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S P E C I A L A W A R D S I S S U E The year’s best recordings, chosen by our expert critics

gramophone.co.uk

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa wins our Lifetime Achievement Award We name the best releases of the past year, including: Joyce DiDonato’s musical mission for peace Masaaki Suzuki’s serene, life-affirming Mozart Murray Perahia’s intelligent, joyful Bach … and we reveal our Recording of the Year!

PLUS Strauss’s Alpine Symphony: which version to own? Victor de Sabata: recalling the maestro, 50 years on UNITED KINGDOM £5.75


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P H O T O G R A P H Y: H A R O L D L E V I N E

Beethoven . Brahms . Radzynski

talks to...

‘Soulmates’ Beethoven Trio ‘Gassenhauer’, Op 11a Brahms Clarinet Trio, Op 114a Radzynski Concerto Duos

Boyd Meets Girl

Amitai Vardi cl Uri Vardi vc aArnon Erez pf Delos F DE3536 (64’ • DDD)

Guitarist Rupert Boyd and cellist Laura Metcalf on their unique partnership

Beethoven and Brahms’s clarinet trios make a superb pair. They share the same instrumentation, of course, yet also serve as foils for one another. Beethoven’s is an early work and displays an incisive brilliance, confident character and sharp wit aimed to impress Vienna’s musical connoisseurs; Brahms’s comes from the end of his career and veers between ruminative and passionate melancholy. The performers on this Delos recording seem more comfortable in Brahms’s crepuscular world. Pianist Arnon Erez gives the triplet figures in the first movement a nervous urgency that offsets the music’s expansive lyricism, while he phrases the dancelike third movement generously. Clarinettist Amitai Vardi floats the long melodic lines of the Adagio with a liquid legato and digs in reedily to the finale’s rustic rhythms. Cellist Uri Vardi’s tone shows occasional signs of strain and his intonation is not always spot on, though his emotional engagement is never in doubt. In Beethoven’s Trio, however, the musicians sound more dutiful than stimulated. And this score is so full of incident – stomping accents, flurries of sparkling scales, surprise silences – that there are myriad opportunities to delight, as clarinettist Jon Manasse and his colleagues demonstrate in their scintillating recording (Harmonia Mundi, 12/14). The Vardis and Erez sound stodgy and subdued in comparison. Sandwiched between the Beethoven and Brahms we have Jan Radzynski’s Concert Duos (2004) for clarinet and cello – five brief, playfully melodic movements, including a polonaise and a waltz. The gramophone.co.uk

How did you come up with such an eclectic programme? Over the past four years playing together as a duo, we’ve performed and arranged works from the Baroque to the modern day. For our debut recording we chose pieces that we love the most, mixing popular and unduly neglected works, to create an album of diverse moods and textures, highlighting the versatility of our instrumentation. Presumably the repertoire is small? It’s not non-existent, but it is quite limited. Many composers have loved the guitar but then written nothing for it. Hence the need to make our own arrangements. It is wonderful for a guitarist to be able to play works by composers like Fauré, Bach and Falla, who generally overlooked the instrument. When arranging a work, we look for something that sounds like it could have been originally written for our instrumentation, and try to offer a unique but authentic rendition. The Australian composer Ross Edwards also

Vardis, père et fils, play it with charming panache. Andrew Farach-Colton

Bolcom . Corigliano . Ives Bolcom Violin Sonata No 2 Corigliano Violin Sonata Ives Violin Sonata No 2 Ching-Yi Lin vn Zachary Lopes pf MSR Classics F MS1553 (54’ • DDD)

Virgil Thomson said it best: ‘The way to write American music is simple. All you have to do is be an American and then write any kind of music you wish.’ Thomson isn’t

arranged his Guitar Concerto for us, with the entire orchestral part reduced to one cello! What makes this combination special? The sounds of the cello and the guitar compliment each other really well. The guitar is not a loud instrument, but the plucked nature of its sound, combined with the bowed notes on the cello, allows for a nice timbral separation. It has also really improved Rupert’s negotiating skills, getting Laura to explore the quietest dynamics of the cello! What are your future plans? We plan to commission new works from composers in New York and beyond, and look forward to arranging more pieces ourselves.

represented on this disc of American sonatas for violin and piano but the composers who are – William Bolcom, John Corigliano, Charles Ives – would appear to agree. Corigliano even seconds Thomson in the booklet notes when he states that his sonata ‘is more the result of an American writing music than writing “American” music’. That said, traits that might be termed American can be discerned in these imaginative and entrancing pieces. Ives doesn’t employ actual folk tunes in his Second Sonata but he folds his own folksy melodies into the three movements, which have the descriptive titles ‘Autumn’, ‘In the Barn’ and ‘The Revival’. In his Second GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 I


Find your piece Enjoy the recordings shortlisted in the 2017 Gramophone Awards

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CLASSICAL MUSIC IN HIGH DEFINITION

Composer and pianist Dominic Dousa performs his own music with viola player Stephen Nordstrom

Sonata, the ever-inventive Bolcom pays tribute to jazz violinist Joe Venuti in four movements of bluesy and swinging material, including special techniques Venuti made his own. Corigliano composed his only work in the genre soon after graduating from Columbia University, yet his ability to devise musical narratives of creative and alluring substance is already at full steam. Violinist Ching-Yi Lin and pianist Zachary Lopes play the sonatas with equal degrees of panache and warmth. They are a well-matched team, savouring their individual duties while communicating with one another as if engaged in a series of tender, lively and challenging conversations. Donald Rosenberg

Dousa ‘A Musical Portrait of the American Southwest’ Mountain Song. Reflections on a Desert Winter. Viola Sonata, ‘From a Land Wild and Free’ Stephen Nordstrom va Dominic Dousa pf Blue Griffin F BGR423 (74’ • DDD)

The American composer Dominic Dousa shares something with another countryman, Ferde Grofé: both are/were smitten with the great expanses gramophone.co.uk

and regional flavours of the United States. Grofé channelled his gifts for painting musical scenes into the grand sonic entity known as the orchestra; Dousa functions on a more intimate instrumental scale, as can be gleaned from this disc of appealing music for viola and piano. ‘A Musical Portrait of the American Southwest’ comprises three works written in a distinct Americana style, with open harmonies and melodies by turns folk-like, rugged and soaring. Dousa favours a tonal style that seems like a memory of distant times but the music’s poetic generosity and shapely architecture are clear signals the composer knows his craft. The programmatic content is suggested in the titles Dousa assigns to the pieces and various movements. Vistas of New Mexico are conjured in Reflections on a Desert Winter, whose five movements range from serene lyricism to almost swashbuckling energy. Mountain Song is inspired by the Rocky Mountains, their immensity and beauty distilled into 10 minutes of affecting statements. Even Dousa’s Viola Sonata has a subtitle, From a Land Wild and Free. Its three movements evoke ‘the plains of the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico’, as the composer states. Dousa himself serves as fluent and vital pianist in these performances with viola player Stephen Nordstrom, whose playing

combines tonal beauty, technical agility and expressive depth. Donald Rosenberg

Honegger . Ravel . Schulhoff Honegger Sonatina for Violin and Cello, H80 Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello Schulhoff Duo for Violin and Cello Elaris Duo MSR Classics F MS1526 (50’ • DDD)

Aside from Kodaly’s Duo for violin and cello, Mozart’s two duos for violin and viola and the ubiquitous Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia for either configuration, there is surprisingly little music of much distinction for two string instruments. Nevertheless, the genre continues to be actively carried on by superstars like Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott and by less celebrated collaborators with similar chops and different charms; in many cases, it seems as if the music is being made for more personal reasons and the performances accordingly embrace a more intimate point of view. In the case of the Elaris Duo, based at Georgia Southern College 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, it’s definitely the warm human touch informed by virtuosity. And in doing so, amid their programme of GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 III


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THE DEFINITIVE CLASSICAL COLLECTION

Pioneering: Christopher D Lewis explores the harpsichord sonatas of Vincent Persichetti

more familiar music by Ravel and Erwin Schulhoff, Larisa and Steven Elisha make a strong case for Arthur Honegger’s Sonatine as the one true gem on the disc. Written in 1932 and dedicated to Albert Neuburger, the man who would become his publisher as the head of Salabert, Honegger’s music is wise, witty (including references to Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre and Ravel’s own Sonata for violin and cello) and affectionate. The Andante middle movement is briefly haunted by prayerful premonitions of darkness and the brilliant Allegro third movement, with its two monster cadenzas, rivals HandelHalvorsen as an encore piece. If the Elarises are not quite up to the standard set by Josef Suk and André Navarra in their incomparable 1967 recording, they confirm that this is music that demands to be heard. Laurence Vittes

P H O T O G R A P H Y: D R E W K E L LY P H O T O G R A P H Y

Persichetti Harpsichord Sonatas – No 1, Op 52; No 3, Op 149; No 5, Op 152; No 8, Op 158; No 9, Op 163. Serenade No 15, Op 161 Christopher D Lewis hpd Naxos American Classics M 8 559843 (65’ • DDD)

Vincent Persichetti (1915-87) composed 10 sonatas in all for the harpsichord, nine gramophone.co.uk

in the final six years of his life. The First dates as far back as 1951, a pioneering piece in the rehabilitation of the instrument in mainstream contemporary music. Cast in three concise movements, fast-slow-faster, with never a wasted note in its varied and inventive course, it set the template for the later works (though not the slow introduction). Nos 3 (1982 – the dates given on the disc are, oddly, of publication rather than composition for the later works), 5 (1984) and 9 (1985) all followed it, only the Eighth (1984) reversing the format to slow-fast-slow, while the Ninth has a more expansive opening Moderato, two-thirds the size of other whole sonatas. The recognisably neoclassical atmosphere of the First, familiar from Persichetti’s Sixth Symphony (1956), deservedly still a staple of the American wind-band repertoire, is absent from the later sonatas, which share the terser, more contrapuntal and tonally ambiguous style of his later years. This makes them less diverse a set than the 12 piano sonatas (New World 80677-2), spread more evenly throughout his career. Heard together, the later harpsichord sonatas have a certain dryness of musical language, the textures occasionally harsh, but Christopher Lewis, playing two different instruments, performs each as an individual masterpiece, bringing out the many shades of dark and light, frequently subtle colours, and the marches, dances and fantasias that abound in the music. The concluding Serenade No 15

(1985) – last of a series for differing combinations that began with his Op 1 in 1929 – is lighter and breezier in manner. Rather clinical sound. Although not marked as ‘Volume 1’, I hope a second with the other five sonatas will follow. Guy Rickards

‘Bonjour and Willkommen’ ‘A Franco-German Debut’ JS Bach Prelude and Fugue, BWV532 Bruhns Praeludium in E minor F Couperin Messe à l’usage ordinaire des Paroisses pour les Festes Solemnelles Franck Choral No 3. Prélude, fugue et variation, Op 18 Hakim Te Deum Liszt Praeludium und Fuge über den Namen BACH, S260 Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue, Op 37 No 1 Mozart Epistle Sonata, K278 (arr Szathmáry) Pachelbel Christus, der ist mein Leben Scheidemann Magnificat V toni Schumann Etüden in kanonischer Form, Op 56 – No 4 Sweelinck Ballo del Granduca Vierne Symphonie, Op 28 No 3 – Finale Widor Symphonie, Op 13 No 4 – Andante cantabile; Scherzo Crista Miller org Acis F b APL72306 (153’ • DDD) Played on the organ of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston

The 19th pipe organ built by Martin Paso and Associates and housed in Houston’s GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 V


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CRYSTAL

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51 Years of Recording Excellence (1966-2017)

"Crystal is the go-to place for wind and brass chamber repertoire" – Gramophone. And don’t forget Strings (and Organ, Percussion, Harp, Hovhaness, & Steam Calliope!) WESTWOOD WIND QUINTET, since 1959 one of the most-acclaimed ensembles in the world, has "AUGMENTED" the flute-oboeclarinet-bassoon-horn quintet with trumpet and bass clarinet for the glorious Septet by Paul Hindemith in this NEW RELEASE – CD791. Add bass clarinet to the wwquintet for Janáček's Mládí, and piano for Mathias' Concertino (Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, & Piano). Filling the CD is the world premiere recording of Bruce Stark's beautiful and rhythmic Americana Wind Quintet. Cover shows Mount Hood (Oregon, U.S.A.) photographed from the Crystal Records' studio, where this was recorded. The Westwood Wind Quintet has "a standard of ensemble playing that is nothing short of breathtaking" (Intl. Record Review)

REICHA 24 WOODWIND QUINTETS ON 12 CDs. "each is a masterpiece of the highest order. Those who ignore this legacy are missing out not only on some terrific wind music but on some of the finest music ever penned." (Audiophile Audition) Reicha was a friend of Beethoven and one of the most respected composers of the period.

13 hours of music! Box Set total $128 for complete set of 12 CDs with 24 quintets. Individual CDs $16.95. See www.crystalrecords. com for complete list and for pricing in £ or €. FREE US shipping. Other countries just $14. "These quintets are absolute masterpieces, symphonic in scope. Top-notch playing that can only be envied by lesser ensembles." (Fanfare)

ALAN HOVHANESS —

"Beautiful sounds, unabashedly melodic... his music possesses instant appeal." N.Y. Times Crystal has the largest collection of recordings of Hovhaness works conducted or supervised by Hovhaness, most with major British orchestras. A small sample (see www.crystalrecords.com for all 24 Hovhaness CDs): CD810 (pictured): And God Created Great Whales, Anahid, Elibris, Alleluia & Fugue, Concerto #8 for Orchestra. Philharmonia Orch. CD802: St. Vartan Symphony, "Artik" Horn Concerto. National Phil. of London & Israel Philharmonic. CD803: Majnun Symphony. National Phil. of London. CD804: Etchmiadzin Symphony, Fra Angelico, Mountains & Rivers Without End. Royal Philharmonic. CD801: All Men Are Brothers (Sym. 11, Royal Philharmonic), Prayer of St. Gregory, Tzaikerk, Armenian Rhapsody No.1. CD807: Odysseus Symphony, Celestial Gate, Prayer of St. Gregory. Polyphonia Orchestra. CD811: Hovhaness Treasures: his favorite works. Christmas Symphony, Celestial Canticle, Starry Night, etc. Gerard Schwarz & Hovhaness, conductors. CDs $16.95 ea, See www.crystalrecords.com for pricing in £. FREE U.S. shipping on all orders. Other countries $14 per order. Crystal Records, 28818 NE Hancock Rd, Camas, WA 98607 USA

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FOR LIFE ON AN EPIC SCALE relatively new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart encompasses a colourful and varied tonal scheme that allows for timbrally authentic renderings of both French and German repertoire. Certainly the venue’s five-second acoustical decay allows for contrapuntal details to emerge clearly, while, at the same time, massive tuttis never turn muddy or indistinct. More significantly, Crista Miller’s two separate French and German programmes covering a wide stylistic range stand out for the organist’s effortless virtuosity and musical intelligence. Her transparent textures, clean articulation and forward-moving tempos enliven Franck’s third Choral, which can sound turgid in the wrong hands. Similar interpretative strengths impressively play out in the same composer’s Prelude, fugue et variation, while her registrations in the finale of Vierne’s Third Organ Symphony convey a lighter and leaner orchestral image than in Jeremy Filsell’s comparatively massive rendition (Signum, 2/06). Her mobile Andante cantabile from Widor’s Fourth Organ Symphony is followed by the work’s Scherzo, where the chromatic filigree takes gentle wing; a pity that Miller didn’t have room for the whole symphony. Each movement in Couperin’s Mass is preceded by its corresponding plainchant, intoned by four male singers, while female singers assume the same honours for Scheidemann’s Magnificat. Miller plays the Bruhns and Sweelinck works outstandingly well and clearly relishes their improvisatory paths and harmonic surprises. With way too many performances of the Bach D major Prelude and Fugue in the catalogue that drag and sag, it’s a pleasure to experience Miller’s shapely animation. Her graceful Mendelssohn and dramatically fervent Liszt are as fine as any, although the Schumann Pedal Piano Canon in A flat admittedly sounds better with a piano, or two. Saving the newest for last, however, the Te Deum by the Lebanese-French composer, organist and improviser Naji Hakim (born 1955) begins with a snarling fanfare, followed by a march-like episode peppered with booming clusters (mind your loudspeakers and sensitive neighbours here!), a lyrical section where soft dissonant commentaries flicker on occasion and some busy yet consistently inventive variations on the opening fanfare. You’ll buy this release for the marvellous instrument and for Miller’s superlative artistry but you’ll come away with the discovery of a formidable contemporary composer. Jed Distler gramophone.co.uk

‘Boyd Meets Girl’

‘Cloud River Mountain’

JS Bach Two Part Inventionsa – No 6, BWV777;

M Gordon River D Lang Girl With Mountain Lao Luo He Bo. Shan Gui. Tan Te. Yun Zhong Jun Wolfe Into the Clouds Gong Linna voc Bang on a Can All-Stars Cantaloupe F CA21133 (33’ • DDD • T/t)

No 8, BWV779; No 10, BWV781; No 13, BWV784 R Edwards Arafura Arioso Falla Siete Canciones populares españolasa Fauré Pavanea Gnattali Allegretto comodo M Jackson Human Naturea Pärt Spiegel im Spiegela Piazzolla Café 1930a Zenamon Reflexões No 6 (aarr Boyd Meets Girl) Laura Metcalf vc Rupert Boyd gtr Sono Luminus F DSL92217 (61’ • DDD)

Boyd Meets Girl comprises the Australian guitarist Rupert Boyd and the American cellist Laura Metcalf. A selflabelled ‘happily married couple’, they play like one, with a harmony of purpose as sure as their intonation. Boyd is a fine guitarist; if he’s new to these pages, Laura Metcalf is no stranger to them, her ‘suave, experienced bow arm’ having gained Jed Distler’s approval last year (9/16). That right arm is the motor for a gloriously warm and rich tone, well suited to the repertoire on this superbly engineered debut album for the duo. The bulk of the programme is made up of arrangements, all by Boyd and Metcalf themselves, some more intrusive to the originals – the Falla songs, which actually brush up rather nicely, and Fauré’s ubiquitous Pavane – than others. Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel acquires a greater warmth than usual from the duo and the four Bach Inventions work neatly as an impromptu suite. Piazzolla’s Café 1930 showcases their virtuosity in a different way, making a fine standalone tone poem, the cello’s darker colouring (the original is for flute) more atmospheric and contrasting the better with the guitar. Ross Edward’s Arafura Arioso, the composer’s arrangement of the slow movement of his Guitar Concerto Arafura Dances (1994-95), is a beautiful depiction of Australia’s northern sea. Bolivian-born Jaime Mirtenbaum Zenamon’s Reflexões No 6 (1988) is unobjectionable, its Vivacissimo finale unexpectedly dashing along in VillaLobos mode. The one disappointment is Radamès Gnattali’s Allegro comodo, not through any fault of the music or performance but because it is but the first movement of his Sonata (1969). Boyd and Metcalf feel it is the best movement and works better alone, but I’d like to hear the rest. There was room. Guy Rickards

Quick question: how many composers does it take to create a song-cycle? In the case of ‘Cloud River Mountain’, the answer is four: Lao Luo (the Germanborn Robert Zollitsch) and the co-artistic directors of Bang on a Can – Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. Their efforts add up to a compelling and varied work, judging from the excerpts on this new recording, with an emphasis on ‘excerpts’. While the full cycle comprises 11 songs running 70 minutes, the disc contains only six – as well as a Lao Luo selection, Tan Te, which has become an online phenomenon – for a total of 33 minutes. That’s a paltry amount of content for a compact disc, especially when the songs, performed so vividly by Chinese vocalist Gong Linna and the Bang on a Can AllStars, seize the ears from start to finish. The music heads in many stylistic directions, embracing Chinese pop, minimalism, folk and other idioms. Set to verses about nature, metaphysics and love by the Chinese poet Qu Yuan (c340278BC), the collection presented here contains three songs in Mandarin and three in English; the vocal line in Tan Te is built on syllables. Lao’s songs are suffused with Chinese contemporary elements, including popular influences, its music both relentless and reflective. Wolfe’s Into the Clouds has a driving intensity, Gordon’s River glistening sonorities and syncopated rhythms, and Lang’s Girl With Mountain otherwordly lines coloured by spare instrumental gestures. Gong’s voice is at turns silken and penetrating, her ability to ‘scat’ remarkable in Tan Te. The Bang on a Can All-Stars animate every fresh, quirky and haunting phrase. Now, could we please have the rest of the cycle? Donald Rosenberg

Amplify your life with the sounds from America and around the world at primephonic.com. For life on an epic scale. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 VII


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Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone as ‘an organ of candid opinion for the numerous possessors of gramophones’

Four decades of celebration … and change

T

his year the Gramophone Awards marks its 40th anniversary. Beginning as a new addition to a magazine of substantial vintage, the Awards have now been a crucial part of Gramophone for longer than many of you may have been readers (and, for that matter, longer – just – than its present day editor has been alive!). Founded at the tail end of the so-called ‘golden era’ of recording (and I add in the caveat not to bring into question the quality of that period’s music-making, but because so much from the decades since stands up worthily alongside it), we find ourselves today at a time when the very nature of recording, as an art, as an industry, as a way of listening, is undergoing immense change. As our winning and shortlisted recordings show, today’s focus remains primarily on album-length releases, a format shaped by the capacity of a physical product. Yet even for those who access music in an entirely virtual way, this still – I’d argue – defines how people generally think of a recording. But for how long I wonder? Various labels have experimented with ‘singles’ or EPs (terms that also have direct roots in physical product). Why does a concerto generally need one coupling (why not three, why not none)? What’s the difference between a live recording streamed online, and an archived performance stored in a digital concert hall? I expect that, as our Awards head onwards towards their half-century, some of these questions – and many more we can’t foresee – will find themselves shaping our sense of what we cover, what we celebrate, what the industry makes available, and how they do it. And I look forward to it.

What, however, hasn’t changed, is the astonishing quality and commitment of those who find themselves before the microphones. The artists themselves, of course, continue to change, and that so many of our winners are relatively youthful is a great cause of celebration. Though so too is the fact that someone like Murray Perahia – perhaps the only recording winner this year who might conceivably have been a contender back when the Awards were launched – is still inspiring us with his profound gifts, for continuity is a vital part of evolution too. And speaking of change, the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted some differences in last month’s For the Record section, developments which continue this month. We wanted to take you behind the scenes of even more music-making, to bring you closer to even more artists. And so we hope you’ll enjoy hearing from leading performers about the unique bond with their instruments, or about their thoughts and feelings when standing in the studio. There’s more space to report on news, and we’ve revived our One to Watch feature to champion the most impressive new artists on the scene. Finally, our new columnist Edward Seckerson – already familiar of course as one of our most perceptive critics – will challenge us to think differently about what, and who, we’re listening to. I hope you enjoy the new look of the section. And most of all, I hope you enjoy exploring this year’s Award winners: as Editor-inChief James Jolly puts it in his introduction on page 15, it’s been a particularly rich year. martin.cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS ‘Communicating what you know means discovering what you don’t,’ says

C OV E R P H OTO G R A P H : J O H N SWA N N E L L / WA R N E R C L A S S I C S

PAUL GRIFFITHS ,

author of this month’s Contemporary Composer profile. ‘Maybe that, too, can then be communicated. Having followed Mark-Anthony Turnage for more than 30 years, I thought I knew it all. But – as usual – no.’

‘Summoning up the spirit of Victor de Sabata, one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary yet nowadays too little known conductorcomposers was itself a strangely beguiling experience,’ writes RICHARD OSBORNE , who explored the musician for this month’s Icons feature.

‘I have loved the contralto voice since I heard Ernestine Schumann-Heink and Louise Homer in my early teens,’ writes TULLY POTTER , whose Specialist’s Guide ‘was written out of sheer indignation at the ridiculous attitude often displayed towards contraltos by today’s conductors and concert organisers.’

THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Richard Bratby Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Philip Clark • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Charlotte Gardner • Caroline Gill • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott Richard Lawrence • Andrew Mellor • Kate Molleson • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol • Geoffrey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards • Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Julie Anne Sadie Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley • Pwyll ap Siôn • Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher David Vickers • John Warrack • Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman gramophone.co.uk

Gramophone, which has been serving the classical music world since 1923, is first and foremost a monthly review magazine, delivered today in both print and digital formats. It boasts an eminent and knowledgeable panel of experts, which reviews the full range of classical music recordings. Its reviews are completely independent. In addition to reviews, its interviews and features help readers to explore in greater depth the recordings that the magazine covers, as well as offer insight into the work of composers and performers. It is the magazine for the classical record collector, as well as for the enthusiast starting a voyage of discovery.

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 3


CONTENTS Volume 95 Number 1153 EDITORIAL Phone 020 7738 5454 Fax 020 7733 2325 email gramophone@markallengroup.com EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Martin Cullingford DEPUTY EDITOR Sarah Kirkup / 020 7501 6365 REVIEWS EDITOR Tim Parry / 020 7501 6367 ONLINE CONTENT EDITOR James McCarthy / 020 7501 6366 SUB-EDITOR David Threasher / 020 7501 6370 SUB-EDITOR Marija uric´ Speare ART DIRECTOR Dinah Lone / 020 7501 6689 PICTURE EDITOR Sunita Sharma-Gibson / 020 7501 6369 AUDIO EDITOR Andrew Everard EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATOR Libby McPhee THANKS TO Hannah Nepil and Charlotte Gardner EDITOR-IN-CHIEF James Jolly ADVERTISING Phone 020 7738 5454 Fax 020 7733 2325 email gramophone.ads@markallengroup.com COMMERCIAL MANAGER Esther Zuke / 020 7501 6368 SALES EXECUTIVE Simon Davies / 020 7501 6373 SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BACK ISSUES 0800 137201 (UK) +44 (0)1722 716997 (overseas) subscriptions@markallengroup.com PUBLISHING Phone 020 7738 5454 HEAD OF MARKETING AND DIGITAL STRATEGY Luca Da Re / 020 7501 6362 MARKETING MANAGER Edward Craggs / 020 7501 6384 DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Matthew Cianfarani PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Richard Hamshere / 01722 716997 PRODUCTION MANAGER Jon Redmayne CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Sally Boettcher / 01722 716997 SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Chris Hoskins / 01722 716997 EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Martin Cullingford PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Paul Geoghegan CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Ben Allen CHAIRMAN Mark Allen

EDITOR’S CHOICE

7

The 12 most highly recommended recordings of the month

FOR THE RECORD

8

The latest classical music news

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

54

Steven Isserlis’s superb second recording of Haydn’s cello concertos, this time for Hyperion and with some inspired couplings, gloriously justifies the decision to revisit these masterworks

ORCHESTRAL

56

The complete Beethoven symphonies from Blomstedt; a Chisholm sequel; Isabelle Faust plays Mendelssohn; a pair of Prokofiev violin concertos; Bychkov’s Czech Manfred

CHAMBER

74

Lim and Lim play Beethoven and Mozart; Arcangelo’s Buxtehude; Tye from Phantasm

INSTRUMENTAL

88

15

RECORDING OF THE YEAR

16

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

18

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

20

LABEL OF THE YEAR

22

YOUNG ARTIST OF THE YEAR

25

ANNIVERSARY AWARD

27

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT

28

THE CATEGORY WINNERS

31

THE MUSICIAN & THE SCORE

Sir John Eliot Gardiner discusses Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, his still neglected Symphony No 2

VOCAL

ICONS

100

86

Richard Osborne pays tribute to the Italian conductor and composer Victor de Sabata

CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS 98

www.markallengroup.com

REISSUES

114

Paul Griffiths profiles the prolific Mark-Anthony Turnage

116

CLASSICS RECONSIDERED

33 CDs of live recordings by Günter Wand

OPERA

The Awards issue of Gramophone is on sale from September 14; the October issue will be on sale from October 11 (both UK). Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of statements in this magazine but we cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions, or for matters arising from clerical or printers’ errors, or an advertiser not completing his contract. Regarding concert listings, all information is correct at the time of going to press. Letters to the editor requiring a personal reply should be accompanied by a stamped addressed envelope. We have made every effort to secure permission to use copyright material. Where material has been used inadvertently or we have been unable to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made in a future issue.

Thomas Hyde’s The Man Stephen Ward; a Strauss rarity; DG’s Lohengrin and Parsifal on DVD

UK subscription rate £64. Printed in England by Southernprint.

REPLAY

North American edition (ISSN 0017-310X): Gramophone, USPS 881080, is published monthly with an additional issue in September by MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PB, United Kingdom. The US annual subscription price is $89. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by agent named Air Business, c/o Worldnet Shipping Inc., 156-15, 146th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jamaica, NY 11434, USA. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Gramophone, Worldnet Shipping Inc. (see above). Subscription records are maintained at MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, Unit A Buildings 1-5, Dinton Business Park, Catherine Ford Road, Dinton, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP3 5HZ, UK. Air Business Ltd is acting as our mailing agent.

Karl Böhm’s early years; Brahms from Bruno Walter; Otmar Suitner conducts Mozart

PERFORMANCES & EVENTS

BOOKS

HIGH FIDELITY

© MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, 2017. All rights reserved. No part of the Gramophone may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission of the Publishing Director. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the editor or Gramophone. Advertisements in the journal do not imply endorsement of the products or services advertised.

JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC

134

Two critics compare notes on Sir Georg Solti’s 1971 recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’

127

Reviews from our sister titles Jazzwise and Songlines

THE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE

136

Celebrating the unique qualities of the contralto

130

132

144

The best live music on radio and online

147

Britten Studies; the writings of Christian Wolff

Our monthly offering of audio news and reviews

GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION 138

LETTERS & OBITUARIES

Hugo Shirley surveys the recordings of Eine Alpensinfonie and recommends a top version

Ashkenazy’s generosity; Elgar’s genius; Walton’s hasty retreat

NEW RELEASES REVIEWS INDEX

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72

Janina Fialkowska’s Chopin; Michel Dalberto plays Fauré; fearless Godowsky from Emanule Delucchi

Robin Ticciati’s Debussy and Fauré; Mozart’s Requiem with dancing horses; a Hollywood Verdi Requiem; Baroque cantatas from Gdan´sk GRAMOPHONE is published by MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PB, United Kingdom. gramophone.co.uk email gramophone@markallengroup.com or subscriptions@markallengroup.com ISSN 0017-310X.

INTRODUCTION

156

158

MY MUSIC

160

BBC Radio 4’s Today presenter Nick Robinson on the importance of music in his life

162

gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings from this month’s reviews

HAYDN. CPE BACH. BOCCHERINI Cello Concertos Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / Steven Isserlis vc

Hyperion CHARLOTTE GARDNER’S REVIEW IS ON PAGE 54

PICKARD

SHOSTAKOVICH

BARSANTI. HANDEL

Symphony No 5, etc BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Martyn Brabbins

Chamber Symphony, Op 110a R STRAUSS Metamorphosen Baltic CO/ Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme

‘Edinburgh 1742’ Ensemble Marsyas / Peter Whelan

BIS

A composer with a wonderful grasp of the possibilities for colour from an orchestra, something Brabbins and his colleagues clearly relish in this fine-sounding recording. REVIEW ON PAGE 62

Rubicon

The Strauss string texture is captured compellingly by the mics; the well-chosen coupling is equally as impressive. REVIEW ON PAGE 68

MOZART Violin Sonatas, Vol 4 Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf Hyperion

Shaping up to be a cycle destined to define this music for a long time, on disc at least; Ibragimova and Tiberghien again treat later and early works with the same belief and conviction. REVIEW ON PAGE 81

SCHUBERT ‘Der Einsame’ Ilker Arcayürek ten Simon Lepper pf

Decca

This is music that Freire, one of our age’s most continually enriching pianists, has long lived with. The result is a Brahms recording that leaves critic Harriet Smith in no doubt of its, and Freire’s, brilliance.

Champs Hill

Our reviewer reaches for some of the greatest tenors by point of comparison, and Arcayürek emerges with head held high as an impressive part of an ongoing tradition. REVIEW ON PAGE 105

‘CARNEVALE 1729’

Latvian Radio Choir / Kaspars Putniņš

Ann Hallenberg mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Montanari vn

LMIC/SKANI

Pentatone

REVIEW ON PAGE 110

Proof, if needed, that Baroque music can continue to surprise us, as Lindsay Kemp puts it. A rare outing for some of this repertoire – but why? Perhaps this disc will change that. REVIEW ON PAGE 74

REVIEW ON PAGE 88

This is a truly beautiful album of Latvian choral works performed by singers clearly completely immersed in its musical and cultural foundations.

Linn

BRAHMS Piano Works Nelson Freire pf

‘NATURE AND THE SOUL’

Step into Venice in full festive flow as Hallenberg offers arias from seven operas you’d have heard if you were there in 1729: historical research bears fabulous fruits for the ears! REVIEW ON PAGE 124

‘STRAVAGANZA D’AMORE!’ Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon Harmonia Mundi

Praise here for a complete package – performance and presentation alike – that offers a thrilling and fascinating insight into the early days of opera from, appropriately enough, a Gramophone Award-winner from last year. REVIEW ON PAGE 125

DVD/BLU-RAY RAVEL. DELAGE. DUTILLEUX Orchestral Works

REISSUE/ARCHIVE MOZART Symphonies

London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle

Nos 39 & 40 Staatskapelle Dresden / Otmar Suitner

LSO Live

If you can’t make it to the Barbican to watch the new partnership in person, then here’s an excellent chance to observe Rattle and his new London colleagues in action. As Mark Pullinger puts it, it augurs well! REVIEW ON PAGE 64 gramophone.co.uk

Isserlis’s ever-questing career is one we have all gained much fulfillment from following – and in revisiting repertoire, as here, he offers an even greater insight into his journey.

Berlin Classics

Suitner’s fine archive Mozart is, as Rob Cowan writes, well worth investigating. REVIEW ON PAGE 131

In association with

www.qobuz.com

Listen to many of the Editor’s Choice recordings online at qobuz.com GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 7


FOR THE RECORD Major labels sign young stars Pianist George Li joins Warner Classics and cellist Kian Soltani signs to Deutsche Grammophon to release debut recital albums

BBC names its New Generation Artists

T

he new members of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artist scheme – one of the most prestigious of its type – have been revealed. They are Ukrainian violinist Aleksey Semenenko, British mezzo Catriona Morison, Georgian pianist Mariam Batsashvili, British jazz bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado, the French ensemble Quatuor Arod, German trumpeter Simon Hofele, and French guitarist Thibaut Garcia. Two of this year’s intake – who will now all benefit from significant performance, broadcast and recording opportunities in the two years ahead – are already signed to Erato; Garcia joined the label last year, while Quatuor Arod joined in April and are profiled in this month’s One to Watch column (see right).

Joshua Bell stays on as director of ASMF

G

eorge Li, American pianist and silver medal winner at 2015’s International Tchaikovsky Competition, has signed to Warner Classics. His debut album for the label will be taken from a recital recorded live at the Mariinsky Theatre last year, featuring Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Liszt. He describes the programme as ‘like a journey down to Hell and back up again’. Gramophone’s Editor-in-Chief James Jolly was in Moscow when the 21-year-old pianist made such an impact, and remembers him as being highly popular with the audience. He noted that at the gala concert preceeding the competition both Li and joint silver medal recipient Lukas Geniu≈as ‘were greeted as heroes’. Other honours to his name include the 2012 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and most recently, in 2016, an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Li joins a prestigious line-up of young artists at Warners, including Beatrice Rana and – signed last December and also due to release her debut album this autumn – 18-year-old trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary. Meanwhile, Deutsche Grammophon has signed 25-year-old cellist Kian Soltani. His debut DG album, recorded earlier this year with pianist Aaron Pilsan and set for a January release, will be called ‘Home’, and will feature Schubert, Schumann and the world premiere recording of Reza Vali’s Seven Persian Folk Songs, written for the cellist. Born in Bregenz and of Persian decent, Soltani came to wide attention when he was chosen by Daniel Barenboim as a soloist with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, including at the BBC Proms. Recent seasons have seen him tour with Anne-Sophie Mutter and her Virtuosi ensemble, while this May he gave a concert of traditional Persian music with the Shiraz Ensemble in Berlin’s new Pierre Boulez Saal. It’s this versatility of style that in part captivated DG President Clemens Trautmann: ‘He is equally compelling as a soloist in a Romantic concerto, a contemporary solo piece or an elegant chamber work as he is when performing Persian traditional repertoire and music of other cultures,’ said Trautmann of Soltani. ‘Kian knows how to speak to the world about what he does and how to reach and inspire new listeners.’

8 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

oshua Bell has pledged his continued commitment to the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, renewing his contract as Music Director for a further three years, until 2020. The famed violinist succeeded the ensemble’s founder Sir Neville Marriner in the post in 2011, since when they’ve recorded a number of discs together for Sony Classical including Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 4 and 7, and Brahms’s Double Concerto with Stephen Isserlis. Both releases, meanwhile, feature in a new box-set being released by Sony Classical of Bell’s recordings on the label to mark his 50th birthday this December.

Joshua Bell to remain with the ASMF for three more years gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

Shining the spotlight on the future

A

number of competitions this month offered up names to keep a close eye on in the years ahead. Firstly, Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition named Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia and south African tenor Levy Sekgapane as the First Prize winners. The competition was founded in 1993, with soprano Nina Stemme among the winners. The list of illustrious alumni over the years bodes well for the new winners, including as it does José Cura, Erwin Schrott, Joyce DiDonato, Rolando Villazón, Joseph Calleja, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Carmen Giannattasio, Angel Blue and Pretty Yende. Meanwhile, a new conducting competition took anonymity to new levels by placing the judges behind a screen. The Audite International Conducting Competition – held in Radom, Poland – was won by Russian Igor Manasherov. Reflecting on the experiment, jury chairman Jonathan Brett said ‘After four long days judging only sound, when I finally saw the finalists conducting it made

me acutely aware of the relative pollution of the purity of judgement if the eyes are allowed to be involved … My conclusion is that, whilst the details might be tweaked, in principle the concept is right: this is a really good way to manage a competition.’ This month also saw the release by Decca Gold, just two month’s after his victory, of a recital by 2017 Cliburn Winner Yekwon Sunwoo. The 28-yearold South Korean pianist’s debut disc features works by Haydn, Schubert, Ravel, Grainger and pianist-composer Marc-André Hamelin. The album had previously been available digitally.

The magazine is just the beginning. Visit gramophone.co.uk for …

Podcasts James Jolly presents two very special Gramophone Awards podcasts this month. The first podcast it with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in which she discusses the highlights of her long and illustrious career. The second is with last year’s Young Artist of the Year, Benjamin Appl, in which he talks about his recording plans for the future.

Operalia sucess: Adela Zaharia and Levy Sekgapane

ONE TO WATCH

P H O T O G R A P H Y: S I M O N F O W L E R , A L A N K E R R , J O S É D O M I N G O , L A R S B O R G E S / S O N Y C L A S S I C A L

Quatuor Arod Among the names in this year’s BBC New Generation Artists list is Quatuor Arod (see above left). The scheme’s alumni reads like a who’s who of some of today’s most impressive young artists (and indeed not so young – the scheme itself reaches adulthood this year, having started in 1999), so simple inclusion makes anyone worthy of note. But for Quatuor Arod it’s proving to be a particular auspicious year, as in April they were signed by major label Erato, home of some very inspired A&R decisions. Founded in 2013, the Paris-based ensemble comprises violinists Jordan Victoria and Alexandre Vu, viola player Corentin Apparailly and cellist Samy Rachid. The ensemble won First Prize at the 2016 ARD International Music Competition in Munich and is being mentored by fellow Erato artists the Artemis Quartet and former Ebène Quartet viola player Mathieu Herzog, both points referred to by Erato President Alain Lanceron when announcing their signing: ‘The Arod Quartet are, in a way, descendants of the label’s two longstanding, prestigious string quartets, the Artemis and Ebène, with whom they studied

gramophone.co.uk

Last year’s Young Artist of the Year, Benjamin Appl

A guide to music streaming

Caption for image above to fill out line one line only

and with whom they share the distinction of having won the redoubtable ARD International Music Competition in Munich. With such lineage, it seemed only natural that the Arod Quartet would join the Erato family.’ Their debut album – set for release on September 22 – will include Mendelssohn’s String Quartets Nos 2 and 4, and will be reviewed in our pages shortly.

Gramophone’s Audio Editor Andrew Everard has written an exclusive and comprehensive guide to making the most of music streaming. There is an overview of the pros and cons of various streaming subscription services, including Qobuz, Tidal and Apple Music, recommendations for the best ways to enjoy music streaming on the move or at home, and a beginner’s guide which explains the best ways to integrate streaming into your current hi-fi setup.

Facebook & Twitter Follow us to hear about the latest classical music news and anniversaries. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 9


FOR THE RECORD

IN THE STUDIO Pianist Steven Osborne has recorded Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux Opp 33 and 39 for Hyperion. The recording, made in Kentish Town, north London, in August, will be released in the summer of 2018 O JoAnn Falletta was at Abbey Road Studios on August 21-22 to conduct the world-premiere recording of Glacier, a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra by Kenneth Fuchs. The result, featuring DJ Sparr and the LSO, will be released by Naxos in the spring of 2018 O There’s no rest for Isabelle Faust – the violinist has gone back to the Teldex Studio Berlin with regular accompanist Alexander Melnikov to record

Mozart’s sonatas for violin and fortepiano. Harmonia Mundi will release the recording in the autumn of 2018 O Mark Bebbington has recorded fragments from Grieg’s projected Second Piano Concerto with the RPO under Jan Latham-Koenig; the SOMM recording is due for release in April 2018 OBorletti-Buitoni Trust Award-winning violinist Itamar Zorman is venturing into the studio in December to record works by Paul Ben-Haim, described by Zorman as ‘a German Ravel living in the Middle East’. He will be joined in Cardiff by BBC NOW under Philippe Bach, and the disc will be released in the autumn of 2018 on BIS.

STUDIO FOCUS Peter Donohoe The pianist recently put the finishing touches to an all-Stravinsky recording for Somm, due for release in January Two CDs of Stravinsky: you must be an admirer of his music. I’ve always admired him immensely, ever since hearing The Rite of Spring as a schoolboy. Then I heard Boris Petrushansky play the solo piano version of Petrushka at the Leeds Competition in 1969 and immediately got to know it (and the complete ballet too). I obsessively learnt it and played it all over the place. The Russian Dance became my encore for years – I played it in Moscow in fact [Donohoe won joint second prize at the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition].

Why record it at Turner Sims, Southampton? I’ve recorded there before – I’m very happy with the acoustics and their Steinway is good too. The only issue is the lack of cable conduits between the hall and listening room. I did think of getting out my Black & Decker at one point!

Perfectionist: with his new Petrushka recording, Peter Donohoe was determined to build on his 1980s version

How does a typical session pan out? I always make a detailed plan of when I’m going to do what; it’s important to know when to move on. I find that, with the passages that require the highest quality of sound, I need to be as physically relaxed as possible, so we record those first; they don’t all have to be from the same piece. And after we’ve done all the short takes, we’ll then do a complete performance of each work.

How involved are you with the editing? I do an awful lot of listening afterwards. With something like Petrushka, which is technically such a nightmare, I can get a bit fussy. I’ve been finessing it during other sessions this year. Every millisecond is in my blood so I can start from, say, beat 3 of bar 20, quite easily. Are you satisfied now? I think I’m done! Compared to the ’80s version, this one definitely has more energy.

Argerich & Friends Lugano series ends

I Lugano: a ring-side seat to superb music-making

10 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

t’s been a continually rewarding chamber music series, but now the ‘Martha Argerich & Friends’ releases from the acclaimed pianist’s festival in Lugano are to come to an end. The annual recordings, available from Warner Classics, were drawn from the pianist’s Swiss festival where she hand-picked colleagues from among her illustrious peers and

protégés, offering an extraordinary opportunity for young musicians to perform in such acclaimed company, and for us to hear them. Not least among the attractions, however, was to hear Argerich herself so regularly on record. Following the festival’s closure after 15 years (funding came to an end), the 2016 set will be the last. It’s released this month. gramophone.co.uk

P H O T O G R A P H Y: O . F L E U R Y, A D R I A N O H E I T M A N N

You’ve already recorded Petrushka once – why did you decide to do it again? We did it almost immediately after Moscow but I was giving lots of concerts at the time, I was bleary-eyed and not as prepared as I would have liked to be. I wanted to do it again and Somm gave me the opportunity. Then I had to find other music to go with it. The rest of Stravinsky’s solo piano music isn’t as technically virtuosic but I really believe in it.


FOR THE RECORD

ARTISTS & THEIR INSTRUMENTS Isabelle Faust talks about the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Stradivarius of c1704 It was in 1996 that a friend of mine, a violin expert, told me I had to see this instrument. I went to Munich, had a look and played it for half an hour. Certain notes on each of the strings – really separate notes – just struck me in a way I’d never felt before: specific notes that suddenly felt radiant like a star. This is worth fighting for, I thought, so I went on the long search for a sponsor, because of course even then the prices were just ridiculous. I didn’t want to play on it and fall too much in love with it in case it didn’t work out, and I didn’t even ask to use it for concerts. But I was lucky, and a bank agreed to buy it. The instrument has a fascinating history – it was rediscovered in a cupboard in a German castle around 1900 but even then was hardly played at all – and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been the one, if you like, to kiss it awake. When I started playing it in concerts (and recordings) I wasn’t aware that it wasn’t already at its full-blown beauty. But it opened up more every day; it was an incredible process to watch and to be involved in, bringing this instrument fully into bloom. Mozart works very well with it, even with metal strings. This is a violin with a very clear, celestial sound – heading more towards heaven than towards earth – and it is very close to my own musical ideas and instincts. It has formed my technical ability to produce certain colours, to produce a certain elegant way of playing. It has that light touch and that brilliant, slightly silvery sound with a lot of sun in the tone. And changing to gut strings, as we did for the Mozart concertos recording, has always been something that this violin is happy to do – and it loves being under a little less tension at a lower pitch. It’s an emotional attachment especially in the way that I make the violin’s sound quality my own. I count on that when I play; I need to be able to use this palette of colours. Those things are so much part of my musical personality now.

Solti and Chicago celebrated Decca box set celebrates partnership’s complete recorded legacy

I

n last month’s editorial we drew attention to the importance of longstanding conductor/orchestra relationships. But few were as prolific and successful as that of Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. To mark 20 years since the conductor’s death, and 125 since the Chicago SO’s founding, Decca is issuing a 108-CD box set containing their complete recorded legacy together. The partnership began in March 1970 with a recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at Medinah Temple, and finished 27 years later with

12 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Shostakovich’ Symphony No 15 at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, and resulted in 24 Grammy Awards. The lavish set charts the period with a 180-page book, retrospectives from colleagues and observers, photographs and some facsimiles of Solti’s scores. Solti remained a Decca artist thoughout his career, making 250 recordings in total (including 45 complete operas) over half a century. He was awarded a Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. Released on September 15, the box set will sell for £199.

Solti and Chicago: a substantial and rewarding legacy gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

FROM WHERE I SIT

What’s in a name? New columnist Edward Seckerson challenges the conventions of genre titles

WORLD-CLASS ARTISTS ON

Dreams & Fancies: English music for solo guitar Sean Shibe

P H O T O G R A P H Y: F E L I X B R O E D E , J I M S T E E R E / D E C C A

I

n this age of rampant genre-hopping it’s actually hard to know what to call Joyce DiDonato’s cracking Gramophone Award winning confection ‘In War & Peace’. In performance it was neither a recital (the category in which it scooped its award) nor a concert but rather an indefinable hybrid whose subtly themed narrative of baroque arias was played out through a miasma of dry ice, funky lighting, Bowie-esque make-up, and one killer frock. This is how theatrically savvy divas like DiDonato do business these days. If one had to reach for a label then Music Theatre would be the catch-all phrase. But with those two words comes a dizzying array of genres from opera and musicals to cabaret and review, all with their own distinct forms and, more importantly, styles. Next February at London’s Barbican DiDonato stars in the inexplicably belated UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking, based on Sister Helen Prejean’s book. As contemporary opera goes, Heggie’s musical universe could hardly be further removed from the latest offerings from the likes of Thomas Adès, George Benjamin and others on this side of the pond to whom the major opera commissions generally go. And thereby hangs an interesting anomaly. A year or so ago I held court with DiDonato and Heggie in a post-concert event following their performance of Heggie’s dramatic song-cycle (is that a fair description? do we need one?) Camille Claudel: Into the Fire. We discussed grateful, singable, word-setting and, more pertinently, the influence of America’s rich musical theatre heritage on composers as diverse as Aaron Copland, Carlisle Floyd, Samuel Barber, Marc Blitzstein, John Adams, John Corigliano – the list goes on. And yet there are those for whom the ‘Broadway’ legacy is acknowledged with suspicion, those who regard the predominantly tonal language of Heggie and the international success of Dead Man Walking and, more recently, Moby Dick as the result of their being populist and lightweight and worst of all ‘conservative’. When Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz (he of Godspell and Wicked) ventured into the realms of opera and a more sung-through form with Seance on a Wet Afternoon one critic referenced his Broadway credentials as if that were a bad thing. That’s like saying that West Side Story is far too good simply to be a musical (look what happened when they tried to ‘operatise’ it) or that Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is operatic in manner and therefore belongs in an opera house. The tragically short-lived Marc Blitzstein made no distinction between his opera Regina and his glorious musical Juno (one of Broadway’s great forgotten scores). Both played Broadway theatres. And why not? So let’s pay less attention to labelling and start breaking down unhelpful divisions. And while we’re about it, let’s stop using the term ‘art song’. What is that supposed to mean? That there is somehow only ‘art’ in songs thus labelled? Of course, that was never the intention – but neither was the suggestion that calling something an opera would somehow elevate its importance. gramophone.co.uk

‘Can there be more luminous tones and cusp-ofsilence dynamics to be drawn from a guitar than the ones Sean Shibe constantly searches out? […] I want to hear his interpretation of Britten’s Nocturnal over and over. This, for me, is the definitive performance’ — The Arts Desk, September 2015 (concert review) DCD34193

‘Most of [the works here] were inspired by Julian Bream’s superlative artistry … Under Shibe’s fingers, they are all mesmerising’ — Gramophone, September 2017, EDITOR’S CHOICE

‘Shibe is another Bream, or something close’ — Sunday Times, July 2017

The Last Island: chamber music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Hebrides Ensemble

DCD34178

Peter Maxwell Davies’s later music powerfully evokes the isolated majesty of his Orkney home, yet it also bears witness to his talent for friendship – to his associations, both personal and musical, with friends and supporters in Scotland and further afield. In its second Delphian recording, the Hebrides Ensemble reciprocates Davies’s friendship with definitive performances of works from his last decade, including four works written for the Ensemble or its members and concluding with the single completed movement of a string quartet left unfinished at his death. ‘haunting … The Hebrides players bring questing energy to all these works … a rewarding album’ — The Times, August 2017

Stravinsky / Rachmaninov / Tchaikovsky: Russian works for piano four hands Peter Hill & Benjamin Frith

DCD34191

Sergei Rachmaninov, last of the great Romantic composers, and Igor Stravinsky, whose early scores for Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes revolutionised the musical world, had a shared fascination for the traditional music of their homeland. Rachmaninov’s early masterpiece, the Six morceaux Op. 11, already exhibits the sweep and grandeur of his maturity, while Stravinsky’s four-hands arrangement of Petrushka reveals this glittering ballet anew in a tour de force of pianistic virtuosity. Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly exquisite transcriptions of Russian folksongs, meanwhile, include two melodies later used by Stravinsky in The Firebird and Petrushka. Peter Hill, whose Bach series for Delphian continues to attract superlatives, is here joined for the first time on the label by his long-term duo partner Benjamin Frith. Together they explore every facet of the art of the piano duet in performances of truly exceptional power, delicacy and authority.

Delphian Records Ltd, 34 Wallace Avenue, Wallyford, East Lothian, EH21 8BZ www.delphianrecords.co.uk Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or find out more by joining the Delphian mailing list: www.delphianrecords.co.uk/join

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 13


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Celebrating the best of the best Editor-in-Chief James Jolly guides you through this year’s Awards very so often a recording streaks ahead of the others both in the early rounds and at the Recording of the Year jury meeting, and this year was no exception (if curiosity has overcome you, simply turn the page for all to be revealed). Once again, we’ve reached that time of the year when we take stock of the highlights of 12 months’ worth of outstanding recordings. The process starts in the spring when we compile a longlist of all the Editor’s Choice recordings from the 13 issues that run from June 2016 to May 2017. Each critic is allowed to supplement these with particular favourites that weren’t acknowledged in our monthly top 10. This then forms the field for Round 1. At this point, the list is divided up by genre (similar to the sections of the magazine though with some more specific subdivisions – the Baroque, for example, is divided into Vocal and Instrumental sections). Critics who then specialise in these areas vote to narrow the list to just six in each of the 12 categories. Round 2 is open to any of Gramophone’s 50 or so critics and they can opt into as many or as few categories as they like. Recordings are then sent out so everyone has access to the music and they have a couple of months for the Round 2 listening and judging. This

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second vote produces the individual Award winners, and these are all re-evaluated in the pages that follow. To narrow that dozen to just one Recording of the Year we convene a meeting of 16 critics and each juror is sent a complete set of the winning discs. We then spend a wonderfully lively and informative morning arguing about the merits of each winner – what they add to the catalogue, how they demonstrate a new way with the music, what they reveal about the artists and so on. After a couple of hours’ debate we take a secret vote from which the Recording of the Year emerges. This year, as I said at the start, the Recording of the Year winner enjoyed a runaway triumph – and a hugely deserving one (and proof that our bestowing of a Young Artist Award on the winner many years ago was an auspicious move). Of course, there are a handful of other awards that we give out – to a young artist who has been catching our attention, to a great artist whose lifetime work has earned enormous gratitude from us as well as a huge audience. Also, to someone who has caught your imagination, as our Artist of the Year is a public vote. Throw in a Label of the Year and a couple of special prizes to mark the Awards’ 40th anniversary, and it’s been a particularly rich year.

