CDs/DVDs December 2016

A WELLS CHRISTMAS
Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (director), Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
RESONUS RES10176 61’54

Resonus continues to welcome well established performers to record for the label. Here Wells Cathedral Choir under the direction of Matthew Owens presents a programme of music that is often familiar but nevertheless fresh and lively. Many traditional English carols are sung in arrangements by the likes of John Rutter, Vaughan Williams, Malcolm Sargent and David Willcocks. There are also two world premiere recordings of Bob Chilcott’s work and one by Matthew Owens himself. Two organ solos are also included. The CD ends with several more secular items, a decision that will divide opinion, I am sure.

TO BETHLEHEM – Carols & Motets for Christmas
Kantorei of Kansas City, Chris Munce (director)
RESONUS RES10175 61’29

This CD combines unusual renaissance repertoire with contemporary works in a beautiful programme for unaccompanied choir. There are some arrangements of familiar material included in the newer works but mostly this is a journey of adventure and surprise.

THE CHORAL MUSIC OF COLIN MAWBY
Choir of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
 Christopher McElroy (director), Richard Lea & James Luxton (organists)
PRIORY PRCD1163

Colin Mawby’s contribution to liturgical music, particularly in the Catholic Church, has been immense. In his 80th year this CD showcases a wide range of his work, presented by one of the country’s leading Catholic Cathedral choirs. This is an excellent presentation and an enjoyable CD in its own right.

THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF THOMAS TERTIUS NOBLE VOL 3
John Scott Whiteley, Organ of York Minster
PRIORY PRCD 1152

This short series concludes with another CD of excellent performances by John Scott Whiteley on the organ he knows so well. The programme begins with the longest item,Theme with variations in D flat. It also features a number of voluntaries based on hymn tunes, shorter pieces and the Solemn March in E flat minor.

SIGFRID KARG-ELERT – THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS VOL 13
Stefan Engels, Steinmeyer organ of Michaeliskirche, Hamburg, Germany
PRIORY PRCD 1134 71’18

This longer series reaches Vol 13. It features lesser known works – Three Pastels Op 92, Music for Organ Op 145 and the Passacaglia & Fugue on B-A-C-H Op 150.

SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD – THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS VOL 4
Daniel Cook, Organ of Westminster Abbey
PRIORY PRCD 1161 74’07

Daniel Cook continues his excellent survey of Stanford’s organ music on the organ he plays regularly at Westminster. Items included in this instalment include Symphony No 5 in A, Four Intermezzi and the extended Prelude & Fugue in E minor  and  Installation March (1908). Highly enjoyable.

JOHANN MICHAEL HAYDN – SERENADE IN D
Virtuosi Saxoniae, Ludwig Guttler (director)
CAPRICCIO ENCORE C8003

The liner notes give some background to the specific circumstances that this music was written for. Originally to be performed outside and in honour of a specific person the Serenade was often intended for one-off use. Sometimes, however, a new work would be created for repeated use from some of the original material. An interesting and enjoyable release.

SP

Glass; Einstein on the Beach
Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Chatelet Theatre, Paris, Michael Riesman
OPUS ARTE OA 1178D

The real challenge here is to simply let yourself relax into the dynamics of the performance. Not only is the score minimalist but so is a large amount of the stage movement. This becomes both hypnotic and absorbing as the work progresses on it slow but inevitable path. There is also a very real sense of humour in the staging which often comes unexpectedly to light. Musically it is spot on and the company is as fine vocally as it is choreographically.

Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele
Bayerisches Staatsoper, Omer Meir Wellber
UNITEL CMajor 73908

Roland Schwab sets his production in a corrupt wasteland. If heaven exists it is very much off stage, but as Rene Pape’s Mefistofele is the key to the whole work this makes a lot of sense. Boito is far better known today for his work as Verdi’s librettist, but this is a fine work, poised between Verdi himself and the developments that were to come with Puccini. He is happy to borrow ideas where they work – as with the voluptuous Verdian choruses – but the bridge passages are often very well structured and the dialogue terse and effective. Joseph Calleja may not be much of an actor but his heroic Faust is convincing. As a whole the recordings is a valuable addition.

Telemann: Advent Cantatas
Gudrun Sidone Otto
CPO 777 955-2

There is a surprising amount of variety in these cantatas for the Sundays leading up to Christmas. Soprano Gudrun Sidone Otto and baritone Ingolf Seidl shape the material with a keen sense of the dramatic and are not averse to the occasional humorous touch. The continuo ensemble brings an improvisatory touch which makes the whole a pleasure to listen to.

Mauro Giuliani; Music for Two Guitars
Jeffrey McFadden, Michael Kolk, guitars
NAXOS 8.572445

There are some CDs which give instant delight and this is certainly one of them. Mauro Giuliani was ‘perhaps the greatest guitarist who has ever lived’ and was a friend of Rossini, whose works he arranged for two guitars. We hear a number of these, including four overtures and some more domestic pieces. They are, without exception, perfect miniatures. The arrangements of the overtures, even when one knows the originals well, are entirely convincing. If you want to impress somebody this Christmas, this CD has to be an obvious choice.

BH

CDs November 2016

Handel: Messiah (arr Davis)
Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Mendelssohn Choir, Sir Andrew Davis
CHANDOS CHSA 5176(2)
Most professional performances of Messiah these days take account of baroque praxis even if they perform on modern instruments. Sir Andrew Davis here takes a very different approach, re-scoring much of the oratorio not only for modern instruments but for combinations which Handel could never have contemplated. For most of the time this works well. Use of clarinets and a more romantic sound for the continuo is easy enough on the ear. The moments which startle are those which involve unexpected percussion – the snare-drum in Thus saith the Lord and the cymbals in But who may abide – and occasionally the over-exuberance of the brass. But it is well sung throughout and for anybody wanting what passed for normal fifty years ago, this may be just the thing.

