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Monday: Other reviews (nostalgia, books, jazz, other music); Friday: Articles
Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Thursday October 31st

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 - Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5236 SACD [81:25] [IL] Glowing sound and nicely phrased, nuanced readings.

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956) Short choral works - Alexander Hamilton (organ), Asher Oliver (organ), Trinity College Choir Cambridge/Stephen Layton rec. 2017-2018 HYPERION CDA68222 [74:16] [SB] A superb collection of Finzi’s shorter choral works.

Josef LABOR (1842-1924) Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet - Nina Karmon (violin), Pauline Sachse (viola), Justus Grimm (cello), Niek de Groot (double bass), Oliver Triendl (piano) rec. 2018 CAPRICCIO C5390 [67:11] [RB] Delicacy and grand momentum.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Don Giovanni - Carlos Alvarez (baritone), Arena di Verona Orchestra/Stefano Montanari rec. 2015 C MAJOR Blu-ray 751904 [187 mins] [MP] A very engaging production but Mozart’s exquisite musical textures are buried by the vast spaces of the Arena.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Liederkreis, Kernerlieder - Matthias Goerne (baritone) Leif Ove Andsnes (piano) rec. 2018 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902353 [53:29] [ST] This has to be one of my discs of the year.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996) Chamber Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 - East-West CO/Rotislav Krimer rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574063 [58.16] [MW] Very welcome for both the intrinsic quality of the music and outstanding performances.

Cantate Domino Works by Bach, Mozart, Telemann, Buxtehude & Handel - Ens BachWerkVokal/Gordon Safari rec. 2018 MDG 902 2138-6 SACD [65:40] [JV] A fine debut for BachWerkVokal, with the added bonus of some first recordings.

Johanna Martzy (violin) Swiss Radio Broadcast Recordings rec. 1947-69 MELOCLASSIC MC2035 [60:56] [JW] Martzy is inevitably a draw for fiddle appreciators.

Pietro Scarpini (piano) Discovered Tapes: From Baroque to Contemporary rec. 1950-1967 RHINE CLASSICS RH-010 [12 CDs: 14 hours] [SG] This sterling achievement resuscitates the memory of a long-forgotten artist.

Styrian Harpsichord Concertos Michael Hell (harpsichord) Neue Hofkapelle Graz/Lucia Froihofer, Michael Hell rec. 2018 CPO 555 269-2 [78:30] [PRB] Another valuable contribution to the catalogue, both erudite and really entertaining.

Wednesday October 30th

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Goldberg Variations, Suite No. 1 - Arundo Qt rec. 2018 SUPRAPHON SU4261-2 [55:31] [ST] Arrangements for wind quartet that work very well.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Sonatas Nos 21, 25, 31 & 32 - Conrad Hansen (piano) rec. 1952-1963 MELOCLASSIC MC1047 [71:21] [SG] Beethoven playing of the highest order.

Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Fantaisie sur la Tempête de Shakespeare, Symphonie fantastique - Toronto Mendelssohn Ch & SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5239 SACD [70:08] [WH] A standard work and an interesting coupling in splendid performances.

Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano Concertos - Hans Richter-Haaser, Nikita Magaloff (piano) rec. 1951/1961 SWR CLASSIC SWR19076CD [68:46] [JW] One for piano collectors and possibly also for Rosbaud’s many adherents.

Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946) El sombrero de tres picos, El Amor Brujo - Carmen Romeu (mezzo) Mahler CO/Pablo Heras-Casado rec. 2019 HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902271 [62:27] [RWe] Among the best versions of this coupling.

Gabriel PROKOFIEV (b. 1975) Saxophone Concerto; Bass Drum Concerto - Branford Marsalis (saxophone), Joby Burgess (bass drum), Ural PO/Alexey Bogograd rec. 2018 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD584 [54:29] [RHa] Two fascinating, unconventional confections from another Prokofiev.

Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Fairy Day; Overture in the Style of a Tragedy; A Song of Agincourt; Verdun; A Welcome March - Kerry Stamp (soprano), Codetta, Ulster O/Howard Shelley rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68283 [65:32] [EJW] A truly splendid CD - every piece is well worth an extended listen.

Glauco VELÁSQUEZ (1884-1914) Violin Sonatas No. 1 & 2 Leopoldo MIGUEZ (1850-1902) Violin Sonata - Emmanuele Baldini (violin), Karin Fernandes (piano) rec. 2014 NAXOS 8.574118 [71:27] [RB] Well worth hearing, especially the Velasquez.

The Leipzig Circle Vol. 1 Works by Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn and Clara & Robert Schumann - London Bridge Trio rec. 2018 SOMM RECORDINGS SOMMCD0199 [72:17] [CRa] An original and very interesting programme – shame about the sound.

Ten Great Violinists of the Twentieth Century BIDDULPH LAB 8101 [10 CDs: 748:44] [RMas] An affordable introduction to the great violinists of the 20th century.

Tuesday October 29th 

Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Cantatas, Arias - Robert Tear (tenor); Helen Watts (contralto) English Chamber O/Raymond Leppard Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner rec. 1961/1969 ELOQUENCE 482 4753 [65:57] [JW] A very welcome restoration.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Cello Concertos Nos 1 & 2 - Raphaël Pidoux (cello) Jeune O l’Abbaye aux Dames de Saintes rec. 2018 NOMADMUSIC NMM064 [47:07] [DJB] A memento for those involved, but not a serious contender in a crowded field.

Pierre JALBERT (b. 1967) & Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Violin Concertos Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935) Fratres Pēteris VASKS (b. 1946) Lonely Angel - Margaret Batjer (violin) Los Angeles CO/Jeffrey Kahane rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2309 SACD [63:41] [RHa] A rather oddly-matched collection, but the new Jalbert concerto is certainly worth hearing.

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Alexander Nevsky; Lieutenant Kijé Suite - Utah Symphony/Thierry Fischer rec. 2016 REFERENCE RECORDINGS FRESH! FR-735 SACD [60:06] [JQ] Excellent performances presented in terrific sound.

Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764) Les Indes Galantes - Sandrine Piau (soprano), Les Arts Florissants/William Christie rec. 1991 HARMONIA MUNDI HAX8901367.69 [3 CDs: 195:07] [ST] This recording remains as valuable as ever.

Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932) Piano Music Vol. 4 - Mark Anderson (piano) rec. 2018 NIMBUS NI5975 [57:38] [JWe] Rare and interesting repertoire.

Timothy SALTER (b. 1942) Piano Quintet, Elegy, Clarinet Quintet - Muse Piano Quintet, Usk Ensemble rec. 2012/15 USK ARCHIVE 1235CD [48:17] [RB] Deeply committed playing of music that oscillates, flickers and shimmers.

Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) 52 Sonatas - Lucas Debargue (piano) rec. 2018 SONY CLASSICAL 19075944462 [4 CDs: 235:06] [RMas] An intriguing new set of Scarlatti sonatas.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Ein Heldenleben Edward GREGSON (b. 1945) Tuba Concerto - Venezuelan PO/Edgar Meinhardt rec. 1986 CLAUDIO ARCHIVE CA5255-2 [68:02] [RMay] Unremarkable and unnecessary Strauss – but Gregson’s accessible concerto may be of interest for its rarity value.

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum 2018 DANACORD DACOCD839 [79:45] [RCh] A disc jam-packed with piano discoveries and joyous music-making.

Monday October 28th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-79) Violin Sonatas Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896) Andante molto - Alina Ibragimova (violin) Cédric Tiberghien (piano) rec. 2018 HYPERION CDA68200 [71:06] [RMas] Modern, streamlined and elegant Brahms.