Once again we’re delighted to be partnering with one of our Associate Sponsors, Qobuz, who are sponsoring our Recording of the Year. This is a prize which has honoured many of the most exciting and impressive musicians, and 2017 is no exception – an astounding recording by a former Gramophone Young Artist …

Medici.tv streamed the Awards live, a relay sponsored by E Gutzwiller & Cie, Banquiers, and IMG Artists. Don’t worry if you missed it and the wonderful live music – including performances by the Pan-Armenian SO and Sergey Smabtyan, Benjamin Appl and The Tallis Scholars – because you can catch up with it for 90 days at medici.tv as well as at Gramophone’s website.

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GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 15


RECORDING OF THE YEAR Concerto WINNER

Isabelle Faust’s wonderful way with Mozart

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different beauty here, a new way of hearing these deliciously Italianate masterpieces that doesn’t so much replace what we know and love as offer, in musical terms, a conceptual supplement. To deal with the accompaniments first, Giovanni Antonini’s periodinstrument Il Giardino Armonico sport an unusually wide range of dynamics. Take the Fifth Concerto, its decisive opening chord followed by a shimmering Allegro aperto, kept tense and quiet aside from some dramatic interjections. The expected lack of vibrato and the tweaking of certain note values in tutti passages also arrest attention, such as the opening’s second idea: this is swift, buoyant, trimly tailored playing, up and running from the off and with not so much as an ounce of excess weight to hold it back. Isabelle Faust’s first entry is spun silver, gently conspicuous by its chasteness and yet very much of a piece with her musical surroundings. These forces score highest in the exotic ‘Turkish’ episode of the Fifth’s finale, Faust as deft as a dancing devil, Antonini and his band charging the atmosphere with pungent textures and fiery rhythms. It’s good that they preceded the Concerto with the Adagio, K261, composed because Antonio Brunetti – Mozart’s replacement as concertmaster in Salzburg (and a ‘thoroughly ill-bred fellow’ according to

16 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Mozart Violin Concertos Nos 1-5. Adagio, K261. Rondos – K269; K373 Isabelle Faust vn Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini Harmonia Mundi M b HMC90 2230/31 Producer Martin Sauer Engineers Tobias Lehmann, Wolfgang Schiefermann

187 votes

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Mozart himself) – found the Adagio of the main work too ‘artificial’. Slow movements are given an unusual slant, occasionally in a way that maybe craves adjustment from the listener, especially the listener ‘of a certain age’. The Third Concerto’s Adagio opens to muted first violins which in this instance sound more like period woodwinds, a mellow blend of tones that paves the way for Faust’s gleaming first solo entry. Another case in point is the Andante from the Fourth Concerto where, after the cadenza (here, as elsewhere, the innovative work of the period keyboard player Andreas Staier), Mozart writes a heart-stopping little coda: in essence, four repeated notes, then an upwards scale that climbs down, dips further and, as traditionally heard, rises back to the initial note on a heartfelt slide. Faust’s way is not so much to drift upwards on ethereal wings as to take a notational elevator, then embellish the line. It’s an interesting idea but as of the present I still have the likes of Ehnes, Mutter, Szeryng, Heifetz, Grumiaux, Martzy (especially beautiful) and others tugging at my heartstrings, imploring me to stay with their warmer, more direct approach. Still, Faust’s alternative is certainly food for thought. Mention of Staier’s cadenzas prompts me to quote his theories appertaining to the concertos’ ‘proximity gramophone.co.uk

P H O T O G R A P H Y: F E L I X B R O E D E

‘A remarkably refreshing collection, the sort that challenges previously held convictions’


of tone to Italian opera’ (his own words), and the idea of opera recitative, which means that some of the cadenzas are unusually complex and/or long. The Third Concerto’s first movement provides a striking place to sample. Listen to disc 1, track 8, from 6'49", a top-gear, Locatellistyle unaccompanied showpiece, at least initially, then wittily hesitant, and which come 7'59" summons the orchestra back for dual action. Modern scholarship suggests that the First Concerto predates the other four and listening to it again after a short break I can recognise its stylistic similarity to music from the late Baroque period. Of special note is the flowing, elegantly voiced Adagio, Faust’s entry here among the most beautiful moments in the entire set. The Second Concerto’s first movement is demonstrably operatic in style, true concerto buffa, the first movement full of fun, the Andante a dead ringer for a Mozart or even a Rossini aria, granted a shapely reading by Faust and her skilled accomplices, delicate and tonally varied. So a remarkably refreshing collection, the sort that challenges previously held convictions, and a good thing that it does too. The recorded balance is excellent, keeping the soloist in focus while granting the orchestra plenty of presence. Rob Cowan RU N N E R S - U P

Sibelius. Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos Lisa Batiashvili vn Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim DG 159 votes Beach. Chaminade. Howell Piano Concertos Danny Driver pf BBC Scottish SO / Rebecca Miller Hyperion 145 votes

CYMBELINE SHAKESPEARE Royal Shakespeare Company Britain is in crisis. Alienated, insular and on the brink of disaster. Can it be saved? Melly Still directs Shakespeare’s rarely performed romance of power, jealousy and a journey of love and reconciliation. This production cast the role of Cymbeline as a woman, played by Gillian Bevan. DVD | BLU-RAY

ANASTASIA TCHAIKOVSKY Royal Opera House Royal Ballet Principal Natalia Osipova dances the title role in Kenneth MacMillan’s haunting ballet, to atmospheric music by Tchaikovsky and Martinů. Anastasia tells the story of Anna Anderson who, following the Russian Revolution and the murder of the royal family, claimed she was the surviving Grand Duchess Anastasia. DVD | BLU-RAY

THE TEMPEST SHAKESPEARE Royal Shakespeare Company On a distant island, a man waits. Robbed of his position, power and wealth, his enemies have left him in isolation. But this is no ordinary man or ordinary island. Simon Russell Beale returns to the RSC after 20 years to play Prospero. Directed by Artistic Director Gregory Doran. DVD | BLU-RAY

WILLIAM TELL ROSSINI Royal Opera House Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, conducts Rossini's epic final masterpiece of French grand opera with an all-star cast that includes Gerald Finley in the title role, alongside John Osborn, Malin Byström and Sofia Fomina. DVD | BLU-RAY

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 17


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT WINNER

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‘If anyone has experienced success it is this possessor of one of the loveliest voices of modern times’

ie Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Ding’, sings the Marschallin in Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier – ‘Time is a strange thing’. Time for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the most admired Marschallins of our age, is not about looking back. It’s for looking forwards. ‘I get bored talking about the past’, she says, a line Hofmannsthal might easily have dropped into one of his librettos. Dame Kiri may have stopped singing publicly (‘No, I don’t miss it’), but she certainly doesn’t consider herself retired. She maintains a busy schedule overseeing her Foundation, an organisation to help future generations of singers. ‘Some of my students say to me, “How can I repay you for what you’ve done for me?” I reply, “Just be successful!”’ And if anyone has experienced success it is this possessor of one of the loveliest voices of modern times. That great connoisseur of the voice (and one of Gramophone’s best-loved contributors) John 18 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

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Steane commented of Te Kanawa’s ‘Dove sono’ (Le nozze di Figaro) that ‘the legato is perfect, the style aristocratic, the tone at its loveliest’, and drew comparisons with Meta Seinemeyer (and from JBS that was high praise indeed). It’s exactly 25 years since Gramophone bestowed its Artist of the Year Award on Dame Kiri. That year, 1992, had been an extraordinary one for her when it came to recordings: we’d had Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier from EMI, conducted by Haitink, a second recording of the Four Last Songs from Decca, conducted by Solti, Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus from Philips, conducted by André Previn, as well as an album of songs by Michel Legrand (to add to a sizeable lighter catalogue that included Gershwin, Bernstein, Kern and Rodgers and Hammerstein). As we celebrate Kiri Te Kanawa’s career with the Lifetime Achievement Award, we must be thankful that she lived through one of the richest periods for recordings and had the fortune to record for gramophone.co.uk


companies with great operatic heritages: Decca, EMI, Philips and CBS/Sony Classical. She enjoyed recording because, she says, ‘I liked the idea of getting things Mozart down while my voice Le nozze di Figaro was still in good shape. Solti I always felt that while it Decca (4/84) was still there and still with a sweet quality to it, R Strauss the more we could Four Last Songs capture the better. VPO / Solti Getting it perfect wasn’t Decca (9/91) my idea; having long takes was. It had to be a R Strauss performance; not spliced Der Rosenkavalier together.’ And she got Haitink the chance to record Warner Classics (8/91) all her major roles (sometimes more than Verdi once: especially with Simon Boccanegra the increased interest Solti in DVD). Decca (5/93) ‘I always said as I went along, throughout my Verdi career, that I never got Otello it perfect’, she revealed. Solti ‘I never got it totally as Opus Arte I wanted it. I suppose that was quite an achievement, never getting it to the point of perfection. I never did. But I got as close as I could. Sometimes your colleagues were good, sometimes not so good. Sometimes the conducting wasn’t so good. I always had a sort of octopus view of things, tentacles everywhere, to see if it was going right or wrong. I suppose the Met went very right on a lot of occasions. But when you’ve got 4000 people in the audience and they have 4000 different ideas, you don’t know if you’re singing to a friendly group or an unfriendly group, so you have to hope!’ Dame Kiri’s voice might have been made for the music of Mozart and Strauss, and her recordings of operas (and choral works and songs) by those two composers remain particularly cherishable: her Capriccio Countess was a glorious characterisation, as was her Arabella; and in Mozart we have her Pamina, Countess Almaviva, Donna Elvira (particularly fine both under Sir Colin Davis and in the classic Joseph Losey film with Ruggiero Raimondi as Giovanni) and Fiordiligi, not to mention a glorious C minor Mass and some of the concert arias. Dame Kiri has achieved what few classical singers manage, to attract a huge international audience with everything from musical theatre to grand opera, and she approached it all with the same spirit. She worked hard, she played the game (chat shows, Morecambe and Wise, constant interviews) and she gave generously of her time. Now, she has the time to devote to her extensive garden, and live the life she missed during her career. As Frederica von Stade once said to her, “We’re on a freight train, and from time to time we stop!” And, Dame Kiri continues, ‘that’s what it was like. It was like buzzing through almost 50 years of not stopping. It was an incredible life and when I look back on it, I keep thinking, “How did I have any time for anything?” It was just the music – getting ready and then doing it. I don’t think I could do it today.’ JJ T H E E S S E N T I A L K I R I T E K A N AWA

P H O T O G R A P H Y: J O H N S W A N N E L L / E M I C L A S S I C S

Bernstein West Side Story Bernstein DG (4/85)

THE COLLECTION Spanning more than two hundred years of opera, this magnificent 22-disc collection brings together 18 outstanding operas in a luxurious box set. A special edition book is also included, containing new articles about The Royal Opera, richly illustrated with stunning photographs. The Collection is a dazzling tour of operatic treasures by Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Wagner, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Strauss, Szymanowski, Britten and George Benjamin.

OUT NOW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

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See also Hugo Shirley’s Kiri Te Kanawa playlist on page 129 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 19


ARTIST OF THE YEAR WINNER

‘Petrenko is making waves, and we’re happy to endorse this impressive lead, from over 8000 votes cast’

till a boyish 41, Vasily Petrenko makes a return to the Gramophone Classical Music Awards this year having been our Young Artist of the Year back in 2007 (a year when, unusually, our Artist of the Year, Hilary Hahn, was younger!). His work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the ensemble he has led first as Principal Conductor and then as Chief Conductor since 2006, continues to impress, and no more so than in the set of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos 3, 4 and 6, released by Onyx earlier this year, and which was received with universal acclaim, clinching Gramophone’s Recording of the Month in March. Mark Pullinger remarked that ‘Petrenko’s fast and furious approach once again pays off with invigorating performances which dispel Russian gloom. The RLPO play their socks off and must rank as one of the finest “Russian orchestras” in the UK today.’ For a St Petersburg-trained conductor, it must have been with some satisfaction that MP drew comparisons (in the Fourth Symphony) with Yevgeny Mravinsky. The Pathétique, a crowning performance here in every respect, is characterised by vivid dynamics and a wonderful control of intensity. If Petrenko drew on his Russian roots in the Tchaikovsky, he drew on the orchestra’s in another of this year’s recording projects (and another Onyx release): a disc of Edward Elgar’s Second Symphony and some shorter works. Jeremy Dibble (who reviewed the companion recording of the First Symphony two years ago) wrote that ‘I am even more impressed by the Russian’s reading of the Second Symphony, which has a clarity of sound to match the luxuriance of Elgar’s orchestration. 20 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Indeed, the RLPO, on great form, provide a sumptuous array of textures with an ensemble that is crisp and incisive. It is so good to hear every note of the athletic brass counterpoint in the horns and trumpets and the lithe filigree of Elgar’s careful doublings between wind and strings … Petrenko is, for the most part, spot-on with his tempos.’ RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS Since the start of the 2013/14 season, Petrenko has been Chief Conductor of the Tchaikovsky Oslo Philharmonic (one of those ensembles Symphonies Nos 3, 4 & 6 that seems to launch meteoric careers – just Royal Liverpool PO look at Mariss Jansons, with whom Petrenko Onyx (3/17) studied). They’ve already set down an impressive little discography and this last year Prokofiev saw a version of Prokofiev’s complete Romeo Romeo and Juliet, Op 64 and Juliet ballet. While not totally sold on Oslo PO Petrenko’s approach, David Gutman noted LAWO (12/16) (12/16) that ‘In place of Soviet-style weight, Petrenko wields a new broom … Sections within numbers are refreshed unpredictably, sometimes slowed, more often swift, voicings tweaked to expose long-buried lines or surprising points of colour’. And one shouldn’t forget his charismatic work with the European Union Youth Orchestra, whose Chief Conductor he also is. His ability to connect with young musicians is impresive and the results speak for themselves. Gramophone’s Artist of the Year is voted for by the public – readers of Gramophone and visitors to our various social media outlets. Vasily Petrenko is making waves, and we’re happy to endorse this impressive lead, from over 8000 votes cast, for an artist who has clearly made the step up to a new level of musicianship and has the ability to take audiences with him on his musical journey. JJ gramophone.co.uk

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R K M C N U LT Y

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Vasily Petrenko


Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra 2017-2018 Season

ARTIST OF THE YEAR

Vasily Petrenko Chief Conductor Gramophone Artist of the Year 2017

Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko leads a sparkling season of great music in Liverpool, a UNESCO City of Music, with must-see artists and rising stars including Sir Bryn Terfel and Stephen Hough in residence, the UK premiere of composer Philip Glass’s Eleventh Symphony, the Art of the Piano and much more!

‘Vasily Petrenko with his beloved Liverpool orchestra …… glorious, enormously compelling.’ Gramophone

%R[2̇FH 0151 709 3789 liverpoolphil.com LiverpoolPhilharmonic @liverpoolphil

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A Signum recording session with Sarah Connolly and Malcolm Martineau

LABEL OF THE YEAR WINNER

Signum Classics

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or an avid record collector, opening the morning’s post at Gramophone remains one of life’s great joys; and opening the post when a package arrives from Signum induces particular pleasure since it unleashes the spirit of serendipity. In an age awash with information, the simple act of opening a parcel without knowing quite what’s inside is an unusual surprise. What you can always be sure of with Signum’s monthly releases is that they will invariably be splendidly recorded and never predictable. And that recipe has set the company in good stead for the first two decades of its existence. 22 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

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It’s always good to mark significant anniversaries in the life of a record company, but when that anniversary is supported by a stream of first-rate recordings, recognition is less dutiful and rather more the result of inspiration. The 2016-17 vintage has seen some truly superb releases and many Editor’s Choices – Haydn’s The Seasons conducted by Paul McCreesh, a terrific recording of chamber and vocal works by Jonathan Dove, Sophie Bevan and Ian Page’s The Mozartists in scenas and concert arias, further instalments in Malcolm Martineau’s Fauré song series, JS Bach organ works from David Goode, Peter Donohoe’s Shostakovich Preludes and gramophone.co.uk

P H O T O G R A P H Y: B E N J A M I N E A L O V E G A

Great sound, imaginative A&R and pure serendipity secured Signum’s Award


BORIS GILTBURG VASILY PETRENKO

SHOSTAKOVICH

8.573666

“Giltburg’s new accounts… under Vasily Petrenko are first class” International Piano

Conducted by Vasily Petrenko Gramophone Artist of the Year 2017

“Giltburg has all the agility, power and expressive intensity Shostakovich’s piano concertos demand… And he has found like-minded partners in the RLPO and Petrenko” Gramophone

RACHMANINOV SEP 2017

8.573629

Fugues, Nielsen’s Flute and Clarinet Concertos with the Philharmonia conducted by Paavo Järvi, choral works from St John’s College, Cambridge, and Wells Cathedral Choir, Roy Harris and John Adams violin concertos from Tamsin WaleyCohen … the list goes on. It’s been a long journey from the mid-1990s, when Floating Earth (Signum’s sister company) would make recordings in an executive production capacity – which it financed, owned and licensed to both independents and majors – to today’s position as one of the most productive companies (in quantity, quality and range) on the UK classical music scene. As Steve Long, Signum’s MD, recalls, an approach from an artist to record nine discs of Tallis got things under way. ‘Having pressed the first three albums and been to [the industry trade fair] Midem to get distribution, the first discs went on sale in November 1997. We were quickly approached by other early music groups who wanted to be on this new early music label so rather than be a niche of a niche I decided to broaden the scope of the label to be a multi-artist but still early music label. We continued in that vein until about 2001, by which time we had over 40 albums released but copious requests from non-early-music groups to join the party.’ Soon artists like Tenebrae and The King’s Singers had a new home. ‘We have a number of different ways of making recordings happen’, Long continues. ‘The most common is that an artist comes to us with an idea and we make it happen in that we take care of technical and production elements and they put in the musical and artistic elements. We always like the artists to be “invested” in the recording and have the making of the recording the start of the journey, not the end, as far as they are concerned. We view each release as a co-production with the artists. We also like each artist to undertake a series of recordings rather than stand-alone projects so we can develop a following for them.’ With over 500 recordings in the catalogue and 50 releases emerging each year, Signum is very much a part of our world – and, always mindful of the way its audience listens, ensures that it is visible on all available platforms and on formats from the traditional CD to the massively popular stream. JJ

“His vision will place him among the truly memorable Rachmaninov interpreters” Gramophone on 8.573469 Recording of the month

© Oliver Binns

The Mozartists’ Ian Page with Sophie Bevan at the ‘Perfido’ sessions for Signum gramophone.co.uk

www.naxosdirect.co.uk www.naxos.com GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 23


LABEL OF THE YEAR 2017 CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR WONDERFUL ARTISTS, ENGINEERS, PRODUCERS AND EVERYONE ELSE OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS WHO HAVE HELPED TO MAKE THE LABEL WHAT IT IS TODAY

RECORDING OF THE MONTH August 2017

EDITOR’S CHOICE July 2017

EDITOR’S CHOICE May 2017

WWW.SIGNUMRECORDS.COM Distributed by [PIAS] in the UK & Naxos of America in the USA

EDITOR’S CHOICE December 2016


YOUNG ARTIST OF THE YEAR WINNER

P H O T O G R A P H Y: J Ø R N P E D E R S E N / W A R N E R C L A S S I C S

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oung musicians usually impress in one of two different ways. One is to dazzle with the exuberance of youth, the sheer joy of their own talent and personality. It’s a hard thing to resist, but one would be wise to wonder if it will still be serving them so well a decade or so down the line. The other is to show technique, yes, but also the poise and wisdom often lazily assumed to be beyond the attainment of youth, but which, if you’ve got it, will surely never go away. A few minutes with the playing of Beatrice Rana leaves you in no doubt which category she is in. At 24, she has a refreshingly short competition history, though it includes first prize in the 2011 Montreal and Silver Medal at the 2013 Van Cliburn. Her days with such things are presumably over now, however, thanks to a contract from Warner Classics that has already yielded the Tchaikovsky First and Prokofiev Second Concertos (the Prokofiev ‘shapely, subtle, nuanced, musical in every detail’, according to our own Patrick Rucker) and, as a first solo disc, an exquisitely drawn Bach Goldberg Variations that scored highly in this year’s Instrumental category, only a year after Igor Levit’s winning recording of it seemed gramophone.co.uk

Beatrice Rana

‘Everything about Beatrice Rana speaks of maturity’

to have given us enough to think about for the time being. Born to pianist parents, she herself started on the instrument at the age of three, so that, RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS as she claims, ‘playing the piano was among the most natural things I could do’. Watch her Prokofiev. Tchaikovsky play now – a luxury I had for a whole day while Piano Concertos producing one of her BBC New Generation Rana; Santa Cecilia Orch / Artist studio sessions for Radio 3 – and it is Pappano evident that this deep grounding lends her a Warner Classics (12/15) calm stillness that betokens perfectly relaxed Bach technique and allows her to bring out the Goldberg Variations innate intelligence of her musical personality. Rana Read Harriet Smith’s review of the Goldbergs Warner Classics (4/17) (4/17) and you will learn of a mouth-watering succession of original and beautifully realised ideas. Better still, listen to the recording itself to encounter a profound musician who also happens to be a pianist through and through. Indeed, everything about Beatrice Rana speaks of maturity, from the playing itself to her modest reflections on it, and from her thoughtful approach Supported by to the music (see her Goldberg booklet note for that) to an attitude towards her career that essentially says ‘not too much at once’. We must be patient, then; it would surely be both impolite and impolitic to hurry her. There will be plenty more to savour in years to come. Lindsay Kemp GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 25


CONGRATULATIONS To all winners and nominees at the 2017 Gramophone Awards

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John Suchet: one of Classic FM’s cleverly chosen line-up of presenters

ANNIVERSARY AWARD WINNER

P H O T O G R A P H Y: C L A S S I C F M

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Classic FM

‘Classic FM plays an important role in promoting today’s artists in an increasingly indifferent world’

hen Classic FM’s Managing Editor, Sam Jackson, receives Gramophone’s special Anniversary Award (given to mark the 40th anniversary of the Gramophone Classical Music Awards) at the ceremony on September 13, the station will have just marked a special anniversary of its own: 25 years of national broadcasting in the UK (as one of only three independent national radio stations). It launched on September 7, 1992, and has become, in that quarter century, one of the most significant broadcasters in this country, with a weekly reach of 5.8 million listeners, 1.2 million of whom are under 35. Classic FM has become the world’s biggest classical music brand on Facebook, with videos there watched by around 17 million people every month. Two thirds of those who ‘like’ Classic FM on Facebook are also under 35 and it shares more of its audience with Radio 1 than Radio 3, again showing its significant role in developing younger audiences for classical music. Whatever their age, though, more people listen to classical music on Classic FM than via any other broadcast medium. It would be foolish to argue that Classic FM and Gramophone are a natural fit – our broadcast ‘mirror image’ is clearly BBC Radio 3 – but it would be equally foolish to underestimate Classic FM’s role in the musical life of this country. Supporting live music-making is not a requirement gramophone.co.uk

of a national radio station but Classic FM backs up its role as a national broadcaster by engaging with live music up and down the country. It maintains strong partnerships with orchestras across the nation and regularly promotes concerts, a powerful way of developing closer ties with its audiences. It works tirelessly with all of its partners to make classical music accessible to as broad an audience as possible. Where Classic FM comes closest to ‘our world’ is in its championing of recordings and its unwavering support for the classical record industry (at a time when classical music is finding it harder and harder to secure those column inches from arts editors with no interest in the genre). Giving new releases the oxygen of publicity is vital to ensure that recorded music maintains visibility in an increasingly information-packed world. While it would be easy to portray Classic FM and Radio 3 as being separated by a yawning gulf, there are numerous artists and recordings that fit quite comfortably into the outputs of both networks. Classic FM plays an important role in promoting today’s artists in an increasingly indifferent world. Add in 24 hour-a-day broadcasting, seven days a week, and you have the destination of choice for a substantial number of people. And the station’s cleverly chosen line-up of presenters has added to one of the broadcasting success stories of recent times. We wish Classic FM well for its next 25 years. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 27


SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT WINNER

C

‘It is as founder and executive producer of NMC Records that Matthews has made arguably his greatest contribution to the UK contemporary scene’

omposer, arranger, administrator, mentor and cultural advocate: it can be difficult to decide where the emphasis lies when considering Colin Matthews (b1946), his contribution to British music across more than 40 years putting composers, musicians and listeners alike in his debt. Matthews’s own music is notable for its diversity of content. Two of his earliest acknowledged works, the Fourth and Fifth Sonatas for Orchestra, meet the respective challenge of American minimalism and Mahlerian chromaticism head-on, their concern for evolving and integrating large-scale expressive contrast pursued in such impressive later pieces as Cortège, Memorial, Reflected Images and Traces Remain. A productive relationship with the classical heritage is no less evident in his concertos for violin, cello and horn, along with a cycle of string quartets (five to date) spanning the greater part of his output. Vocal works include the dramatic cantata The Great Journey, orchestral song-cycle Continuum and No Man’s Land, an arresting fusion of cantata and cabaret 28 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Colin Matthews

Sponsored by

commemorating the First World War in provocative yet affecting terms. This latter piece emerged out of Matthews’s decade as Associate Composer with the Hallé – most significant of several such posts that have also included the Philharmonia and London Symphony orchestras, and that also gave rise to acclaimed orchestrations of the 24 Préludes for piano by Debussy. These transcriptions and arrangements are no less central to his work: back in the early 1960s he orchestrated several Mahler songs in collaboration with his older brother David (himself a distinguished composer), and he has since arranged songcycles by Debussy, Holst and Britten. Matthews worked as amanuensis to Britten during his last years, and those editorial activities have continued with realisations of several early or unfinished pieces, in the process making new orchestral and chamber works available for performance. Mention should also be made of his involvement (alongside David) with Deryck Cooke on the latter’s performing edition of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, gramophone.co.uk


which has now received more than a dozen recordings and established itself as an integral part of the orchestral repertoire. Matthews has long been active as administrator of the Holst Foundation. He is also chairman of the Britten Estate, as well as a trustee and Music Director of the Britten-Pears Foundation. He served as a council member of the Aldeburgh Foundation for 11 years and has retained close links with the Aldeburgh Festival and the Britten-Pears School, not least as co-director (with Oliver Knussen) of the Contemporary Composition and Performance Course. He was a member of the council of the Society for the Promotion of New Music for over two decades, and director of the Performing Rights Society for three years. Since 1985 he has been a member of the music panel of the Radcliffe Trust and, since 2005, he has served as a council member of the Royal Philharmonic Society and Composition Director of the LSO’s Panufnik Scheme. Matthews has often worked as a recording producer, not the least significant being Górecki’s Third Symphony with the London Sinfonietta, which topped classical charts on both sides of the Atlantic and has sold more than one million copies during the 25 years since it was issued. It is as founder and executive producer of NMC Records that Matthews has made arguably his greatest contribution to the UK contemporary scene, and which has secured him this Special Achievement Award. From its modest beginnings in 1989 (the actual title is an acronym for New Music Cassettes), the label has built up a catalogue that currently amounts to 236 titles and which takes in a broad spectrum of British post-war music from senior composers such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Hugh Wood to rising stars such as Mark Simpson and Kate Whitley. Notable ‘firsts’ have included Anthony Payne’s realisation of the sketches for Elgar’s Third Symphony, an Archive series which comprises reissues of longunavailable recordings of British music, an Ancora series featuring reissues from other labels and a Debut series that focuses on composers from the younger generation. The NMC label has also been involved with download and online formats with such projects as New Music 20x12, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and New Music Biennial. Nine of its releases have won the Contemporary category of the Gramophone Awards over the past quarter-century. Colin Matthews received an honorary doctorate from Nottingham University in 1998, was given the Royal Philharmonic Society/Performing Rights Society Leslie Boosey Award in 2005 and made an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music. It is fitting he is being recognised with a Special Achievement Award at this year’s Gramophone Awards. Richard Whitehouse

BRAVO & CONGRATULATIONS VASILY PETRENKO! GRAMOPHONE ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD 2017

ONYX4150 & ONYX4162

ONYX4145 & ONYX4165

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1, 2 & 5* Symphonies 3, 4 & 6

Elgar: Symphonies 1 & 2

*BBC Music Magazine Awards Album of the Year 2017 & Best Orchestral Recording ‘The supreme quality of the orchestral playing and the vibrancy, cogency and impetus of Petrenko’s interpretations’ FINANCIAL TIMES

‘I commend Petrenko’s as the finest modern cycle of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies currently available.’ GRAMOPHONE

‘He gets Elgar...absolutely understands the beating heart of it...elegance, weight, gravitas...seriously beautiful playing...highest possible quality (recording)...our generation’s great Elgarian’ BBC RADIO 3 RECORD REVIEW

‘I am even more impressed by the Russian’s reading of the Second Symphony, which has a clarity of sound to match the luxuriance of Elgar’s orchestration.’ GRAMOPHONE

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A U R I C E F O X A L L , F I O N A G A R D E N / N M C R E C O R D I N G S

See also Richard Whitehouse’s NMC playlist on page 129

ONYX4140

ONYX4182

Prokofiev: Piano Concertos 1 & 3

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Rachmaninov: Spring Cantata, Debussy: Printemps

Diapson d’or winner ‘Third Piano Concerto ...receives a totally idiomatic and compelling performance, forcing it to the front of quite a crowded field’. ***** MAIL ON SUNDAY

NEW RELEASE October 2017

Visit ONYX Classics at www.onyxclassics.com Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/onyxclassics Colin Matthews with the conductor Martyn Brabbins at an NMC recording session gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 29


RECORDINGS

R:STRNG REMIX APP

Taking music by composer Kate Whitley as a starting point, this FREE app features a specially devised remix by Olugbenga Adelekan of Mercury Prize nominees Metronomy. Designed to meet the KS3/4 curriculum, it provides software for students to create their own remixes using the same techniques.

Bringing contemporary classical music to the classroom

GCSE DANCE Developed in partnership with Rambert Dance Company, this special resource features music by past Rambert Music Fellows (Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Mark Bowden, Quinta, Kate Whitley and Gavin Higgins) and selected works from the NMC catalogue suitable for the GCSE Dance choreography component.

GCSE COMPOSITION Works from the NMC catalogue are the starting point for practical lessons and student exercises in Rhinegold Education’s innovative Online Music Classroom. Addressing the composition aspect of the GCSE syllabus, it contains detailed lesson plans based on NMC composers and their works.

‘Capricious ‘C C yet cogent, Kate K a Whitley’s music has admirably a d user-friendly ssurfaces u that conceal hhidden id intensities. We will hhear e much more of her’ 77KH7LPHV+++++ K

‘Sh ‘Showcases ‘S S the incredible diversity d iv of music written ffor or dance ... compelling’ %%%&5DGLR5HFRUG5HYLHZ %

Inc IIncludes In ... Howard H o Skempton Lento ‘‘An A enigmatic orchestral cchorale h … like Gorecki’s TThird h Symphony, it is stuff tthat h cults are made of’ *UDPRSKRQH * U

CCD/MP3/FLAC D/ NMC D229

CCD/MP3/FLAC D/ NMC D232

CCD/MP3/FLAC D/ NMC D005

As a registered charity and award-winning contemporary music record label, NMC has a responsibility to connect listeners worldwide with the best new music from the British Isles, and to encourage audiences to experience the vibrant music of today’s composers through our catalogue. We are delighted to announce the launch of a series of nationwide initiatives to bring our recordings to a younger audience, to assist the development of emerging talent, and to inspire an interest and appreciation for new music.

If you’d like to support the many strands of work that we do, please visit: www.nmcrec.co.uk/support-us

New Releases

‘The quality of releases is proof of how central NMC has become to the UK’s contemporary music infrastructure’ GRAMOPHONE

CD/MP3/FLAC NMC D241

‘A touching & beautifully presented tribute to a signiÀcant Àgure in C20th British music’ 7KH*XDUGLDQ

@nmcrecordings

John McCabe

CD/MP3/FLAC NMC D230

Colin Riley

CD/MP3/FLAC NMC D236 originally on Court Lane Music

Imogen Holst

‘Riley is that rarest of birds, a genuine original’ /RQGRQ-D]]%ORJ

www.nmcrec.co.uk/education

Sacconi Quartet · Roderick Williams David Pyatt · John McCabe

4GIKUVGTGF%JCTKV[PQ


EARLY MUSIC WINNER

Dowland from the superb Phantasm

‘Freshly informed performances of the highest calibre’

F

ollowers of Phantasm will be shedding tears of joy at the news that Dowland’s Lachrimae has won this year’s Early Music Award. The critical reception since its release has been universally glowing, and, it should be said, some of the most perceptive insights came from our own Lindsay Kemp, writing in July 2016. Phantasm is no stranger to the Gramophone Awards, having been a frequent finalist in both the Early Music and Baroque Instrumental categories as well as a previous winner of both awards for its recordings of Gibbons (2004) and Purcell (1997). Among Phantasm’s defining strengths are the clarity, vision and determination of its leader, Laurence Dreyfus. Blessed with a formidable intellect, acute musical sensibilities, insatiable curiosity and a measure of self-belief, he chose to challenge an already crowded field of professional viol consorts specialising in the Elizabethan and Jacobean repertoires by putting together a crack ensemble of players after his own heart who could play as one and with whom he could develop freshly informed performances of the highest calibre. Over the years, Dreyfus’s gifts for teaching and research made him welcome in some of the finest British and American academic institutions where the marriage of musical performance and scholarship is encouraged. In that environment, musicians like Dreyfus are encouraged to delve deeper, to test and refine their interpretations before committing them gramophone.co.uk

Dowland Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares Phantasm with Elizabeth Kenny lute Linn F CKD527 Producer & Engineer

Philip Hobbs

131 votes

to disc, a luxury most professional performers can ill afford. This approach is precisely what marks out Phantasm’s Dowland recording from many of those issued from the mid-1980s onwards. Phantasm inevitably stands on the shoulders of its predessors, relying on Lynda Sayce and David Pinto’s 2004 Fretwork edition of the music and Peter Holman’s indispensable 1999 handbook, Dowland: Lachrimae (1604). Another veteran of a previous Lachrimae recording, the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, makes a thoughtfully judged contribution to this disc. Lindsay Kemp’s assessment is worthy of reprise: ‘Phantasm’s performances are totally convincing and absorbing. Drawing richly on their depth, intensity and homogeneity of tone, their acuity to the music’s ever-active emotional flux leaves them unafraid to use forceful gestures of articulation and dynamics to make a point.’ Julie Anne Sadie RU N N E R S - U P

Dufay Les Messes à teneur Cut Circle / Jesse Rodin Musique en Wallonie 94 votes ‘Music for the 100 Years’ War’ The Binchois Consort / Andrew Kirkman Hyperion 93 votes

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 31


CONGRATULATIONS TO ADRIAN CHANDLER AND LA SERENISSIMA 2017 GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER BAROQUE INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM

AV 2371

THE ITALIAN JOB Baroque Instrumental Music from the Italian States Albinoni – Caldara – Corelli – Tartini – Torelli – Vivaldi “were I asked to condense this review down to two simple words, they would be: buy it.” Gramophone, Editor’s Choice

NEW RELEASES TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme

SCHUMANN Cello Concerto

SAINT-SAËNS Cello Concerto No. 1 Antonio Meneses cello Claudio Cruz, Royal Northern Sinfonia AV 2373 Antonio Meneses celebrates the 35th anniversary of winning First Prize and the Gold Medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, as well as his 60th birthday this year, with his first recordings of three cornerstones of the cello concertante repertoire.

HOME Works for Solo Harp by Bach, Debussy, Sting and others Elizabeth Hainen harp

AV 2378

Elizabeth Hainen, Solo Harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, performs a programme of pieces she enjoys playing in the intimacy of her own home, including popular works by Bach, Debussy and Sting.

VISIT AVIE RECORDS Distributed in the UK by Proper Note, The New Powerhouse, Gateway Business Centre, Kangley Bridge Road, London SE26 5AN, Tel: 020 8676 5114, Fax: 020 8676 5169

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BAROQUE INSTRUMENTAL WINNER

Italian concertos from La Serenissima

‘There’s a fearless, fun-filled naturalness to the whole’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: E R I C R I C H M O N D

L

a Serenissima have a glorious and alltoo-rare ability to make one’s pulse race afresh with every new project, and ‘The Italian Job’ – a programme of sinfonias and concertos from four musical cities – contains all their typical hallmarks: crisply precise articulation, bang-on intonation, elegant blending and zinging sonority, but all this perfection is by no means straight-laced. Instead there’s a fearless, fun-filled naturalness to the whole, and always the impression of an ensemble who believe in every single note they strike or stroke. Looking at the programme itself, it’s a feast of contrasting textures and colours. Compare the reedy bite and bounce of Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in C with the lighter, all-strings elegance of Tartini’s Violin Concerto in E, for instance. Or indeed the disc’s climactic work, Torelli’s Sinfonia in C, because while with recordings I’m usually only focused on the finished package, with this sinfonia’s monster-sized solo line-up of four trumpets, timpani, and two each of oboes, bassoons, violins and cellos, I can’t help but dream of what an extraordinary listening experience the recording sessions must have been. It’s certainly come across wonderfully on disc. gramophone.co.uk

‘The Italian Job’ Albinoni. Caldara. Corelli. Tartini. Torelli. Vivaldi Concertos and sinfonias La Serenissima / Adrian Chandler vn Avie F AV2371 Producer & Engineer Simon Fox-Gál

108 votes

Back in my initial review in April I commented that it felt almost unhelpful to draw readers’ attentions to ‘highlights’ when the whole was so wonderful, but then couldn’t resist pointing out that aforementioned Tartini violin concerto. Now, months on, this is still the work I’m most regularly pressing the repeat button on: think gently flowing metronomic ticking, graceful ensemble playing, and exquisitely voiced and ornamented solo violin lines from Chandler himself which dance and glide along with the fine-toned warmth, sweetness and delicacy of spun brown sugar. Bravo La Serenissima! Charlotte Gardner RU N N E R S - U P

Telemann Ihr Völker hört, TWV1:921. Concertos Florilegium / Ashley Solomon fl Channel Classics 107 votes Vivaldi Concerti per due violini Giuliano Carmignola, Amandine Beyer vns Gli Incogniti Harmonia Mundi 107 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 33


BAROQUE VOCAL WINNER

A Bach programme of daring and integrity from Iestyn Davies

‘The voice soars into its adopted place with astonishing beauty’

T

hat the leading countertenor of his generation should present a disc of Bach’s alto cantatas is no surprise. It’s become something of a rite of passage since the hovering delicacies of Alfred Deller’s perfectly formed vowels from 1953. Each to his taste, the difference between Iestyn Davies in the two ubiquitous solo cantatas (Nos 54 and 170) and most of the other recordings of this kind is that he searches out meaning on every level, never attempting to beguile you with the ease and allure of his voice alone. This pays dividends at every turn, not least in the exquisite Widerstehe (No 54). For some, the rolling acres of seamless phrases might appear on the brisk side, but such is Davies’s refined placement, alongside the crystalline accompaniment of Jonathan Cohen’s super-alert Arcangelo, that the listener feels an organic steadfastness without needing the indulgence of obvious props. Cohen and Davies adopt the same principle in the celebrated set pieces of Ich habe genug. This is a work whose transposition from the baritone original can be perilous but here the voice soars into its adopted place with astonishing beauty of concept and execution. Iestyn Davies’s vocal production is deeply satisfying because it’s always made to fit the expressive environment like a glove, through studied survey and 34 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

JS Bach Cantatas – No 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde; No 82, Ich habe genug; No 170, Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust; No 52 – Sinfonia; No 174 – Sinfonia Iestyn Davies counterten Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen Hyperion F CDA68111 Producer Tim Oldham Engineer David Hinitt

145 votes

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pure instinct in kaleidoscopic tandem. Witness the unsettling imagery in No 170 (‘How those perverted hearts grieve me’), where Davies’s communicative artistry delivers a particularly insidious idea of Satan’s venom and cursing. As I suggested in the original review, the implication of incessant irritation here plays just as critical a part in this graphic scena as extreme rhetorical discomfort. This is an important recording for its questing thoughtfulness, calculated risk and clarity of vision. Most tellingly, perhaps, it never drifts towards muddy sentimentality into which Bach’s alto cantatas can too easily fall. A rare and mesmerising collaboration of a special singer and seasoned instrumentalists, beautifully recorded at St Jude’s, Hampstead. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood RU N N E R S - U P

JS Bach St Matthew Passion Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner SDG 121 votes Monteverdi Madrigals, Vol 3: Venezia Les Arts Florissants / Paul Agnew Harmonia Mundi 101 votes

gramophone.co.uk


RECORD OF THE YEAR

1996 WINNING GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SINCE 1982 RECORD OF THE YEAR

1998

GOLD DISC AWARD

2008

RECORD OF THE YEAR

2010


CHAMBER WINNER

Thrilling advocacy for a far-too-neglected composer

‘You won’t find a more stylishly performed introduction to Bacewicz’s world’

T

Grażyna Bacewicz Complete String Quartets Silesian Quartet Chandos B b CHAN10904 Producer Paweł Potoroczyn Engineer Beata JankowskaBurzyńska

156 votes

Sponsored by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music programme

assimilating them into a powerfully individual musical language. There’s intense sadness, but also, more surprisingly, an almost Haydnish sense of humour. As Adrian Thompson puts it in his note, ‘Bacewicz is one of the few post-war composers who have succeeded in writing music that is authentically playful’. The Silesian Quartet play these works like they’ve known them all their lives, in performances that are simultaneously fresh and refined, with a lightly worn command of Bacewicz’s brilliant string sonorities. It’s this lived-in quality that – taken as a whole – gives the Silesians the edge over their rivals on Naxos and make this the year’s most essential chamber recording. Richard Bratby RU N N E R S - U P

Bruch String Octet. String Quintets The Nash Ensemble Hyperion 143 votes Abrahamsen. Adès. Nørgård String Quartets Danish Quartet ECM New Series 137 votes

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A G D A L E N A J O D L O W S K A / M AY O

hese are exhilarating times for string quartet fans, and following last year’s award for the Heath Quartet’s Tippett, it’s thrilling to be able to salute an outstanding new recording of a major 20th-century cycle that, if anything, is in even more urgent need . of reappraisal. Grazyna Bacewicz’s quartets aren’t complete strangers to the catalogue, but these performances by the Silesian Quartet set a new standard. You won’t find a more articulate, persuasive and stylishly performed introduction to her world. And Bacewicz’s seven quartets, written between 1938 and 1965, really do create a whole imaginative universe. Taken individually, they’re fascinating; music of concentrated invention, life-affirming energy and superb technical skill (Bacewicz was a virtuoso violinist herself). Listened to as a cycle, they become a vivid portrait-in-the-round of Bacewicz’s life and times. You’ll hear the influences of Polish folk music, of Szymanowski and Bartók, and the post-war experiments of her younger contemporaries Lutosπawski and Penderecki. You’ll also hear her journey from youthful exuberance to the fully achieved neoclassical mastery of the Third Quartet, and then onwards – testing the musical ‘isms’ of the 1950s and 1960s, and

36 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

gramophone.co.uk


WARNER CLASSICS & ERATO CONGRATULATES OUR AWARD-WINNING ARTISTS

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 RECITAL AWARD: JOYCE DIDONATO

ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD: VASILY PETRENKO PETER AND THE WOLF

IN WAR & PEACE – HARMONY THROUGH MUSIC

Alexander Armstrong Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Vasily Petrenko (CD, Download, Stream)

Il Pomo d’Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev (CD, Double Vinyl LP, Download, Stream)

YOUNG ARTIST AWARD: BEATRICE RANA BBC RADIO 3 NEW GENERATION ARTIST BACH: GOLDBERG VARIATIONS

PROKOFIEV & TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTOS

(CD, Download, Stream)

Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Sir Antonio Pappano (CD, Download, Stream)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: DAME KIRI TE KANAWA 5 CLASSIC ALBUMS

OPERA ARIAS

(5CDs: Jerome Kern / Cole Porter / Irving Berlin / George Gershwin / Karl Jenkins)

(4CDs: Italian / Puccini / German / French)

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Warner Music UK Ltd.


Oslo Philharmonic + − Gramophone Magazine «Artist of the Year 2017» Congratulations from the Oslo Philharmonic to our chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko! Highlights with Petrenko autumn 2017: 23-24-25 August in Oslo 29 August in London Stravinsky / Rachmaninoff / Shostakovich Leif Ove Andsnes, piano

8-9 November Rachmaninoff / Bartok Lukas Vondracek, piano

6-7 September Stravinsky / Scriabin / Wagner Kirill Gerstein, piano

29-30 November Strauss / Berio / De Falla Louisa Tuck, violincello Gonzalo Moreno, piano

19-20 October Strauss / Bizet / Wagner Elisabeth Kulman, mezzo soprano

www.ofo.no


ORCHESTRAL WINNER

Vol 4 of Il Giardino Armonico’s glorious Haydn series

‘These players’ experience and knowledge of the music really shines’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: H E I K E K A N D A L O W S K I

‘T

he sort of Haydn-playing you dream of’ is how I signed off my original review, back in May, of Vols 3 and 4 of Giovanni Antonini’s Haydn cycle. And I mean it. Even the occasional gripe (for example minuets played fast, even though that’s the current vogue) doesn’t detract from the superfine accuracy of the playing, especially from the strings. That’s partly because Antonini is not just recording Haydn’s symphonies; he’s performing them around Europe as well. Most earlier Haydn cycles have been very much rehearse-record affairs – some evidently with precious little of the former – but these players’ experience and knowledge of the music really shines. In truth, any one of the first four volumes of this cycle could have been picked as a winner; that it’s Vol 4 is particularly satisfying for the choice of symphonies. The disc takes its name from No 60, Il distratto, a symphony assembled from theatre music that itself becomes distracted, forgets where it is, mithers around an unresolved chord until it remembers why it went in there in the first place … a fine example of Haydn’s wit. No 70 traces a lightto-darkness trajectory, culminating in the austere knocking rhyhms of its concluding D minor fugue. And No 12, from the early Esterházy days, is in lush E major, a favourite key of the young Haydn’s that often drew from him music of particular beauty. gramophone.co.uk

‘Haydn 2032 – No 4, Il distratto’ Haydn Symphonies – No 12; No 60, ‘Il distratto’; No 70 Cimarosa Il maestro di capellaa a Riccardo Novaro bar Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini Alpha F ALPHA674; b 6 ALPHA675

Producer Friedemann Engelbrecht Engineer Tobias Lehmann 181 votes

Sponsored by

Then there’s Riccardo Novaro singing Cimarosa’s delicious scena Il maestro di cappella, in which the players gang up on their hapless conductor. You need discipline to bring off such ill-discipline, and Il Giardino Armonico are an army of generals. That pinpoint string-playing is only part of the story; Antonini’s woodwind soloists too offer playing that’s full of character and he doesn’t hide his horns under a bushel, letting them off the leash to bray and rattle to their hearts’ content. I’ve said it before and I’ll doubtless say it again: if they make it to their planned completion date of 2032 (Haydn’s 300th birthday), this will be the periodinstrument cycle to have. Symphonies Nos 80 and 81 are slated for Vol 5 and this Haydnista, for one, can’t wait. David Threasher RU N N E R S - U P

Mahler (ed Cooke) Symphony No 10 Seattle SO / Thomas Dausgaard Seattle Symphony Media 168 votes Sibelius Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7 Minnesota Orch / Osmo Vänskä BIS 159 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 39


IMG Artists Congratulates its 2017 Gramophone Award Winners & Nominees VASILY PETRENKO Artist of the Year

Baroque Vocal

Orchestral

Stéphane Degout, baritone

Thomas Dausgaard, conductor Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (Seattle Symphony Media)

Couperin: Ariane consolée par Bacchus (Aparté)

MURRAY PERAHIA Instrumental Album

Vasily Petrenko, conductor Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 3, 4 & 6 (Onyx)

Concerto

Semyon Bychkov, conductor The Tchaikovsky Project, Vol. 1 (Decca)

Solo Vocal

Vasily Petrenko; Omer Meir Wellber,

Alexander Vedernikov,

conductors; Lalo: Symphonie espagnole; Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (LPO)

conductor; Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 2 (Erato)

Benjamin Appl, baritone Heimat (Sony Classical)

Gerald Finley, bass-baritone Sibelius: In the Stream of Life (Chandos)

...and warmest congratulations to the one and only

DAME KIRI TE KANAWA on being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award

www.imgartists.com @IMGArtistsUK

Semyon Bychkov is managed in association with Enticott Music Management www.enticottmusicmanagement.com. Alexander Vedernikov is managed in association with Bridge Arts Management www.bridgeartsmanagement.com; Photo credits from Top Left: All VP: Svetlana Tarlova; SD: Julien Benhamou; TD: Thomas Grøndahl; SB: Michal Sváček; OMW: Felix Broede; AV: Marco Borggreve; BA: Lars Borges; GF: Sim Canetty-Clarke


INSTRUMENTAL WINNER

Murray Perahia returns triumphantly to Bach

‘One of the delights of this recording is the way everything sounds so inevitable’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: H I R O Y U K I I T O / G E T T Y I M A G E S

T

he Instrumental category is always one of the most hotly contested, and this year it was blisteringly fine, not least an astonishing Goldbergs from Beatrice Rana, Liszt from 2016’s Artist of the Year Daniil Trifonov and the second instalment in Cédric Tiberghien’s Bartók cycle, one that, for me, is up there with Zoltán Kocsis’s classic recordings. When I reviewed Murray Perahia’s first-ever recording of Bach’s French Suites last November I ended: ‘I’ve only had this recording for five days but I predict a long and happy future in its company’. And so it has proved: others have come my way since (not least Ashkenazy!) but they have just confirmed my initial reactions, that this is special indeed. Not a bad start for Perahia’s first recording with DG after more than four decades with CBS/Sony Classical. What has always characterised Perahia’s Bach is a sense that you are encountering Bach the man, rather than Bach the god. It’s as if Perahia is simply acting as conduit between composer and audience, so subsumed is his ego into the music-making itself. One of the particular delights of this recording is the way everything sounds so inevitable – Perahia’s ornamentation is by no means tame but neither is it outlandish; rather, he uses it to underline the mood of the dance in question, be it the dissonances of the gramophone.co.uk

JS Bach Six French Suites, BWV812-817 Murray Perahia pf DG M b 479 6565GH2 Producer Andreas Neubronner Engineer Martin Nagorni

148 votes

Gigue in the Second Suite or the playfully bustling Bourrée in the Fifth. This isn’t Bach that compels by extremes of tempo or sheer motoric brilliance; instead, each suite unfolds with an inevitability that comes from long acquaintance between music and interpreter. It speaks of a probing musical intelligence too, though to label Perahia simply as an ‘intellectual’ pianist would be misguided, for this is playing that conveys real joy. All of this would be for nought were the production values less tip-top. So we should thank not only Perahia himself, but his longtime producer Andreas Neubronner, engineer Martin Nagorni, the wonderful Steinway, and that whizz among piano whisperers, Ulrich Gerhartz. Harriet Smith RU N N E R S - U P

Liszt ‘Transcendental’ Daniil Trifonov pf DG 142 votes JS Bach Goldberg Variations Beatrice Rana pf Warner Classics 117 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 41


OPERA WINNER

Fabio Luisi leads a winning performance of Berg’s opera

‘Gerhaher’s Wozzeck is vulnerable, plaintive, in short all too touchingly human’

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Christian Gerhaher bar Wozzeck Gun-Brit Barkmin sop Marie Brandon Jovanovich ten Drum Major Chorus of Zurich Opera; Philharmonia Zurich / Fabio Luisi Stage director Andreas Homoki Video director Michael Beyer Accentus F ◊ ACC20363; F Y ACC10363

like a young Anja Silja. Brandon Jovanovich struts his strong, incisive tenor as the Drum Major, Mauro Peter is a sympathetic Andres, and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke and Lars Woldt engage in a macabre comic double-act as the Captain and the Doctor. With precise, clear playing from the Philharmonia Zürich under conductor Fabio Luisi, everything is in place for the technical team at Accentus Music to deliver a DVD of top-notch quality and seal the recording’s success. They have, and this Wozzeck makes a deserving winner of Gramophone’s 2017 Opera Award.