 

Wagner: Die Walkure
Honk Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden
NAXOS 8.660394-97

I had enthused about Das Rheingold when it was issued last year and this new Die Walkure certainly lives up to expectation. First of all the acoustic is splendid, giving real clarity to the voices with a sense of space around them, and an orchestral ambience which is constantly enthralling. Stuart Skelton, surely the finest heldentenor now singing, is magnificent as Sigmund, heroic and sensitive throughout and ringingly secure in the top passages. Heidi Melton is a sensitive Sieglinde who warms and develops as the evening progresses. Falk Struckmann, himself a fine Wotan, is a suitably black Hunding. Matthias Goerne and Petra Lang are perhaps better known and live up to expectations, and there are no weaknesses among the Valkyries.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Cycle which could easily earn its place among the finest ever recorded. Jaap van Zweden has set the orchestra among the best in the world.

MOZART – PIANO DUETS Vol 1
Julian Perkins & Emma Abbate
RESONUS RES10172 68’04

Successful piano duet playing places particular demands on the performers and here the two pianists are working very well together. This is a programme of more substantive works written for this particular genre. As well as the Sonatas in C major, D major & Bb major the programme also includes Johann Christoph Bach’s two movement Sonata in A major. A second volume, also on period instruments,  is to follow.

JOSEPH BODIN de BOISMORTIER – 6 SONATES, Op 51
Elysium Ensemble
RESONUS RES 10171 71’24

Resonus are to be congratulated on their recent output of unusual repertoire. Here is another fascinating disc presenting these six compositions for flute and violin, published in Paris in 1734. This neglected repertoire is made to sound very fresh in these performances.

MUSIC FOR A PRUSSIAN SALON
Boxwood & Brass
RESONUS RES 10177 72’53

The five piece period woodwind and brass ensemble make a lovely sound, bringing this 18th/ early 19th Century music to life in a way that is entertaining and very accessible. Franz Tausch’s XIII Pieces en Quatuor, Op 22 for 2 clarinets, horn & bassoon are presented in two suites which bookend the performance. Sandwiched between these are Johann Stamitz’ Three Quartets for clarinets & horns and Concert-Trio for clarinet, horn & bassoon by Bernhard Henrik Crusell.

RAVEL & SAINT-SAENS PIANO TRIOS
Fidelio Trio
RESONUS RES10173 59’58

This is the first recording by the Fidelio Trio on the Resonus label. Saint-Saens’ Piano Trio No 2 in E minor is paired here with Ravel’s only Piano Trio. A very enjoyable chamber music recital.

BEETHOVEN PIANO SONATAS Opp 31, 78, 79, 81A & 90
Paavali Jumppanen, piano
ONDINE ODE 1290-2D (2 CDs) 71’32 & 47’20

Paavali Jumppanen gives fine performances of this more traditional fare. The interesting booklet notes draw attention to some of the features of these works which trace developments in Beethoven’s compositional style.

PIERRE de la RUE – MISSA NUNCQUA FUE PENA MAYOR
The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice, conductor
HYPERION CDA68150  78’55

This is an enjoyable recording of renaissance choral music from the continent by experienced performers. As well as the Mass which gives the CD its title we also hear Pierre de la Rue’s Salve Regina IV, Magnificat sexti toni and Missa Inviolata.

C.P.E. BACH – THE SOLO KEYBOARD MUSIC, Vol 31
‘FUR KENNER UND LIEBHABER’ SONATAS FROM COLLECTIONS 1 & 2
Miklos Spanyi, clavichord
BIS RECORDS  BIS-2131 73’23

It is no surprise that this prolific, but long neglected, composer’s keyboard output has already filled 30 volumes! Here are seven sonatas of varying lengths (the longest 19’07, the shortest 6’24) played on a 1991 clavichord. Very enjoyable but perhaps a release for the completist collector.

C.P.E. BACH – BURGERCAPITAINSMUSIK 1780
Barockwerk, Hamburg, Ira Hochman, director
CPO 555 016-2  62’57

This is a very interesting release of music written by CPE Bach commissioned by the Civic Captains of Hamburg, a group with great influence on the life of the city, for their annual gala. The commission was in two parts – an oratorio to be presented around noon and a serenata to accompany the evening banquet. CPE Bach composed music for these occasions in 1780 and again in 1783. Here we have the first such offering. The oratorio Hebt an, ihr Chore der Freuden is followed by the serenata Der Trommeln Schlag, der Pfeifen Spiel. A fascinating revival of music for a particular occasion.

Bravura: Vivaldi & Handel
Gabriella Di Laccio, soprano, Musica Antiqua Clio, Fernando Cordella
DRAMA MUSICA DRAMA 001

An exciting mix of the familiar – Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare – and the less so – Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans and L’Olimpiade. Garsington Opera showed us just what a fine work this latter one is, and the whole disc bubbles with energy and risky coloratura with which Gabriella Di Laccio has no obvious difficulties.

The Celebrated Distin Family
The Prince Regent’s Band
RESONUS RES 10179

What a wonderful find! This is exactly what we need in the build up to Christmas. Much of the music is familiar – arrangements of Meyerbeer, Donizetti, Verdi and Arne – alongside works by Henry and Theodore Distin with lesser known pieces. The Distin Family blazed a trail across Europe and the USA  thanks to an encounter with Adolphe Sax who introduced them to valved brass and the new saxhorn. I can’t recommend this too highly – it is a gem!

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus, Edward Gardner
CHANDOS CHSA 5172(2)

This recording has such a strong cast it could hardly fail. Alwyn Mellor, Stuart Skelton and James Creswell are in the front rank of Wagner singers which Schoenberg’s work requires, and Edward Gardner draws expressive and moving performances from them and the Bergen forces. Might we get a live performance in this country?

Debussy: Four-Hand Piano Music – 2
Jean-Pierre Armengaud, Olivier Chauzu
NAXOS 8.573463

It is difficult to raise much enthusiasm about this recording – though the playing itself is not at fault. The problem lies in the arrangements which in most cases simply don’t work if one knows the original. I can understand that they may be fun to play but the listener is left yearning for the original.

Chopin & Schumann
Horacio Gutierrez, piano
BRIDGE 9479

The 24 Preludes Op28 in a performance which focuses on the continuity which Chopin intended for the cycle – and how well this works. It is almost like a live performance where one is encouraged to see the work as a whole rather than a series of lollipops – a fate which is all too frequent for Chopin’s Preludes. Schumann’s Fantasie Op17 is a more challenging work but none the less given integrity and emotional truth here.