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Piano works - Philippe Entremont (piano) rec. 1955/59 IDIS 6739 [67:47] [RC] Mainly of interest to Entremont fans.

Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916) Piano Quintets Nos 1 & 2 - Edouard Oganessian (piano) Art Vio String Qt  rec. 2009 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0099 [65:00] [PRB] A quite superb disc.

Richard RIJNVOS (b. 1954) Riflessi - Ives Ensemble rec. 2019 NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6383 [74:10] [RHa] A splendid disc which will hopefully trigger more interest in this maverick Dutch master outside of his homeland.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Piano works - Carlo Grante (piano) rec. 2013 MUSIC & ARTS CD-1292 [71:53] [JWe] Much to enjoy here.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Serenade to Music, Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus', The Lark Ascending, Fantasia on 'Greensleeves', English Folk Song Suite - James Ehnes (violin), Royal Liverpool P. O. / Andrew Manze rec. 2017/2019 ONYX 4212 [69:23] [ST] An ideal one-stop-shop for Vaughan William’s most popular orchestral music.

British Tone Poems Vol. 2 BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN10981 [70:16] [JQ] This excellent collection of British tone poems is a worthy successor to Vol. 1 in the series.

Christ lag in Todes Banden Bachplus/Bart Naessens rec. 2018 EVIL PENGUIN CLASSICS EPRC0031 [65.19] [GH] Altogether pleasing performances.

Le clavecin mythologique Anne Marie Dragosits (harpsichord) rec. 2016 L'ENCELADE ECL1801 [73:35] [JV] Mostly rather well-known pieces, approached from an original angle and performed on a magnificent historical instrument.

David Oistrakh (violin) Early Recordings Works by Bach, Beethoven & Saint-Saëns - Moscow State Philharmony SO/ Lev Steinberg rec. 1938 AQUARIUS AQVR385-2 [68:29] [JW] Strictly for Oistrakh completists.

Other reviews
Orchestra by Avalon Nuovo & David Doran publ. 2019 FLYING EYE BOOKS [MMB] A splendid Christmas present for a young music fan.

Friday October 25th 

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849) Mazurki - Vladimir Feltsman (piano) rec. 2018 NIMBUS NI6386 [78:20 + 70:40] [MG] Consistently fine performances.

John McLEOD (b. 1934) Piano Music - Murray McLachlan, Rose McLachlan (piano) rec. 2017 MÉTIER MSV77207 [78:46 + 81:01] [PRB] An outstanding set.

Wynton MARSALIS (b. 1961) Violin Concerto, Fiddle Dance Suite - Nicola Benedetti (violin) Philadelphia O/Cristian Măcelaru rec. 2017/19 DECCA 485 0013 [67:03] [RHa] Two meaty pieces that will move both heart and feet.

Humphrey PROCTER-GREGG (1895-1980) Violin Sonatas Nos 1, 2 & 4 - Andrew Long (violin) Ian Buckle (piano) rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0539 [78:35] [JW] Encapsulates a profound belief in the primacy of melodic beauty.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)  Symphony No. 7 - Bavarian RSO/Mariss Jansons rec. 2016 BR KLASSIK 900184 [73:11] [MC] Up there with the finest accounts I know.

Elles Works by Clara Schumann, Boulanger, Hensel, Clarke, Fuchs & Pidgorna - Marina Thibeault (viola) Marie-Ève Scarfone (piano) rec. 2018 ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD22772 [68.09] [CRa] Half a dozen works – lesser-known because they’re by women – beautifully performed and recorded.

William Murdoch (piano) Complete Columbia Solo Electrical Recordings rec. 1925-31 APR 6029 [76:09 + 77:37] [SG] Aural documents of significant historical importance.

Václav Neumann (conductor) Early Recordings - Czech PO, Prague SO, Film SO, Brno PO rec. 1953-68 SUPRAPHON SU4133-2 [6 CDs: 463:10] [SV] A mixed bag – possibly a case for selective downloading.


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