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Friday January 24th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2, Rondo - Boris Giltburg (piano) Royal Liverpool PO/Vasily Petrenko rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574151 [73:51] [RC] Performances to rank with the best, but also the bonus of the splendidly played Rondo.

Paul BEN-HAIM (1897-1984), Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959) & Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957) Cello Concertos - Raphael Wallfisch (cello) BBC Ntl O of Wales/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2018 CPO 555273-2 [67:34] [SG] More riches, constituting an excellent addition to this increasingly impressive series.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 9 Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Parsifal Prelude & Good Friday Spell - Royal Concertgebouw O/Daniele Gatti rec. 2018 RCO LIVE RCO18008 SACD [80:34] [RMo] Lovely, if not flawless, performances.

Antonin DVOŘÁK (1841-1904) & Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978) Violin Concertos - Rachel Barton-Pine (violin) Royal Scottish Ntl O/Teddy Abrams rec. 2018 AVIE AV2411 [73:22] [NB] More individual and nuanced orchestral accompaniments exist elsewhere.

Eugene GOOSSENS (1893-1962) Phantasy Concerto, Symphony No.2 - Tasmin Little (violin) Melbourne SO/Sir Andrew Davis rec. 2018/19 CHANDOS CHSA5193 SACD [68:21] [JW] Preparation and execution alike are admirable.

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Symphonies Nos 80 & 81, Piano Concerto - Lucas Blondeel (fortepiano) Le Concert d’Anvers/Bart Van Reyn rec. 2016 FUGA LIBERA FUG755 [62:06] [SSi] Fine performances which are only a little let down by the lack of some repeats.

Franz LISZT (1811-1886) Kaleidoscope - Shin-Haea Kang (piano) rec. 2019 OEHMS OC1713 [72:53] [JWe] Buy this disc!

Pyotr Ilych TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) & Samuel BARBER (1910-1981) Violin Concertos - Johan Dalene (violin) Norrköping SO/Daniel Blendulf rec. 2019 BIS SACD BIS2440 [58:47] [WH] A new, young virtuoso shines in an unusual coupling.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) I Due Foscari - Leo Nucci (baritone) Guanqun Yu (soprano) Rundfunk O & Ch/Ivan Repušic rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK 900328 [73:00 + 28:40] [MC] Led by baritone Leo Nucci, this is an excellent recording of I Due Foscari.

English Piano Trios Trio Anima Mundi rec. 2017 DIVINE ART DDA25158 [77:53] [JF] Each one of these five ‘trios’ is special and deserves our attention.

Thursday January 23rd

Dieterich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707) Complete Organ Works - Harald Vogel (organ) rec. 1986-93 MDG 314 2148-2 [7 CDs: 484:44 & DVD] [MC] This set should have great appeal to both those familiar with and new to Buxtehude.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Piano works - Idil Biret (piano) rec. 2018/19 IDIL BIRET ARCHIVE 8.571401-02 [79:05 + 79:09] [JF] I was inspired, moved and entertained.

Gottfried FINGER (c. 1655-1730) Music for European Courts and Concerts - The Harmonious Society of Tickle-Fiddle Gentlemen/Robert Rawson rec. 2018 RAMÉE RAM1802 [66:47] [JV] Fascinating and musically compelling portrait of a composer, whose oeuvre fully deserves to be explored.

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Samson - Joshua Ellicott (tenor), Sophie Bevan (soprano), Tiffin Boys’ Ch, Dunedin Consort/John Butt (harpsichord) rec. 2018 LINN CKD599 [3 CDs: 204:14] [RWe] The older Samson by The Sixteen is not eclipsed, but we now have another superb recording to place alongside it.

Enno POPPE (b. 1969) Rundfunk - ens mosaik rec. 2019 WERGO WER7388-2 [57:19] [RHa] Enno Poppe gives the synthesiser a HIP workover – it’s not for the faint hearted.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker - State Academic SO of Russia  "Evgeny Svetlanov"/Vladimir Jurowski rec. 2019 PENTATONE PTC5186761 SACD [86:25] [NB] Skilled and technically impressive but disappointingly literal.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) La Traviata - Ermonela Jaho (soprano), Placido Domingo (baritone), O Royal Opera House, London/Antonello Manacorda rec. 2019 OPUS ARTE DVD OA1292D [149 mins] [RJF] Even if this performance lacks some vitality in Act One, the total impact of the final Act has great strength and shows Ermonela Jaho at her best.

