August 2018 CD Reviews

July 2018 CD Reviews
Kenneth Woods’s orchestration of Brahms’s Piano Quartet Opus 26 [English Symphony Orchestra; Nimbus Alliance]
August, 2018 |  Kenneth Woods has orchestrated Brahms’s A-major Piano Quartet (in the booklet he goes into considered detail as to why) and, of course, he has a pertinent precedent in Schoenberg’s scoring of Opus 26’s immediate G-major predecessor, somewhat quirky in orchestral use (in relation to Brahms’s own examples in his Symphonies and Concertos) if colourful and likeable. 
Mark Elder conducts Wagner’s Das Rheingold [Hallé]
August, 2018 |  Mark Elder and the Hallé’s latest instalment in Wagner’s Ring cycle is their recording of Das Rheingold. It’s a rather back-to-front project: Götterdämmerung was mounted first in 2009, Die Walküre followed in 2011, Rheingold in 2016 – all available on the Hallé’s label – and when Siegfried appears (already performed), the concert project will have turned in a must-have Ring. ... Rheingold is an action-packed opera, and Elder brings it to life so vividly that listeners will have no problems conjuring their own dream staging. 
Stephen Dodgson String Trios & Solo Pieces – Karolos [Naxos]
August, 2018 |  The music of Londoner Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013) might be heard as mixing Classical elegance (and a reverence for Baroque music, as shared by Benjamin Britten) with some twentieth-century harmonic spice. ... It’s a neat programme, the Trios bookending pieces for each of the protagonists. Very well-played as the group Karolos, Harriet Mackenzie, Sarah-Jane Bradley and Graham Walker also shine individually... 
The Lily & the Rose – Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman [Hyperion]
August, 2018 |  This Hyperion issue from the Binchois Consort brings together a cappella music from medieval England inspired by devotional texts mostly associated with the Virgin Mary, an on-going project that explores artistic parallels between polyphony and alabaster sculpture, a worthy idea. 
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett Orchestral Works Volume 2 – BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/John Wilson, with Howard McGill in Concerto for Stan Getz [Chandos]
August, 2018 |  Robert Simpson once wrote that “versatility in an artist can be a curse”, and one can see why on contemplating the career of Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012), a comprehensively gifted musician, arguably the most talented of all British twentieth-century composers... ... Bennett’s Second Symphony was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for its 125th-Anniversary season (1967-68). The premiere, the first of five consecutive performances within a week, was conducted by Leonard Bernstein... ... The Concerto for Stan Getz requires different listening ears, as Judge Judy might say. ... It receives from Howard McGill a performance of consummate musicianship... 
Royal String Quartet plays James MacMillan [Hyperion]
August, 2018 |  Written at roughly ten-year intervals from 1988 to 2007, Sir James MacMillan’s three String Quartets (to date) are finely crafted and rewarding works that combine intensity of expression with austere, craggy beauty. Their formidable demands are dispatched with astounding assurance by the Royal String Quartet. 
LSO Live – Valery Gergiev conducts Rachmaninov & Balakirev
August, 2018 |  These concert recordings cover Valery Gergiev’s tenure as principal conductor of the LSO (January 2007 to February 2015). ... Rachmaninov – like Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich, Mussorgsky, Stravinsky – is Gergiev's Russian bread-and-butter. 

 

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