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Wednesday December 11th

Gilbert AMY (b. 1936) Concertos - Jean-François Heisser (piano) Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), Nouvelle-Aquitaine CO/Julien Leroy, O de Paris/Gilbert Amy rec. 2006-19 EDITIONS HORTUS 175 [55:34] [RHa] A pair of very different concertos from a somewhat underappreciated figure, cogently argued and clothed in arresting, beautiful sounds.

George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759) Joseph and his Brethren - Diana Moore (mezzo-soprano), Philharmonia Baroque Ch & O/Nicholas McGegan rec. 2017 PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE PBP-11 [3 CDs: 175:30] [MP] Worth investigating.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929–1988) Sacred Choral Works - St Mary’s Cathedral Ch, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson rec. 2019 DELPHIAN DCD34218 [79:36] [BW] A very fine recording from which to get to know Leighton’s choral music, or, better still, to add to other collections.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - Jean Muller (piano) rec. 2016 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19074 [68:28] [DD] First rate execution of these four sonatas including three early examples of Mozart’s unique qualities.

Pēteris PLAKIDIS (1947-2017) Canto, Variations, Legend, Glance Back - Latvian Ntl SO/Vassily Sinaisky rec. 2019 SKANI LMIC076 [71:15] [SG] Thought-provoking music, performed with infectious enthusiasm and zeal.

Serge PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonatas Vol. 2 - Alexander Melnikov (piano) rec. 2018/19 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902203 [58:20] [RWe] A fine second issue of an important cycle.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Schwanengesang Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897) Vier ernste Gesänge - Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68288 [73:21] [GF] Utterly attractive readings.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Fête Galante Liza LEHMANN (1862-1918) The Happy Prince - Charmian Bedford (soprano) Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo) Dame Felicity Lott (reciter) Lontano Ens/Odaline de la Martinez rec. 1918-39 RETROSPECT OPERA RO007 [76:34] [EJW] These world première recordings are very good indeed.

Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Telemann’s Garden - Elephant House Qt rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186749 [58:56] [MC] Admirers of Telemann should be delighted with the results.

Wilhelm Kempff (piano) Recitals in France 1959-1967 MELOCLASSIC MC1042 [79:45 + 77:57] [JW] Lively, human, sometimes fallible, but always elevated music-making in variable sound.

Tuesday December 10th 

John AMNER (1579-1641) Complete Consort Music - Fretwork; Dublin Consort Singers/Mark Keane rec. 2018 RUBICON RCD1032 [72:71] [RHa] Delightful, little-known fare from an obscure 17th century Fenland master.

William BYRD (c.1540-1623) The Great Service - Choir of King’s College Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury First released 1987 WARNER CLASSICS 9029532656 [64:56] [BW]  Download only, but a very fine tribute to the memory of Stephen Cleobury.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792–1868) Giovin fiamma - Levy Sekgapane (tenor) Münchner Rundfunk O/Giacomo Sagripanti rec. 2018 PRIMA CLASSIC PRIMA002 [63:54] [GF] Lovers of Rossini and/or lovers of good tenor singing should have their fill here.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)  Otto Edelmann (bass) Philharmonia Ch & O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO167 [3CDs: 190:58] [RMo] For the most part this is one of the glories of the catalogue.

Fritz VOLBACH (1861-1940) Es waren zwei Königskinder, Symphony - Münster SO/Golo Berg rec. 2019 CPO 777 886-2 [61:52] [JW] Let’s hope there is more Volbach from this team.

Norma Fisher (piano) At the BBC - Vol. 2 rec. 1969-85 SONETTO CLASSICS SONCLA004 [57:57 + 56:45] [RC] Exceptional playing from a pianist who deserves to be better known.

The French Romantic Experience rec. 2008-19 BRU ZANE BZ2001 [10 CDs: 732.54] [MC] A valuable and a fascinating insight into rarely known French Romantic music.

Göttinger Stadtmusik Works by WF Bach, Rudorff & Quantz - Hanna Zumsande (soprano) Nicole Pieper (contralto) Consortium Vocale Berlin, Göttinger Barock O/Antonius Adamske rec. 2018 COVIELLO CLASSICS COV91911 [79:29] [JV] I am impressed by the quality of the music and the performance.

O Holy Night London Choral Sinfonia/Michael Waldron rec. 2014 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100110 [71:53] [MR] A programme of largely traditional texts but elevated by some inspired arrangements and settings and all delivered with superb artistry.

Progetto Italiano Works by Martucci, Respighi & Rota - Vladyslava Luchenko (violin) Christia Yuliya Hudziy (piano) rec. 2017 CLAVES RECORDS 50-1910 [72:54] [WK] It would be hard to find more exciting and committed performances.

Monday December 9th

George ANTHEIL (1900-1959) McKonkey’s Ferry Concert Overture, Capital of the World, Symphony No. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Storgårds rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20080 [70:26] [JW] The third volume in this series proves just as gripping as the previous two.

Leo FALL (1873-1925) Die Dollarprinzessin - Christiane Libor (soprano), Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2012 CPO 777906-2 [53:25 + 68:30] [MP] A pleasant romp through “operetta land”, reliably cast and well recorded.

Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947) Complete Songs - Tassis Christoyannis (baritone) Jeff Cohen (piano) rec. 2018/19 BRU ZANE BZ2002 [4 CDs: 253.09] [MC] A delight to dip into this collection.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Sonatas No. 8, 12-14 - Virginia Black (piano) rec. 2017 CRD 3538 [66:00] [DRD] Accomplished performances but just missing that special quality.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Piano Sonata Nos 3, 8 & 9 - Freddy Kempf (piano) rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2390 SACD [56:06] [RC] A most attractive issue.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Sonata No. 20, Minuets - Arcadi Volodos (piano) rec. 2017-19 SONY CLASSICAL 19075868292 [55:42] [RMo] Belongs in the collection of every devotee of Schubert’s piano music.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Quixote, Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche - Louisa Tuck (cello), Oslo PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2017 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1184 [76:27] [LW] Vasily Petrenko excels in Strauss tone poems on this well-programmed disc.

Abendmusiken Works by Buxtehude, Theile, Erlebach & Reincken - Ens Stravaganza rec. 2017 MUSO MU-025 [50:59] [JV] If you are not acquainted with this kind of repertoire, this is a perfect introduction.

Cor Europæ Christmas in Mediaeval Prague - Tiburtina Ensemble/Barbora Kabátková rec. 2019 RICERCAR RIC410 [60:12] In Natali Domini Christmas songs from Staniątki Cantional and Renaissance dances - Ensemble QuattroVoce/Jacek Urbaniak rec. 2019 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0457 [61:27] [BW]  Two very different but equally fine recordings of unfamiliar Christmas music from Central and Eastern Europe.

Other reviews
Forward. 100 Years of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra by Richard Bratby publ. 2019 Elliott and Thompson [JQ] An excellent and comprehensive centenary history of the CBSO which will be of great value way beyond the boundaries of Birmingham itself.

Thoughts Around Great Singing by Linda Esther Gray & Ian Partridge publ. 2019 Green Oak Publishing [GH] A reminder of the great heritage of singing and singers.

Friday December 6th

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Symphony for Solo Piano; Concerto for Solo Piano - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2017/18 BIS BIS-2465 SACD [78:32] [DM]  Meet barrister Paul Wee, a pianist of no small talent; dazzling rep, superbly recorded.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) La Périchole - Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski rec. 2018 BRU ZANE BZ1036 [51:40 + 51:11] [SSi] An enjoyable romp through Spanish Peru in the hands of Offenbach, a worthy celebration in his two hundredth anniversary year.

Giovanni Maria PELAZZA (1847-1936) Suonate sui varii tuoni - Bruno Bergamini (organ) rec. 2017 TACTUS TC841601 [51:35] [DC] Something of a novelty, but such fun.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Complete Piano Works 5: Rarities & Transcriptions - Geoffrey Burleson (piano) rec. 2017 GRAND PIANO GP626 [71:51] [JWe] A marvellous recording, perhaps best heard in parts rather than in one sitting.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano Trios - Paul Badura-Skoda (piano) Wolfgang Schneiderhan (violin) Boris Pergamenschikow (cello) rec. 1981/84 GRAMOLA 99176 [76:36] [RC] The admirers of Badura-Skoda will certainly want these versions.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphonies Nos 1-4 - Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann rec. 2018 C MAJOR 708504 Blu-ray [182 mins] [RWe] These performances combine thoughtful preparation with very fine playing.

Andrew WAGGONER (b.1960) Violin, Piano & Guitar Concertos - Michael Lim (violin) Gloria Cheng (piano) Kenneth Meyer (guitar) Seattle Modern O/Julia Tai rec. 2018 BRIDGE 9521 [47:06] [RHa] Waggoner has contrived three busy, absorbing concertos, and there is more than enough in this invigorating 48 minutes.

The Farinelli Manuscript Ann Hallenberg (mezzo) Stile Galante/Stefano Aresi rec. 2019 GLOSSA MUSIC GCD923521 [72.04] [JW] Hallenberg makes a striking impression.

Katherine Watson (soprano) L'Opéra du Roi Soleil - Les Ambassadeurs/Alexis Kossenko rec. 2018 APARTÉ AP209 [73.25] [MC] An album to treasure.

Thursday December 5th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Symphonies - Danish Ntl Concert Ch, Danish CO/Ádám Fischer rec. 2016-19 NAXOS 8.505251 [5 CDs: 328:56] [ST] Not perfect, but certainly a talking point.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Le Tombeau resplendissant, Les Offrandes oubliées, Un sourire, L'Ascension - Tonhalle-O Zürich/Paavo Järvi rec. 2019 ALPHA CLASSICS 548 [64.48] [SB] A collection of Messiaen’s shorter orchestral works in fine performances which would make an admirable introduction to the composer.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) - Youth Symphonies, Contredanses - Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz rec. 2019 APARTÉ AP215 [64:38] [BW] A very enjoyable release; no masterpieces, but youthful Mozart enticingly presented.

Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI (1860-1941) & Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concertos - Claire Huangci (piano), Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Shiyeon Sung rec. 2018 BERLIN CLASSICS 0301096BC [75:31] [RC] This account of the Chopin First is not to be missed, and even if you’re not a fan of the Paderewski Concerto, you’ll have to admire Huangci’s thrilling performance.

Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525/6-1594) Lamentations Book 2 - Cinquecento rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68284 [72:11] [DC] Offers the best of worlds in Palestrina’s immersive Lamentations.

Josef Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901) Symphony No. 1 - Liechtenstein SO/Florian Krumpöck rec. 2019 ARS PRODUKTION ARS38284 SACD [49:50] [NB] An enjoyable discovery for those of Romantic disposition.

Like to the Lark Maria Forsström (mezzo-soprano), Jennifer Pike (violin), Swedish Chamber Ch/Simon Phipps rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHSA5255 SACD [63:54] [EJW] A highly approachable disc, with a lovely alternative version of The Lark Ascending.

The Soldier: From Severn to Somme Christopher Maltman (baritone), Joseph Middleton (piano) rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD592 [73:54] [JQ] An outstanding release, rewarding in every way.

Sung Hee Park (soprano) Birds and Love - Yuki Koyama (flute), Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec. 2017 SKARBO SK3174 [77:25] [JW] A different programme might suit better.

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