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Thursday October 24th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Bachiana: Cello Suites - Anne-Isabel Meyer (cello) Murray McLachlan (piano) rec. 2018 GRAND EMPIRICAL GECD0219 [61:20 + 79:42] [PRB] Mainly if you are curious to hear what Schumann allegedly added via his piano accompaniments.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Piano Sonatas - Igor Levit (piano) rec. 2013-19 SONY 19075843182 [9 CDs: 605 mins] [RWe] Without doubt the Beethoven sonata cycle of the moment, if not one for the ages.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Requiem - Christiane Karg (soprano), Matthias Goerne (baritone), Swedish Radio Choir, Swedish RSO/Daniel Harding rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902635 [70:32] [ST] Not perfect but definitely worth a listen.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Impromptus, Waltzes and Mazurkas - Pavel Kolesnikov (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68273 [76:40] [SG] Chopin playing does not get much better than this.

Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) Falstaff George Whitefield CHADWICK (1854-1931) Tam O’Shanter - Timothy West, Samuel West (narrators), BBC Ntl O Wales/Andrew Constantine rec. 2018/19 ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100103 [71:14+35:28] [JF] An extremely effective experiment in performance.

Heino ELLER (1887-1970) Symphonic Poems - Estonian National SO/Olari Elts rec. 2018/2019 ONDINE ODE1335-2 [59:26] [JW] Add this to your Eller collection without delay.

Kaija SAARIAHO (b. 1952) Graal Théâtre, Circle Map, Neiges, Vers toi qui es si loin - Peter Herresthal (violin) Oslo PO/Clément Mao-Takacs rec. 2018 BIS BIS2402 SACD [87:12] [SB] Three beautiful works: two first recordings, and a mystifying piece.

Arena di Verona Opera Collection Vol. 1 Works by Puccini, Gounod & Verdi - Ch & O Arena Verona/Giuliano Carella, Fabio Mastrangelo, Omar Meir Wellber rec. 2010-13 BELAIR CLASSIQUES Blu-ray BAC622 [3 discs: 453 mins] [RJF] This budget-priced collection celebrating the centennial of opera productions in the magnificent Roman Arena in Verona is only “good in parts”.

Wednesday October 23rd

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945) Duke Bluebeard’s Castle - John Relyea (bass) Michelle DeYoung (mezzo) Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5237 SACD [58.56] [DBi] This occasionally impressive performance is outclassed musically and technically by several classic recordings.

Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) String Quartet No. 12, Piano Quintet - Joyce Yang (piano) Alexander String Qt rec. 2017/18 FOGHORN CLASSICS FCL2020 [66:22] [DJB] Even if I'm not convinced by the Quartet, the Quintet is stunning, and worth the purchase price on its own.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1847 version) - Wojciech Waleczek (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573773 [72:38] [RC] An intriguing early version of a famous later cycle, finely performed.

Felix MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY (1809-1847) Cello Sonatas Variations Concertantes Fanny MENDELSSOHN HENSEL (1805-1847) Fantasia; Capriccio - Johannes Moser (cello), Alasdair Beatson (piano) rec. 2018 PENTATONE PTC5186781 SACD [75:54] [RWe] This excellent issue is now probably the first choice for this repertoire.

Lola Bobesco (violin) Works by Bach, Beethoven & Vitali - Südfunk-SO Stuttgart/Hans Müller-Kray rec. 1957/60 MELOCLASSIC MC 2036 [71:20] [SG] Certainly worth a return trip.

Dance Works by Boccherini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco & Kernis - Jason Vieaux (guitar), Escher Quartet rec. 2015 AZICA ACD71328 [57:18] [SSi] A real sense of ensemble and the players’ enjoyment.

The Food Of Love Songs, Dances and Fancies for Shakespeare - The Baltimore Consort rec. 2018 SONO LUMINIS DSL92234 [68.04] [GH] A very pleasurable late-evening hour can be spent in the company of these musicians.

St Asaph Experience Olivia Hunt (soprano) John Hosking (organ) Xander Croft (violin) Bethan Griffiths (harp) rec. 2018? WILLOWHAYNE WHR058 [78:24] [JF] Something of a mixed bag.

Tuesday October 22nd 

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Egmont - Elisabeth Breuer (soprano) Helsinki Baroque O/Aapo Häkkinen rec. 2018-2019 ONDINE ODE1331-2 [52:26] [RC] A fine performance if one prefers the recitation.

Georg DRUSCHETZKY (1745 - 1819) Oboe Quartets Leoš JANÁČEK (1854-1928) Dobrú Noc - Grundmann-Quartett rec. 2013/14 CPO 555 171-2 [77:58] [JV] Perfect entertainment.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphony No. 101 Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphony No. 4 - Bavarian RSO/Otto Klemperer rec. 1956/1957 BR KLASSIK 900717 [70:10] [MW] Insightful performances from a master musician at the height of his considerable powers.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) String Quartets Nos 12 & 14 - Quatuor Schäffer rec. 1958 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR662 [52:29] [SG] A rarity, superbly transferred.

Gaspare SPONTINI (1774-1851) Le Metamorfosi di Pasquale - Baurzhan Anderzhanov, Carlo Feola (bass-baritone) Michela Antenucci (soprano) G. Rossini SO/Giuseppe Montesano rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7836.02 [48:43 + 35:49] [MP] Mainly for Spontini completist and music scholars

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Arie e cantate per contralto - Delphine Galou (contralto) Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone rec. 2018 NAÏVE OP30584 [57:47] [SSi] This most entertaining disc has brought me much enjoyment.