Erich Kleiber and Jean Martinon (conductors) The Decca 78s - London PO rec. 1947-1949 ELOQUENCE 482 9386 [64:10 + 63:34] [JW] A valuable twofer.

Magnificat rec. 1970-2016 BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95928 [14 CDs: 880:10] [SSi] This is a highly interesting and engaging set, with much to recommend it.

Johanna Martzy (violin) Swiss Radio Broadcast Recordings rec. 1947-69 MELOCLASSIC MC2035 [60:56] [SG] These add considerably to Martzy's slender discographical legacy.

Wednesday January 22nd

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Requiem - RIAS Kammerchor, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Łukasz Borowicz rec. 2018 ACCENTUS ACC30474 [56:13] [RMo] A disc to intrigue and engage the Bruckner aficionado.

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Nocturnes, Première rapsodie, Marche Écossaise, La Damoiselle élue - Sergio Castelló López (clarinet) Sophie Bevan (soprano) Anna Stéphany (mezzo) Hallé O & Ch/Mark Elder rec. 2018/19 HALLÉ CDHLL7552 [64:56] [RHa] Yet more ravishing Debussy from Sir Mark and his revitalised Hallé.

Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880) Cello Duos - Xavier Phillips, Anne Gastinel (cellos) rec. 2019 LA DOLCE VOLTA LDV71 [69:44] [GPu] An unexpected side of Offenbach which should prove enjoyable for far more than the audience of cello students for which the music was originally written.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Winterreise - Mathias Hedegaard (tenor) Tove Lønskov (piano) rec. 2018 DANACORD DACOCD865 [75:45] [JF] Hedegaard is brilliant at capturing the massive mood swings inherent in this song cycle.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Complete Music for Piano 4-Hands - Roberto Plano, Paola Del Negro (piano duet) BRILLIANT CLASSICS 95675 [2 CDs 129:12] [PBW]  This excellently performed and recorded collection is an outstanding bargain.

Dmitry SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) The Bedbug; Love & Hate - Mannheim Opera Ch, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Mark Fitz-Gerald rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574100 [58:54] [NB] One for the enthusiast rather than the general collector.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1959) Der Rosenkavalier - Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) Christa Ludwig (mezzo) Eberhard Waechter (baritone), Philharmonia Ch & O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1956 PRISTINE PACO167 [3 CDs: 190.58] [PCG] This remains one of the great Rosenkavaliers on disc, and contains one of the best casts ever assembled either on stage or in the studio.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Le Trouvère - Giuseppe Gipali (tenor), Franco Vasallo (baritone), Marco Spotti (bass), Ch & O Teatro Communale di Bologna/Roberto Abbado rec. 2018 DYNAMIC CDS7835.02 [79:54 + 79:52] [GF] Always fascinating to encounter alternative versions of standard works.

Erling Blöndal Bengtsson (cello) A Tribute: The Danish Radio Recordings 1958-1998 Vol. 2 rec. 1958-1998 DANACORD DACOCD845 [75:09 + 70:40] [JW] Another finely restored example of this cherished artist’s radio discography.

Music For My Love Vol. 3 Ukrainian Festival O/Paul Mann rec. 2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0504 [70:45] [WH] Music of the highest quality in performances to match.

Tuesday January 21st

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Piano Quartets - Klaviertrio Hannover, Konstantin Sellheim (viola) rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN19673 [76:25] [PRB] Highly enjoyable.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Symphonies No. 1 & 3 - Bergen PO/Edward Gardner rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHSA5236 SACD [81.25] [RC] Fine, convincing performances that just fail to join my favourite versions

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 1 - Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller rec. 2019 PROFIL PH19084 [50:30] [RMo] Makes the strongest possible case for the symphony’s consideration – or even its rehabilitation.

Nicolás Ruiz ESPADERO (1832-1890) Piano Music Vol. 1 - José Raúl López (piano) rec. 2018/19 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0544 [71:52] [RCh] Attractive echoes of the 19th century Parisian piano salons from a sunny Caribbean island.

Antônio Carlos GOMES (1836 – 1896) Lo schiavo - Svetla Vassileva (soprano) Massimiliano Pisapia (tenor), Ch & O del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari/John Neschling rec. 2019 DYNAMIC CDS7845.02 [63:27 + 68:50] [GF] A worthwhile acquisition for readers with an inquisitive mind.

