September 2018 CD Reviews

October 2018 CD Reviews
Roxanna Panufnik – Celestial Bird – Ex Cathedra/Jeffrey Skidmore [Signum Classics]
September, 2018 |  Roxanna Panufnik (born 1968) has steadily built up a catalogue of choral works, from which recent additions are collected by Signum, in its third Panufnik survey (previously sharing with her father and then with John Tavener), now with Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra, conveying a broad spectrum of her style, informed by her interest in World Music and illustrated by the collaboration with England-based Indian-arts ensemble Milapfest. 
In Ictu Oculi – Orchestral Works by Kenneth Hesketh – BBCNOW/Christoph-Mathias Mueller [Paladino Music]
September, 2018 |  Kenneth Hesketh (born 1968 in Liverpool) can be relied upon to write challenging yet arresting pieces that inveigle the listener into a world at-once personal yet universal. ... Take the opening of Knotted Tongues (2012/14, written for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Ludovic Morlot and based on Descartes’s theory of the “beast-machine”). Musically the effect is stunning... 
Howard Shelley plays Dussek Piano Concertos [Ulster Orchestra; Hyperion]
September, 2018 |  Howard Shelley’s recordings of late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth-century music promote Piano Concertos by the many excellent yet relatively neglected composers of that era... ... This is the second volume of Dussek Concertos from Shelley, and his unaffected sympathetic approach is ideal. Although Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812) was a near-contemporary of Mozart, he has an individual style. ... The first movement of the 1801 G-minor Concerto is as long as some readings of its counterpart in Beethoven’s contemporaneous ‘Eroica’ Symphony. 
London Philharmonic Orchestra – Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Poulenc [LPO own label]
September, 2018 |  Yannick Nézet-Séguin has recorded a great deal for Deutsche Grammophon but his most individualistic music-making and intriguing repertoire-choices tend to be found outside the box. This London Philharmonic Poulenc collection is a case in point, albeit something of a curate’s egg. ... The most unexpected of this Poulenc trio is the Stabat Mater where the conductor’s special commitment is obvious throughout... 
Antonio Pappano conducts Leonard Bernstein’s Three Symphonies – Jeremiah, Age of Anxiety, Kaddish – Prelude, Fugue & Riffs [Lemieux, Rana, Sierra, Barstow, Carbonare; Santa Cecilia; Warner Classics]
September, 2018 |  Of Leonard Bernstein’s three Symphonies, the first two are jewels in his compositional crown (whether for the concert-hall or the theatre), The Age of Anxiety especially. Antonio Pappano and his Santa Cecilia forces, plus guests, do all the music here proud. ... Symphony 2, The Age of Anxiety (1949/65), based on the near-contemporaneous and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Baroque Eclogue” by W. H. Auden, is a masterpiece. ... Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1949) was destined for Woody Herman but arrived with Benny Goodman. 
Richard Arnell: Complete Music for Violin and Piano + Stanley Bate’s Sonata No.1 – Patrick Wastnage & Elizabeth Dunn [Toccata Classics]
September, 2018 |  Two contemporaneous British composers, one long-lived – Richard Arnell (1917-2009) – the other less fortunate, Stanley Bate (1911-59): the former’s music for violin and piano is captured here, quite short in terms of minutes but not in quality, and supplemented by the latter composer’s 1947 Sonata. 
Steven Devine plays Rameau’s Complete Solo Keyboard Works [Resonus]
September, 2018 |  Amidst the considerable number of compositions by Rameau for the theatre, and which are increasingly being discovered by opera companies and audiences, it is perhaps easy to forget that the composer only came to the stage fairly late in his career and was acclaimed initially as a harpsichordist and organist. His published output of music for the harpsichord is not extensive, but it was and is influential... ... Steven Devine defers to the theory, as intimated in the extracts he quotes in his liner notes, but his performances rightly come alive with charming vitality as he realises both the letter and spirit of the music with engaging precision. 
Martyn Brabbins conducts Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony [BBC Symphony Chorus & Orchestra; Hyperion]
September, 2018 |  This Hyperion release contains the greatest performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony I have ever heard... ... ...what is so impressive about Martyn Brabbins’s account is how he holds the various changes within those vast outer movements together without in any way sacrificing any aspect, a remarkable achievement of interpretative musicianship. ... Throughout, Brabbins is inspiring and profoundly insightful, and any lover of Vaughan Williams’s music must add this disc to their collection, even if it already boasts Boult (twice), Elder, Leonard Slatkin, Andrew Davis, Previn, Haitink and Handley, and the sound quality is well-nigh-perfect... 
ORR Live at the Concertgebouw – John Eliot Gardiner conducts Schubert & Brahms [Soli Deo Gloria]
September, 2018 |  Schubert’s Fifth Symphony opens with four comfortingly sunny bars featuring woodwind followed by a gently urgent theme on strings. At once it is evident that the music will represent the composer in optimistic mood so it is surprising to hear John Eliot Gardiner phrasing the music with expressive swells and fades... 
Owain Park Choral Works – The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge/Stephen Layton [Hyperion]
September, 2018 |  This Hyperion release of mostly a cappella settings reports a confident and highly gifted composer, Owain Park (born 1993), his alma mater The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge doing him proud, Stephen Layton securing polish and beauty, the singers’ robust and well-blended sound captured with sumptuous bloom in its sixteenth-century Chapel. 
Steven Osborne plays Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux [Hyperion]
September, 2018 |  These days there's an increasingly well-endowed catalogue of Rachmaninov's Études-tableaux (Study-Pictures) from his mature Russian period (1911, 1916-17 respectively) – music for some reason never as popular as the earlier Preludes. ... Steven Osborne holds his own aristocratically. 
Vivaldi x2 – Double Concertos played by La Serenissima [Avie]
September, 2018 |  Vivaldi pioneered neither the three-movement form of the Concerto that became standard, nor the use of multiple instruments as soloists (as opposed to constituting a concertino group in contrast with the orchestra of the Concerto grosso genre). But he did exploit both practices to a wider degree than virtually all other composers of his era... ... ...the contribution by La Serenissima and Adrian Chandler chugs along with an invigorating pace that is characteristic of. 
Russian National Orchestra – Mikhail Pletnev conducts Shostakovich – Symphonies 4 & 10 [PentaTone]
September, 2018 |  More than ten years ago someone at PentaTone had the bright idea of capturing a sonically superior Shostakovich cycle from the Russian National Orchestra. Every maestro featured was to have been drawn from the impressive collegium then sharing its podium with founding avatar Mikhail Pletnev. 
Mike Batt conducts The Planets & Pomp and Circumstance [Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Guild]
September, 2018 |  Issued only now (September 2018), the long delay in it reaching the public is due not to any artistic failings but to behind the scenes business shenanigans at the time of recording. Guild to the rescue. And if Mike Batt conducting The Planets seems unlikely, then the man’s versatility – a lengthy CV of distinguished collaborations across a wide range of music, not just The Wombles – is perhaps something of a liability for his reputation. 

 

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