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Thursday February 28th

René de BOISDEFFRE (1838-1906) Cello Sonata & other works - Luca Fiorentini (cello), Jakub Tchorzewski (piano) rec. 2018 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0418 [75:55] [JW] Another milestone in the exploration of this warm-hearted composer’s representation on disc.

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972) The Vision of Cleopatra, Two Choral Pieces, Fantastic Variations, For Valour - Ch & O English Ntl Opera/Martyn Brabbins rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH CDLX7348 SACD [73:37] [JQ] This will be a self-recommending issue for admirers of Havergal Brian’s music.

Heinrich von HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900) Columbus - Andrè Schuen, Markus Butter (baritone) Michael Schade (tenor) Graz Opera Ch & PO/Dirk Kaftan rec. 2017 CPO 555 178-2 [44:33 + 43:58] [RHa] Nicely sung, but dull, sub-Wagnerian fare.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Piano Concertos - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano) Die Kölner Akademie/Michael Alexander Willens rec. 2016/17 BIS SACD BIS2264 [74.08] [DBi] Mendelssohn keyboard concerti performed to perfection with a recording to match.

Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Livre d’orgue; Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace - Tom Winpenny (organ) rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573845 [56:57] [DM] Thorough and thoughtful, but rarely challenges the best in the catalogue.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) Puccini in Love - Aleksandra Kurzak (soprano), Roberto Alagna (tenor), Sinfonia Varsovia, Riccardo Frizza rec. 2018 SONY 19075859832 [64:51] [GF] The dramatic temperature is throughout near boiling point.

Eugen SUCHOŇ (1908-1993) Complete Works for Violin & Piano - Milan Paľa (violin), Ladislav Fanzowitz (piano) rec. 2008 PAVLÍK RECORDS PA0062-2 CD/DVD-A [106:10] [SG] Convincing and virile performances of rare repertoire.

Bernstein at 100 The Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood - Boston SO rec. 2018 C MAJOR DVD 747608 [141 min.] [LW] An indispensable tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

New Jewish Music Vol. 1 Works by Current, Marhulets & Foss - Czech Ntl SO & Ch/Steven Mercurio rec. 2017 ANALEKTA AN29261 [72:22] [SSi] A very interesting disc with three very different takes on the tradition of Jewish music.

Secret Fires of Love Studio Rhetorica/Robert Toft rec. 2015/16 TALBOT PRODUCTIONS TP1701 [65:11] [JV] A highly important and interesting release.

Wednesday February 27th

Oskar Gottlieb BLARR (b. 1934) Jesus-Passion - Singakademie Wiesbaden, Bach O Wiesbaden/Jörg Endebrock rec. 2018 CYBELE RECORDS 3SACDKiG010 [3 SACDs: 247:43] [SG] A touching and deeply rewarding score.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) String Quartets Vol. 10 - Leipziger Streichquartett rec. 2018 MDG 307 2093-2 [67:06] [SSi] This is an excellent and long-awaited continuation of the Leipziger Streichquartett’s Haydn series.

Gian Carlo MENOTTI (1911-2007) The Medium, The Telephone - Julija Samsonova-Khayet, O Filarmonica Italiana/Flavio Emilio Scogna rec. 2018 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95361 [2 CDs: 90:11] [MR] Menotti’s two contrasting short operas are presented here by some outstanding young singers and a highly sympathetic conductor.

Cipriano de RORE (1515/1516-1565) Vieni, Dolce, Imeneo - La Campagnia del Madrigale rec. 2017/18 GLOSSA GCD922808 [69.27] [GH] One of the Italian masters of the madrigal, in outstanding, expressive performances.

Johann SEBASTIANI (1622 - 1683) St Matthew Passion - Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ens/Paul O'Dette, Stephen Stubbs rec. 2017 CPO 555 204-2 [65:38] [JV] Sebastiani's Passion is a fine and intriguing work which deserves to be much better known.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No.6, Sinfonietta - Estonian Festival O/Paavo Järvi rec. 2016/17 ALPHA 389 [56:28] [SB] A satisfactory Sixth with an unusual version of the eighth quartet as coupling.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphony No. 4 Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition - London SO/Gianandrea Noseda rec. 2017/18 LSO SACD LSO0810 [74:18] [RC] A very good Tchaikovsky Fourth and an outstanding Pictures.

