. 1940) The Way to Olympus, Gurian Hymn, Preludes to Sonnets, Concert of the 13 - USSR State Academic SO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky rec. 1977-1990 DIVINE ART 25171 [70:36] [JF] An interesting musical exploration that is both compelling and satisfying.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B Minor - Katherine Watson (soprano) Tim Mead (counter-tenor) Reinoud Van Mechelen (tenor) André Morsch (bass) Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HAF8905293.94 [52:16 + 52:47] [DHu] Not the first version I would reach for.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Acis and Galatea - Lucy Crowe (soprano), Allan Clayton (tenor), Early Opera Company/Christian Curnyn rec. 2017 CHANDOS CHACONNE CHSA0404 SACD [37:38 + 49:10] [DBi] A magnificent performance and recording of one of Handel's most delightful creations.

Carlo Ambrogio LONATI (c.1645-c.1712) Sonate da chiesa I-VI - Ars Antiqua Austria rec. 2017 PAN CLASSICS PC10387 [57:27] [DC] Admirable Baroque chamber music.

George PERLE (1915-2009) Orchestral Music (1965-1987) - Jay Campbell (cello), Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot rec. 2016-2017 BRIDGE 9499 [69:47] [MS] An appealing collection of varied instrumental works.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Symphony No. 3 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Khovanshchina Prelude - Stuttgart RSO/Kurt Sanderling rec. 1995 SWR CLASSIC SWR19050CD [49:21] [JQ] Despite the short playing time these Sanderling performances are welcome additions to the catalogue.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Complete Solo Keyboard Works - Steven Devine (harpsichord) rec. 2013-17 RESONUS RES10214 [3 CDs: 219:39] [SSi] Steven Divine’s playing may be at a slower tempo than most, but this serves to accentuate the differing aspects of Rameau’s wonderfully colourful music.

Henri VIEUXTEMPS (1820-1881) Viola sonatas - Christian Euler (viola), Paul Rivinius (piano) rec. 2017 MDG SACD 903 2063-6 [66:11] [RHa] Fine performances and truthful recordings of undemanding, at times rather undistinguished viola and piano repertoire.

The House of the Mind Ch Queen’s College Oxford/Owen Reese rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD491 [66:01] [GH] A very enjoyable and well planned collection of British sacred music.

Parts To Play Moonkyung Lee (violin) Martha Locker (piano) rec. 2017 NAVONA NV6165 [54:53] [JW] An enjoyable recital of largely contemporary music of great approachability and character.



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