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Friday November 30th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Brandenburg Concertos - Concerto Copenhagen/Lars Ulrik Mortensen rec. 2017 CPO 555 158-2 [2 SACDs: 41:36 + 52:50] [DC] Very good, but just one of very many indeed.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Grande Messe des Morts - Bror Magnus Třdenes (tenor) Bergen PO & Ch/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5219 SACD [80:54] [JQ] Something of a missed opportunity.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Hungarian Dances - Sabrina-Vivian Höpcker (violin) Fabio Bidini (piano) rec. 2017 DELOS DE3558 [60:14] [RMo] Perhaps best appreciated in more than one sitting.

Ernő DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Ruralia Hungarica, Humoresken, Pastorale - Valentina Tóth (piano) rec. 2018 CHALLENGE RECORDS CC72775 [63:10] [EJW] A very attractive CD of piano music by this underappreciated composer.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Anna Larsson (alto) Düsseldorfer SO/Ádám Fischer rec. 2017 CAVI -MUSIC 8553399 [33.50 + 62.01] [MW] A wonderful recording to rival brother Iván's account - in an ideal world, buy both for contrasting insights.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Great Mass in c - Ch Bayerischen Rundfunks, Akademie Alte Musik Berlin/Howard Arman rec. 2018 rec. 2018 BR-KLASSIK WISSEN 900917 [50.53 + 73.10] [MC] Less bold and resolute, far less dramatic although perhaps more devotional than you might be used to.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) & Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Quintets for piano and winds - Ens Dialoghi rec. 2015 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905296 [51:03] [RHa] It is a real delight to hear this coupling so thoughtfully and lovingly played on period instruments and recorded in deluxe sound.

Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) Piano works - Kevin Kenner (piano) rec. 2017 FRYDERYK CHOPIN INSTITUTE NIFCCD057 [70:10] [PRB] A really most enjoyable CD of piano playing of the highest order.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La Bohčme - Michael Fabiano (tenor) Nicole Car (soprano) Royal Opera House Ch & O/Sir Antonio Pappano rec. 2017 OPUS ARTE OABD7248D Blu-ray [122 mins] [DBi] Simply superb in every way - unmissable.

Impermanence Works by Takemitsu, Gilbert & Dufay - Lorelei Ens/Beth Willer rec. 2016 SONO LUMINUS DSL-92226 CD/BD-A [48:27] [JW] A disc with cross-currents and lineages, sung in a way that reflects on both simultaneously.

Thursday November 29th

John CAGE (1912-1992) Guitar works - Aaron Larget-Caplan (guitar) rec. 2017/18 STONE RECORDS 50601927 80833 [54:03] [RB] A blend of delicacy, complexity and amiable simplicity.

Antoine de FÉVIN (c.1470-1511/1512) Missa Ave Maria, Missa Salve Sancta parens - Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68265 [79:13] [GH] Rare music, well worth exploring.

Gustav MAHLER (1869-1911) Symphony No. 9 - Essen PO/Tomáš Netopil rec. 2018 OEHMS CLASSICS OC1890 [82:33] [RC] A few tame sections aside, this is a strong entrant into formidable competition.

Řrjan MATRE (b. 1979) Konsert for Orkester - Peter Herresthal (violin) Oslo PO/Peter Szilvay rec. 2017 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1155 [62:58] [DC] Unconventional, but tremendously exhilarating.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Piano & Organ concertos, Stabat Mater - Alexandre Tharaud (piano), James O'Donnell (organ), Kate Royal (soprano), London PO & Ch/Yannick Nézet-Séguin rec. 2013/14 LPO LPO0108 [72:24] [MR] Each work receives a special performance.

Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Das Gehege Jean-Pascal BEINTUS (b. 1966) Le Petit Prince - Rayanne Dupuis (soprano), Eva-Christina Schönweiss (violin), Kirsten Ecke (harp), Deutsches SO Berlin/Kent Nagano rec. 2011 CAPRICCIO C5337 [53:43] [SSi] Excellent performances of quite different works.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Fantasiestücke, Fantasie - Severin von Eckardstein (piano) rec. 2016 CAVI-MUSIC 8553366 [69:53] [SG] Intuitive understanding, poetic insights and refined pianism coalesce into some of the most ravishing Schumann playing one is ever likely to encounter.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) Petrushka, Jeu de cartes - Mariinsky O/Valery Gergiev rec. 2009/14 MARIINSKY MAR0594 SACD [57.51] [DBi] Thrilling performances very well played and beautifully recorded.