144 votes

Richard Fairman

Berg Wozzeck

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RU N N E R S - U P

Britten The Rape of Lucretia Sols; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Leo Hussain Opus Arte 142 votes Goldmark Die Königen von Saba Sols; Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra / Fabrice Bollon CPO 103 votes

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M O N I K A R I T T E R S H A U S /A C C E N T U S M U S I C

hen Christian Gerhaher came to the title-role in Berg’s masterly setting of Büchner’s play the outcome was always going to be a major event. Just as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was the definitive Wozzeck for his generation, so his successor as the outstanding Lieder singer at the start of the 21st century has assumed his mantle in this role, too. Scrupulously sung, acted with a gentle honesty, Gerhaher’s Wozzeck is vulnerable, plaintive, in short all-too-touchingly human. It is exactly what we expect from him that there should be an eloquence to his every utterance. Is it right that Wozzeck should come across as something of a poet? Yes, because the music adds its own poetry, and Gerhaher draws from it an expressiveness that pierces the heart. Homing in on the opera’s expressionist style, the director, Andreas Homoki, has set it in a puppet theatre, part commedia dell’arte, part Punch and Judy, a make-believe world of ritual cruelty. This is not the only way to play Berg’s opera, but the geometric designs are striking, the colours (that sickly yellow!) are gruesomely vivid, and Gerhaher, above all, is placed in a visual frame of extraordinary clarity. This is a high-class ensemble all round. Gun-Brit Barkmin is a fascinating Marie, charismatic

42 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

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CHORAL WINNER

Masaaki Suzuki’s magnificent Mozart C minor Mass

‘Bach Collegium Japan’s interpretation brims with life-affirming messages’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: K . M I U R A

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obody knows why Mozart abandoned the ‘great’ Mass in C minor that he started by the end of 1782 and seems to have performed at least in part during a visit to Salzburg in October 1783. With such a vast discography of stylish historically aware versions at our fingertips, one might be forgiven for wondering what more needs to be said about an incomplete work. Of course, the truth is that Mozart’s unfettered genius emanates from every page, and its unalloyed musical virtues ensure that every world-class periodinstrument orchestra and top-notch choir is going to find fresh twists worth hearing. Masaaki Suzuki uses an edition by Franz Beyer that discreetly orchestrates movements that Mozart did not finish but does not attempt to present movements for which no authentic music survives. Bach Collegium Japan’s interpretation brims with life-affirming messages in all the right places. The consoling ‘Kyrie eleison’, at the slowest end of the range of plausible tempi, melts the heart with every transparently woven strand in the musical fabric. The proclamatory ‘Gloria’ and buoyant ‘Credo’ hit the right mark unerringly, and there is intensity and tautness in the double-choir ‘Qui tollis’ (choral suspensions exploited gloriously and just the right amount of silence exploited in the dotted-rhythm gramophone.co.uk

Mozart Mass in C minor, K427. Exsultate, jubilate, K165 Carolyn Sampson sop Olivia Vermeulen mez Makoto Sakurada ten Christian Immler bar Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki BIS F Í BIS2171 Producer Hans Kipfer Engineer Jens Braun

147 votes

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strings). Suzuki’s perspicacity ensures finely drawn strings, cultivated woodwinds and braying brass are all given the reins to exploit their instruments’ fullest sonorities when the context merits it. There is a twinkling sense of fun in the orchestra’s elegant theatricality during solo movements, most notably Olivia Vermeulen’s light-footed ‘Laudamus te’ and Carolyn Sampson’s gorgeous singing in conversation with concertante flute, oboe and bassoon in ‘Et incarnatus est’. Bach Collegium Japan’s wondrous choral singing has flexibility, precision and eloquence aplenty. Even admirers conversant with these performers’ distinguished track record might be swept away by this refreshingly open-hearted, spontaneous and natural Mass in C minor. David Vickers RU N N E R S - U P

Haydn The Seasons Gabrieli Consort & Players / Paul McCreesh Signum 132 votes Cherubini. Plantade Requiems Le Concert Spirituel / Hervé Niquet Alpha 130 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 45


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RECITAL WINNER

Joyce DiDonato’s timely and passionate plea for peace

‘How often does a singer hit the top of her profession and keep getting better?’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: W A R N E R C L A S S I C S

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oncept, content and standard-setting performance merge in what becomes something far more than a Baroquearia anthology. Opera seria scenes by Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel and others are full of life-and-death matters that Joyce DiDonato recontextualzes in ways that intimate passions are re-appropriated into something more global: nations rise and fall, with individuals caught in the middle. The holistically conceived package starts with the booklet, with testimonials from street musicians to actress Judi Dench discussing how they find inner peace in tumultuous times. The opening aria, ‘Scenes of horror, scenes of woe’ from Handel’s Jephtha, becomes a lens for arias that are studies in turmoil and repose in highly charged performances by DiDonato and the extraordinarily agile Il Pomo d’Oro. In contrast to Simon Keenlyside’s 2011 Gramophone Award-winning ‘Songs of War’ that has music written about specific wartime conditions, the message in DiDonato’s album enters through the side door, since many listeners will know much of this music already in the operas from which it’s drawn. Hearing Handel’s ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ and Purcell’s ‘When I am laid in earth’ as laments to lost political freedom greatly intensifies their meaning. Sequencing is masterful. Fast arias are the attention grabbers at the gramophone.co.uk

‘In War & Peace’ ‘Harmony Through Music’ Handel. Jommelli. Leo. Monteverdi. Purcell Arias Joyce DiDonato mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev hpd Erato F 9029 59284-6; b 6 9029 59284-1 Producer Daniel Zalay Engineer Hugues Deschaux

114 votes

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get go; expansive, less busy Purcell allow breathing room but no let up in emotional intensity. The high standard is exemplified by DiDonato’s fast coloratura in Jommelli’s ‘Par che di giubilo’. Gone is the vocal tornado of past Baroque specialists, replaced by genuine precision that allows the truth of the musical content to emerge. Her best singing, though, is soft, in near-vibratoless cadenzas where her expressive intent comes into even greater focus before morphing into the perfect trill. I love her Purcell. In Dido’s Lament the life ebbs out of her voice, giving the sense that she’s fading into the horizon. DiDonato has no lack of tributes these days, but how often does a singer hit the top of her profession and keep getting better? David Patrick Stearns RU N N E R S - U P

‘Serpent & Fire’ Anna Prohaska sop Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini Alpha 113 votes Mozart Arias Anett Frisch sop Munich Radio Orchestra / Alessandro De Marchi Orfeo 105 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 47


SOLO VOCAL WINNER

Beguiling Brahms from Goerne and Eschenbach

‘Goerne’s world is one of unrushed reflection’

48 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Brahms Lieder und Gesänge, Op 32. Vier ernste Gesänge, Op 121. Lieder nach Gedichten von Heinrich Heine Matthias Goerne bar Christoph Eschenbach pf Harmonia Mundi F HMC90 2174 Producer Martin Sauer Engineer René Möller

115 votes

is one thing, but to be able to create such a sense of interiority – of Innigkeit – without seeming indulgent is another matter; that, though, is what Goerne and Eschenbach achieve. Listeners will have their favourite accounts of the Vier ernste Gesänge, but Goerne communicates their dark pensiveness with a rare integrity, the more gravelly bottom end of the voice melting into hushed phrases of seraphic beauty higher up. He presents an unusually compelling vision, too, of the Neun Lieder und Gesänge Op 32, in which Eschenbach draws a rich mixture of the poetic and the descriptive from the piano. The disc’s central diptych of ‘Sonnenabend’ and ‘Mondschein’ from Op 85, meanwhile, surely represents some of the most beguiling Lieder performance heard on record in recent years. A worthy, distinctive winner. Hugo Shirley RU N N E R S - U P

Krenek Reisebuch aus den österreichischen Alpen Florian Boesch bar Roger Vignoles pf Hyperion 92 votes ‘Heimat’ Benjamin Appl bar James Baillieu pf Sony Classical 83 votes gramophone.co.uk

P H O T O G R A P H Y: S I LV I A L E L L I

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he Solo Vocal category this year saw four baritones, one tenor and a mezzo on the shortlist – a mixture of young artists (including Gramophone’s own 2016 Young Artist, Benjamin Appl) and more established names. The winner, though, is a recording that stands out in many ways, presenting a singer in Matthias Goerne who, when it comes to Lieder, ploughs his own interpretative furrow. An intense, almost tortured performer on stage, Goerne seems himself to embody a wanderer seeking answers to questions different from those posed by many other singers in the repertoire. The familiar mellow, burnished beauty of the voice has now gained a new gnarly intensity. The phrases are broad and generous, sustained by big breaths, great lungfuls snatched as if he’s coming up from the deep; words are communicated naturally. Goerne’s world is one of unrushed reflection. It’s perhaps surprising, then, that this is his first Brahms recital on record, for in many ways the composer – so often melancholy and autumnal – is a perfect fit. Goerne has also found a perfect partner in Christoph Eschenbach. Though more often seen on the conductor’s podium these days than at the keyboard, Eschenbach provides exceptional accompaniment, bringing almost indecently beguiling expansiveness and sensitivity to Brahms’s piano writing. To bring out so much beauty in this music


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IL GIARDINO ARMONICO GIOVANNI ANTONINI Giovanni Antonini continues his recording cycle of the complete Haydn Symphonies, as part of the Haydn 2032 project. Here he celebrates the theatrical nature of Haydn’s orchestral works, with Symphonies Nos. 12, 70 and 60 Il Distratto, alongside a great comic scene by Cimarosa, Il maestro di cappella.

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György Ligeti Lontano

Tristan Murail Le Désenchantement du Monde

George Benjamin

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Palimpsests Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks George Benjamin, conductor Benjamin leads a superlative performance, one surprisingly visceral for a piece about distance. [...] This is some of Benjamin‘s most forthright writing, and it benefits from the larger scale and broader palette this orchestra offers … (David Allen, Gramophone November 2016)

Sonic Migrations Music of Laurie Altman

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Laurie Altman / Randy Bauer / Clipper Erickson / Kuang-Hao Huang, piano Patrice Michaels, soprano · Matthias Mueller, clarinet & SABRe Andrew Rathbun, saxophone · John Bruce Yeh, clarinet Cavatina Duo · Manhattan String Quartet Laurie Altman’s musical compositions on Sonic Migrations represent, in some way, a passage: A passage through places (globally), history and events, words, sonic environments, people’s lives and their mutual emotions. The pieces are the by-product of a time span of some 25 years, encompassing diverse ensembles and sonic frameworks, far-flung influences, textures, and feelings. Everyone who likes compositions with jazzy influences, but not just simple crossover, is in good hands with Laurie Altman. (Dirk Wieschollek, Fono Forum 06/2017)

Laurie Altman and Clipper Erickson, piano Patrice Michaels, soprano Andrew Rathbun, saxophones Helen Rathbun, flute

The compositions are deeply varied: separated by time, place, emotion, event and ‘glimpse’. An Antarctic journey yields a spiritual commentary upon cold, emptiness and unimaginable beauty, while a trip to a San Francisco Art Museum becomes a bonding of artistic color and vision with my eyes and then into my heart. (Laurie Altman)

Divergence Music of Laurie Altman, Erich Korngold and Arnold Schönberg  FEGNJjEk

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Convergence Music of Laurie Altman

Plattform K+K Vienna

The composer’s art is one of personal habitation and felt experience. Rhythmic, warm, direct and nuanced, always intense and alive. A musical work lives and grows inside of its creator. Day or night, on a train or tram, along wooded pathways and mountainous perches, the work evolves to find, hopefully, a place vibrantly, in the world.


CONTEMPORARY WINNER

Three modern masters in terrific performances

‘Authority seeps from every pore of the performance’

P H O T O G R A P H Y: A S T R I D A C K E R M A N N

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nlike David Allen, who reviewed this recording on its release, I find Tristan Murail’s 30-minute ‘concerto symphonique’ Le désenchantement du monde to be the main event here – slightly to my surprise, I admit, because a number of his previous spectral pieces have always struck me as rather aimless. The title here means demystification rather than disenchantment, in the sense coined by sociologist/ economist Max Weber with some ambivalence to denote the upsurge in rationalisation in modern society. Quite how that maps onto the music, however, the composer declines to explain. In fact there’s a good deal of mystery, enchantment even, in the writing. It may not be as purely spectral as before in its technology, but it gently unfolds the sonic possibilities of the material into an engrossing and musical experience. Just occasionally there are reminders of Murail’s tutelage under Messiaen, though the musical processes suggest, to me at least, analogies with natural phenomena such as weather systems or tides, rather than anything spiritual (or speculative-intellectual, for that matter). They do so not so much through onomatopoeia as by virtue of their sense of organic progression. Variety of pacing and event is brilliantly sustained, so that the invention never goes stale in slow passages and never degenerates into mere fidgeting in faster ones (so tempting to name recent piano concertos that gramophone.co.uk

G Benjamin Palimpsests Ligeti Lontano Murail Le désenchantement du mondea a

Pierre-Laurent Aimard pf Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir George Benjamin Neos F NEOS11422 Producer Wolfgang Schreiner Engineer Peter Urban

166 votes

Sponsored by

stumble into those pitfalls!). Pierre-Laurent Aimard caresses and shapes the solo piano writing as a kind of constantly self-renewing accompanied cadenza. Murail’s fellow Messiaen-alumnus George Benjamin directs the 2012 world premiere performance with a sure hand. I also agree with David Allen that his account of Ligeti’s now-classic Lontano is ‘surprisingly visceral’, though I confess to a preference for softer edges. With Benjamin’s own Palimpsests (1998-2002), the rawness is all gain. It’s almost as if Benjamin – always a fastidious purveyor of textures – has here paid a tribute to Birtwistle, and the perspectives and collisions he fashions are, as with Murail’s, utterly absorbing. Authority seeps from every pore of the performance, and from what was a strong shortlist for this year’s Contemporary award, this was a deserved winner. David Fanning RU N N E R S - U P

Adès Orchestral works London Symphony Orchestra / Thomas Adès LSO Live 130 votes Dusapin. Mantovani. Rihm Works for violin and orchestra Renaud Capuçon vn Various orchestras Erato 130 votes GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 51


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RECORDING OF THE MONTH Charlotte Gardner cherishes the remaking of a classic, as Steven Isserlis returns to Haydn’s cello concertos with glorious and uplifting results

Haydn . CPE Bach . Boccherini . Mozart

The tempos are a case in point. Back in 1998 these were a story of breakneck speeds being eschewed, while at the same time giving the distinct impression in the CPE Bach Cello Concerto, Wq172 H439 fast movements of heightened drama and Boccherini Cello Concerto, G480 – Adagio momentum. Fast-forward to 2017 and that Haydn Cello Concertos – No 1; No 2 original approach has generally been Mozart La finta giardiniera – Geme la tortorella cleaved to; but while the differences in (arr Isserlis) duration are negligible, they all involve Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / the addition rather than the subtraction Steven Isserlis vc of seconds. The C major’s third movement Hyperion F CDA68162 (78’ • DDD) is a particularly golden example because here, despite the addition of 12 seconds to It’s a comparatively rare event for the previous recording’s still comparatively an artist to be afforded the luxury of unhurried 7'04", what you hear is an recording a major work for a second time. exciting lift in virtuosity and velocity – Or indeed for them to want to. So it’s proof that the perception of speed and always interesting when this does happen, acceleration is about far more than mere especially if their first recording holds up metronome markings. well to the test of time. That’s certainly The theme continues with the tone, the case in this particular instance, as articulation and rhythmic articulation. many readers will still be enjoying the Isserlis’s former combination of singing pronged ‘yes and no’, because these elegant readings of Haydn’s two cello legato and short, period-aware attack are interpretations sing of an artist still concertos that Steven Isserlis made in still evident, but with their beauty if thoroughly in tune with his previous 1998 with Sir Roger Norrington and anything heightened, and some of the thoughts, but who is keen to develop those the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. faster figures are now further coloured ideas further. He’s been supported every So you might wonder why Isserlis step of his way in this pursuit by the warmly by the odd bit of deliciously impish, has revisited these works almost responsive Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie rhythmic skittishness. 20 years on. More importantly, have What has taken a decidedly upwards Bremen, and indeed by the expertly judged his interpretations changed all that whoosh is the sheer confidence and subtle glow of the sound engineering. much? After all, there’s so little difference unabashed personality on show, between Rostropovich’s 1964 and this is typified by the fresh and 1975 recordings of the First cadenzas Isserlis has written Concerto (which I believe is the to supplant his earlier ones; only other instance of a cellist although these are every bit as re-recording either of the Haydnesque as before, they also Haydns) that you’re slightly left take a few more ear-popping wondering why he revisited it. risks. Most striking of all is Isserlis doesn’t discuss the C major Concerto first his reasons in his cheerfully movement’s cadenza, which irreverent and hugely informative features an out-of-the-blue booklet note, but in truth the two-octave swoop from E4 up moment you press play you’re to the extreme heights of E6. not really going to care anyway, It’s more flamboyant than because this is absolutely pretty, but one can’t help wonderful stuff. As for whether but feel it would have drawn the interpretations have changed, a smile from fun-loving Haydn. the answer is a gloriously twoThe Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen offer warmly responsive support

‘Isserlis’s combination of singing legato and short, period-aware attack are still evident, but with their beauty heightened’

54 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

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RECORDING OF THE MONTH

P H O T O G R A P H Y: O L I V E R R E E T Z , S AT O S H I A O YA G I

Steven Isserlis directs the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie from the cello in superb new accounts of Haydn’s cello concertos

Furthermore, Isserlis then provides a beautiful complement with the following central movement’s cadenza: a small but perfectly formed creation that glides in seductively by way of double-stopped strokes, and then finishes by gently mirroring that first-movement rocketspring with a tender single-octave leap. Isserlis’s celebration of the cello’s top register truly flowers in the D major Concerto, possibly in recognition of the fact that Haydn probably wrote this work for the Esterházy orchestra’s high-registerloving cello virtuoso Antonín Kraft. Isserlis’s first-movement cadenza in particular contains lofty lines of a piercing, ringing sweetness. It’s not all sunny sweetness by any means; one of the recording’s most heart-stopping moments comes in the first movement where, at 8'27", the cloudless beauty is momentarily shattered by a pair of searing-toned, upwards gasps of pain. For the disc’s additional offerings, Isserlis has looked to contemporaneous works by gramophone.co.uk

some of Haydn’s colleagues. Two of these are of the bonbon-proportioned (and tasting) variety: the Adagio from Boccherini’s G major Concerto, and Isserlis’s own idiomatic and delightful solo arrangement of Mozart’s aria ‘Geme la tortorella’ from La finta giardiniera. However, the meatiest and most revelatory highlight of the three is CPE Bach’s Cello Concerto in A major; revelatory because we’ve largely been conditioned to hearing this composer’s music presented as muscular, angular and wild. Yet, while Isserlis does recognise the music’s volatility, his delivery emphasises a Haydnesque refinement and elegance that throw an entirely new perspective on the concerto. In fact the recording is worth your money for the Bach alone. Of course, the main selling point is the two Haydn concertos, and this album is worth acquiring whether you’re yet to own a recording of these masterpieces or your collection is already bulging

with them. Isserlis’s 1998 recording remains classy stuff, but this has superbly trumped it. Selected comparison: Isserlis, COE, Norrington (8/98R) (RCA) 88697 70446-2

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Editor’s Choice Martin Cullingford’s pick of the finest recordings reviewed in this issue GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 55


Orchestral Peter Quantrill admires Isabelle Faust’s distinctive Mendelssohn:

Edward Seckerson on Semyon Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Manfred:

‘Reserving portamento and vibrato for the second theme, she brings out the hunted vulnerability of the concerto’s opening’ REVIEW ON PAGE 61

‘The Czech Philharmonic woodwinds are super-balletic, engagingly decamping us to the world of Nutcracker’ REVIEW ON PAGE 68

Beethoven Complete Symphonies Simona Šaturová sop Mihoko Fujimura contr Christian Elsner ten Christian Gerhaher bar MDR Radio Choir; Leipzig Gewandhaus Choirs and Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt Accentus M e ACC80322 (5h 49’ • DDD) Recorded live, May 2014 – March 2017

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Triple Concerto, Op 56a. Symphony No 5, Op 67 Isabelle Faust vn Jean-Guihen Queyras vc Martin Helmchen pf Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt Video director Ute Feudel Accentus F ◊ ACC20411; F Y ACC10411 (78’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA, DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0) Recorded live, January 12 & 13, 2017

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Symphonies – No 6, ‘Pastoral’, Op 68a; No 7, Op 92b Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt Video director Ute Feudel Accentus F ◊ ACC20413; F Y ACC10413 (92’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA, DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0) Recorded live, bMay 7, 2015; aMay 19, 2016

When imported to the UK late in 1981, Herbert Blomstedt’s first Beethoven cycle gained further appeal through the inclusion of miniature scores for each symphony. Did that make the set a snip at £37.50? It’s near enough a hundred pounds in today’s money, and in any case on its many subsequent reissues, the cycle was welcomed for the kind of plain-spoken, 56 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

common-sense qualities that would render score-reading superfluous for some purchasers. In a tantalising interview with Philip Clark (7/17), the conductor makes clear that, 60 years after Igor Markevitch had hammered the principle home, the score is still his bible. But then any other conductor worth the job-title would say the same, and praise of Blomstedt (and a select few European colleagues of his generation) over the years – honest, straightforward, presenting the music as it really is (an especially pernicious illusion) – has given rise to a well-meaning but misguided underestimation of the tens of decisions he and his kind must make, in advance and on the spot, when faced with any given phrase of this music. Such decisions now take into serious account the wave of period-performance practice. Noticeably swifter than before, Blomstedt’s chosen tempos are still 5-10 per cent slower than the composer’s metronome marks. It is the proportions between them that matter. That first cycle employed the Dresden Staatskapelle at its most soft-grained. Now, an hour’s trainride away, he stands in charge of the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Always a tightergrained ensemble, the orchestra was driven to further heights of muscular agility by Riccardo Chailly in a Decca studio cycle (A/11) of restless and often impatient character. Conducting the symphonies in concert, Chailly allowed himself considerably greater license to roam, and to the benefit of everyone concerned. Under Blomstedt, however, the musicians sound at ease yet always on their mettle. Twenty seconds, no more, separate the finales of the Fourth, but what a difference they make. What was gabbled and jittery under Chailly’s direction now leaps and bounds and sings. If it’s Beethoven the raging tyro you’re after, look elsewhere. Blomstedt has gauged the weight of each climax in the First – as much as is necessary and no more – so that the symphony stands poised on the threshold between Classical and Romantic expression. Indeed, such

retrospective categorisations rather fade to irrelevance – as, in the moment of listening, do hankerings after flicks of impudence in Beethoven the young Turk (this is a cycle full of smiles but no belly-laughs). The Second is occasionally prone to a species of constrained literalism encountered again in a stiff transition from Adagio to Allegro in the Fourth’s opening movement (‘conducting by numbers’, as Richard Osborne observed in portions of the conductor’s Bruckner cycle in Leipzig – Querstand, 11/13), but I relished the unusual proximity of expressive intent between the Mozartian finale of the Second and the Eroica’s lithe exposition, which are so often separated by a gulf of imagined history. Where possible – for the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth – these are performances to be watched, not least for the audio mix, which I find marginally more transparent than on the CD mastering. There is the occasional frown and raised eyebrow from Blomstedt as he comes again to a private understanding with the music, not in gestures of censure. More often he is wreathed in beatific smiles, and his musicians appear uncommonly happy with their lot. The Pastoral breathes contentment, with a spring in the step of the first movement that admits all the necessary space for anticipation, excitement and the passing joy of moments such as the chuckling clarinet and bassoon figures. The timpanist’s Storm intervention makes hardly less terrible or striking an impact than on the most athletic or idiosyncratic readings (by, say, Carlos Kleiber or Mikhail Pletnev), yet the symphony is crowned by a glow of horns in the coda to rival Furtwängler’s valedictory account from 1954. In the Andante con moto of a particularly cogent Fifth, the pianistic nature of Beethoven’s inspiration comes over strongly, with the Leipzig strings pressing into the rising-falling theme of scale-fragments and murmuring left-hand accompaniment as if into the keybed of a Broadwood. gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Smiles but no belly-laughs: Herbert Blomstedt and his Leipzig players are at ease in their survey of the complete Beethoven symphonies

The virtues of the Ninth have been rehearsed here before (3/17); applause is excised from the CD version as it is throughout the set. The concert-film of the Fifth is preceded by a Triple Concerto in which Blomstedt thins out the ensemble to offer lively support to his soloists; in turn, Isabelle Faust sweetens her tone in graceful complement to the Leipzig sound. Peter Quantrill

Beethoven Violin Concerto, Op 61. Romances – No 1, Op 40; No 2, Op 50. Triple Concerto, Op 56a

P H O T O G R A P H Y: G E R T M O T H E S /A C C E N T U S M U S I C

Thomas Albertus Irnberger vn a David Geringas vc aMichael Korstick pf Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / James Judd Gramola M b Í 99101 (91’ • DDD/DSD)

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is a festive work for the Christmas season, argues Thomas Albertus Irnberger in an extensive booklet note. As evidence, he cites the work’s premiere on December 23, 1806, its use of trumpets and timpani in D (echoing the opening chorus of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio) and a thematic gramophone.co.uk

reference to the traditional carol ‘O Freude über Freude’. On paper, Irnberger’s case is compelling; in performance, I’m not convinced. The first movement – played at a relatively urgent tempo – conveys brighteyed expectation rather than the exultancy one associates with the proclamation of Jesus’s birth. Indeed, I can imagine a stronger case being made for the movement as a kind of expansive Pastoral Symphony. Irnberger imagines the Larghetto as a processional to view the Nativity – a musical Adoration of the Magi, perhaps. It moves with a rapt solemnity that’s quite affecting, while the soloist’s rhythmically alert playing prevents the precariously slow tempo from sagging. His glistening tone has a slightly nasal quality (the product of a sparing use of vibrato, I believe) that’s generally pleasing, though I’m less enamoured of his distracting tendency to end phrases abruptly, as if his bow simply stopped moving (listen at 9'25", for example). The finale is more buoyant than lyrical, fitting with Irnberger’s vision of it as a festival of shepherds’ celebratory horn calls. Even if none of this really evokes a Christmas spirit, the effect is delightful. The violinist has a distinct take on the Triple Concerto as well, describing it as a compendium of dance forms – marches,

minutes and polonaises – that were popular with the Viennese aristocracy in the first years of the 19th century. He and his colleagues David Geringas and Michael Korstick mitigate the music’s tendency towards muscularity with playing that’s elegant and well characterised. I was especially charmed by the hauteur of the passage beginning at 5'03" in the finale. Sadly, Irnberger’s prosaic readings of the two Romances are considerably less endearing. James Judd has the orchestra support Irnberger’s ideas with joyful conviction, and the RPO’s contribution is stellar throughout. If only the engineers had not placed us quite so close to the solo instruments. The balance sounds artificial, is not always flattering to the violinist’s tone and sacrifices a good deal of orchestral detail. Andrew Farach-Colton

Ben-Haim Symphony No 2. Concerto grosso NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra / Israel Yinon CPO F CPO777 677-2 (72’ • DDD)

Once championed by the likes of Stokowski and Bernstein, Paul Ben-Haim’s music is GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 57


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS little heard these days, making this recording a welcome addition to the catalogue. Born Paul Frankenburger in Munich in 1897, he initially worked as an assistant conductor at the Bavarian State Opera from 1920 to 1924 under Walter and Knappertsbusch, and then as Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera from 1924 to 1931, after which he dedicated his career to teaching and composition. The growing anti-Semitism of the time precipitated a relocation to Palestine in 1933 and he later became an important figure in the Israeli classical music scene. Dating from 1931, the three-movement Concerto grosso was Ben-Haim’s first large-scale orchestral composition. Despite the title and the presence of fugal sections in the outer movements, this is very much a piece in the late-Romantic tradition. Much of the writing has a warmth that evokes American composers of the era such as Barber and Harris, although the slow second movement is a pensive affair with hints of Debussy. The final movement is a passacaglia with an apotheosis based on the opening theme of the first movement. By the time the Second Symphony was completed in 1945, Ben-Haim had gained exposure to the traditional Jewish music of the Middle East, whose influence can be heard in the score, notably the Persian dance that forms the main theme of the Scherzo. The trauma of the events of the Second World War, including the loss of Ben-Haim’s sister in the Holocaust, are reflected in the anguished opening of the Andante affettuoso, while elsewhere the music has a rhythmic buoyancy and litheness reminiscent of Copland. As with the Concerto grosso, the finale reaches an apotheosis based on the opening theme of the work. The late Israel Yinon leads the NDR Radiophilharmonie in committed performances of these intriguing works, and the CPO recording is clear and well balanced, albeit a little hard-edged in louder passages. Christian Hoskins

1910 in Paris, where, as a 13-year-old, he had enrolled at the Conservatoire (his classmates included Enescu, to whom the work bears a dedication). With a duration in excess of 50 minutes, it’s a turbulent, lusciously opulent outpouring in four movements, the last of which culminates in a grandiloquent epilogue. Stylistic nods come thick and fast – Wagner, Strauss, Mahler, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Respighi and Pizzetti – and its sprawling design unquestionably cries out for a firm hand on the structural tiller. Vividly captured on the wing at live concerts from October 2016, Fabrizio Ventura and his hard-working Münster band shine in the first two movements; but from the central Adagio onwards it’s Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos, 8/10) who prove more successful at keeping tensions on the boil. Chandos’s splendiferously realistic sound is the icing on a very rich cake. Noseda’s coupling – a sparkling account of the 1926 divertimento for piano and small orchestra, Scarlattiana, with Martin Roscoe on conspicuously deft form – is rather more generous than Ventura’s, namely a miniature orchestral suite from Casella’s opera La donna serpente (premiered in March 1932 and based on the fable by Carlo Gozzi). There’s a third option featuring Francesco La Vecchia and the Rome SO (Naxos, A/10), who pair the symphony with the remarkable and challenging A notte alta from 1917-21 (one of Casella’s most personal utterances). Sun Hee You gives a commendable reading of the piano part but I would not turn to La Vecchia’s performance of the main work in preference to either Noseda’s or Ventura’s. Inquisitive souls and SACD aficionados alike who enjoy strolling off the beaten track may care to hunt down this enterprising newcomer for themselves. Andrew Achenbach

Chisholm Violin Concertoa. Dance Suiteb. From the True Edge of the Great World

Casella Symphony No 2, Op 12. La donna serpente: Symphonic Fragments, Op 50 – Suite No 1 Münster Symphony Orchestra / Fabrizio Ventura Ars Produktion F Í ARS38 232 (63’ • DDD/DSD) Recorded live at Theater Münster, October 25, 26 & 30, 2016

Alfredo Casella (18831947) composed his Second Symphony between 1908 and 58 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

a

b

Matthew Trusler vn Danny Driver pf BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins Hyperion F CDA68208 (63’ • DDD)

Three cheers for this enterprising successor to Hyperion’s superb coupling (6/12) devoted to the two piano concertos by the Scottish progressive Erik Chisholm (1904-65). Danny Driver was the dashing

soloist on that earlier disc and proves just as stylish and fearlessly secure a proponent of the 1932 Dance Suite, an exuberantly inventive and urgently communicative 23-minute work for orchestra and piano in four movements, the second of which (labelled ‘Pìobaireachd’ or ‘pipe music’) comprises a darkly alluring theme and five variations that takes its cue from the form known as ùrlar in the Highland bagpipe tradition. Even more impressive is the 1950 Violin Concerto, which, like the Second Piano Concerto before it, draws upon the Hindustani raga for its inspiration – in this instance, the Rag Vasantee and Rag Sohani associated with the coming of spring and the night respectively. (During the war years Chisholm served in India and Singapore, founding a symphony orchestra in the latter. He also formed a strong friendship with fellow composer/pianist Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji.) Premiered by Szymon Goldberg and lasting just under half an hour, the concerto is a fourmovement work of cogent sweep, intrepid incident and pungent character that effortlessly kindles the imagination and continues to lure me back for further hearings (lovers of, say, the Szymanowski, Bartók, Frankel or Gerhard concertos should definitely investigate). The excellent Matthew Trusler makes light of the solo part’s technical hurdles, while Martyn Brabbins and a fired-up BBC Scottish SO give of their considerable best both here and in the 1944 orchestrations of three of that same year’s set of 24 piano preludes (to which Chisholm gave the title From the True Edge of the Great World); No 1 (‘Ossianic lay’) makes an especially fetching centrepiece, its invention as songfully poignant as it is hauntingly evocative (listen out for some wonderfully dusky writing for solo viola). Benefiting from impeccable production values throughout, this absorbing release deserves a hearty welcome. Andrew Achenbach

Haglund Flaminis Auraa. Il regno degli spiritib. Sollievo (dopo la tempesta)c. Serenata per Diotimad b

Julia Kretz-Larsson vn aErnst Simon Glaser vc ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen; aGothenburg Symphony Orchestra / David Afkham; dMalmö Symphony Orchestra / Joachim Gustafsson BIS F Í BIS2025 (84’ • DDD/DSD) bc

One tangible observation from the booklet note is that Tommie Haglund’s gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS Flaminis Aura (2001/04) takes its structural inspiration from the Adagio of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. Truly this music sounds like Bruckner from a faraway planet, transitioning constantly back in the direction of its most recent thought before moving to new paragraphs that don’t tread on their predecessors’ toes. A Baltic spirituality is keenly felt in this piece, whose title refers to the moments immediately before a religious revelation. Afkham and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra manage the subtle and not-sosubtle shifting of the music’s huge tectonic plates impressively and Ernst Simon Glaser’s cello incantation drifts powerfully in and out of discourse with them until both disappear into electronic noises courtesy of NASA (far more successful than it sounds). The structures aren’t so well defined or indeed surprising in Serenata per Diotima (2014/15), a string piece with occasional solo violin which doesn’t strive so hard. This is unmistakably music from the north; but here the Baltic accent can feel sprinkled like seasoning rather than deeply felt (as in Flaminis), while to my ears the phrase shapes err towards the awkward and contrived. The chamber works that separate the orchestral pieces can each be chronologically aligned with their bigger companions. Il regno degli spiriti (2001) is a quartet with the same open-ended feel of Flaminis but the language is altogether more Central European – a strained, dense polyphonic search for truth that is performed by Zilliacus and her companions with muscle and pain. Sorry to say that Haglund in 2000s vintage impresses rather more than his 2010s one. The trio Sollievo (2013) is an evocative piece that once more tells of a blue heart under northern skies and feels deeply personal in its miniature outbursts. But the musical language is altogether less bold

and striking than that of Flaminis, however rich and heartfelt the performance. Andrew Mellor

D Jones Symphonies – No 1a; No 10b BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra / Bryden Thomson Lyrita F SRCD358 (70’ • ADD) BBC broadcast performances, aJanuary 12, b March 16, 1990

D Jones Symphonies – No 2a; No 11, ‘in memoriam George Froom Tyler’b BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra / Bryden Thomson Lyrita F SRCD364 (62’ • ADD) BBC broadcast performances, aJanuary 19, b March 30, 1990

In a Gramophone interview (‘Exploring the Frontiers’, 2/87), Bryden Thomson said of Daniel Jones: ‘He knows what he wants, he knows what he’s writing, and he knows when it isn’t right. You can’t say that about a lot of composers these days.’ In early 1990 Thomson conducted the then BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra (now the BBC National Orchestra of Wales) in a studio cycle of Jones’s 12 numbered symphonies (the unnumbered 1992 Symphony ‘in memoriam John Fussell’ having not yet been composed) and these four recordings derive from that cycle, whereas Lyrita’s earlier Jones issues – even of Symphonies Nos 8 and 9, conducted by Thomson – are reissues from 1970s LPs by Pye, HMV and the short-lived BBC Artium label.

Precisely when Jones first conceived the idea of composing a cycle of 12 symphonies each based on a different note of the chromatic scale as tonal centre is unclear, but it was probably not during the writing of the First (1944-47), originally designated ‘in E minor’. At 50 minutes long, it is Jones’s largest symphony, in which the fledgling symphonist revealed his mastery and understanding of the medium for the first time. His view of the symphony evolved radically, with goal-driven forms and growing concision – neither Nos 10 (1981-82) nor 11 (1983) exceed 20 minutes. There are few obvious resonances in the musical language, though I have always thought the structures of the First and 43-minute-long Second (1950, centred around A, neither major nor minor) nodded towards Russian models. With its increased use of percussion, No 2 is brighter in tone than its predecessor, with a recurring allusion to Vaughan Williams’s F minor Symphony in the finale. Both the Tenth and Eleventh Symphonies follow dramatic-tragic courses, the latter a memorial to his friend George Froom Tyler, erstwhile chairman of the Swansea Festival. The reception of Jones’s music has usually been respectful rather than enthusiastic, even in these august pages, so let me raise the bar somewhat. These are strong and important works that repay familiarity. The performances by the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra and Thomson are finely realised, alive to their rhythmic intricacies and growing orchestrational confidence. Lyrita’s remastering provides depth and clarity to the studio-bound sound. As with the symphonies of Havergal Brian, a cycle of which is also near completion, what is needed next is for these symphonies to be taken up in both concert hall and studio. How about it, Messrs Brabbins, Walker, Woods? Guy Rickards

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GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 59


E XCITING NEW RELEASES

Decca 482 7518

EVENING AT THE CHICAGO LYRIC OPERA Sir Georg Solti The first complete release of this historic 1956 concert.

w w w. E loq u en c eC las s ics.co m DG 482 5864 (4CD)

FRENCH ARIAS & DUETS Irma Kolassi • Raoul Jobim Irma Kolassi and Raoul Jobim in a selection of scenes from La damnation de Faust, Roméo et Juliette and Werther. First release on Decca CD.

TELEMANN: Musique de Table August Wenzinger The historic DG recording (1964–65), newly remastered and with extensive booklet notes by scholar Nick Morgan. First international release on DG CD.

ALICIA DE LARROCHA The First Recordings All of Larrocha’s American Decca recordings, beautifully remastered for this release and issued collectively for the first time.

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DECCA 482 4969 (2CD)

DG 482 1546 (3CD)

DECCA 482 4637 (4CD)

DECCA 482 5659 (2CD)

IRMA KOLASSI The Decca Recitals Kolassi’s ten Decca recitals ranging from Arie antiche through Chausson and Massenet, to Spanish and Greek folk songs. On Decca CD for the first time.

2(9,3(5́,93 The Philips Recordings An erl’s complete Philips recordings, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

DECCA 482 4621

KARL MÜNCHINGER The Schubert Recordings Münchinger’s Schubert symphonies, Rosamunde and several shorter pieces recorded for Decca and issued collectively on CD for the first time.

Decca 482 7353 (3CD)

AUBER: Orchestral and Theatre works Richard Bonynge A collection of Auber orchestral and vocal recordings chosen by Bonynge himself.

DECCA 482 5379 (4CD)

Decca 482 7177 (2CD)

DORÁTI IN HOLLAND Rare early Antal Doráti recordings on Philips receiving their first official CD release, with some appearing in stereo for the first time.

HANDEL: Arias Greevy; Sutherland; Robinson Rare Decca recital recordings of Handel arias. Decca 482 7730 (2CD)

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade BORODIN: Polovtsian Dances Eduard van Beinum First on Decca CD – the Philips Scheherazade and early Decca Borodin.

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MAHLER: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 Sir Georg Solti Solti’s first recordings of these symphonies – with the LSO (also available: No.9, with the LSO: 482 7163).

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CONCERTGEBOUW LOLLIPOPS Doráti; Haitink; Van Kempen; Van Beinum Hidden gems from the Concertgebouw repertoire recorded in leftover time at sessions. Decca 482 5511

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MELBA’S FAREWELL Dame Nellie Melba Dame Nellie Melba’s famous Farewell from Covent Garden and other rare recordings.

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RACHMANINOV: Preludes Moura Lympany The first ever recording (1941–42) of the complete Rachmaninov Preludes.

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

G Lloyd

Mahler

Symphonies – No 6a; No 7, ‘Proserpine’b

Symphony No 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand’

BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra / Edward Downes Lyrita Itter Broadcast Collection F REAM1135 (73’ • ADD). BBC broadcast performances, b September 5, 1979; aDecember 31, 1980

Ricarda Merbeth, Juliane Banse, Anna Lucia Richter sops Sara Mingardo, Mihoko Fujimura contrs Andreas Schager ten Peter Mattei bass Samuel Youn bass Bavarian Radio Chorus; Latvian Radio Choir; Orfeón Donostiarra; Tölz Children’s Choir; Lucerne Festival Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly Accentus F ◊ ACC20390; F Y ACC10390 (93’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1, DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live at the Concert Hall of KKL Luzern, August 12 & 13, 2016

Lyrita released the first discs of George Lloyd’s symphonies on disc back in the early 1980s, with LPs of the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth (reissued on CD in 2007). The conductor, Edward Downes, undertook their first performances as well as those of the Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Symphonies, and this latest disc couples the former two of these in their broadcast premieres. Resident near Sherborne in the 1950s and ’60s, Lloyd wrote on a part-time basis but managed to complete several major works. The present two symphonies make for a pointed contrast in all respects. The Sixth (1956) is the shortest of the cycle, its outer movements being deft takes on sonata and rondo designs so their immediacy of ideas is thrown into relief by their formal sophistication, while the central Adagio focuses on a cor anglais melody of winsome poise. Inspired by the Greek legend of Proserpine, the much larger Seventh Symphony (1959) could hardly be more different. It proceeds from an initial movement of a restraint belied by quirky ostinato rhythms and speculative harmony that takes on increasing volatility towards the close, through a central Largo whose eloquent melodic contours and ethereal orchestration make it Lloyd’s most affecting symphonic movement, to a finale that pursues an agitated course to a powerful climax then an epilogue whose anguish is more telling for its enfolding inwardness. The work gave rise to much soulsearching but ultimately earned praise from those otherwise unreceptive to this composer. Downes endows it with unstinting drama, and is no less inside its diverting predecessor. Lloyd’s own recordings on Albany are well played with more spacious sound but the extra panache here is unarguable. Maybe Downes’s broadcasts of the Ninth and Tenth Symphonies will emerge; even that of the Eighth, which began the Lloyd revival 40 years ago. Richard Whitehouse Symphony No 6 – selected comparison: BBC PO, Lloyd (8/89) (ALBA) TROY015-2 Symphony No 7 – selected comparison: BBC PO, Lloyd (6/87) (ALBA) TROY057-2 gramophone.co.uk

◊Y

There are several distinguished accounts of this symphony in audiovisual format to which Riccardo Chailly now adds another, a souvenir of a great occasion in a fine but not overlarge venue. While there’s been no great interpretative change of direction since his previously immortalised Leipzig concerts of 2011, the subtler treatment of certain passages can perhaps be construed as a ‘tribute to Claudio’. In August 2016 Abbado’s final, unfinished Mahler cycle was, in effect, completed by this performance (captured over two nights), simultaneously inaugurating a new era as Chailly succeeded his friend and colleague as music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Clarity is achieved at the expense of sheer numbers. This is no ‘symphony of a thousand’ – the ensemble reportedly totalled 358, a fairly typical complement these days. The expert, multi-sourced choral contingent is positioned in six rows across the width of Lucerne’s modern hall with the Tölzer Knabenchor squeezed in along the sides. In the first movement, where some conductors plainly intend the opening blast to pin listeners to their seats, Chailly avoids too much shock and awe. Not that he is content to smooth away all the disruptive elements of Mahler’s invention. Orchestral detail has a brighter physicality than Abbado might have encouraged and the soloists’ operatic vibrato may well strike you as excessive. Deferring until the very last moment the traditional though unmarked ritardando into the recapitulation of the ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus’, Chailly is plainly anxious to keep something in reserve. The longer second part has all the operatic vividness you might expect from this source with speeds generally a little slower than in Leipzig. The soloists are

somewhat variable. Peter Mattei’s Pater Ecstaticus, a little flat on arrival, quickly finds his very best form. Samuel Youn’s Pater Profundus is passionate but the voice occasionally misfires. Tenor Andreas Schager is indubitably ardent as Doctor Marianus; sadly the volume is unvaryingly loud and the effect ultimately wearing, however impressive the decibels. While coping admirably with the high tessitura, Ricarda Merbeth (Magna Peccatrix) crosses the line between vibrancy and wobble. Sara Mingardo (Mulier Samaritana), her contralto a size smaller, is blessedly focused. There’s nothing controversial or tricksy about the filming (unless you object to a harpist’s sheet music being glimpsed through the strings of the instrument when the Mater Gloriosa floats into view). Members of chorus and orchestra are caught smiling on camera, although there’s a telltale grimace in the final build up when the hushed choral entry is managed with a spellbinding Abbado-esque hush, only for the soloists to fall short of the same standard. The human and technical frailties of Klaus Tennstedt’s live relay cannot disguise the more startling emotive force of his music-making. But then those who attended the Royal Festival Hall in 1991 and can still remember Julia Varady’s gown should perhaps recuse themselves from critical comment! Chailly takes immense care to get details right. Few conductors have lived so long with this music and none has proved more adept at coordinating its disparate forces. This Accentus DVD comes elegantly packaged and annotated, the list of orchestral personnel confirming the arrival of a few more Milanese names. I missed the feline elegance of Abbado’s podium presence. Still, at least one of his traditions endures: audience members wait patiently at the end until their new hero is ready to take the applause. David Gutman Selected comparisons: Tennstedt (11/92R) (EMI) ◊ 367743-9 Bernstein (2/06) (DG) ◊ 073 4088GH9 Tennstedt (6/11) (LPO) LPO0052 Chailly (1/12) (ACCE) ◊ ACC20222; Y ACC10222

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Op 64a. Symphony No 5, ‘Reformation’, Op 107. The Hebrides, Op 26 a

Isabelle Faust vn Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2325 (62’ • DDD)

What kind of a violinist was Ferdinand David, for (and with) whom GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 61


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS Mendelssohn composed his Violin Concerto? At a time when the late quartets of Beethoven were hardly known outside Vienna, he introduced them to enthusiastic audiences across Germany. At the same time, brilliance was the quality requested by David in the solo writing of his friend’s concerto; having already composed one himself, he knew how it could be achieved without recourse to virtuoso tropes and clichés. Isabelle Faust is a musician in David’s line. Reserving portamento and vibrato for the lovely second theme, she brings out the anxious, hunted vulnerability of the concerto’s opening (a mode of expression Mendelssohn returned to all his life, until the F minor String Quartet). Its E minor-ness registers the more strongly at period pitch, a semitone down, and is stressed by Pablo Heras-Casado from the outset, bringing out the clarinet’s third which is the weakest, most unstable element of the opening chord. Like Christian Tetzlaff, Faust drives through the neo-Bachian arpeggios of the cadenza, as marked; her playing throughout is remarkable not only for the expected attributes of fidelity and accuracy but for the tough, wild and impassioned qualities she restores to a piece which easily falls prone to white-dress, sugar-and-spice performances. Without tearing up the rulebook, she has thought afresh about some phrase shapes in the closing stages of the first movement. Some listeners may find unsettling her pure tone in the Andante’s opening theme when coupled with sliding between each note. It’s of a piece with the fierce intrusion of trumpet and drums before very long; like the F minor Quartet, this performance of the concerto never sits back. Even the finale’s high spirits are tempered – or further raised – by a spirit of challenge and gamesmanship (beyond mere playfulness) between soloist and orchestra: like the relationship between Theseus and Hippolyta, it could go very wrong very quickly. Such audacity courses through both overture and symphony. The battleground of the Reformation’s opening Allegro is staked out by Heras-Casado with fire, as Mendelssohn demands, but also fury, in some aggressively clipped tutti chords. At an almost identical tempo, he is more restrained than Mitropoulos (4/56, downloadable from Urania) or Toscanini in the application of rubato, but otherwise their fiercely rhetorical conceptions of the Andante bear close comparison down the decades. As Mitropoulos did, John Eliot Gardiner hastens on in the movement’s central section, as if conducting a cantata 62 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Symphony No 5 – selected comparison:

Recorded in the early 1990s, all five concertos appeared on a twofer (Ultima, 1/00 – nla) with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra under Jacques Mercier and four pianists sharing duties, Juhani Lagerspetz in No 4 and Raija Kerppo in No 5. Both are marginally brisker than the newcomer but really there is very little to choose between them, though the Ultima discs were better filled with Palmgren’s Piano Sonata No 1 and various other rarities. However, Alba offers as an extra the orchestral suite A Pastorale in Three Scenes (1918), the second of these being ‘Elegie’. This alone is quite beautiful enough to merit a warm recommendation.

LSO, Gardiner (7/15) (LSOL) LSO0075

Jeremy Nicholas

Palmgren

Pickard

Piano Concertosa – No 4, ‘April’, Op 85; No 5, Op 99. Exotic March. A Pastorale in Three Scenes, Op 50

Monteverdi Orfeo – Toccata (transcr Pickard) Pickard Symphony No 5. Concertante Variationsa. Sixteen Sunrises

a

a

aria, while drawing from the LSO strings a tenderness that eludes the Freiburg ensemble. And for all the incidental beauties of their solo winds, I would have welcomed the fitting majesty that Gardiner brings to the symphony’s climactic assertion of ‘Ein feste Burg’. The disc will rightly attract attention for Faust; but anyone collecting Heras-Casado’s cycle of Mendelssohn will snap this up and wait eagerly for the final instalment. Peter Quantrill Violin Concerto – selected comparison: Tetzlaff, Frankfurt RSO, P Järvi (2/12) (ONDI) ODE1195-2

Janne Mertanen pf Pori Sinfonietta / Jan Söderblom Alba F Í ABCD400 (63’ • DDD)

Selim Palmgren (1878-1951) appeared in these pages far more frequently in days of yore than he does now. His star has faded, unfairly I think, so this release is thrice welcome – repertoire (there is currently little of any of his music available on any label), and performance and recording quality, both of which are first class. Last year David Fanning gave a cautious welcome to the first three (of Palmgren’s five) piano concertos with the same orchestra and conductor (Henri Sigfridsson was the soloist), reminding us that the best of the quintet is No 2, The River, and of Palmgren’s episodic approach to the form. This is true of both concertos on this second volume, where one is aware of a profusion of more or less interesting and arresting ideas which float pass the window never to be seen again. While the music is in a genial, late-Romantic idiom (though No 4 veers heavily towards Impressionism), it is hard to get a handle on where it is going. The single-movement (18'20") Fourth Concerto was written mainly in Rochester in 1924 when Palmgren was (perhaps surprisingly) professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, and completed in his native Finland three years later. The Fifth Concerto (1940-41) was composed, he said, ‘to the accompaniment of bombs exploding’. It is the only one of the five that has the customary three distinct movements.

Matthew Featherstone fl aGeoffrey Cox ob Nicholas Cox cl aJarosław Augustyniak bn a Ian Fisher hn BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Martyn Brabbins BIS F Í BIS2261 (63’ • DDD/DSD) a

The chief work on BIS’s fourth CD devoted to the music of John Pickard (b1963) is his Fifth and most recent Symphony, composed in an intense burst of creativity in the early months of 2014. (Its predecessor, the Gaia Symphony for brass band – 11/14 – took 13 years to achieve its final form!) Pickard’s five symphonies cover his entire career to date, the still-unperformed First written in 1983-84; like it and the eruptive Second (1985-87), No 5 is in one continuous movement lasting around half an hour. The music fair kidnaps the listener’s attention at the outset and does not ransom it until the gripping, wholly satisfying close. The structure alternates fast and slow episodes, shortening or lengthening like some vast process of respiration, pivoting around the main central slow section, the tempos phasing and overlapping as the movement progresses. Those knowing McCabe’s Of Time and the River will recognise a kindred spirit here, even if the result is quite different. The performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales is stunning in its virtuosity (especially the three timpanists) and Brabbins shapes the whole edifice grippingly, as in the couplings. The tone poem Sixteen Sunrises (2013) – premiered by Brabbins in Nagoya, Japan, and gramophone.co.uk


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A THREE NIGHT HOLIDAY |20 NOVEMBER 2017 Alfriston is fast becoming a favourite destination with our clients and in 2017 we will be presenting our seventh consecutive season of chamber music concerts. This year concerts will be given by the Navarra String Quartet, each preceded by one of a series of open workshops hosted by Simon Rowland-Jones. We stay at Deans Place Hotel in the heart of this historic and picturesque Sussex village. There are superb views of the South Downs and you can enjoy walks along the banks of the River Cuckmere and visit the 14th century Clergy House.

A FOUR NIGHT HOLIDAY | 26 NOVEMBER 2017 The inaugural Kirker Music Festival in Venice will combine a series of exclusive recitals in magnificent venues, with visits to some of the city’s finest galleries and palazzos. The Doric String Quartet will be joined by classical guitarist Sean Shibe for three concerts which will be given in the ornate ballroom on the piano nobile at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal and in the frescoed Sala della Musica at the 15th century Ca’ Sagredo. There will be an optional opera performance at the Palazzo Barbarigo Minotto, and we shall also include visits to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Accademia, the Frari church and the Ca’ Rezzonico. Price from £1,975 for four nights including flights, accommodation with breakfast, three dinners, three concerts, all sightseeing, entrance fees and gratuities and the services of the Kirker Tour Lecturer.

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A SEVEN NIGHT HOLIDAY | 20 JANUARY 2018 For our third exclusive music festival on of Tenerife, we will present six concerts featuring the Navarra String Quartet, guitarist Morgan Szymanski, soprano Amaia Azcona and violist Simon Rowland-Jones. Staying at the 5* Hotel Botanico, surrounded by lush tropical gardens in an unspoilt part of this volcanic island, we shall also enjoy a programme of fascinating excursions. Highlights include the Sitio Litro Orchid Garden, a cable car journey to the peak of Mount Teide and a visit to the primeval cloud forest of the Anaga Mountains. We will also visit historic and picturesque villages along the spectacular north coast, including Garachico with its 17th century convent.

