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[New] Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel - a survey by Ralph Moore

[New] Piano Trio Discography & Review Index: N, O, P & Q composers compiled by David Barker

[New] Blandine Verlet - an obituary by Kenneth Shenton

 A Dozen Obscure Favorites by Andrew Hartman

 Massenet's Werther - a survey by Ralph Moore

The Swing of the Pendulum - George Lloyd and the Crisis of Romanticism by Peter Davison

Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila - a survey by Ralph Moore


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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Wednesday May 22nd

Joseph Bodin DE BOISMORTIER (1682 -1765) Music for flute, viola da gamba & b.c. - Umbra Lucis Ens rec. 2017 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95754 [62:35] [JV] First-class entertainment, but the choice of instruments is debatable.

Gabriel DUPONT (1878-1914) Les Heures dolentes; Jour d’Été; Le Chant de la Destinée - Royal PO Ličge/Patrick Davin rec. 2018 FUGA LIBERA FUG751 [57:59] [JW] Intensity, poignancy and vehemence.

Mikhail IPPOLITOV-IVANOV (1859-1935) Symphony No. 1, Turkish Fragments - Singapore SO/Choo Hoey rec. 1984 NAXOS 8.573508 [55:50] [SV] Music unmistakably in the Russian romantic tradition, played with empathy and enthusiasm.

Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) The Cunning Little Vixen - Louise Adler, Jenny Carltstedt, Frankfurt Opera & Museum O & Ch/Johannes Debus, Markus Ehmann rec. 2016 OEHMS CLASSICS OC982 [60:02 + 30:38] [LW] A new Cunning Little Vixen to challenge Mackerras, but not supplant it.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Das Lied von der Erde - Anna Larsson (contralto) Stuart Skelton (tenor) Düsseldorf SO/Adam Fischer rec. 2018 AVI MUSIC 8553407 [61.33] [PCG] A recording of Das Lied which bears comparison with the very best of its highly distinguished competition.

Alan RICHARDSON (1904-1978) Piano Music - Martin Jones (piano) rec. 2017/18 LYRITA SRCD381 [72:18] [RHa] An introduction to a sadly forgotten figure whose agreeably crafted piano music may well appeal to British music aficionados.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies 1-6 - Paris Opera O/Philippe Jordan rec. 2017 ARTHAUS MUSIK Blu-ray 109379 [3 discs: 340 mins] [RC] A true winner.

Giulini in Boston Works by Dvořák, Haydn, Rossini & Tchaikovsky - Boston SO/Carlo Maria Giulini rec. 1962 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC559 [59:05 + 53:50] [JQ] A unexpected and welcome opportunity for admirers of this great conductor to hear him at work with one of the USA’s leading orchestras.

Tuesday May 21st

Daniel Francois Esprit AUBER (1782-1871) La Sirène - Les Métaboles Ch, O des Frivolities Parisiennes/David Reiland rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.660436 [69:49] [RW] A welcome release, featuring very good performances.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895-1968) Works for Cello and Piano - Enrico Dindo (cello), Alessandro Marangoni (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573881 [74:31] [SSi] A valuable addition to the growing catalogue of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s music.

Gabriel DUPONT (1878-1914) Complete Piano Music - Bo Ties (piano) rec. 2017/18 MSR CLASSICS MS1699 [47:54 + 51:56] [EJW] Excellent recorded quality in some attractive and little-heard piano music.

Hans GÁL (1890-1967) Das Lied der Nacht - Lina Liu, Susann Vent-Wunderlich (sopranos) Extrachor Theaters Osnabrück Osnabrücker SO/Andreas Hotz rec. 2018 CPO 555 186-2 [54:25 + 82:42] An excellent first recording of the last of Hans Gál’s operas.

Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Chamber works - Ens Arabesques, Paul Rivinius (piano) rec. 2018 FARAO CLASSICS B108103 [72:48] [SG] Poulenc’s delicious chamber works lovingly brought to life.

Pehr Henrik NORDGREN (1944-2008) A Finnish Elegy - Juri Valo (violin) Jukka Harju (horn) Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas rec. 2016/17 ALBA ABCD425 SACD [60:20] [RHa] It is only a matter of time before the world outside Finland recognises Nordgren’s importance.

Arca de Música Instrumental Music in New Spain Vols 1 & 2 - La Fontegara México rec. 2017 MERIDIAN CDE84645/6 [61:47 & 60:31] [JV] I have greatly enjoyed these two recordings, not only because of the music, but also because of the fine performances.

Julian Olevsky (violin) Works by Handel, Kreisler & Scarlatti - Martin Ormandy (cello), Fernando Valenti (harpsichord), Wolfgang Rose (piano) rec. c. 1954-55 DOREMI DHR-8074-76 [3 CDs: 216 mins] [JW] Honest transfers ensure that Olevsky take centre-stage, a place he so richly deserves.

Monday May 20th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies, Piano Concertos & Serenades - Walter Gieseking, Géza Anda (piano) SWR O Baden-Baden/Hans Rosbaud rec. 1950-62 SWR CLASSIC SWR19069CD [6 CDs: 407 mins] [JW] Rosbaud raises extra-musical interpretative questions worth pondering.

Leon KIRCHNER (1919-2009) Sinfonia, Toccata, Music for Orchestra, Orchestra Piece, The Forbidden - Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose rec. 2008-17 BMOP SOUND 1060 SACD [62:39] [SG] This is one of the most compelling recordings of modern music I've ever come across.

Eduard LASSEN (1830-1904), Ludwig Philipp SCHARWENKA (1847-1917) & Rued LANGGAARD (1893-1952) Violin Concertos - Linus Roth (violin), BBC Scottish SO/Antony Hermus rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68268 [76:37] [RB] Artistry that flickers, surges and pursues a legato path.

