Barry Forshaw’s CD Choice

Barry Forshaw’s pick of the latest classical CDs on offer

BRITTEN: SYMPHONIC SUITE FROM GLORIANA, etc.

BBC Philharmonic/Edward Gardner/Paul Watkins, cello/Chandos

The most intriguing item here is the rare Symphonic Suite from Gloriana, as full of colour and invention as one might expect from memories of the opera. Heartfelt performances of the knotty Symphony for Cello and Orchestra that may win it new friends, and a striking reading of one of Britten’s key scores, the Four Sea Interludes (with a notably dramatic ‘Storm’ interlude). They are impeccably performed by the BBC Philharmonic under Edward Gardner, the music director of English National Opera, and the talented cellist. Paul Watkins. One caveat: the disc is not in Chandos’ superb SACD surround sound.

BEETHOVEN THE 11 OVERTURES


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Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig/Kurt Masur/Pentatone SACD

All the Beethoven overtures are collected in these remastered seventies recordings. Most of the music stems from the stage. including the dramas Coriolan, Egmont, King Stephen and The Ruins of Athens, as well as the overture for the ballet music The Creatures of Prometheus. Nameday and The Consecration of the House were composed for other commissions. Masur demonstrates a sure grasp of this music, which largely sounds like it was recorded yesterday, though some inner detail is lost.

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BERLIOZ: SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE/CL�OP�TRE, SC�NE LYRIQUE (1829)

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Yannick N�zet-S�guin, Anna Caterina Antonacci, (soprano)/BIS SACD

The young conductor Yannick N�zet-S�guin is acquiring a solid reputation, and here delivers a strong, steady Symphonie Fantastique as the first of four projected discs with BIS. The Rotterdam players have the measure of Hector Berlioz’ masterpiece and complements it with the ‘lyrical scene’ Cl�op�tre, with the soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci. Beautifully sung, though memories of the definitive performance by Janet Baker are not banished

SUK:(FANTASY IN G MINOR, OP. 24*/POH�DKA (FAIRY TALE), OP. 16/FANTASTICK� SCHERZO, OP. 25

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta/Naxos

With the example of Brahms and Dvor�k (not to mention a soup�on of Debussy, Mahler and Richard Strauss), Josef Suk is the exemplar of the Czech Romantic school. His Fantasy in G minor revels in rich writing for solo violin and sympathetic orchestration; it is intelligently coupled here with the sumptuous suite Fairy Tale, while the Fantastic Scherzo sports a winning Czech tune as part of its appeal. A winning collection.

SHOSTAKOVICH: SYMPHONIES 3 & 10

Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev/Marinnsky/LSO Live SACD

The omnivorous appetite of the conductor Valery Gergiev for new composers to add to his CV continues unabated -- and the Mariinsky/LSO Live label is helpfully documenting these acquisitions in surround sound that is rich in impact. But Shostakovich remains the conductor’s signature speciality, as these powerful performances amply demonstrate.

BACH: SONATAS AND PARTITAS FOR SOLO VIOLIN

Pavlo Beznosiuk, violin/Linn

Impeccably detailed performances in a persuasive acoustic, this is further proof of the effortless virtuosity of Pavlo Beznosiuk.

MOZART: THE VIOLIN CONCERTOS, SINFONIA CONCERTANTE, K364, etc.

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra/Julia Fischer, violin/Yakov Kreizberg/Pentatone SACD

This highly collectable boxed set assembles all the works which Mozart composed for violin and orchestra, performed by the much-acclaimed violinist Julia Fischer in impeccable readings. The set includes 3 SACDs along with an added DVD which includes previously unreleased video footage of the Mozart recording sessions.

HALFFTER: CARMEN (1926)

Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mark Fitz-Gerald/Naxos

Now here’s a real find. Nothing to do with Bizet, this colourful and evocative score for Jacques Feyder’s 1926 silent film has lashing of charm and drama. This world premi�re recording is the first performance to realise the composer’s musical intentions in full.

VINCENT D’INDY ORCHESTRAL WORKS, VOLUME 4: SYMPHONIE ITALIENNE

PO�ME DES RIVAGES, OP 77

Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Rumon Gamba/Chandos

Less celebrated than his contemporaries Debussy and Ravel, D’indy was a composer of great invention and imagination, as this valuable Chandos series is proving. His eclectic style (moulded by his idols by Beethoven and Wagner) is perfectly encapsulated here by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra under Rumon Gamba, who appears to find the assimilation of any given composer’s idiom as easy as breathing. The Symphonie Italienne was written when d’Indy was in a young man, is a particular delight.

DANIELPOUR: THE ENCHANTED GARDEN: PRELUDES, BOOKS I & II

Xiayin Wang, Piano/Naxos

Intriguing music from an accessible modern composer. Danielpour has said: “The first book of The Enchanted Garden was composed in 1992; the five preludes in that cycle were musical responses to dreams that I had and had eventually written about. The second book, written nearly seventeen years later in 2009, includes seven preludes; experiences and memories both recent and historical are the sources here and the origins of the titles.’ Admirers will find these pieces subtly different from the composer’s customary work, but full of charm.

