June 2018 CD Reviews

May 2018 CD Reviews
Joshua Bell plays Max Bruch – Scottish Fantasy & Violin Concerto No.1 – Academy of St Martin in the Fields [Sony Classical]
June, 2018 |  Joshua Bell has been here before, recording Max Bruch’s G-minor Violin Concerto thirty years ago with this orchestra, Neville Marriner conducting. Now Bell is going it alone, violin bow sometimes acting as conductor’s baton, but essentially trusting the guys and gals of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields to be the most loyal of companions, which of course they are. 
Stephen Hough’s Dream Album [Hyperion]
June, 2018 |  Whether, in titular terms, this is the Album that Stephen Hough has always wanted to make or it’s Hyperion’s way of telling us it is his finest recording to date (plenty of self-made competition though, such as a recent Debussy disc) is a fancy on my part... ... There are numerous Hough transcriptions and originals here, including (in the first camp) versions of ‘Das alte Lied’ and ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’ (the latter indelibly associated with Kathleen Ferrier), some balletic Minkus, ‘Moscow Nights’ (Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen did a re-titled version of this, striking the Midnight hour)... ... Another couple of releases like this and Hough will have his own version of Your Hundred Best Tunes. 
Chamber Music by Ernö Dohnányi – The Nash Ensemble [Hyperion]
June, 2018 |  Ernö Dohnányi (aka Ernst von Dohnányi, 1877-1960, grandfather to Christoph von) was born in the Hungarian town of Pozsony and enjoyed a notable career as a pianist and a conductor, and also as an administrator, including of Hungarian Radio and the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. The music on this Nash Ensemble release from Hyperion is very engaging and eminently well-crafted. 
Wiener Symphoniker – Philippe Jordan conducts Beethoven’s Fourth & Fifth Symphonies
June, 2018 |  Greater fire is evident in these performances than in Philippe Jordan’s recent versions of Beethoven’s Symphonies 1 and 3. There is still the modern tendency toward faster tempos but not slavish adherence to the metronome marks that Beethoven added some time after composing his first eight Symphonies. ... The opening of Beethoven 5 grabs the attention – it took until the mid-twentieth-century before Erich Kleiber showed on a recording how this movement should be driven with uncompromising fury with none of the romantic emphases that were so often foisted upon it. 
Andrew Manze conducts Berlioz & Weber – Harold in Italy with Lawrence Power, Invitation to the Dance [Bergen Philharmonic; Hyperion]
June, 2018 |  With Harold in Italy, Berlioz effected a quiet revolution in synthesising the abstract, generic forms of the Symphony and the Concerto, in the service of dramatising a work of literature (Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage) to create something like an extended tone poem. ... Lawrence Power sustains the solo part with apt reserve... ... Andrew Manze directs the Bergen Philharmonic in an account which could have more impulsive drama and drive...  
Grażyna Bacewicz – Piano Quintets, Quartets for Violins and for Cellos – Silesian Quartet & Friends [Chandos]
June, 2018 |  One of the great violinist-composers, Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-69) also played the piano, making her a formidably-equipped creative artist. She was born in Łódź to a Lithuanian father and Polish mother, who brought up their sons as Lithuanian and their daughters as Polish. Her father was the conductor Vincas Bacevičius and her brothers, Vytautas and Kęstutis Bacevičius, were respectively composer and pianist. 
Barry Douglas – Schubert Works for Solo Piano, Volume 3 – Sonata D958 & Moments musicaux [Chandos]
June, 2018 |  There's nothing to say about this release. Conversely everything. Barry Douglas is one of history's grand Schubertians, his artistry and sensitivity yielding fabled glories at every turn. ... The six Moments musicaux – what a private, prophetic collection of pieces, capsules of landscape, reflection and spirit, ruminations of the hour... 
Ginastera – Orchestral Works 3 – Piano Concerto No.1, Variaciones concertantes, Concierto argentino – Xiayin Wang/BBC Philharmonic/Juanjo Mena [Chandos]
June, 2018 |  Juanjo Mena continues his traversal through the orchestral works of Alberto Ginastera (1916-83) with this collection of three concertante pieces... ... Coming near the outset of the composer’s most radical phase, the First Piano Concerto (1961) has also proved among his most durable works... ... Xiayin Wang has the measure of its methodical virtuosity... ... ...before the final ‘Toccata concertata’, as made (in)famous by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, erupts with furious resolve. 
Peter Oundjian conducts John Adams – Absolute Jest, Naive and Sentimental Music – Doric String Quartet & Royal Scottish National Orchestra [Chandos]
June, 2018 |  Not presumably by accident the appearance of this release coincides with the conductor’s final concerts as RSNO music director. John Adams is a composer Peter Oundjian has championed extensively during his tenure... ... Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Absolute Jest (2011, revised 2012) tends to emphasise that... ... The Doric String Quartet and Oundjian’s team throw caution to the winds... ... Next Oundjian offers the more familiar Naive and Sentimental Music (1997-98), dedicated to Esa-Pekka Salonen... 

 

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