April 2018 CD Reviews

March 2018 CD Reviews
Michael Collins plays Crusell’s Clarinet Concertos [Swedish Chamber Orchestra; Chandos]
April, 2018 |  Bernhard Henrik Crusell (1775-1838) was a notable clarinettist, best remembered by his compositions for that instrument although until relatively recently only the Concertante (for clarinet and bassoon) and his Grand Concerto attracted any great attention. ... Crusell’s orchestration is similar to that of his close contemporary Beethoven, but the three Clarinet Concertos differ in mood; Michael Collins successfully adapts his style to the requirements of each. 
Yevgeny Sudbin plays Rachmaninov – Piano Concertos 2 & 3 – BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo [BIS]
April, 2018 |  No shortage of recordings of these battle-scarred warhorses – spanning nine decades or so and including the composer’s own accounts (two of the C-minor Concerto) – but between them Yevgeny Sudbin and Sakari Oramo offer medication and resuscitation. 
Karl Böhm conducts Le nozze di Figaro, Royal Festival Hall 1954 [ICA Classics]
April, 2018 |  As far as this Karl Böhm-conducted Figaro is concerned, at the start of the Overture the sound initially feels somewhat boxy and congested... ... Figaro is sung by Erich Kunz, highly characterful, his singing sappy and the delivery of the text full of nuance, clarity and charm. As the Count we have a voice far bigger and bass-centric than one ever hears today. Paul Schöffler was famous for Wagner and Strauss roles. ... Susanna is Irmgard Seefried. ... The creamy-voiced Lisa della Casa is a gorgeous Countess... 
Murray Perahia plays Beethoven – Hammerklavier & Moonlight Sonatas [Deutsche Grammophon]
April, 2018 |  Murray Perahia opens the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata serenely and softly (well he does if you go to track five, otherwise the unassuming listener gets the bold opening of the ‘Hammerklavier’, a fortissimo shock)... 
Andrew Davis conducts Arthur Bliss – The Beatitudes [BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra; Chandos]
April, 2018 |  The consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in 1962, replacing the fifteenth-century building destroyed during World War Two, was marked by the commissioning and premieres of works from three of Britain’s leading composers – Michael Tippett’s opera King Priam, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Arthur Bliss’s The Beatitudes. ... What has been needed for some time is a new recording, and this Chandos release is of such quality... ... This latter point is due in no small to Andrew Davis’s grasp of the whole, which is admirable. 
The Gesualdo Six – English Motets [Hyperion]
April, 2018 |  Founded in 2014 by Owain Park, The Gesualdo Six are young male singers largely drawn from Oxbridge College choirs. This impressive debut recording is a compilation of English Renaissance polyphony from Dunstable to Tomkins via Byrd and Tallis. ... Hyperion has found a superb ensemble... 
Thomas Dausgaard conducts Brahms – Symphony 2, Haydn Variations [Swedish Chamber Orchestra; BIS]
April, 2018 |  Thomas Dausgaard is rather impatient and restless with the first movement of the Symphony; all over in seventeen minutes including the exposition repeat. The lean timbres of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra may aid clarity... 
Handel’s Last Prima Donna: Giulia Frasi in London – Ruby Hughes/OAE/Laurence Cummings [Chandos Chaconne]
April, 2018 |  Handel’s singers are a favourite subject for this pattern, so it is surprising, perhaps, that the soprano Giulia Frasi has not been given much attention on record before, as she created the roles in some of the composer’s last and greatest music-dramas. ... That accurately describes the quality of Ruby Hughes’s interpretations, certainly in the slower, more-reflective extracts, which comprise the music Handel wrote for his final, long-suffering, but virtuous heroines – Susanna, Theodora, Iphis (in Jephtha), and the Queen of Sheba. 
Krystian Zimerman plays Schubert – Piano Sonatas D959 & D960 [Deutsche Grammophon]
April, 2018 |  A snug fit albeit with never the suggestion of tempos being adjusted to accommodate these large-scale Piano Sonatas (Schubert’s penultimate and ultimate) on a single disc... ... Krystian Zimerman opens D959 boldly... ... Zimerman’s approach to the first movement of D960 may be felt to lack serenity... 
Sir Thomas Beecham & Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [ICA Classics]
April, 2018 |  The timpani, though rather booming, are balanced better than in Thomas Beecham’s later studio recordings of Haydn where they are unnaturally mild: unrepresentative of Beecham who, during performances, would shout “come on” to the timpanist! ... At the RFH in 1956 Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture sounds clear but with rather gritty strings that are not always precise and even some woodwind entries are questionable. There follow two Mozart Symphonies... ... The RFH Flying Dutchman Overture makes a good impact and the bright recording wears its sixty-three years well, a performance by the youthful seventy-six-year-old conductor that is full of fire and vigour – an unlikely but successful prelude to the 1956 account of Liszt’s Faust Symphony...  
Edward Gardner conducts William Walton – Sonata for String Orchestra, Partita, and James Ehnes plays the Viola Concerto [Chandos]
April, 2018 |  Too fast! That’s an observation I could make several times here. As welcome as William Walton’s music always is, these performances, however skilled and however produced and recorded to the highest standards, don’t quite hit the spot... ... Edward Gardner drives the outer movements of the latter beyond their limit and although the BBC Symphony Orchestra retains its composure, the music’s details need greater space... ... It’s a similar story in the Viola Concerto (1929, composed for Lionel Tertis, who rejected the score, and so the premiere was saved by Paul Hindemith), here using the 1961 revision... ... In any case I find James Ehnes somewhat outside of the outer movements’ emotions... 
Jacqueline du Pré, Mstislav Rostropovich, Galina Vishnevskaya, Jean Martinon, Carlo Maria Giulini – 1962 [ICA Classics]
April, 2018 |  The latest (April) batch of the “Itter Broadcast Collection” series from ICA Classics includes Karl Böhm conducting The Marriage of Figaro in 1954 and a four-CD Beecham collection (reviews of both pending). And this, Jacqueline du Pré’s first public outing with Schumann’s Cello Concerto coupled with a further example of Mstislav Rostropovich playing Dvořák’s. ... Rostropovich made several studio recordings of the Dvořák, from Talich to Ozawa via Boult and Karajan, and indeed Carlo Maria Giulini, his partner here during the 1962 Edinburgh Festival... 
Elliott Carter Late Works [Ondine]
April, 2018 |  Elliott Carter, a New Yorker born in 1908 and who died there in 2012, developed a very distinctive style, from vintage American (Holiday Overture, for example) to what might be termed modernist-European (he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger) while retaining descriptive vistas associated with his country. ... To Ondine ... proceedings begin with the seventeen-minute Interventions (2007, piano and orchestra, written for Daniel Barenboim, as pianist, and the Boston Symphony and James Levine). 
Brian Ferneyhough La Terre est un Homme [NMC]
April, 2018 |  A few particular works in the contemporary classical canon are known more by their reputation than by the actuality of performance or recording. Until the present decade, Brian Ferneyhough’s La Terre est un Homme would have sat high on any list of such cult works. ... La Terre apparently was not performed again until February 2011 when the BBC revived it, along with Plötzlichkeit, both works performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the indefatigable Martyn Brabbins. 

 

© 1999 - 2018 www.classicalsource.com Limited. All Rights Reserved