Palace Premières The Countess of Wessex’s String O/Major David B Hammond rec. 2019 MPR CWSO01 [75:49] [JW] A delightful album of British Light Music for strings.

Supersize Polyphony Works by Hildegard, Striggio & Tallis - Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks Ch of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD560 [61:37] [RHa] Undoubtedly sincere music-making, but this reviewer found the sound problematic, as well as the programme.

Monday October 21st

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete Songs Vol. 8 - Harriet Burns (soprano) Robin Tritschler (tenor) Graham Johnson (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDJ33128 [63:03] [RWe] A strong addition to an invaluable series.

Hans Werner HENZE (1926-2012) The Raft of the Medusa - Camilla Nylund (soprano), Peter Schöne (baritone), Peter Stein (narrator), SWR SO/Peter Eötvös rec. 2017 SWR CLASSIC SWR19082CD [69:27] [DC] A powerful and timely revival of Henze’s legendary ‘documentary oratorio’.

Harry PARTCH (1901-1974) Music of Harry Partch Vol. 3 - PARTCH rec. 2017/18 BRIDGE 9525 [75:05] [SSi] An ideal introduction to an American pioneer.

Kile SMITH (b. 1956) The Arc in the Sky - The Crossing/Donald Nally rec. 2018 NAVONA RECORDS NV6240 [65:51] [JQ] This fine recording of an imaginative and accessible contemporary choral work is well worth hearing.

Janina Fialkowska (piano) Les Sons et Les Parfums rec. 2019 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22766 [55:21] [JF] Inspired playing.

O Gemma Clarissima Music in Praise of St. Catharine - Choirs of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge/Edward Wickham rec. 2018/19 RESONUS RES10246 [72.02] [GH] A typically high quality college choir, well drilled and clear in diction.

Le Grand Siècle de l'Orgue Liégeois Luc Ponet (organ), Schola Gregoriana Feminea/Jan Peeters rec. 2018 ET'CETERA KTC1638 [66:41] [JV] An interesting recording which documents little known liturgical repertoire from the Liège region.

Ossy Renardy (violin) Live performances from New York - National O Association/Leon Barzin, Radio City SO/Ernő Rapée rec. 1939/41/45 MELOCLASSIC MC2037 [76:23] [SG] Despite shortcomings, these constitute recorded documents of tremendous historical importance and value.

Friday October 18th 

Mason BATES (b 1977) Children of Adam Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Dona Nobis Pacem - Richmond SO & Ch/Steven Smith rec. 2017/18 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FRESH! FR-732 [61:17] [JQ] Well-recorded and -performed accounts of two very different Whitman-inspired choral works.

Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613) Madrigali a cinque voci - Exaudi Vocal Ens/James Weeks rec. 2019 WINTER & WINTER 910 259-2 [60:31] [DC] If you are keen on Gesualdo’s Madrigali then you owe it to yourself to acquire this recording.

Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893) St. Cecilia Mass Georges BIZET(1838-1875) Te Deum - Angela Maria Blasi (soprano) Christian Elsner (tenor) Dietrich Henschel (baritone) Munich Motet Ch & SO/Hans Rudolf Zöbeley rec. 1996 HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC19046 [60:21] [EJW] Beautifully performed.

Karl Amadeus HARTMANN (1905-1963) String Quartets Nos 1 & 2 Anton WEBERN (1883-1945) Langsamer Satz - Airis String Qt rec. 2018 CD ACCORD ACD 245-2 [63:09] [JW] Persuasive accounts.

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911) Symphony No.1 - Minnesota O/Osmo Vänskä rec. 2018 BIS BIS2346 SACD [56:45] [MW] A wonderfully insightful, if slightly unusual, interpretation of a great symphony: worth the attention of any serious Mahlerian.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La bohème – Jussi Björling (tenor) Victoria de los Ángeles (soprano) Columbus Boys’ Ch, RCA Victor Ch & O/Sir Thomas Beecham rec. 1956 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO164 [53:43 + 53:31] [RMo] Pristine gives a classic recording new life with this remastering into Ambient Stereo.

Michel YOST (1745-1801) Clarinet Concertos Johann Christian VOGEL (1756-1788) Symphony - Susanne Heilig (clarinet) Kurpfälziches Kammer O/Marek Štilek rec. 2017 CPO 555 191-2 [73.17] [CR] An entertaining disc of clarinet concertos from late 18th century Paris.

Music for Saint Katherine of Alexandria Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68274 [66:17] [SSi] The Binchois Consort prove that there is lots to enjoy in English music before Byrd and Tallis.

Stravaganza Italian music from 1550-1700 - Sara Águeda (arpa doppia) Javier Núñez (harpsichord) rec. 2017 DUX 1567 [65:08] [JV] A colourful programme of instrumental music, a perfect illustration of some features of a period of experimentation and improvisation.

The Yiddish Cabaret Works by Korngold, Schulhoff & Desyatnikov - Hila Baggio (soprano) Jerusalem Qt rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902631 [59:54] [RHa] The Korngold is the standout here, although the song cycle is colourfully written and superbly performed.


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