May 2017 CD Reviews

April 2017 CD Reviews
Andrew Davis conducts Charles Ives’s Orchestral Set No.2 & Third (Camp Meeting) and Fourth Symphonies [Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Chandos]
May, 2017 |  Sir Andrew Davis’s survey of Charles Ives’s orchestral output concludes with this release of three masterworks which survey the composer’s creative extent in all its idiosyncratic, frequently bewildering yet always inimitable originality. ... Not that the Third Symphony (The Camp Meeting, 1904) is at all provocative... ... ...its economy and restraint found an unlikely advocate in Gustav Mahler whose death prevented a high-profile premiere in New York... ... So to the Fourth Symphony (1916) which, along with the ‘Concord’ Piano Sonata, is Ives’s crowning and most inclusive statement. 
The Romantic Piano Concerto – 70: Danny Driver plays music by Amy Beach, Cécile Chaminade & Dorothy Howell [BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Rebecca Miller; Hyperion]
May, 2017 |  For the seventieth issue in Hyperion’s long-running series of Romantic Piano Concertos, it is appropriate that seventy intriguing minutes await the listener. ... This release is bookended by one-movement works. The Concerto by Birmingham-born Dorothy Howell (1898-1982) was completed in 1923 and had its premiere that year at the Proms, the composer as soloist with Sir Henry Wood conducting. ... Closing the disc is Parisian Cécile Chaminade’s Concertstück (1888). This too has its heroic aspects, also featuring horns. Its exotic features anticipate Saint-Saëns’s ‘Egyptian’ Concerto... ... No praise is too high for the achievement of Danny Driver... 
Tasmin Little & Piers Lane play music for violin & piano by Franck, Fauré & Szymanowski [Chandos]
May, 2017 |  Little and Lane may become as celebrated a double act as Little and Large, if Chandos gives them their head and lets them set down a goodly selection of repertoire. ... Luckily the 78rpm era did see quite a few recordings by proper duos: a re-make by Thibaud and Cortot – the one I still always hear in my mind’s ear – and performances by Joan Massia with Blanche Selva, Alfred Dubois with Marcel Maas, Jascha Heifetz with Artur Rubinstein and Zino Francescatti with Robert Casadesus. ... Piers Lane starts the Allegretto probingly and Tasmin Little restrains her natural vibrancy to keep her tone pure, although of course she has to turn up the heat at climaxes. ... Born into the Polish-Ukrainian landed class, Karol Szymanowski should have led a charmed life, but a childhood injury kept him from the usual boys’ escapades and, as he grew up, his homosexuality made him an outsider. 
Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi at LA Opera, directed by Woody Allen – Plácido Domingo, Andriana Chuchman, Arturo Chacón-Cruz; conducted by Grant Gershon [Sony Classical; DVD]
May, 2017 |  This DVD is taken from the 2015 revival of Woody Allen’s production of Gianni Schicchi for LA Opera (the film director’s only opera staging), first seen in 2008, with Thomas Allen apparently excellent as the lead. Its main attraction now is the then 74-year-old Plácido Domingo, LA Opera’s founder and general director, in the title-role, and he spivs up marvellously as a Mafia-style wide-boy who steals the devious, hypocritical, generally loathsome Donati family’s inheritance from under their noses. 
Edward Gardner conducts Edward Elgar – Introduction and Allegro & Symphony No.1 – BBC Symphony Orchestra & Doric String Quartet [Chandos]
May, 2017 |  As fine a contribution as the Doric Quartet makes to the Introduction and Allegro, I did wonder if the principal string-players of the BBC Symphony Orchestra felt a little miffed at being excluded from this role (although Bradley Creswick was guest-leading on this occasion). That’s by the by, and anyway Edward Gardner leads a lyrical and bracing account... ... The First Symphony is just as impressive. Gardner directs a flowing if flexible account that is very listenable and is particularly revealing of detail, dynamics and sonority. 


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