RICHARD STRAUSS ELEKTRA

Ir�ne Theorin, Waltraud Meier, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Robert Gambill, Ren� Pape, Wiener Philharmoniker/Daniele Gatti, Nikolaus Lehnhoff/Dynamic

This spectacular live recording from the Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg Festival in 2010 becomes the definitive Blu-ray incarnation of the opera. With Strauss’ Elektra, the Salzburg Festival inaugurated a striking new production that has already enjoyed much acclaim. Ir�ne Theorin is a grotesque but powerful Elektra and the stark stage set complements the drama.

RAVEL: COMPLETE SOLO PIANO MUSIC

Steven Osborne, piano/Hyperion

The massively talented Steven Osborne performs for Hyperion the complete piano music of Ravel and (ironically) trumps Hyperion’s stunning earlier complete Ravel set from Angela Hewitt. The pianism here is both poetic and fiery, and evokes memories of such great instrumentalists as Walter Gieseking. This two-disc set collects some of the most astonishing piano music of the early twentieth century, and these performances are unlikely to be bettered. But who knows? At the time, Hewitt’s set was regarded as definitive...

SCHUBERT: ROSAMUNDE INCIDENTAL MUSIC D 797

Serena Malfi alto, Schweizer Kammerchor/Musikkollegium Winterthur, /Douglas Boyd/MDG SACD

The disastrous premier of the drama Rosamunde in Vienna in 1823 is famous; how instructive that the glorious music survived and is now so highly thought of. It is stunningly performed here by Serena Malfi, the Swiss Chamber Choir and the Musikkollegium Winterthur under Douglas Boyd, in a wonderfully detailed SACD performance.

BACH: ITALIAN CONCERTO BWV 971, FRENCH OVERTURE BWV 831 ORGAN ARRANGEMENTS

Hansj�rg Albrecht/Oehms SACD

Hansj�rg Albrecht’s sensitive series of arrangements for organ have charmed organ admirers and appear here in splendid surround sound. The programme includes such Bach masterpieces as the Passaglia in C minor for organ and the famous Chaconne in D minor for solo violin, intelligently arranged by Landmann.

TCHAIKOVSKY: SYMPHONY NO.4 IN F MINOR/OVERTURE “ROMEO AND JULIET”

Russian National Orchestra/Mikail Pletnev/Pentatone SACD

A leading Russian orchestra under a stellar conductor may be relied upon to grant this Tchaikovsky masterpiece a powerful, kinetic reading –and so it proves. In a recording graced with remarkably detailed surround sound, this is a steadier Tchaikovsky Fourth than many may be used to, but the downplaying of the music’s fierier qualities is compensated for with a more forensic attention to inner orchestral detail.

LISZT: FUNERAL ODES, ETC,

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov/Hyperion

Less familiar Liszt, presented as part of the continuing celebration of the composer. Hyperion’s welcome presentation of some of Liszt’s most underrecorded and underperformed works makes the best possible case for the pieces. Liszt’s piano music enjoys more exposure than his orchestral works, but this intriguing selection performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra under the baton of Ilan Volkov should redress the balance.

GLAZUNOV: COMPLETE CONCERTOS

Russian National Orchestra/Jose Serebrier/Warner Classics

These charming works remain under-appreciated, and this helpful collection may help to enhance the reputation of Glazunov’s concerti. All are played here in exemplary fashion under the baton of Jose Serebrier.

WILLIAM WALTON STRING QUARTETS: STRING QUARTET (1922), ORIGINAL VERSION/STRING QUARTET IN A MINOR (1947)

Doric String Quartet/Chandos

This welcome release collects the neglected string quartets by William Walton, one of this country’s greatest composers. The works are sensitively performed by the Doric String Quartet, following the success of their recent release of the string quartets of Korngold. If the pieces do instantly reveal their charms, they are more than worth the requisite attention.

EBEN: SYMPHONIA GREGORIANA

Bamberger Symphonker/Gunther Rost, organ/Gabriel Feltz/Oehms SACD

The limited repertoire for organ and orchestra is enriched by this lively piece, packed with reference to other composers, and dispatched with great gusto by the Bamberger Symphonker with organist Gunther Rost; not, perhaps, a masterpiece, but highly rewarding – and the SACD sound is suitably foundation-shaking.

MOZART : COMPLET SACRED MUSIC

Concentus musicus Wein/Nikolau Harnoncourt/Teldce

This 23 cd is amnessentil purchase of rMozartans, not leat becse os the msuscisn invlec

WITCHCRAFT: THE MUSIC OF CY COLEMAN

Claire Martin & Sir Richard Rodney Bennett/Linn SACD

Both artists are on-pareil in material such as this, and the songs (a tempting m�lange of the familiar and the under-visited) have every nuance teased out by two superior performers. Even Bennett’s peculiar vocal stylings may win over the unpersuaded.

NEWS

Reference Recordings have announced that their alumni “Prof.” KEITH O. JOHNSON and producer DAVID FROST have won a Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album: Britten’s Orchestra (RR-120SACD). This award is for the surround sound release; the album is also available as a compact disc), which has received widespread critical acclaim for performance and sound. “Keith is a phenomenal engineer and we are thrilled about his win,” says Reference Recordings partner and executive producer Marcia Martin. “Everyone at RR is delighted that he and David have been honoured by their peers in the music industry for this achievement.”

“Keith’s collaboration with David Frost was a great success and we look forward to their next project when they return to the Kansas City Symphony in May to record the Enigma Variations by Elgar and The Wasps by Vaughan Williams.”

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