A THREE NIGHT HOLIDAY | 12 MARCH 2018 Our annual visit to Olga Polizzi’s fabled Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes combines a relaxing spring escape in Cornwall, with a series of world-class chamber music recitals. Performances in 2018 will be given by the Carducci String Quartet in the Old Methodist Hall, and include works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Haydn and Beethoven. There will also be a series of musical talks and a visit to the private garden at Lamorran, inspired by Lady Walton’s garden on the island of Ischia. Dinner is included each evening at the excellent Tresanton restaurant which overlooks the sea and is lit by candles in the evening. Price from £1,190 per person for three nights including accommodation with breakfast and dinner, three concerts each preceded by a musically illustrated talk, a visit to Lamorran Gardens and the services of the Kirker Tour Leader and a Tour Escort.

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS dedicated to the late composer and author Malcolm MacDonald (1948-2014) – is more relaxed, an essay on light, while the delightful Concertante Variations for wind quintet, timpani and strings (2011), with Tippett-like freshness, spotlights Pickard’s superb handling of medium-size forces. The music throughout is in this composer’s dynamic, driving, 21st-century tonal idiom, recognisably British but Pickard’s own. The final track sidesteps expectations a touch with a witty reworking of Monteverdi for Scelsi-esque ensemble: what would Claudio have made of the saxophone? A superb disc, great sound: my disc of the year so far. Guy Rickards

Prokofiev Violin Concertos – No 1, Op 19; No 2, Op 63 Rudolf Koelman vn Musikkollegium Winterthur / Douglas Boyd Challenge Classics F CC72736 (50’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Townhouse Winterthur, Switzerland, April 6-9, 2016

Prokofiev Violin Concertos – No 1, Op 19; No 2, Op 63 Matthew Trusler vn BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Grant Llewellyn Orchid F ORC100070 (52’ • DDD)

Similarly, neither Trusler nor Koelman quite gets the measure of storybook rapture in the third movement, where the freedom and eloquence in Oistrakh’s sound are things of wonder. Alternatively, for polished studio perfection and modern sound, Vengerov on Teldec is a sure bet. In the Second Concerto Trusler is the subtler in shaping the opening lyrical phrases, though both players are more or less in the gleeful fantasy that propels the music forwards. However, the tightness in Trusler’s tone and his ungenerous vibrato when real warmth is called for are drawbacks with the slow movement – surely one of Prokofiev’s most inspired self-renewing melodies – while the problem with Koelman here is a certain rhythmic rigidity and literalness in the phrasing. Both are in their element with the grit and grunt of the finale, though I still prefer something more elegant than the somewhat unrelenting drive both favour. Recorded balance is well judged in each version, though I find the Orchid Classics sound marginally more ingratiating, with the all-important goading bass drum in the Second Concerto more present and the violin tone slightly more flattered by the acoustic. All the same, I still prefer the superior glow and blend on the Vengerov/ LSO version of the First Concerto. Admirable though the new discs are in many ways, my reservations tell me that I would be reluctant to shell out for either one. David Fanning Concerto No 1 – selected comparisons:

Two competent and enjoyable but not world-beating performances here of two of Prokofiev’s most captivating scores. Matthew Trusler and Rudolf Koelman are as sure-fingered as one another, and everything is well coordinated between them and their respective orchestras. The opening of the First Concerto immediately shows how much care each has lavished on inflection, without ever endangering the required dreamy quality, and each is alive to the magic that returns at the end as the violin swoons into its chains of stratospheric trills (though Koelman tends to sit down on the beat here, where the music really demands to be in the air up to the very last note). Whether either player displays quite enough swagger or sense of mischief in some of the intervening fantastical moods I’m not so sure. In the second movement Koelman has more of the character, Trusler more of the technical poise, but neither can compete with the daredevilry and dash of Oistrakh (especially in his occasionally ice-skatey 1963 live performance with Rozhdestvensky). 64 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Oistrakh, Moscow PO, Rozhdestvensky (5/69R) (BRIL) 92609 Vengerov, LSO, Rostropovich (2/95) (TELD) 4509 98143-2

Ravel . Delage . Dutilleux ◊Y Delage Quatre Poèmes hindousa Dutilleux L’arbre des songesb. Métaboles Ravel Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No 2. Le tombeau de Couperin a

Julia Bullock sop bLeonidas Kavakos vn London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle LSO Live M b (◊ + Y) LSO3038 (96’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • 16-bit 48kHz & PCM stereo • 0 • T/t) Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, January 13, 2016

Since the announcement that Simon Rattle will take over as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, his Barbican concerts gave garnered some rave reviews. Among them, this French programme

from January 2016 is especially welcome on LSO Live – this time not on the usual CD but a double release on Blu-ray and DVD so you can select your viewing medium. Maurice Ravel bookends the concert. Rattle’s affectionate account of Le tombeau de Couperin features pristine contributions from the LSO’s principal woodwind team. Smiles abound and Rattle seems to offer his players a great deal of freedom in shaping and phrasing. The Second Suite from Daphnis et Chloé combines clarity – splendid flute contributions in the ‘Pantomime’ section from Adam Walker – with lush Mediterranean warmth from the strings. Rattle doesn’t whip the orchestra into a frenzy during the closing ‘Bacchanale’ but precision is paired with controlled power. Henri Dutilleux, whose centenary was marked during 2016, cited Ravel as a major influence on his work. The violin concerto in all but name L’arbre des songes takes its inspiration from the forests of Arthurian legend, alternating between dreamy reveries and energetic outbursts. Leonidas Kavakos, stubbly and serious in what looks like a blue smock, delivers an unfussy, lyrical account of this chimerical work, dynamics sensitively calibrated. Métaboles is arguably more Stravinskian than Ravelian and Rattle draws a carefully nuanced reading of this ‘concerto for orchestra’ from the LSO. The gems at the heart of this programme, though, are the Quatre Poèmes hindous by Maurice Delage, a pupil of Ravel’s. This 1914 cycle blends Indian colours into Western art song, with solo cello sometimes masquerading as a sitar, bending plucked notes. Julia Bullock delivers the four songs coolly but her grainy soprano, with smoky vibrato, suits their mysterious aura. Texts and translations are included in the booklet but are not available to view on screen. Rich sound and crystalline picture quality make this an enjoyable viewing experience. Throughout, Rattle smiles beatifically at the LSO, which augurs well as his directorship proper begins. Mark Pullinger

Rubbra . C Scott Rubbra Violin Concerto, Op 103a. Sinfonia concertante, Op 38b. Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Cyril Scott, Op 69c C Scott Consolationc a

Endré Wolf vn bcEdmund Rubbra pf BBC Symphony Orchestra / Rudolf Schwarz; b City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Hugo Rignold Lyrita Itter Broadcast Collection mono F REAM1134 (73’ • ADD) BBC broadcast performances, aFebruary 20, 1960; b May 2, cAugust 9, 1967 a

gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: T R I S T R A M K E N T O N

Lush Mediterranean warmth: Simon Rattle conducts the LSO in Ravel, Delage and Dutilleux

What a treat to encounter Rubbra’s glorious Violin Concerto played by the work’s Budapest-born dedicatee Endre Wolf (1913-2011). This February 1960 broadcast from Maida Vale under Rudolf Schwarz’s baton was only its second performance, the world premiere having taken place three days previously at the Royal Festival Hall. A memorably unforced display it proves, too, plumbing genuine depths of rapt expression particularly in the ravishing central ‘Poema’, which evinces such a striking kinship with the sublime ‘Canto’ slow movement of the Sixth Symphony from 1954. There’s the odd tiny slip and some occasional background swish to contend with but it remains a cherishable document and must be deemed an essential supplement to the concerto’s three commercial recordings from Krysia Osostowicz (Naxos, 11/05), Carl Pini (Unicorn-Kanchana, 1/87 – nla) and Tasmin Little (Conifer, 10/94 – nla) – the last-named’s marvellously lucid alliance with Vernon Handley and the RPO being especially praiseworthy (any chance of a reissue, I wonder?). gramophone.co.uk

There’s more buried treasure in the shape of a spirited account of the imposing Sinfonia concertante for piano and orchestra that Rubbra originally completed in 1936 and comprehensively overhauled in the early 1940s. The composer himself participated in the first performance with Adrian Boult and the BBC SO at an August 1943 Prom and the present BBC broadcast from May 1967 with the CBSO under Hugo Rignold serves as a splendid reminder of his interpretative skills. What a powerful work it is, too, culminating in a deeply felt prelude and fugue inscribed to the memory of Holst (with whom Rubbra had studied at Reading University and the Royal College of Music). It’s followed here by another Prelude and Fugue, this time for solo piano and based on a theme from the First Piano Sonata by Rubbra’s boyhood teacher, Cyril Scott (1879-1970). Rubbra affords it affectingly serene treatment, as he does Scott’s searching Consolation (1918). Both these items come from a recital transmitted by the BBC in August 1967. Transfers from Richard Itter’s off-air mono tapes have been most judiciously managed and Paul Conway’s copious notes are a real boon. All in all, an issue to savour. Andrew Achenbach

Saint-Saëns . Schumann . Tchaikovsky Schumann Cello Concerto, Op 129 Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No 1, Op 33 Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33 Antonio Meneses vc Royal Northern Sinfonia / Claudio Cruz Avie F AV2373 (60’ • DDD)

Fitzenhagen or Tchaikovsky unadulterated? There’s the rub with the Rococo Variations. The noted German cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen premiered the work (with Nikolay Rubinstein conducting) and his extensive cuts and emendations were for years the performing norm, until the Russian cellist Victor Kubatsky started the ‘refresher’ ball rolling with some thorough research so that the preferable original version could also be performed. As to collectors, it’s not unlike the situation with Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole: if you’re after interpretations by such violin luminaries as Francescatti, Heifetz or Huberman, you have to make do with the four-movement version. If you need the fifth-movement Intermezzo you have to go GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 65


JUST RELEASED MESSIAEN POÈMES POUR MI TROIS PETITES LITURGIES DE LA PRÉSENCE DIVINE Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony present two rarely recorded masterpieces by Olivier Messiaen. One work celebrates Messiaen’s love for his wife, the other his commitment to his faith. Together they make up an album of sacred and transcendent beauty, showing two sides of one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

IVES THREE PLACES IN NEW ENGLAND ORCHESTRAL SET NO. 2 NEW ENGLAND HOLIDAYS One of Charles Ives’ most beloved works, Three Places in New England captures the nuances of Ives’ intricate musical language. Conducted by Music Director Ludovic Morlot, this release takes you on a haunting journey through nostalgic visions of America at the turn of the century.

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS FINALIST MAHLER SYMPHONY NO. 10 A powerful and moving document of unforgettable live performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 (Deryck Cooke version) under Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard.

AVAILABLE ON CD AND FOR DOWNLOAD IN STEREO, 96K 24-BIT HIGH RESOLUTION AND 5.1 SURROUND SOUND.

DISTRIBUTED BY NAXOS OF AMERICA, INC. SEATTLESYMPHONY.ORG/RECORDINGS


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: P E T R A H A J S K A / D E C C A

Expressivity always trumps spectacle: the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov impress in their Decca recording of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred – see review on page 68

elsewhere. And with the Rococos, if you want Fournier, Gendron, Gerhardt, Gutman, Ma, Rose, Rostropovich, Shafran, Starker, Tortelier or indeed Antonio Meneses it has be Fitzenhagen. Knushevitzky, Isserlis, Perényi, Julian Lloyd Webber, Raphael Wallfisch and Jamie Walton are among the exponents of the original. (There’s a fuller A/B list on en.tchaikovsky-research.net.) Meneses’s performance is flexible and trimly played, with plenty of warm tone and an alert accompaniment under Claudio Cruz, but Johannes Moser’s reading of the original would still be my first digital port of call. The Schumann Concerto is given a svelte, seamless reading, where the musical line is skilfully spun and the accompaniment notably alert. The SaintSaëns First Concerto is also well played, though here Claudio Cruz and his Royal Northern aren’t always precisely on the ball. At around 1'30" into the first movement a wind chord is marginally delayed (maybe even on purpose) while elsewhere the lens isn’t always entirely clear, though much of the performance is vital enough. In short, this is good programme showcasing an extremely fine cellist which works well as a sequence – the finale of the Schumann and the first movement of the Saint-Saëns are virtually of a piece, tempo-wise – but, taken work gramophone.co.uk

by work, you can probably do better elsewhere. Good sound with especially clear timpani. Rob Cowan Tchaikovsky – selected comparison: Moser, Suisse Romande Orch, Manze (5/17) (PENT) PTC5186 570

Schmidt . R Strauss Schmidt Symphony No 2 R Strauss Festliches Praeludium, Op 61 Beethoven Orchestra, Bonn / Stefan Blunier MDG F Í MDG937 2006-6 (63’ • DDD/DSD) Recorded live at the Beethoven Hall, Bonn, May 13 & 14, 2016

This is the second recording of Schmidt’s Second Symphony to come my way this year after Semyon Bychkov’s luxuriously upholstered account with the Vienna Philharmonic on Sony. Both releases choose to couple the work with Strauss. For Bychkov it was the gentle Gemütlichkeit of the ‘Träumerei am Kamin’ interlude from Intermezzo. For Stefan Blunier and his Beethoven Orchester Bonn it’s the full-blown pomp of the Festliches Praeludium (stirringly performed), premiered in October 1913, a matter of weeks before the Schmidt.

The coupling gives a clue to Blunier’s approach, which is more forthright and bold than Bychkov’s – impulsive and fiery, with a real sense of symphonic sweep. If Bychkov and his players communicate affection, Blunier and his (who already set down the Fourth for MDG at the beginning of the decade) offer something more like passionate engagement with the piece. The result, though not always subtle, is undoubtedly exciting, and difficult to resist. The opening movement is properly Lebhaft (and listen the warmth in the violins’ yearning melody at 11'53"). There’s a real sense of Schwung in the remarkable, dizzying last couple of minutes of the finale and a fine sense of flow in the tricky Allegretto con variazioni. But while this performance, captured live, is persuasive as a big picture, a closer listen reveals a little roughness around the edges. There’s a slight lack of security in all the weaving filigree that is such a feature of the first movement, compared at least to the Vienna Philharmonic’s polish, and some raggedness elsewhere – in Variation 7 in the second movement, for example. Higherlying lines in general have something of the tightrope walk about them. That will bother some more than others in what’s nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable performance, situated somewhere between Bychkov’s mellow refinement and GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 67


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS the brassy thrills of Neeme Järvi’s Chicago account; it feels closest, in fact, to Vassily Sinaisky’s Malmö recording on Naxos. The engineering, I should add, is rich and seductive. Hugo Shirley

VPO, Bychkov (7/17) (SONY) 88985 35552-2

his players make it work as well as virtually anyone else on disc does. This is the sort of CD that might profitably convert those who see concert music as ‘irrelevant’: it addresses the world as is; and if ultimately it can’t spell positive closure (as, say, Beethoven’s Fifth can), it does at least offer some grounds for compassion. Rob Cowan

Shostakovich . R Strauss

Tchaikovsky

Shostakovich Chamber Symphony (String Quartet No 8), Op 110a (arr Barshai) R Strauss Metamorphosen

‘The Tchaikovsky Project, Vol 2’ Manfred, Op 58

Schmidt – selected comparisons: Chicago SO, N Järvi (3/90R) (CHAN) CHAN9568 Malmö SO, Sinaisky (11/09) (NAXO) 8 570589

Baltic Chamber Orchestra / Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme Rubicon F RCD1009 (53’ • DDD)

Rarely have I been as moved by Strauss’s ‘Study for 23 solo strings’, his in memoriam to a severely bruised culture and to bombed Munich in particular, as I was when listening to this rich-textured recording by the Baltic Chamber Orchestra. Although the chosen tempos are comparatively broad, Emmanuel LeducqBarôme keeps you on the edge of your seat, principally by achieving maximum tension at the crest of each phrase. Of course the Eroica denouement is obvious right from the start (though other works are alluded to throughout the piece) but when Strauss finally makes his quotation blatant – on cellos and basses at the end of the work – the hairs on the back of my neck all but bristled. I’ve heard versions of Metamorphosen that are dead in the water right from the off (the work can, if clumsily handled, virtually define musical lugubriousness), but this certainly isn’t one of them. The notion of coupling it with that other great memorial to a shattered German city (Dresden), Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet – here filled out as a C minor ‘Chamber Symphony’ by Rudolf Barshai – is in itself a stroke of genius. Again the playing suggests maximum commitment, with a palpable sense of mystery in the opening Largo, full-on energy and slashing accents in the Allegro molto, an uncomfortable feeling of delicacy for the cynical Allegretto and vivid reportage of the shuddering gunfire that informs the fourth-movement Largo. Still, good though Leducq-Barôme’s performance is, I must voice a definite preference for the original quartet version: loudly proclaiming this troubling narrative isn’t quite the same as confiding it among friends. That aside, Leducq-Barôme and 68 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Semyon Bychkov Decca F 483 2320DH (59’ • DDD)

There is much here to build upon the promise of Bychkov’s Pathétique - the exceptional performance which launched this ongoing ‘Tchaikovsky Project’ (10/16). There is, of course, the abiding warmth and humanity of the Czech Philharmonic where expressivity always trumps spectacle, where phrasing relates to sound in earcatching ways and the reasons the notes are there in the first place rightfully take precedence over their cosmetic effect. The soulfulness of this Manfred finds concentration in the first movement, where Byron’s solitary hero traverses a dark, forbidding orchestral landscape entirely scored in the lowest registers (great kinship with Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta). Bychkov makes something really special of the wistfully lyric episode for strings at the heart of the movement out of which emerges the solitude of bass clarinet against a barely discernible rustle of violins. The defiant coda is always thrilling – a fabulous saturation of sound – though I think Bychkov might have encouraged more from his trumpets as the soul-baring hits the peak of its intensity. The Czech Philharmonic woodwinds have such a beguiling homespun quality generally but in the shimmering waterfall of the second movement they are superballetic, engagingly decamping us to the world of Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. I love the songful phrasing of strings and solo clarinet in the lovely second idea – so effortless – and it is this very humane response to the lyricism of the piece that is carried through to the pastorale of the third movement. Bychkov has his finger on the pulse of this music in a way I haven’t heard since the likes of Mravinsky (though he never recorded this piece) and Markevitch. His realisation of the returning main theme

with horns in glorious counterpoint carries such sweeping authenticity. But maybe in this of all the symphonies there are elements of spectacle – and I’m thinking now specifically of the last movement – that require a degree or two more heat. The whirling bacchanal doesn’t quite excite as it might, due in part to the reticence (in the balance) of the percussion and the all-important tambourine. But Bychkov makes much of the return of earlier material where Tchaikovsky fabricates a very real sense of déjà vu in Manfred’s journey and I applaud the use of chamber organ as opposed to a full-blown Phantom of the Opera job (a temptation, granted) where one should feel it is not so much dominating but subtly buttressing the winds at the start of the apotheosis. No question, then, that whatever my minor reservations in this instance, the prospect of what is to come from this series can be keenly anticipated. Edward Seckerson

Tsontakis Anasaa. True Colorsb. Unforgettablec a

David Krakauer cl bEric Berlin tpt Luosha Fang, cEunice Kim vns Albany Symphony Orchestra / David Alan Miller Naxos American Classics M 8 559826 (63’ • DDD)

c

Here are three engagingly expressive recent concertos by George Tsontakis (b1951), each with an evocative title. According to the composer’s notes, True Colors for trumpet and orchestra (2012) refers in part to the ‘true’ or ‘primary’ colours of the work’s essential harmonic motifs – colours that are then blended, like paint, to create a broader, richer palette. A concise Prologue, built upon echoing, chime-like figures, begins optimistically in a style redolent of Copland and Bernstein but soon suggests more disquieted, expressionistic imagery. The substantial second movement, entitled ‘Magic Act’, also starts brightly before veering into edgier, jazz-inspired territory, the colours gradually becoming darker and more saturated. True Colors was written for Eric Berlin, principal trumpet of the Albany Symphony, and he plays it vividly here. Anasa (2011) is the Greek word for breath, and this clarinet concerto comes to life with an audible, animalistic exhalation from the solo instrument. It was composed for David Krakauer, best known for his work with the Klezmatics, and Tsontakis weaves elements of klezmer music into the score. But, as harmonic colours were gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

David Krakauer (left) with conductor David Alan Miller (centre) and composer George Tsontakis (right), recording the latter’s Anasa for Naxos

blended in the trumpet concerto, here klezmer is blended with traditional music from Crete, the composer’s ancestral home. Whatever the mixture lacks in ethnic specificity it makes up for in expressive power and breadth. At times, the music carouses raucously, but at its essence Anasa is contemplative, even lonely. The expansive slow movement is full of brooding, aching melancholy. In the mournful dance beginning at 6'43", for example, note how Krakauer’s richly articulate eloquence makes one expect his clarinet to burst into songlike speech at any moment. In his First Violin Concerto (2002), Tsontakis blatantly – and scornfully – quoted popular tunes. Unforgettable, for two violins and orchestra (2013), makes subtle, yearningly nostalgic reference to Nat King Cole’s hit song of that title (listen at 3'40" in the final movement). The two solo parts, originally written for Jennifer and Angela Chun, are intricately and inextricably woven together, as in Bach’s Double Concerto. But where Bach’s work is like a pas de deux with hands elegantly joined, Tsontakis’s is a sinuous, sorrowful dance of conjoined twins. Luosha Fang and Eunice Kim home in on the music’s sweetly tragic tone and the Albany Symphony play with finesse and emotional heft for David Alan Miller. Andrew Farach-Colton gramophone.co.uk

‘Siècle’ Debussy Cello Sonataa Dutilleux Tout un monde lointain …b Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps – Louange à l’Éternité de Jésusa Ravel Pièce en forme de habaneraa Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No 1, Op 33c Leonard Elschenbroich vc a Alexei Grynyuk pf bcBBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / bJohn Wilson, cStefan Blunier Onyx F ONYX4173 (70’ • DDD)

Leonard Elschenbroich’s burgeoning discography continues to defy convention. This time it is not the music itself that is unfamiliar but rather the way in which the cellist has chosen to pull together a disparate programme representing a century of French creativity. Comparisons might seem beside the point given the dearth of comparable projects. Elschenbroich’s dark, lean sonority cuts across other expectations too. The sequence begins with a fiercely immediate realisation of the Dutilleux concerto, the most recent score, here rather sounding it: rivals tend to inhabit a subtler, more rarefied (more French?) sound world. Then a switch to cello and piano for Messiaen,

the fifth movement of his Quatuor pour la fin du temps sounding plaintive rather than earth-shattering in this context. Still, we shouldn’t obsess about authenticity. The music was originally conceived for Fête des belles eaux (1937) and the whoop of multiple ondes martenot. What follows is Debussy’s Cello Sonata, aptly lean rather than refulgent, with an arrangement for cello and piano of Ravel’s Pièce en forme de habanera appended. Pianist Alexei Grynyuk is ceaselessly imaginative, very much an equal partner. Placed last is Saint-Saëns’s First Cello Concerto, for which Swiss-born Stefan Blunier takes over from John Wilson at the helm of the BBC Scottish SO – the back inlay could be clearer on this point. The delightful central Allegretto sounds more melancholy than usual, not that there is undue focus on the composer’s Romantic lineage. Truls Mørk’s recent recording, part of a quite different single-composer selection under Neeme Järvi (Chandos, 1/16), is more relaxed in feeling, with the soloist placed under less intense sonic scrutiny. Elschenbroich, who has previously contributed his own elucidatory booklet notes, offers no commentary on this occasion. Recommended nonetheless. Just don’t expect too much in the way of Gallic insouciance. David Gutman GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 69


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From Surrey to Switzerland and back Label owner Nicholas Dicker talks to Gramophone about how Guild has returned to the UK

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n November 1967 a half-page advertisement appeared in the back pages of Gramophone for Guild Records, ‘The New Name in Quality Records’. It advertised the first three releases of 7-inch (vinyl) EPs of choral music from Guildford Cathedral and a recital disc played on the cathedral organ. The label was instigated by Barry Rose, who put Guildford Cathedral on the musical map as the first Organist and Master of the Choristers at the newly consecrated cathedral in 1961. LPs followed the EPs and the label acquired a modest reputation with only five albums. Rose went on to even greater things at St Paul’s Cathedral and then St Alban’s Abbey, but by 1993 the record label had been bought by the Swiss businessman and entrepreneur, Kaikoo Lalkaka. ‘Kaikoo was responsible for broadening the remit from British choral and cathedral music to much more commercial repertoire and launched two sub-labels, Guild Light Music and Guild Historical Recordings, carefully building the catalogue to its present size of over 600 releases’, says Nicholas Dicker, the new CEO of Guild Music. ‘With his Swiss connections, he also brought a raft of new recordings of rarely heard Swiss composers and performers, making the label a pioneer in bringing that country’s musical heritage to a larger audience.’ Dicker’s acquisition of the label was a result of many years’ waiting for the right moment. ‘I had known Kaikoo for several years through a mutual friend and was aware that at some point he wanted to retire. That point came in December last year and a deal was signed in March, bringing the label back to the UK in what amounted to its 50th anniversary.’ After university, Dicker’s own career started at Saga Records in 1980. ‘I was its last label manager, following in the footsteps of Martin Compton and Ted Perry, and it was still making analogue recordings in what was a burgeoning digital age, all with a budget of £500 per album! On many occasions I was not only engineer and producer but graphic designer, production guy and marketing man, so Saga certainly was valuable in giving me a complete grounding in how to run a record company – and indeed how not to.’ When the owners closed Saga in 1989, Dicker went on to work for Start Records, then part of Pickwick, which marketed Vanguard Classics and in recent years has masterminded the reissue of much of the EMI archive on the audiophile vinyl label HI-Q. But taking on the Guild label was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ‘Like many people, I had always been aware of the Guild label but when I began to study the catalogue, I was staggered at the range, quality and sheer quantity of the releases’, Dicker enthuses. ‘For instance, I had no idea of the treasures that lay in the Historical catalogue, with everything from the first complete recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess from a 1952 German radio broadcast with a young Leontyne Price, to rare recordings by Toscanini, Stokowski, Barbirolli, Kletzki, Munch and Cantelli, and Beecham conducting Götterdämmerung

from Covent Garden in 1936! Then there is the extensive and imaginative Light Music catalogue, with its ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series covering original recordings from the 1920s to the 1950s. But it is the main Guild label itself of which I’m probably most proud, with superbly engineered major productions often featuring British orchestras performing fascinating repertoire.’ The label has world-premiere recordings of many Swiss composers, including orchestral and chamber works by Volkmar Andreae and a new three-CD set of the orchestral music of Caspar Diethelm for release this autumn. ‘I am keen to maintain the Swiss connection’, says Dicker. ‘There is a wealth of material lying in the vaults of the Zurich Central Library and it deserves to be better known. It is a country that has nurtured some extraordinary talents.’ Not that the 50th anniversary has allowed Guild to forget its roots: ‘There will be plenty of spectacular but contrasting organ recordings, from French Romantic repertoire with David M Patrick at Coventry Cathedral to Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the organ of St Katharina Church, Horw, Switzerland, played by Martin Heini.’ Along with further releases planned in its well-respected Historical and Light Music series, Dicker is adamant to raise the profile of Guild: ‘I want the label to become one of the leading independent players in the classical market, promoting niche repertoire and new artists, while at the same time catering for broad tastes, with something of interest for almost everybody. There is even some jazz and world music on our eclectic “ZahZah” label.’ But what about those inaugural EPs from Guild released 50 years ago? ‘Most of the tracks are still in the catalogue!’ laughs Dicker. ‘Some we couldn’t use because the tape had become damaged but what I did discover while going through the archive was an EP of choral music by Vaughan Williams, his motet Valiant for Truth and part-song Silence and Music, with The Proteus Choir of Guildford conducted by Vernon Handley. Handley and Ursula Vaughan Williams wrote the notes and the cover was illustrated by Barbara Handley. It was recorded by Nicolas Ware in Guildford Cathedral in January 1969 and produced by none other than Barry Rose! To my knowledge it has never been reissued but it sounds quite beautiful. It is too short to issue as a CD, so we are going to offer it as a download via our website and the usual channels.’ So how would he sum up the label’s philosophy? Dicker points to the first line on the website: ‘Music’s power in uniting people, enriching their lives forever, is the moving force behind each of Guild’s releases.’

When I began to study the catalogue, I was staggered at the range, quality and sheer quantity of the releases

70 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Guild Music Limited Celebrating 50 years email: nicholas@guildmusic.com phone: +44 (0)20 8404 8307

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TOP 10 GUILD RECORDINGS The Organ of Coventry Cathedral GMCD7801 David M Patrick plays an exciting recital of French Romantic organ music ranging from Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster to Guy Weitz’s Symphony No 1.

Bach’s Goldberg Variations GM2CD7805 A different take on a familiar work: Martin Heini plays Bach’s Goldberg Variations on the delightful organ of Horw Church, Switzerland.

Sir Malcolm Sargent conducts Rachmaninoff GHCD2423 This superb recording with the LSO under Sargent has Cyril Smith performing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and the composer’s Third Symphony.

Leopold Stokowski GHCD2426 ‘I don’t think I can imagine a more exciting end to the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony than this one’ – BBC Radio 3’s Record Review, 2017. Live recordings.

British Cinema & Theatre Orchestras GLCD5108 By the time the 20th century dawned, an orchestra ‘pit’ below the footlights was a part of stage and screen. This CD reminds us of some of the top orchestras.

Holidays for Strings GLCD5189 The emphasis in this collection is on strings, although in the interests of variety the other sections of the orchestra also get their opportunity to shine.

100 Greatest American Orchestras – Part One GLCD5230 For years virtually every US city had its own orchestra – often subsidiaries of ‘classical’ orchestras, dubbed ‘Pops’ – while others were film orchestras.

Haydn and Schubert Masses GMCD7104 Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Schubert’s Mass in G beautifully performed by the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, directed by Guild’s founder, Barry Rose.

Noël nouvelet GMCD7314 ‘Noël nouvelet’ is a vibrant mix of traditional carols and exciting arrangements of familiar tunes, blending seasonal tradition with innovation.

Two session photos from the forthcoming three-CD set of Caspar Diethelm’s orchestral works, with (above) Rainer Held conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The recordings took place in September 2016 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The recording crew included (top, l-r) assistant engineer Phil Hardman, Rainer Held (standing), producer Michael Ponder and Esther Diethelm, the composer’s daughter

gramophone.co.uk

Massenet Songs GMCD7393 Best known for his operas, Massenet composed concert suites, ballet music, oratorios, cantatas and over 280 songs.

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 71


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE

Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang Sir John Eliot Gardiner joins Peter Quantrill to enthuse about this neglected symphony-cantata

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hen I meet him at his 650-acre organic farm in Dorset, Sir John Eliot Gardiner is, to use his phrase, champing at the bit. Laid out on the garden table is the marked-up score for his recording of Lobgesang, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 2, which completes the cycle he has made with the LSO for the orchestra’s own label. ‘It’s curious’, he says, ‘because I think it’s his masterpiece in the oratorio/symphonic genre and yet it’s still probably undervalued – whether that’s because it calls for a chorus, or that it’s twice the length of his other symphonies, or, perhaps more telling, that it’s compared unflatteringly with Beethoven’s Ninth. Yet it doesn’t spring from the same tradition: it’s not about the same issues. The target is different, and the writing is not outwardly provocative in the way that Beethoven’s is.’ Lobgesang is an apt name. Preparing the score for publication in England, Mendelssohn was adamant that it should be known as a ‘Song of Praise’, yet the ‘Hymn of Praise’ label took hold and has proved hard to shift. His friend Carl Klingemann gave wise counsel when he advised the composer to alter the designation to read ‘Symphony-Cantata’ rather than ‘Choral Symphony’. Chronologically, it lies fourth out of the five numbered symphonies (with only the Scottish to follow). It was first performed in 1840, the year after another symphony with voices – Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette – was completed and first performed. Berlioz becomes an unlikely countersubject in our conversation: he kindles in Gardiner a fire of advocacy (in words and performance) perhaps even more fierce than the steady blaze of his work for Bach. The hybrid nature of the Second Symphony has given rise to misunderstanding in its reception, and Gardiner is characteristically forthright in assigning the blame for this category error. ‘It was Wagner who started the cant about the Lobgesang being a poor cousin to the Ninth Symphony,’ he says. ‘Idiotic simplicity’ was Wagner’s term, but there are remarkably few precedents for this motto-theme symphony. ‘Well, there’s always the Symphonie fantastique,’ says Gardiner, with a twinkle. First, that motto theme. ‘If you do that too ponderously and pompously at the outset’, cautions Gardiner, ‘you’re committed throughout the symphony, and it can become sanctimonious, lugubrious, dull. Of course it needs dignity, yet if you do it too quickly it can sound flippant. It’s got to be rousing, a call to arms, a call to all humankind, like a Benedicite: ‘everything that hath breath praise the Lord’. Actually I was pretty pleased

Advocate: Gardiner places Lobgesang above all Mendelssohn’s other symphonies

with the result. I thought the LSO trombone section and my tenors and basses got it just about right.’ Compositional sleights of hand draw our attention throughout the score, prompting purrs of delight from Gardiner – ‘It’s unbelievably good. There isn’t a weak bar in this symphony.’ Few are more magical than the sinfonia’s second movement, where Mendelssohn weaves a Tchaikovskian waltz (40 years before the Serenade for Strings) within a chorale harmonisation of the motto theme. As the conductor explains, the subsequent Adagio religioso goes further, in combining ‘the church-music form which the composer inherited from Bach – the cantata – with a neoclassical sense of symphonic structure written for the concert hall’. The opening chorus of the cantata is structured with terraced tempo markings that start nippily and get gradually quicker – ‘but then there’s nowhere for the choir to go’, says Gardiner. ‘The LSO is respectful of the Monteverdi Choir, as the Choir is of the LSO: there’s mutual admiration and support. ‘The LSO has this capacity, which I cherish so much, of being able to scale down dynamically without losing energy and power. That’s very tricky to do with modern instruments. With period instruments you can encourage them to play at

The historical view Robert Schumann

The Musical Times

Eric Werner

Reporting on the premiere, which took place in Leipzig, June 25, 1840

March 1, 1849

Mendelssohn: A New Image of the Composer and His Age (Free Press of Glencoe: 1963)

There broke forth in the audience a whispering which counts for more in the church than loud applause in the concert hall. It was like a glimpse into heaven of Raphael’s Madonna’s eyes. 72 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

While Beethoven began, Mendelssohn ended with his full strength … with deference, we are compelled to own our preference for the Lobgesang over the [Ninth Symphony] to which its peculiar form is undeniably to be traced.

His least inspired work … The motto theme was not and is not organically built into the rest of the work … The Lobgesang is justly forgotten. gramophone.co.uk


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE

full tilt, and you’re not going to threaten the balance between choir and orchestra. But with a chamber choir and a modern symphony orchestra, you’ve got to be on the qui vive the whole time: if you allow the first chorus to get out of proportion, you’re stuffed for the rest of the piece.’ Mendelssohn was happy to conduct the first performance with 500 musicians. Gardiner seems equally happy not to. ‘Nothing would tempt me to do a choral society version of Lobgesang. That was part of what Mendelssohn saw as his mission, extending his musical message – which could be perceived as too precious, too self-consciously aesthetic – to a bourgeois audience. But if you inflate Mendelssohn, you can kill off the refinement and the filigree textures.’ Casting of soloists is important in this regard. ‘I wanted a tenore di grazia’, says Gardiner, ‘and Michael Spyres is a Rossinian tenor who sings Berlioz wonderfully, with a great sensibility for words. In Lucy Crowe I had a lyrical soprano with the capacity to sing with incredible transparency and simplicity. And the mezzo Jurgita Adamonyté blended well, but there’s rather little for her to do.’ She joins Crowe for the duet ‘Ich harrete des Herrn’, which, for Gardiner and many others, is ‘the most beautiful of all. It’s sublime, the way the two sopranos are used as a fauxbourdon above the choral line.’

© Gerard Collett

P H OTO G R A P H Y: C H R I S C H R I STO D O U LO U, B E N G I B S O N

‘Haydn’s The Seasons and The Creation stand as godparents to Lobgesang’ The symphony’s dramatic high point arrives after the climax of the tenor aria – ‘Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin?’ (‘Watchman, will the night soon pass?’) – with the soprano’s cry of ‘Die Nacht ist vergangen’ (‘The night has passed’). But for Gardiner, the real coup de foudre comes after that, with his silencing of the orchestra for an unaccompanied setting of the chorale ‘Nun danket alle Gott’. ‘The day has dawned so we’re here on Earth. What are we going to do? We’re going to pray. We’re going to be Lutheran muezzins – greeting the dawn and thanking our maker for the start of a new day. And it’s incredibly poignant. ‘It’s like a followspot suddenly focusing on the chorus,’ continues Gardiner. ‘And you hear this arresting and touching celebration of two people: Luther and Bach. If you look at the harmonies they aren’t truly Bachian – and aren’t meant to be – but he is there, lurking in the background.’ So is Haydn. ‘It’s significant that Mendelssohn conducted The Creation earlier in 1840. That and The Seasons stand as godparents to Lobgesang.’ The nature of that relationship is most warmly evident after the chorale, in the soprano-tenor duet ‘Drum sing’ ich mit meinem Liede’. ‘It’s not as if the night passing is a finite victory,’ says Gardiner. ‘The duet brings us back to the conflict which will be renewed every 24 hours. This is domestic music-making. The homeliness of it belongs with Part 3 of The Creation. And it leads perfectly into the final chorus.’ For the conductor, belatedly coming to terms with the symphony has been nothing short of a revelation. Discussing it in context of the other four in the cycle, he remarks unprompted: ‘It’s a horrendous thing to do, but in terms of artistic substance and quality, if forced to choose, I would put Lobgesang first. Then the Scottish second, the Reformation third and the Italian fourth. And I love the Italian to bits!’ Read Gramophone’s review of Gardiner’s Lobgesang in the next issue gramophone.co.uk

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GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 73


Chamber Harriet Smith welcomes piano quartets by Dvořák and Suk:

Rob Cowan listens to Ilya Gringolts playing Stravinsky:

‘The musicians are steeped in the Czech tradition, which for the string players means warmth and an unfettered ease’ REVIEW ON PAGE 78

‘Gringolts’s playing is pure filigree while both he and his pianist combine delicacy with a sense of play’ REVIEW ON PAGE 81

Arban ‘Fantasies on Verdi Operas’ Fantasies on Attila, Un ballo in maschera, Don Carlos, Ernani, La forza del destino, I Lombardi, Luisa Miller, Oberto, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, La traviata, Il trovatore and I vespri siciliani, plus the Miserere from Il trovatore Angelo Cavallo cornet Michele Fontana pf Dynamic F b CDS7784 (120’ • DDD)

Michele Fontana, on piano, is alert, crisp and frequently witty, and the chamber-size acoustic is inoffensive. Cornet aficionados looking for a reference set can snap this up with confidence. Verdi completists and lovers of 19th-century lollipops will enjoy dipping into it: honestly, and with the best will in the world, I couldn’t recommend doing much more than that. Richard Bratby

Barsanti . Handel Wagner relates how, during his youthful stay in Paris, he kept body and soul together by arranging operatic melodies for the cornet à piston. When the results proved unplayable, he blew half his fee on having them rewritten by a pro. Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-89) would have made no such mistake. This Paganini of the cornet was a hugely influential figure in French brassplaying during the Second Empire and his compositions served as showcases for his own brilliant technique as well as being aimed at the sizeable amateur market. That these 14 Fantasias are formulaic goes without saying; they’re vehicles for melody, garnished with just enough virtuosity to impress a salon audience. Thirteen Verdi operas from Oberto to the then up-to-the-minute La forza del destino provide the melodies: Arban alternates fast and slow, with at least one variation in triplets or semiquavers in each case. Nothing here quite develops the whirligig brilliance of Arban’s famous variations on Carnival of Venice but there’s a reasonable amount of dialogue between instruments and in some of the later pieces – such as the fantasy on the Miserere from Il trovatore – Arban attempts something a bit more formally ambitious. But not much. Angelo Cavallo plays more or less cleanly, with light vibrato and a pleasant tone; but I felt that his performances could have been a bit more daring, more characterful – in a word, more operatic. 74 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

‘Edinburgh 1742’ Barsanti Concerti grossi, Op 3 Nos 1-5. A Collection of Old Scots Tunes Handel Concerto for French Horns, HWV331a. March from Ptolemy. Alcina – Sta nell’Ircana pietrosa tanab b Emilie Renard mez aAlec Frank-Gemmill, aJoseph Walters hns Ensemble Marsyas / Peter Whelan Linn F CKD567 (68’ • DDD • T/t)

work, the chortling energy Barsanti conjures in his allegros has an abandon that might just have been a bit too boisterous for a royal river party. The Handel connection – he and Barsanti certainly knew each other – is recognised in the great man’s Concerto for two horns, HWV331 (an arrangement of two movements from the Water Music), a march from Tolomeo and the superb ‘Sta nell’Ircana pietrosa tana’ from Alcina. Emilie Renard is the soprano here, and no less boldly magnificent is she than the horns that blow through not only this piece but virtually the whole disc like an invigorating and cleansing wind. Barsanti the ‘Scotsman’ is also heard in four Scots Tunes sweetly and idiomatically played by violinist Colin Scobie. Michael Talbot supplies a booklet-note that stokes fascination with this neglected figure and, this being a Linn recording, the sound is naturally stunning. Once again Baroque music surprises and delights! Lindsay Kemp

The music of Francesco Barsanti (c1690-1775) normally only makes it on to a recording when it shows its Scottish accent. The Lucca-born composer spent eight years in the service of the Edinburgh Musical Society between two lengthy spells in London, and titbits from his A Collection of Old Scots Tunes regularly surface whenever a disc or concert has Scottish Baroque as its subject. Rarely, rarely, comes any of his other music, and on the evidence of this release one really has to wonder why. His six published opus numbers include a set of 10 concerti grossi, Op 3, five of them for trumpet, oboes and strings and five for two horns, timpani and strings; and in the expert hands of Ensemble Marsyas and their horn players Alec FrankGemmill and Joseph Walters, the latter turn out to be works of enormous joy and spirit. Their sound world will be familiar to many from Handel’s Water Music, and while the minuet finales sound as if they could almost be lost numbers from that

Beethoven . Mozart Beethoven Violin Sonata No 1, Op 12 No 1 Mozart Violin Sonatas – No 18, K301; No 21, K304; No 26, K378 Ji Young Lim vn Dong Hyek Lim pf Warner Classics F 9029 58395-0 (68’ • DDD)

PR blurbs can be revealing. The cover states that the violinist Ji Young Lim is ‘accompanied by fellow South Korean Dong Hyek Lim’. No she isn’t; both Mozart and Beethoven were explicit that these sonatas were for keyboard accompanied by violin. But if the idea that either player in a duo sonata has a secondary role harks back to an earlier generation, so too, you might think, do these performances: played with a distinctly creative approach to dynamics and a glossy, generous vibrato. Period style? Not here. gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: R O B B I E J O N E S

Taste and precision: Arcangelo recording Buxtehude at St Jude-on-the-Hill in Hampstead, London – see review on page 78

Instead, these are hugely enjoyable performances on their own unashamedly romantic terms. The minuet finale of K304 becomes a tragic slow movement, complete with halting rubato and drooping portamentos, and the opening bars of the Andantino of K378 have a delicacy and fragrance more suited to Chopin: Mozart as Dresden figurine. And why not, when it sounds as sincere and spontaneous as this? There’s nothing contrived about this playing. Ji Young Lim has a rather affecting way of moulding her tone over a phrase and Dong Hyek Lim’s playing is bright and lively. They’re both clearly on the same page; occasionally relentless (the finale of K301 is slightly stiff) but fresh and urgent in each of Mozart’s first movements. And when, with a grandiose opening chord, they launch themselves at the Beethoven, it fits like a glove. All right, not stylistically, perhaps, but there’s a directness and an ardour here that the young Beethoven would surely have endorsed. The recorded sound has just the slightest suggestion of having been artificially weighted towards the violin. But everything about this disc is a little bit over the top and, I have to say, I enjoyed it a lot. Richard Bratby gramophone.co.uk

Boccherini

3

Six String Trios, Op 34 G101-106 La Ritirata Glossa F b GCD923105 (123’ • DDD) From Colúmna Musica 1CM0258 & 1CM0275, recorded 2010-11

The string trio is usually thought of in its Classical format, for one each of violin, viola and cello. It sprang virtually from nowhere with its first masterpiece, Mozart’s Divertimento, K563, and was followed by a handful of youthful works by Beethoven and two by Schubert. Before that, however, there was a vogue for trios consisting of a pair of violins with cello – ostensibly the Baroque trio sonata without the keyboard instrument. Haydn wrote a string of such trios during his first decade as Esterházy Kapellmeister, including one anomalous one for violin, viola and cello; these are not inconsiderable works, even if many of them remain to be recorded. The trick is, of course, to effect the fullness of sound available to the string quartet but with one of the middle voices absent. La Ritirata here opt for a set of six by Haydn’s younger contemporary, Luigi

Boccherini. These date from 1781, so gone are the remnants of trio sonata texture and in comes a full vocabulary of Classical gestures. Being one of the early practitioners of the Sturm und Drang style, Boccherini explores minor tonalities, notably in episodes of the Rondeau finale of Trio No 2 in G and at the opening of No 4 in D. The cello functions as more than just a bass instrument, being offered singing solos in the closing Rondeau of No 3 in E flat, for example. The performances – remastered from originals recorded in March 2010 and May 2011 but which received little circulation outside Spain – pay the music full respect. We are not told the age or make of any of the three instruments but they blend together well, strings of thirds in the violins especially ringing out beautifully. And the music itself is a cut above the usual offerings of those composers in the ‘second division’ below Mozart and Haydn, with a particular memorability after only a couple of listenings that can’t always be relied on in some of these composers’ contemporaries. Good that Glossa has rescued these recordings, and a treat for those who enjoy discovering what was going on outside Vienna (and Eisenstadt) in the later 18th century. David Threasher GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 75


2017

REFORMATION

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bach Cantatas bwv 79 & 80

FELIX MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto Symphony no.5 “Reformation” The Hebrides

Johann sebastian bach Cantatas for bass Concerto for oboe d’amore

Isabelle Faust Freiburger Barockorchester

Katharina Arfken Freiburger Barockorchester

Pablo Heras-Casado

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Mendelssohn brahms vaughan williams Choir of Clare College Cambridge

Graham Ross

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CHAMBER REVIEWS

Expressive power: Clarinettist Fraser Langton, viola player Rosalind Ventris and pianist James Willshire recording music by Rory Boyle for Delphian

Boismortier ‘Sonatas & Trios’ Sonatas: Op 37 – No 2; No 5; Op 41 – No 2; No 3; No 4; Op 50 – No 6. La Caverneuse. La Décharnée. La Marguillère. La Valetudinaire Le Petit Trianon Ricercar F RIC381 (69’ • DDD)

Joseph Boismortier (1689-1755) may be well represented on disc but it’s fair to say that his name rarely sets the pulse truly racing. In fact, although on the face of it he shares a huge amount in common with his German contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann, it’s hard to picture a world in which a Boismortier anniversary would be celebrated with as much enthusiasm as Telemann’s 250th is currently being. The Frenchman’s music just feels that little bit more obviously commercial and wallpapery; it’s best consumed within multi-composer programmes, and ideally through one of his more off-piste instrumental combinations so that at least there’s some timbral exoticism to get your teeth into. gramophone.co.uk

All of which is to say that for Le Petit Trianon to have genuinely pulled off this all-Boismortier chamber programme is no mean feat, particularly with their thoroughly standard line-up of flute, violin, bassoon, cello and harpsichord. There’s some exceptionally elegant playing across the disc; gentle, light, expertly blended and with subtle but effective shading. There’s also an impressive amount of variety, the six trios drawn from three different opus collections (albeit all composed between 1732 and 1736), and punctuated with four rather sweet character pieces for harpsichord. There’s even the occasional more distinctive Boismortier moment; a highlight is the genuinely magical opening Affecttuoso of Sonata No 3 from Op 41, where hurdy-gurdy-esque drones hang in the air like meadow perfume as a softly pastoral flute lilts and coos above. The trios aren’t entirely without their vaguely flashy moments either, such as the fast-flowing passagework of the Vivace of Sonata No 5 from Op 37; cellist Cyril Poulet deserves especial mention here for the delicacy he’s retained across his own racing figures, where rougher hands might have served up uncouth scrubbing. This may not be repertoire guaranteed to hold your ears and brains captive; but, as

uncomplicated yet beautiful music to let roll over you, this recording fits the bill. Charlotte Gardner

Boyle Four Bagatellesa. Burble. Di Tre Re e iob. Dramatis personaea. Sonatinaa. Tatty’s Dancea Fraser Langton cl bRosalind Ventris va a James Willshire pf Delphian F DCD34172 (60’ • DDD)

Music of high organisation, clarity and expressive power here from Rory Boyle, born in Ayr in 1951 and currently professor of composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Boyle’s rigour when it comes to form is notable – maybe too notable – in his Sonatina for clarinet and piano of 1979, dedicated to his sometime teacher Lennox Berkeley. But while the piece can feel like a rollercoaster cart being yanked on to the ‘correct’ tracks of recapitulation and development, etc, it reveals the composer’s gift for clear and almost vernacular-style melodies. Boyle obviously found ways of disrupting that status quo and that is what I find most GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 77


CHAMBER REVIEWS thrilling in the music that ensues on this largely chronological album. For all its fluency, his music can sound racked by neurosis, as in the grippingly contrary piano-writing in No 1 of his Four Bagatelles (1979, rev. 2014). The niggling, repeated D in No 2 shows that the composer means business but also that, on occasion, his ideas are good enough to be pursued and pushed a little more. In Dramatis personae Boyle consciously undermines the watertight structures he has created: ‘Rogue’ suffers an evocative power-out; ‘Shadow’ sinks into its own despondency (magnificent quiet playing here from Langton); and ‘Fool’ trips over its own patterning. Di Tre Re i io, inspired by Honegger’s Fifth Symphony, is a lesson in how a homage should drive the secondary composer to energy and even neurosis but never to sycophancy or pastiche. Not a groundbreaking or hugely distinctive voice but an honest, interesting and disciplined one that has clearly touched the musicians on this recording. Langton’s technique is sure, his musicianship all-encompassing and his head balanced with his heart. James Willshire is just as uncompromising on keys but, frustratingly, does seem compromised by an uncouth instrument.

resultant losses in lightness and gains in richness and depth. A factor that has allowed Arcangelo to be so adaptable is the ever-effective policy of employing top-rate musicians; and, with violinist Sophie Gent and gambist Jonathan Manson proving masters of this music’s sometimes virtuoso demands and Thomas Dunford among the most soughtafter continuo lutenists of the moment, the standards here are as high as ever. The shifting moods of the music are realised with taste and precision – whether dancing, indulging in earnest chromatic twisting or yielding to exuberance (Dunford twice ends a sonata with a rather Arabic flourish) – yet each sonata’s composure is successfully preserved. The gamba being gentler than the violin, the balance of attention can swing to its disadvantage, and it seems to me that the recording could have compensated for that a little more; Manson’s eloquent playing certainly demands a better hearing, yet on occasion drifts even behind the lute. The lute, by the way, is also more prominent than Cohen’s harpsichord, which may or may not be deliberate. Fine performances nonetheless. Lindsay Kemp

Andrew Mellor

Dvořák Piano Quartet No 2, Op 87 B162 Suk Piano Quartet, Op 1

Buxtehude Trio Sonatas, Op 1 BuxWV252-258

Dvořák . Suk Josef Suk Piano Quartet Supraphon F SU4227-2 (61’ • DDD)

Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen hpd Alpha F ALPHA367 (59’ • DDD)

In their quickly expanding discography Jonathan Cohen’s Arcangelo are showing themselves to be among the most versatile ensembles around, as at home in Bach’s B minor Mass as Couperin’s Leçons de Ténèbres, in Mendelssohn concert arias as in Monteverdi madrigals. This is their first release entirely devoted to instrumental chamber music, for which they have chosen the first of Buxtehude’s two published books of trio sonatas, his Op 1 of 1694. Buxtehude’s trios are not so much in the planned-out Corellian mould as the freerformed stylus phantasticus manner of the mid-17th century, even breaking into quasi-recitative in places, though there are also solidly crafted moments to remind us of the composer’s eminence as an organist. They differ, too, from most other trio sonatas in that their upper parts are for violin and viola da gamba rather than two equal-tessitura instruments, with 78 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

wonderfully well paced, fully bringing out its exuberant boot-stamping rusticities which contrast so well with the lovingly moulded slower passages. I find the Lugano players a little breathless by comparison – it is, after all, marked Allegro, ma non troppo. How enterprising to couple the quartet not with more Dvo∑ák but with the A minor Piano Quartet of his son-in-law Josef Suk. Mind you, marriage was some years off when he wrote the quartet, aged just 17 and a student in Dvo∑ák’s composition class. What’s striking is its sheer confidence, and the fact that it doesn’t sound like Dvo∑ák. It’s given the best possible advocacy by these players – just listen to the individuality of the textures in the development of the first movement, a driving Allegro appassionato. Heart is very much on sleeve in the ravishing slow movement, which opens (like Dvo∑ák’s) with a raptly sung cello melody. The players relish, too, the dancing inner section, and their way with the close of the movement is poised indeed. The leaping finale leaves you marvelling at Suk’s maturity and the imaginative way in which he varies the reappearances of the main theme. All is given with aplomb, right down to the slightly over-the-top closing bars. Harriet Smith Dvo∑ák – selected comparison: Leschenko, Gringolts, Braude, Thedéen (8/13) (EMI) 721119-2

Hakim The Josef Suk Piano Quartet take their name from the great violinist rather than his composer grandfather, whose Op 1 they perform. Confused? Don’t be. All four musicians are steeped in the Czech tradition, which in terms of the string players means warmth and an unfettered ease that is very engaging. Climaxes are full-throated but never overstated – just listen to the way the first movement of Dvo∑ák’s Second Piano Quartet ebbs and flows, one moment surging forwards, the next brought down to the quietest of dynamics. In the slow movement the cello’s opening melody might not have quite the heightened quality of Torleif Thedéen in the 2012 ‘Martha Argerich Presents’ (what a crying shame that this wonderful Lugano festival is no more), but how tender the Suk players are in the passage from 1'28". The third movement (too relaxed to be called a scherzo) is full of colour, not least the piano’s imitation of a cimbalom at 2'09". The finale is

Phèdrea. Caprice en rondeaub. Diptyqueb. Piano Concertoc a

Rima Tawil sop bMagali Mosnier fl Renaud Bary db abNaji Hakim, cClaire Foison pf c Chapelle Royale Quartet Signum F SIGCD498 (60’ • DDD) c

Composers and performers alike may strive for an improvisatory impulse in their music-making, but that’s rather different from allowing improvisatory freedom to render standard compositional checks and balances redundant. Naji Hakim’s status as one of the great improvising organists has fuelled much of his colourful and original music but in the case of the works presented here – particularly the more recent ones – it helps explain why the music feels so unerring, sprawling and soulless. Structurally, the most satisfying piece on the disc is Hakim’s 1997 cantata for gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS soprano and piano Phèdre, probably because Racine’s scenes prescribe their own floor plan. Still, the piece doesn’t have the harmonic adventure of some of the composer’s later works and Rima Tawil’s mannered singing, complete with wide vibrato, doesn’t do it many favours. Hakim borrows themes from Rameau and Pergolesi in his Caprice en rondeau (1998) and Diptyque (2014), both for flute and piano. We hear flashes of the composer at his best, mashing up the French organ and fairground music traditions in the latter’s ‘Humoresque’. The problem is that, despite charismatic performances from Magali Mosnier with Hakim on the piano, every paragraph flourishes and frolics as though it wants to be the last. Hakim’s Piano Concerto (2015) – cast here for piano and string quintet, though the skimpy booklet notes don’t tell us what this ‘version’ derives from – seems to throw the formal rigour that Hakim can exercise out of the window. It is a string of improvisatory dances played without much subtlety (not least from the faltering quartet) but with plenty of relish. You get the impression, rather like an outlandish organ improvisation, that it was more fun in the execution than it is in the audition. Andrew Mellor

Maxwell Davies The Last Island. A Postcard from Sanday. String Trio. Two Nocturnes. Lullaby. Oboe Quartet. A Birthday Card for Jennifer. Violin Sonata. String Quartet Movement Hebrides Ensemble Delphian F DCD34178 (77’ • DDD)

A keen sense of time and place – and increasingly of man’s transient existence within it – forms an important theme in Maxwell Davies’s late chamber music. Seven of the works contained on this excellent recording by the Hebrides Ensemble were written during the composer’s final decade and each one engages with this subject in different ways. The Last Island (2009), for string sextet, is one of several works inspired by the unique atmosphere of Orcadian island life, which Davies experienced for over half his life. Melodic fragments are caught up in the music’s opening ebb and flow like jetsam and flotsam on the shore, reflecting, in the composer’s words, ‘the wonder of everchanging light of sea and sky, yet strangely threatened with menace, even on the brightest of days’.