Joachim KACZKOWSKI (1789-1829) Violin Concertos - Marucha Agnieszka (violin), SO Filharmonii Lubelskiej im. Henryka Wieniawskiego/Rodek Wociechh rec. 2019 ACTE PRÉALABLE AP0470 [70:45] [JW] Another unknown brought to life by this enterprising label.

Dame Ethel SMYTH (1858-1944) Fête Galante; The Boatswain’s Mate, Entente Cordiale Liza LEHMANN (1862-1918) The Happy Prince - Charmian Bedford (soprano) Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo) Lontano Ens/Odaline de la Martinez, Light SO/Sir Adrian Boult rec. 1939/2018 RETROSPECT OPERA RO007 [76:34] [JW] Warmly committed and winning performances.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) & Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Works for cello & piano - Norbert Anger (cello) Michael Schöch (piano) rec. 2017 OEHMS OC1701 [78:54] [CSe] A generous recording, comprising both the unfamiliar with the familiar in new guises, and offering much enjoyment and discovery.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) The Nutcracker - Septura rec. 2019 NAXOS 8.574157 [65:24] [MP] An original and very welcome presentation of traditional Holiday confection.

Charles Munch (conductor) Works by Auber, Bridge & Nielsen - Boston SO rec. 1953-56 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC572 [67:50] [JQ] A very interesting addition to the Munch discography.

Monday January 20th

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Complete Works for Piano and Cello - Ori Epstein (cello), Omri Epstein (piano) rec. 2018 LINN RECORDS CKD627 [84:42 + 70:50] [DRD] Enjoyable and highly proficient renditions of one of the cornerstones of the chamber repertoire.

Joly BRAGA SANTOS (1924-1988) Complete Chamber Music Vol. 1 - Quarteto Lopes-Graça, Leonor Braga Santos (viola), Irene Lima (cello) rec. 2017/2018 TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0207 [78:48] [JW] I can’t really imagine anyone being impervious to Braga-Santos’s warmth and wisdom.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 6 - London SO/Sir Simon Rattle rec. 2019 LSO LIVE LSO0842 SACD [56.01] [MW] A fine performance, in wonderful sound, splendidly captured, and nearly a very great one.

Carlo GESUALDO DA VENOSA (1566-1613) Sacrarum Cantionum, Book I - Odhecaton; Ensemble Mare Nostrum/Paolo Da Col rec. 2013 RICERCAR RIC343 [63:27] [BW]  Unaccompanied recordings of this intense music are preferable.

Robert GROSLOT (b. 1951) Concertos - Jan Michiels (piano) Ilia Yourivitch Laporev (cello) Eline Groslot (harp) Brussels Philharmonic/Robert Groslot rec. 2017/18 NAXOS 8.579057 [65:04] [RHa] The second disc in Naxos’s Groslot series offers three attractive new works in committed performances and fine sound.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Violin Concerto, Clarinet Quartet, Cello Sonata - Henry Merckel (violin) Guy Deplus (clarinet) Robert Gendre (violin) Enrico Mainardi (cello) Fritz Lehmann (piano) Lamoureux O/Roger Désormière rec. 1948-53 FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1568 [73:49] [SG] Much food for thought.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924) Tosca – Zinka Milanov (soprano) Jussi Björling (tenor) Leonard Warren (baritone) Rome Opera House O & Ch/Erich Leinsdorf rec. 1957 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO163 [2 CDs: 113:29] [GF] Andrew Rose has worked miracles on the sound to illustrate how good a set this is.

Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (1928-2016) Vigilia - Niall Chorell (tenor), Tuukka Haapaniemi (bass), Helsinki Chamber Choir / Nils Schweckendiek rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2422 SACD [70:34] [JQ] A wonderful new recording of a composition of great sincerity and eloquence.

Einsamkeit, O Stilles Wesen German Cantatas of the Baroque - L‘arpa festante/Christoph Hesse rec. 2017 CHRISTOPHORUS CHR77437 [67:13] [DJB] An interesting programme on paper, but the overall effect is one of lack of contrast.

Minimal Works Alessandro Viale, Assunta Cavallari (piano) Rebecca Raimondi (violin) rec. 2018 KHA RECORDS KHA018 [47.42] [GH] Worth exploring

 



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