August 2017 CD Reviews

September 2017 CD Reviews
John Eliot Gardiner conducts Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise [LSO Live]
August, 2017 |  Although immensely popular during the reign of Queen Victoria – even to the extent of the Finale being performed on its own by amateur choral societies – Mendelssohn’s ‘Lobgesang’ has not been given great attention in recent years. ... John Eliot Gardiner’s approach shows a positive take on the instrumental movements... 
Rachmaninov – Symphony No.1 – Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy [Signum]
August, 2017 |  In 1897, severely disillusioned by a very critical reception, something exacerbated by what appears to have been a poor premiere (conductor Glazunov was allegedly drunk), Rachmaninov hoped to rid his First Symphony... ... Vladimir Ashkenazy, as a pianist and a conductor, is a veteran Rachmaninov interpreter and here brings his experience and devotion to bear on every bar, the Philharmonia Orchestra (with which Ashkenazy has a time-honoured association, forty and more years) fully responsive. 
Mendelssohn’s Scottish & Reformation Symphonies – Kammerakademie Potsdam/Antonella Manacorda [Sony Classical]
August, 2017 |  Antonello Manacorda performs Mendelssohn expressively, taking particular care with dynamics and achieving ideally quiet playing in the slow movements. The dark scoring of the introduction to the ‘Scottish’ Symphony, led by divisi violas, is transparently recorded as is the start of the Allegro agitato... ... No problems of edition arise in the ‘Reformation’ Symphony... ... The Finale is mainly concerned with the working out of Martin Luther’s chorale ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’... 
Max Reger’s Clarinet Sonatas – Michael Collins & Michael McHale [Chandos]
August, 2017 |  Let’s hear it for Max Reger. ... The first two of his Clarinet Sonatas, all three are four-movement affairs, are paired as Opus 49 and date from 1900... ... ...there is no mistaking many a Brahmsian trait, especially suggestive of that composer’s own (two) Clarinet Sonatas, but Reger’s have a flavour of their own, not least the delightful waltz that is the second movement of the A-flat work... ... Michaels Collins and McHale are an established partnership... 
Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony – Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra [CSO Resound]
August, 2017 |  As a photograph in the booklet testifies, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the US premiere of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, on 19 and 20 February 1904 conducted by Theodore Thomas. ... While Riccardo Muti has only previously commercially recorded Bruckner’s Fourth and Sixth Symphonies (with the Berliner Philharmoniker for EMI), since taking up the position as Music Director of the Chicago Symphony he has been building a Bruckner cycle, with the First, Second, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies now joined by this Ninth – the first to be issued on the CSO Resound label. 
Aldeburgh Strings and Aldeburgh Winds – Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Serenade, and Fröhliche Werkstatt [Linn]
August, 2017 |  All is well at Aldeburgh. There may be plenty of strings attached to the first work on this Richard Strauss album, but they are honed and unanimous in the service of Metamorphosen (1945), Strauss’s lament for the destruction of German art (not least the bombing of Munich and its opera house during World War Two). Led by Markus Däunert, the professor and his students give a very moving account... ... The rest of the disc is thrown to the Winds, a similarly talented international crew, equally benefitting from the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and duly mentored by some of the finest professionals from the UK and overseas. Nicholas Daniel is Markus Däunert’s counterpart as course director... ... As for Fröhliche Werkstatt (The Happy Workshop, also 1945), Strauss was content to term it a Sonatina, although it became a Symphony for Wind Instruments when published posthumously... 


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