The work ends with a fragment of plainsong, reminding us that man’s imprint is never far away in Davies’s music. The String Trio (2008) also concludes with a quotation, this time of traditional Orkney fiddle music. However, a subdued ending is only reached via a dissonant and tortuous journey reflecting the work’s harrowing subject matter, composed in memory of 26-year-old Karen Aim, murdered while holidaying in New Zealand. The transient nature of time and place is brought into sharper focus in the febrile temporal distortions and dislocations of the Two Nocturnes (2010), for piano quintet, which sees the composer come face-to-face with his own mortality. Its shadows cut across the shafts of light that illuminate the Violin Sonata, while lurking beneath the soaring lines of the late Oboe Quartet (2012), brilliantly controlled and sustained in Emanuel Abbühl’s performance. Even more profoundly, death’s valedictory cadence punctuates the closing moments of a movement for string quartet that sadly remains incomplete. The unique character of Davies’s late style is grasped and understood in the Hebrides Ensemble’s highly nuanced performances, described by the composer as ‘a crew of a ship that comes into harbour now and again with supplies. And not just

SAT 14 OCT, 7.30pm

SARAH CONNOLL LY joins AURORA OR RCHESTRA A Mozart’s Piano: Vienna, City of Dreams

Sarah Connolly © Peter Warren

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, K413 (version for piano and string quartet) Mahler Piano Quartet in A minor Mahler (arr. Farrington) Das Lied von der Erde

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‘Whaat can there be leftt to sayy about Saarah Connnolly, whoose perfoormances these days are prettyy much beyonnd praise?? ’ mophone Gram

PRE-CONCERT TALK Nicholas Collon and Iain Farrington discuss Mahler’s epic symphonic song cycle – 6.15pm

THE LOCK-IN After the concert, embark on late night Viennese adventures with ZRI – 9.45pm

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Profil

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Join Guy Johnston as he traces the roots of his 300-year-old cello with the help of friends from across his musical life.

Featuring Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Tom Poster, Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, with music by Beethoven, Barrière, Respighi and Gjeilo alongside new works from Charlotte Bray, Mark Simpson

YEVGENY MRAVINSKY Edition Vol. III Tchaikovsky, Bach, Wagner, Scriabin, Kalinnikov, Bruckner, Shostakovich Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra 6 CD PH17019

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and David Matthews.

www.kingscollegerecordings.com


CHAMBER REVIEWS the bare essentials. There are always surprises, little treats that one isn’t expecting.’ Pwyll ap Siôn

Mozart ‘Violin Sonatas, Vol 4’ Violin Sonatas – No 2, K8; No 8, K13; No 11, K26; No 13, K28; No 20, K303; No 25, K377; No 26, K378; No 30, K403. Variations on ‘Hélas, j’ai perdu mon amant’, K360 Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf Hyperion B b CDA68164 (119’ • DDD)

Scarcely a note of adverse criticism has attended the three previous issues in this delightful series of accompanied sonatas from Cédric Tiberghien and Alina Ibragimova (5/16, 10/16, 4/17), and that situation’s not about to change now. To describe these performances as ‘perfect’ could be considered glib; but there is a specific ‘rightness’ to just about everything you hear. The playing – well, that can be taken for granted from these musicians. But there’s more to these pieces than just getting the notes right. There’s a lot of repetition, especially in the earlier works and in the various variations (those in the sonatas as well as the big set on disc 1), and the temptation could be to go to town with the ornamentation. Ibragimova and Tiberghien are more subtle than that, inflecting the reprises ever so slightly with a little distension of tempo or flash of vibrato, almost as if playing through the second time with an eyebrow quizzically raised. Then there’s the balance. Reviewers must be fed up rehearsing the fact that these are sonatas for piano with violin accompaniment; readers too, I’m sure, barely need reminding. But here, performers and engineers alike have made sure that the one instrument doesn’t swamp or outshine the other, and that neither is unduly spotlit. It all sounds and feels utterly natural. Others may question the need to include all the earliest works, juvenilia even by Mozart’s prodigious standards. Ibragimova and Tiberghien, however, play them with all the seriousness of purpose that they lavish on the later, greater works. Thereby, nothing seems out of place or included simply for spurious reasons of completeness. Each disc is bookended with a ‘big’ work (including K403, left unfinished but filled in by Mozart’s musical executor Maximilian Stadler, and the wild two-movement K303); in between gramophone.co.uk

come the earlier works and the G minor Variations. The whole enterprise is nearimpossible to fault. Six sonatas left now to complete the cycle, a set that will surely become the modern reference recording.

a worthwhile addition to the discography of a composer now in his 94th year.

David Threasher

Rouget de Lisle La Marseillaise (arr Stravinsky) Stravinsky Duo concertant. Pastorale. The Firebird – Suite. Mavra – Chanson russe. The Nightingale – Airs du rossignol; Marche chinoise. Petrushka – Danse russe. Pulcinella – Suite

Schurmann ‘Chamber Music, Vol 3’ Piano Quartetsa – No 1; No 2. Serenadeb. Two Violinsc b

Martin Beaver vn aMikhail Korzhev pf Lyris Quartet (acAlyssa Park, cShalini Vijayan vns a Luke Maurer va aTimothy Loo vc) Toccata Classics F TOCC0336 (73’ • DDD)

Toccata Classics renews its coverage of Gerard Schurmann, Javanese-born British composer resident in the US. Early established for his film scores, Schurmann only latterly focused on chamber music and his two piano quartets are notable additions to this overlooked genre. Starkly contrasted too – the First Piano Quartet (1986) emphasising charged emotions such that the simmering unease of ‘Ricercare’ intensifies into the headlong energy of ‘Capriccio’, before ‘Corale’ affords a measure of calm yet hardly passive resolution. If the Second Piano Quartet (1998) is outwardly a more equable work, shades of expressive ambiguity are rarely beneath the surface of the initial Allegro; its successor deftly combining scherzo and Adagio in the way speculative gestures expand into relatively long-breathed melodic lines, though the final Allegro seems a little too short-winded to make for a wholly satisfying conclusion. British composers have added considerably to the corpus of music for solo violin – witness Benjamin Frankel’s sonatas and Roberto Gerhard’s Chaconne; Schurmann’s Serenade (1969) stands among these. Its nine short movements can be heard as two animated groups which the Pastorale (4) then the Tranquillo (8) counter with increasing repose, before the piece turns full-circle by recalling earlier material in the final Pesante. Two Violins (2015) comprises six vignettes, their close-knit imitative writing leavened by droll character-types that commence with the resolve of ‘Parading’ then conclude with the impetus of ‘Chasing’. As with earlier discs in this series, the performances are as attentive to this music’s exacting technical demands as to its expressive subtleties. With excellent sound and detailed booklet notes, this is

Richard Whitehouse

Stravinsky

Ilya Gringolts vn Peter Laul pf BIS F Í BIS2245 (61’ • DDD/DSD)

Two gentle miniatures programmed here are surely among the most carefree and seductive that Stravinsky ever composed, the ‘Russian Maiden’s Song’ from Mavra and the earlier vocalise Pastorale, both played by Ilya Gringolts with a feeling of insouciance that I find delectable. The Firebird sequence opens with a shimmering extract (the Prélude from ‘Prélude et Ronde des princesses’) that you would be unlikely to encounter outside of the complete ballet, whereas Petrushka’s celebrated Russian Dance is subject to all manner of fiddling wizardry (rocketing slides, pizzicatos, oscillating double-stops, etc), as is La Marseillaise, with its multiple-stopping. In the Suite from Pulcinella, after material lifted from Stravinsky’s ballet based on early Italian masters, again Gringolts’s playing is pure filigree (immaculate harmonics in the Serenata) while both he and pianist Peter Laul combine delicacy with a sense of play, the latter best demonstrated in the Tarantella. It’s fascinating how the two passages from the opera The Nightingale as arranged by the violinist Samuel Dushkin sound for all the world like Szymanowski but it’s the Duo concertant, Stravinsky’s only original work for violin and piano, that leaves the strongest impression, especially the three slow movements, the two ‘eclogues’ in particular, music that years ago was unexpectedly used – and to superb effect – as soundtrack material for a TV play starring Denholm Elliott. Back then Stravinsky’s questioning music held me in its thrall and I straight away acquired Joseph Szigeti’s classic Sony recording of it (with the composer at the piano), far more openly demonstrative than this leaner but no less effective option by Gringolts and Laul. Another interesting point of comparison in this same music is provided by Anthony Marwood with composer-pianist Thomas Adès (part of Hyperion’s two-disc set GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 81


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Granados’s opera Goyescas under the baton of Josep Pons, Joyce DiDonato in Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

9 UK premieres and recent works by composers including Thomas Larcher, Betsy Jolas and Anders Hillborg.


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Carefree and seductive: Ilya Gringolts playing Stravinsky on BIS is a must for fiddle-fanciers

devoted to Stravinsky’s complete music for violin and piano). Marwood, a fine player, is marginally warmer in tone than Gringolts (though maybe not quite so ethereal), Adès distinctive in the way he weighs and colours chords, invariably with more character than Laul. In fact it’s his presence rather than Marwood’s that proves the stronger attraction on the Hyperion set. You might also try the Serenata from the Suite, Adès again summoning tonal variety that isn’t quite matched by Laul, good though he is. Difficult to choose. On balance, I’d say Gringolts for fiddle fanciers, Adès for those whose main interest is in Stravinsky’s harmonic scaffolding. Ideally, go for both. Rob Cowan Selected comparison: Marwood, Adès (3/10) (HYPE) CDA67723

Tye P H O T O G R A P H Y: T O M A S Z T R Z E B I AT O W S K I

Complete Consort Music Phantasm Linn F CKD571 (67’ • DDD)

A contemporary of Tallis and Sheppard, Christopher Tye was a composer gramophone.co.uk

apart. His ear for harmony, his eye for a musical line, seem to have been guided by a different logic to those around him. There’s no doubting his architect’s instinct for musical form but his architecture is more Frank Gehry than Inigo Jones – wilful, playful, iconoclastic and often as baffling as it is beautiful. This collection of his complete consort music throws up surprise after surprise – a revelation of a recording that offers a startling perspective on a familiar musical landscape. Other recordings of this music do exist – notably Fretwork’s ‘In nomine’ (Amon Ra, 3/88) and the rather lovely ‘Crye’ by Concordia Viols (Metronome, 12/97) – often pairing Tye’s works for viol consort with those of Taverner, Tallis and Byrd. But to hear these pieces back to back, one after another as here, is to really get inside this extraordinary imagination, to be caught up short by musical blind alleys and hairpin bends of a composer who not only invented the characteristically English genre of the In nomine but who also took it further than almost any of his later imitators. Phantasm’s craggy, deep-dug performances follow the composer’s instructive titles – ‘Hold fast’, ‘Follow me’, ‘Believe me’ – to the letter, gamely celebrating the oddities as well as the

felicities of works whose fixation with 54 notes of plainchant by John Taverner (taken from the Benedictus of his Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas) has never fully been explained. Discovering the unexpected sensuality of the In nomine ‘Round’, the yelping, insistent plaints of the In nomine ‘Cry’ and the provocative dramatics of the In nomine ‘Re la re’, Phantasm are skilled musical tour guides to Tye’s challenging terrain. Alexandra Coghlan

‘Subito’ Grieg Violin Sonata No 3, Op 45 Lutosławski Subito Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending Wieniawski Fantaisie brillante sur des motifs de l’opéra Faust de Gounod, Op 20 Julia Hwang vn Charles Matthews pf Signum F SIGCD486 (62’ • DDD)

The appeal here, quite aside from some excellent playing, is in the way the programme has been planned. My personal preference with Vaughan Williams’s Lark is for the orchestral version; and while Julia Hwang is a model of expressive purity in the solo part and Charles Matthews provides her with an appropriately stilled GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 83


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Old-world wit and warmth: Julia Hwang and Charles Matthews play a wide-ranging programme on their recording debut for Signum

accompaniment, as presented the bird’s ascent seems limited to the oak rafters of a spacious barn, beyond which lies an imagined sky. Then comes the first surprise: Lutosπawski’s brilliant, short-term Subito (‘Suddenly’), like a rifle shot that shockingly causes havoc, Hwang’s lark thrown back to earth amid a swirling storm of feathers. The juxtaposition all but provides us with a totally new piece, an aural drama that stands its ground on its own terms, even though a mite uncomfortable. A good idea too that the lark should have followed on the grass-stained heels of Grieg’s violin sonata masterpiece, the dramatic C minor – surely the best of three, extremely well played by a partnership that thrives, the central Allegretto espressivo being especially affecting. And then there’s the second surprise: following Lutosπawski with a gifted Pole from an earlier generation, Henryk Wieniawski and his 17-minute melange of tunes from Gounod’s Faust skilfully knitted together and played by this talented duo with a semblance of old-world wit and warmth. In an appreciative booklet introduction, Andrew Nethsingha, director of music at St John’s College, Cambridge, lets us in on the fact that the release of this attractive programme coincides with Julia Hwang’s graduation. I’d say that it augurs well for her future, so here’s hoping that her next 84 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

CD is already in the making. Excellent notes by our own Richard Bratby. Rob Cowan

‘Vale’ Barrett Vale J Croft Deux Méditations d’une furiea Fitch Agricola IXb Järnegard PSALMa E Johnson émoi Pauset Eurydice Richard Craig fls aCora Schmeiser sop b Distractfold Ensemble Métier F MSV28540 (61’ • DDD)

Forget new complexity: some of the music on flautist Richard Craig’s second Métier disc might simply be called post-everything. When there’s no tonality, no atonality, no melody and few pitches, what exactly is left? Quite a lot, as it happens – and therein lies the interest. Such technically complex, ‘posteverything’ music paradoxically brings us back to a primal, at times ecstatic state of Fauvist force. Evan Johnson’s émoi (2010) for solo bass flute is a case in point. Here, the very act of instrumental articulation strips the sounds of their articulacy. The flute sounds in question are frequently beautiful, at times almost bird-like, as if human might become animal through the instrument. Esaias

Järnegard’s PSALM (2013) for contrabass flute and soprano voice conjures a compelling drama through wispy, barelythere sound traces. Richard Barrett’s Vale (2006-12) for solo flute is the longest and most vigorous work on the disc. At times the flute behaves like an electronic oscillator shifting through myriad changing frequency bands; Barrett’s favoured image is a leaf floating down a stream. As ever with Barrett, elegance and organicism emerge through the forbidding surface material. The other works are slightly more conventional. In Fabrice Fitch’s Agricola IX (2013) for flute and string trio, phrases from Ockeghem are stretched and microtonally altered, giving the impression of gagaku, with the string trio acting as a resonator for the flute. Setting text by Jean Tardieu, John Croft’s Deux Méditations d’une furie (2011-13) for soprano and bass flute are slow, burnished and meditative pieces, wherein the sound of the bass flute often melds with that of the singer. Brice Pauset’s Eurydice (1998) ends the disc. Beginning in sprightly fashion then quietening, it spools outwards like a string in the wind over an abyss. Craig owns the works here. The warmth of his tone along with a reverberant room sound, while taking nothing away from the compositions’ severity, succeeds in making them approachable. Liam Cagney gramophone.co.uk


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CORINNE MORRIS SCOT T ISH CH A M B ER O RC HEST R A

Tomåťek’s piano sonatas: treasure lost and re-discovered.

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In a career shaped by extraordinary talent and remarkable determination Chrysalis is an inspirational concerto debut.

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Belohlavek and his superb orchestra revel in Mozart’s dark, dramatic harmonies, while the soloist’s crisp articulation and singing legato are never far from the spirit of the composer’s sunnier comedies. The Sunday Times

‘Morris drew every ounce of expression from the slow movement.’ — THE STRAD

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— VOI X DE S A RT S

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ICONS

Victor de Sabata Richard Osborne pays tribute to the fine Italian conductor and composer notable for his interpretations of Romantic repertoire, who passed away half a century ago this December

F

ew conductors receive a standing ovation from an Debussy and Puccini. Singers were especially aware of this: orchestra within 10 minutes of their first encounter. his celebrated accounts of Tristan und Isolde in Milan and But that is what happened when Victor de Sabata Bayreuth were ‘light and poetical with a particular flavour led the London Philharmonic Orchestra through Berlioz’s that most conductors are unable to obtain from an orchestra’ overture Le carnaval romain in London in April 1946. (Gertrude Grob-Prandl); his Madama Butterfly was possessed Violinist Hugh Maguire, who would lead the London of ‘a transparency that seemed like gossamer’ (Iris Adami Symphony Orchestra in the Monteux era, recalled: Corradetti); Giulia Tess described a Salome in which ‘the ‘De Sabata was the greatest, translucent sensuousness the most musical conductor was pure magic’. I ever came across: absolutely As the distinguished Italian overwhelming. His knowledge musicologist Giorgio Pestelli of the repertoire, his control, has noted, the orchestral his command, the thought, sound de Sabata aimed for the study, the preparation – was not imposed on the well, I didn’t know people like that existed.’ musical structure: ‘Rather, it emanated from a deep reserve of In addition to a superfine ear and a galvanising presence, feeling that conditioned that structure.’ Writing of de Sabata’s de Sabata possessed an astonishing memory and yet more famous 1939 Berlin Philharmonic recording of Brahms’s astonishing instrumental skills. Stories are legion of him Fourth Symphony (DG Dokumente, 2/89), Pestelli notes how demonstrating personally how to play difficult string the characteristic emphasis de Sabata brings to the staccatos, arpeggiandos in Sibelius’s En saga or the flugelhorns in the pizzicatos and syncopated rhythms ‘gives the symphony finale of Respighi’s Pines of Rome at the dizzying pitch the a gypsy colouring that blends curiously with its learned side’. composer prescribes. ‘Un chef vraiment extraordinaire’ was The kindest of men privately, de Sabata could be a terror Ravel’s judgement after de Sabata conducted the premiere in rehearsal. He is also remembered as an explosive presence of L’enfant et les sortilèges – a score he had memorised within on the rostrum. Nothing of value exists on film, though the 12 hours of receiving it – in Monte Carlo in 1925. blaze of his one-time assistant Carlo Maria Giulini’s filmed De Sabata was born in 1892 in Trieste, Austro-Hungary’s account of the Dies irae of the Verdi Requiem is said to have most prized maritime possession. With its exotic mix of Italian, something of de Sabata about it. There are, however, many Slav, German and Jewish traders, it was Mitteleuropa writ striking prose evocations – an example being Vienna large. The de Sabatas were typically Triestine: Victor’s father, Philharmonic violinist Otto Strasser’s description of a singing teacher and choral conductor, was Roman Catholic; de Sabata dancing his way through Ravel’s Boléro, keeping his mother, an interested amateur musician, was Jewish. strict time with his left hand and making all manner of subtle Though not blessed with the best of health, the young boy rubatos with the right. (Do not try this at home.) was sent to Milan to study. Aged 25, he received a commission This ‘temperamental’ aspect of de Sabata’s conducting from La Scala to compose an meant that, for better or opera, though it was his early defining moments worse, live performances tone poems – the emotionally often took on an existence of •1917-18 – Composer and conductor explosive Juventus and their own. You can hear this His opera Il macigno is commissioned by La Scala, Milan; the lambently beautiful to advantage in de Sabata’s he is appointed conductor of the Monte Carlo Opera. meditation Gethsemani 1952 Milan performance (both conducted by Aldo of Verdi’s Falstaff (Music & •1930 – La Scala, Milan Ceccato for Hyperion, Arts), where the evergreen Succeeds Toscanini as music director of La Scala, Milan, 7/01) – which musicians such a post he holds until his retirement in 1953. quality of the 64-year-old as Toscanini and Richard Mariano Stabile’s Falstaff is •1939 – Berlin and Bayreuth Strauss chose to conduct. complemented by de Sabata’s Makes a series of memorable recordings with the Berlin In these early orchestral high-voltage conducting and Philharmonic and leads a legendary Tristan in Bayreuth. works we hear at first hand his relish for every jot and those magical sound worlds – •1946 – London debut tittle of this famously London musicians are astonished by a conductor ‘like no other’. luminous, clear, nothing protean score. •1953– Illness and retirement smudged or uncertain – that De Sabata succeeded Suffers a heart attack shortly after completion of the would make de Sabata so Toscanini as music director mesmerising an interpreter of celebrated recording of Puccini’s Tosca; this signals the start of of La Scala in 1930 and a 14-year retirement from public life until his death in 1967. Wagner, Richard Strauss, promptly resigned after

If there is a more complete demonstration of an opera conductor’s art and craft than his Tosca, I have yet to discover it

86 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

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ICONS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: E R I O P I C C A G L I A N I / W A R N E R C L A S S I C S

Recording session for the now-legendary Tosca: (left to right) Victor de Sabata, Walter Legge, Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi

a dispute with the orchestra over his ‘choreographic Rome for HMV. These include one of the most durable of fairy tale’, Mille e una notte (‘A Thousand and One Nights’), all accounts of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and the first a Bernstein-like score – ‘Richard Strauss meets Fred Astaire’, ever recording of Debussy’s Jeux, a version that has yet to be as Philip Clark has described it – of which Riccardo Chailly surpassed (Testament, 4/98). has made an appropriately de Sabata-like recording (Decca, De Sabata’s first and, alas, only studio-made opera 7/12). Toscanini was furious (no man loves his successor) and recording is the now legendary Tosca, produced by instructed de Sabata to resume his position. Walter Legge with an incomparable cast in Milan in 1953. De Sabata’s studio recordings came in tranches in a 21-year If there is a more complete demonstration of an opera span from 1933 to 1954. The 1933 Parlophone recordings conductor’s art and craft than this, I have yet to discover it. include his own account of Juventus, but it is the April 1939 Not soon after its completion, de Sabata suffered a heart attack Berlin Philharmonic recordings (now a two-CD set from that to all intents and purposes ended his public career. Istituto Discografico Italiano) that are not to be missed. He was 61. Apart from Brahms’s Fourth Symphony and a superlative After De Sabata’s retirement the torch passed to the young account of Strauss’s Tod und Verklärung, the series includes Giulini and to Karajan, whose Tristan de Sabata had a performance of Respighi’s Feste marvelled at in Berlin in 1938 and romane that is superior to Toscanini’s the essential recording whose Italian career de Sabata 1941 Philadelphia version in terms of promoted in the years 1942-56 Puccini Tosca the quality of the orchestral playing, when less generous-minded Maria Callas sop de Sabata’s characterisation of colleagues were barring Karajan’s Giuseppe di Stefano ten the fairy-tale narrative, and the progress in Austro-Germany. Tito Gobbi bar Franco eradication of blatancy. A closer comparison, however, might Calabrese bass Chorus De Sabata made five recordings be Carlos Kleiber, another bright and Orchestra of La Scala, star which during its all-too-brief with the LPO for Decca in 1946, Milan / Victor de Sabata followed in 1947-48 by 11 recordings proximity to earth burned with Warner Classics (12/53) with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in a rare incandescence. gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 87


Instrumental Patrick Rucker is impressed by Michel Dalberto’s Fauré:

Jed Distler listens to Martin Jones playing transcriptions by Earl Wild:

‘Tortuous emotional despair, often verging on bitterness, makes these pieces difficult to fully inhabit’ REVIEW ON PAGE 90

‘The writing mirrors Rachmaninov’s piano idiom, and Jones evokes a waterfall of sweeping gestures’ REVIEW ON PAGE 95

Bartók ‘Complete Works for Piano Solo, Vol 4’ For Children, Sz42 Andreas Bach pf Hänssler Classic F HC17009 (80’ • DDD)

The late Zoltán Kocsis was among the first pianists to stress the musical value of Bartók’s collection For Children over and above its purely didactic function. As with albums for the young by Schumann and Tchaikovsky, the work’s contents, which during the course of its 80-minute journey become ever more technically and harmonically challenging, include pieces that if sensitively and poetically handled would grace any recital programme. There are many similarities in approach between Kocsis and Andreas Bach but plenty of differences too. To take just one tiny sampling for comparison, Nos 26 and 27 from Book 2, the former marked moderato, where Bach toys with the pulse and Kocsis is straighter in that respect but subtly splits chords (also a tendency in Bartók’s own playing), whereas in the following playful Allegremente, Bach’s tempo is roughly twice that of Kocsis’s. What I’m referring to here is ‘swings and roundabouts’, a fairly appropriate metaphor in the case of For Children, but also musically apt. By contrast, in the two closing pieces both pianists capture the music’s elegiac spirit to perfection. Bach’s approach, which has illuminated Bartók’s bigger-scale piano works in earlier volumes of the same series, is aimed at countering the perceived notion of Bartók as ‘remorselessly harsh’ (his term). Rather than follow the more aggressive trend set by certain of his contemporaries, he takes a significant prompt from Bartók’s own playing as captured on the numerous recordings that he left us (studio and broadcast). Kocsis, who was also steeped in Bartók’s own playing, was similarly disposed, as you can hear for yourself 88 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

by comparing No 16’s ‘Old Hungarian Tune’, where Kocsis’s arpeggiated chords are even more conspicuously ‘old world’ than Bach’s, whereas in ‘Soldier’s Song’ (No 18) Kocsis picks up the tempo in a way that Bach doesn’t. It all makes for fascinating to-ing and fro-ing between two fine pianists in music that while often deceptively simple is also full of expressive potential. Quite an inspiration for amateur pianists I would have thought. Rob Cowan

Brahms Piano Sonata No 3, Op 5. Piano Pieces: Op 76 – No 3; No 4; Op 116 – No 1; No 4; Op 117 No 2; Op 118 – No 2; No 3. Four Piano Pieces, Op 119. Waltz, Op 39 No 15 Nelson Freire pf Decca F 483 2154DH (73’ • DDD)

Brahms’s Third Sonata has been a calling card for Nelson Freire since the earliest days – for his farewell recital in Rio de Janeiro aged 14 and for his debut recital LP for CBS aged 22. And now, 50 years after that release, he has returned to the piece. Were Freire your average kind of pianist (ludicrous notion though that is), you might anticipate that the 72-year-old would display a diminution of technical aplomb but an increase in gravitas and depth. Not a bit of it – what’s interesting is how fundamentally similar these readings are. Returning to his earlier recording, you’re struck anew at its maturity, with its combination of nobility and an unerring sense of pacing. The only major difference in timings is because in the first movement he now observes the exposition repeat. Freire’s sound has always been a thing of wonder: even at full volume and full tilt there’s no hint of percussiveness in his tone – just sample the development of the first movement; or the way the melody of the intermezzo-like slow movement is plucked almost insouciantly out of the texture (where the earlier version was

elegant, this is utterly luminous). If the dizzy unpredictability of the finale is just a shade more unhinged in 1967, this newer one has lost nothing in playfulness. Freire’s zest for this piece is palpably undimmed and what a joy it is. He follows the sonata with a bouquet of Brahms’s later pieces. From Op 76, he relishes the ethereal opening of No 3 (less free with rubato than the devilishly luxuriant Volodos) and finds a profundity to the songful No 4. That’s a quality he reveals in the second of the Op 117 pieces, too, while the presto Capriccio that opens Op 116 has energy without ever seeming rushed, Freire voicing Brahms’s rich textures with an easeful mastery. Highlights are many – the regret-filled duet of the middle section of Op 118 No 2 or the way he brings to such a quiet close the Ballade, Op 118 No 3. He is different in his approach from Volodos in Op 118 but no less compelling. I hope the inclusion of the final works, Op 119, is not an indication that Freire is done with this composer: they are touched everywhere with an ineluctable beauty without the slightest degree of self-consciousness. No 1 draws you in, unfolding with complete naturalness, spinning lines out of air, while the chattering No 3 is superbly vivid. Freire gives No 4 not only strength and fervency but an almost symphonic splendour in its colouring, the inner section having an easeful quality before being quickly banished. By way of an encore, we get a deliciously poised reading of the Waltz, Op 39 No 15. Enough adjectives. Go and buy it, and set it on your shelves next to Volodos. Harriet Smith Sonata No 3 – selected comparison: Freire (12/14) (SONY) 88875 00228-2 Opp 76, 117 & 118 – selected comparison: Volodos (6/17) (SONY) 88875 13019-2

Brahms . Schumann Brahms Eight Piano Pieces, Op 76. Variations on a Theme by Schumann, Op 9 Schumann Carnaval, Op 9 Varvara Tarasova pf Champs Hill F CHRCD126 (75’ • DDD) gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: G R E G O R Y FAV R E / D E C C A

Easeful mastery: Nelson Freire’s zest for Brahms is palpably undimmed

A native of St Petersburg, Varvara Tarasova studied at the Moscow Conservatory and, more recently, at London’s Royal College. She took first prize at the 2015 Sussex International Piano Competition and this new Champs Hill release of Brahms and Schumann is her debut recording. Tarasova’s bona fides as a Brahms player are quickly established in her traversal of Op 76. Her beguiling cantabile is a given and she foregrounds inner voices in the thickest textures with confidence. If more robust cross rhythms could enhance the interest of the Capriccio (No 5), the Intermezzo (No 3) comes off with an enchanting music-box precision, while the famous Capriccio (No 2) maintains just the right balance of whimsy and melancholy. The strong sense of musical architecture evidenced throughout the Klavierstücke is somewhat less pronounced in the more interpretatively challenging Schumann Variations. Here Tarasova’s eagerness to imbue each variation with a distinct character tends to diminish the narrative flow of the whole set. gramophone.co.uk

However, fragmentation can be a virtue in the ‘scènes mignonnes’ of Carnaval. Schumann’s most popular piano cycle has become so encrusted with the received wisdom of innumerable performances and recordings that developing an original point of view poses challenges. Tarasova happily meets them, and with a minimum of fuss or eccentricity, in a persuasive performance distinguished by bright colours, resilient rhythmicality and considerable charm. In a day when colossal technique is de rigueur for young pianists, it is Tarasova’s imagination that will set her apart from the pack. I look forward to watching her artistic growth which, from all indications, will be inevitable. Patrick Rucker

Chopin ‘Recital 3’ Ballade No 4, Op 52. Nocturnes – No 3, Op 9 No 3; No 5, Op 15 No 2. Impromptu No 3, Op 51. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61. Preludes, Op 28 – No 14; No 15. Scherzo No 4, Op 54. Waltzes – No 5, Op 42; No 10, Op 69 No 2 Janina Fialkowska pf ATMA Classique F ACD2 2728 (63’ • DDD)

While the works chosen for this Chopin recital are programmed to ensure maximum contrast of mood and emotion, a unified trajectory nevertheless makes itself felt, possibly through subtle key relationships from one selection to the next. Perhaps this was intentional on Janina Fialkowska’s part, since her seasoned musicianship and thoughtful virtuosity thoroughly inhabit this music. The Polonaise-fantaisie’s climaxes convey headlong momentum yet with palpable tension and release in regard to the timings of the sweeping scales and big chordal build-ups. In the B major Nocturne, Op 9 No 3, Fialkowska effects a startling yet inevitable change of colour at the minorkey episode, while her well-controlled right-hand cantilenas are anchored by buoyant, shapely bass lines throughout. Although she rightly resists gilding the decorative lilies, so to speak, in the F sharp major Nocturne, Op 15 No 2, she habitually lingers on the main theme’s firstnote up-beat to the point of predictability, yet such ‘stretching out’ reveals a rare GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 89


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Seasoned musicianship: Janina Fialkowska excels in Chopin on ATMA Classique

wistful (even tragic) side to the B minor Waltz. By contrast, she astutely underlines the G flat Impromptu’s polyphonic interplay, while casting a playful light and more than a few skittish accents upon the A flat Waltz, Op 42; indeed, Fialkowska truly makes the latter her own. Fialkowska unleashes the E major Scherzo’s vivacious outer sections with impressive suppleness and architectonic determination, akin to the young Ashkenazy’s reference recording, but with just a soupçon of rubato. A grim, driving E flat minor Prelude leads into a D flat major ‘Raindrop’ Prelude that’s less about the persistent repeated-note pulse than its long melodic arcs. The F minor Ballade receives a direct yet flexible reading, where Fialkowska makes expressive points by proportioning her dynamics with care and articulating the thickest textures with the utmost clarity. In the coda, for example, her multi-level contouring of the contrapuntal lines and intelligently meted-out crescendos conclude this highly recommended recital on a shattering note. Jed Distler

Fauré Ballade, Op 19. Impromptu No 3, Op 34. Nocturnes – No 6, Op 63; No 7, Op 74; No 9, Op 97; No 11, Op 104 No 1; No 13, Op 119. Thème et variations, Op 73 90 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Michel Dalberto pf Aparté F AP150 (74’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Paris Conservatoire, January 2017

In a charmingly selfeffacing booklet note, Michel Dalberto relates how his embrace of Fauré’s piano music, despite an early affinity for some of the chamber works, was not complete until the Swiss tenor Hugues Cuenód suggested they explore the songs together. One can well imagine how, with such an inspiring guide, the full dimension of Fauré’s genius became apparent. Recorded live at a concert at the old Paris Conservatoire this past January, Dalberto plays the largest of the piano works, the F sharp Ballade and the Thème et variations, interspersed with an Impromptu and five of the Nocturnes, spanning the years from 1877 to 1921 and presented in roughly chronological order. The distinctive sound of Dalberto’s 1899 Bechstein has been expertly captured by Little Tribeca. This Ballade could be a page torn from the intimate journal of a voluptuary,

moving from wistful languor to the throes of ecstasy, accompanied finally by a symphony of birdsong. Riding luxurious waves of sound, Dalberto never loses a thread of Fauré’s intricate polyphony. The serious C sharp minor Theme and Variations, here prefaced by the somewhat later Nocturne, Op 74, in the same key, is no less lovingly handled. Fully exploiting the Bechstein’s plangent sound, Dalberto strikes just the right balance between passion and understated pathos, making this work a veritable prism of fleeting emotion. Of the smaller pieces, Dalberto is particularly impressive in the three late Nocturnes: No 9, with its ominous echoes of Liszt’s melodrama Der traurige Mönch, the desolate No 11 and the anguished cri de coeur of No 13. Tortuous emotional bitterness, often verging on despair, makes these pieces difficult to fully inhabit. Dalberto does so with courage and conviction. Among the outstanding recordings of Fauré’s piano music in recent years, including Hannes Minnaar’s (Challenge Classics, 2/17) and the first disc in Louis Lortie’s series (Chandos, 11/16), Dalberto’s disc will take a proud place. Patrick Rucker gramophone.co.uk


“When Ingles & Hayday found the 1739 Ex-Grumiaux Guarneri del Gesù for me, a new musical world opened up. Thanks to them, playing this exceptional violin brings me ultimate enjoyment and happiness.” Xue Wei “A devastating performer, combining formidable technical prowess with great breadth and variety of expression.” The Guardian

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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Glass

Godowsky

Liszt . Schubert

Solo Cello Partitas – No 1, ‘Songs & Poems’; No 2. Book of Longing – The Paris Sky. The Secret Agent

Studies on Chopin’s Op 10 Études

Liszt Venezia e Napoli, S159. Zwölf Lieder von Franz Schubert, S558 – No 2, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774; No 3, Du bist die Ruh’, D776; No 9, Ständchen, D889; No 11, Der Wanderer, D489 Schubert Impromptus. D899

Emanuele Delucchi pf Piano Classics F PCL0122 (76’ • DDD)

Matt Haimovitz vc Orange Mountain F OMM0117 (69’ • DDD)

Mona Asuka pf Oehms F OC1871 (72’ • DDD)

From listening to the Brandenburg Concertos in his father’s record store as a young boy to strict lessons in fugal counterpoint with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in his midtwenties, Bach has never been far away from Glass’s musical world view. He recently paid Bach the ultimate compliment, saying: ‘He articulated the language of music in the most complete, rich and complex form that any single person has been able to do.’ While Bach’s influence may not be immediately apparent in early Glass, it can be heard in more recent works such as the sets of Partitas for solo violin and cello. The catalyst was singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, with whom Glass worked on the song-cycle Book of Longing in 2006 (from which ‘The Paris Sky’, included here, is taken). Cohen’s pareddown, epigrammatic and occasionally bleak poetry provided Glass with a new expressive palette, and out poured a series of dark, melancholic works for solo strings that – other than the occasional outburst – inhabit a world suffused with intense solipsistic introspection. This new style appears to have arrived fully formed, with Glass commenting that he composed the Partitas ‘almost … from memory’. However, there’s a danger of slipping into automatic-pilot mode. Much of what appears in Partita No 2 is modelled on the First, as a brief comparison between the opening section of both final movements will show. Certainly the more interesting moments are found in movements that successfully explore the cello’s range and colouristic potential, such as the fifth in Partita No 1 (with its Für Elise-style D-C sharp-D-C sharp-D figure), and the third in Partita No 2. The first set (subtitled Songs & Poems) remains the most compelling of the two, however. Cellist Matt Haimovitz’s controlled performance and deep, resonant sound possess plenty of weight and depth but occasionally lack the edgy nervousness and hollowed-out intensity that belong to Wendy Sutter’s brilliant 2008 recording of Partita No 1. Pwyll ap Siôn

Godowsky’s 53 Studies on Chopin’s Études (or 54 or 55 depending on whether you include different ossias in numbering them) present a formidable challenge to any pianist, famously described by the late Harold C Schonberg, music critic of the New York Times, as ‘the most impossibly difficult things ever written for the piano’. You can see his point. Take Study No 4 (the second of Godowsky’s two versions of Op 10 No 2), which assigns the already challenging material of the original to be played by the left hand, leaving the right hand free to provide a hemiola counterpoint of triplets in (mainly) thirds, fourths and sixths. The tempo is allegro. Why bother? ‘Because’, as mountaineers say of Mount Everest, ‘it’s there.’ For the listener, it’s undoubtedly true that you need to know the Chopin originals to derive the greatest pleasure from Godowsky’s arrangements. Occasionally the complex polyphony is just too clever for its own musical good but the best of these studies on studies are extraordinarily inventive and ingenious. Only top flight virtuosos need apply. Emanuele Delucchi is one of them. He is, I believe, one of only three people ever to have played Nos 1-22 live in concert (Carlo Grante and Francesco Libetta have given the complete set). In welcoming his earlier Godowsky disc (12/15), I wondered whether his choice of a 1906 Steinway D was a help or hindrance to tone production. After further restoration work, its palette of warm colours remains intact but has gained a more incisive attack, allowing Delucchi’s voicing and extraordinary digital facility to be heard at their best. Added to this – and there is no better example than Study No 1 – his delight and (heaven knows how it’s possible) evident enjoyment in the execution of these pieces brings to them the human heart essential to Chopin’s originals, but which is quite lacking in some other recorded performances. The mighty Marc-André Hamelin in his complete survey remains omnipotent but Delucchi gives him a run for his money and, on the type of instrument which Godowsky would have known, is in a class of his own. Jeremy Nicholas

Partita No 1 – comparative version:

Studies – selected comparison:

In Schubert’s C minor Impromptu, Mona Asuka’s evenly balanced opening G natural octaves and plaintive shaping of the single-line phrase are offset by the rigidly voiced chords that follow. The whole interpretation similarly alternates between tender moments and monochrome rigidity. The E flat Impromptu’s rapid scales are less about pearls than shark teeth, although the central minor-key section has an uncommonly understated grace (as opposed to Schnabel’s angular lunging ahead). While the slowly paced G flat Impromptu is texturally well balanced, one can predict nearly every one of Asuka’s tiny pauses at cadence points and phrase ends. A lack of expressive variety and lightness of touch underlines the final Impromptu’s arguably repetitious character. Asuka’s Schubert-Liszt transcription interpretations are also hit and miss. Her choppy phrasing of the right-hand accompanying line in ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ pales next to the floating eloquence of Kissin’s DG version, while the colourful registral interplay of ‘Ständchen’ is reduced to black-andwhite literalism, certainly when heard alongside Horowitz’s miraculous lateperiod recording (comparisons with Horowitz are unfair, yet still fair game). Conversely, Asuka’s singing tone reveals itself in ‘Du bist die Ruh’, and her bassregister rumbles in ‘Der Wanderer’ project the kind of shattering intensity this score requires. While Asuka obtains just the right shimmer and delicacy in Liszt’s ‘Gondoliera’, her habitual ritards dissipate the music’s inherent lilt and forward motion, although the ‘Canzone’ grabs your attention via the pianist’s power and unabashed rhetoric. She conveys the disparate dramatic qualities of the Tarantella’s contrasting sections, albeit without the supple ease one hears from Hamelin, Lortie and Chamayou. All told, an uneven release.

Sutter (OMM) OMM0037

Hamelin (5/00) (HYPE) CDA67411/12

Jed Distler

92 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Complete blending: Peter Hill and Benjamin Frith recording Russian works for Delphian

Rachmaninov . Stravinsky . Tchaikovsky ‘Russian Works for Piano Four Hands’ Rachmaninov Six Morceaux, Op 11 Stravinsky Petrushka Tchaikovsky Russian Folk Songs Peter Hill, Benjamin Frith pf Delphian F DCD34191 (68’ • DDD)

This is an altogether impressive, accomplished and rewarding release, a delight to listen to from both the sound and performance points of view. The venue is Cardiff’s University Concert Hall. Paul Baxter is the engineer. He is also the co-producer with Peter Hill. Full marks. The programme order is RachmaninovTchaikovsky-Stravinsky but I shall begin, as Hill does in his excellent booklet essay, with the selection of 23 of the 50 Russian Folk Songs (1869), all lasting less than a minute, the shortest a mere 16 seconds. You’ll recognise ‘Under the green apple tree’ from the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, ‘Vanya was sitting’ (from the Andante gramophone.co.uk

cantabile of his First String Quartet) and the more virtuoso setting of ‘Song of the Volga Boatmen’. The latter would seem to be the (unnamed in the score) ‘Russian Theme’, No 3 of Rachmaninov’s early Six Morceaux, Op 11, though it is not the best of the six. These are No 2, the brilliant Scherzo, and No 6, ‘Slava’, which uses the same liturgical chant that Mussorgsky uses in Boris Godunov. Hill and Frith may well make you wonder why Op 11 is heard so infrequently compared with Rachmaninov’s other music for two pianists. The cross-pollination continues with Petrushka, in which the folk song ‘Yesterday evening I was young at the feast’ (track 23) makes an appearance as ‘Dance of the Wet-Nurses’. In Stravinsky’s own arrangement of his revised 1947 version of the ballet, the bar of technical difficulty, rhythmic complexity and ensemble challenges is raised to a high level, rarely letting either player off the hook for its 32'22" duration. Hill and Frith have been playing as a duo since 1986. Such complete blending of tone, touch, dynamics and phrasing quite conceals

any division of labour: a clear case of two right hands knowing exactly what the two left ones are doing. Jeremy Nicholas

Urspruch ‘Complete Piano Works’ Fünf Fantasiestücke, Op 2. Deutsche Tänze, Op 7. Variationen, Op 10. Cinq Morceaux, Op 19. Cavatine & Arabesque, Op 20. Präludium & Capriccio, Op 22 Ana-Marija Markovina pf Hänssler Classic M c HC16015 (172’ • DDD)

Biographical sketches of Anton Urspruch (1850-1907), a professor at the Hoch and Raff Conservatories in Frankfurt, make much of his association with Liszt. True, Urspruch attended Liszt’s Weimar masterclass in 1873, a year after Liszt had arranged for a performance of the younger composer’s piano concerto. However, Urspruch exhibits virtually none of the more progressive tendencies of the ‘New German School’ and his eclectic piano GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 93


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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS music is closer to the salon pieces of Joachim Raff, his mentor in Frankfurt, than to Liszt. Ana-Marija Markovina, the Croatian-born pianist now based in Cologne, has recorded a generous sampling of Urspruch on three discs. This follows up her 2011 recording of Opp 2, 19, and 20 on Genuin. The Five Fantasy Pieces from 1872 are deeply indebted to the Novelletten of Schumann. Schubert is the primary model for the 22 German Dances, their textural density suggesting a nod to Brahms, while Mendelssohn seems the inspiration for the 24 Variations, Op 10. If Urspruch’s later pieces are less obviously derivative, an unmistakably original voice remained elusive. Generally speaking, Markovina’s performances are weakened by uncertain phrasing and, contrary to Urspruch’s relatively abundant expressive indications, surprisingly bland dynamics. She gives scant credence to chord voicing or marked contrasts between melody and accompaniment. Finer distinctions of articulation, of legato and staccato, are often left to the imagination. These factors, in combination with obtrusively destabilised rhythms, tend to deprive Markovina’s readings of character and, on occasion, coherence. It may be that a revival of Urspruch’s piano music, should one be warranted, must wait a while longer. Patrick Rucker

Wild ‘Virtuoso Arrangements for Piano by Earl Wild – Vol 2: Rachmaninov and Others’ Transcriptions of JS Bach Hommage à Poulenc Churchill Reminiscences of Snow White Fauré Après un rêve Rachmaninov Do not grieve. Dreams. Floods of Spring. In the silent night. The Little Island. Midsummer Nights. The Muse. O, cease thy singing. On the Death of a Linnet. Sorrow in Springtime. To the Children. Vocalise. Where Beauty Dwells Rubio Mexican Hat Dance Tchaikovsky At the Ball. Dance of the Four Swans

says much for Jones’s considerable command that his interpretations can hold their own in the face of Wild’s irrepressible keyboard prowess. True, he may not unleash comparable galvanic force at the peak of ‘O, cease thy singing’, yet his lighter touch in the opening and closing sequences adds more shimmer to the scales. The pianowriting in ‘Floods of Spring’ deliberately mirrors Rachmaninov’s piano idiom and Jones evokes a waterfall of sweeping, grand gestures that differs markedly from Wild’s blunter, more angular and sparely pedalled performance. The arpeggio sprays of ‘The Little Island’ have a stronger melodic profile in Wild’s hands, yet Jones’s more Impressionistic conception holds equal attraction. Regarding Wild’s arguably overwrought reworking of the ‘Vocalise’, I prefer Jones’s faster and more fluent phrasing of the main theme compared to Wild’s slower, heavier take; but, as the inner voices pile up, jockeying for position, Wild proves the more effective traffic cop. The delightful Reminiscences of Snow White is a kind of ‘Liszt does Disney’, and his premiere recording remains the interpretative last word in harmonic pointing and characterful variety. That said, I’ve always felt that Wild milked the rubato and echo effects in ‘I’m Wishing’ to a fault, whereas Jones plays relatively straight. Jones projects more floating, melody-oriented readings of the Bach and Fauré transcriptions in comparison to Wild’s stronger linear profile. While the Mexican Hat Dance’s whirling runs and dashing leaps pose no problems for Jones in his late seventies, he inevitably reckons with the 88-yearyoung whippersnapper’s more pugnacious energy. While Earl Wild may have originally tailored his transcriptions for his own use, they’re not necessarily private property, as Martin Jones proves time and again. Jed Distler

Martin Jones pf Nimbus F NI5965 (73’ • DDD)

‘American Nocturnes’

Martin Jones’s seemingly insatiable appetite for mining the piano repertoire en masse continues with a second CD devoted to virtuoso transcriptions and arrangements by Earl Wild. Wild’s Rachmaninov song transcriptions dominate the present volume, and it

Barber Nocturne Beach Dreaming. A Hermit Thrush at Eve. A Hermit Thrush at Morn Bloch In the Night Chadwick Nocturne Copland Night Thoughts Crumb Eine kleine Mitternachtmusik – Nos 1-5, 7 & 9 Farwell Dawn Foote Nocturne Gottschalk La chûte des feuilles, Op 42 Griffes The Night Winds. Notturno Grofé Deep Nocturne Hamelin Little Nocturne Lamb Ragtime Nightingale DG Mason Night Wind Ornstein Nocturne No 2 Schelling Nocturne (Ragusa)

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Cécile Licad pf Danacord M b DACOCD783/4 (109’ • DDD)

A diverse grouping of first sonatas by American composers encompassed Cecile Licad’s Anthology of American Piano Music, Vol 1 (A/16); Vol 2 is given over to American nocturnes, or nocturnelike works. A brush of the strings opens the first of two discs with the opening theme of George Crumb’s Eine kleine Mitternachtmusik, a set of variations based upon Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight’. Rather than play the Crumb work all together, Licad intersperses the variations between other pieces, linking, for example, Amy Beach’s A Hermit Thrush at Eve and Griffes’s Notturno. Licad’s canny programme-building yields other intriguing juxtapositions, such as Barber’s classically tinged Nocturne, Copland’s craggy though tender Night Thoughts and the imposing pillars demarcating Leo Ornstein’s 13-minute Nocturne No 2. The Chadwick, Farwell, Foote and Schelling nocturnes are basically charming European knock-offs, but Mason’s Night Wind, Bloch’s In the Night and the Beach works abound with personality and strong ideas. Grofé’s Deep Nocturne may not be truly deep but it’s unpretentiously tuneful, while Joseph Lamb’s Ragtime Nightingale remains one of the idiom’s classics, and Marc-André Hamelin’s Little Nocturne is a minor masterpiece of sly humour. With all of my concentration on the music, I realise that I haven’t mentioned Licad’s performances. That’s probably because her authoritative yet flexible pianism adapts to the various styles with idiomatic ease. She understands Crumb’s textural fragility, she confidently sails through Mason’s glittering runs, she parses Beach’s stunning modulations with perfect timing, she minimises Ornstein’s tendency to ramble and she brings just the right lift to Lamb’s gentle syncopations. In other words, you hear the music first, the pianism second, and that’s a good sign, not to mention the excellent engineering and annotations. I look forward to this series’ further instalments. Jed Distler

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 95


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Collector

A BACH MISCELLANY 1 Harriet Smith listens to solo Bach played on an array of instruments