Ade, Kamarad Trio Artus, Chernichka Tatiana (piano) rec. 2018 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0437 [52:52] [JW] Performances of refinement and sensitivity.

French Cello Concertos by Saint-Saens, Lalo, Milhaud, Offenbach & Massenet - Hee-Young Lim (cello) London SO/Scott Yoo rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 80358118425 [75.40] [MC] A captivating programme and outstanding playing.

A Year at Exeter Ch Exeter Cathedral/Timothy Noon Timothy Parsons (organ) rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD524 [68:32] [JF] An outstanding choice of music for the Church Year - the singing is always disciplined, lucid and inspiring.

Tuesday February 26th

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2014 BR KLASSIK 900173 [57.10] [MC] Admirable but doesn’t displace my first-choice recordings.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Hills of Dreamland - Kathryn Rudge (mezzo-soprano), Henk Neven (baritone), Nathalie de Montmollin (soprano), Barry Collett (piano) BBC CO/Barry Wordsworth rec. 2016/17 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD271-2 [53:30 + 37:00] [JQ] A valuable selection of Elgar’s orchestral songs.

George ENESCU (1881-1955) Suite No. 1, Symphony No. 1 - Bucharest PO/Georges Enescu, George Enescu PO/George Georgescu rec. 1942-1943 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1510 [60:27] [JW] Invigorating historic documents.

Franz LACHNER (1803-1890) Symphony No. 3, Festival Overture - Evergreen SO/Gernot Schmalfuss rec. 2016 CPO 555 081-2 [60:14] [RC] A little-known voice from the Romantic period who produced at least one very compelling symphony.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 3 - Sara Mingardo (contralto); Gürzenich O Köln/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905314.15 [2 CDs: 93:23] [DM] A game-changing Mahler 3 from Roth and his German band; outstanding sonics, too.

Jean-Jacques ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) Le Devin du Village - Les Nouveaux Caractères/Sébastien d’Hérin rec. 2017 CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES CVS004 [CD: 67:59 & DVD: 71:13] [MBu] Rousseau was not without some genuine musical talent and being able to explore his music and see the piece performed on a baroque stage is marvellous.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Swan Lake & The Nutcracker - London SO, Paris onservatoire O/Anatole Fistoulari rec. 1951/52 ELOQUENCE 482 5225 [75:34 + 62:13] [RMay] A delightful and important release for both ballet enthusiasts and admirers of fine musicianship.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber Symphonies Nos 1 & 3, Flute Concerto - Łukasz Długosz (flute) Amadeus CO Polish Radio/Anna Duczmal-Mróz rec. 2014/17 DUX 1525 [79:00] [SG] For first-timers embarking on the Weinberg journey, I could think of no better place to start.

Latino ladino/Exaltation Yaniv d’Or (countertenor) Barrocade/Amit Tiefenbrunn, Ens NAYA rec. 2015-18 NAXOS 8.573566 [67:09] 8.573980 [70:22] [GPu] Two fine albums which entertain while affirming virtues such as tolerance andconviviencia’.

The Scene of the Crime Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet), Colin Currie (percussion) rec. 2018 COLIN CURRIE RECORDS CCR0002 [68:07] [RHa] Trumpet and percussion albums may not be top of many listeners’ wish lists, but the Currie/Hardenberger partnership demands to be heard.

Monday February 25th 

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d’été - Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Stéphane Degout (baritone) Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902634 [70:23] [JQ] Other Berlioz recordings this year will have to be pretty special to surpass the achievement of this terrific disc.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Songs - Kathryn Rudge (mezzo) Christopher Glynn (piano) rec. 2018 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0192 [66.05] [IL] The presence of a female voice in this repertoire is most welcome.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791) Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Overtures - Walther Ludwig (tenor) Wilma Lipp (soprano) Vienna State Opera Ch & PO, London SO/Josef Krips rec. 1950/52 ELOQUENCE 480 7191 [71:31 + 71:16] [GF] I derived a lot of pleasure from this vivid performance but it falls short of the best available.

Leo SOWERBY (1895-1968) American Master of Sacred Song - Gloriae Dei Brass Ens, Gloriae Dei Cantores/Elizabeth C. Patterson GLORIAE DEI CANTORES GDCD016 [73:08+76:08] [WK] Though the recording quality inevitably leaves something to be desired, this set can safely be recommended to all lovers of American music.

