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Wednesday January 23rd

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Stolen Moments - Rikke Sandberg (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD835 [70:48] [JF] Some superb playing here.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No.3 - Musikkollegium Winterthur/Thomas Zehetmair rec. 2018 MDG SACD 901 2090-6 [50.56] [DBi] A worthwhile demonstration of small scale Bruckner but dispatched too quickly by the conductor.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Jeux, Nocturnes - Coro & O ciudad Granada/Héctor Eliel Márquez, Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM905291 [51:06] [JQ] An attractive Debussy package.

Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) The Apocalypse - Sydney Philharmonia Ch & SO/Myer Fredman rec. 1982 LYRITA SRCD371 [78:29] [JW] Your only viable chance to hear this tension-filled work.

Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) Das Leiden Jesu - Passion Cantatas II - Solistenensemble Ex Tempore; Mannheimer Hofkapelle/Florian Heyerick rec. 2017 CPO 555 170-2 [79:19] [JV] A further step in the process of discovering Graupner's sacred music.

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) The Planets George BUTTERWORTH (1885-1916) A Shropshire Lad Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Fantasia on Christmas Carols - NBC SO/Leopold Stokowski rec. 1943-44 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC546 [71:28] [JW] Pristine’s Stokowski series keeps up the good work with this well-programmed trio of recordings.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) King Arthur - Sophie Junker (soprano), Zsuzsi Tóth (soprano), Caroline Weynants (soprano), Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier rec. 2018 ALPHA CLASSICS 430 [57:41 + 40:18] [DC] Perhaps a little buttoned-up, but if you can’t bear theatrical mucking about this could be the version for you.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Humoreske; Davidsbündlertänze; Geister-Variationen - Gabriele Carcano (piano) rec. 2018 RUBICON CLASSICS RCD1022 [77:44] [SSi] Lacklustre.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Les Saisons Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881) Pictures at an Exhibition - Barry Douglas (piano) rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN10991 [75:46] [RBe] This performance is worthy of standing alongside that of Richter’s.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Macbeth - Roberto Frontali (baritone) Anna Pirozzi (soprano) Ch & O Teatro Massimo/Gabriele Ferro rec. 2017 NAXOS Blu-Ray NBD0077V [156] [RJF] A few idiosyncrasies of staging apart, this is as vibrantly sung and performed a Macbeth as one is likely to see these days.

Tuesday January 22nd

Alban BERG (1885-1935) Wozzeck – Matthias Goerne, Asmik Grigorian, Vienna PO/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2017 HARMONIA MUNDI HMD9809053.54 DVD/Blu-ray [101 mins] [SSi] An excellent production that is marked by a starring performance by Matthias Goerne in the title role of Wozzeck.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) String Quintet, Sinfonia Concertante - Munich RO/Ulf Schirmer rec. 2007/09 CPO 777 579-2 [70:16] [JW] The performances are good but neither work gifts its subtle secrets easily.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Études Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Gaspard de la Nuit - Joseph Moog (piano) rec. 2017 ONYX 4204 [64.54] [RBe] First-rate Etudes, but Gaspard is less successful.

Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI (1913-1994) & Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Cello Concertos - Johannes Moser (cello) Rundfunk-SO Berlin/Thomas Søndergård rec. 2017/18 PENTATONE PTC5186689 SACD [53:52] [DC] Well worth having.

Gustav MAHLER Symphony No. 6 - Berlin PO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2018 BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER BPHR180231 CD/Blu-ray [161.46] [JQ] The Berliner Philharmoniker here marks the end of the Rattle era in some style.

Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) The Wanderer - Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin), Duncan Honeybourne (piano) rec. 2016 EM RECORDS EMRCD050-52 [3 CDs: 165:19] [CSe] A fine and worthy collection, even if the works do not startle with their innovation or variety.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Der Ring des Nibelungen - Hong Kong PO/Jaap van Zweden rec. 2015-18 NAXOS 8.501403 [14 CDs: 893 mins] [ST] It’s a budget price Ring but not a budget performance.

Haydn WOOD (1882-1959) Orchestral Suites - BBC Concert O/Gavin Sutherland rec. 2017 DUTTON SACD CDLX7357 [77:02] [JW] Wood’s suites are brought to life with care, affection and a real sense of colour and charm.