Kuniko plays Bach’s Solo Cello Suites and Violin Sonatas in her own transcriptions for marimba

he road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions … here we have some tremendously wellintentioned discs but the results are, shall we say, variable. The common denominator is JS Bach who, more than any other composer in history, can take multifarious approaches and work on a wide variety of instruments. After all, performing his music on the piano is in effect an act of transcription; indeed, one of my favourite performances of his music is Art of Fugue played by the New Century Saxophone Quartet. Of the discs here, the most obviously ‘authentic’ is Alessandra Artifoni’s account of the English Suites on harpsichord, a modern-day copy by Tony Chinnery of a two-manual Mietke from 1702 (a make of which Bach is known to have been fond). It’s a fine, characterful instrument, recorded with immediacy. The booklet is lazy – not even listing suite movements, let alone proffering a performer biography. But the playing is certainly not and she relishes the different character of each suite without resorting to extremes. The Second Suite, with which she opens, has a lovely conversational Allemande and an unfettered Gigue. The E minor Suite (No 5) opens with a joyously full-sounding Prelude; and if her Sarabande is a little ponderous, the two Passepieds that follow

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are well contrasted. The Sixth Suite is a highlight, from the grandeur of its Prelude via the experimentalism of the Sarabande’s harmonies to a Gigue in which she patently relishes Bach’s wayward harmonies and buzzy trills. Moving to the piano, the Australianborn pianist Daniel Martyn Lewis talks of his early experiences of listening to Bach by the sea in south-eastern Australia and of how he has been influenced by the sound and technique of the harpsichord in his own playing. That perhaps explains why there’s not a legato line in his entire second book of The Well-Tempered Clavier and why devices such as agogic pauses are very much the norm. He’s at his best when there’s a lot to occupy his fingers – for instance in the toccata-style D minor Prelude or the effusive G major Prelude. But elsewhere articulation can be fussy and he lacks the sense of inevitability that is found in the best performances. The searing dissonances of the Prelude in F minor are here diminished by the distracting desynchronisations of the hands, losing a sense of line. He also tends to overplay accents, which can make for awkward-sounding fugue subjects – as in the G minor and A flat Fugues. Turning to the French Suites of the Chinese pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, it’s a relief to find those sustained lines I missed in

Lewis’s performances. Each suite emerges with a very distinct character without needing to resort to extremes. Just take the Fourth Suite: her Allemande has a reassuring quality to it, its pedal points evident but not overdone, while the Courante has a gentle bounce and is nicely varied on repeats; after a veiled Sarabande we get a playfully knowing Gavotte, an ebullient Air and a pleasingly feisty hunting-style Gigue. She’s unafraid to use the full resources of the piano and occasionally her pedalling sounds slightly over-generous (for instance in the Courante of the Second Suite or the Allemande of the First), though this could be the acoustic. A good account, then, if not one on the same level as Perahia’s Award-winner (DG, 11/16). Finally to two Japanese artists, both hugely admired exponents of their chosen instruments. The marimba player Kuniko wisely focuses on the Cello Suites and Solo Violin Sonatas, works that would seem to lend themselves more readily to transcription than, say, the more intricate textures of the keyboard Partitas. She contributes highly personal notes in the booklet about what Bach means to her, offering a very specific narrative for every piece she chooses. Of the Allegro assai from the Third Violin Sonata, for instance, we get: ‘In a dazzling light, is that an angel or gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

‘Espressione …’ a child with white feathers on his back? Children are gathering and playing. Is this the sky or heaven? Where is this place?’ There’s no doubting her sincerity, but unfortunately she seems to smother this music with love and nothing is allowed to speak for itself. Rhythms are bent out of shape and lose their power, movements are slowed down to make an effect (the gigues of the Cello Suites are particularly prone to this), certain notes are overaccentuated. And the haze of sound that you get where more than one note is sounding simultaneously – for instance in the Prelude of the First Cello Suite or the Adagio of the C major Violin Sonata – is something of an acquired taste. Accordionist Mie Miki’s recital of preludes and fugues from both books of the ‘48’ is an entirely different experience. Rhythms dance (just sample the fugue of the C minor, BWV847) and the ability of her instrument to sound at times like a Baroque organ is all to the good, sustaining beautifully the lines of the mournful B flat minor Fugue from Book 2. Rhythms are joyfully sprung, too, in the dashing D major Prelude, BWV850, which she takes at a daringly fast pace without losing clarity or a sense of shape overall, and the F sharp Prelude, BWV880, which is superbly lithe, the trills effortlessly dispatched. The G major Prelude, BWV884, is another instance of outlandish virtuosity, but how beautifully the figuration is kept under control, never becoming obtrusive within the texture. This makes fine contrast with the hushed intimacy in the G minor Prelude and Fugue, BWV861, that follow. Above all, there’s the sense that Mie Miki is entirely inside this music and has lived with it for a long time. A real pleasure. More miscellaneous Bach on page 112

THE RECORDINGS JS Bach English Suites Alessandra Artifoni Dynamic F b CDS7793 JS Bach Well-Tempered Clavier II Daniel Martyn Lewis Odradek M b ODRCD344

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M I C H I Y U K I O H B A

JS Bach French Suites Zhu Xiao-Mei Accentus F ACC30404 JS Bach Solo Marimba Works Kuniko Linn M b CKD585 JS Bach Wohltemperierte Akkordeon Mie Miki BIS F Í BIS2217

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‘From Bolzano to San Marino’ Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60. Nocturne No 20, Op posth. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61. Waltz No 1, Op 18 Haydn Piano Sonata, HobXVI:46 Scriabin Piano Sonata No 2, ‘Sonata Fantasy’, Op 19

Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness Schubert Impromptu, D935 No 3 Traditional Liuyang River (arr Yang) Yang Three Aquarelles Yuanfan Yang pf Orchid F ORC100073 (78’ • DDD)

Łukasz Krupiński pf Dux F DUX1375 (59’ • DDD)

This release, entitled ‘Espressione … From Bolzano to San Marino’, constitutes a travelogue, or perhaps a ‘competition diary’. In August of 2016, Łukasz Krupin´ski qualified for this month’s Busoni Competition in Bolzano with the Chopin Polonaisefantaisie on his programme. Then, following a junket to Leipzig, he arrived at the International Competition in San Marino, where he opened his programme with the Scriabin Sonata Fantasy and, at a later stage, played the Haydn sonata and Chopin Barcarolle, eventually winning first prize. It’s almost impossible not to feel something akin to sympathy for Polish pianists, who are invariably typecast as Chopin specialists, regardless of temperamental aptitude. A 25-yearold Warsaw native, Krupin´ski seems to fulfil the role naturally. The desire for originality, rather than the physical dictates of dancing, seems to motivate some of the agogic choices in the E flat Waltz. On the other hand, a beautifully settled and thoughtful interpretation of the Polonaise-fantaisie is a highlight of the disc. The C sharp minor Nocturne is languidly poetic throughout, though the choice not to make more of the brief contrasting middle section seems a missed opportunity for contrast. Krupin´ski fully inhabits the Sonata Fantasy in a passionate reading that gives Scriabin’s interesting voiceleading its full due. The Haydn sonata is vividly characterised, though the rubato, both in the first movement’s development and the Adagio, press the stylistic envelope. These quibbles aside, Krupin´ski’s gifts are undeniable and I will watch their full flowering with interest. Patrick Rucker

‘Watercolour’ Cashian Landscape Chopin Etude, Op 25 No 11. Fantaisie, Op 49 Liszt La campanella, S161 No 3. Vallée d’Obermann, S160 No 6

In the hands of a master, watercolour can be a most expressive medium, capturing the fragility of a scene or moment like no other. In the hands of a lesser executant, however, the result can be insipid or merely splodgy. Its use here, as the title of 19-year-old Yuanfan Yang’s diverse programme, derives from a set of three Aquarelles completed when he was just 16. If Yang’s name is familiar it may be from his success at the 2012 BBC Young Musician competition, at which he won the keyboard section. He is now a student at the Royal Academy and describes himself as pianist, composer and improviser. A recital programme as wide-ranging as this, from Schubert to contemporary pieces, needs a persuasive personality if it’s not to sound bitty. Yang begins with the third of the Impromptus, D935, which is elegant without being particularly distinctive. From this we move to Chopin: the slow opening of the A minor Étude, Op 25 No 11, is lacking in menace, while in the maelstrom that follows Yang seems to prize beauty over character. The F minor Fantaisie is similarly fey: he writes in the booklet about the work’s ‘passionate and virtuosic character’ yet doesn’t really follow that through at the keyboard. Liszt’s ‘La campanella’ is again more about polish than personality, while ‘Vallée d’Obermann’ is too polite to plumb any real emotional depths. From more recent times, Philip Cashian’s Landscape and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Farewell to Stromness (the latter dedicated to the composer’s memory) are both efficient but little more than that. Yang’s Debussy-inspired Aquarelles are given with conviction but that can’t save the disc, which I’d suggest is primarily one for friends and family. Harriet Smith

Find your music on www.qobuz.com GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 97


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS

Mark-Anthony Turnage Paul Griffiths scans the prolific output of this British composer whose jazz-infused music is new yet driven by deeply traditional forces

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here is no way to talk about the music of Mark-Anthony Turnage without straight away mentioning the powerful presence – unmistakable, unabashed – of jazz, with expressive effects simultaneously wild and needle-sharp, noir and blue. Less immediately obvious, perhaps, is how Turnage, in drawing his basic vocabulary from the other side of the fence (and there still is one), is able to create music in ways thoroughly in line with the classical tradition, even if resolutely and necessarily new. Jazz gives him an alternative handle on a venerable engine. The Beethoven symphonies, which he listened to repeatedly as a young teenager, taught him the value of pregnant ideas, of dynamism, of progressive development. His own ideas, jazz-inflected, can engender kinds of dynamism and development that sound very different and certainly go in different directions – not towards, it need hardly be said, Beethovenian triumph or fulfilment. Yet what makes his music move is a tight array of deeply traditional forces: the draw and the tug between melody and bass line, the power generated by ostinato, the expectation aroused when a motif is being slightly changed, then slightly changed again.

The output astounds, and any attempt to register it risks leaving out of account the pieces for smaller forces He was off to a quick start. Night Dances (1981), which he composed when he was 21 and still a student, was an ambitious place to begin: an orchestral score with amplified soloists plus an offstage string quintet. The piece is, however, not only completely assured but also immediately characteristic in its urgent solo flights, its jazz band intimations and its streetlight colouring. Performed under BBC auspices at the beginning of 1982, it got people talking. Another key early event was encountering Hans Werner Henze at Tanglewood the following year. If there was any creative influence, it had probably been absorbed by now; much more important were the guidance and the opportunities Turnage gained from what became a lasting friendship. At a time when the young composer had only three or four pieces to his name, none of them longer than 15 minutes and only one of them vocal, Henze commissioned a full-length chamber opera for his Munich Biennale. The result was Greek (1986-88), whose in-your-face musical style, matching Steven Berkoff’s raw rewrite of Sophocles’ Oedipus story, brought Turnage attention internationally. 98 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Turnage: a prolific composer whose catalogue is expanding at a rate of knots

A year later came his first piece for full symphony orchestra, commissioned by Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO: Three Screaming Popes (1988-89). The title refers to Francis Bacon’s disturbing transformations of the Velázquez portrait of Pope Innocent X, and Turnage achieves a comparable state of crisis in his swerving chain of dances. The screams are certainly there, too, and so are the popes, in churchy music of chant and bells, placed in its own acoustic by astute orchestration. For all its riot and menace, though, the piece is firmly formed, varying and restoring its principal idea in a context that balances jaggedness and speed with strange calm. It proved the symphonic potential of Turnage’s edgy style, and was the subject of his first commercial recording, a CD single released in 1992 (EMI, 9/92). Meanwhile, Rattle had taken him on board for a three-year residency with the CBSO (1990-93), which meant that other outfits had to wait. Among them were the BBC, who commissioned his first concerto, Your Rockaby (1992-93) for soprano saxophone; and Ensemble Modern, for whom he wrote the (ultimately) 90-minute-long suite Blood on the Floor (1993-96), scored for jazz soloists with a large formation melding the specifications – and the traditions – of new-music ensemble and big band. Working for the first time with jazz musicians he admired – John Scofield on electric guitar and Peter Erskine on drum kit – as well as Martin Robertson, for whom he wrote Your Rockaby, Turnage produced a score that is deliberately open-ended, not only in allowing for improvisation gramophone.co.uk


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS

turnage facts

P H O T O G R A P H Y: P H I L I P G AT W A R D

Born Corringham, Essex, June 10, 1960 Composition studies RCM, London, with Oliver Knussen and John Lambert (1974-83); Tanglewood with Gunther Schuller and Hans Werner Henze (1983) Major residencies CBSO (1990-93), BBC SO (2000-03), LPO (2005-10) and Chicago SO (2006-10) Key premieres First public performance (Night Dances – London, 1982); first opera (Greek – Munich, 1988); first big orchestral work (Three Screaming Popes – Birmingham, 1989); Blood on the Floor (short version: Frankfurt, 1994; final version, London, 1996); The Silver Tassie (ENO, 2000); Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House, 2011) Publishers Boosey & Hawkes and Schott

at certain moments but also in evoking an exterior narrative of urban alienation and wasted humanity. Turnage went on to work with melodies by Scofield in another suite for jazz soloists and orchestra, Scorched (1996-2001), and again in Silent Cities (1998) for orchestra, one of his finest impacts of ferociousness and lament. Having by now established a busy productivity, he was also at work on his second major opera, The Silver Tassie (1997-99), based on a First World War play by Sean O’Casey. Some of this work’s military atmosphere and madness seemed to go on into other compositions, not least Fractured Lines (1999-2000), a double concerto written for percussionists from different backgrounds: classical (Evelyn Glennie) and jazz (Erskine again). Turnage is expert at endings, and here the close is memorable: a procession of beautiful Stravinskian harmonies that gets stamped on. Given the loving homage that Turnage pays to jazz in every bar of his music, and the resulting breezy–nervy Bernsteinian mix, one might think a US commission would have come before now, but On Opened Ground (2000-01), a viola concerto for the Cleveland Orchestra with Yuri Bashmet, was his first – and it was mightily successful in giving the solo instrument the strength and the bend not only to engage with chrome-plated orchestration but also to lead it. Other works of this period came out of an association with the BBC SO that ended in 2003 with a retrospective at the Barbican, London. By this point Turnage was among the most frequently and widely performed of contemporary composers, and certainly among the most prolific. His subsequent concertos alone have included works for Michael Collins (Riffs and Refrains, 2003), Håkan Hardenberger (From the Wreckage, 2004; and Håkan, 2014), Christian Tetzlaff (Mambo, Blues and Tarantella, 2007), gramophone.co.uk

Paul Watkins (Cello Concerto, 2010), Erskine (Erskine, 2013), Marc-André Hamelin (Piano Concerto, 2013), Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta (Dialogue, 2014), Colin Currie (Martland Memorial, 2014-15), and Daniel Hope and Vadim Repin (Shadow Walker, 2017). Among other orchestral works have been a sure-fire concert opener for the New York Philharmonic (Scherzoid, 2003-04) and two four-movement symphonies for the LSO: Speranza (2011-12), whose theme of hope is expressed as communal fortitude under inhospitable conditions, and Remembering (2014-15), where fierce and erratic movements are answered by elegies, the finale rising from sorrow to rage. Ballet scores, too, have become a regular feature of his output, including (most recently) Strapless (2015), for Christopher Wheeldon, introduced at the Royal Opera House last year. Although recordings have come pretty much annually, they have not at all been able to keep up. Considering that Turnage also found time for another big opera – Anna Nicole (2008-10), on the media star who just a little while before had been sensationalised to death – the output astounds, and any attempt to register it risks leaving out of account the pieces for smaller forces. Many of these are miniatures, gifts to friends, but there have also been regular collaborations with the Nash Ensemble, some included on their two Turnage albums, as well as, suddenly in the last decade, three string quartets: Twisted Blues with Twisted Ballad (2008), Contusion (2013) and Shroud (2016). To view Turnage as essentially an artist of the large-scale, though, may not be altogether unjust. His liking for the sounds of the big band seems to be a matter not only of aesthetic disposition but also of joining in the expression of shared grief, shared suffering and shared exhilaration, and of doing so in the broadest possible arena. Such a strong creative drive, conveyed by each piece and by the scale of the output as a whole, has a moral as well as a musical imperative. Explore Turnage’s music via our bespoke playlist; visit gramophone.co.uk

LISTEN TO TURNAGE A snapshot – mainly comprising large-scale works Drowned Out. Kai. Three Screaming Popes. Momentum. Ulrich Heinen vc BCMG, CBSO / Simon Rattle EMI (9/94)

Here is Turnage in a bunch of works he wrote for Birmingham, vigorously and vividly realised by Rattle. Another Set To. Silent Cities. Four-Horned Fandango. Fractured Lines Christian Lindberg tbn Peter Erskine, Evelyn Glennie perc BBC SO / Leonard Slatkin Chandos (3/03)

Silent Cities is among Turnage’s most evocative pieces, presented here with dynamic concertos for trombone (Another Set To), two percussionists (Fractured Lines) and four exuberant horns. On Opened Ground. Texan Tenebrae. Lullaby for Hans. Riffs and Refrains. Mambo, Blues and Tarantella Michael Collins cl Christian Tetzlaff vn Lawrence Power va LPO / Marin Alsop, Vladimir Jurowski, Markus Stenz LPO (2/13)

Concertos for clarinet (Riffs and Refrains), violin (Mambo, Blues and Tarantella) and viola (On Opened Ground) exemplify Turnage’s exacting, impassioned and sometimes humorous writing for soloists.

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 99


Vocal Ivan Moody welcomes powerfully original music by Martin Palmeri:

Alexandra Coghlan on Clare College’s Reformation-themed disc:

‘This is something entirely individual, the work of a composer as familiar with Bach as he is with tango’ REVIEW ON PAGE 104

‘The Brahms glows with love and care, its extended opening movement shaped with an eye to sonic drama’ REVIEW ON PAGE 113

Debussy . Fauré Debussy Ariettes oubliées (arr Brett Dean)a. La mer Fauré Pelléas et Mélisande, Op 80 (arr Koechlin). Pénélope – Prelude a Magdalena Kožená sop Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Robin Ticciati Linn F CKD550 (68’ • DDD • T/t)

The release of Robin Ticciati’s first disc with the DSO Berlin coincides with the start of his tenure as the orchestra’s music director. It marks his move into a repertory with which we don’t primarily associate him, though he conducted both La mer and Fauré’s Pelléas with the LPO at the Royal Festival Hall two years ago – a concert that divided opinion at the time – and it also includes the first recording of Brett Dean’s orchestration of Ariettes oubliées, premiered in Sydney in 2015 by Magdalena KoΩená, who sings it here. As with John Adams’s version of Le livre de Baudelaire, Dean both evokes Debussy’s sound world and goes beyond it. ‘Chevaux de bois’ owes much to Fêtes, and rustling woodwind out of Pelléas (Debussy’s, not Fauré’s) usher in the rain at the start of ‘Il pleure dans mon coeur’. When we reach ‘L’ombre des arbres’, however, penumbral brass and woodwind slowly pull us towards something altogether more Expressionist and startling. It suits Ticciati’s considered way with Debussy uncommonly well. Everything is beautifully balanced and clear. Shifts in colour and texture are carefully teased out, and the underlying sense of erotic regret is finely sustained. KoΩena declaims much of the cycle in a suggestive whisper that at times verges on mannerism, though there are also moments of rapturous lyricism and exquisite, hovering pianissimos that take one’s breath away. When he turns to La mer, however, Ticciati’s attention to detail occasionally impedes the music’s organic flow. The opening of ‘De l’aube à midi sur la mer’ 100 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

has a pristine clarity that impresses in itself yet falls short of genuine poetry, and the movement’s climax is reached with an air of majestic deliberation. Thereafter, however, he gets more into his stride. ‘Jeux de vagues’ has a restless beauty, and he unleashes real turmoil at the start of ‘Dialogue du vent et de la mer’. The playing is exemplary – the woodwind are particularly outstanding – though the orchestral and recorded sound are very bright: this seascape glares a bit, throughout. Few will have qualms about the Fauré, though. The Pénélope Prelude is wonderfully controlled in its progression from uneasy calm to agitation and back. Ticciati’s Pelléas is darker in tone than many, and beautiful in its discreet sensuality: the bittersweet shifts of mood in the ‘Sicilienne’ are immaculately judged. It’s an uneven disc overall, though the best of it promises much from Ticciati’s collaboration with the DSO, and is very fine indeed. Tim Ashley

Glanert Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch Aga Mikolaj sop Ursula Hesse von den Steinen mez Gerhard Siegel ten Christof Fischesser bass David Wilson-Johnson spkr Leo van Doeselaar org Netherlands Radio Choir; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Markus Stenz RCO Live F Í RCO17005 (83’ • DDD/DSD • T/t) Recorded live, November 5, 2016

Another month, another attempt to reconcile the musical tradition of the Latin concert Mass with an age hungry for narrative extras or postmodernist contradictions. Detlev Glanert has form when it comes to giving an established topos a contemporary slant. Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (2016) is imagined as a process of judgement taking place immediately after

the painter’s death 500 years ago last year. There are 18 movements, the standard texts of the Mass Ordinary alternating with selections from the medieval manuscript collection Carmina Burana, each confronting Bosch with one of the seven sins. Glanert describes the result, for four soloists, chorus, semi-chorus, organ and orchestra, as ‘not an opera but an oratorio; an inward spectacle, like the St Matthew Passion’. It’s a spectacle, that’s for sure. Glanert has wanted to dip his toes in the water of sacred (if not liturgical) music for some years but the result can sound a little like he’s over-indulging a tradition he admires, genuflecting a little too obviously in the polyphony of ‘Recordare’ and ‘Juste judex’. On the flipside, the spectacle comes when vivid texts prompt Glanert into having that bit too much textural fun with the orchestra for us to take the predicament of purgatory and judgement seriously. Sure, that’s an old accusation and one many composers have survived. But next to some of his other works introduced to us by RCO Live, Glanert’s excitable and often wickedly irreverent post-Romantic voice seems caught in the headlights here in a way it absolutely isn’t when conveying the realist emotions of the opera house or symphony stage. When he sets up the taut musical machines of ‘Avarice’ and ‘Wrath’, Glanert can’t break theatrically out of them as he is wont. While the textures might excite, the ultimate journeys disappoint (and, in the case of the sins, often sound interchangeable). Despite that, drop the needle at almost any point along this 80-minute journey – perhaps not the two Mass movements named above – and unless you’re the grumpiest of ideologists you’ll be engaged within seconds. Glanert knows how to pull at the ears and the performances here are unfailingly vivid, from the bellicose bass of Christof Fischesser in ‘Gluttony’ to the reptilian intertwining of soprano Aga Mikolaj and mezzo Ursula Hesse von den Steinen in ‘Sloth’. What appears to be a gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Rapturous lyricism: Robin Ticciati recording Debussy and Fauré, with Magdalena Kožená and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

homage to the French ecclesiastical style – another anomaly – is beautifully realised, not least by the rippling fingers of organist Leo van Doeselaar. It is good to have a recording of a major work from this ever-colourful composer, not least as it’s unlikely the piece will have a life outside Bosch’s anniversary year. But the very idea of one artist passing judgement on another – even in what is effectively a work of fiction – is one more way in which Glanert’s Requiem can appear a strange and occasionally presumptuous beast. Andrew Mellor

Handel Occasional Oratorio, HWV62

P H O T O G R A P H Y: P E T E R A D A M I K

Julia Doyle sop Ben Johnson ten Peter Harvey bar Bavarian Radio Chorus; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Howard Arman BR-Klassik F b 900520 (138’ • DDD • T) Recorded live at the Herkulessaal, Munich, February 9-11, 2017

The Occasional Oratorio (1746) was first performed at Covent Garden in the gramophone.co.uk

uncertain midst of the second Jacobite Rebellion, two months before the decisive battle at Culloden. Newburgh Hamilton stitched the libretto together from Milton’s paraphrases of the Psalms and various writings by Spenser; offering neither dramatic plot nor particularly coherent allegory, it is a patriotic exposition on the troubled nation’s hopes that God will save them from perilous opposition. This Munich broadcast is only the second commercial recording of the work. Robert King’s polished account employed five soloists and incorporated variants from Handel’s later performances, whereas Howard Arman mostly adheres to the first performance version and uses just three soloists (as Handel did in February 1746). His unerring pacing and astute shaping of details are realised impeccably by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin: trumpets, horns and timpani drive the splendid Overture with a confident swagger (Handel reused it three years later in the Fireworks Music). Julia Doyle sings with quicksilver suppleness, stylistic acumen and immaculate communication of the text (‘Fly from the threat’ning vengeance, fly’ is unfamiliar fantastic music that Handel based on an addition to the 1745 revival of

Samson). Likewise, Peter Harvey’s diction, vocal suavity and persuasive authority are all spot-on. Ben Johnson’s perfect enunciation, husky timbre and fulsome projection remind me of Robert Tear. The Bavarian Radio Chorus always have plenty of discipline and articulacy, with only rare hints of Teutonic vowels. They sing with robust muscle in bellicose music, although one of their finest moments is the lovely choral refrain to the gently consoling ‘Be wise at length’ (the first half is sung beautifully by Doyle and features rapturous cello obbligato); the chorus develops animatedly into the sombre message that averse kings will be bruised by the iron sceptre, and shall perish like scattered sheep. Another extraordinary set piece is the verse-anthem-style ‘To God, our strength, sing loud and clear’, which starts with Harvey’s eloquent introduction paired with trumpet and oboe and concludes with a radiant choral outburst alluding cheerfully to timbrel, harp and psaltery. In Part 3 several key numbers from Israel in Egypt are transformed from rejoicing at liberation from Pharaoh’s tyranny into an expression of optimism GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 101


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FRANZ SCHUBERT: DER EINSAME ILKER ARCAYÜREK

The debut recording from current BBC New Generation Artist, the tenor Ilker Arcayürek, with Simon Lepper, piano.

Chadwick - Symphonic Sketches Elgar - Enigma Variations Andrew Constantine BBC National Orchestra of Wales Release date: October 2017

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“Schubert and the feeling of solitude have been my companions for many years. We can find ourselves alone as the result of many different circumstances in life – unhappiness in love, a bereavement, or simply moving to another country. For me, however, being alone has never meant being ‘lonely’.” Ilker Arcayürek

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MENDELSSOHN: COMPLETE SONGS VOL.3 Fanny Hensel, ‘The Other Mendelssohn’

BRAHMS: COMPLETE PIANO TRIOS AND QUARTETS Gould Piano Trio

For this third volume in a complete survey of Mendelssohn songs, Malcolm Martineau shines the spotlight on ‘the other Mendelssohn’, with a complete volume of songs by his sister Fanny Hensel. Malcolm Martineau has assembled, as always, a cast of wonderful young singers for this refreshing and important repertoire.

The Gould Piano Trio, at the forefront of the international chamber music scene for well over twenty years, present this 6 CD box-set of the complete Piano Trios and Quartets by Brahms. Both versions of the Piano Trio No.1 are included, plus the Sextets arranged for trio, all recorded at The Music Room at Champs Hill between 2004 and 2016.

Champs Hill Records available on CD or for download from all good record shops & online, or direct from:

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VOCAL REVIEWS against the Jacobite threat. The oratorio ends with an abridged parody of Zadok the Priest, which nearly 20 years earlier had accompanied George II’s sacred anointing as the legitimate king during his coronation service. There are inevitably a few infelicitous imperfections in this unfiltered live recording but the all-round excellent performance confirms that even the rarest of Handel’s works contain unique stimulations. David Vickers Comparative version: King’s Consort, King (6/95) (HYPE) CDA66961/2

Lorenc The Covenant (orch Janczak) Katarzyna Laskowska sop Cappella Corale Varsaviana Choir; London Symphony Orchestra / Lee Reynolds Warner Classics F 9029 58459-4 (44’ • DDD • T/t)

It’s not every day you encounter a piece that has been 225 years in the making. Composer Michaπ Lorenc might only have started work on this large-scale choral cantata in 2015 but the work’s origins stretch back significantly further. Premiered at the opening ceremony of Warsaw’s Temple of Divine Providence, The Covenant was commissioned from one of Poland’s most celebrated film and television composers to mark the fulfilment of a vow made in 1791 – to build a temple as gratitude to a God who had ‘delivered Poland from foreign aggression and internal chaos’. Wars, invasions and partitions intervened, and it wasn’t until 2016 that the building was finally completed. Performed here by the London Symphony Orchestra and Warsaw’s Cappella Corale Varsaviana Choir under conductor Lee Reynolds, this multimovement work is very much an occasion piece, offering a sequence of atmospheric episodes that seem designed to function as soundtracks to meditation or procession. The first, and substantially the longest, is a hymn to the Virgin. A single male voice (Robert Poz˙arski) chants the lulling, repeating litanies to Mary, while in impossibly delicate increments the instruments of the LSO and a wordless chorus fill out the texture beneath the hymn. As a musical metaphor for the temple’s long construction it’s potent. The shorter subsequent movements combine this chanted element (Hymn) gramophone.co.uk

with filmic passages for strings (Lamentations) and a throbbing great Ave Maria, sung by Katarzyna Lakowska. All remains firmly within the familiar idiom of the contemporary film score, but Krzysztof Aleksander Janczak’s orchestrations bring plenty of textural variety and subtlety, most strikingly the use of two solo ney flutes that add their grainy, evocative voices to the orchestra in ‘The Temple’. Will The Covenant have a concert life? It’s hard to imagine. But as a musical testament to 200 years of toil and faith it’s a work of scope and stature. Alexandra Coghlan

Łukaszewski Adoramus te, Christe. Adventgebet. Alleluia. Ave Maria. Ave maris stella. Beatus vir, Sanctus Adalbertus. Beatus vir, Sanctus Martinus. Five Funeral Kurpian Songs. Motette. Nunc dimittis. Pater noster. Psalmus 120. Psalmus 129. Regina caeli Polish Chamber Choir / Jan Łukaszewski Warner Classics F 9029 58363-9 (62’ • DDD)

Paweπ Łukaszewski is a composer for whom choral music is not so much an expression of profound religious faith as a personal act of Christian worship. He first came to my attention a decade ago in a Hyperion disc sung by the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, and directed with almost proselytising zeal by Stephen Layton (A/08). I welcome this latest opportunity to revisit this magical blend of richly expressive harmonies, neatly woven choral textures and intensely effective handling of the a cappella medium. Only two items from the earlier disc are duplicated here – Ave Maria and Beatus vir, Sanctus Martinus. Almost everything else on this new disc has been composed in the decade since the Hyperion disc was released, and it shows that little has changed in Łukaszewski’s stylistic idiom. The latest pieces – Adoramus te, Christe, Pater noster, Alleluia and the simply ravishing Regina caeli, all dating from 2014 – possess the same luscious and luminous qualities as the earlier ones. A slightly sharper edge to the focus seems a direct consequence of conductor Jan Łukaszewski’s businesslike approach, although unquestionably these Polish choristers have a lighter, less involved approach to Łukaszewski’s sumptuous sound world than their English counterparts.

I suggested in my 2008 review that the Trinity Choir possibly lacked the ‘warmth of tone such unashamedly expressive music demands’, but hearing these Polish choristers deliver it with such clarity and precision, I am inclined to revise my original opinion and suggest that, if anything, Layton’s performances were a trifle too warm and indulgent. The Polish Chamber Choir produce some gloriously agile singing in Beatus vir, Sanctus Adalbertus. Their clarity of texture and text is impressive, and their studied lack of self-indulgence allows us to relish the detail of Łukaszewski’s writing on its own terms. I might not find this disc so intensely lovely as I did the Hyperion disc but I do find its direct, unsentimental approach equally sincere and moving. Marc Rochester

Mozart . Handel

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Handel Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV264 – Symphony Mozart Miserere, K85. Ave verum corpus, K618. Requiem, K626 Genia Kühmeier sop Elisabeth Kulman contr Julien Behr ten Charles Dekeyser bass Salzburg Bach Choir; Les Musiciens du Louvre / Marc Minkowski Stage director Bartabas Video director Andy Sommer C Major Entertainment F ◊ 741808; F Y 741904 (70’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live at the Felsenreitschule, Salzburg, January 29-31, 2017

Here is an unexpected addition to the massive and ever-expanding Mozart Requiem discography: a performance of the work from the Salzburg Felsenreitschule choreographed for dancing horses. I must admit that I know virtually nothing about horses – as my betting history bears testament – but the beasts of the Académie équestre nationale du domaine de Versailles are undeniably beautiful, and if the combination of sacred masterpieces and dressage is just what you’ve always wanted, you will be enraptured. For myself, I struggled to match what I was seeing with the words and music, and fear that those less well disposed will find it all faintly absurd. The concert opens with an early Miserere, alternating plainchant with oldstyle polyphony, and a single black horse spinning around on the spot, its rider making odd arm gestures. Then comes an interlude for the opening Symphony from GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 103


VOCAL REVIEWS Handel’s Funeral Anthem, before the Requiem, danced by a troupe of white horses wearing black masks, some ridden by characters in Klan-style pointed headgear. In the later stages, the riders are replaced by winged skeletons, on which one can make no further comment. The whole closes with the Ave verum, before rapturous applause and repeated calls for the corps and cast. The Miserere bodes ill, with ragged polyphony and fluffed entries, but the Requiem is well done. The documentation doesn’t let on but we hear the 1989 completion by HC Robbins Landon, in which the aborted completion of Eybler is perferred (where it exists) to the traditional Süssmayr version. This being Marc Minkowski, it is a more than decent performance, with some starry soloists and finely honed orchestral playing. The choreographer is Bartabas, one of the world’s leading trainers of horses for spectacles such as this. It is well filmed, with Les Musiciens and the singers framed by the arches of the Felsenreitschule stage’s backdrop. And the horses are exquisite. One for equestrians and the curious. David Threasher

Nowowiejski Quo vadis Wioletta Chodowicz sop Robert Gierlach bar Wojtek Gierlach bass Sławomir Kamiński org Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Choir; Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra / Łukasz Borowicz CPO F b CPO555 089-2 (95’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, June 29, 2016

Feliks Nowowiejski (1877-1946) is hardly a household name these days but at the beginning of the 20th century he was considered by many to be the most significant Polish composer alive. His massively scored Quo vadis, first performed in its final version in 1909 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, was the work that put him on the map, and it was performed regularly up to the Second World War. The text was originally in German, adapted from the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz of the same name (yes, it is that Quo vadis), but the version recorded here is a Polish translation. Nowowiejski studied with Bruch and Taubert in Regensburg and Berlin, and his music is unquestionably Germanic rather than Slavic in character. Nor 104 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

should this be surprising – the composer’s birthplace, Barczewo, was then a part of Prussia, so this cosmopolitanism was there from the start. Echoes of the German tradition writ large may certainly be heard (Wagner, Liszt, and a talent for counterpoint that argues a solid acquaintance with Bach), but in his booklet note, Borowicz points out that later in life Nowowiejski moved in the direction of Szymanowski and Roussel. The work is divided into four ‘scenes’, presenting Sienkiewicz’s story through only three characters (the Apostle Peter, Ligia and the commander of the Praetorian Guard): the lion’s share is given to the chorus. There is much bombast and fanfare in the first two scenes, as they describe the pomp and ceremony of ancient Rome, finishing with the thrilling ‘Christiani ad leones!’. The third scene describes the suffering of the Christians under Nero’s persecution and Ligia’s imploring them to flee from the city. Here the music becomes more tender, more mystical, the orchestration less dominated by brass, and with some fine writing for the bass soloist (Peter, sung by the outstanding Wojtek Gierlach) and choir. The organ is also employed, lending Peter’s exhortation to his fellow Christians an appropriately solemn, liturgical atmosphere. But this is only one aspect of the drama, as Peter’s steadfastness becomes apparent, and Nowowiejski takes full advantage of his huge forces to underline the instability of the situation. The soprano soloist (Ligia) has a particularly dramatic and impressive aria, ‘O Panie, nasz s´wie˛ty przewodniku’, outstandingly sung by Wioletta Chodowicz, and which makes memorable use of a solo violin. The final scene moves from the darkness of the ‘deep, deep, dark night’, through the brief but pivotally transformative ‘Quo vadis’ aria (to which baritone soloist Robert Gierlach gives his all) to the triumphant final chorus foreseeing Peter’s martyrdom, culminating in a remarkable double fugue and final chorus of praise and ‘Amen’. This is grand oratorio, in the sense that Gerontius is; it takes the listener on a dramatic journey in an almost cinematic fashion, made utterly convincing by this superb recorded performance. It so happens that there is another excellent recording of the work, which uses the original German libretto. Which to buy? I would suggest both. Ivan Moody Comparative version: Mazur PO, Suπkowski (DUX) DUX1327/8

Palmeri Magnificat Aleksandra Turalska sop Agata Schmidt mez Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi bandoneón Martin Palmeri pf Astrolabium Choir; Capella Bydgostiensis Chamber Orchestra / Kinga Litowska Dux F DUX1343 (46’ • DDD)

Martin Palmeri is an Argentinian composer, born in 1965. His trajectory is curious from a European perspective, but not so much from an Argentinian one: he studied composition, conducting and singing in Argentina and the United States, but his chief inspiration is the Tango Nuevo. His best-known work is the Misa a Buenos Aires, but I think that this Magnificat will not lag far behind. It depends on having a virtuoso bandoneón player, of course, and that is the case here, with Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi doing the honours. The composer himself, incidentally, is at the piano. This kind of ‘crossover’ (that’s not really the right word, because the composer is at home in both worlds) depends, inevitably, on one or more of the performers being fluent in the vocabulary of the ‘second world’. In this case that is assured by Pietrodarchi and Palmeri; what is much less predictable is a corresponding flexibility from the ‘first world’, that is to say, in this case, classical performers. But such concerns have absolutely no foundation here: the orchestra and choir, under Kinga Litowska, are more than a match for the rhythmic swing of the music and interact with bandoneón and piano as to the manner born. Soprano Aleksandra Turalska and mezzo-soprano Agata Schmidt are stunning – pure, clear voices entirely in tune (in all senses) with this fascinatingly hybrid work. Let me be clear: this is not Missa Criolla meets Piazzolla; it is something entirely individual, the work of a composer as familiar with Bach as he is with Tango. Or even with a more relaxed, lounge-like kind of music. I can’t think of another setting of ‘Et misericordia eius’ that mixes supplication with the cocktail bar in quite this way. And it’s not kitsch; it’s entirely convincing, and utterly surprising at the same time – the ending takes your breath away! If I say that I cannot imagine the work being used liturgically, that is not to say that it does not have another role. This is powerful, original music, outstandingly performed. Ivan Moody gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Vocal freshness and deep emotional presence: Ilker Arcayürek’s Schubert on Champs Hill Records stands up to fierce competition

Schubert ‘Der Einsame’ An den Mond, D193. An die Laute, D905. Abendstern, D806. Am Flusse, D160. Der Einsame, D800. Frühlingsglaube, D686. Drei Gesänge des Harfners, D478-480. Der Jüngling an der Quelle, D300. Die Liebe hat gelogen D751. Meeres Stille, D216. Der Musensohn, D764. Nachtstück, D672. Nacht und Träume, D827. Rastlose Liebe, D138. Rosamunde, D797 – Romance ‘Der Vollmond Strahlt auf Bergeshöh’n’. Schäfers Klagelied, D121. Der Schiffer, D536. Schwanengesang, D744. Sehnsucht, D879. Über Wildemann, D884. Wandrers Nachtlied II, D768

P H O T O G R A P H Y: P AT R I C K A L L E N

Ilker Arcayürek ten Simon Lepper pf Champs Hill F CHRCD133 (68’ • DDD • T/t)

The ever-increasing tenor population in the Schubert song discography reaches a peak of sorts with Ilker Arcayürek’s intelligently conceived recital, executed with vocal freshness and an open-hearted quality that recalls the young Nicolai Gedda and Christoph Prégardien. The Italianate richness of his timbre makes him a particularly mainstream voice in this gramophone.co.uk

repertoire, though he has all of the needed interpretative individuality: without the vocal rumble of baritones and basses, the more exposed tenor instrument demands that he have a deep emotional presence at every turn. Mostly, he does. Using the song ‘Nachtstück’ as a litmus test, one hears Ian Bostridge (Wigmore Hall Live, 8/14) haunted to the bone by death, with individual words tinged by bitterness, whether he is acting as the song’s narrator in one stanza or, later in the song, portraying the elderly, dying protagonist who sings himself into the hereafter. The more boyish-sounding Matthew Polenzani (Wigmore Hall Live) is full of probing apprehension in confronting the great mystery that is death. The more baritonal Peter Gijsbertsen (Phaedra Classics) projects tentative hope. But with his long-reaching legato line, Arcayürek creates a more satisfying journey that goes to the verge of rapture, aided by pianist Simon Lepper creating eloquent rhetorical silences with hushed reverence. Though his recording career dates back at least seven years to ‘Weihnachten mit dem Mozart Knabenchor Wien’ (Classic Concert Records), the Istanbulborn, Vienna-raised tenor has recently distinguished himself in various young

artist competitions and was named among BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists in 2015. He maintains a small repertoire of opera roles but, for the time being, the intimacy of his voice suggests recital repertoire is where he stands to win the most devoted audience, especially in a programme such as this, ‘Der Einsame’, which is about solitude, of casting off attachments to the temporal world and embracing the ethereal. Arcayürek’s reading of the album’s title song isn’t the mildly comic portrait of middle-class complacence heard from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (DG) but somebody who is in refuge from the outside world. The rest of the programme has its share of hearty songs such as ‘Der Musensohn’ and even ones that overtax his voice a bit, such as ‘Der Schiffer’. ‘An die Laute’ even comes off rather trivial, but is effectively sequenced just before the weighty ‘Nacht und Träume’ that begins the more reflective final leg of the recital. Though his German is excellent, Acayürek’s approach to the language is the polar opposite of the hyper-inflected Bostridge. Arcayürek sings ‘Schwanengesang’, for example, with the kind of fearless clarity that comes with minimum vibrato, projecting emotional GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 105


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VOCAL REVIEWS content with understated inference rather than colouring of individual words. That approach is perfect for the following ‘Meeres Stille’, in which his voice conveys the watery surface with expressively deployed legato at the bottom of his range and at hushed volume levels. Lepper’s pristine accompaniment – in a fairly radiant recording acoustic – is an essential partner, as is the detailed booklet note by Richard Stokes. David Patrick Stearns

Vladar’s playing is perfectly decent – and one would expect nothing less – but lacks immediacy in a recorded balance that tries to offer his colleague a helping hand. Another disappointment, I’m afraid. Hugo Shirley

Schubert Winterreise, D911 Florian Boesch bar Roger Vignoles pf Hyperion F CDA68197 (71’ • DDD • T/t)

Schubert Schwanengesang, D957 Bo Skovhus bar Stefan Vladar pf Capriccio F C5292 (63’ • DDD • T/t)

I had my problems with Bo Skovhus’s recent Schöne Müllerin (7/17), and many of the same issues, alas, blight his new Schwanengesang. Or, rather, the same primary issue: the dry, worn state of the Danish baritone’s voice. These late songs, however, are arguably a better fit for his once-handsome baritone as it now is. I resist using the word ‘cycle’, and the disc’s cover is in fact misleading. ‘Die Taubenpost’ is here positioned among the five Seidl settings that come first; then come the Heine settings, followed by the Rellstab, into which is interpolated ‘Der Herbst’. It’s the same reordering and expansion as Skovhus presented on his 1995 Sony account of the cycle (10/95) and it’s not a bad idea, meaning that we now end, appropriately enough, with ‘Abschied’. There’s a jarring shift in tone, though, as we go from the bustling ‘Bei dir allein’ into ‘Der Atlas’, which then in turn segues almost immediately into ‘Ihr Bild’. The latter is one of the more successful songs, though, in which Skovhus’s weary tone is allied to an eloquent intensity of expression. Likewise, there’s something to be said for the sepulchral atmosphere he and Vladar achieve in ‘Die Stadt’, and even the gnarly honesty of their ‘Doppelgänger’. The pair bring a nice springiness to ‘Der Abschied’, too. But the desiccated sound of Skovhus’s baritone constantly gets in the way of enjoyment – he can occasionally put some flesh on the bones in the middle of the register, but it peters out at the bottom of the range and thins at the top. Nor has he really come up with a compelling interpretative strategy to compensate, beyond an emphatic way with the words. gramophone.co.uk

It’s less than six years since the release of Florian Boesch’s first recording of Winterreise, a widely praised Onyx account that set quite a benchmark. This new version from Hyperion is remarkable for both its similarities and its differences. The main change, of course, comes in the shape of Roger Vignoles, whose minutely gauged, infinitely subtle piano-playing (beautifully captured by Hyperion’s engineers, and especially clear in Studio Master download) contrasts with Malcolm Martineau’s more robust, assertive contribution on the earlier disc. In several ways, Boesch’s own approach hasn’t changed that much. There’s the same daring dynamic range, whispers giving way to bursts of expressionistic intensity. The mellow beauty of the voice is largely unchanged, too, although there’s a hardness at louder volumes, and the sort of honeyed tones Gerald Finley produces in his Hyperion recording, for example, are not in Boesch’s armoury. What I notice especially on the new disc is Boesch’s way with the words: there’s a special lightness – though never a levity – that helps keep his line unencumbered, allowing for an astonishing expressive freedom. More controversial will be the occasional tendency, now a little more pronounced, to sing some notes with unpolished, unsingerly honesty (particularly in his hushed ‘Der Lindenbaum’, for example) or others almost absent-mindedly (as at ‘das heisse Weh’ at the end of the first verse of ‘Wasserflut’ – 0'45"). I remain slightly unconvinced, too, about his halting way with parts of ‘Die Wetterfahne’. But otherwise it’s difficult not simply to marvel at the interpretative skill on show: listen to the gradual turning of the screw in ‘Die Krähe’, for example, the tangible sense of being weighed down in ‘Einsamkeit’ or the masterful delineation of moods of ‘Frühlingstraum’.

But the approach to some of the later numbers – understated, almost strangely objective in tone – might also divide opinion. Boesch keeps both ‘Der stürmische Morgen’ and ‘Mut!’ rather at arm’s length, while ‘Das Wirtshaus’, though wonderfully controlled and hushed, feels a touch abstract. ‘Der Leiermann’, a whole minute quicker than on the earlier recording, is resolutely undemonstrative. Those bowled over by more visceral approaches such as Jonas Kaufmann’s might well feel slightly short-changed. There’s something unusually compelling and hypnotic, however, about a Winterreise that seems consciously to underplay the tragedy, withholding even the consolation of a final catharsis. It’s an approach, moreover, that raises fundamental questions about how this great cycle should be performed, of where the line between objective presentation and dramatic representation should be drawn. I’m still mulling that one over. In the meantime, though, there’s no question that this is Lieder performance, from both Boesch and Vignoles, at the very highest level of sophistication and accomplishment, and a fascinating, thought-provoking listen. Hugo Shirley Selected comparisons: Boesch, Martineau (3/12) (ONYX) ONYX4077 Finley, Drake (4/14) (HYPE) CDA68034 Kaufmann, Deutsch (5/14) (SONY) 88883 79565-2

Verdi

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Messa da Requiem Juliana Di Giacomo sop Michelle DeYoung mez Vittorio Grigolo ten Ildebrando D’Arcangelo bass Los Angeles Master Chorale; Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Dudamel Video director Michael Beyer C Major Entertainment F ◊ 741208; F Y 741304 (98’ + 18’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, August 13 & 15, 2013 Bonuses: Behind the Scenes; Interview and rehearsal with Gustavo Dudamel

If any Requiem is going to be suitable for performance in the 15,000-seat Hollywood Bowl, then I suppose it’s Verdi’s – famously operatic, by a composer famous for having an ambivalent attitude towards formal religion. And Gustavo Dudamel has gone for a relatively broad, leisurely approach that one suspects offered a big enough picture of the piece for those in the furthest reaches of GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 107


OBERLIN MUSIC THE OFFICIAL RECORD LABEL OF THE OBERLIN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC

MYTH & TRADITION cellist Darrett Adkins performs three contemporary concertos | UNDER ONE SUN led by world percussionist

Jamey Haddad; music by Billy Drewes | GINASTERA: 100 a celebration with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, violinist Gil Shaham, pianist Orli Shaham, and guitarist Jason Vieaux | WHAT THINK YOU I TAKE MY PEN IN HAND TO RECORD? premiere recordings of songs by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco with tenor Salvatore Champagne | GABRIELI featuring the 26-member National Brass Ensemble representing nine American orchestras | LUCIANO BERIO—HUANG RUO violinist David Bowlin performs works cast as both accompanied and unaccompanied

OBERLIN MUSIC | THE OFFICIAL RECORD LABEL OF THE OBERLIN CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC Celebrating extraordinary talent and artistic vision. Available worldwide. www.oberlin.edu/oberlinmusic


VOCAL REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: A U G U S TA Q U I R K

Gustavo Dudamel leads a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

the venue, audible above the birdlife and cicadas. A booklet essay talks of his maturation since tackling the piece four years earlier in Oslo (this performance was in fact filmed in 2013) and this manifests itself in a restrained platform manner – a certain stiffness, nervousness even. There’s patience, too, and a sense of searching out the spiritual ahead of the merely dramatic. The opening Kyrie is steady, the Sanctus deliberate and the ‘Lacrimosa’ actually rather slow. The ‘Dies irae’ is grandly implacable as well as fiery, and there’s a genuinely touching tenderness to the ‘Libera me’, although the fugal section feels a little bit sluggish to me. Those used to Toscanini or, more recently, Muti in this score will find Dudamel short on incisiveness and drive. Adjust your expectations, however, and this is in many ways an impressively cohesive and imposing reading. The same booklet note invokes Karajan, and there are some similarities in terms of tempo, if not yet the older conductor’s iron grip. Karajan’s famous La Scala film, of course, features a matchless quartet of soloists. Dudamel’s singers are not on that level, but Julia Di Giacomo is technically gramophone.co.uk

secure and often moving in the soprano solos and mezzo Michelle DeYoung makes a characteristically impassioned partner for her. Vittorio Grigolo is in very good voice but his delivery is lumpy and overwrought. Ildebrando D’Arcangelo does a good job underpinning it all, but with a voice – more Figaro than Filippo – that can’t quite muster the necessarily sepulchral tone. The Los Angeles Master Chorale make an impressive sound and the Los Angeles Philharmonic play with luxurious tone – listen out for the fine work from the winds, the bassoons in particular. Hugo Shirley Selected comparison: Scala, Karajan (1/06) (DG) ◊ 073 4055GH

‘Baroque Cantatas from Gdańsk’ Freislich Das ist meine Freude. Gott ist die Liebe. Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt Grain Hertzlich lieb hab ich dich o Herr Meder Singet, lobsinget mit Hertzen und Zungen Pucklitz Ich will in allen Sachen. Kehre wieder Marie Smolka sop Franziska Gottwald contr Hermann Oswald ten Markus Flaig bass Goldberg Vocal Ensemble; Goldberg Baroque Ensemble / Andrzej Szadejko Dabringhaus und Grimm F Í MDG902 1989-6 (66’ • DDD/DSD • T)

This enjoyable recording, the first of an intended series on music in Baltic countries, presents a series of Lutheran cantatas written in late 17th-century and 18th-century Danzig (the German name for Gdan´sk) by some of its leading church composers, all of whose names are new to me: the oldest, JV Meder, died in 1719, and the youngest, JBC Freislich and JD Pucklitz, died in 1774. In between comes JJ du Grain (d1756), represented by a single cantata, Hertzlich lieb hab ich dich. This is perhaps the thinnest offering here (its more pathetic accents seem pasted on); the others are more accomplished and offer more scope for choir, soloists and ensemble. Meder’s Singet, lobsinget evokes a festive atmosphere most economically, and the more extensive selections from Freislich and Pucklitz show a decent stylistic range and agreeable invention (Freislich’s short Das ist meine Freude has an effective obligato trumpet part and Pucklitz’s Ich will in allen Sachen a graceful one for bassoon). GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 109


VOCAL REVIEWS

Precision and purity: the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, and Clare Baroque perform Reformation-themed works on Harmonia Mundi – see review on page 113

The performances emphasise these qualities; ‘workmanlike’ may sound like damning with faint praise but I mean it here entirely positively. Perhaps more might have been made of the menacing opening section of Pucklitz’s Kehre wieder, which presages (however briefly) a more troubling atmosphere. The choir is stretched a bit further in his Ich will in allen Sachen, though this is not unduly troubling. Each of the soloists, finally, makes at least one telling contribution. The sound recording is worthy of Dabringhaus und Grimm’s usual standard, though the absence of an English translation of the texts is regrettable. Fabrice Fitch

‘Music for Troubled Times’ Byrd O Lord, make thy servant Charles Child O Lord God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance Hutchinson Behold how good and joyful a thing is Jeffreys How wretched is the state H Lawes A Funeral Anthem W Lawes Music, the master of thy art is dead. Psalm 6, ‘Lord, in thy wrath reprove me not’. Psalm 18, ‘O God, my strength and fortitude’. Psalm 22, ‘O God, my God’. Psalm 67, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord’. Psalm 100, ‘All people that on earth do dwell’. See how Cawood’s dragon looks 110 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Locke How doth the city sit solitary Tomkins O God, the proud are risen against me. Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times Wilson My God, my King, incline thine ear The Ebor Singers / Paul Gameson Resonus F RES10194 (77’ • DDD • T)

William Lawes is better known for his instrumental music than for vocal music, and his brother Henry’s reputation today rests principally on his songs. This recital of Carolinian sacred music offers a focused look at the pair in a largely unfamiliar setting, with (this being from The Ebor Singers) a significant nod in the direction of the Siege of York in 1644. One might not expect to find William at his most daring in music of this sort, and in truth not all the music here is top-notch (the setting of Psalm 6, for instance). But at its best there’s much to enjoy: the setting of Psalm 22 is more successful, and every now and then a recognisable gesture will leap out at those who know his consort music well. These committed and sympathetic performances take wing, generally

speaking, when Lawes does so himself (again, Psalm 22, the most substantial work recorded here, is a conspicuous success). The choral selections and sections fare best; the soloists (mostly drawn from among the lower voices) could be fleeter of voice and surer of tone, and there’s a slight mismatch between their vocal style and the tone of the vocal ensemble. The latter rightly throws caution to the wind in the defiant round See how Cawood’s dragon looks; more such confidence would have served equally well throughout – it’s a quality which William Lawes seems to have possessed in abundance. Fabrice Fitch

‘Nature and the Soul’ Dārziņš The Broken Pines. Long Ago. Moonbeams Graubiņš Night has entered the forest Melngailis Doomsday. Gently, slowly. Latvian Requiem. Move gently and quietly. Nature and the Soul. The Sun is Setting Vītols David Before Saul. The Day is Ending. The Dwarves and the Old Man of the Forest. The Enchanted Forest. The King and the Mushroom. The Moon Lied. The Sun’s Revelry Zālītis The Goblet on the Isle of the Dead Latvian Radio Choir / Kaspars Putniņš LMIC/SKANI F 054 (59’ • DDD • T/t) gramophone.co.uk


Latvian Radio Choir in

SKANI Cenntenial Series – THE FRUIT OF SILENCE Latvian Contemporary Choral Music Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Kļava (conductor) SOUND OF FREEDOM Imants Kalniņš. Symphony No. 4, Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, Marta Sudraba (cello), Atvars Lakstīgala (conductor)

This album takes us to the first decades of the 20th century when Latvian music, like that of the other smaller Northern European nations, reached its prime. Latvian romantic choral music, enriched by symbolism and Art Nouveau ideas, saw its golden era then and the level attained by Latvia’s choirs today is inconceivable without this foundation.