Wolfgang RIHM (b. 1952) Music for Violin & Orchestra Vols 1 & 2 - Tianwa Yang (violin) Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Christoph-Mathias Mueller rec. 2016 NAXOS 8.573812/667 [52:05 + 76:24] [SB] Those wanting to explore the contemporary German master would do well to start here.

Kurt SANDER (b. 1969) The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom - Protodeacon Vadim Gan (bass), PaTRAM Institute Singers/Peter Jermihov rec. 2017 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FRESH! FR-731 [59:25 + 30:41] [JQ] An impressive and moving composition receives a recording which is excellent in every way.

Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Symphonies Nos 4-6 - Leningrad PO/Yevgeny Mravinsky rec. 1960 ALTO ALC1603 [67:22 + 59:36] [GPJ] Simply some of the finest Tchaikovsky performances ever recorded; firmly controlled, yet brimming with passion and drama.

Hallelujah Europäischer Kammerchor/Michael Reif, Stephen Görg (piano) rec. 2018 CARUS 2.104/99 [43.38] [GH] Interesting repertoire, but very short measure.

Benjamin Schmid (violin) My Favourite Paganini - Lisa Smirnova, Ariane Haering (piano) rec. 2001, 2013 OEHMS OC1893 [66:25] [GF] Marvellous playing throughout and every lover of violin playing should hear it.

Friday May 17th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) & Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Violin Concertos - Peter Rybar (violin) West Austrian SO/Hans Moltkau, Lausanne SO/Victor Desarzens rec. 1951-1952 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1543 [70:25] [JW] A fine souvenir of Rybar’s art.

Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990) Grohg, Billy the Kid - Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin rec. 2014 NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559862 [62:45] [JQ] Another winner from Detroit in Leonard Slatkin’s Copland series.

César FRANCK (1822-1890) Quintet & piano works - Michel Dalberto (piano) Novus Qt rec. 2018 APARTÉ MUSIC AP203 [79.09] [MC] A most engaging album.

Charles-François GOUNOD (1818-1893) Symphonies Nos 1 & 2 - Iceland SO/Yan Pascal Tortelier rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5231 SACD [61:47] [RW] Enjoyable, but would have benefitted from a filler to make it stand out from the opposition.

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950) Violin & Viola Sonatas - Marie Viaud (violin) Michel Michalakakos (viola) Mireille Guillaume, Martine Gagnepain (piano) rec. 1997 SKARBO DSK1985 [64.26] Ballade, Préludes, L'ancienne maison de campagne - Jean-Pierre Ferey (piano) rec. 1993 SKARBO DSK1136 [68:33] [SG] Two discs which showcase the compositional strengths of an intriguing composer.

Carl REINECKE (1824-1910) Complete Works for Cello & Piano - Martin Rummel (cello) Roland Krüger (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573727 [77:57] [SSi] If you don’t know any of the music of Carl Reinecke then this disc would make a fine introduction.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957) Lemminkäinen Suite; Suite from Belshazzar’s Feast - BBC SO/Sakari Oramo rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20136 [71:34] [BW]  Slight preferences for other recordings apart, if the Chandos coupling appeals it’s a good choice.

Sweeter Than Roses Songs by Purcell, Lawes, Corbetta & Draghi - Anna Dennis (soprano) Sounds Baroque rec. 2018 RESONUS RES10235 [67:33] [GPu] A fine ‘medley’ of Restoration music, with the songs of Purcell, delightfully sung by Anna Dennis at its centre.

Thursday May 16th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) St John Passion - Sächsischer Kammerchor & Mitteldeutsche Virtuosen/Peter Schreier rec. 2018 RONDEAU ROP6162/63 [2 CDs: 115.52] [RWe] Valuable for its dedication, choral singing, and the sense of a special occasion.

Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954) Fantastical Apparitions, Sinfonia Brevis - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Gregor Bühl rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5354 [82:28] [JQ] Very welcome additions to the composer’s burgeoning discography.

Léo DELIBES (1836-1891) Coppélia - Bolshoi Ballet & O/Pavel Sorokin rec. 2018 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES BAC163 DVD [100 mins] [RJW] A performance full of energy and grace, but there are some presentational issues.

Karl JENKINS (b. 1944) The Very Best Of DECCA 4817903 [80:43 + 80:16] [GF] Those who aren’t Jenkins fans may find things that are to their liking and be inspired to investigate further.

Kenneth LEIGHTON (1929–1988) & Frank MARTIN (1890–1974) Masses for Double Choir - Ch King’s College London/Joseph Fort rec. 2018 DELPHIAN DCD34211 [63:42] [BW]  Despite preferences for the Leighton and Martin separately, if the coupling appeals, this is the one to go for.

Leó WEINER (1885-1960) Toldi - Budapest SO MÁV/Valéria Csányi rec. 2017 NAXOS 8.573847 [64:49] [NB] Opulent and colourful music presented with verve and sympathy, but not the best of Weiner.

Jet Set! Classical Glitterati Works by Zelter, Mozart, Reichardt, Storace, Paisiello & Abel - Gudrun Sidonie Otto (soprano), The New Dutch Academy/Simon Murphy (viola) rec. 2017 PENTATONE PTC5186787 SACD [66:09] [DB] Marvellously alive performances of some very enjoyable, and for the most part, little-known music.

Leonard Pennario (piano) Complete RCA Album Collection - rec. 1961-66 RCA RED SEAL 19075899272 [12 CDs: 10 hrs] [JW] A welcome and justified addition to the RCA Album series.


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