Mozart: Cosi fan tutte
Royal Opera, Semyon Bychkov
OPUS ARTE OA 1260D
This 2016 production by Jan Philipp Gloger works very well on the small screen, where the updating is smoothly effective as well as often genuinely amusing. It also has the great benefit of young singers who come over well in close-up. There is a fine conceit at the start where the protagonists come up out of the audience as if the opera has just ended and they come on stage discussing what they have just seen, only to find themselves drawn in to the realities of the emotional world of the original. This approach, added to fine singing and some exceptional playing from the orchestra under Semyon Bychkov make this a valuable addition to the many already available.
Percy Grainger: Complete Music for Wind Band – 2
Royal Norwegian Navy Band, Bjarte Engeset
Having greatly enjoyed the first cd in the series I am delighted to say that this is certainly its equal. A few better known arrangements – Children’s March, Danny Boy, The Merry King – sit alongside rarer items. The final, unexpected, piece is a lengthy arrangement of Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasy for piano and wind band with Joachim Carr at the piano. This was apparently a favourite of Grainger himself, often performing it in public, and it works surprisingly well with wind band.
The Inner Child
Antonio Oyarzabal, piano
ORPHEUS OR 7351-0685
Given the popularity of many of these pieces individually, it is surprising that they are not brought together more often. Antonio Oyarzabal’s deft approach maintains the innocence within the individual movements while clearly defining their emotional content as well as the very different approaches of the four composers. If the Schumann and Debussy seem the most disarming, the Mompou pieces, by their more obvious unfamiliarity convince with their immediacy before a return to the comfort of Ravel’s Ma mere l’oye. This may be a corner of the market which has been neglected previously.
Guitar Music of Mexico
Cecilio Perera, guitar
The cd notes that contemporary guitar music in Mexico is very vibrant with a number of familiar professional guitarists composing on a regular basis. Drawing on a rich heritage of guitar music, most of it unfamiliar to European listeners, the cd is composed almost entirely of new or recent music with only one traditional piece La Ilorona arranged by Julio Cesar Oliva to connect us to this heritage.
Cecilio Perera includes a recording of his own Marina which is certainly in keeping with the high quality and enjoyable nature of the whole.
Schubert: Works for solo piano Vol 3
Barry Douglas, piano
CHANDOS CHAN 10990
This third volume, on a par with the first two fine volumes, opens with the posthumous Piano Sonata D958, followed immediately by the delightful Moments musicaux Op94. These two take up a major part of the disc but at the end we have two Liszt transcriptions of Schubert, Sei mir gegrust D741 and Auf der Wasser zu singen Op72 D774. Barry Douglas playing is as mellifluous as ever and the rest of the series is eagerly awaited.
Sibelius: Chamber works
Chamber Domaine Thomas Kemp
There is always a good case for introducing the listener to unfamiliar works by placing them alongside the well-known. The only potential problem is that the collector may already have a number of recording of the Andante Festivo and not welcome another – which would be a pity as it is not only the gentle nature of the playing here but the range of smaller works which rarely get into the concert hall. These include the suite Rakastava (The Lover), and arrangements of The Oak-tree, Nocture and a flute solo from Scaramouche. None are world-shattering but that is not the point here. What we have is a finely balanced programme of engaging and finely played pieces.
CPE Bach: Solo Keyboard Music Vol 35
Miklos Spanyi, tangent piano
I have to admit I did not know what a tangent piano was and am grateful for the photo on the back cover of the notes. The immediate response is that it must be a harpsichord, for it is certainly that shape and size, with reversed colour keyboard; however this is not so. The instrument recorded here was built in 1998 by Ghislain Potvlieghe in Belgium based on a 1799 instrument by Baldassare Pastore. The notes give a detailed description of the specific benefits of the tangent piano which fits somewhere between a clavichord and a forte-piano, enabling the works CPE Bach wrote for both to be recorded with both the intimacy of the earlier instruments and the vigour of the later.
There is a reference back to Vol19 for reference where a parallel set of variations was recorded. With a composer so prolific one wonders how many more there will be in this series – though given the enjoyment it is giving we are not looking for an end!
Mozart: Piano Duets Vol2
Julian Perkins and Emma Abbate
RESONUS RES 10210
This recording follows the earlier volume of piano works for four hands and uses instruments from the Richard Burnett Heritage Collection – a fortepiano of 1800 by Michael Rosenberger and a square piano c 1820. In addition to two Mozart sonatas and an unfinished Allegro & Andante they also sneak in a sonata by Clementi.
Directed by Handel: Music from Handel’s London Theatre Orchestra
Olwen Foulkes, recorder
Though Handel was adept at turning out scores in great rapidity he was surrounded in London by many other contemporary composers, and what we have here is a collection of delightful items which were written and played during the height of Handel’s operatic fame. Olwen Foulkes investigated these while taking part in a residency at Handel House in 2015 and much of this recording is the result of that research. It includes pieces by Corelli, Sammartini and JC Smith as well as Handel himself. It is good to see such a valuable undertaking coming to such enjoyable fruition.