Emil TABAKOV (b. 1947) Concert Piece, Symphony No. 4 - Bulgarian Ntl RSO/Emil Tabakov rec. 2009/10 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0467 [62:42] [RHa] Two intense works that are hard to admire or to like.

Leopold Stokowski (conductor) Wartime NBC Premières - Eduard Steuermann (piano), NBC SO rec. 1942-44 PRISTINE PASC536 [64:52 + 72:03] [RB] An insight into 1940s radio listening as well as giving voice to a series of often deeply enjoyable music experiences.

Wednesday November 28th

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Complete String Quartets - Arcadia Qt rec. 2017/18 CHANDOS CHAN10992(2) [2 CDs: 160:06] [SSi] Quickly becoming my go-to recording of the works.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Wand of Youth Suites, Nursery Suite - Hallé/Sir Mark Elder rec. 2015/17 HALLÉ CDHLL7548 [71.18] [MC] Those looking for a collection of lighter Elgar have no reason to hesitate with this outstanding Hallé album.

Louis-Gabriel GUILLEMAIN (1705-1770) Flute Quartets - Wilbert Hazelzet (transverse flute), Fantasticus rec. 2017 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10222 [2 CDs: 87:00] [JV] Highly entertaining music, which receives excellent performances.

Toivo KUULA (1883-1918) Violin Sonatas; Five Pieces - Nina Karmon (violin), Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2017 CPO 555 148-2 [69:02] [RB] The masterful Kuula cherished the violin and this is evident here as is his avoidance of the shallows.

Mark John MCENROE My Symphonic Poems - Janacek PO/Anthony Armore rec. 2016-18 NAVONA RECORDS NV6189 [2 CDs: 107:15] [EJW] McEnroe has a pleasant melodic style; his pieces are nice, quite unassuming works, honestly composed and presented which plumb no great heights or depths of emotion.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Serenades in E flat & C minor; La Clemenza di Tito - Overture and arias - Oslo Kammerakademi/David Friedemann Strunck rec. 2015 LAWO LWC1141 [79:57] [GPJ] A slightly strange choice of repertoire; nevertheless a highly enjoyable disc, full of charm and musicianship.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem - Bolshoi Theatre Ch, St. Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov rec. 2017 DELOS DVD DV7012 [93 mins] [RJF] A fine performance, in a magnificent auditorium, of Verdi’s great choral work, given as a fitting tribute in memory of a great Verdi singer.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons -Joseph Silverstein (violin) Boston SO/Seiji Ozawa rec. 1981 TELARC TEL00004 LP [38:19] Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) 1812 Overture, Capriccio Italien - Cincinnati SO/Erich Kunzel rec. 1978 TELARC TEL00009 LP [35:11] Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) The Firebird Suite Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887) Prince Igor Overture & Polovtsian Dances rec. 1978 TELARC TEL00005 LP [43:17] Carl ORFF (1895-1982) Carmina Burana Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Symphonic Metamorphosis Of Themes by Carl Maria Von Weber - Judith Blegen (soprano) Hakan Hagegard (baritone) William Brown (tenor) Atlanta SO & Ch/Robert Shaw rec. 1980 TELARC TEL00006 [2 LPs: 60:29] [SG] Four reissues from Telarc which will be welcomed with open arms by vinyl enthusiasts.

Christian WOLFF (b.1934) Two Orchestra Pieces - SWR SO Baden-Baden Freiburg/Lothar Zagrosek; Ostravská banda/Roland Kluttig, Peter Rundel, Petr Kotík rec. 2009-12 NEW WORLD RECORDS 80796 [51:57] [RHa] An important issue introducing one of the last surviving members of John Cage’s coterie.

The Golden Age: Cello 1925 Works by Hindemith, Ibert, Martinů & Toch - Christoph Heesch (cello), Eroica Berlin/Jakob Lehmann rec. 2018 GENUIN GEN18613 [70:14] [RK] Assured performances of a well-planned and interesting programme.

Tuesday November 27th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750) Goldberg Variations Henning KRAGGERUD (b. 1973) Topelius Variations - Henning Kraggerud (violin) Arctic PO rec. 2017 SIMAX PSC1353 [74:20] [GF] A feather in the cap for the orchestra and Kraggerud himself.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonatas - Leila Schayegh (violin) Jan Schultsz (piano) rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD924201 [69:42] [SSi] Revelatory once you have become used to the nineteenth century sensibilities employed.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857–1934) The Music Makers, The Spirit of England - Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Andrew Staples (tenor) BBC SO & Ch/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5215 SACD [61:56] [JQ] The prime recommendation for each of these important Elgar scores.