Franz von SUPPÉ (1819-1895) Overtures - Münchner Rundfunk O/Ivan Repušić rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900326 [59:29] [MC] A worthwhile addition to a light classics collection.

Breaking the Silence Works by Schulhoff, Ullmann, Korngold & Zehavi - Clarion Qt rec. 2018 KLANGLOGO KL1415 [56:00] [SA] The playing is commensurate with the quartet’s lofty and noble aims.

Cello Concertos rec. 1990s-2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95782 [15 CDs: 955 mins] [SSi] A fine introduction to the art form that is the cello concerto.

Marius-François Gaillard (piano) Complete Debussy Recordings - Carmen Guilbert (piano) rec. 1928-38 APR 6025 [73:10 + 76:23] [JW] A promising start to an important new series.

Mantra Espen Aalberg (gamelan), Trondheim Sinfonietta/Kai Grinde Myrann rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2340 SACD [54:59] [RHa] Seemingly disparate works, all enjoyable, but Lindquist’s gamelan concerto is a revelation.

Aleksandr Nisse (organ) The Ascension rec. 2018 SELBY ABBEY ORGAN MASTERS SAOM004 [75:18] [JF] Great music is played with exceptional skill on a wonderfully restored instrument.

Other reviews
A Musical Wanderer - The Later Years of Granville Bantock by Cuillin Bantock publ. 2018 EM Publishing [JW] An intriguing look at a compressed period of a composer’s life.

Friday February 22nd

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990) Wonderful Town - Rafaëlle Cohen, Jasmine Roy, Bob Baker, Ch & O L’Opéra Toulon/Larry Blank rec. 2018 BELAIR CLASSIQUES BAC158 DVD [122:00] [JQ] A classic case of the production getting in the way of an otherwise enjoyable performance.

Nicolas CHÉDEVILLE (1705-1782) Les Saisons Amusantes - Ens Danguy/Tobie Miller rec. 2018 RICERCAR RIC398 [51:45] [JV] The perfect disc to cheer you up on a dull day.

Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801) L’impresario in angustie - Carlo Torriani (bass) Camilla Antonini (mezzo) O Bruno Maderna di Forlì/Aldo Savagno rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95746 [77:06] [MMB] Collectors of opera of this period will find this a good addition to their collection.

Gavin GREENAWAY (b.1964) Woven - Gavin Greenaway (piano & synths) rec. 2018 TENUTO TNRCD2 [43.21] [IL] A truly delightful solo outing from a composer best known for his film work.

Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984) Symphonies Nos 7 & 8 - Slovak RSO/Ladislav Slovák rec. 1990/94 NAXOS 8.573653 [70:35] [GH] Two symphonies by a composer at the peak of his powers, though let down somewhat by the sound.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Offenbach Colorature - Jodie Devos (soprano) Adèle Charvet (mezzo) Münchner Rundfunk O/Laurent Campellone rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 437 [60.57] [MC] A must for lovers of French Romantic operetta and opera repertoire.

Sir Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Light of the World - Natalya Romaniw (soprano) Ben McAteer (baritone) BBC Symphony Ch & Concert O/John Andrews rec. 2017 DUTTON EPOCH 2CDLX7356 SACD [2 discs: 146.19] [MW] A ground-breaking and special performance of superb music.

Jacqueline Eymar (piano) César FRANCK (1822-1890) Piano Quintet, Prélude, Choral et Fugue - Quatuor Loewenguth rec. 1953/55 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR115 [54:34] Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Nocturnes, Impromptus, Cello Sonata No. 2 - André Navarra (cello) Annie d'Arco (piano) rec. 1949/57 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR771 [52:04] Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Variations & Fugue on a Theme by Handel Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Preludes rec. 1957 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR254 [59:05] [SG] A pianist worth getting to know.

Frank Merrick (piano) A Recorded Legacy rec. 1961-1970s NIMBUS NI8820-25 [6 CDs: 419:02] [JW] A splendid and devoted undertaking.

Spring will come Choral rarities from the Grand Duchy of Finland - Helsinki Chamber Ch/Nils Schweckendiek rec. 2017 BIS BIS-2442 [53:11] [GF] Marvellous performances of an interesting survey of Finnish choral music.


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