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Friday March 23rd

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Mass in B minor - Trinity College Ch Cambridge, O Age of Enlightenment/Stephen Layton rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68181/2 [53:22 + 54:21] [JQ] One of the freshest and most enjoyable recordings of the B minor Mass I’ve heard for quite some time.

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) String Quartet No. 2 Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937) String Quartet No. 1 Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Piano Quintet No. 1 - Walden String Qt, Johana Harris (piano) rec. 1951/55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1213 [70:44] [SG] Rarely programmed chamber works in compelling performances.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) & Georges ONSLOW (1784-1853) Viola Sonatas Johann KALLIWODA (1801-1866) Six Nocturnes - Hiyoli Togawa (viola) Lilit Grigoryan (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573730 [76:02] [RHa] Rare and worthwile viola repertoire superbly played and vividly recorded; the Mendelssohn is worth the price of the disc alone.

Niccolň PAGANINI (1782-1840) Chamber works - Roberto & Anna Noferini (violins) Andrea Noferini (cello) Giulio Tampalini (guitar) rec. 2016/17 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95031 [54:34] [JWh] Some issues with intonation and recording make this mainly recommendable on the basis of its price and the rarity of some of the works.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Funeral Sentences - Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe rec. 1993 HARMONIA MUNDI HMC901462 [67:43] [RMo] The one for those who want to hear these works recorded in a “period aware” fashion.

Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957) Cello Concerto, Suite, Sommernacht - Christoph Croisé (cello) I TEMPI CO/Gevorg Gharabekyan rec. 2017 GENUIN GEN18497 [71:47] [MC] Lovers of late-Romantic music need not hesitate.

Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951) Kammersymphonie No.1 Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) 6 Gesänge Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924) Berceuse Élégiaque - Zoryana Kushpler (mezzo) Linos Ens rec. 2011 CAPRICCIO C5138 [47:50] [JF] An important historical document, but with some caveats.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Symphony No. 8 - Brandenburg SO/Peter Gülke rec. 2017 MDG 9012053-6 SACD [61:08] [DC] Admirable and Beethovenian, but what makes this stand out from the crowd?

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901) Rigoletto - Dmitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) Nadine Sierra (soprano) Kaunas State Ch & City SO/Constantin Orbelian rec. 2016 DELOS DE3522 [59:28 + 67:36] [GF] A worthy memorial to the art of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, but it is more than that.

Romance de Guerre Violin Sonatas by Elgar, Fairchild & Gaubert - Ambroise Aubrun (violin) Steven Vanhauwaert (piano) rec. 2017 HORTUS 726 [71:15] [JW] With good documentation and thoughtful performances, the success of this disc is only limited by the unsympathetic recording quality.

Thursday March 22nd

Albert DIETRICH (1829-1908) Cello sonata, Einleitung und Romanze, Klavierstücke - Alexander Will (cello), Friedrich Thomas (piano) rec. 2014 CPO 555108-2 [64:40] [SSi] These committed performances can be the start of Dietrich’s rehabilitation.

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Music for Cello - István Várdai (cello) Klára Würtz (piano) rec. 2015 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95574 [70:45] [TB] An important addition to the Kodály discography.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Complete Symphonies - HeidelbergSO/Thomas Fey rec. 2002-09 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC16098 [6 CDs: 402:15] [DC] Driven, stylish and clear of vision - very much the set to have.

Martin PALMERI (b. 1965) Magnificat - Astrolabium Ch, Capella Bydgostiensis CO/Kinga Litowska rec. 2015 DUX 1343 [46.19] [MW] Another enjoyable modern and instantly appealing recording of tuneful ecclesiastical music from Palmeri.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution - Ernst Senff Ch Berlin, Erfurt; Staatskapelle Weimar/Kirill Karabits rec. 2017 AUDITE 97.754 [41:55] [DM] Karabits goes way over the top; his rivals, more measured, do greater justice to the score.

Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921) Orchestral Works - Basque Ntl O/Jun Märkl rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573732 [67:04] [JWh] Those who love the music of Saint-Saëns need not hesitate.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Rite of Spring Anton WEBERN (1883-1945) Six Pieces for Orchestra Alban BERG (1885-1935) Three Fragments from Wozzeck György LIGETI (1923-2006) Mysteries of the macabre - Barbara Hannigan (soprano), London SO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2015 LSO LIVE LSO3028 Blu-ray/DVD [85:00] [JQ] A set of very fine performances.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Rigoletto - Leonard Warren (baritone), Bidú Sayão (soprano), Jussi Björling (tenor), Ch & O Metropolitan Opera/Cesare Sodero rec. 1945 PRISTINE PACO143 [56:30 + 62:21] [GF] You won’t hear the three central roles much better sung in more recent recordings, and in revitalised sound.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Bayreuth Festival Ch & O/Joseph Keilberth rec. 1953 DOCUMENTS LC12281 [12 CDs: 855:53] [RMo] It would be churlish not to welcome, praise and prize a Ring of this quality and provenance so competitively priced.

Viola Galante Pauline Sachse (viola), Andreas Hecker (harpsichord) rec. 2016 C-AVI MUSIC 8553312 [63:46] [JW] The performances are supple and thoughtful and make a good case for some little-known music.

Wednesday March 21st

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Dances from West Side Story, Fancy Free and On the Town; On the Waterfront Suite - Royal Liverpool PO/Christian Lindberg rec. 2016 BIS BIS-2278 SACD [62:30] [BW] Very attractive alternatives to Bernstein or Alsop but not a replacement for either.

Johann Evangelist BRANDL (1760-1837) Symphonies - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Kevin Griffiths rec. 2017 CPO 555 157-2 [54.12] [MW] Well-constructed but not very distinctive music from a Beethoven contemporary in fine performances.

Thorsten ENCKE (b. 1966) A Live Portrait rec 2012-16 C-AVI MUSIC 8553247 [70:02] [RHa] Encke’s distinctive personality as a modernist with a lyrical heart is apparent in his most recent work.

Nikolai KAPUSTIN (b.1937) Cello Sonatas 1 & 2 - Robert Witt (cello), Clorinda Perfetto (piano) rec. 2016 BRILLIANT 95560 [52:07] [JW] A competitively priced disc offering up-to-date sonics and lithe interpretations.

Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967) Dances, Concerto for Orchestra, Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song - Buffalo PO/JoAnn Falletta rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573838 [77:17] [LW] Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic excel in Kodály’s colourful works.

Roman MACIEJEWSKI (1910-1998) Piano works - Mariusz Ciołko (piano) DUX 1410 [42:20] [EJW] An interesting recording of Maciejewski’s piano music.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Complete Overtures Vol. 3 - Prague SO/Christian Benda rec. 2011/12 NAXOS 8.570935 [55:42] [SV] Agreeable music in excellent sound, though Benda’s judgements of tempo are sometimes a little odd.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies 1-4, Manfred overture- London SO/Yondani Butt rec. 2011/12 NIMBUS NI7099 [78:08 + 73:28] [JWh] As a cycle at bargain price this should do well despite its minor flaws.

Michael WALSH (b.1948) Mass of the Holy Trinity, Requiem, The Way of Love - Antiphon & the Antiphon Players/Matthew Cann rec. 2017 WILLOWHAYNE WHR049 [66.02] [GH] The singers clearly know the music well, communicating it with love and affection.

Symphonic Psalms and Prayers Works by Stravinsky, Bernstein, Schoenberg & Zemlinsky - David Allsopp (countertenor) Tenebrae, BBC SO/Nigel Short rec 2016/17 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD492 [60:28] [JQ] A most interesting programme, superbly performed, though the recorded sound may not be to all tastes.

Tuesday March 20th

Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) Norma - Sonya Yoncheva, Joseph Calleja, Royal Opera Ch & O/Antonio Pappano rec. 2016 OPUS ARTE OABD7225D Blu-ray [169 mins] [ST] Not the best available, but particularly cherishable for Yoncheva’s thrilling first foray into this Everest of the soprano repertoire.

Cheryl FRANCES-HOAD (b. 1980) Even You Song - Peterborough Cathedral Ch/Steven Grahl, David Humphreys (organ) rec. 2017 FIRST HAND FHR61 [52:08] [RHa] Yet more evidence of this composer’s boundless imagination and talent.

Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687) Dies Irae, Te Deum - Allabastrina Ch & Consort/Elena Sartori rec. 2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95592 [59:35] [CRo] An attractive release, other than the skimpy notes.