J S Bach: Works for Lute
Johannes Monno, guitar
HANSSLER HC 16085

The guitar is fine – and these are entertaining pieces throughout – but the lute is a different instrument altogether and there is a sense that the pieces lose something in the translation. However this is a bargain given its twenty-seven pieces across the two discs.

SP & BH

DVDs / CDs October 2016

Britten; The Rape of Lucretia
Glyndebourne Festival Opera
OPUS ARTE OA 1219 D

Britten’s opera was given its premiere at Glyndebourne seventy years ago and this new staging is a tribute to its continuing impact as a great work, as well as to the intimacy and sensitivity of the staging. The modern setting works well and Allen Clayton and Kate Royal are particularly effective as the Chorus who form the link between ourselves and the action. Christine Rice is a vulnerable Lucretia in Fiona Shaw’s intelligent production.

 

Glinka: Ruslan and Lyudmila
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, Vladimir Jurowski
BELAIR BAC 120

For a work so familiar from its overture it is surprising that it is so rarely staged. This fine new recording, in an evocative and visually impressive production by Dmitri Tcherniakov, goes some way to explain why it might be such a rarity. It is very long. What is more, the score often repeats itself, with soloists given an extra verse or two where fewer may have been more effective. The production is well sung under Vladimir Jurowski and the Wagnerian parallels are enhanced by the staging. Worth following up.

 

Cav & Pag
Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano
OPUS ARTE OA 1210 D

I really enjoyed this production by Damiano Michieletto. He links the two works together without forcing the narrative lines. In both operas the intermezzi are used to bring us characters from the other opera, most effectively in Pag where we see Santuzza and Mamma Lucia reconciled and turning positively to the birth of the baby. It serves to link the people of the village without forcing them into a single story. Aleksandrs Antonenko is strongly cast as both Turiddu and Canio, but there are no weaknesses in a highly compelling staging, driven from the pit by Antonio Pappano at his most romantic.

 

Antoine-Esprit Blanchard: Magnificat a la Chapelle Royale
Les Passions, Jean-Marc Andrieu
LIGIA Lidi 0202313-16

Jean-Marc Andrieu has been working on the scores of Antoine-Esprit Blanchard for thirty years now and this is the latest of his re-discoveries. Three motets are recorded here – Magnificat, De Profundis and In exitu Israel. In 1738 Blanchard was made music master to the Chapelle Royale, having been born in central France in 1696, and got to Paris by a highly circuitous route. Two of the motets are recorded here for the first time and are given with the professional skill and excitement we have come to expect from the group who brought us such thrilling recordings of Jean Gilles. There is a detailed booklet together with the CD and the full text of the motets.

More details of Les Passions and CD purchase available from www.les-passions.fr

Chopin Mazurkas
Pavel Kolenikov, piano
HYPERION CDA 68137

Pavel Kolenikov was one of the BBC New Generation Artists 2014-16 and this recording adds to the many fine performances he has already given. Elegance is not a word often used of performers today but it certainly suits his approach to Chopin, which has a delicacy, an intimacy which reflects the domestic potential of the works as well as their more obvious place in the concert hall. Let us hope we will hear a lot more from him both on stage and in the recording studio.

Celtic Airs
Barry Douglas, piano with ensemble
CHANDOS CHAN 10934

This might not appear to be an obvious ‘classical’ choice but it is a fascinating cross over. Barry Douglas is joined by Irish flute and penny-whistle, Scottish harp and Shetland fiddle, for a collection of Celtic music. Some of it is played straight and other items are used as the basis for improvisation and embellishment . it is easy on the ear but also reflects a high level of professionalism.

 

Haydn: Sun Quartets
Chiaroscuro Quartet
BIS 2158

I enjoyed Tom Service’s notes in which he is effectively doing himself out of job – arguing that we should not read the notes but simply listen to the music. And one can see what he means for these are delightful renditions of delightful music. Just enjoy!

 

Fritz Wunderlich; Festive Arias
SWR 19026CD

For those of us old enough to remember Fritz Wunderlich this is a wonderful disc of the singer at his best. While the Bach and Schutz items are familiar, it is the recording of ten pieces from Handel’s Messiah which are of particular interest as they are sung in German, which is interestingly challenging for those of us who know it so well in English. The recordings were made between 1955-59 though they do not sound their age.

 

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
Steven Osborne
HYPERION CDA 68073

The three sonatas included here are the Hammerklavier Op106, the Op101 in A major and Op90 in E minor. For some reason, that is not quite clear, they are presented in reverse order to that in which they were written, even when the liner notes point out how well they work if played as a set of three in correct order! None of this affects the quality of the playing which has both subtlety and clarity of texture throughout. This is the third Beethoven disc from Steven Osborne and we can surely hope for more.

 

J S Bach: Goldberg Variations
Angela Hewitt, piano
HYPERION CDA 68146

This is clearly marked 2015 recording to distinguish it from Angela Hewitt’s first recording in 2000. The work itself, as she tells us in an extended article in the accompanying notes, is an essential part of her musical life and has been with her at key moments. She is particularly concerned at its intimacy and potential to make the most impact where the audience is smallest. Better still, the version we hear is a single take, not a patch-work of edits. That reality shines through in a remarkable performance which gets to the heart of the work, communicating with ease, and with a flow that seems effortless.

BH

THE YOUNG J.S. BACH
Andrew Arthur, Carsen Lund organ, Trinity Hall, Cambridge
PRIORY PRCD 1176 (2CDs) 155’31

This welcome release presents the ‘Neumeister chorales’ in lovely performances to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of this organ. Providing added variety this well-structured 2 CD release places a number of other contrasting works to punctuate the collection.

THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF THOMAS TERTIUS NOBLE  Volume 2
John Scott Whiteley, organ of York Minster
PRIORY PRCD 1129
The second volume of this project includes a number of hymn preludes based on well-known tunes (Melcombe, Dominus regit me, Stracathro, Walsall, Picardy) as well as the Sonata in A and Introduction & Fugue in F minor. The CD opens with Toccata & Fugue in F minor. John Scott Whiteley obviously has a great affinity with this music and uses his experience of this organ to the full.

