CDs April 2022

BACH INSPIRED
THE BACH CHOIR
FAUST CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
DAVID HILL, conductor
STONE 5060192781182  33’57

This is a fascinating and very enjoyable release. The Bach Choir, obviously very at home with the original material here give fine performances of a musical response to the limitations of the lockdown. Six composers were asked to select a chorale from the St Matthew Passion and create a new work to sit alongside it. The juxtaposition of the new and the old works very well. It is to be hoped that this new sequence may gain a place in the regular repertoire. The composers are Charlotte Harding, Carmen Ho, Gavin Higgins, Des Oliver, Heloise Werner and James B Wilson.

PHILIP WILBY – AN ENGLISH PASSION ACCORDING TO ST MATTHEW
BELFAST CATHEDRAL CHOIR & SOLOISTS
MATTHEW OWENS, CONDUCTOR
RESONUS RES10298 67’44

Recent times have seen Matthew Owens very actively building on the musical tradition of Belfast Cathedral. Alongside music in the liturgy there have been several recordings featuring the choir and organ. Here is a very interesting disc featuring fine recordings of recent repertoire from Philip Wilby. In his new Passion (written for the cathedral) the composer effectively sets English hymn tunes found in the English Hymnal of 1906 in the manner that Bach and others used the Lutheran chorale melodies, well known in their time and place. Also included on the CD are a setting of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, God’s Grandeur and The Knaresborough Setting of the evening canticles, written for St John the Baptist Church in that town.

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS – ON WENLOCK EDGE/FOUR HYMNS/THE HOUSE OF LIFE
NICKY SPENCE, tenor,  JULIUS DRAKE, piano, TIMOTHY RIDOUT, viola
PIATTI QUARTET
HYPERION CDA68378 69’50 

A lovely release to coincide with Vaughan Williams’ 150th anniversary. Each of the works here in their own way are representative of the pastoral-spiritual ‘English’ idiom with which we associate him. For contrast there are also three more secular offerings of folk song settings including The saucy bold robber.  Fine performances throughout of perhaps less familiar works.

XIAOGANG YE – SEVEN EPISODES FOR LIN’AN
VARIOUS SOLOISTS
DEUTSCHE STAATSPHILHARMONIE RHEINLAND-PFALZ
STEPHAN MALZEW & FRANK OLLU, conductors
NAXOS 8.579088  73’04

Another release of music from this prolific contemporary Chinese composer brings evocations of the people and places of that country. The main work here sets ancient Chinese texts and perhaps more so than the orchestral pieces shows more of a meeting of east and west. Twilight in Tibet and Tianjin Suite, both orchestral, paint vivid pictures of two very different locations. A lovely recording of world premieres.

GEORGIOS AXIOTIS – A LOVE TRILOGY – SYMPHONIC IMPRESSIONSNEW FESTIVAL OPERA-SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA SOFIA,
BYRON FIDETZIS, conductor
NAXOS 8.574353  77’43

I haven’t heard music from this composer before. Part of Naxos’ Greek Classics series this is a very interesting release of mainly very lyrical music, mostly premiere recordings. The Love Trilogy is the longest work here. Axiotis wanted to preserve a distinctive national flavour to his music but writes in a variety of styles. Remembrance of a Ball for instance has a distinctly “light music” feel to it in comparison. Also included are Sunset, Prelude & Fugue, Lyrical Intermezzo and Like a Game.

MARGARET BROUWER – REACTIONS – SONGS & CHAMBER MUSIC
SARAH BEATY, mezzo-soprano, BRIAN SKOOG, tenor,
MARI SATO, narrator & violin
ELIESHA NELSON, viola, SHUAI WANG, piano
NAXOS 8.559904  56’00

This is a very interesting release, from another prolific composer, well known in their own country but perhaps less so further afield, this time in the American Classics strand. These are all recent works, written as a response to particular situations including the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as intensity and emotion there is also humour to be found, as in the work All lines are still busy – responding to being placed on hold during a telephone call. Rhapsodic Sonata, the longest work here, begins the CD. Declaration (2005) is the oldest work.

JENO TAKACS – PIANO CONCERTO – RHAPSODY FOR VIOLIN
NINA KARMON, violin, OLIVER TRIENDL, piano
GEORGIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA INGOLSTADT,
EVAN-ALEXIS CHRIST, conductor
CAPRICCIO C5438  65’59

Takacs lived from 1902 – 2005. During that time he witnessed many seismic changes in the world including the shifting of his place of birth from being in Hungary to Austria. He was widely influenced by different cultures as well as his own and took pride in being someone who developed and changed as he continued to write. Also included on this CD are Serenade after ancient Contredanses from Graz, Passacaglia for Strings and Three Pieces for Strings. A great introduction to this composer.

MASTER & PUPIL –
EXPLORING THE INFLUENCES & LEGACY OF CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI
SESTINA MUSIC, MARK CHAMBERS, conductor
INVENTA INV1007  71’18

This is a very interesting production highlighting the way that composers leave a legacy to be continued and developed by their students. Sestina Music have a similar approach to with more experienced musicians acting as mentors to the younger generation. Vocal music from Josquin and the two Gabrielis are placed here with Monteverdi alongside lesser known composers including Jaques de Wert and Giovanni Rigatti.

TWO CLASSIC POLITICAL FILM SCORES
REVUELTAS – REDES & COPLAND – THE CITY
POSTCLASSICAL ENSEMBLE, ANGEL GIL-ORDONEZ, conductor
NAXOS 8.574350  68’27

Although never intended to be listened to in this way these scores make for very enjoyable listening. World premiere recordings, these are fine reconstructions which have already featured on DVD releases. I am unfamiliar with Revueltas but The City has moments that chime with other music by Copland.