Vitězslav NOVÁK (1870-1949) & Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations on a theme by Schumann Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonic Etudes - Patrick Hemmerlé (piano) rec. 2015 ORPHEUS OR3012-9720 [72:19] [JW] The main focus here is the Novák though its appeal is rather specialist.

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3 -Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) BBC SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017 BIS BIS2338 SACD [75:12] [RWe] This coupling of the two most popular of the Rachmaninov concertos should take its place among the best of recent times.

Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921) Symphonic poems - O Ntl Lille/Jun Märkl rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573745 [55:28] [JWh] The performances have a light Gallic touch about them and the recorded sound is first class.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Violin Concerto, Rococo Variations - Nemanja Radulović (violin, viola), Stéphanie Fontanarosa (piano), Borusan Istanbul PO/Sascha Goetzel; Double Sens, rec. 2016, 2017 DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4798089 [52:09] [BW] An enjoyable performance of the concerto is spoiled by a bizarre choice of coupling.

Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) Götterdämmerung - Laila Andersson-Palme (soprano) Elliot Palay (tenor) Aarhus SO, Ch Jutland Opera/Francesco Cristofoli rec. 1987 STERLING CDA1813/1816-2 [4 CDs: 248:06] [GF] Much of the live thrill also comes over to the listener via this atmospheric recording.

Romantic Music for Harp Works by Thomas, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Zabel & Wagner - Pauline Haas (harp) rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.579015 [72:20] [IL] A most interesting and enterprising collection.

The Operatic Pianist II Andrew Wright (piano) rec. 2016 DIVINE ART DDA25153 [67:45] [JWe] A marvellous disc; Andrew Wright is an extremely talented and versatile performer with a lovely tone and bagsful of virtuosity.

Monday March 19th

Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714 -1788) Complete Works for Keyboard & Violin - Duo Belder Kimura rec. 2016 RESONUS RES10192 [69:32 + 62:51] [RK] Excellent performances invite an exploration of the trajectory of CPE Bach’s career.

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Six Cello Suites, Suite No. 1 Revisited - Toke Møldrup (cello), Elisabeth Zeathen Schneider, Kristine Zeuthen Schneider (violins), Viggo Mangor (chamber organ) rec. 2015/2017 BRIDGE 9503A/B [76:48 + 60:14] [ZT] A very enjoyable, engaging rendition of the Cello Suites.

Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) Violin Sonatas No. 1-2, Piano Sonata - Nurit Stark (violin), Cédric Pescia (piano) rec. 2017 CLAVES 50-1705 [70:15] [JW] If the programme appeals, the performances should do so as well.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 3 Ernst von DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Symphonic Minutes, Piano Concerto No. 2 - Sofja Gülbadamova (piano) Wuppertal SO/Dmitri Jurowski rec. 2017 HD KLASSIK 3D-801702 SACD [84:46] [DHu] Fine concert, lovely sound, but not quite the binaural experience I was expecting.

William BYRD (1539/40-1623) Motets - King’s College Ch Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury rec. 2017 KING’S COLLEGE KGS0024 [56:02] [BW] A very successful record which makes a very fine introduction to Byrd’s music.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Orchestral Works Volume 3 - BBC PO/John Wilson rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHSA5195 SACD [68:17] [RHa] This third volume of John Wilson’s splendidly-shaped Copland series more than lives up to the standards set by its predecessors.

Henry Cotter NIXON (1842-1907) Complete Orchestral Music Vol 2 - Ian Hobson (piano), Kodály PO/Paul Mann rec. 2016 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0373 [65:36] [JQ] Toccata Classics continue their valuable exploration of the orchestral music of a little-known English composer.

Joseph SCHUSTER (1748-1812) String Quartets Nos 1-6 - Joseph Joachim Qt rec. 2001 PAN CLASSICS PC10379 [59:30] [DJB] These works were mistakenly attributed to Mozart; that should give an indication of their quality.

Genève au siècle des Lumières O baroque de la HEM, Florence Malgoire, Le Harmoniche Sfere rec. 2016 CLAVES 50-1610/11 [2 CDs: 112:10] [JV] This set gives much to enjoy.

The Gluepot Connection Londinium Chamber Ch/Andrew Griffiths rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD0180 [75:26] [NB] This is a very fine disc indeed, possibly one of Somm's finest.



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