 

MALCOLM WILLIAMSON ORGAN MUSIC
Tom Winpenny, organ, St John the Evangelist, Duncan Terrace, London
NAXOS 8.571375-76 (2 CDs)  99’22

The music of Malcolm Williamson is ripe for rediscovery as this collection of some of his organ works from the late 1950s to the mid ‘70s shows. This is not a complete survey, with several of the more well-known titles missing. However, what is included is lovingly brought back to life by Tom Winpenny, who is developing his reputation as an advocate of twentieth century repertoire.  Shorter pieces include Epitaths for Edith Sitwell and Elegy-JFK. More lengthy works are the fascinating Peace Pieces, Little Carols of the Saints and Mass of a Medieval Saint. A wonderful release.

 

FITZWILLIAM VIRGINAL BOOK EXCERPTS
Ton Koopman, cembalo/ harpsichord
CAPRICCIO ENCORE C8002
This is an enjoyable collection of a selection of pieces from the Fitzwilliam book. It could serve as an excellent introduction to the delights of the keyboard repertoire of this era or purely as an entertaining listening experience. The recordings are some years old but Ton Koopman’s mastery of the keyboard shines through.

 

STILL, O HIMMEL – Christmas Carols by Joseph Haas & his contemporaries
Muncher Frauenchor & Munchen Madchenchor
directed by Katrin Wende-Ehmer, organist Norbert Duchtei
TYZart CHROMART CLASSICS TXA15070  77’00

This recording of German Christmas carols by the Munich Ladies’ & Girls’ choirs gives an insight into music that was largely unknown to me. The first part of the CD consists of extracts from Haas’ Christmas oratorio, Christnacht, which draws on Bavarian and Tyrolean folk melodies. Alongside this are carols by Rheinberger and Reger, as well as less familiar names including Erna Woll and Christian Lahusen. A welcome alternative for the Christmas season.

 

DICH MARIA HEUT ZU PREISEN – The most beautiful compositions in praise of the Virgin Mary by South German and Italian masters of the 18th & 19th centuries
MECHTHILD KEINDL, soprano, ANNE DUFRESNE, oboe, NORBERT DUCHTEL, organ
TYZart CHROMART CLASSICS TXA15069  71’00

Works by Rheinberger, Reger, Konigsperger and others form an interesting and varied programme.

SP

 

 

August / September CDs

Our apologies that, due to holidays, our reviews are far briefer than usual and in some cases this is simply a note of CDs which we are pleased to recommend.

Schubert: Winterreise
Hermann Prey, baritone; Helmut Deutsch, piano
SWR MUSIC SWR19012CD

I heard Hermann Prey many times at the end of the last century and this recording, which dates from 1987, is a wonderful tribute to his art and sensitivity. Even if you already have a recording (or as in my case – many) this is certainly a valuable addition.

Schubert: Schwanengesang
James Rutherford, baritone; Eugene Asti, piano
BIS 2180 SACD

Better known as a Wagner singer (particularly as Hans Sachs) James Rutherford brings a gentle introspection to many of the songs here. There is always a difficulty for lower voices singing this cycle but they opted simply to put the whole thing down a minor third which maintains the relationship of the songs as they follow on. A convincing approach and most effective.

The Romantic Piano Concerto – 68
Moszkowski Op3; Schulz-Evler, Russian Rhapsody
Ludmil Angelov, piano; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Kiradjiev
HYPERION CDA68109

This series seems to run on and on – and here brings us the first recording of Adolf Schulz-Evler’s Russian Rhapsody. Though virtually unknown today this is an interesting curiosity for a composer whose Blue Danube Arabesques still command attention in the concert-hall.

Lehar: Guiditta
Bavarian Radio Chorus; Munich Radio Orchestra; Ulf Schirmer.
CPO 777 749-2

There have been a large number of recordings which originated in radio broadcasts, some of dubious quality. Happily this is among the better versions and – with limited dialogue – the music speaking for itself and often coming happily to life. Lehar deserves some staged performances again! And not just the Merry Widow.

CPE Bach: Cello concertos
Nicolas Altstaedt, cello; Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
HYPERION CDA68112

 

Saint-Saens Quartet Op 11
Chausson Quartet Op30
Schubert Ensemble
CHANDOS CHAN 10914

 

Beethoven; Piano Sonatas
Angelia Hewitt
HYPERION CDA68131

No9 in E major, Op14 No1; No19 in G minor, Op49 No1; No20 in G major, Op49 No2; No26 in Eb major les adieux, Op81a

Delius
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox
CHANDOS CHAN 10913 X

A reissue of the recording made in 1995. The Walk to the Paradise Garden; A Dance Rhapsody No1; A Dance Rhapsody No2; In a Summer Garden; North Country Sketches.

Apres un reve; A Faure Recital
Louis Lortie, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10915

As this is listed as Vol1 we can assume there is more to follow! It includes the Pavane Op50 as well as the suite for Pelleas et Melisande Op80 and is charming throughout.

Brahms: String Quartet Op51 No1; Quintet Op34
Brodsky Quartet, Natacha Kudritskaya, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10892

 

Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet; Royal Hunt and Storm
BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Sir Andrew Davis
CHANDOS CHAN 5169(2)

With the exception of Beatrice & Benedict at Glyndebourne this summer it seems a long time since we had any staged Berlioz and this reminds us just how good it is. Romeo & Juliet may not technically be an opera but musically it is in all but name – and surprising that it has not been staged as such. The Royal Hunt and Storm benefits from the massed forces of the BBC Chorus.

Bruckner: Symphonies 0-9
Mario Venzago, conductor, various orchestras.
CPO 555023-2

This set of ten CDs deserves an article to itself rather than this brief notice. Mario Venzago has a unique approach to Bruckner, often making it lighter and more transparent than we are normally used to. He makes a good case for his reading and I certainly enjoyed the approach though accept it may not be to all tastes. If you get a chance to sample it, do so, and be prepared to agree.

August DVDs

Donizetti: Poliuto
Glyndebourne Festival Opera
OPUS ARTE OA 1211 D

We saw this production last year at Glyndebourne and it made a deep impression, particularly the power of the score. As such it is surprising that it is so rarely staged. Marianne Clement’s approach is dark and often forbidding, but within this world the singing of Michael Fabiano in the lead roll and Ana Maria Martinez as Paolina are splendid. Let us hope it returns to the live stage again soon.