JOHANN LUDWIG KREBS – KEYBOARD WORKS VOL 2
STEVEN DEVINE, harpsichord
RESONUS RES10300  77’17

You know that with Steven Devine baroque keyboard music is in good hands. Here is volume 2 in the Resonus series. Here we have fine performances of three longer works: Overture ‘ nach dem Franzoischen Gout’, Partita in B flat major and Sonata in A minor.

SONGS OF ELIZABETH MACONCHY & RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
VOL 1
JAMES GEER, tenor, RONALD WOODLEY, piano
RESONUS RES10299  66’15

At first glance this may seem a strange pairing but Maconchy was a student of Vaughan Williams. Two very different styles sit together her, but both develop the British song tradition. I love the concept of this release and hope that, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of RVW’s birth those already drawn to his music may discover something of the beauty of Maconchy’s settings and that her music will become more widely known. What will volume 2 bring?

READY OR NOT
PALAVER STRINGS
AZICA ACD-71342 c55’

This is a very welcome release. Unusual repertoire, all written by women and assured performances from this ensemble. The title of the CD refers to the fact that women have been writing music for centuries, whether audiences, performers and compilers of the repertoire are prepared to acknowledge this. Ranging from the 16th Century to the present day the programme includes a range of styles and genres including jazz and folk influences alongside more traditional ‘classical’ forms. An arrangement of Barbara Strozzi’s  Lagrime mie sits alongside Fear the Lamb by Akenya Seymour reflecting on the life and tragic death of Emmett Till. Grazyna Bacewicz’ Concerto for String Orchestra makes a powerful opening statement. A set of three contemporary fiddle tunes by Liz Knowles and Elizabeth Mooreends the CD in lighter vein. Very enjoyable.

RAUTAVAARA – LOST LANDSCAPES: WORKS FOR VIOLIN & ORCHESTRA
SIMONE LAMSA, violin
MALMO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, ROBERT TREVINO, conductor
ONDINE  ODE 1405-2  57’32

There is a transcendent intensity to Rautavaara’s music which is heightened by this writing for strings.  All of the music here is relatively recent, the earliest from 2005, but here rearranged for these forces. Lost Landscapes, Fantasia, In the Beginning and Deux Serenades (completed by Kalevi Aho, after the composer’s death) are the four works here. Music to be immersed in and a fitting presentation of some of Rautavaara’s last work.

SANDRO FUGA – PIANO SONATAS 1-3
GIACOMO FUGA, CARLOTTA FUGA & CLAUDIO VOGHERA, piano
NAXOS 8.579110  71’54

Italian composer Sandro Fuga’s work draws on classical forms and influences and pushes forward, negotiating the more extreme paths of the 20th Century and remaining rooted in traditional harmony. The three works here are regarded as the high point of his writing for the piano. The CD has additional interest from the involvement of two of his children.

GERMAINE TAILLEFERRE – HER PIANO WORKS, REVIVED – 1
NICOLAS HORVATH, piano
GRAND PIANO GP891 83’21

This is the first of three volumes which seek to highlight the output of the only female member of Les Six. Many of the pieces here are short but no less interesting for that. Alongside many original works are some reworkings of older French classical music. The whole series promises to be very rewarding with Nicolas Horvath’s performances being highly praised by the composer’s granddaughter.

RECORDED RARITIES FROM MELODIYA
DAVID OISTRAKH, violin
ALEXANDER GOLDENWEISER & ZARA LEVINA, piano
BIDDULPH 85013-2

Here is another release of historic recordings, from the 1940s and 1950s. The unaccompanied Bach Violin Sonata No 1 in G minor begins the CD alongside two accompanied Sonatas by Medtner and Levina.

SATIE – PIANO MUSIC VOL 5 – ESOTERIK SATIE
NORIKO OGAWA, piano
BIS 2345 76’04

Satie was a fascinating figure, his music crossing several genres. This CD has collected some of the music, perhaps regarded as more obscure, which relates to his spiritual interests. Although perhaps a rather heavy listen in one sitting there is much of interest here and it is particularly good to have this curated selection. Committed performances from Noriko Ogawa on a historically appropriate instrument.

20TH CENTURY FOXTROTS – 4
GOTTLIEB WALLISCH, piano
GRAND PIANO GP855 75’21

I am continuing to really enjoy this series which highlights jazz-inspired piano music from the early 20thCentury. A number of world premiere recordings are included here in this disc which features music from France and Belgium. Wonderful music, beautifully played. I hope there will be more.

ALBERT SCHNELZER – A FREAK IN BURBANK
– CHAMBER & ORCHESTRAL WORKS
ILYA GRINGOLTS, violin, JAKOB KORANYI, cello
HENRIK MAWE & DAVID HUANG, piano
VASTERAS SINFONIETTA, SIMON CRAWFORD-PHILLIPS, conductor
BIS 2483 77’34

Released in his 50th year this CD is an excellent showcase for Swedish composer Albert Schnelzer. The sheer variety of music included here perhaps reflects his eclectic influences gained from experience in the classical and rock worlds. Throughout the disk there is a huge amount of vitality and diversity of colour. The title track, for orchestra, is one of the composer’s most performed pieces. Dance with the Devil, for solo piano, which follows, is an extremely extrovert piece – a fantastic performance from Henrik Mawe. Burn my letters is a more reflective chamber orchestra piece. All the music here was written in the last 22 years. Excellent!

SP

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