December 2018 CD Reviews

November 2018 CD Reviews
Andrew Davis conducts Gustav Holst – Orchestral Works Volume 4 [BBC Philharmonic; Chandos]
December, 2018 |  This release constitutes the fourth volume in Chandos’s series of Gustav Holst’s orchestral music, begun ten years ago with what proved to be Richard Hickox’s final project, and continued under Sir Andrew Davis. ... The mature Invocation (A Song of the Evening) is a gem of a masterpiece; it is a pity that Holst did not expand the work into a Concerto, either using the material further or providing fresh material for additional movements. The performance here by Guy Johnston is quite superb... 
Parry premiere recordings – Symphony 4 original, Poserpine, Suite moderne – BBCNOW/Rumon Gamba [Chandos]
December, 2018 |  Jeremy Dibble, who has edited all of these works from original sources, tells in his booklet note that Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s Fourth Symphony was composed and premiered (just a few weeks after his Third Symphony) in 1889, under Hans Richter. It appears that Parry was not satisfied with the work and put it to one side, intending to revise it thoroughly... ... Hearing Rumon Gamba’s performance a number of times over several weeks, one can begin to understand the composer’s doubts. Gamba directs what comes across as little more than a reasonably competent run-through... 
Liszt – The Complete Songs, Volume 5 – Allan Clayton & Julius Drake [Hyperion]
December, 2018 |  Liszt’s song output isn’t exactly staple fare. Hyperion’s laudable effort to rectify this neglect now pairs Allan Clayton and Julius Drake... ... Highlights include Heine’s Die Lorelei, which has persuasive insistence contrasted with melancholy, and the duo also manage to provide variance between mercurial and extrovert aspects in the French Victor Hugo settings with the more controlled expressionism of the German texts... 
Antoine de Févin – Missa Ave Maria & Missa Salve sancta parens – The Brabant Ensemble/Stephen Rice [Hyperion]
December, 2018 |  Belonging to the generation of Franco-Flemish polyphonists that include Josquin, Antoine de Févin (c.1470 – 1511/1512) was a singer in the service of Louis XII and chef de chœur at the Chapelle du Roi. This Hyperion recording from The Brabant Ensemble serves up two of Févin’s ten surviving Masses, one a parody of Josquin, the other inspired from Gregorian chant. 
Bach – Benjamin Appl & Concerto Köln [Sony Classical]
December, 2018 |  Benjamin Appl’s baritone is suitably light for this selection of arias from works which, even though performed publicly in church were, nevertheless, intended to aid private devotion rather than constitute extrovert music-drama for its own sake. He sings from the head – in both physical and metaphorical terms – to bring out the meditative nature of the texts which J. S. Bach set. ... Another instance of musical recycling appears in the Sinfonia from Cantata 156, more familiar as the slow movement of the F-minor Keyboard Concerto, BWV1056. Concerto Köln’s performance here plods a little... 
Andrew Davis conducts Edward Elgar – The Music Makers & The Spirit of England – BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra [Chandos]
December, 2018 |  The Music Makers is Elgar’s 1912 setting of Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s eponymous poem, a score notable for the composer drawing on snatches and themes from The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles, Violin Concerto, Sea Pictures, the two Symphonies, and Enigma Variations... ... Andrew Davis has recorded The Music Makers before; this is more volatile and dramatic, almost operatic... ... These qualities also illuminate The Spirit of England (1915) and bring it to vivid life. It was written to honour the fallen of the First World War... 

 

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