Violin Concertos from Darmstadt Works by Telemann, Kress, Fasch & Endler - Darmstädtler Barocksolisten/Johannes Pramsohler (violin) rec. 2017 AUDAX RECORDS ADX13716 [68:07] [DJB] Very much worth considering for the four premiere works.

Worcester Spectacular! Christopher Allsop (organ) rec. 2018 PRIORY RECORDS PRCD1214 [75:40] [JF] All organ buffs will be keen to add this superb CD to their collection.

Monday January 21st 

Ida Henriette d'FONSECA (1806-1858) Complete Works - Helene Hvass Hansen (soprano) Cathrine Penderup (piano) Kammerkoret Musica rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD777 [65:10] [MBu] Utterly charming.

Wim HENDERICKX (b. 1962) Nostalgia - Boho Strings/David Ramael rec. 2018 ANTARCTICA RECORDS AR011 [58:02] [DC] Enjoyable and deeply intriguing.

Carlo MARTELLI (b.1935) Sredni Vashtar, The Curse of Christopher Columbus, Serenade for Strings - Simon Callow (narrator) Lesley-Jane Rogers, Olivia Robinson (soprano) Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Ronald Corp rec. 2018 CARMA RECORDS CARMA001 [58:00] [JF] A fascinating CD, handsomely produced and finely performed.

Kaija SAARIAHO (b.1952) Tocar, Cloud Trio, Light and Matter, Aure, Graal théâtre - Jennifer Koh (violin) Curtis 20/21 Ens/Connor Gray Covington rec. 2016/17 CEDILLE RECORDS CDR90000183 [68.06] [GH] Worth exploring and represents the composer fairly for anyone new to her.

Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915) Complete Preludes - Dmitri Alexeev (piano) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95651 [56:51 + 63:43] [MC] More than a match for celebrated accounts.

Wilhelm STENHAMMAR (1871-1927) Symphony No. 2, Serenade - Gothenburg SO/Herbert Blomstedt rec. 2013/14 BIS BIS-2424 SACD [83:21] [JQ] An outstanding disc containing performances of distinction.

Andrew WRIGHT (b. 1967) Piano Impressions - Andrew Wright (piano) rec. 2014-18 Private recording [68:08] [JW] An eclectic and enjoyable admixture of influences.

Alfredo Campoli (violin) Violin sonatas by Beethoven, Brahms & Mozart - Peter Katin (piano) rec. 1963/73 ORCHESTRAL CONCERT CDs CD3/2009 [69:27] [PSe] These captivating live performances by a winning combination of two supreme artists may well topple your favourites off their perches.

Giulio Cesare - A Baroque Hero Raffaele Pe (countertenor), La Lira di Orfeo rec. 2017 GLOSSA GCD923516 [70:47] [JW] Too many problems to make this worth considering.

Forgotten Russians Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2018 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6377 [74:19] [RWe] Anyone curious about those paths not taken in Soviet music should hear this disc.

Other reviews
The Mid-Twentieth-Century Concert Pianist - An English Experience by Julian Hellaby publ. 2019 ROUTLEDGE [MMB] Very informative and well-written.

Friday January 18th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) String Quartets Vols 4-6 - Elias Quartet rec. 2014-15 WIGMORE HALL LIVE WHLL0089/92/93 [6 CDs: 324:32] [BW]  There’s no ‘best buy’ for these quartets, but the Elias Quartet are up there with a select handful of recordings.

Ján Levoslav BELLA (1843–1936) Complete Piano Works - Peter Pažický, Martin Chudada (piano) rec. 2013 PAVLÍK RECORDS PA0114-2-131 [62:13] [SG] Peter Pažický's impressive technical arsenal does full justice to these captivating and compelling scores.

Diogenio BIGAGLIA (1676-1745) Miserere, Missa Antonio LOTTI (1667-1740) Credo - Knabenchor Hannover, la festa musicale/Jörg Breiding rec. 2018 RONDEAU ROP7023 [81:02] [JV] This disc puts an unjustly neglected composer on the map.

Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Chamber Music & Songs Vol. 1 - Laura Aikin (soprano) Bernarda Fink (mezzo) Florian Boesch (baritone) Ernst Krenek Ens rec. 2014-16 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0295 [75:15] [JW] A thoroughly persuasive and well-rounded disc.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 6 - MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis rec. 2016 SONY CLASSICAL 19075822952 [84:20] [JQ] A provocative but compelling reading of Mahler’s Sixth.