LATVIAN SONGS Egils Siliņš (bass-baritone), Māris Skuja (piano) Art Songs by Jāzeps Vītols, Emīls Dārziņš, Alfrēds Kalniņš, Emilis Melngailis a.o. BORN IN 1906. DĀRZIŅŠ. IVANOVS Volfgangs Dārziņš. Piano Concerto No. 2. Jānis Ivanovs. Symphony No. 20 Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Reinis Zariņš (piano), Andris Poga (conductor) NORTHWIND Latvian Woodwind Quintets Vasks, Plakidis, Zemzaris CARION Quintet

– Arnolds Klotiņš www.skani.lv

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VOCAL REVIEWS

Collector

A BACH MISCELLANY 2 David Vickers explores the latest batch of Bach cantatas

Deutsche Hofmusik make an accomplished case for reconstructions of lost Bach works

ontreal Baroque and Eric Milnes

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have the long-term aim of recording the first complete cycle of all of Bach’s church cantatas using exclusively a choir of one single voice on each part – adopting the hypothesis that Bach customarily used vocal ‘concertists’ to sing all music for their voice type (choral and solo). A few first impressions of the sixth instalment alarmed me: the little five-part string sinfonia that begins Christ lag in Todesbanden (Cantata No 4) is packed with an extraordinary density of mannerisms, and there is a jarring mistake by one of the violas da gamba in the first bar of the Actus tragicus (No 106). It turns out that otherwise Eric Milnes’s direction from the organ is efficaciously poignant. The elaborate opening chorus of Es ist das Heil uns kommen her (No 9), featuring oboe d’amore and flute, neatly juxtaposes a dancelike pulse, fizzing rhythmical complexity and harmonic sophistication. Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister (No 181) begins with a dramatic bass aria that dramatically illustrates the folly of frivolous spirits that deny God’s Word (sung superbly by Drew Santini); and, during an agitated tenor aria warning about the harmful thorns and hellish 112 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

torment awaiting the avaricious, Milnes plays an elaborate organ obbligato part judiciously (perhaps a larger instrument offering a more colourful registration might have been effective). The debut recording of Ensemble Alia Mens presents three cantatas composed for the Weimar court chapel (the Himmelsburg) during the mid-1710s. Plaintive solo oboe and strings exploit emotive dissonances in the sinfonia to Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (No 12). Four concertists’ arched phrasing carefully manipulates each suspension in the evocation of weeping, and overall the four singers create a real sense of ‘choral’ sustained phrases, broad sonorities and precise diction – though not every moment has perfect intonation in the upper voice parts. Thomas Hobbs’s mellifluous navigation of florid high passages in ‘Sei getreu, alle Pein’ confirms that he has evolved into a Bach tenor of distinction. Olivier Spilmont directs from the keyboard with an affinity for richly layered emotional rhetoric; he chooses Bach’s additional recorders from the 1724 Leipzig revision of Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt (No 18) – a decision that transforms the original scoring for four violas

into a cathartic pastoral. The synergy between beautifully contoured instrumental playing and sensitive singing from all four singers creates the perfect tone of consolation in Komm, du süsse Todesstunde (No 161); there is spellbinding ebb and flow between Hobbs’s sagacious singing and shapely contrapuntal strings (‘Mein Verlangen’), and the conversational recorders, empathetic strings, sustained continuo playing and expert voices in the chorus ‘Wenn es meines Gottes Wille’ are softly eloquent. If you like your Bach choral music to have punch, swagger and generous resonance, Hans-Christoph Rademann takes the 30-strong Gächinger Cantorey through their paces in the Reformation Day cantata Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild (No 79), which opens with a splendid chorus declaring that God is our sun and shield, replete with braying horns, driving kicks from the timpani, fizzing orchestra and intricate choral polyphony; the cantata also includes a grandly festive setting of Luther’s famous chorale ‘Nun danket alle Gott’. In the closing chorale a replica of a recently discovered chamber organ by Silbermann cuts through the texture to invigorating effect – much more vividly than the boxy organs normally used in this repertoire. The dramatic minor-key fugal chorus that launches Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort (No 126) petitions God to spare righteous Protestants from the dual threats of the Turkish and the Pope; solo trumpet fanfares, pungent oboes, assertive strings and disciplined choir convey a potent balance of robust fervour and wily fluency. Rademann conducts a spry account of the short Mass in G major (BWV236), although the tenors and basses are slightly anonymous in the Gloria (parodied from the opening chorus of Cantata No 79 but without horns and timpani; it is fascinating to hear both versions on the same disc). Carus provides an excellent booklet essay by Henning Bey on Bach as a reformer of Lutheran church music – although I wish the publisher would abandon its usual policy of abridging its notes for the English translation. gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

There is also admirable scholarship from Alexander Grychtolik, whose specialism is speculative scholarly reconstructions of lost Bach works. All that survives of Erwählte Pleissenstadt (Cantata No 216a) is a rough draft of the words, written out by Bach’s pupil Meissner. Two solo singers play the parts of Apollo (tenor Daniel Johannsen) and Mercury (countertenor Franz Vitzthum), their panegyric remarks making explicit the glory and prosperity of Leipzig; they sing together and individually with arresting shapeliness in praise of how the city on the river Pleisse gleams contentedly above all other great cities of classical antiquity. The substantial solo soprano cantata O angenehme Melodei (No 210a) is an exposition on the virtues of music that was designed in homage to Duke Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels on the occasion of his visit to Leipzig in 1729. Only a printed libretto and the soprano part survive but most of the music of the arias (not recitatives) can be reconstructed from their later parodies in the wedding cantata O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit (No 210). Grychtolik conjectures that the soloist was none other than Anna Magdalena Bach, who before her marriage had been a court singer at Weissenfels. Katja Stuber’s pure-toned singing and unaffected delivery of the poetry is creditable throughout all five contrasting arias, most notably a restful description of music as a panacea for all ills (a message supported by lovely concertante violin- and oboe d’amoreplaying). The pleasure afforded by Deutsche Hofmusik’s accomplished performances is diminished modestly by the heavily reverberant church acoustic swamping the singers. More miscellaneous Bach on page 96

THE RECORDINGS JS Bach Cantatas, Vol 6 Montreal Baroque / Milnes ATMA Classique F ACD2 2406

P H O T O G R A P H Y: W O L F G A N G F R A N K

JS Bach ‘La Cité Céleste’ Ensemble Alia Mens / Spilmont Paraty F PARATY916157 JC Bach Cantatas Nos 79 & 126, etc Gächinger Cantorey / Rademann Carus F CARUS83 311 JS Bach ‘Angenehme Melodei’ Deutsche Hofmusik / Grychtolik DHM F 88985 41052-2

gramophone.co.uk

This is a collection of Latvian choral music selected in honour of the centenary of the independence of Latvia. As conductor Kaspars Putnin, ≈ says in his introductory note: ‘The majority of Latvian conductors have probably grown up with these songs whose imagery, sound and colour are deeply encoded in our consciousness … Working on this album, I have felt as if I am writing a love letter.’ It sounds that way. One is gripped by the very first track, the atmospheric, insistent prophecy that is ‘Senatne’ (‘Long Ago’) by Emı¯ls Darzin, ≈ (18751910), every nuance of which is captured by the Latvian Radio Choir. Did they weep while recording the second song by Darzin, ≈, ‘Me¯ness staro stı¯go’ (‘Moonbeams’)? I did. They sing with every fibre of their being. There is, in fact, something extraordinary about Latvian choirs: they sing as though their very lives depend on it, and when they are singing Latvian music their immediate connection with the language makes this even more apparent. There is both Nordic clarity and Slavic profundity to be heard in the sound of a Latvian choir, and there is also what I might call a poetic sense, an instinctive knowledge of how to phrase. All this is beautifully, movingly evident on this disc. All five of the composers recorded here are outstanding but what stays with me is the music by Darzin, ≈ and the wonderful, disturbing ‘Bik, eris miron, u sala¯’ (‘The Goblet on the Isle of the Dead’) by Ja¯nis Zalı¯tis. At all events, this is a celebration of Latvian choral music that should not be missed. As Putnin, ≈ also writes, ‘Many returns of the day, dear Latvia!’ Ivan Moody

‘Reformation 1517-2017’ JS Bach Cantatas – No 79, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild; No 80, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott Brahms Warum ist das Licht gegeben, Op 74 No 1 Croft O God, our help in ages past Cruger Now thank we all our God Luther Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott. Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin Mendelssohn Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten Neumark Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten Vaughan Williams Lord, thou hast been our refuge Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; Clare Baroque / Graham Ross Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2265 (73’ • DDD • T/t)

The face of Martin Luther stares out from the cover of this latest disc from the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, but not as we know it. Lucas Cranach’s famous portrait is distorted, fragmented and intersected into Matthias Koeppel’s neo-Cubist Luther. The Reformation-themed works included here may attempt nothing so radical but the historical long view that pairs Bach cantatas with not only Mendelssohn and Brahms but also Vaughan Williams makes for an equally interesting shift of perspective. You only have to look down the names of the soloists – Mary Bevan, Robin Blaze, Nicholas Mulroy, Neal Davies – and the members of Clare Baroque, led by Margaret Faultless and including the likes of Katharina Spreckelsen and Stephen Farr, to get a sense of the quality on offer here. The instrumental playing is, well, pretty faultless, whether in Rachel Chaplin’s introspective oboe da caccia in Bach’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott or the characterful brass-playing in Gott der Herr ist Son und Schild. The choir themselves, conducted by music director Graham Ross, bring all their customary precision and purity to the Bach, but it’s once they arrive at the later repertoire – Brahms’s Warum ist da Licht gegeben?, Mendelssohn’s Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten and Vaughan Williams’s Lord, thou hast been our refuge – that they really come into their own. Faced with the busy counterpoint of movements like the opening chorus of Ein feste Burg, these young voices in comparatively small numbers get a bit diffuse and we lose the vertical clarity. But the darker-hued Brahms glows with love and care, its extended opening movement shaped with an eye to sonic drama, and the Vaughan Williams balances its solo and choral forces to striking effect, pacing this slow-burn anthem so that when we arrive at the final iteration of William Croft’s great tune with trumpet and organ there’s a real sense of ecstasy and release – faith finally rewarded. Alexandra Coghlan

Find your music on www.qobuz.com GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 113


REISSUES

Peter Quantrill recalls the refinement of a master conductor, that great Brucknerian, Günter Wand

The art of preparation RCA Red Seal has boxed-up the German conductor’s live recordings

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ccording to Günter Wand, ‘The older you get, the clearer your vision of perfection’. We might then hope to find some ideal representations of the music closest to the conductor in this box of live recordings made during the last 20 years of his life. For the last half of his career, Wand was a ‘one-label’ conductor, faithful to RCA, who hung the microphones in the Musikhalle in Hamburg, and then the Philharmonie in Berlin, at ever-decreasing intervals, keen to pass on some further refinement of those visions to his eager public in Germany, the UK and (especially) Japan. The wallets being unnumbered, and the discs inside them arranged in no obvious order, the box lacks the kind of guiding structural hand which would have borne the imprint of its subject. In one sense it begins with an outlier, the Chicago SO Brahms First from January 1989. The performance is commonly known as his US debut, yet I can trace no record of any subsequent American engagements. ‘Firmly in the mainstream of interpretation,’ remarked Will Crutchfield in his New York Times concert review, ‘neither novel nor particularly old-fashioned, nor even especially assertive, except in its assertion that playing the symphony very well could be a fruitful and joyous enterprise.’ Just so, though I also hear recovered a Furtwänglerian model for the symphony, especially in the memorial-style Andante turned Adagio, and the dizzying poles of the finale’s alternating tempi, when all Brahms has marked is più animato. By comparison with Andris Nelsons, 30 years on and 1000 miles away in Boston (and reviewed last month), Wand gets more. More strings, more force, more brass, more Brahms. In 1996, back in Hamburg, Wand remade all four Brahms symphonies. Every bar of the later First lives in the moment – 114 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

and, lest it be forgotten, with the same NDR Symphony Orchestra that Furtwängler conducted in a one-off performance of the symphony in October 1951. Memories of that occasion seem to stir in the orchestra’s collective unconscious, in the piercing wind-band and full-tilt brass and timpani. There is no turning aside to smell the flowers in the third movement – even Thielemann (DG, 11/14) is more graceful here – and you may find other expected moments of relaxation hard to come by. So, it would appear, did Wand, unless with cigar or high-end claret in hand. Dolce and grazioso were not natural adornments to Wand’s expressive vocabulary. The contrasts lie between degrees of tension.

Bruckner finales were a challenge relished and mostly met triumphantly The set makes no pretence at comprehensiveness. How could it, when Profil has documented Wand’s latterday work with other ensembles in Berlin, Munich and elsewhere? Nonetheless, several omissions and missed opportunities draw attention to themselves. The late symphonies of Mozart and Tchaikovsky, in live RCA recordings from the 1990s, would have put flesh on the bones of this portrait of Wand. So would the film documentary released by RCA in 2004 – ‘My Life, My Music’ – which contains a full account of the last interview he gave (to the everfaithful Wolfgang Seifert), originally excerpted in the booklet of the final Schubert Fifth/Bruckner Fourth set. Anyone expecting a booklet in the present box will be disappointed. The discs are enclosed within original-sleeve artwork, unnumbered, and not all bearing technical data such as producer, venue or even date.

Wand made famously exigent demands for rehearsal time. No matter how familiar the orchestra was with him, or with his repertoire’s ever-decreasing circle of lateClassical and Romantic symphonies, at least 15 hours was a contractual minimum. His use of that time focused on minutiae of attack, timing and articulation. Whatever the chosen tempo, there isn’t a sluggish or routinely played bar of music in this box. Interviewed for the documentary, NDR members recalled how Wand always came to the first rehearsal with a finished concept of the work in his head. The details would be discussed with the front-desk players while the players at the back (in their words) had a tea party. All the same, rehearsals were hard and nerve-wracking: German orchestras are accustomed to move through the gears, whereas Wand required that idea become reality there and then. Seeing him at work in concert, you could be more certain than with any of his colleagues that what you heard was all that Wand had in mind. A Bruckner Eighth with the BBC SO in 1992 stands out in the memory as a tragedy of epic scale and concentration. Its ineluctable tread is recaptured here not by the storied Lübeck Cathedral NDR Eighth of 1987, nor the 2002 Gramophone Award-winning climax of his late-flowering relationship with the Berlin Philharmonic, but the plainer, more angular cast of the 1993 NDR performance at the Musikhalle. All the same, mediated through microphones, mixing desks and speakers, uncertainty creeps in. Did Wand really intend his NDR Bruckner Sixth in 1988 to blare and hector so? Possibly not, for his return to the symphony, seven years later but with the same orchestra in the same hall, is a more muted affair – so much so that Richard Osborne (10/96) was left at a loss: ‘I am no longer entirely clear how Wand views the symphony. The newer gramophone.co.uk


P H O T O G R A P H Y: M O E N K E B I L D / S O N Y B M G M A S T E R W O R K S

Günter Wand’s rehearsal demands were legendary, but extensive preparation gave us some truly great performances

version comes almost as a rebuke to its distinguished predecessor.’ Wand was partial to the grand statement. (One little gem from the documentary: ‘Vain people are so dreadful. Vanity is one of the most despicable vices.’ This from a man who reputedly stipulated a particular brand of English toiletries in his rider.) ‘So und nicht anders’ was another absolutist motto he was happy to adopt, and it became the title for Seifert’s biography: This way and no other. (I did it my way?) One lesson to be learnt from the box is how much ‘this way’ could evolve. He originally used the phrase while defining tempo relationships in Schubert’s Great C major Symphony. Whether in Hamburg (1991) or Berlin (1995), his traditional misreading of the alla breve introduction is (along with Boult’s) the most nobly persuasive on record, but in Hamburg the slow movement’s coda collapsed like a wounded boar in the Black Forest, part Furtwängler Eroica, part Erwartung; the trio became a Larghetto; the finale descended at points into a cathartic but coarse stomp. In Berlin, the symphony more aptly resembles a day in the life of an Alpine valley, pulsing with benign life at every stage of development. gramophone.co.uk

Bruckner finales were an intellectual and executive challenge relished and mostly met triumphantly by Wand. In its gruff way, even the cut-and-paste 1889 version of the Third comes together at this point. He never quite came to terms with the more rounded contours of the Seventh – which he conducted less often than any other mature Bruckner – whereas the quadruple fugue of the Fifth’s finale found Wand in his element. Both Hamburg (1989) and Berlin (1996) recordings are magnificent, but if I chose a single movement from the box to introduce Wand’s aesthetic to a friend, it would be the Fifth’s Adagio from Berlin. The pace ideally flowing but sober, the oboe given acoustic space to pipe his lonely song – Bruckner at his most Berliozian – the close discreet and chaste. For all their executive refinement of detail (particularly notable in the first six Beethoven symphonies, which easily outclass the earlier studio recordings), the NDR performances are cut from rougher stone. A lumbering Allegro to open Schubert’s Third is followed by an Allegretto rivalling Carlos Kleiber for fleet songfulness. The risks Wand takes in Berlin are of a different order. Out of three Bruckner Fourths, it’s again the middle

one – from Berlin in 1998 – I prefer, for its more refined tonal palette, and total synthesis of the finale’s disparate strands, with even a murmur of Gemütlichkeit granted to the rustic third theme. In some later concerts, including the Fourth from his very last appearances in October 2001, his expressive instincts were softened – or dulled – by infirmity. That said, the new set’s appeal would have been much enhanced (at least for Wand devotees) had it included a concert of the NDR orchestra on tour to Tokyo in November 2000, and released (both on CD and DVD) by the label’s local imprint. This can still be obtained from Japanese retailers – at roughly three-quarters of the cost of the new box (which sells for about £60). Is it worth the outlay? It’s the only commercial record of a programme of Schubert’s Eighth and Bruckner’s Ninth that Wand returned to time and again, including on his last visit to the UK, four months before these concerts. The coupling of two unfinished symphonies trailing off into the void has attracted other conductors – not least Claudio Abbado for his own final public appearances in Lucerne – but Wand owned it. In a summary appropriation of what he saw as his own heritage, he once quoted Toscanini in raptures having heard Fritz Steinbach in Brahms. ‘It was a thing of wonder: All he did was play the music just like this.’ What could be seen in Tokyo and London – frail and gaunt of physique, an implacable beat, a left hand firing off red letters – bore scant resemblance to what was heard, which on closer examination admitted all manner of easings and quickenings. Even at that late stage he introduced a small but telling accelerando to the ostinato figure which takes over the Ninth’s Adagio, and wrung even more agony out of the dissonant wreckage left over from the movement’s climatic chord. One of the better April Fool’s on the internet concerns a spoof set of five Bruckner Ninths released by RCA after the conductor’s death in February 2001 – three make it into this box – with a putative booklet note by a distinguished Gramophone contributor. ‘Wand had actually planned to make nine Ninth recordings in all, forming a sort of 9 x 9 palindrome that would have embodied the nine states of consciousness engendered by this great, mystical work.’ Would that it were so. THE RECORDING Günter Wand Live Various orchestras / Günter Wand RCA Red Seal S (33 discs) 8898 543585-2 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 115


Opera Hugo Shirley hears a fine account of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale:

Mike Ashman on Domingo’s latest baritone role, Verdi’s Macbeth:

‘The playing is superb, with the twittering singsong of many solo lines strikingly alive’ REVIEW ON PAGE 121

‘The costumes provide the sort of non-specific medievalism you might have seen in your last school production’ REVIEW ON PAGE 123

Bellini Bianca e Gernando Silvia Dalla Benetta sop............................................. Bianca Maxim Mironov ten ..............................................Gernando Luca Dall’Amico bass ..................................................... Carlo Vittorio Prato bar .......................................................... Filippo Zong Shi bass.............................................................Clemente Marina Viotti mez .....................................................Viscardo Gheorghe Vlad ten ......................................................Uggero Mar Campo mez .............................................................. Eloisa Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań; Virtuosi Brunensis / Antonino Fogliani Naxos M b 8 660417/18 (117’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Trinkhalle, Bad Wildbad, Germany, July 15 & 23, 2016 Includes synopsis; Italian libretto available from naxos.com

Here’s an operatic ‘first’ from the Rossini in Wildbad festival which isn’t by the Swan of Pesaro himself. Bianca e Gernando was Bellini’s first professional opera (after his student work Adelson e Salvini, recently resuscitated by Opera Rara, 5/17). Its 1826 premiere was cancelled at the last minute and eventually given a few months later, headed by Henriette Méric-Lalande and Giovanni Battista Rubini in the title-roles. Bellini revised it two years later as Bianca e Fernando (1828) when, after the success at La Scala of Il pirata, he was commissioned by Genoa but had little time to write a new opera. The revised version has been previously released but this is the premiere recording of Bellini’s first thoughts. The opera is based on Carlo Roti’s Bianca e Fernando alla tomba di Carlo IV, duca di Agrigento. Bellini and librettist Domenico Gilardoni had to change the name to Gernando because Ferdinando was the name of the heir to the throne at the time and therefore couldn’t be used on a royal stage. The plot concerns the dastardly Filippo (a baritone, needless to say), who has imprisoned Carlo, Duke of Agrigento, and usurped the throne. Years later, Carlo’s son Gernando returns to the 116 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

palace in disguise to overthrow him and discovers his unwitting sister, Bianca, is about to become Filippo’s bride. Things kick off in the usual bel canto fashion until Carlo is released from his cell and the tyrant is ousted. The young Bellini had wanted to push compositional boundaries but felt he needed to hang on to such elements as crowd-pleasing cabalettas to keep audiences happy. The stylish music nevertheless turned critical heads, despite Gilardoni’s lumpen libretto (which you can access in Italian only via Naxos’s website – not good enough, Naxos). Bellini’s score, done and dusted in a fraction under two hours, is attractive if hardly memorable, the highlights being Bianca’s plaintive Act 2 Romanza, an extended duet for brother and sister and a decent prison scene for Carlo. Taken from the autograph score housed in Catania’s Bellini Museum, the original version has no overture and several cabalettas are different from the revised opera. The opera ends with a trio and chorus rather than the 1828 scena for Bianca. Antonino Fogliani leads an efficient account of the score, not always in brilliant sound, with intrusive ‘bravo man’ in the audience sounding louder than some of the singers. Russian tenor Maxim Mironov is the pick of the crop as Gernando, a light tenor with an attractive ping to his upper notes. Bianca is sung by Silvia Dalla Benetta, a soprano who has forged an unremarkable career in provincial Italian houses and a Wildbad regular. Her tone is a little pallid with a squally top. Vittorio Prato’s sturdy baritone does well as Filippo, who gets some jolly music to sing considering he’s the villain, while Luca Dall’Amico’s unfocused bass is a disappointment as Carlo. One for Bellini completists only, I fear. Mark Pullinger

M-A Charpentier La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers Ensemble Correspondances / Sébastien Daucé Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2279 (55’ • DDD) Includes libretto and translation

This recording of La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Charpentier’s two-act operatic fragment dating from the mid-1680s, eloquently brings to life the circumstances of the first, private performance in the Paris townhouse of the Duchesse de Guise. Sébastien Daucé has replicated the forces indicated in the score. The rather more sumptuous-sounding staged performance mounted by the Boston Early Music Festival in 2013, issued on CPO the following year, employed only one extra singer and two oboes, played in turn by the recorder players. Both recordings are vocally superb, though to my ear the singers of the Ensemble Correspondances have the edge, Caroline Arnaud’s performance in the role of Proserpina tipping the balance. Charpentier’s vocal ensembles, in particular, are enchantingly beautiful and the variety of ways in which he combines and contrasts them always supports the dramatic pacing. Instrumentally, however, the polished forces of the BEMF deliver a more nuanced performance, such that even the purist will concede that the occasional use of oboes genuinely improves the ensemble sonority. It may, in fact, be a decision made in the recording studio that allowed Ensemble Correspondances’ recorders to sound quite so shrill. Tempo and phrasing are also at issue. The instrumental ritournelle in track 6 (reprised at the end of track 9) is taken at a fantastic lick that is at odds with the dramatic mood it is intended to support (quicker, too, than in the BEMF version). Elsewhere, especially in the passages for three bass viols associated with Orphée’s pleas for the return of Euridice, the phrasing is often foursquare; the interpretation of these passages by BEMF’s players offers a masterclass in how to contour the sound of the ensemble to the mood and quality of the voice of Orpheus. gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

Damian Thantrey, with the Nova Music Opera Ensemble, recording Thomas Hyde’s one-man opera That Man Stephen Ward for Resonus – see review on page 120

By way of a petite reprise, let me affirm that both recordings are well worth owning and revisiting for the sheer delight of Charpentier’s music. Julie Anne Sadie Selected comparison: O’Dette, Stubbs (9/14) (CPO) CPO777 876-2

Getty The Canterville Ghost Alexandra Hutton sop.............................................. Virginia Jean Broekhuizen mez ...........................................Mrs Otis Denise Wernly mez..... First Twin/First Boy/First Voice Rachel Marie Hauge mez ........................................................ ..........................Second Twin/Second Boy/Second Voice Timothy Oliver ten .......................................Cecil Cheshire Jonathan Michie bar ...........................................Hiram Otis Anooshah Golesorkhi bar ............................... Canterville Matthew Treviño bass ......................... Ghost (Sir Simon) Leipzig Opera; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Matthias Foremny Pentatone F Í PTC5186 541 (62’ • DDD/DSD) Includes synopsis and libretto

Despite its conventionally sentimental conclusion, most of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost is a laugh-out-loud satire on the foibles of gramophone.co.uk

an American family given to treating the super-sensuous world of ghosts with pragmatic litigiousness, patent medicines and miracle cleansers and lubricants. Gordon Getty’s opera based on the tale uses much of Wilde’s text verbatim but comes across more like the standard Gothic drama that Wilde was satirising. The humour is all there on the page, and perhaps on stage the slapstick indignities directed at Wilde’s hapless ghost register as farce. On recording, however, it feels as if the singers are trying to project comedy in the musical spirit of Owen Wingrave or The Turn of the Screw. Getty, now in his eighties, is the billionaire son of J Paul Getty but has evolved into a serious composer with a particular affinity for opera. The Canterville Ghost was premiered in Leipzig in 2015, on a double bill with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. The composer crafted his own libretto for the work, adding an opening scene in which the young couple – the American ingénue Virginia and her eager aristocratic suitor the Duke of Cheshire – are seen many decades later, speaking to their greatgrandchildren. The rest of the story is told in flashback. Getty’s musical language is conservative but colourful, but his text-setting, with

frequent large leaps across consonant intervals, tends to the monotonous. The orchestra responds mainly with expostulation – harpsichord tremolos, a piano glissando and emphatic passages with strings in unison or parallel with other instruments. But there are a few more elaborately and more effectively composed scenes, including scene 6, in which the happy family strategises about how to deal with their unwelcome cohabitant at breakfast, and scene 19, which reprises some of the same material. The works builds to a tender and wistful romantic-comedy conclusion, with pleasing strophic passages and a fine duet for two of the cast’s best singers, soprano Alexandra Hutton and tenor Timothy Oliver. Bass Matthew Treviño is also effective as the churlish but not unsympathetic Sir Simon, who feels obliged to haunt Canterville Chase with professionalism and consummate theatrical integrity. Matthias Foremny conducts the Leipzig Opera and Gewandhaus forces effectively, though one wishes that the musicians had more to do. Getty has created a lean, fastmoving, vocal-friendly theatre piece, but it could sparkle a lot more than it does. Philip Kennicott

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 117


Image: Prague, lithograph after S. Prout.

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OPERA REVIEWS

Gounod

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Faust Piotr Beczała ten .............................................................. Faust Maria Agresta sop ...............................................Marguerite Ildar Abdrazakov bass ...........................Méphistophélès Alexey Markov bar....................................................Valentin Tara Erraught mez .........................................................Siébel Paolo Rumetz bar .......................................................Wagner Marie-Ange Todorovitch mez .............................. Marthe Vienna Philharmonia Choir; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Alejo Pérez Stage director Reinhard von der Thannen Video director Tiziano Mancini EuroArts F b ◊ 209 7038; F Y 209 7034 (3h’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, August 2016 Includes synopsis

‘Death is nothingness’, sings Iago at the end of his Credo in Verdi’s Otello. It could be the motto for Reinhard von der Thannen’s production of Gounod’s Faust, premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2016 and now released on DVD and Blu-ray. Thannen’s is a bleak view of the world, set in clinical white and featuring a gigantic oval-shaped sculpted ‘eye’ which looms over everything. The word ‘Rien!’ (Faust’s first utterance) hangs over the stage at the beginning, returning at the close when the lifeless body of Marguerite is left alone, abandoned by Faust, Méphistophélès and all. Death is nothingness. Thannen’s direction is clearly influenced by Hans Neuenfels, with whom he has collaborated with many times as stage designer, especially the notorious, ratinfested Lohengrin at Bayreuth. After making their pact, Méphistophélès becomes Faust’s alter ego, each appearing in identical boulevardier outfits. The Philharmonia Chor Wien are kitted out in yellowing Pierrot-type bodysuits and Marguerite is seduced in a white military hospital style bed. Méphistophélès and Faust wheel around a model church tower and town house, and a huge daisy (the German ‘Margerite’ = daisy) hangs from the flies in Act 4, where an enormous metal skeleton appears to accompany the soldiers’ chorus. Redemption is in short supply for Marguerite as clown-angels roll giant black roulette balls slowly around her cell … it seems her luck (if she ever had any) has run out. The Walpurgis Night scene is cut, so we lose the ballet. It’s a staging loaded with symbolism which isn’t always immediately obvious. The festival programme included a ninegramophone.co.uk

page note to discuss the director’s concept, reprinted here in EuroArts’ booklet. Therefore, you can learn that the organ pipes descending to spear the stage and entrap Marguerite are, apparently, ‘Almighty God in the form of a pin cushion’. If directors need nine pages of programme notes to explain their concept, what hope has the casual viewer of penetrating their ideas? Thankfully, musical standards are high, the Wiener Philharmoniker playing urgently for Argentinian conductor Alejo Pérez. He has a fine cast at his disposal, headed by Piotr Beczała in pristine voice as Faust, his beautifully smooth tenor perfect for French repertoire. Ildar Abdrazakov lacks a little of the devilish bass darkness as Méphistophélès but sounds glorious and free in his upper register; his serenade ‘Vous qui fates l’endormie’ is the performance’s high point. Maria Agresta sings an affecting Marguerite, aided by crystal pianissimos, although her Jewel Song lacks – dare one say it – a little sparkle and vivacity. Alexey Markov’s Slavic vowels don’t make him a natural Valentin but there’s no denying his juicy baritone, while Tara Erraught is a spunky Siébel. Mark Pullinger

Hasse Attilio Regolo Axel Köhler counterten ..............................................Regolo Markus Schäfer ten ..................................................... Manlio Martina Borst mez ......................................................... Attilia Sibylla Rubens sop ........................................................ Publio Carmen Fuggiss sop ......................................................Barce Michael Volle bar ...........................................................Licinio Randall Wong counterten .................................... Amilcare Cappella Sagittariana Dresden / Frieder Bernius Profil Semperoper Edition M c PH07035 (163’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Semperoper, Dresden, 1997 Includes Italian libretto with German translation

Marcus Attilius Regulus (d250 BC) was a Roman general who, initially victorious, became a prisoner in Carthage. Sent to Rome with a Carthaginian embassy, he urged the Senate not to negotiate peace terms despite his own life depending on a successful outcome. He returned to Carthage where, according to legend, he was shut into a barrel studded with spikes and rolled down a mountain. Metastasio had written the libretto of Attilio Regolo in 1740 but circumstances prevented its being set to music at the time; Hasse’s opera was performed in Dresden in 1750. If the typical opera seria

was concerned with the conflict between personal advantage and public duty, then Attilio Regolo was an opera seria par excellence. With its grim ending, Metastasio doubted it would be taken up by many others, as his librettos generally were, and indeed only three further versions are known. But Hasse became his favourite composer and went on to set many more of his texts. The action, such as it is, concerns the efforts of the other characters to persuade Regolo to change his mind. There is a love interest, of sorts: Attilia, Regolo’s daughter, is mutually in love with the tribune Licinio; Amilcare, the Carthaginian ambassador, is mutually in love with Barce, who is also loved by Publio, Regolo’s son. But there are no love duets: in fact there are no duets or ensembles at all, the opera consisting entirely of recitatives and arias until the final Coro. What gets the opera into the history books are the accompanied recitatives, where the vocal line is punctuated by the strings: these and other aspects of characterisation were the subject of a famous letter from librettist to composer (October 20, 1749) that was surely intended for publication. The last scene is particularly effective, where Hasse moves three times from secco recitative to accompagnato and back. Given the seriousness of the subject, the arias are, on the whole, surprisingly jolly. The orchestration is plain: the violins are sometimes doubled by oboes or flutes, and a pair of horns puts in an appearance a couple of times. This 20-year-old concert performance from Dresden doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing. As Regolo, the part originally taken by the amusingly named Domenico Annibale, Alex Köhler gives little hint of the hero’s moral stature. Sibylla Rubens is too lightweight as Publio. On the other hand Michael Volle, now well known in Wagner and Strauss, is by no means overpowering in the role of Licinio. Martina Borst as Attilia, the part composed for Hasse’s wife Faustina Bordoni, is fluent in the melismas of her simile aria ‘Mia parea del porto in seno’; but the most winning performance comes from Carmen Fuggiss’s fresh-voiced Barce. The Cappella Sagittariana Dresden play springily for Frieder Bernius. There are various cuts. The two booklets contain contemporary illustrations, including costume designs, but the layout is confusing and there are many errors (not just typos). The libretto is given in Italian and German only. This is a useful stopgap but sceptics will need something better to be convinced of Hasse’s genius. Richard Lawrence

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 119


OPERA REVIEWS

Hyde That Man Stephen Ward Damian Thantrey bar ................................. Stephen Ward Nova Music Opera Ensemble / George Vass Resonus F RES10197 (63’ • DDD) Includes synopsis and libretto

Thomas Hyde’s oneman chamber opera about the society osteopath scapegoated during the Profumo affair dates from 2008, when it was first performed at the Hampstead and Highgate festival. It owes its reputation, however, to Nova Music Opera’s 2015 Cheltenham production – subsequently seen in Presteigne and at LSO St Luke’s – which now forms the basis of its first recording. In the interim, Ward had once again become the focus of attention, firstly through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward The Musical and, more importantly, through Geoffrey Robertson’s book Stephen Ward is Innocent OK, a forceful demand that the verdict of his trial, on a fabricated charge of living off immoral earnings, be overturned. Setting a libretto by David Norris, That Man Stephen Ward is not so much a polemic as an ironic, if desperately sad portrait of the man himself, cast as a monologue in which he looks back over his life in the weeks between his arrest and the night of July 30, 1963, when, in anticipation of the guilty verdict the following day, he took a fatal overdose of barbiturates. Ward is seen as a garrulous, charming hedonist, catastrophically given to vicarious involvement in the sex lives of others. The score tacitly identifies him as a tragic clown: Hyde deploys the same instrumental combination as Pierrot lunaire, albeit with the addition of a percussionist; and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer is witheringly quoted, precisely at the point when Ward realises that the establishment he served is now abandoning him. The vocal line glides in and out of Sprechstimme, broadening into lyricism for a sequence of formal set pieces: cabaret songs; a big Handelian parody; and a nostalgic aria of farewell just before Ward’s suicide. You need, perhaps, to see it (regrettably, I haven’t) rather than just listen: Hyde specifies that Profumo, Christine Keeler and Eugene Ivanov should be played by dancers, and you sometimes miss their physical presence, both in Ward’s overlong platonic apostrophe to Keeler and in the complex imaginary party scene, which gathers all the players in the Profumo affair together. But singer-actor Damian 120 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Thantrey gives a powerhouse performance as Ward, wonderfully sustaining his cutglass pronunciation, and impeccably shifting voice and accent as he imagines conversations with Keeler, Lord Astor, the police, his judges and even Churchill, who was one of Ward’s osteopathy patients. George Vass conducts with committed precision. Playing and recorded sound are both excellent. It’s a fascinating achievement, beautifully done. Tim Ashley

Levinas Le petit prince Jeanne Crousaud sop.................................Le Petit Prince Vincent Lièvre-Picard ten ..................................L’Aviateur Catherine Trottmann mez .....................................La Rose Rodrigo Ferreira counterten....Le Renard/Le Serpent Céline Soudain sop .................................La Rose multiple Alexandre Diakoff bass-bar ........................................Le Roi Benoît Capt bar ................................................... Le Vaniteux Patrick Lapp spkr ...................................................... Narrator Orchestre de Picardie / Arie van Beek Claves F 50-1725 (78’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, February 11 & 12, 2015

within riddle and symbolism. Converting that into an opera for children is anything but child’s play. To my semi-adult ears, which are admittedly unable to draw any solid parallels between text and music beyond the obvious, Levinas’s score is intriguing, evocative, original and frequently beautiful. Its highly coloured recitative style might be compared to Francesco Cavalli’s, and the voices are pitted against vivid writing for ensemble founded squarely on modernist techniques (often atonal, hints of spectralism, lots of clustering and microtonalism, some knowing stylistic pastiche and some absurdist tendencies). Two keyboardists superimpose the above with overlapping broken chords from a prescribed harmonic grid. The vocal writing has clarity at its heart and is exceptionally delivered here, particularly by Jeanne Crousaud in the title-role. But an opera for children? In that regard, it’s Levinas who could do with coming down to earth. Andrew Mellor

R Strauss

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Die Liebe der Danae

Marks out of ten for product management: zero. Here we have an audio recording of an opera sung in French with no libretto (not even on the web) and no synopsis in the booklet, but instead a sycophantic three-page biography of the composer in laughable English that refers to the aforementioned opera in the future tense, ‘to be created in 2015’ (it opened in Lausanne in November 2014). Good start, Claves. To be frank, reviewing Michaël Levinas’s Le petit prince with only an 18-year-old scraped French A level and Wikipedia’s plot summary of the admittedly very famous book on which it is based posed quite a headache. It would have been far harder if the principal singers on this live recording of the opera’s transfer to Paris in February 2015 didn’t enunciate with such clarity. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s semiautobiographical novella tells of a pilot crashing to earth, whereupon he meets the titular prince. The two share various experiences and encounters through which they seek internal peace and some understanding of the world. The ultimate message is, apparently, enshrined in the fox’s observation that ‘one sees clearly only with the heart’. Much of the book’s resonance and reputation comes from its concealing of complex existential questions

Krassimira Stoyanova sop .......................................Danae Tomasz Konieczny bass-bar....................................Jupiter Norbert Ernst ten ...................................................... Mercury Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke ten ................... Pollux Regine Hangler sop .................................................... Xanthe Olga Bezsmertna sop ................................................ Europa Gerhard Siegel ten .........................................................Midas Mária Celeng sop .........................................................Semele Michaela Selinger mez ......................................... Alkmene Jennifer Johnston mez.................................................. Leda Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst Stage director Alvis Hermanis Video director Agnes Méth EuroArts F b ◊ 209 7028; F Y 209 7024 (160’ • NTSC • 16:9 • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, August 2016 Includes synopsis

Straussians might have high hopes for this DVD. It captures the homecoming last year of Strauss’s penultimate opera to the site of both its aborted and actual premieres (the first, in 1944, only got as far as a dress rehearsal; the second took place in 1952). The Salzburg Festival’s only other staging, in 2002, has never, so far as I can tell, been released in any format. But one can’t help wishing that its Danae, Deborah Voigt, might have featured on Leon Botstein’s important gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: M I C H A E L P O E H N

Jupiter first appears wheeled in on a vast white elephant in the Salzburg Festival’s 2016 production of Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae

studio recording of 2000 (American Symphony Orchestra) – she was, after all, his Helena a few years later. There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the present performance. The chief glory is probably the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic – warm, burnished and with all the sparkle Strauss’s score (presented with a handful of judicious cuts) calls for. Franz Welser-Möst’s conducting, though hardly revelatory, has an admirable seriousness and keeps the action moving along efficiently and effectively. Krassimira Stoyanova rises to the challenge of Danae tirelessly, singing with luxurious, focused tone throughout. The bad news primarily involves Alvis Hermanis’s production, which is a ludicrous riot of exaggerated exoticisms and – in the case of a troupe of gold-clad dancers – eroticisms. Jupiter first appears wheeled in on a vast white elephant and when he finally says farewell to Danae, she is made to listen impassively while weaving a carpet; along with oversize turbans, carpets offer a visual motif throughout, dangled or projected variously on to the tiled block that forms Hermanis’s own set design. The director lets down his cast, too, by offering only the most basic Personenregie. Stoyanova is reduced to extensive waving of hands and generalised gestures – her gramophone.co.uk

performance, though very well sung, is hardly involving as a result – and there’s very little done to bring the work’s dramatic dry patches to life. In other roles Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke stands out, in particular, as Pollux, while Gerhard Siegel faces up to the unreasonable demands of Midas heroically. Thomas Konieczny sings robustly as Jupiter, but you very much get the sense of this being a mortal sent to do a god’s job. And the work itself? There are surely too many weaknesses (mainly stemming from Hans Gregor’s fussy, wordy libretto) for it to ever establish itself in the repertoire; but is there a moment more tender and beautiful, in all Strauss, than Danae’s reawakening in Act 2? Can we really manage without Jupiter’s music in Act 3? This production communicates those moments well enough but can’t help feeling like a missed opportunity; its DVD rival from the Deutsche Oper conducted by Andrew Litton remains more compelling viewing overall, despite Manuela Uhl’s somewhat wayward Danae. For all the virtues of Botstein’s set – its very existence chief among them – we still await a fully satisfying modern audio-only account. Hugo Shirley Selected comparison: Litton (ARTH) ◊ 101 580 or 107 539; Y 108 032

Stravinsky The Nightingalea. Pribaoutkib. Two Poems by Paul Verlainec a

Mojca Erdmann sop ........................................Nightingale Evgeny Akimov ten ...........................................Fisherman a Marina Prudenskaya sop ...........................................Cook a Tuomas Pursio bass......................................Chamberlain a Vladimir Vaneev bar .............................................Emperor a Feodor Kuznetzov bar .............................................. Bonze a Mayram Sokolova contr............................................Death b Katrin Wundsam mez c Hans Christoph Begemann bar WDR Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Cologne / Jukka-Pekka Saraste Orfeo F C919 171A (52’ • DDD) WDR broadcast performances, aMay 8-12, 2012; October c30 & b31, 2013 a

With a composition history that straddles the period of the composer’s three breakthrough works for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, The Nightingale in many ways presents two different Stravinskys: pre- and post-Rite. A beguiling and mistily atmospheric first act gives way to second and third acts that reflect the composer’s new forcefulness and angularity – but does so just when the plot, based on Hans GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 121


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OPERA REVIEWS Christian Andersen, itself starts to explore the clash between nature and technology. Richard Taruskin called the work – just 45 minutes long – a ‘touching little Orphic allegory’. It is indeed a gem, beautifully polished up in this new recording. JukkaPekka Saraste brings out a remarkable amount of detail in the score, with each line precisely etched and vividly conveyed. The playing is superb – the twittering singsong of many solo lines strikingly alive – and the engineering is natural and detailed. While the first act is properly beguiling, however, it’s as if Saraste is always looking forward to the sound world of the final two acts: there’s a real pungency to the music accompanying the bickering courtiers, for example. He brings brilliant, sparkling angularity to the Chinese Dance later on, and is especially good in capturing the impassive objectivity of the Nightingale’s mechanical rival. The recording benefits from being strongly cast, with Evgeny Akimov an appealingly tangy-voiced Fisherman, Marina Prudenskaya a luxurious Cook and Vladimir Vaneev authoritative as the Emperor. Mojca Erdmann’s performance as the Nightingale might be a little more controversial: she sings the part accurately but the basic sound, with its earthbound timbre, feels too plummy. There’s a similar issue with the rather too knowing Natalie Dessay on the main modern rival (with less vivid support from James Conlon and the Paris Opéra orchestra). I’m not sure, in fact, if anyone on record really surpasses Reri Grist, Stravinsky’s Nightingale on his own recording. Somewhat strident accounts of Pribaoutki and Deux Poèmes de Paul Verlaine hardly represent a generous coupling, and it’s really not good enough for Orfeo to include neither synopsis nor text and translation. Still, that shouldn’t detract from a very fine, recommendable account of a haunting score. Hugo Shirley Selected comparison: Conlon (1/00) (EMI/WARN) 556874-2 or 456500-2

Verdi

◊Y

Macbeth Plácido Domingo bar..............................................Macbeth Ekaterina Semenchuk mez.....................Lady Macbeth Ildebrando D’Arcangelo bass-bar ......................Banquo Joshua Guerrero ten ................................................Macduff Joshua Wheeker ten ............................................... Malcolm Summer Hassan sop ................................Lady-in-Waiting Los Angeles Opera Chorus and Orchestra / James Conlon Stage director Darko Tresnjak Video director Matthew Diamond gramophone.co.uk

Sony Classical F ◊ 88985 40357-9; F Y 88985 40358-9 (149’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) Recorded live, October 13, 2016 Includes synopsis

To be undertaking new roles in major houses (and in a new Fach) well into your seventies – not to mention conducting, including a planned Bayreuth debut in 2018 – is no small achievement. Yet there has been something anticlimactic about several of Plácido Domingo’s forays into the baritone repertoire. Recorded in the singer’s ‘own’ house in Los Angeles last year (where he is General Director), this Macbeth is wanting in both musical and dramatic drive. We never see ‘the much vaunted courage’ which Lady Macbeth (in Act 2) hopes her husband will soon show again. Ever since the Witches, in the very first scene, prophesied a royal future for Banquo’s children, Domingo has presented a worried, frail individual. There’s little internal conflict in his usurper: the final ‘Mal per me’ – predictably added in for this performance of a Paris version which even includes some of the ballet – feels like his natural habitat. Only this aria, and some of the more Shakespearean texts of his early scenes, sound naturally baritonal from this artist. Much of the remainder sounds like a tenor reaching low. Serbian stage director Darko Tresnjak has an impressive CV of theatre and musical successes in America. The set has two useful levels and the costumes provide the sort of non-specific medievalism you might have seen in your last school production. But Tresnjak seems nervous of getting his hands dirty in this opera with actual Personenregie and leaves the soloists and the chorus to their own devices. Unfortunately he has picked up one of the least interesting tropes of Macbeth staging: having the witches acted (or, in this case, danced) by extras who appear in every scene like a spoiler soundtrack whenever something evil is about to happen. Enough already, we get the point. They (I think they’re all or mostly girls) look truly hideous in painted body stockings, squashed red insect wings and dark tribal make-up with rodent-like animal tails. The uncredited choreographer has also decided they should spend much time squatting with backsides towards the public as if relieving themselves. There is one outstanding performance: Ekaterina Semenchuk’s Lady Macbeth, a mezzo with just the right kind of gritty yet

gleaming tone – and a great top – to encompass Verdi’s non-bel canto demands. She also acts with careful minimalism, at least until habitual end-of-scene parade ground stares to encourage applause from the dress circle. James Conlon’s conducting tends to hang back until encouraged to accelerate by the soloists. The filming seems to reflect faithfully an atmosphere which is dark and muddy apart from the follow spots on the Macbeths. This is only really recommendable for Semenchuk and those collecting everything Domingo has done. Mike Ashman

Wagner

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Lohengrin Piotr Beczała ten ................................................... Lohengrin Anna Netrebko sop............................................................ Elsa Evelyn Herlitzius sop .................................................. Ortrud Tomasz Konieczny bass-bar........................... Telramund Georg Zeppenfeld bass ................................... King Henry Derek Welton bass-bar ............................................... Herald Saxon State Opera Chorus; Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann Stage director Angela Brandt Video director Tiziano Mancini DG F b ◊ 073 5319GH2; F Y 073 5322GH (3h 35’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s). Also available as 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray: F Y 073 5373GH (2160p • 24-bit/96kHz, DTS-HD MA5.0 & PCM stereo) Recorded live, May 2016 Includes synopsis

German interpreters have long dreamt of performing Wagner with star singers from the supposedly ‘opposite’ Italian or French vocal cultures, Lohengrin being a favourite subject for experiment due to the supposed bel canto nature of its leading roles. Wieland Wagner wanted Mario del Monaco in the title-role and Maria Callas as Ortrud; Christian Thielemann (in what may have been a trial for Bayreuth that apparently won’t happen now) secured Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczała to debut as the not-quite lovers for a Dresden run in May 2016. As Thielemann outside Bayreuth appears to prefer easy-going non-interventionist productions from a safe past, this ‘new’ release is really a non-starter as a competitive Lohengrin on DVD (go rather to the Bayreuth or Munich options). Christine Mielitz’s 1983 (!) production has been worked over by a ‘director of performance’. As filmed here there is but one exciting moment, when the two leading ladies clash in Act 2 Nibelungenliedstyle (as Wagner intended from his GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 123


OPERA REVIEWS sources) over the crown of Brabant. Otherwise we’re watching three acts of dutifully efficient naturalistic plodding around in 19th-centuried-up faux medieval costumes: the not-so-happy couple, going to get married, resemble pictures of King Ludwig II in Neuschwanstein. The set remains a kind of indoor courtyard (plus big bed for Act 3 scene 1) that looks like it has strayed in from an Act 1 Meistersinger. The cast are good to look at on camera and are no slouches as actors – but the main interest of the release remains musical. How do the imported stars do? Netrebko brings a sensuality and an outraged awareness of how this woman is exploited not that common in Elsas, and the role lies well for her vocally at the moment. Confident in the more florid writing, she also has the weight to doubt Lohengrin with some power in their Act 3 duet. Beczała also sounds here to have an ideal weight of voice and a cunning balance between dreamy lyrical and heroic. Both comfortably maintain a dramatic presence in the rather dull setting. They are excellently supported (if that doesn’t sound patronising) by Zeppenfeld’s King – a master of variety now as Wagner’s authority figures – Herlitzius’s cold Ortrud and the Telramund of Konieczny (especially convincing in the denunciations of Act 1) whom she clearly bullies. Thielemann has not yet rethought his earlier Wagner as he has recently his Walküre and Tristan, and still relies on a generalised large orchestral sound without a suggestion of what the earlier palettes of Beethoven and Weber might bring to these pre-1850 scores. Nonetheless, there’s a stylish and intelligent range of tempos and he does not allow his fine orchestra to overdo the weight of the plentiful brass music. He also gives us a rare chance to hear all the music in Act 2 (and there’s a lot of it!) between the Ortrud/Elsa duet and the entry into the Minster. A CD might have served this project better but, if you can hear through a little visual frustration, the performance is well worth attention for conductor and cast. Mike Ashman

Wagner

◊Y

Parsifal Klaus Florian Vogt ten ..............................................Parsifal Ryan McKinny bass-bar.........................................Amfortas Georg Zeppenfeld bass .................................. Gurnemanz Elena Pankratova sop ...............................................Kundry Gerd Grochowski bass-bar ....................................Klingsor Karl-Heinz Lehner bass-bar ......................................Titurel Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra / Hartmut Haenchen Stage director Uwe Eric Laufenberg Video director Michael Beyer 124 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

DG F b ◊ 073 5350GH2; F Y 073 5353GH (4h 7’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s). Includes synopsis Recorded live 2016

Whatever else Parsifal is about, we may agree that its ending represents the opening up of a closed society. That is one idea well caught at the end of this filming of the Bayreuth Festival’s 2016 new production – house lights fully up, scenery and ensemble moving to the sides in search of new horizons in cloud-like smoke. It’s a nice lift at the end where not everything in Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s staging appears yet to have come into precise focus – which itself prompts again the question as to whether the premiere of a show that has several years to run is really the best occasion to record it for posterity. Judging from the costumes and from the Google map video that occupies the first Transformation interlude in Act 1, we are in the modern-day Middle East world of religious conflict. The Grail community shares not especially luxurious space with other religions, refugees, tourists and soldiers. Its iconography is very Christoriented; a large crucifix designates its area and Ryan McKinny’s terrifically in-focus Amfortas appears at the ceremony as Jesus en route to Calvary. Later we see that part of Klingsor’s reaction against the Grail domain has made him build up a fetishistic collection of crucifixes, one of which appears, tastelessly, to have been worked into a sex toy. The burkhas which Kundry and the Flower Maidens wear some of the time in Act 2 suggest a rather half-hearted attempt to show Klingsor turning towards Islam, maybe too hot a potato politically. None of these interventionist ideas are made much of until Act 3 when, rather movingly, the Flower Maidens return to the Grail domain ‘redeemed’ after Parsifal baptises Kundry. And too many of the ideas – like the appearance of soldiers smoking during Gurnemanz’s monologue – appear at the moment like easy alienation effects in the middle of an otherwise straight and clear reading of Wagner’s text. Hartmut Haenchen’s belated Festival debut fields all his customary research on the score. He seems immediately master of pit/stage balance, using to the full the acoustics for which the work was created. (His sampled bells also sound specially period.) I haven’t done the comparative maths but the performance feels quite fast, although not to a Boulez or Krauss degree.

