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[New] Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été - a survey by Ralph Moore

[New] A Portrait of the Pianist Adolph Hallis by William Snedden

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Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, jazz, other music); Friday: Articles
Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Wednesday August 21st

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Variations & Pieces for Piano - Ekaterina Derzhavina (piano) rec. 2016 PROFIL PH19027 [46:30 + 54:54] [MC] Outstanding piano playing of the highest integrity.

Fini HENRIQUES (1867-1940) Works for Violin & Piano - Johannes Søe Hansen (violin) Christina Bjørkøe (piano) rec. 2018 DACAPO 8.226151 [77:12] [JW] Unpretentious warmth, allied to an engaging sense of character.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3, Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen - Helen Watts (contralto) Norman Foster (baritone) London SO & Ch, Bamberg SO/Jascha Horenstein rec. 1954-1961 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC565 [2 CDs: 130:39] [SB] A live Horenstein performance of Mahler’s third symphony, earlier than his studio recording, and arguably more convincing, although with fluffs.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21, Don Giovanni Overture - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20083 [65:08] [RC] My first choice for this coupling.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) & Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) Piano Trios - Vienna Piano Trio rec. 2019 MDG 9422130-6 SACD [59:05] [DBi] A highly recommended pairing.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Kullervo - Lund Male Chorus, BBC Scottish SO/Thomas Dausgaard rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68248 [73:14] [EJW] A most desirable new recording which will satisfy most listeners who wish to become acquainted with Sibelius’ early mastery of large forces.

Mark-Anthony TURNAGE (b.1969) A Constant Obsession - Nicky Spence (tenor) Chamber Domaine/Thomas Kemp rec. 2011 RESONUS RES10106 [59:27] [MR] A fine selection of Turnage’s chamber music and an eloquent song-cycle.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) String Quartets Nos 8-10 - Silesian Qt rec. 2016 CD ACCORD ACD241-2 [66:11] [SSi] A most welcome release.

William WORDSWORTH (1908-1988) Orchestral Music Vol. 2 - Arta Arnicane (piano), Kamila Bydlowska (violin), Liepāja SO/John Gibbons rec. 2019 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0526 [79:41] [BW]  If you enjoyed the first volume, you should obtain its successor

20th Harpsichord Concertos Jory Vinikour (harpsichord), Chicago Philharmonic/Scott Speck rec. 2015-2018 CEDILLE CDR90000188 [74:57] [RB] Very strong … serves pleasurably to transform the recorded harpsichord landscape.

Tuesday August 20th

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphonies Nos 2, 8 & 9  - Münchner PO/Valery Gergiev rec. 2018 MÜNCHNER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS MPHIL0012/13/14  [55.32 & 80.44 & 62.43] MC] With these three recordings, Bruckner’s music continues to be remarkably well served. 

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Enigma Variations - Bergen PO/Andrew Litton rec. 2013/17 BIS BIS2068 SACD [82:42] [WH] This coupling of two standard English orchestral masterpieces in fine performances would make the perfect gift for a young music lover.

Leoš JANÁCEK (1854-1928) The Diary of One Who Disappeared; Moravian Folk Poetry In Songs - Václava Housková (mezzo-soprano), Voice, Victoria Samek (clarinet), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68282 [62:21] [SSi] Wonderful performances of each works, and blessed with equally fine production values.

JOHANN ERNST, Prince of Saxe-Weimar (1696-1715) Concerti - Gernot Süßmuth, David Castro-Balbi (violin), Rupprecht Drees (trumpet) Thüringer Bach Collegium rec. 2018 AUDITE 97.769 [63:37] [JV] Zestful and imaginative interpretation.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Concertos - Christian Ihle Hadland, Håvard Gimse (piano), Kåre Nordstoga (organ) Norwegian Radio O/Thomas Søndergård, Peter Szilvay rec. 2011 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1173 [58:57] [MR] Performances which have a slightly pedestrian feel to them.

Paul REALE (b. 1943) Music for Strings - Christopher Guzman (piano) Lynn Philharmonia/Guillermo Figueroa, Jon Robertson rec. 2019 MSR CLASSICS MS1703 [73:18] [DJB] If you like Stravinsky, Britten and Prokofiev, you should enjoy this.

Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1876-1948) Idillio, Serenata, Suite - Fabien Thousand (oboe); Valentino Zucchiatti (bassoon) Nueva O da Camera Ferruccio Busoni/Massimo Belli rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95875 [67:27] [RB] Neither tragic nor ecstatic but yielding charm, gentle mourning and enchantment.

Igor Markevitch Vol. 1 Works by Beethoven, Haydn, Rimsky-Korsakov & Nielsen - O Concerts Lamoureux, London SO, Royal Danish O rec. 1959-65 DOREMI DHR-8077/8 [73:24 + 75:25] [RC] Anyone unfamiliar with Markevitch’s work and wanting to explore it will find these performances an excellent introduction.

Monday August 19th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Keyboard works - Nils Anders Mortensen (piano) rec. 2019 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1174 [72:24] Keyboard works - Diana Boyle (piano) rec. 2018 DIVINE ART DDA25190 [36:53 + 47:35] [DJB] Two very different approaches to Bach on the modern piano; Mortensen’s is far more successful.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759) Concerti Grossi Op. 3 - Berliner Barock Solisten/Reinhard Goebel rec. 2019 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19031 [69:06] [MC] Extremely well performed, but doesn’t displace favourite versions.

Gabriel JACKSON (b. 1962) Passion - Emma Tring (soprano) Guy Cutting (tenor) Merton College Ch, Oxford Contemporary Sinfonia/Benjamin Nicholas rec. 2018 DELPHIAN DCD34222 [69:01] [MR] A deeply impressive performance of a deeply moving work.

