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Bellini's Norma - a survey of recordings by Ralph Moore

Piet Kee, Dutch organist - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

The start of a new round of national discography updates by Mike Herman

Stanfordian Thoughts 6: Fairy Day by Christopher Howell

Piano Trio Discography & Review Index: Mozart

Ernst Maerzendorfer and the First Recorded Cycle of Haydn Symphonies II by Christopher Howell

Second Thoughts and Short Reviews: Autumn 2018/1 by Brian Wilson & Dan Morgan

Classical Music on Stamps This week: The Mozart bicentenary in 1956


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Friday September 28th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Peter Hill (piano) rec. 2017 DELPHIAN DCD34200 [78:48] [TB] Hill’s interpretation is worthy of comparison with any.

Carl CZERNY (1791-1857) Introduzione e Rondo Brillant, Piano Concerto, Introduction, Variations & Rondo - Rosemary Tuck (piano) English CO/Richard Bonynge rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573688 [79:31] [JF] Czerny, despite his reputation as a didactic pedant, proves lively and entertaining.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Hills of Dreamland - Kathryn Rudge (mezzo) Henk Neven (baritone) Nathalie de Montmollin (soprano) Barry Collett (piano) BBC Concert O/Barry Wordsworth rec. 2017 SOMM SOMMCD271-2 [53.30 + 37.00] [EJW] Much here that will give great pleasure to all lovers of Elgar.

Bruno LETORT (b. 1963) Trainworld - David Torn (electric guitar) Franck Vaillant (drums) Renaud-Gabriel Pion (bass clarinet) Bruno Letort (electronics) Hungarian Symphonic O/Peter Illenyi rec. 2014/15 MUSICUBE CUB1501 [38:44] [RHa] Enjoyable for train-buffs in a soundtracky sort of way but holistically underwhelming, alas.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Anja Harteros (soprano), Bernarda Fink (alto); Bavarian Radio Ch & SO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 BR KLASSIK 900167 [80:52] [DM]  Inexplicably and irretrievably dull; avoid.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (1928-2016) Works for Cello & Piano - Tanja Tetzlaff (cello) Gunilla Süssmann (piano) rec. 2017 ONDINE ODE1310-2 [67:57] [SB] An album of rewarding works by the Finnish master.

Carl REINECKE (1824-1910) Aschenbrödel, Der Schweinehirt - Gun Youg An (soprano) Rebecca Blanz (mezzo) Cornelia Weiß, Peter Kreutz (piano) Vokal-Ens rec. 2016 CPO 555 084-2 [71:16] [SSi] Very interesting but certainly one for the fan of melodramas.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Mosè in Egitto - Goran Jurić, Andrew Foster-Williams (bass) Mandy Fredrich (soprano) Prague Philharmonic Ch, Vienna SO/Enrique Mazzola rec. 2017 C MAJOR Bluray 744904 [150 min] [RJF] With so many vagaries, this staging and recording can hardly be recommended.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) The Four Seasons, Concertos - Robert Gendre (violin) Pierre Pierlot (oboe) Robert Bex (cello) O de Chambre/Fernand Oubradous rec. 1957-58 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1506 [78:49] [JW] An interesting rendering that falls between old school and HIP.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Nocturnal Jakob Lindberg (lute/lute ‘mandorée’) rec. 2017 BIS BIS2082 SACD [83:17] [GPu] This is a treasure, a must-have album for all lovers of the lute; Lindberg’s playing is a master class in quiet subtlety and he has put together a fascinating programme.

Thursday September 27th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No. 9 - Philharmonia O & Ch/Benjamin Zander rec. 2017 BRATTLE MEDIA 610877733781 [3 CDs: 218:35] [RC] While this may be a controversial reading, all who admire Beethoven and his symphonies should pay some attention to this recording.

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Wonderful Town - Danielle de Niese, Alysha Umphress, Nathan Gunn, London Symphony O & Ch/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2017 LSO LIVE LSO0813 SACD [70:19] [JQ] A helluva performance of a helluva show.

Ignaz BRÜLL (1846-1907) Violin Concerto, Symphony, Serenades No. 1-2 - Ilya Hoffmann (violin), Malta PO/Michael Laus, Belarussian State SO/Marius Stravinsky rec. 2007-11 CAMEO CLASSICS CC9103 [58:18 + 67:11] [PRB] There are some interesting and attractive lyrical writing, but much of the music lacks real individuality or a sufficiently strong structural sense.

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) Violin & Viola Works - Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin & viola) Roderick Chadwick (piano) rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573886 [68:41] [RHa] Henze for one or two players; outstanding playing, terrific recording, potentially infinite impact.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Symphonies Nos 2 & 6; Upaaagtede Morgenstjerner - Vienna PO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2017/18 DACAPO 6.220653 SACD [70:00] [DM]  Two fine symphonies, very well played and recorded; a cheer-raising, hat-tossing event for all Langgaardians.

Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943) Rachmaninoff plays Symphonic Dances: Newly Discovered 1940 Recordings - rec. 1940-66 MARSTON 53022-2 [3 CDs: 204:33] [SG] An aural document of notable historical importance.

Johann SCHELLE (1648-1701) Actus Musicus auf Weyh-Nachten - Concerto Palatino, Kölner Akademie, Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2017 CPO 555 155-2 [74:34] [JV] If you look for something less familiar for the Christmas period, this is certainly a disc to investigate.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) L’Estro Armonico No.8 Luigi BOCCHERINI (1743-1805) & Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840) String Quartets - Eddy Brown and Roman Totenberg (violins) York String Qt rec. c.1939/49 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1514 [51:46] [JW] Crisply played, well balanced, stylish and genial if very slightly small-scaled.

La Première Works by Janáček, Frandsen & Brahms - Adam Stadnicki (cello) Galya Kolarova (piano) rec. 2017 CLAUDIO BD-A CR6041-6 [59:00] [DBi] The Frandsen is unique and the Janacek and Brahms are well worth hearing as performed by these talented young players.

A Walk with Ivor Gurney Works by Bingham, Gurney, Howells & Vaughan Williams - Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo); Simon Callow (narrator); Tenebrae; Aurora O/Nigel Short rec. 2018 SIGNUM SIGCD557 [BW]  Not quite a definitive replacement for the Willcocks Oxford Elegy, but it comes pretty close, and there’s plenty more fine music making here, too.

Wednesday September 26th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827) Piano works - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2017 HYPERION CDA68237 [76:18] [SG] A most enlightening and imaginatively constructed programme.

Marc BLITZSTEIN (1905-1964) The Cradle will Rock - Ginger Costa-Jackson, Audrey Babcock, Matt Boehler, Opera Saratoga/John Mauceri rec. 2017 BRIDGE 9511 A/B [57:03+54:23] [TB] An important contribution towards our understanding of American music theatre.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Symphony “Mathis der Maler”; Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber; Five Piecesa - Frankfurt RSO/Paavo Järvi rec. 2010-13 NAÏVE V5434 [65:57] [RC] As a Hindemith collection, this is hard to beat.

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) & Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) String Quartets - Loewenguth Qt rec. 1950/53 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1457 [42:23] [JW] Finely transferred performances that reinforce the quality of this quartet.

Outi TARKIAINEN (b. 1985) Beyond Poems - Lauri Sallinen (clarinet), Maria Puusaari (violin), Markus Hohti (cello). Tuuli Lindeberg (soprano), Emil Holmström (piano) rec. 2017 ALBA ABCD415 [73:29] [RHa] Tarkiainen’s jazz-inflected music reflects the dark and the light of her native Lapland, and much more besides.

Decades: A Century of Song Vol. 3: 1830-1840 - John Mark Ainsley (tenor) Lorna Anderson (soprano) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2015/17 VIVAT 116 [69:05] [JQ] A varied and discerningly chosen selection of art songs from the 1830s in excellent performances.

The Lully Effect Works by Lully, Rameau & Telemann - Indianapolis Baroque O/Barthold Kuijken rec. 2013 NAXOS 8.573867 [62:47] [BW]  One way or another, you should try to hear these revelatory performances of fine music.

Rondeau Mélancolique László Rózsa (recorder), Jonathan Rees (viola da gamba), Alex McCartney (theorbo, guitar) rec. 2017 VETERUM MUSICA VM017 [62:22] [JV] This disc will give every lover of baroque music much pleasure.

Tanguero Christoph Denoth (guitar) rec. 2017/18 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD538 [69:31] [GF] A disc for relaxation as well as close listening.

Finn Viderø (organ) The Legendary Danish Organist Vol. 3: Buxtehude rec. 1957/58 DANACORD DACOCD795/6 [76:29 + 75:54] [JF] All these works are played with conviction, confidence and deep technical understanding.

Tuesday September 25th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Symphony No.3, Eroica Variations - Dirk Joeres (piano) Westdeutsche Sinfonia/Dirk Joeres rec. 2016 HERITAGE HTGCDBT2 [74:22] [JWh] Never less than interesting and the DVD is a fine bonus.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies 1 - 4 - Scottish CO/Robin Ticciati rec. 2017 LINN CKD601 [78:09 + 74:07] [RC] While the interpretive stance is not quite unique, it is unusual, provocative, and masterfully conceived.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 8 - SO Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons rec. 2017 BR KLASSIK 900165 [80.07] [RMo] Very enjoyable, even if ultimately it does not supplant my attachment to established favourites.

Hermann GOETZ (1840-1876) Piano Quintet & Quartet - Pro Arte Quartet, Paul Marrion (double bass) rec. 2003 CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD142 [64:30] [SSi] A fine introduction to the music of Hermann Goetz; recommended for those who want to wander off the beaten path.

Fernando LOPES-GRAÇA (1906-1994) Songs and Folk Songs - Susana Gaspar (soprano), Cátia Moreso (mezzo-soprano), Fernando Guimarães (tenor), Nuno Vieira de Almeida (piano) rec 2017 NAXOS 8.579039 [75:45] [RHa] Lopes-Graça’s lovely songs are well worth hearing, despite some uneven singing.

Joseph MAYSEDER (1781-1863) Violin Concertos - Raimund Lissy (violin) Joseph Mayseder O/Helmut Zehetner rec. 2017 GRAMOLA 99181 [66:35] [PRB] A lot more to Mayseder than you might expect.

Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974) String Quartet No. 1, Clarinet Sonatine Joaquín TURINA (1882-1949) La Oración del Torero Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Clarinet Sonata - WXQR Qt, Herbert Tichman (clarinet) Ruth Budnevich (piano) rec. 1951-55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1466 [55:57] [JW] An interesting restoration that celebrates a little-recorded but fine quartet.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Alborada del gracioso, La Valse, Shéhérazade Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) La Mer, Petite Suite - Suzanne Danco (soprano) O Suisse Romande, O Société Concerts Conservatoire/Ernest Ansermet rec. 1947-1948 ELOQUENCE 482 5007 [71:12] [JF] Enthusiasts of this maestro will demand these re-masterings.

RECORDING OF THE MONTH Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Franz Hawlata (bass-baritone) Artur Korn (bass) Michael Volle (baritone) Bayreuth Festival Ch & O/Sebastian Weigle rec. 2008 OPUS ARTE OACD9031D [4 CDs: 268:03] [GF] One of the finest versions currently available; the performances are quite exceptional.

Pianos Quart de Ton Works for 2 & 4 pianos by Wyschnegradsky, Moëne & Bancquart - Léo Margue (direction) rec. 2016 SHIIIN 10 [75:25] [SG] Challenging, but deeply rewarding.

Monday September 24th 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Violin Sonatas, Rhapsodies, Intermezzi, Ballades - Egon Petri (piano), Joseph Szigeti (violin), Samuel Lifschey (viola) rec. 1937/41 PRISTINE AUDIO PAKM076 [76:59] [JW] All attest to Petri’s continuing significance as a Brahms exponent.

Luca MARENZIO (1553/4-1599) Il Pastor Fido - La Pedrina/Francesco Saverio Pedrini rec. 2017/18 CLAVES CD50-1814 [52.30] [GH] The concept and the whole project is commendable.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Grabmusik, Bastien und Bastienne - Anna Maria Richter (soprano) Alessandro Fisher (tenor) Jacques Imbrailo (baritone) Darren Jeffrey (bass) Classical Opera/Ian Page rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSCS SIGCD547 [66:24] [CC] The music is simply beautiful, and performed at the highest level.

Sergey RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Piano Concerto No. 3, Variations on a Theme of Corelli - Boris Giltburg (piano), Royal Scottish Ntl O/Carlos Miguel Prieto rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573630 [61:59] [WH] Splendid performances in demonstration sound - if the coupling appeals, don’t hesitate.

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) & Claude ARRIEU (1903-1990) Violin Concertos - Jeanne Gautier (violin), O  Ntl de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française/Jacques Pernoo, Eugène Bigot rec. 1956/59 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR981 [44:20] [SG] A worthy effort to raise the profile of a sadly neglected violinist.

Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949) Complete Music for Violin and Piano - Macarena Martínez (violin), Juan Escalera (piano) rec. 2016/17 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95626 [46:22+41:24] [JWh] There is much to enjoy in this undemanding music, especially with playing that is so committed and musically satisfying.

Ray Chen (violin) The Golden Age - London PO/Robert Trevino, Made in Berlin Qt rec. 2017 DECCA 4833852 [53:23] [BW] Heart and soul Bruch and very enjoyable Heifetz and Kreisler arrangements, but do the two halves hang together?

Dame Sarah Connolly (mezzo) Come to Me in My Dreams - Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2017/18 CHANDOS CHAN10944 [77:18] [JQ] Lovers of English song should hasten to hear this fine recital.

Other reviews
The Art of Brass
Cory Band/Philip Harper rec. 2018 DOYEN RECORDINGS DOYCD382 [77:31] [JWh] A perfect CD to play to people who are a bit “sniffy” about brass bands.


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