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Live performance reviews posted daily at Seen and Heard

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Friday January 17th

Isaac ALBENIZ (1860–1909) Complete Works for Voice & Piano - Magdalena Llamas (mezzo) Guillermo González (piano) rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.574072 [72:46] [GF] Totally unsatisfactory singing – this shouldn’t have been issued at all.

Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) War Requiem, Nocturne, Our Hunting Fathers - Heather Harper (soprano) Peter Pears (tenor) Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) City of Birmingham SO/Meredith Davies, Aldeburgh Fest O, London SO/Benjamin Britten rec. 1959-62 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO166 [63:01 + 77:19] [JQ] Anyone who admires War Requiem and is inspired by it should hear this recording in a fine new transfer.

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 5 - Matthias Giesen (organ) rec. 2018 GRAMOLA 99169 [84:40] [RMo] Makes one appreciate the extent to which Bruckner’s musical imagination was predicated upon the capabilities and repertoire of the organ.

Eric COATES (1886-1957) Orchestral Works Vol. 1 - BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson rec. 2019 CHANDOS CHAN20036 [70.39] [JW] This has all the makings of a top-class Coates’ series.

Frédéric LEDROIT (b. 1968) La Passion selon Saint-Jean - Chamber Ch Europe, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Robert Reimer rec. 2018 SKARBO DSK2194 [77:15] [RHa] A fervent account of a rather relentless, though earnest and approachable, piece.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Divertimento K.563 - TrioTaus rec. 2017 2L RECORDS 2L148SACD [42:51] [DC] Very good, but does it dislodge any of the competition?

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) The Purcell Album - Alfred Deller & Consort ALTO ALC1402 [79:20] [RMas] A compilation which provides significant evidence of Deller’s abilities as a singer and conductor, but the documentation is awful.

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) Eugene Onegin - Mariusz Kwiecien, Tatiana Monogarova, Bolshoi Theatre Ch & O/Alexander Vedernikov rec. 2008 BEL AIR CLASSIQUES Blu-ray BAC446 [177 mins] [RC] Highly inventive, albeit slightly flawed.

Claudio Arrau (piano) Concertos by Brahms, Schumann & Beethoven - SWR SO Baden-Baden/Ernest Bour, Stuttgart RSO/Eliahu Inbal & Gary Bertini rec. 1969-80 SWR MUSIC SWR19084CD [3 CDs: 211:24] [JW] No revelations then – just excellence.

Sergio Fiorentino (piano) Live in Taiwan rec. 1988 RHINE CLASSICS RH-009 [71:47] [SG] A live recital with added poignancy as the pianist sadly died three months later.

Thursday January 16th

Lupus HELLINCK (1493/94-1541) Missa Surrexit pastor bonus Johannes LUPI (c.1506-1539) Te Deum - Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice rec. 2019 HYPERION CDA68304 [70:39] [BW]  If only the diction had been clearer, I would have had no reservations.

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Piano Concertos Nos 20 & 21 - Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano) Manchester Camerata/Gábor Takács-Nagy rec. 2018 CHANDOS CHAN20083 [65:08] [RHa] This is rapidly becoming THE modern instrument cycle of choice.

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) King Arthur - Mhairi Lawson, Carolyn Sampson (sopranos) Roderick Williams (baritone) Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh rec. 2019 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD589 [2 CDs: 97:38] [JW] A loving, beautifully balanced and subtle performance.

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Carnival of the Animals Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Mother Goose Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Peter & the Wolf Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Britten-Pears O/Marin Alsop (narrator) rec. 2017/18 NAXOS NBD0102V Blu-ray [98 mins] [RC] Alsop does a marvelous job in both roles.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1867) Violin Concerto Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Double Concerto - Antje Weithaas (violin), Maximilian Hornung (cello), NDR Radiophilharmonie/Andrew Manze rec. 2017 CPO 555172-2 [63:25] [PRB] An attractive and rare coupling of concertos.

Georg Joseph VOGLER (1749-1814) Gustaf Adolf och Ebba Brahe - Laila Andersson (soprano), Jonny Blanc (tenor), Royal Swedish O & Ch/Charles Farncombe rec. 1973 STERLING CDO1121/2-2 [73:42 + 52:36] [GF] Musically and historically important.

Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1996) & Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Piano Trios - Trio Marvin rec. 2019 GENUIN GEN19678 [57:15] [WK] Power and drive that perfectly fits this music.

Decades - A Century of Song Vol. 4 Anush Hovhannisyan (soprano) Ida Eveline Ränzlöv (mezzo) Nick Pritchard (tenor) Florian Boesch (baritone) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2017/18 VIVAT 119 [72:02] [JQ] This interesting and enterprising art song series continues the high standards established in previous releases.

A Tribute to Ysaÿe rec. 2009-2019 FUGA LIBERA FUG758 [5 CDs: 355 mins] [JW] A valuable and dedicated undertaking.

Thomas Trotter (organ) From Palaces to Pleasure Gardens rec. 2018 REGENT REGCD526 [71:20] [JV] Lively and colourful interpretations.

Wednesday January 15th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)  Clarinet Sonatas & Trio - Marie Ross (clarinet) Petra Somlai (piano) Claire-Lise Démettre (cello) rec. 2018 CENTAUR RECORDS CRC3760 [79:53] [DC] Brahms as he would have heard it?

Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921) Hänsel und Gretel - Elisabeth Grümmer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) Philharmonia O/Herbert von Karajan rec. 1953-55 PRISTINE AUDIO PACO162 [63:00 + 77:10] [MP] Definitely worth purchasing even if you already own a previous issue of the set.

Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991) Orchestral works - Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Karl-Heinz Steffens rec. 2019 CAPRICCIO C5379 [76:42] [JW] This is worth consideration if the combination of works appeals.

Yardani Torres MAIANI (b. 1988) Asterias – Yardani Torres Maiani (solo violin), Armande Galloway (violin), Raďlo Helmstetter (guitar), Elisabeth Geiger (harpsichord), Natalie Forthomme (cello) HARMONIA MUNDI HMN916116 [59:01] [RHa] A commendable project which blends any number of southern European styles.

Alexander MOYZES (1906-1984) Dances from Gemer; Down the River Váh; Pohronie Dances - Slovak RSO/Ondrej Lenárd rec. 1989 NAXOS 8.555477 [71.12] [MW] A highly enjoyable reissue of lovely symphonic dances from Slovakia.

Erwin SCHULHOFF (1894-1942) Ironien - Monica Gutman (piano), Erika Le Roux (four hands piano) rec. 2019 WERGO WER73852 [70:46] [JW] The performances capture Schulhoff’s various selves with great perception.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan und Isolde - Andreas Schager, Rachel Nicholls, O & Ch of Teatro Opera of Rome/Daniele Gatti rec. live, 2016 C MAJOR 752208 DVD [3 discs: 239 mins] [RWe] More than respectable, if not one to leap to the top of the rankings.

Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1995) Violin Sonatas Nos 4-6 - Agnčs Pyka (violin) Dimitri Vassilakis (piano) rec. 2019 ARION ARN68842 [54:52] [SG] Music of great beauty and imagination.

Hidden Treasures Romantic Finnish Piano Music - Risto-Matti Marin (piano) rec. 2018 ALBA SACD ABCD446 [82:14] [EJW] An interesting selection of little known Finnish music; the Hannikainen is the standout.

Song’s First Cycle Robin Tritschler (tenor) Malcolm Martineau (piano) rec. 2017 SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD587 [82:31] [GF] Every lover of art song should invest in this issue to earn a deeper understanding of the development of art song.

Tuesday January 14th

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Complete symphonies - Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Järvi rec. 2018 C MAJOR 734908 DVD [3 discs: 267 mins] [RWe] A filmed Brahms cycle of splendid performances.

Gottfried FINGER (1655-1730) A Bohemian in London - Duo Dorado rec. 2016 CHANDOS CHAN0824 [78:00] [JW] Performances that show Finger’s is a voice that deserves to be heard.

Saverio MERCADANTE (1795-1870) Didone Abbandonata - Viktorija Miškūnaitė (soprano), Katrin Wundsham (mezzo-soprano), Carlo Vincenzo Allemano (tenor), Academia Montis Regalis/Alessandro De Marchi rec. 2018 NAXOS Blu-ray NBD0095V [146 mins] [MP] An operatic rarity, with excellent singing but bizarre and exaggerated directorial approach.