Wojciech KILAR (1932-2013) The Very Best of Kilar DUX 0906-07 [56:22 + 46:22] [RB] Much more than just a Kilar taster.

Erkki Olavi SALMENHAARA (1941-2002) Symphonies Nos 2-4 - Finnish Radio SO/Paavo Berglund, Petri Komulainen, Ulf Söderblom rec. 1966-2008 FINLANDIA CLASSICS FINCLA27 [79:18] [RB] From avant-garde tough to music that speaks to those who value melodic resilience.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Giovanna D’Arco - Luciano Ganci (tenor), Vittoria Yeo (soprano), I Virtuosi Italiani/Ramón Tebar rec. 2016 C MAJOR Blu-ray 745704 [127 mins] [RJF] The tension, cohesion and vibrancy of the opera are lacking in this performance.

Johann WALTER (1496 - 1570) Geystliches Gesangk Buchleyn - Martin Luther's Lieder - Weser-Renaissance Bremen/Manfred Cordes rec. 2016 CPO 555 134-2 [72:04] [JV] An important contribution to the commemoration of the Reformation; Walter’s contribution is given the attention it deserves.

Hush, Little Child Christmas Carols by Mold & Baldwin - Simon Hogan (organ/piano) Antony Baldwin (organ) Lynne Hope (recorder) Southwell Minster Ch/Paul Provost rec. 2017 HERITAGE HTGCD185 [70:25] [JWh] A warm welcome for a compilation that offers something different to the usual Christmas fare.

Praise My Soul Jesus College Ch Cambridge/Richard Pinel rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD545 [66:32] [MR] A good selection of hymns ancient and modern, familiar and unfamiliar, robustly sung in good-to-honest straightforward arrangements which will appeal to all lovers of traditional hymnody.

The Versailles Revolution Works by Lully, Marais & Muffat - Indianapolis Baroque O/Barthold Kuijken rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.573868 [62:06] [BW]  The second very fine release from this source – more, please.

Monday November 26th 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 - David Oistrakh, Igor Oistrakh (violin), Eugene Goossens, Rudolf Barshai rec. 1957/62 ALTO ALC1399 [68:51] [RB] Lively and well attuned to Bach's sprightly writing to which the musicians pay delightful court.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Trios Vol. 2 - Van Baerle Trio rec. 2017 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72778 SACD [72:37] [DC] Fine playing - worth looking out for.

Harald GENZMER (1909-2007) Concertos - Oliver Triendl (piano), Patrick Demenga (cello), Jörgen van Rijen (trombone), Berlin RSO/Ariane Matiakh rec. 2017 CAPRICCIO C5330 [71:02] [RB] A moderately cool but prolific adherent of the Hindemith school heard via three concertos.

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Violin Sonatas (orch.) - Henning Kraggerud (violin), Tromsø CO rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573137 [66:40] [SFV] If you like this sort of thing, it’s mostly done well here.

Bo HOLTEN (b. 1948) Gesualdo Shadows - Gert Henning-Jensen (tenor), Musica Ficta, Concerto Copenhagen/Bo Holten rec. 2016 DACAPO 2.110428 DVD [114 mins.] [RWe] A fascinating operatic exploration of Gesualdo’s dramatic life, making much use of his music.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Wanderer - André Schuen (baritone), Daniel Heide (piano) rec. 2016 CAVI-MUSIC 8553373 [67:03] [GF] This programme feels very satisfying and should be an attractive buy for the many lovers of Schubert.

Albanian Piano Music Marsida Koni (piano) rec. 2017 PIANO CLASSICS PCL10149 [68:57] [PRB] A most enjoyable and enlightening CD.

Albion Refracted Works by Bridge, Britten, Phibbs & Turnage - Piatti Qt rec. 2017/18 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD145 [71:22] [SSi] A very well performed disc that presents quartets from different generations, which sit together very well indeed.

Estrellita Elena Urioste (violin) Tom Poster (piano) rec. 2017 BIS BIS2428 SACD [69:40] [JW] A pleasing selection of arrangements.

Lest We Forget Chichester Cathedral Ch/Charles Harrison rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD562 [64:56] [ST] It isn’t the finest choral CD to have come my way this year but it’s still worthwhile, and for a good cause.

Other reviews
Notorious RBG in Song Patrice Michaels (vocals) Kuang-Hao Huang (piano) rec. 2017/18 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR90000178 [56:30] [MB] Music that is affecting and the singing more than hits the mark.



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