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto
Festival della Valle d’Itria, Fabio Luisi
DYNAMIC 37735

I doubt if many readers will have come across this work before.  First performed in 1813 at the San Carlo opera house in Naples, Mayr is writing for a theatre used to works by Cherubini and Spontini, though his own works lean towards a more French style. It seems that, despite an attempt to revive it almost a decade later, Mayr’s music appealed to the spirit and the mind at a time when audiences wanted to be moved and roused in their hearts. A fascinating discovery and performed here with enthusiasm and commitment.

Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov
Sofia Opera
DYNAMIC 37718

Some operas can benefit from an outdoor performance and Boris is certainly one of them. Set against the Aleksandr Nevskij Cathedral in Sofia, the visual impact cannot fail. Though there are many more intimate, reflective scenes here, it is the large-scale ones which come off best with Martin Tsonev a fine protagonist.

Shakespeare: Measure for Measure
Shakespeare’s Globe
OPUS ARTE OA 1218 D

The most recent in the series of complete performances from the Globe, this traditional approach to Measure for Measure brings us a superb Isabella from Mariah Gale around whom the cast react with a feisty intensity which is both crowd pleasing and convincing intellectually. While the Globe lends itself to close audience involvement, this production deliberately invites a response to its depraved society as it holds a mirror up to the very people who find the situations amusing, yet morally questionable. That it works well is a tribute to Dominic Dromgoole’s fast moving production.

Famous German Arias and Scenes
ARTHAUS 109244

This release is part of a series of DVDs bringing together a range of musical items from a broad spectrum of works. As such it is difficult to see who it is actually aimed at. While the individual items are interesting – Kiri Te Kanawa in Capriccio;  Bryn Terfel in Salome; Rene Kollo in Tannhauser – most listeners who are enthusiastic about individual composers are likely to have the complete works in the first place, and those who have not will gain little from the excerpts presented here.

The only exception to this is the three extended excerpts from Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail which not only gives a very good indication of the strength of the production but is very well sung throughout.

CDs/DVDs August 2016 (1)

THE GLORY OF GLOUCESTER
David Briggs ‘Live’, organ of Gloucester Cathedral
CHESTNUT CD 011 (2 CDs) 111’5 total

This is a compilation of recordings made on two occasions and includes a wide range of music from JS Bach, Dupre, Widor, Alain, Reger and Cochereau to transcriptions of Mahler and three substantial improvisations by Briggs. The most unusual of these is Disneyrama, which uses five themes from Disney films (“I was only allowed to use the first seven notes of each theme, for USA copyright reasons”)! A highly eclectic CD.

BERNARDINO RIBERA (c1520-?1580) – MAGNIFICATS & MOTETS
DE PROFUNDIS, director David Skinner
HYPERION CDA 68141   76’51

All but one of the 19 tracks on this disc are first recordings. It is incredible that so much early music has still to be rediscovered and championed. The items here come from a choirbook in Toledo Cathedral. The book was heavily vandalised, probably in the 18th Century and so some detective and repair work has been necessary to bring this music back to life. A very worthy undertaking resulting in an enjoyable CD.

TAVERNER – WESTERN WYNDE MASS / MISSA MATER CHRISTI SANCTISSIMA
CHOIR OF WESTMINSTER ABBEY, director, James O’Donnell
HYPERION CDA68147  58’36

Under the very capable direction of James O’Donnell the Abbey choir present these well crafted renditions of these two Taverner mass settings, pairing the second, less familiar mass with the Western Wynde.  Like the previous CD some reconstruction of a missing part has been undertaken with the music. Full texts and translations are included, together with the very helpful printing of the source melody of Western Wynde.

BEDRICH SMETANA – CZECH DANCES / ON THE SEASHORE
GARRICK OHLSSON, piano
HYPERION CDA68062  62’15

Ohlsson presents a charming recording of this collection of short characteristic works for piano. An introduction to some unfamiliar and enjoyable music.

AVE MARIA – MUSIC FOR UPPER VOICES
ST CATHARINE’S GIRLS’ CHOIR, CAMBRIDGE, director Edward Wickham
RESONUS RES10170  66’15

This is a beautiful collection of mostly sacred contemporary works for upper voices. Mass settings by Leighton and Tavener sit alongside canticles from Diana Burrell and Joanna Marsh and settings of Ave Maria by Rebecca Clarke & Cecilia McDowall. There are two works by Judith Bingham and Three carols by Stevie Wishart. There is much to be enjoyed here.

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF – VESPERS, Op 37
ST THOMAS CHOIR of men & boys, Fifth Avenue, New York, conductor John Scott.
RESONUS RES10169  58’16

John Scott’s legacy continues with the release of this recording from his choir on Fifth Avenue. Rachmaninoff’s Vespers comes from a time when Western ears were less accustomed to the traditions of the Orthodox church. This recording presents a very assured performance of the music of the Russian Orthodox all night vigil from this bastion of the Anglican choral tradition in the US! It is an excellent example of how the music of worship can cross cultural barriers and have universal appeal.

J S BACH – CLAVIER-UBUNG III
STEPHEN FARR, Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge
RESONUS RES10120  (2 Discs) 58’26  &  46’54

This is Stephen Farr’s first JS Bach recording. He presents this music in carefully registered and executed performances on this organ that has already been used for a number of recordings of Bach. An entrancing presentation of what itself is a well crafted collection of organ works.

SIGNS, GAMES & MESSAGES – WORKS FOR SOLO VIOLIN BY BARTOK & KURTAG
SIMON SMITH, violin
RESONUS RES10167  56’47

An unusual programme is presented on this recording by British violinist Simon Smith. The pairing of Kurtag’s Signs, Games & Messages from the 1980s with Bartok’s Sonata for Solo Violin of 1944 makes for very interesting listening. The Bartok sonata was a commission from Yehudi Menhuin and it makes great demands on the player. Kurtag’s work consists of a number of very short movements from a larger collection of short works for various solo instruments. All of this is music that inspires repeated listening. A genre that has much to be explored.