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La bohčme - Montserrat Caball?(soprano), Plácido Domingo (tenor), London PO/Sir Georg Solti rec. 1973/74 DUTTON 2CDLX7365 SACD [75:08 + 73:40] [RMo] A satisfying La bohčme, made especially desirable by the beauty of Caball?#8217;s Mim? with an attractive bonus.

Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937) Le Festin de l’Araignée; Paul DUKAS (1865-1935) Polyeucte; L’Apprenti Sorcier - Pays de la Loire National O/Pascal Roph?rec. 2018 BIS BIS-2432 SACD [59:46] [DM] Roph?#8217;s Dukas is understated, yet quietly rewarding, his Roussel fine spun, if a little short on contrast and character; splendid playing and sound.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Violin Sonatas - Eriikka Maalismaa (violin), Emil Holmström (piano) rec: 2018 ALBA ABCD438 [73:06] [RHa] A truly unexpected find; fascinating, probing accounts of all three of Schumann’s late violin sonatas.

Alexey STANCHINSKY (1888-1914) Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 - Olga Solovieva (piano) rec. 2018 GRAND PIANO GP766 [72:20] [PRB] A real find.

Jen? Hubay & His Pupil Emil Telmányi Gerald Moore (piano), Budapest O/Ferenc Fricsay, Royal O Copenhagen/Thomas Jensen rec. 1928-59 DANACORD DACOCD851 [77:21] [JW] It's splendid to have these recordings back in expanded form.

Remember me, my dear…  Jan Garbarek (saxophone) David James (countertenor) Rogers Covey-Crump, Steven Harrold (tenor) Gordon Jones (baritone) The Hilliard Ens rec. 2014 ECM NEW SERIES 2625 (4817971) [77:40] [DC] A poignant farewell.

Arturo Toscanini (conductor) Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York: Complete Recordings - Vol. 1 rec. 1929-36 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC575 [3 CDs: 213:15] [DD] Some of the greatest orchestral recordings ever, magnificently restored.

Monday January 13th

Charles-Valentin ALKAN (1813-1888) Symphony, Concerto - Paul Wee (piano) rec. 2017/2018 BIS BIS-2465 SACD [78:32] [JWe] Magnificent performances, recommended to anyone who enjoys superb pianism.

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Egmont, Tarpeja, Leonore Prohaska - Matti Salminen (narrator) Kaisa Ranta (soprano) Turku PO/Leif Segerstam rec. 2018 NAXOS 8.573956 [74.24] [MW] Musical and muscular, these are strong performances of some great Beethoven.

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) Piano Quartets Nos 1-3 - Primrose Piano Qt rec. 2018 MERIDIAN CDE84650/1-2 [74:37 + 49:10] [MG] Delicate and fastidious period strings, and luminous and glowing tone from the period pianos.

Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Harp Concerto, Variaciones concertantes - Sidsel Walstad (harp) Norwegian Radio O/Miguel Harth-Bedoya rec. 2017/18 LAWO CLASSICS LWC1182 [48:50] [DC] Impressive performances – shame about the niggardly playing time.

Emilio PUJOL (1886-1980) Estudios - Frank Bungarten (guitar) rec. 2018 MDG 905 2131-6 SACD [68:48] [ZT] An important contribution.

Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773) Flute Concerti - Greg Dikmans (transverse flute), Elysium Ensemble rec. 2018/2019 RESONUS CLASSICS RES10252 [70:73] [JV] This disc is a fine illustration of Quantz's aesthetic ideals.

Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Sigismondo – Hera Hyesang Park (soprano) Keneth Tarver (tenor) Bavarian Radio Ch, Munich Radio O/Keri-Lynn Wilson rec. 2018 BR KLASSIK CD 900327 [81:17 + 65:14] [MC] A very engaging performance.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Dichterliebe, Lenau-Lieder und Requiem Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Wesendonck Lieder - Christoph Prégardien (tenor) Michael Gees (piano) rec. 2018 CHALLENGE CLASSICS CC72788 SACD [63:36] [GF] Full marks.

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) String Quartets No. 13-15 - Fitzwilliam String Quartet rec. 2018/2019 LINN CKD612 [48:13 + 37:48] [RW] This gives you the full head-in-hands experience of these demanding pieces.

Jascha Spivakovsky (piano) Bach to Bloch Vol. 10 rec. 1952-56 PRISTINE AUDIO PASC579 [57:59] [JW] Enough here to warrant interest for the piano collector.