CDs/DVDs October 2017

Peter Auty (tenor), Benjamin Bevan (Baritone), Richard May (cello), David Bednall (organ)
Wells Cathedral Choir, directed by Matthew Owens
RESONUS RES10198 69’56

As expected from Resonus this is a beautifully production. The recording has been timed to celebrate Joubert’s 90th birthday and showcases recent choral works, all of which have been premiered in Wells Cathedral. Together with the (unacc)Mass & the Passion is a setting of Locus Iste.

There is a numinous quality to these settings and throughout the choir and other musicians seem at ease with both music and text.  There are moments of intensity and drama as alongside more reflective moments. The passion (which incorporates the solo cello and organ) lets the drama unfold in the manner of traditional (eg Bach) Passions where the newly composed music  is interspersed with traditional hymns, giving an easy point of connection and participation for the congregation. An excellent birthday tribute to this prolific composer.

Robert Smith, viola da gamba
RESONUS RES10195 79’15

Having only recently been listening to some of Bach’s works for unaccompanied cello I was struck by the similarity to these works by his contemporary. Long known about, but the manuscript having only been rediscovered in 2015, this is a very welcome release. Sensitively interepreted by Robert Smith and recorded in a beautiful church acoustic this haunting music is to be recommended.

Kirsten Sollek (Mezzo), Richard Lippold (Bar), Frederick Teardo (organ), Myron Lutzke (cello)
St Thomas Choir of Men & Boys, Fifth Avenue, New York, conducted by John Scott
RESONUS RES10200 63’14

Here we have another  fine posthumously released recording of John Scott’s work at St Thomas’ Church, Fifth Avenue. The pairing of these two celebrated twentieth settings of the Requiem makes for a very satisfying CD. They are interspersed by one of Vaughan Williams settings of a more unusual text, Valiant-for-Truth, words of Bunyan from Pilgrim’s Progress.

Robert Quinney, Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge
CORO  COR16157 77’31

This latest volume of Bach from Robert Quinney maintains the high standards of recording and excellent musicianship of the previous three releases. There is a good balance of material on this CD which culminates in the majestic Prelude & Fugue in E minor, BWV548. The other most substantial works are the Partita on Sei gegrusset, Jesu gutlig and Concerto in D minor BWV596 (after Vivaldi). A selection of chorale preludes and the Fantasia on Komm, Heiliger Geist complete the programme

Chopin: Volume 5
Louis Lortie, piano

This series is splendidly enjoyable and the programme of Mazurkas and Polonaise on this fifth disc is linked to the less familiar Allegro de concert Op46. The works all date from the mid-1830s and form a concise and telling collection. Where we have become to accept the Mazurka as quintessential Chopin it is hard to believe that, at the time, the dance form was virtually unknown to the wider west of Europe.

Vaughan Williams: Sinfonia Antartica; Concerto for two pianos; Four Last Songs
Louis Lortie & Helene Mercier, pianos, Roderick Williams, baritone, Mari Eriksmoen, soprano, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

An interesting combination which draws together a fine performance of the familiar Sinfonia Antartica with two far rarer works. The Four Last Songs are brief pieces composed for voice and piano right at the end of the composer’s life. They are as far removed as one could imagine from Strauss’ opulent settings of the same name, being closer to Finzi in their limpid simplicity. They are given in an orchestrated version prepared by Anthony Payne. The concerto dates from 1931 but was arranged for two pianos in 1946 with the help of Joseph Cooper. Soloists are all strongly focused and the Bergen Philharmonic again responds sympathetically to Sir Andrew Davis’ conducting.

Two little words
Felicity Palmer, mezzo-soprano, Simon Lepper, piano

This recording forms a brief auto-biography of Dame Felicity Palmer’s life in song – as opposed to her lengthy career in opera – and many of the works are included for very personal reasons. I can’t think of many recordings which will include both Schubert and I’ll walk beside you yet the balance is perfect and the voice as wonderful as ever. She is accompanied by Simon Lepper who was to a large extent responsible for the resurgence of her career in lieder, and we can be very grateful to him for doing so.

Carl Millocker; Waltzes, Marches, Polkas
Nurnberger Symphoniker, Christian Simonis
CPO 555 004-2

For those of us who enjoy the comfortable wallow that so often comes with Viennese music this new cd is a delight. Most of the scores were unknown to me but seem instantly familiar within the genre. I particularly enjoyed the Polka Mazurka Melitta and the Polka snell Carnevalslauen,  but all thirteen pieces are thoroughly enjoyable.

Kenneth Macmillan; Three Ballet Masterpieces
Royal Opera House Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth & Martin Yates

This is a reissue of three of Macmillan’s finest creations for the Royal Ballet – Manon, Mayerling and Romeo & Juliet. As all are quite recent recordings – the earliest being only 2008 they are high quality productions and frequently give the viewer a better sense of the dance than can be experienced from many seats at Covent Garden. As such it is very welcome.





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