The cast fit well, with McKinny outstanding in mood and (like his longtime North American predecessors here, George London and Thomas Stewart) in the balance between hysteria and pain. Pankratova encompasses Kundry’s tricky range in Act 2 with aplomb – it’s just a pity she’s not given more interesting things to do, although her shell-shocked (de)incarnation in Act 3 is memorable. Vogt now sounds more natural in this role than as Lohengrin. Zeppenfeld contributes another multi-layered reading of an ‘old’ Wagner bass. The Blu-ray provides exceptional sound and picture detail. Well worth seeing even if there is a shortage of the more memorable visual moments provided by Audi (Challenge Classics, 8/17), Lehnhoff (Opus Arte, 7/05) and Kupfer (EuroArts). Mike Ashman

‘Carnevale 1729’ Albinoni Filandro – Fior ch’a spuntar si vede; Il tuo core in dono accetto Giacomelli Gianguir – Mi par sentir la bella; Vanne, si, di al mio diletto Leo Catone

in Utica – Ombra cara, ombra adorata; Soffre talor del vento Orlandini Adelaide – Non sempre invendicata; O, del mio caro sposo … Quanto bello agl’occhi miei; Scherza in mar la navicella; Vedrò più liete e belle Porpora Semiramide riconosciuta – Bel piacer saria d’un core; Il pastor, se torna aprile; In braccio a mille furie Vinci L’abbandono di Armida – Nave altera che in mezzo all’onde Ann Hallenberg mez Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Montanari vn Pentatone F b Í PTC5186 678 (130’ • DDD) Includes texts and translations

Ann Hallenberg’s inquisitive forays researched in partnership with her musicologist husband Holger SchmidtHallenberg are never merely run-of-the-mill recitals – as has been proved by genuinely rare ‘Hidden Handel’ (Naïve), portraits of different ancient Roman Agrippinas (DHM, 7/15) and a live concert recording of mostly music for Farinelli (Aparté). This new double album is a judicious assortment from seven operas all performed in Venice during the eight-week carnival period between December 26, 1728, and February 27, 1729. At least some of these productions at different theatres caught the eye (and ear) of Handel, based in La Serenissima while hunting around Italy for new singers. His erstwhile diva Faustina and castrato Senesino played the principal parts in Orlandini’s Adelaide, and arias from each role might as well have been tailor-made for Hallenberg’s pinpoint virtuosity and lyricism, communicative use of language, gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

P H O T O G R A P H Y: D A N I E L K O C H / D G

Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczała maintain a dramatic presence as the not-so-happy couple in Wagner’s Lohengrin

idiomatic embellishment, intelligently sculpted phrasing (limpid, gentle or turbulent as the music demands) and astute theatrical characterisation: time seems to stand still in Adelaide’s lament ‘Quanto bello agl’occhi miei’, sung sublimely over a sophisticated rolling string accompaniment, and the voice’s dialogue with violinistdirector Stefano Montanari is shaded elegantly in Ottone’s lyrical alla francese aria ‘Vedrò più liete e belle’. Sweetly tender solo oboe and pizzicato strings are judged beautifully in ‘Mi par sentir la bella’ from Giacommeli’s Gianguir, and there is zestiness in two quick arias from Albinoni’s Filandro. From Porpora’s Semiramide riconosciuta there are several fine arias: the gracefully lilting siciliano ‘Il pastor, se torna aprile’, the cantabile intimacy of ‘Bel piacer saria d’un core’ (for Farinelli making his Venetian debut), and the furious ‘In braccio a mille furie’ (the only aria recorded before – notably by Hallenberg herself). Perhaps the eligible 1729 repertoire might have yielded some greater variety of instrumentation and dramatic moods, but such reservations evaporate at the sheer classiness of Hallenberg and Il Pomo d’Oro’s perfectly aligned dulcetness in ‘Ombra cara, ombra adorata’, sung by the grieving widow of Pompey in Leo’s Catone in Utica, and the barnstorming climax of Vinci’s sizzling ‘Nave altera che in mezzo all’onde’, used in the pasticcio L’abbandono di Armida. David Vickers gramophone.co.uk

‘Stravaganza d’Amore!’ ‘The Birth of Opera at the Medici Court, 1589-1608’ Including music by Allegri, Brunelli, Buonamente, Caccini, Cavalieri, Fantini, Gagliano, Malvezzi, Marenzio, Orologio, Peri and Striggio Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon Harmonia Mundi F b HMM90 2286/7 (103’ • DDD) Hardback book includes texts and translations

This two-record set takes as its starting point the various strains of dramatic music that fed into early Florentine opera, above all the legendary and spectacular intermedi put together for the 1589 Medici wedding. Unprecedented in scale and unified by the theme of the power of music, this music is historically important precisely because it is constructed out of the elements from which early opera evolved, within a decade, in the same city. Ten excerpts are presented here, together with substantial sections from Giulio Caccini’s Il rapimento di Cefalo, Marco da Gagliano’s La Dafne and both Caccini’s and Jacopo Peri’s settings of L’Euridice, together with a selection of other works from the period in a variety of styles and forms by a constellation of composers. By grouping them into six imaginary intermedi defined by themes (‘La favola d’Apollo’, ‘Le lagrime d’Orfeo’ and so on), Raphaël Pichon has ingeniously

encouraged structured listening across composers and genres of a kind that rarely occurs on record; the results are fascinating and, at times, revelatory. This is not to say that all these pieces are masterpieces. Some, such as Malvezzi’s Sinfonia, were written simply to disguise the creaking of the stage machinery as the sets were changed. As with so much stage music designed to project a message across the footlights, many of them originally formed just one element in a complex experience designed to evoke a sense of ‘wonder’, induced by costumes, lighting, scenic effects and the music itself, which was intended to stupefy the listeners through the virtuosity of the performers and the unparalleled size of the forces required. Pichon and Pygmalion rise to this challenge magnificently. Speeds are finely judged, the sense of vocal and instrumental ensemble is well balanced and there is some impressive solo singing, including Luciana Mancini’s carefully wrought rendition of ‘Lassa, che di spavento’ from Caccini’s L’Euridice. Elsewhere there is some spectacular improvised instrumental ornamentation (just occasionally a little exaggerated), while the whole is expertly underpinned by a rich array of continuo instruments. The fruits of an ambitious and carefully researched project, these records come encased in a beautifully presented illustrated hardback book, with three essays and the texts of the vocal works translated into English, French, and German. Iain Fenlon GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 125


20 NOMINATED ARTISTS

20 INCREDIBLE TRACKS “With 20 quality tracks it all adds up to a glorious melting pot of sound” Evening Standard

Discover the very best in world & folk music from the past year and order your copy of the Songlines Music Awards 2017 compilation album. Available on CD, exclusively from

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Birmingham International Piano Festival 27 Oct – 4 Nov 2017 We are thrilled to present the 2017 Birmingham International Piano Festival – where we bring some of the world’s finest pianists and keyboard players to Birmingham. Performances will take place in the University of Birmingham’s world class concert halls in the Bramall Music Building and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts between Friday 27 October and Saturday 4 November 2017.

27 October

1.10pm

Kenneth Hamilton piano

27 October

7.30pm

Syd Lawrence Orchestra

28 October

7.30pm

European Union Chamber Orchestra

1 November

7.30pm

Benjamin Grosvenor piano

3 November

1.10pm

Ksenija Sidorova accordion

4 November

2pm

Songs About Us family concert

with Steven Devine harpsichord

Admission: Free - £22. See website for details.

Tickets + Info

birminghampianofestival.com


JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC REVIEWS

The Editors of Gramophone’s sister music magazines, Jazzwise and Songlines, recommend some of their favourite recordings from the past month

Jazz

Sam Braysher with Michael Kanan Golden Earrings Fresh Sound New Talent F FSNT-1007

You’re far likelier these days to find saxophonist Sam Braysher’s version of jazz played in a hotel bar than in a jazz club. Or in a film like La La Land played by a pianist with the word ‘loser’ tattooed on his forehead, perhaps. But don’t let that put you off. Conversely, it’s a middle finger salute to the current prevailing attitude that says jazz has a responsibility to move ahead and cater for a new generation. Braysher is just doing his thing in any case and this is an enjoyable recording. In one way at least he has a refreshing approach: Braysher prefers looking back to the original song source – a Broadway show, film or dance band tune –

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for inspiration rather than the classic modern jazz interpretations. So ‘Dancing in the Dark’ has something of crooner Al Bowly as well as Lester Young and cool school-era Lee Konitz. On the Irving Berlin waltz medley, US pianist Michael Kanan sounds like he’s been listening to Ray Noble as well as Lenny Tristano, who is also the inspiration for the altoist’s version of the lesser known Bird original ‘Cardboard’. Selwyn Harris

Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski & John Scofield Hudson Montéma Music F MTM0228

These four musicians are linked by the proximity of their postcodes, since, as John Scofield puts it, ‘All of us have built our

World Music Stephan Micus Inland Sea ECM F ECM 2569

I was first drawn to the music of Stephan Micus by his piece written for 56 flowerpots in the 1980s. While travelling the world over the years, Micus’ huntergatherer instincts have picked up many different instruments and traditions, which he has reworked into his own very distinctive music. His is a key voice on the ECM label. Inland Sea explores his latest enthusiasm, the nyckelharpa, (Swedish keyed fiddle), a European companion to his many Asian bowed instruments. The album plays out their unfolding relationship via plucking, bowing, hitting, stroking and strumming. Micus’ other discovery here is the balanzikom, a lute from the borders of

Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which he says is unlike any other instrument he has ever played. Its partnership with the nyckelharpa, together with Micus’ longstanding love of the Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute), as well as his own voice in a self-created language, combine in music that is reflective and intriguing. Fiona Talkington

Too Sad For the Public American Folk Fantasies Vol 1: Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade StorySound Records F 161020

Dick Connette doesn’t see music in terms of white and black, urban or rural, folk or funk, blues or country. He views America’s vast musical landscape as one deep river fed by a thousand tributaries,

careers in [New York] city and then moved out to the Hudson Valley to raise our kids and have a home.’ And who can blame them. The group first came together in 2014 to play the Woodstock Jazz Festival, their musical paths having criss-crossed at several points in the past. The point here is this band is not a hastily put-together ‘supergroup’ for a record session. They have history together and it shows – nothing is forced or flashy, they seem to be playing more for one another than any audience. Taking a jazz-rock inspired path, they mix original pieces with ‘Lay Lady Lay’ and ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ by Bob Dylan, ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ by Jimi Hendrix, ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ by The Band and ‘Woodstock’ by Joni Mitchell. Relaxed yet intense, it might not possess the cutting-edge fervour of their youth, but there’s much distilled musical wisdom on offer to savour. Stuart Nicholson

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clearly demarcated yet endlessly flooding its banks. With his new project, he navigates these waters with the help of a gifted raft of musicians including Suzzy Roche, Gabriel Kahane, Ana Egge, Rachelle Garniez, Rayna Gellert, Erik Friedlander, Steve Elson and Chaim Tannenbaum. Under another’s direction, such a mix of music and voices would seem more of a compilation than a cohesive album, but here everything is focused through the lens of a deft, expansive, supremely musical vision. American folk and old-time traditions, even a touch of the jug band era, are explored via old songs and original compositions that could have been written a century or more ago. They are underpinned by subtle arrangements that echo Randy Newman’s strings and the harmonic intervals of contemporary classical music. American folk fantasies indeed: Connette has realised them in visionary fashion. Gerald Seligman

Gramophone, Jazzwise and Songlines are published by MA Music, Leisure & Travel, home to the world’s best specialist music magazines. To find out more, visit gramophone.co.uk, jazzwisemagazine.com and songlines.co.uk gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 127


Supported by the Maria Callas estate. Photo Š Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

She left a legacy to music. Will you? Maria Callas said, “When music fails to soothe the ear, the heart and the senses, then it has missed the point.� Her stunning voice and passion may never be equalled but will live forever. You too could leave a lasting contribution to music with a gift in your will. Help Musicians UK has been supporting musicians since 1921, from starting out, to coping with illness or retirement. Show your love for music and contact us today. helpmusicians.org.uk/legacy legacy@helpmusicians.org.uk 0207 239 9114

Backing musicians throughout their careers. Registered charity No. 228089.


MUSICAL CONNECTIONS Two listening journeys inspired by our Lifetime and Special Achievement Award winners

P H O T O G R A P H Y: J O H N S W A N N E L L / W A R N E R C L A S S I C S

The best of Dame Kiri

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Colin Matthew both receive Gramophone Awards this year, and both inspire two very different playlists that explore their substantial contributions of classical recording

Championing the new

Any Kiri Te Kanawa playlist has to Since its founding by Colin Matthews focus on Mozart and Richard Strauss, in 1988, NMC Recordings has played the two composers for which her a pivotal role in disseminating new voice and musicianship made her so British music. Here’s a selection from ideally suited – in roles for which her its most significant recent releases. glamorous, aristocratic stage persona From the 1995 premiere of The certainly didn’t do any harm either. It Persistence of Memory, Richard Causton was clearly a composer of promise. This was as Mozart’s melancholy Countess cross-section takes in that scintillating that she made her breakthrough, at piece, together with the ominous (and the Royal Opera House in 1971, and prescient) Millennium Scenes and the she recorded the role for Sir Georg deftly evocative Chamber Symphony. Solti’s all-star-cast Le nozze di Figaro (alongside Thomas Allen, Samuel Few younger composers have evolved Ramey, Frederica von Stade and Lucia an overtly modernist idiom with the Popp) a decade later. The soprano’s audible conviction of Helen Grime. This recording includes pieces written characteristic silvery voice, always for the Hallé and Mark Elder such employed with restraint and taste, as Virga and Near Midnight, together is also what makes her Strauss roles with the Clarinet Concerto (Lynsey special (her Marschallin, Capriccio Marsh) and several ensemble works Countess and Arabella are preserved on Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: made for Mozart and Strauss that amply confirm her prowess when disc). Few singers have led the famous writing for chamber as well as orchestral forces. Best known trio from Der Rosenkavalier with such tenderness as she does in Bernard Haitink’s 1990 Dresden set – a recording for his concertos and string quartets, Hugh Wood is also a distinguished writer of songs. The four song-cycles gathered that the soprano herself described as one of her finest here underline his masterly word-setting across a range of achievements, and for which she’s joined by Anne Sofie poets in Lawrence Durrell, Robert Graves, DH Lawrence and von Otter and Barbara Hendricks. Te Kanawa’s Puccini was used to memorable effect in Merchant Ivory’s film A Room Laurie Lee; and rendered by a distinguished roster of singers with a View: ‘O mio babbino caro’ is heard over the opening in Claire McCaldin, James Gilchrist and Roderick Williams. credits, but her unusually seductive take on ‘Chi il bel sogno Testament to the resourcefulness of Charlotte Bray is the diversity of pieces featured here: whether composing for solo di Doretta’ from La rondine (a work she recorded in full) is piano (Oneirei), violin and ensemble (Caught in Treetops) or also memorably employed. The sheer beauty of the voice large orchestra (At the Speed of Stillness), these results confirm can perhaps be best experienced in the intimate context of her imaginative response to a range of inspirations, together song, and a Decca recital with Roger Vignoles at the piano, with the fastidiousness of her ear for sonority and texture. and released in 1990, finds her on especially beguiling form Never afraid to imagine past genres from an arresting new in Liszt’s tender ‘Oh, quand je dors’. Her rightly famous recording of Joseph Canteloube’s sun-drenched Chants perspective, Harrison Birtwistle has recreated the Baroque d’Auvergne offers another welcome opportunity to wallow in cantata in Angel Fighter; its biblical antecedents rendered the voice’s sensual allure: she catches the dreamy world of in music visceral and provocative by turns. Committed ‘Baïlèro’ especially well. Te Kanawa was a soprano performances from long-term associates, the London whose fame – and repertoire – spread well beyond the Sinfonietta and David Atherton. Active since the beginning as confines of the classical and operatic worlds, and film buffs producer (executive or otherwise), Colin Matthews also features and opera-lovers alike will be fascinated to hear her recording as composer on a recent 70th-birthday tribute featuring concertos for violin and (second) for cello, along with the of ‘Aria from Salammbô’, a fin-de-siècle pastiche composed by Bernard Herrmann as part of his score for 1941 Orson Welles darkly Mahlerian Cortège. Artists include Oliver Knussen movie, Citizen Kane. In the film it’s sung badly – deliberately and the BBC Symphony Orchestra; themselves salient so – but Te Kanawa’s recording makes you wish contributors to the NMC project from the the whole opera actually existed. Hugo Shirley outset. Richard Whitehouse Mozart Le nozze di Figaro Solti Decca R Strauss Der Rosenkavalier Haitink Warner Classics Puccini Arias LPO / Pritchard Sony Classical Liszt Oh, quand je dors Vignoles Decca Canteloube Songs of the Auvergne ECO / Tate Decca Herrmann Citizen Kane – Aria from Salammbô National PO / Gerhardt RCA Red Seal gramophone.co.uk

To explore these playlists via a streaming service, or to create your own, we suggest qobuz.com. You can listen to these particular playlists at gramophone.co.uk/playlists

Causton The Persistence of Memory, etc BCMG / R Wiggleworth NMC Grime Night Songs, etc Hallé / Elder et al NMC Wood Wild Cyclamen McCaldin; Gilchrist; Williams NMC Bray At the Speed of Stillness, etc Aldeburgh World Orch / Elder NMC Birtwistle Angel Fighter London Sinf / Atherton NMC C Matthews Concertos BBC SO / Knussen NMC GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 129


REPLAY

Rob Cowan’s monthly survey of historic reissues and archive recordings

Böhm in Dresden, Vienna and London A collection of Karl Böhm’s early recordings boasts operatic riches galore

‘I

have lied and done many things of which I am anything but proud. As far as music is concerned, though, I have always been honest and sincere.’ Karl Böhm’s own words as quoted in Rémy Louis’s excellent note for this valuable collection of mostly wartime recordings just about sum up the conductor’s essence: a man of compromise, ‘a sinner’, as he called himself, who had truck with the Nazis – though he never joined the party – but who prioritised his musical conscience above all else. Not for him the heady interpretative flights of a Furtwängler or the marmoreal musical statements of a Klemperer, but rather something altogether more centred, even calmed. True, the opera pit occasionally saw a different side of him, and there are operatic riches galore here, most especially featuring the music of Wagner, and yet Böhm was particularly celebrated for his interpretations of Richard Strauss. Apart from accounts of Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan and the Dance of the Seven Veils’ which opt for the sort of brisk, no-nonsense approach that Strauss himself often favoured, there’s music from Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne (especially lovely) with Esther Rethy, Elisabeth Höngen, Margarete Teschemacher and Torsten Ralf. Wagner is handsomely represented, most memorably post-war by the Philharmonia, Kirsten Flagstad and Set Svanholm in music from Die Walküre and Tristan und Isolde (with Constance Shacklock as Brangäne in the latter) and a superbly sung 1938 Dresden recording of Die Meistersinger’s Third Act, possibly the set’s highlight overall, with Hans Hermann

130 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Nissen as Sachs, Ralf as Walther and Teschemacher as Eva. Recordings from 1939-40 of the opera’s Prelude and Sachs’s Act 2 ‘Flieder’ monologue with Josef Herrmann are also included. Apart from the Philharmonia Wagner sessions and a couple of tracks with the Berlin Philharmonic (Wagner and Nicolai), all other performances are either with Staatskapelle Dresden (the majority) or the

A man of compromise who prioritised his musical conscience above all else Vienna Philharmonic. Böhm went on to re-record much of this repertoire, Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony to magnificent effect with the VPO (for Decca). The 1936 Dresden version included here is quite different: generally swifter, interpretatively straightforward and a good deal less atmospheric. The Fifth dates from the following year and is more impressive. Again, Böhm doesn’t dawdle, but seems to have the full measure of the piece and his performance, muscular and assertive, has genuine stature, for example in the finale’s imposing double fugue. Böhm’s take on Reger’s Mozart Variations is most familiar from his post-war Berlin Philharmonic version for DG, but this 1938 Dresden predecessor captures to a T the work’s winning combination of innocence, harmonic sophistication and, in the closing fugue, over-the-top exploitation of counterpoint. I still think that Böhm in Dresden gives Reger’s most famous orchestral work its best shout, by far.

Beethoven’s Choral (1941, with a cast of soloists led by the lyrical bass Josef Herrmann) opens to what sounds like someone running a bath, though the surface noise does eventually settle. This is a powerful performance, with some deftly pointed detail in the Scherzo, a warmly felt Adagio, and a thoughtfully judged, exceedingly well-sung finale. Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (1939) with Max Strub, a sensitive player, is interesting in that it’s one of the first on disc – if not the first – to feature the cadenza with timpani. Walter Gieseking is typically fluent in the Fourth Piano Concerto (1939), and especially crystalline in the finale. The Third Concerto falls to the Ukrainian pianist Lubka Kolessa, a d’Albert pupil who moved to Ottawa in 1940, the year after this elegantly phrased, considerately pianistic performance was recorded. Edwin Fischer turns in an idiomatically forthright (if occasionally ham-fisted) account of the Emperor (1939 again), Böhm opting for an uncommonly rhythmic approach to the orchestral score, though the Adagio is serenely beautiful. Among the Mozart inclusions is a puretoned account of the Fifth Concerto with the Carl Flesch pupil Jan Dahmen (1938) and the Third Horn Concerto with Max Zimolong (1940). The Minuet and Trio from Mozart Symphony No 28 (VPO, 1947) is very sluggish, but the VPO Jupiter from two years later and the Haffner from 1942 are commendably well balanced. Böhm’s 1942 reading of the ‘Air’ from Bach’s D major Suite follows Furtwängler in its reverential mood and broad tempo, likewise a darkly atmospheric Schubert gramophone.co.uk


REPLAY accelerating pizzicatos or, beyond the horn solo, the big strings theme, a rare vintage reproduced with admirable clarity, the performance building up a real head of steam? Anyone who is keen on Walter’s art ought to supplement his American legacy with these performances, plus an Opus Kura coupling of Haydn’s 100th and Beethoven’s Pastoral, which is equally good (OPK2116) THE RECORDING Brahms Symphonies Nos 1 & 3 VPO / Walter Opus Kura F OPK2117

Suitner’s Mozart

P H O T O G R A P H Y: U L L S T E I N B I L D / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Karl Böhm’s recordings from the 1930s and ’40s have been gathered into a new 19-disc set by Warner Classics

Unfinished from 1940, whereas his 1944 Brahms First Symphony opens to a firm bass line then after a rather humdrum introduction enjoys a vigorous finale. The high point of the 1939 Brahms Fourth comes at 8'13'' into the Andante, the expansive return of the second subject, as expressively drawn and richly textured as any recorded performance before or since, while a Vienna reading of the Second Symphony’s Adagio from three years later, again taken slowly, breathes autumn in every bar, though the finale visits warmer climes, albeit without rushing. A youthful Wolfgang Schneiderhan is the soloist for a sweet-toned and energetic account of the Brahms Violin Concerto (1940) and Wilhelm Backhaus offers a massive, spontaneous-sounding B flat Piano Concerto (1939), which like Fischer’s Emperor occasionally sacrifices digital accuracy to excitement and a sense of scale. Also included is a compelling 1942 account of the Schumann Concerto with Gieseking. Various shorter vocal items and orchestral works take their place amongst this impressive set’s contents (Pfitzner’s 16-minute Symphony in C is one of them) and the transfers are generally acceptable. THE RECORDING ‘Karl Böhm: The Early Years’ Warner Classics S s 9029 58867-2

gramophone.co.uk

Bruno Walter’s Brahms … ‘generally acceptable’, maybe, but not of the standard that Opus Kura achieves for a series of three CDs featuring Bruno Walter’s pre-war recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic which has a greater sense of depth and presence. Hearing, say, the coupling of the First (1937) and Third (1936) Brahms symphonies is like listening to decent copies of the original 78s on a first-rate playback system. Walter’s way with the Third’s first movement is full of energy and ardour, the sound frame letting in plenty of lower brass, more so in fact than on many of the earliest post-war recordings of the work. Walter marks the difference in mood and tone between the middle movements, appreciating in particular the flowing shape of the Poco allegretto third movement, and drawing some glorious playing from the VPO strings. As presented by Opus Kura, the First Symphony opens with so much more richness and clarity than does the 1944 Böhm recording on Warner’s set; in fact, it’s difficult to believe that their provenance hasn’t been accidentally reversed. My only gripe is a slightly loose shellac side join at 4'37'' into the first movement, but otherwise this is a superb production. How many orchestras today could summon such a rich Brahmsian sonority for the opening of the Andante and in the finale, the vividness of those

Returning to the Staastskapelle Dresden, of special note is one of a series of CDs marking Berlin Classics’ 70th birthday. The disc I’ve chosen is a Mozart symphonies coupling, the conductor Innsbruck-born Otmar Suitner who spent most of his conducting career in East Germany and made what was probably the very first digital Beethoven symphony cycle for CD (for Denon, with Kegel on Capriccio not too far behind). Suitner’s Mozart recordings fall very happily on the ear, with sound (1974-75 in this instance) that is warm yet admirably transparent. Listen in particular to the E flat Symphony, K543, the amiably chugging Menuetto and Trio or the unforced gaiety of the finale. The great G minor K550 (played in the version with clarinets) opens to a gently motoric accompaniment, the tempo unhurried and yet once the dynamic increases so the drama increases with it. The mood is urgent but never exaggerated. Also note the palpable change of tone and colour once we shift to the development section. The pensive Andante is sweetly mellifluous (beautiful woodwinds, the lead flute in particular), the Menuetto furrowed but not aggressive, the finale mirroring the first movement’s urgency, except that here Suitner doesn’t play the repeat. A distinctive coupling, well worth investigating, as are all Suitner’s Mozart discs. THE RECORDING Mozart Symphonies Nos 39 & 40 Staatskapelle Dresden / Suitner Berlin Classics F 0300881BC GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 131


Books Mervyn Cooke welcomes new essays on Benjamin Britten:

Philip Clark on a wide-ranging book by Christian Wolff:

‘This book offers a well-rounded portrait of Britten as someone who belonged, yet did not belong’

‘Wolff is everything a thoughtful, socially engaged musician ought to be: a free spirit grounded in compositional and philosophical rigour’

Benjamin Britten Studies Essays on an Inexplicit Art Aldeburgh Studies in Music, Vol 12 Edited by Vicki P Stroeher and Justin Vickers The Boydell Press, HB, 554pp, £60 ISBN 978-1-783-27195-5

Do we need another book on Benjamin Britten? Aficionados of the composer will feel the question to be entirely unnecessary, yet others observing the growth of Britten literature from the sidelines will continue to be amazed at the extraordinary proliferation of writing on the man and his music in recent years, which peaked around the celebrations of his centenary in 2013. Indeed, several of the essays in Benjamin Britten Studies originated as papers given at two conferences mounted to mark Britten’s 100th birthday, one held at the University of Nottingham and the other at Illinois State University. The book’s editors co-organised the latter event and have here deftly assembled a wide-ranging symposium which encourages a resounding ‘yes’ in answer to the initial question. What promised to distinguish this book from its predecessors is its international flavour, and its remit (as the cover blurb states) to ‘take off the “protective arm” around Britten’. Both editors are American, and the book is – rather bizarrely, given that its publisher is based just a few miles from Britten’s Suffolk home – written throughout in American English. There is a notable emphasis on Britten’s American sojourn in 1939-42, the book beginning with a section largely devoted to this ‘exile’ which (unwittingly?) gives the impression that the composer’s career only really took off as a consequence of his temporary emigration. Two of the book’s 16 chapters are devoted to the ill-fated American operetta Paul Bunyan (1941; revised in 1976), as part of a disappointingly unbalanced coverage of Britten’s musico132 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

dramatic output in which Gloriana and Death in Venice, along with two of the church parables, are the only operas receiving sustained critical consideration. Discussion of the technicalities of Britten’s music occupies a relatively small part of the book, too, in spite of its subtitle promising an examination of his ‘inexplicit art’ (a phrase he himself coined to describe music in general). There is one outstanding analytical contribution, nonetheless: a brilliantly insightful essay on Britten’s manipulation of rhythm and tempo by Philip Rupprecht. The perceived need to remove the ‘protective arm’ concerns the commonly held view that, following his death, Britten’s reputation was ‘carefully curated’ (as the editors put it) by an old-guard coterie of associates whose admiration for him bordered on hagiography. While on the whole this may be true, the book does not in fact develop this particular agenda forcefully, being content for the most part to present details of the man and his milieu in a refreshingly unpartisan way. It’s a pity, though, that a project which is so heavily indebted to the source materials at the archive at Britten’s former home (The Red House) does not acknowledge the achievements of figures such as the composer’s indefatigable assistant Rosamund Strode, without whom the resource might never have blossomed in the way it did. The first wave of Britten scholars who worked in the archive when Strode was still its guardian will fondly remember having their wrists gently but deliberately slapped if they dared to touch a hallowed manuscript in an inappropriate fashion: it was almost an initiation ceremony, but the legacy of protectionism and the sub rosa status of some of the archive’s materials in subsequent years have now completely evaporated. In their endearingly personal Epilogue, the book’s editors attest to their own experiences of working at the archive as relative outsiders, their position neatly resonating with the central thrust of the project as a whole: it offers a well rounded portrait of Britten

as someone who belonged, yet did not belong – whether artistically, culturally, socially or sexually. The book’s extended length has accommodated some rather leisurely writing in places. There are many substantial digressions during which Britten is scarcely mentioned (after one of which even the contributor has to ask ‘What has any of this to do with Britten?’), and no fewer than 53 pages are devoted to a factual listing of all the music performed at the Aldeburgh Festivals held between 1948 and 1957. This could easily have been made available online as a reference resource, rather than taking up so much space in a book which in its printed edition is already priced well outside the reach of most readers’ pockets. Frustratingly, too, some contributors fall prey to the familiar academic complaint of footnote-itis, burying large amounts of interesting and often relevant information in the notes rather than finding ways to incorporate these often distracting asides into the main text in order to provide a more coherent reading experience. That said, the volume contains manifold insights which illuminate both the composer and his music from fresh perspectives. This is certainly not – and was never intended to be – a study aimed at newcomers to its subject, but any readers already possessed of a reasonable working knowledge of Britten’s life and work will find delving into its contributions both stimulating and rewarding. Mervyn Cooke

Occasional Pieces Writings and Interviews, 1952-2013 By Christian Wolff OUP, PB, 368pp, £22.99 ISBN 978-0-19-061470-6

Christian Wolff, now 83, is the last surviving member of the New York School of composers, a loose coalition gramophone.co.uk


P H O T O G R A P H Y: P I C T O R I A L P R E S S LT D /A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O

BOOK REVIEWS of magnificent chaos that grouped around John Cage during the 1950s and also included Morton Feldman and Earle Brown – and their friends, the painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg and poets like Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery. Wolff was initially Cage’s student but, in 1951, the apprentice began to lead the master. The copy of the I Ching – published by his parents Kurt and Helen Wolff, the founders of Pantheon Books – that Wolff presented to Cage allowed the older composer to step his experiments into chance and indeterminacy up a gear. Wolff’s music during this period was also wrapped up in indeterminacy but he was already working with chance before approaching Cage – suggestions put about that he ‘learnt’ indeterminacy from Cage are false. He would soon leave New York to study Classics at Harvard, where he would ultimately return to teach Classics – Euripides was his man – and if you wanted to study music with Wolff you could do so at Dartmouth College. Wolff’s belief in music as a radical model for social revolution led him to form alliances with Frederic Rzewski and Cornelius Cardew and, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he regularly guested with the British free improvisation group AMM, which included Cardew, percussionist Eddie Prévost and the guitarist Keith Rowe. In other words Wolff is, I think, everything that a thoughtful, socially engaged musician operating in the late 20th and early 21st century ought to be: a free spirit grounded in compositional and philosophical rigour who is prepared to put sound first and worry only later, if at all, whether the work produced conforms to anybody else’s idea of what music, composed or improvised, must be. I’ve occasionally seen Wolff about the place and he has always struck me as the most genial of men – and this anthology of his writing and interviews, beginning a year after he rocked Cage’s world with the I Ching and ending in 2013, balances his incisive and determined thinking against a lightness of persuasive touch; a more enlightened and generous world could be like this Wolff implies, but he has zero interest in telling anyone how they should behave. Occasional Pieces includes articles that probe technical issues – such as form, notation, rhythm and text – and perspectives on an extraordinary range of musicians with whom Wolff has sympathies and/or has worked: Charles Ives, Feldman, German composer Dieter Schnebel, improvising saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist David Tudor and AMM’s Keith Rowe. A 1960 essay On Form gramophone.co.uk

Conferences to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth in 2013 have spawned a new book of essays

(commissioned by Karlheinz Stockhausen) sets out many of Wolff’s base preoccupations. ‘Form in music could be taken as a length of program time’, he begins and later serves up the following killer line: ‘Music is allowed no privileges over sound.’ Wolff explains how sound can be organised as measures of time rather than made to follow conventional ideas of harmony but, it would be reasonable enough to counter, why would anybody want to throw out functioning harmony, which was good enough for Bach, Mozart and Schoenberg? In a 1969 interview with the new music promoter Victor Schonfeld, Wolff says that New York School composers wanted to ‘stay clear of styles that were not ours to borrow’. In 1976, in conversation with Walter Zimmermann, Wolff expands on the openness of his music – ‘my music is often just material … it’s set up in such a way as to require anyone who wants to seriously engage with it to exert themselves in a particular way’. In 2009 Wolff tells the composer James Saunders that matters of social interaction with his materials go ‘to the heart of the

matter’; and it becomes clear that Wolff is motivated to make musicians interact with his scores at a deeper level than merely interpreting the notes. His signature piece Burdocks offers musicians a pool of materials that can be slotted together as they please. But each musician must listen to what their colleagues are playing, making conscious decisions about where to place materials using their instincts rather than taking their cue from a score. Breaking down chains of command between composers, conductors and performers is an idea that resurfaces throughout the history of modern music and, unsurprisingly, tends to leave the traditional classical music lover unsettled. Chance procedures or free improvisation, or inviting musicians to define the structural parameters of a score, can lead to accusations of hippy free-for-alls, places where those who can’t really play go to pretend they can. But Wolff’s life in music has been about opening minds to other meanings of virtuosity; a virtuosity of responsive listening. You’ve got your instrument and you’ve got your ears – now what sounds matter to you? Philip Clark GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 133


Classics RECONSIDERED Peter Quantrill and David Gutman discuss Sir Georg Solti’s groundbreaking 1971 recording of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand

Mahler Symphony No 8 Sols; Vienna State Op Chor; Wiener Singverein; Vienna Boys’ Ch; Chicago SO / Sir Georg Solti Decca M 475 7521

At last Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand can be heard on record at something approaching its full, expansive stature. Here is a version from Solti which far more clearly than any previous one conveys the feeling of a great occasion. Just as a great performance, live in the concert-hall, takes off and soars from the very start, so the impact of the great opening on ‘Veni

Peter Quantrill This was welcomed at the

time for stimulating the adrenalin rush of a live experience (then even rarer than it is now, in our age of Mahler plenitude and possibly surfeit). Yet it’s the losses and gains of a studio-manufactured account that make themselves obvious from the outset: in the undeniably impressive but crudely bolted-on organ entry (probably more obvious on the latest remasterings than on the original LPs), the muscular contribution of the chorus, with every sinew strained and separated, and the huge stretch and relaxation into the soloists’ first entry, more daringly languorous than Bernstein ever attempted or achieved, and flying in the face of Mahler’s injunction to keep up the pace. I wonder how much experience Solti had of conducting the piece in concert when he went into the Sofiensaal? And whether such experience matters? David Gutman I wondered that too, in that the performance’s strengths are somehow not specifically Mahlerian. In his autobiography Solti remarks that he conducted Mahler’s Seventh Symphony less often than the rest without saying how much 134 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Creator Spiritus’ tingles here with electricity. With superb atmospheric recording and a sense of space more than in rival versions, not to mention playing from the Chicago orchestra that shows up all rivals in precision of ensemble, Solti’s performance sets standards beyond anything we have known before. This is as near a live performance as the dynamic Solti can make it. At times the sheer physical impact makes one gasp for breath, and I found myself at the thunderous end of the first movement shouting out in joyous sympathy, so overwhelming is the build-up of tension.

Decca’s lavishness in selecting a roster of soloists unlikely to be rivalled has paid off. There is not a weak link, and though René Kollo in the principal tenor role occasionally ignores his pianissimos he easily outstrips his rivals, with a big Heldentenor sound used intelligently. My one doubt is whether such fine singers needed balancing so far forward. My preference would have been for the choruses to be brought a little more forward, the soloists a little farther back, but as it is I prefer the Decca balance to that of rivals, which also favour the soloists for the sake of clarity. Edward Greenfield (10/72)

experience he had with the Eighth. He does say: ‘For the conductor, most of the problems in this symphony stem from its massiveness. In a sense, the Eighth is a vast opera whose visual aspect remains in the imagination. Opera conductors have a tremendous advantage in conducting this and other big choral-orchestral works.’ He certainly co-ordinates his forces with rigour, much as he must have done at Covent Garden! I suppose part of the difficulty is sonic – when the LPs appeared they did seem to set new standards. But even ignoring issues with the manipulated recorded sound, there are live recordings from the same era which project the score in less hectic fashion. Greenfield would not have been able to refer to Jascha Horenstein’s live 1959 London account, but, thanks to BBC Legends and, now, Pristine Audio, we can. And Horenstein had 755 performers, whereas modern rivals tend to make do with 300 or so. The Solti I assume comes somewhere in between? The impact is certainly big.

Wagner. Tennstedt was the first on record to offer a more nuanced, more quietly ecstatic vision of the piece. But Solti’s vivid pointing of instrumental colour and his Chicago band’s virtuoso execution are still rivalled only by two other notable conductors of Moses und Aron: Boulez and Michael Gielen. In fact, a high point of the recording is the long and tense introduction to Part II with its louring wind solos emerging from Goethe’s wilderness which show Mahler still developing an expressionist orchestral canvas to rival anything in Schoenberg and Strauss. For similar reasons I’m captured by Solti’s way with one of the score’s most purple passages, on the Mater Gloriosa’s entrance: the strings play as if the Adagio from the Ninth was in front of them. I wish there were more such moments. Even when the playing and singing is genuinely quiet, I miss a certain charm and relaxed intimacy in passages such as the subRosenkavalier duets and trio for the ladies. DG I’d say Riccardo Chailly in Lucerne has

PQ And ‘operatic’ – if by that term we mean

the kind of full-throttle singing and wild swings of pace that characterise Solti’s

some of the same qualities in that he makes textures bright and pungent where he can, but without such a hard-edged transatlantic gramophone.co.uk


CLASSICS RECONSIDERED technique. Good to be reminded, albeit briefly, of the excellence of Arleen Auger, who like Popp was taken from us far too early. Close-miked Martti Talvela is in fine voice too, even if harried by Solti’s highvoltage approach. Some reports suggest that the Viennese choral contingent was a bit cool and suspicious at first, only to be won over by the ardour of the American musicians. The more savvy were presumably aware that the sessions were only taking place in their country to save money on fees.

Sir Georg Solti with Lucia Popp (both seated) listen to playbacks during the recording sessions

P H O T O G R A P H Y: D E C C A

sonority. Also like Solti, he doesn’t go for that traditional, though unmarked, ritardando into the recapitulation of ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus’. And both conductors employ unusually big-voiced tenor soloists. EG seemed to have doubts, but I find the young René Kollo very appealing. (Doctor Marianus usually sounds less Heldentenorish and more clapped-out, like Herod in Salome!) What do you make of the solo singing? It is usually regarded as one of the things that keeps Solti’s set in contention. PQ Ha! The consistency of casting is notable in a piece that so often suffers from indisposition and last-minute changes. But what were the Decca engineers doing in Part I, apparently placing Kollo at the other end of the Sofiensaal from his colleagues and the microphones? It’s the recording’s one serious technical drawback. Once returned to centre stage in Part II he’s magnificent: ‘Blicket auf’ catches exactly that odd balance between ardour and prayerfulness (sex, God and transcendence, all the usual Mahlerian obsessions) which is the symphony’s unique signature. Lucia Popp is almost too chaste for the part of gramophone.co.uk

Gretchen: a bewitching but implausibly radiant sinner! Yvonne Minton is a highlight, not only as the blink-and-you’llmiss-her Samaritan woman but also in the more important (but unnamed) role of the angel earlier in the piece: she displays the special, reassuring dignity she brought to the comforting of Peter Pears’s Gerontius, in another spiritual crisis turned to musical advantage by Elgar a decade earlier. DG Capturing Kollo’s sound probably posed a particular problem of scale but it throws up again the multi-miking issue. In a ‘Sounds in Retrospect’ panel review (12/72), Robert Layton and Jeremy Noble already felt that the soloists were not just forwardly balanced but had the feeling of a ‘sentrybox’ around them, each voice being ‘picked by a special microphone’ and so ‘not really part of the overall sound picture’. People hear voices subjectively anyhow. I admire the clarity of John Shirley-Quirk but I know younger listeners who find his timbre dispiritingly English and somehow bleaty. Popp is the most lovable of all singers in my book but, yes, she isn’t right here and one is conscious of that familiar ‘squeeze’

PQ The irony being that a professional opera chorus, with self-reliant members trained for projection more than blend, makes a perfect marriage with Solti’s extrovert approach to the score. Concert films from the time show how Karajan cultivated a similar, independent-minded approach from the Singverein. And the mature, chest-based technique and darker-hued timbres of the Vienna boys must be closer to what Mahler had in mind than the piping cathedral-style trebles of most Anglocentric recordings. Tennstedt wanted the best of both worlds when he cajoled the Eton College boys into singing ‘like hooligans’, but for all that his live, second recording (11/92, finally reissued on CD by the LPO label in 2011) brings me nearer to Mahler’s elusive cloud nine, I recognise Ken Smith’s verdict (12/08) on Solti as setting ‘the standard with which to compare all the others’. If LPO issues Vladimir Jurowski’s performance from April this year, they will present the first really radical but persuasive alternative. DG I wasn’t at Jurowski’s concert but I was

at Tennstedt’s in 1991. The Tennstedt is technically shaggier than Solti would have countenanced – you seem to be implying that some of that was deliberate? – but the two are so completely different in mood and pacing that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that one is listening to the same music. As so often with great studio recordings, Decca’s is very much of its time, its mythology bound up with the particular circumstances in which the Chicago SO restored itself to financial health as a big, bullish brand on the world stage. Tennstedt, like Horenstein, seems to live somewhere else entirely – somewhere more open and innocent. For all his strengths, Solti isn’t the guide you should be looking for if you want to be brought to tears by the hushed arrival of the chorus at ‘Alles Vergängliche’. Perhaps it all depends on whether you see the music as a defining human statement or a brilliant showpiece. If it’s the latter, then the Solti could still be your indispensable version. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 135


THE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE TO…

The contralto voice The noble contralto has come to play second fiddle to her close cousin the mezzo, even losing some of her repertoire to her – with mixed results. Tully Potter champions 10 notable contraltos in as many recordings

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casting a mezzo Mary Magdalene who could hardly sing the lowest notes of this contralto part. Philippe Herreweghe’s supposedly period Brahms Alto Rhapsody employed a mezzo. It all contributes to the slighting and sidelining of the contralto voice, among the noblest in our vocal tradition. The mania for countertenors has produced a situation in which a soprano can sing Bach’s cantatas, but not a contralto. Several Christmas Oratorio recordings have a man singing the alto part – including the Virgin Mary’s touching lullaby. A falsettist can be affecting and stylish in Bach but will inevitably come to grief on low notes which a contralto would take in her stride. Contralto and mezzo share much of their range, but one should have a downward extension, the other an upward one. What was extraordinary about the best contraltos of a century ago was that they commanded both extremes, with ranges of up to three octaves. Their warhorses were Gluck’s Orpheus, Saint-Saëns’s Delilah and Meyerbeer’s Fidès – one of opera’s great mother figures, with music of depth and virtuosity. We may have lost Fidès (Le prophète is rarely heard), but contraltos are perfectly suited to many Handel operatic roles, so let us embrace and encourage them. I could have chosen more contraltos (Eugenia Mantelli, Marie Delna, Nadezhda Obukhova, Karin Branzell, Norma Procter, Maureen Forrester, Ewa Podles´, Hilary Summers), but 10 must do. As a parting shot I shall just say that mezzo-soprano means middle soprano – and you cannot have a middle without something either side! Contralto Kathleen Ferrier possessed ‘an intuitive understanding of the full variety of human emotions’, according to Bruno Walter

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P H O T O G R A P H Y: T H E T U L LY P O T T E R C O L L E C T I O N

he other day in Mahler’s Second Symphony I heard a marvellous young contralto who was billed as a ‘mezzosoprano’. Perhaps she had been advised to avoid her true designation – a young contralto I know was told at a music college that they ‘did not believe in contraltos’, who were ‘merely lazy mezzo-sopranos’. Sir Mark Elder took pains to make his performances (and live recording) of The Apostles authentic, using a semi-chorus such as Elgar favoured, but ruined the effect by


THE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE

Ernestine SchumannHeink (1861-1936)

Clara Butt (1872-1936)

Louise Kirkby Lunn (1873-1930)

Meyerbeer: Le prophète – O prêtres de Baal Victor Orch / Walter B Rogers Nimbus Prima Voce (2/91)

Elgar: Sea Pictures, Op 37 – Where Corals Lie Unnamed orchestra / Hamilton Harty Nimbus Prima Voce

Symposium

German Czech Schumann-Heink was already famous when she first recorded in 1903, and sometimes hooted on top notes (virtually her only fault). Beloved on both sides of the Atlantic, she could trill, execute rapid runs and cover a vast range. She commanded French, Italian and German roles as well as Lieder. She is a formidable, motherly Fidès (here recorded in 1907) but is just as effective in Handel, Donizetti and Wagner.

Sussex-born Dame Clara, a concert, recital and ballad singer, was among the most distinctive contraltos, with a booming chest register into which she crashed like a pre-synchromesh racing driver changing gear. She toured the world with her concert party and recorded much. Her few operatic discs are memorable, she is a compelling Elgarian (here in an atmospheric ‘Where Corals Lie’ from 1920) and her ‘Fairy Pipers’ is irresistible.

Kirkby Lunn, a Mancunian, had oratorio successes but was essentially an opera singer who appeared at Covent Garden and the Met on equal terms with, among others, Caruso, Scotti and Destinn. Her great roles were Delilah, Kundry and Amneris, her finest recording ‘Non più di fiori’, recorded twice (here in 1911). Her lovely voice was better equalised than Butt’s and she even scored a Great War hit with ‘Have you news of my boy, Jack?’.

Sigrid Onegin (1889-1943) Brahms: Von ewiger Liebe, Op 43 No 1 Anon pf Nimbus Prima Voce Born in Stockholm of a German father and a French mother and first married to a Russian, Onegin just had to be cosmopolitan. Her threeoctave range took her down to the depths and up to the soprano register. Like Schumann-Heink she was wonderful in Fidès’s scenes and had a wide range of operatic roles. Both her records of Brahms’s ‘Von ewiger Liebe’ (this one dated 1919) are deeply moving, and I even love her Alto Rhapsody with its extravagant portamento.

Brigitte Fassbaender (b1939) Schumann: Lieder Erik Werba pf Orfeo (4/05) Daughter and pupil of baritone Willi DomgrafFassbaender and often listed as a mezzo, Berlin-born Brigitte (now retired as a singer) had a focused, well-balanced contralto voice ideal for Octavian, Azucena, Amneris, Orlofsky or Brangäne. In Lieder she teamed up with such accompanists as Erik Werba – try their heartrending live Schumann cycle Frauenliebe und -leben (recorded in 1977) – and Aribert Reimann, with whom she recorded Winterreise.

Mozart: La clemenza di Tito – Non più di fiori Unnamed orch / Percy Pitt

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) Schubert: Der Jüngling und der Tod, D545 Franz Rupp pf Nimbus Prima Voce The tale of Philadelphia-born Anderson’s long struggle against colour prejudice tends to obscure how accomplished she was. Like many US singers, she made much of her early reputation in Europe; and although she did not appear in opera until it was almost too late, she was a great concert singer, one of those who raised Spirituals into the realms of art song. In a song such as Schubert’s D545 (recorded 1947) she was peerless.

Kathleen Ferrier (1912-53) Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde Julius Patzak ten Vienna Philharmonic / Bruno Walter Decca (10/52) Like Anderson, this beloved Lancastrian inspires feelings extraneous to her artistry. A late starter, she was taken from us too soon. Her vocalising always has ‘face’ – try ‘O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion’ (from Messiah), where you can ‘see’ her smile. Her beautiful voice was weighted towards the bottom, which, as Britten noted, gave her high notes a creative tension. In Mahler (this is a 1952 recording) her singing is radiant, as it is in Bach, Handel, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms.

Sara Mingardo (b1961)

Nathalie Stutzmann (b1965)

Monteverdi, Handel et al Monica Bacelli mez Concerto Italiano / Rinaldo Alessandrini Naïve (12/04) Here is the lady to rout all the male hooters and wailers, matching them for purity of tone and flexibility while outdoing them in amplitude and range. Whether throwing out chains of Pergolesi trills, purveying tragic intensity in Monteverdi (as recorded here in 2003), interpreting Respighi songs or holding the stage in the final Agnus Dei of Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle, Venetian diva Mingardo always seems perfectly poised. A prolific recording artist, she is still at her peak.

‘Vivaldi: Prima Donna’ Orfeo 55 / Nathalie Stutzmann DG (9/11) The Germanic name conceals a Gallic artist born in Île-de-France. Gifted with a voice of immense depth and range, Stutzmann has contrived to lighten it to encompass myriad mélodies and Lieder. When she lets out her full tone, as in Brahms’s viola songs, she is overwhelming. Her sole drawback in opera is a rather weedy trill. This multi-instrumentalist who conducts her own chamber orchestra, as in her lovely Vivaldi recital (2010), will be remembered for her singing.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux (b1975) ‘Ne me refuse pas’ – French Opera Arias French National Orchestra / Fabien Gabel Naïve (3/11) My top choice is a glorious singer in her prime. Lemieux, from Quebec, has had a terrific career since winning the 2000 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and has now landed an Erato contract. I have not heard a more gorgeous contralto recording than her ‘V’adoro pupille’ in Alan Curtis’s set of Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and her heart can softly awake gramophone.co.uk

as luxuriantly as that of any Delilah. On her French opera arias disc she breathes life into ‘Humble fille des champs’ by Halévy and ‘Ombre d’Agamemnon’ by Wormser. She has a tremendous trill, great flexibility and exceptional dramatic verbal acuity. I could rest my case on Hahn’s ‘L’heure exquise’ and ‘Fêtes galantes’ from her album of French songs, also for Naïve. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 137


THE GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION

Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie Hugo Shirley finds recordings that best convey the sense that something greater is at stake than the notes on the page in this symphony-cum-tone poem exploring humanity and nature

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he position of Eine Alpensinfonie in Richard Strauss’s oeuvre – indeed, in any music history more generally – has always been problematic. Completed in 1915, it sits at the heart of a decade in which Strauss, comfortably ensconced in his Salome-funded villa in Garmisch, was seen to have lost his position at the forefront of the musical world. For many, it represented a last gasp of a lost age of excess; a final essay in a genre – the tone poem – that was rooted in the previous century, produced by a composer who made a speciality of mismatching vast means to meagre ends. The means are, admittedly, vast: a dozen offstage horns (although Strauss sanctions their parts being covered in the orchestra) as part of a beefy brass contingent, a minimum of 18 first violins and a wellstocked percussion section bolstered by wind machine, thunder machine and cowbells. The specified two harps, the composer adds blithely, should be ‘doubled where possible’. The score even suggests the wind players make use of a recently invented device, Bernhard Samuels’s Aerophon, to help them with their long legato lines. But what, exactly, were the ends Strauss had in mind? