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Friday March 30th

Gilbert AMY (b. 1936) Chamber works - Juliette Leroux, Raphaëlle Rubio (violins) Sergio Menozzi (clarinet, basset horn, saxophone) Marwan Dafir (piano) HORTUS 150 [73:27] [SB] Disappointing.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Motets - Norwegian Soloists’ Ch/Ensemble Allegria/Grete Pedersen rec. 2015-17 BIS BIS-2251 SACD [67:39] [JQ] Stylish and very satisfying performances of Bach’s motets.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 3 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2017 PROFIL PH18002 [57:24] [RMo] When I want to hear Bruckner’s final version, it is to this striking modern recording that I will first return.

Dmitri KABALEVSKY (1904-1987) Complete Piano Sonatas & Rondos - Michael Korstick (piano) rec. 2014-17 CPO 555 163-2 [63:54] [SA] A real gem that should delight all lovers of solo piano.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Complete Symphonies - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2014/15 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS BPHR150073 [5 SACDs: 236:31] [JWh] Mixed results – there are better cycles available.

Otton Mieczysław ŻUKOWSKI (1867-1942) Ave Maria Rex Coelorum rec. 2017 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0403 [51:24] [RP] Fine voices and an excellent pianist give a flavor of a traditional Polish Christmas.

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Grand Opening Concert - NDR Elbphilharmonie O/Thomas Hengelbrock rec. 2017 C MAJOR DVD 741408 [2 DVDs: 165 mins] [JW] Musically and visually satisfying.

The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book Vol. 5 Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord) rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95308 [2 CDs: 2.03:45] [JV] This set of discs is another captivating portrait of the art of the English virginalists.

Herbert von Karajan Works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart & Ravel - Clara Haskil (piano) Philharmonia O rec. 1955/6 ICA CLASSICS ICAC5142 [57:30 + 72:02] [MB] These are important additions to Karajan’s Philharmonia discography.

Regula Mühlemann (soprano) Cleopatra arias - La Folia Baroque O/Robin Peter Müller rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 88985407012 [58:11] [MC] Baroque lovers need not hesitate with this outstanding album.

Thursday March 29th

Henry BRANT (1913-2008) Northern Lights over the Twin Cities, A Plan of the Air rec. 1975/85 INNOVA 408 [2 CDs: 120:34] [PSe] Brant’s “spatial music” is extraordinary by anybody’s standards.

Franz KROMMER (1759-1831) Symphonies - O della Svizzera italiana, Howard Griffiths rec. 2013-17 CPO 555125-2 [79:20] [MW] Fascinating music from a Beethoven contemporary in strong-boned and committed performances.

Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764) Trio Sonatas Nos 1-6 - Musica Alta Ripa rec. 1992 MDG 309 0428-2 [70:20] [MC] Admirers of French Baroque will be in their element with this reissue.

Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Works for Cello - Cello Octet Amsterdam rec. 2017 CELLO OCTET AMSTERDAM C8A1703 [53:44] [MS] Writing for cello octet explored as only Pärt can.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Complete Piano Works - Gerhard Oppitz (piano) rec. 2007-09 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC16062 [12 CDs: 756:56] [DC] Certainly not without quality, but outgunned by the alternatives.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Mark Padmore (tenor), Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano) rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902264 [69:16] [RW] A fine second version of this great cycle from Padmore.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Songs of Travel, Six Studies in English Folk Song - James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano), Philip Dukes (viola) rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHAN10969 [71:31] [JQ] This very fine disc will surely be self-recommending to all devotees either of Vaughan Williams in particular or of English song in general.

Mirella Freni - Soprano Assoluta! rec. 1959-62 ALTO ALC1233 [72:11] [SV] The "new" material makes for rewarding listening.

A Garland of English Choral Works Nicolai Chamber Ch/Christian Ljunggren, Adolf Fredrik Madrigal Ch/Mark Falsjö rec. 1979-2016 EM RECORDS EMRCD044 [78.30] [GH] Not the most obvious source for performance of English choral music, but well done just the same.

Wednesday March 28th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 1 - Martha Argerich (piano) Mito CO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 2017 DECCA CLASSICS 4832566 [60:41] [SG] Familiar repertoire given a fresh lease of life.

Péter EÖTVÖS (b. 1944) The Sirens Cycle, Korrespondenz - Calder Qt, Audrey Luna (soprano) rec. 2016 BUDAPEST MUSIC CENTER BMCCD249 [51:36] [MS] The Calder Quartet, with soprano Audrey Luna, deliver precise, honed and thoughtful performances.

Benjamin GODARD (1849 - 1895) Dante - Véronique Gens, Munich Radio O/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2016 EDICIONES SINGULARES ES1029 [62:52 + 75:20] [PS] It is hard to get excited about this largely-forgotten opera, and the singers don’t really make a strong case for it.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, Concerto Grosso - Cristina Grifone (soprano), Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor), Musica Fiorita/Daniela Dolci. rec. 2016. PAN CLASSICS  PC10382 [59:41] [CR] Dubious decisions about the size of the forces used mean that this cannot rank amongst the best recordings of the Ode.

Hieronymus PRÆTORIUS (1560-1629) Missa Tulerunt Dominum meum - Siglo de Oro/Patrick Allies rec. 2017 DELPHIAN DCD34208 [59:27] [BW] Music for Passiontide and Easter: an excellent place to get to know Hieronymus Prætorius’ unjustly neglected music.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Concertos 1 & 2 - Lisa Batiashvili (violin), CO Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 8529 [59:49] [JQ] Classy performances.

Pawel PUDLO War Horns rec. 2017 DUX 1440 [CD: 17:38 + DVD: 30 mins] [NB] Frustrating in many ways, for all the worthiness of its sentiments and the excellence of the playing.

Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Scheherazade Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Petrushka - Tchaikovsky SO/Vladimir Fedoseyev rec. 2003 & 2007 MELODIYA MELCD1002508 [74:43] [JW] Marred by a terrible flaw in Scheherazade.

Castillos de viento Works by Vazquez, Friday, Mahoney, Yi & Jones - Duo Damiana: Molly Alicia Barth (flute) Dieter Hennings (guitar) INNOVA 982 [56:28] [DC] An enthralling and cleverly constructed recital of attractive and stimulating new music.

A due alti Duets by Marcello, Handel, Caresana, Steffani & Bononcini - Filippo Mineccia, Raffaele Pe (counter tenors) La Venexiana/Claudio Cavina rec. 2015 GLOSSA GCD920942 [79:29] [JW] This first-class album explores the genre imaginatively and vividly.

Tuesday March 27th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Organ works - Joseph Kelemen (organ) rec. 2017 OEHMS CLASSICS OC465 [70:22] [ DC] An attractive Bach recital, but be prepared to suck a few intemperate lemons.

Marcus BLUNT (b.1947) Piano Concerto, Bassoon Concertino, Symphony No.2 - Murray McLachlan (piano) Lesley Wilson (bassoon) Manchester Camerata/Stephen Threlfall rec. 2016 MÉTIER MSV28570 [63:21] [SG] Orchestral music, tonally based, lyrically romantic, embracing a modern idiom yet eminently approachable.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Suites Nos 1 & 2, Morceaux - Charles Owen & Katya Apekisheva (pianos) rec. 2017 AVIE AV2381 [70:31] [TB] Vividly realised.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) & Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787) Enfers - Stéphane Degout (baritone), Pygmalion/Raphaël Pichon rec. December 2016 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902288 [78:17] [BW] A must for newcomers to the wonderful world of baroque opera, who will find it an excellent starting point, but equally valuable for the already converted.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 5 & 6, The Voyevoda - London SO/Yondani Butt rec. 2012 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI7104 [62:27 + 49:20] [JWh] An enjoyable albeit slightly controversial set.

Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Trilogía - Jordi Masó (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573677 [62.06] [MW] A splendid and valuable conclusion to Jordi Masó’s complete survey of Turina’s fascinating output for piano.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Arias - Joseph Calleja (tenor) O Comunitat Valenciana/Ramón Tebar rec. 2016 DECCA 483 1539 [65.15] [MC] Calleja is on outstanding form, demonstrating his progress as one of the finest tenors on the stage today.

The Clerkes of Oxenford The Originals – Debut - David Wulstan (director) GRIFFIN GCCD4083 [54:00] [JQ] Important pioneering recordings by David Wulstan and the Clerkes of Oxenford make their CD debut.

Sea-Croon The Voice of the Cello in the 1920s - Joseph Spooner (cello) Maureen Galea, Rebeca Omordia (piano) rec. 2016 EM RECORDS EMRCD042 [75:57] [BSt] A very well-played and recorded programme of great interest.

Whispering Leaves Works by Janáček, Martinů & Páleníček - Lucie Štěpánová (cello) Ksenia Kouzmenko (piano) rec. 2017 COBRA 0069 [58:14] [JW] A well-recorded programme that offers interesting links and cross-currents, but lacking energy in places.

Monday March 26th

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Puritani - Diana Damrau (soprano) Javier Camarena (tenor) Ludovic Tézier (baritone) O & Ch Teatro Real de Madrid/Evelino Pidò rec. 2016 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC442 Blu-ray [181 mins] [ST] A pretty conservative production, where far more goes right than goes wrong.

Jake HEGGIE (b. 1961) It’s a Wonderful Life - Talise Trevigne (soprano) William Burden (tenor) Houston Grand Opera Ch & O/Patrick Summers rec. 2016 PENTATONE PTC5186631 SACD [63:50 + 63:02] [JQ] A fine performance of a recent American opera that connects very directly with the listener.

Johann Peter PIXIS (1788-1874) Piano Trios - Leonore Piano Trio rec. 2016 HYPERION CDA68207 [64:54] [BSt] The excellent Leonore Trio make a good case for these trios (possibly the best that is ever likely to be made) and they are very decently recorded.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) The Bells, Symphonic Dances - Tatiana Pavlovskaya (soprano) Oleg Dolgov (tenor) Alexey Markov (baritone) Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons rec. 2016/17 BR KLASSIK 900154 [74.19] [MC] Penetrating accounts of The Bells and Symphonic Dances that are worthy additions to any collection.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trios Nos 1 & 2, Notturno, Trio movement - Beaux Arts Trio rec. 1984 DECCA ORIGINALS 4757571 [46:55 + 51:09] [RMo] This recording remains the most satisfying option both for sound and interpretation despite the short measure.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphonies 1-15 - Tatarstan National SO/Alexander Sladkovsky rec. 2016 MELODIYA MELCD1002470 [13 CDs: 703:13] [GT] An all-round success.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Symphonies Nos 8, 9 & 11 - São Paulo SO/Isaac Karabtchevsky rec. 2015/16 NAXOS 8.573777 [73:43] [JWh] Despite the composer’s obvious expertise in committing the notes to paper the musical substance seems to be rather lacking.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Johann Gottfried WALTHER (1684-1748) Complete Organ Music - Simone Stella (organ) rec. 2013 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94730 [12 CDs: 658:35] [JV] This is a splendid musical monument for one of the most important composers for the organ of the 18th century.

American Canvas Works by Clearfield, Higdon, Ran & Tian  - Lucy Shelton (soprano), Dolce Suono Trio rec. 2016 INNOVA 991 [63:47] [DC] Another Innova title that takes our awareness of new chamber music a quantum step further.

Isaac Stern (violin) Concertos by Haydn, Mendelssohn & Tchaikovsky - Hollywood Bowl O/Serge Koussevitzky, P-SO New York/Leopold Stokowski, Philadelphia O/Pierre Monteux rec. 1945-50 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC519 [79:51] [JW] Real rarity value to the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.


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