MOZART – PIANO TRIOS KV 502, 542 & 564
RAUTIO PIANO TRIO
RESONUS RES10168  57’11

More traditional fare is to be found on this disc. The Rautio piano trio breathe new life into this music  in committed performances on period instruments.

ELIZABETH’S LUTES
ALEX McCARTNEY
VETERUM MUSICA  56’05

Alex McCartney not only plays lutes but makes them! On this CD we have an enchanting collection of fine performances of lute repertoire from a number of composers from the time of the court of Elizabeth I. Very enjoyable.

RAUTUVAARA – RUBAIYAT, BALADA, CANTO V, 4 SONGS FROM RASPUTIN
GERALD FINLEY & MIKA POHJONEN soloists
HELSINKI PHIL ORCH & MUSIC CENTRE CHOIR, John Storgards, conductor
ONDINE  ODE1274-2   59’29

The recent death of the composer makes this release more poignant. Most of his work has been presented on CDs from Odine and here we have four contrasting works. Song cycles respectively for baritone and tenor with orchestra are to be found alongside Into the heart of light (Canto V)and the selection of songs from the opera Rasputin for mixed choir and orchestra.

THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION – ENGLISH 18th CENTURY MUSIC FOR HARPSICHORD
SOPHIE YATES, harpsichord
CHACONNE CHANDOS CHAN 0814   75’20

This lovely CD presents a varied selection of the English harpsichord repertoire. The longest section of the disc is given over to the seemingly recently rediscovered Richard Jones with his Third set of lessons in B flat major. Other composers are John Blow, Jeremiah Clarke, William Croft, Maurice Greene, Thomas Arne & Johann Christian Bach. A lovely excursion into a magical soundworld.

PRELUDIO – MUSIC FOR ORGAN BY CARSON COOMAN
ERIK SIMMONS, organ of Basilica Maria-Himmelfahrt, Krzeszow, Poland
DIVINE ART  DDA 21229  (2 Discs) 68’39   &  72’19

This is a very welcome release, collecting a number of works for organ by this prolific American composer. Most of the works here have been inspired by aspects of Early music whilst combining them with more contemporary compositional techniques. A very interesting CD set.

DVD / BLU-RAY/ CD set

THE GRAND ORGAN OF GLOUCESTER CATHEDRAL
JONATHAN HOPE, Gloucester Cathedral organ
PRIORY PRDVD 14 (Blu-ray/DVD/CD – 3 disc set)

The latest release in this line from Priory presents a varied and entertaining programme played by the cathedral’s Assistant Organist. Each of the three discs presents the same basic programme and there are bonus features on the two visual discs. Included alongside traditional fare such as Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 & Vaughan Williams’ Rhosymedre are transcriptions of Liszt,  Elgar and Cochereau as well as this organist’s own transcription of Dukas’ The Sorceror’s Apprentice.
The bonus features include an explanation and introduction to the programme and a very detailed organ tour as well as narrated demonstrations and an astonishing bonus piece by Leo Sowerby which includes extended writing for pedals, Pageant. Throughout Jonathan Hope demonstrates his affinity with and thorough knowledge of this instrument as well as great musicianship.

SP

CDs/DVDs June 2016

Glyndebourne 2015
Handel: Saul
OPUS ARTE OA 1216 D
Mozart: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail
OPUS ARTE OA 1215 D

These productions were greeted with great enthusiasm last summer and were also seen more widely when televised. Barrie Kosky’s approach to Saul hinges on the madness of the king, which is well conveyed by Christopher Purves in a very moving performance. Lucy Crowe and Sophie Bevan  are the women surrounding not just the king but Iestyn Davies’ beautifully sung David.

David McVicar allows the events of Die Entfuhrung to unfold within their historical context which actually works extremely well and allows characters to flower with ease. Both are well worth investing in.

Meyerbeer: Dinorah
Deutschen Oper Berlin, Enrique Mazzola
CPO 555 014-2

Meyerbeer is today better known for his influence than for his actual works and I can’t think that I have ever seen one staged live. All the more reason to value this live recording of a new edition of his final opera Dinorah which reworks pastoral themes to include storms and magic. It is a well-constructed piece and strongly cast though I doubt if it would really find a regular place is the repertoire.

Michael Haydn: Symphonies vol 1
Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, Patrick Gallois
NAXOS 8.573497

This is the first volume in what expects to be a complete recording of Michael Haydn’s symphonies and starts from those works which are most closely associated with Mozart – the Sinfonia in G was for a long time attributed to the younger composer. The four Sinfonias on this disc are lively pieces written for the court at Salzburg and prefigure much of what was to come later from Mozart himself.

Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne worte books 5-8
Ronald Brautigam, piano
BIS 1983

The delight in this recording is suddenly coming across old favourites in the midst of charming pieces which most of us probably don’t know. Brautigam’s approach is light and convincing without ever becoming too sentimental.

Imogen Cooper’s Chopin
CHANDOS CHAN 10902

The nine tracks on this CD are far ranging, including the Polonaise-fantaisie Op61 and the first and fourth Ballade, together with four Nocturnes. I particularly enjoy Imogen Cooper’s approach which has a naturalistic, open feel to the playing, allowing the nuances to emerge without effort.

British Cello Concertos
Raphael Wallfisch,
CHANDOS CHAN 241-56

This is a collation of recordings made with a number of different orchestras but highlighting Raphael Wallfisch’s enthusiasm and commitment to the British cello concerto which, with the exception of the omnipresent Elgar, are all too seldom heard.  Here we have concerti by Finzi, Bax, Bliss, Stanford and Moeran. Even if all are not totally to your taste there is bound to be something here to arouse interest. I particularly liked the Finzi as it is a rarity, and I have always enjoyed Stanford who is far too little heard today.

Brahms works for solo piano vol 6
Barry Douglas, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10903

Twenty tracks and almost 80 minutes of playing make this a real bargain. The CD includes a wide range of pieces but focuses on seven Hungarian Dances. The only extended work is the Study No5 based on a Chaconne by Bach. This has been an increasingly impressive series – though I am not sure how much more we still have to come!