Arvo PÄRT (b.1935) Stabat Mater and other works - Le Nuove Musiche/Krijn Koetsveld rec. 2008-16
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95807 [50:08] Pierre JALBERT (b.1967) Violin Concerto Arvo PÄRT Fratres - Margaret Batjer (violin), Los Angeles CO/Jeffrey Kahane rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2309 SACD [63:41] [BW]  Both are well worth considering but both come with reservations.

Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949) Complete Lieder Vol. 3 - Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (mezzo-soprano), Britta Stallmeister (soprano), Kinderkantorei der Christuskirche Freiburg. Klaus Simon (piano) rec. 2012 NAXOS 8.573081 [58:41] [SSi] Pfitzner’s Lieder in a good performance and sound.

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Complete Music for Solo Piano - Gordon Fergus-Thompson (piano) rec. 1990 ELOQUENCE 4829041 [71:37+68:07] [RWe] This issue restores to us a superb pair of discs from an outstanding artist.

Emil TABAKOV (b.1947) Complete Symphonies Vol. 4 - Bulgarian National RSO/Emil Tabakov rec. 1982/2011 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0530 [74:43] [RB] Takes you by the lapel and leaves no room to allow your concentration to slip out of focus.

Sturm Works by Schleiermacher, Saariaho & Wertmüller - Ensemble Musikfabrik rec. 200-14 WERGO WER6868-2 [61:07] [RHa] Driving exotica from Schleiermacher and delicate word-setting from Saariaho are certainly worth one’s time; many will require a stronger stomach than mine for Wertmüller, though.

Other reviews
Conductor Willem Mengelberg, 1871-1951: Acclaimed and Accused by Frits Zwart publ. 2019 AMSTERDAM UNIVERSITY PRESS [1329 pp.] [GT] Should be read by everyone who is interested in the art of conducting, in musical performance, and the musical business in the 20th century.

Friday August 16th 

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations - Evgeni Koroliov (piano) rec. 1999 PIANO CLASSICS PCL0010 [39:11 + 45:41] [RMo] One of the very finest versions.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Overtures - City of Birmingham SO/Edward Gardner rec. 2013-18 CHANDOS CHSA5235 SACD [74:53] [SSi] An excellent disc of Mendelssohn’s overtures, to which I will often return.

Bach & Co Les Accents/Thibault Noally (violin) rec. 2017 APARTÉ AP206 [70:18] [JV] An enjoyable portrait of Bach and his contemporaries.

L’esprit des six Works by Poulenc, Milhaud, Auric, Taillferre & Honegger - Davide Bandieri, Calogero Presti (clarinet) Guillaume Herpsberger (piano) Axel Benoit (bassoon) rec. 2018 CLAVES 50-1804 [69:24] [SB] A range of moods from five of Les Six – of particular appeal to clarinettists.

La Fresque Ballet Preljocaj rec. 2017 NAXOS Blu-Ray NBD0094V [91 mins] [RMay] Contemporary dance that benefits from a strong storyline and won’t frighten the horses.

Lebanese Piano Music Vol. 2 Tatiana Primak-Khoury (piano) rec. 2017 GRAND PIANO GP812 [78:40] [RB] A generous ear-opening collection benefiting from sound that is powerful and clear.

Organ Party Vol. 4 Kevin Bowyer (organ) rec. 2017 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1192 [79:36] [MR] A wonderfully life-affirming release in Priory’s “Organ Party” series hosted by Kevin Bowyer.

Towards the Light Works by Livorsi, Rautavaara & Wennäkoski - Helsinki Chamber Ch/Nils Schweckendiek rec. 2014 ICSM RECORDS CHRONOS ICSM013 [68:10] [BW]  Very much a recording of two halves, to which I shall probably turn in future only for the Rautavaara.

Thursday August 15th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Christus am Ölberge - Chorus Cathedralis Aboensis, Turku PO/Leif Segerstam rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573852 [64:07] [LW] Segerstam delivers a massive and monumental performance of Beethoven’s oratorio.

João Domingos BOMTEMPO (1771-1842) Complete Piano Sonatas - Luísa Tender (piano) rec. 2018 GRAND PIANO GP801-02 [68:53+79:17] [RB] All credit for bringing these lively sonatas into a courtyard lit by welcoming sunshine.

Charlie CHAPLIN (1889-1977) Chaplin’s Smile - Philippe Quint (violin) Marta Aznavoorian (piano) WARNER CLASSICS 9362490180 [55:20] [BMC] A mix of light-heartedness and tender passion with astonishing technique.

Jean-François DANDRIEU (1682-1738) & Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713) Sonatas - Le Consort/Justin Taylor rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 542 [61:43] [BW] Convincing accounts of the sonatas of a composer better known for his organ music.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Ludus Tonalis - Käbi Laretei (piano) rec. 1965 ELOQUENCE 484 0142 [54:04] [SB] A legendary recording receives its first CD issue and turns out to deserve its reputation.

Lula ROMERO (b. 1976) Ins Offene, Die Wanderung, Entmündigung - Zafraan Ens/Premil Petrovic rec. 2018 WERGO WER64292 [75:43] [RHa] An uncompromising new voice, creating novel, confrontational sounds in works that are designed to challenge rather than soothe.

Piotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Pique Dame - Wiener Philharmoniker/Mariss Jansons rec. 2018 C MAJOR 801408 DVD [183 mins] [RWe] An excellent account of one of the great operas.

Tommy Reilly (harmonica) A Life in Music rec. 1945-88 CHANDOS CHAN20143 [77:20] [JW] A huge amount here to entertain the keen listener.


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