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) Overtures Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Rosamunde - Vienna PO/Carl Schuricht, Pierre Monteux rec. 1954/1957 ELOQUENCE 482 4955 [69:41] [JW] Warmth and refinement in the Schubert, well-balanced and thoughtful Mendelssohn.

Adam POUNDS (b. 1954) Symphony, The Martyrdom of Latimer, London Cantata - Matt Wilkinson (baritone) Stapleford Ch Society, Academy Great St Mary’s, O/Adam Pounds rec. 1985-2018 CAMBRIDGE RECORDINGS CAMRECS006 [58:55] [JF] One can overlook the variable nature of the performances for the pleasures in the music.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Violin Sonatas, 5 Melodies - Levon Ambartsumian (violin) Anatoly Sheludyakov, Alexander Ardakov (piano) PHOENIX USA PHCD184 [61:51] [CSe] Russian masterworks delivered by a master from the Russian tradition.

Italian Masterworks Works by Boito, Mascagni, Puccini & Verdi - Riccardo Zanellato (bass); Chicago SO & Ch/Riccardo Muti rec. 2017 CSO RESOUND CSOR9011801 [68:37] [DM] A peach of a programme, with playing, singing and sonics to match; quite possibly my first Recording of the Year for 2019.

Tea for Two Clémentine Decouture (soprano) Philippe Brocard (baritone) Chloé Ducray (harp) Frivol’Ens rec. 2017/18 NAXOS 8.573973 [57:32] [MBu] Enjoyable and refreshing.

Thursday January 17th

Francesco GEMINIANI (1687-1762) Concerti Grossi Op.7 - Café Zimmermann rec. 2017 ALPHA ALPHA396 [64:05] [BW] If you think that baroque music is sedate, these committed performances of adventurous concertos should disabuse you.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Viola Sonata, Trauermusik Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959) Viola Sonata, Rhapsody-Concerto - Kristina Fialová (viola), Martin Levický (piano), Czech Ntl SO/Tomáš Brauner rec. 2017/18 SOUND TRUST OUT095 [63:07] [JW] The performances are admirably direct though not invariably expressively satisfying.

Karl KLINGLER (1879-1971) Violin Concerto, Viola Sonata - Ulf Hoelscher (violin), Karl Klingler (viola), Michael Raucheisen (piano), Bavarian RSO/Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach rec. 1979 MDG 642 2103-2 [82:31] [JW] Neither work is a repertoire piece but both shed light on a significant string player.

Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Das Lied der Liebe - Lilli Wünscher (soprano) Adam Sanchez (tenor) O der Musikalischen Komöde Leipzig/Stefan Klingele rec. 2018 RONDEAU PRODUCTIONS ROP6167 [81:35] [NB] One for the completists only.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No. 2 - Anja Harteros (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Bavarian RSO & Ch/Mariss Jansons rec. 2011 BR KLASSIK 900167 [80:56] [RC] This new version by Jansons will greatly please most listeners.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Piano Trio Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Trio Élégiaque No. 1 - Klára Würtz (piano), Dmitri Makhtin (violin), Alexander Kniazev (cello) rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95632 [57:31] [RWe] This partnership on Brilliant offers superb musicianship for a modest price.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) A Sea Symphony, The Lark Ascending - James Ehnes (violin) Sarah Fox (soprano) Mark Stone (baritone) Royal Liverpool PO & Ch/Andrew Manze rec. 2017 ONYX 4185 [77:32] [JQ] A good Sea Symphony but it doesn’t challenge the best in the catalogue.

Juliusz WERTHEIM (1880-1928) Preludes, Variations, Impromptus, Drei Weisen im polnischen Volkston - Elżbieta Tyszecka (piano) rec. 2018 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0428 [80:32] [SSi] Yet another neglected Polish composer unearthed by Acte Préalable.

Le Cor Mélodique Works by Gounod, Meifred & Gallay - Anneke Scott (horn) Stephen Devine (piano) rec. 2018 RESONUS RES10228 [75:57] [MBu] A worthy celebration of Gounod’s 200th birthday.

The French Piano School Works by Debussy, Fauré & Ravel - Marius-François Gaillard, Carmen Guilbert (piano) rec. 1928-38 APR 6025 [73:10 + 76:23] [SG] A stimulating release, in impressive transfers.


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