CDs/DVDs May 2016

Beethoven Symphonies
ARTHAUS 102175/6/7
Dvorak Symphony No8
BR KLASSIK 900145
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Mariss Jansons

The Beethoven symphonies are issued on three DVDs with three symphonies on each in chronological order. They were recorded live while the orchestra was on tour in Japan, from the Suntory Hall in Tokyo in 2012. They certainly make for exciting listening and an excellent insight into Mariss Jansons conducting style. The early symphonies are rapidly paced with an enthusiasm we expect of Haydn though there is no let-up in the later works, the cycle coming to a triumphant end with a radiant choral symphony.

The Dvorak is also a live recording and the disc includes Suk’s fine Serenade for Strings and Dvorak’s Karneval overture. The symphony is, as with the early Beethoven, driven with panache and fire.  In all, a fine tribute to both orchestra and conductor.

RSC: Henry V
OPUS ARTE 0A 1206 D

This release completes the set which started with David Tennant’s Richard II and moved through Antony Sher’s fine Falstaff in Henry IV 1&2. Here, more than anything else, it is the ensemble playing which impresses and the frequent intimacy of the relationships. Oliver Ford Davies is a superb Chorus and sets the standard for all that is to come. We now have two sets of these plays, with the equally impressive but very different approach from the Globe. As a Shakespeare lover I am very glad to have both!

Beethoven: Fidelio
Zurich Opera House, Nikolaus Harnoncourt
ARTHAUS 109223

It is Jonas Kaufmann’s heroic Florestan which is the obvious selling point for this new release, though the rest of the cast are equally fine with a sterling Rocco from Laszlo Polgar and a radiant Leonore from Camilla Nylund who is also dramatically convincing.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s conducting is rapid and tight for most of the evening but he dwells on O namenlose freud though the singers do not actually make eye contact. The production by Jurgen Flimm is conventional and the final scene over static but the music makes up for any minor short-comings visually.

Overtures from the British Isles Vol2
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rumon Gamba
CHANDOS CHAN 10898

It is too easy to overlook works like this and it is a shame that orchestral planners do not slip them in at the start of more popular programmes. After all there is nothing here to frighten the horses and much to enjoy. The Walton, Quilter and Coates will be familiar but it is good to hear Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate and Walter Leigh’s Agincourt. Let us hope there is still more to come.

Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin
Tasmin Little, violin; Martin Roscoe, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10888(3)

While I understand the interest in recording the ‘whole’ of something there is a case for indigestion if one is not careful. While I greatly admire these works, I needed to spread out the listening to the three CDs in order to more fully enjoy them. The playing is excellent throughout and the more familiar pieces – the Spring and the Kreutzer – respond well, but I found a need to intersperse with other works in order to enjoy them more. Make the effort – it is well worth it.

Cellos concertos by Hasse, CPE Bach and Hertel
Alexander Rudin, cello & conductor, Musica Viva
CHACONNE CHAN 0813

As we delve ever deeper into the archive it is a constant amazement to find the wealth of fine music still to be discovered. While CPE Bach is familiar few will be well aware of chamber works by either Johann Adolph Hasse or Johann Wilhelm Hertel. Hasse is better known as an opera composer but this concerto comes from a massive collection from Wiesenthied near Wurzburg. It probably dates from the 1720s and is uncharacteristic of his later more florid style. Of the known cello concertos by Hertel, two are recorded here, and both have an improvised cadenza in the slow movement. A useful addition.

Friedrich Theodor Frohlich: Complete String Quartets
Rasumowsky Quartet
CPO 555 017-2

There are four string quartets here and if I had come across them by accident would have thought I was listening to some unfamiliar Beethoven. The works have an interesting history, and have yet to be fully studied and edited. A Swiss national, Frohlich has been accused of poor writing technique and plagiarism, though this is certainly not evident to the listener. The tensions between classical form and a yearning towards romanticism can be felt throughout and it would seem that his lack of success as a published composer was more a matter of circumstances in Berlin where he was working as a teacher than of the quality of the compositions themselves. Well worth investing in this cd.

 

 

CDs May 2016

THE COMPLETE PSALMS OF DAVID SERIES 2 VOLUME 10
CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL CHOIR, CHARLES HARRISON, director,TIMOTHY RAVALDE, organ
PRIORY PRCD1155 (74.12)

The second complete series of 150 psalms concludes with this offering from Chichester. As in previous volumes there is much variety and interest in the sequence of chants and all is presented with conviction and attention to detail. Each CD can be enjoyed in its own right but as a collection they are a wonderful resource for entertaining listening or private devotion as well as being a wonderful record of the current state of cathedral music.

SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD – THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS 3
DANIEL COOK, organ of SALISBURY CATHEDRAL
PRIORY PRCD 1146 (71’14)

This volume continues the survey of Stanford’s organ music with this excellent programme by Daniel Cook. Included are Sonata No 4in C minor, Canzona, Three Preludes & Fugues & Six Preludes & Postludes Set 2 as well as an arrangement of a short piece originally for piano & violin.

GREAT EUROPEAN ORGANS No. 99
DAVID LEIGH, organ of ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, DUBLIN
PRIORY PRCD 1168
GREAT EUROPEAN ORGANS No. 100
DAVID POULTER, organ of LIVERPOOL (ANGLICAN) CATHEDRAL
PRIORY PRCD 1158

With these two releases another long-running series from Priory comes to an end. The GREAT EUROPEAN ORGANS series has been a mammoth undertaking, showcasing the very best of organs and organists and an immensely diverse repertoire of familiar and unfamiliar music.

The St Patrick’s CD presents some wonderful music spanning the late 19th and twentieth centuries. Larger works here include Concert Fantasia in D minor by Sir Robert Prescott Stewart and Lemare’s Organ Symphony No 1 in G minor.

The final CD, from Liverpool, presents a programme of mostly familiar music well suited to this grandest of organs and cathedrals. Beginning with Elgar’s Sonata in G and ending with Walton’s Orb & Sceptre the programme also features further music by Walton, Bridge, Howells, Rawsthorne & a transcription of Whitlock’s brilliant Elgar-pastiche, Dignity & Impudence. This series will be missed but it leaves behind a treasure trove of fine recordings which will hopefully continue to be available for many years to come.

TALLIS – LAMENTATIONS
THE CARDINALL’S MUSICK, directed by ANDREW CARWOOD
HYPERION CDA68121 (73’09)

Two settings of Lamentations of Jeremiah form  the core of this all-Tallis recording by The Cardinall’s Musick. Alongside these can be found items from the Short ‘Dorian’ Service, psalms and a Te Deum. The Fitzalan Chapel of Arundel Castle seems a fitting place for singing and recording this music. The programme highlights the variety of composing styles employed, from the polyphony of the expansive choral settings to simpler homophonic forms.

CONDUCTUS 3 – Music & Poetry from 13th Century France
JOHN POTTER, CHRISTOPHER O’GORMAN & ROGERS COVEY-CRUMP
HYPERION  CDA68115  (61’35)

The Conductus form sits alongside Organum and early motets but is less well explored by musicians today. This third compilation comes from experts in the field, recorded at the National Centre for Early Music in York. The performers breathe life into this ancient music, creating a compelling performance.

HOWELLS – Collegium Regale
CHOIR OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE, director STEPHEN LAYTON, organ ELEANOR KORNAS & OWAIN PARK
HYPERION CDA68105 (61’14)

A beautiful recording of a selection of Howells’ church music-  Holy Communion, morning and evening canticles, anthems and and a solo organ piece, the Rhapsody No 1 in D flat major. This music never fails to move me.

SONGS OF LOVE, WAR & MELANCHOLY – The operatic fantasias of JEAN-FRANCOIS GALLAY
ANNEKE SCOTT, natural horn, STEVEN DEVINE, piano, LUCY CROWE, soprano
RESONUS RES10153 (66’41)

This is the final volume of three by Anneke Scott of music by Jean-Francois Gallay, himself a natural horn player. There is great vitality in these performances of music which was all new to me.

THE SOLDIER’S RETURN – Guitar works inspired by Scotland
JAMES AKERS, romantic guitar
RESONUS RES10165 (61’00)

Resonus is to be congratulated on its ability to produce fine recordings of  interesting and unusual repertoire. This CD features music inspired by Scotland from a number of guitarist/composers, many of the 19th Century,  from continental Europe. It is a beautiful CD.

CONVERSED MONOLOGUE – Concerti by JG GRAUN, J-M LECLAIR & WF BACH
FANTASTICUS XL
RESONUS RES10166 (70’08)

An interesting assemblage of 18th Century instrumental music written for courtly patrons. Using authentic instruments this ensemble transport the listener to a different age and culture in committed performances of these three concerti.

HER HEAVENLY HARMONY – Profane music from the royal court
THE QUEEN’S SIX
RESONUS RES10164 (62’19)

Further courtly music, this time vocal music from the reign of Elizabeth I. This is the second album from this choir devoted to music by familiar names of the Tudor and Jacobean royal courts. Morley, Tomkins, Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons & Weelkes are all represented by secular songs of love, death and other themes. A lovely collection.

BRITISH VIOLIN SONATAS VOL 2
TASMIN LITTLE, violin, PIERS LANE, piano
CHANDOS  CHAN10899 (66’05)

This 2nd Volume collects violin music by influential British composers who span the 19th/20th centuries. Sonatas by Bridge, Bliss & Ireland sit alongside Vaughan Williams’ Two Pieces and a very late piece by William Lloyd Webber, The Gardens at Eastwell. A fine programme.

DOMENICO SCARLATTI – 18 KEYBOARD SONATAS
YEVGENY SUBDIN, piano
BIS RECORDS BIS-2138 SACD (74’30)

This collection of keyboard sonatas is very enjoyable. Whilst opinions differ about the piano being a suitable vehicle for this repertoire it is without doubt that Yevgeny Subdin’s expressive playing brings life and feeling to this music.

J S BACH – SECULAR CANTATAS Vol 6 (TRAUERODE)
BACH COLLEGIUM JAPAN chorus & orchestra, MASAAKI SUZUKI, director
BIS RECORDS BIS-2181 SACD (78’55)

This volume presents performances of the Trauerode, Lass, Furstin, Lass noch einen Strahl,Schlage doch, Gewunschte Stunde (a work thought now to be possibly composed by Georg M Hoffmann) and Tilge, Hochster, meine Sunden (after Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater). A further substantial offering from the Collegium and soloists.

SP

 

 

CDs April 2016

Mendelssohn: Piano Trios
Fournier Trio
RESONUS RES10161

I love these works, and the Fournier Trio, who are new to Resonus, bring real enthusiasm as well as musical finesse to their performances. They argue that these are the best of Mendelssohn’s chamber pieces and, played like this, one can believe it.

Bach: French Suites
Julian Perkins, clavichord
RESONUS RES10163

This CD arrived soon after we had returned from the Bath Bach Fest at which Mahan Esfahani had played three of the suites on a harpsichord while admitting they were probably written for the clavichord. And here we have an excellent example of why that is surely true. These works sit perfectly on the clavichord and are here given lively yet intimate performances which are highly convincing.

Suk & Dvorak
Christian Tetzflaff, violin, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgards
ONDINE ODE 1279-5

Dvorak’s violin concerto is popular enough but the other two works I suspect are less well known which makes the combination all the more compelling. Suk’s Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra  is a concerto in all but name and of equivalent length, while Dvorak’s Romance Op11 is far more than a make-weight. Well worth investigating.

Dvorak & Schumann Piano Concertos
Stephen Hough, CBSO, Andris Nelsons
HYPERION CDA 68099

This recent recording of two popular concertos is a delight. Stephen Hough is one of the most convincing romantic pianists performing today and he is coupled with the CBSO in sterling form under Andris Nelsons. I am only sorry I did not get to hear them live.

Haydn: String Quartets Op76
Doric String Quartet
CHANDOS CHAN 10886(2)
Haydn: String Quartets Op50
The London Haydn Quartet
HYPERION CDA 68122 (2 CDS)

Can we have too many recordings of Haydn’s chamber music? When we get performances like these it is hard to argue against them. The Op50 Prussian Quartets are played in from the Artaria edition of 1787 which gives them something of an edge over other recordings while the Doric Quartet brings a freshness and authority to Op76.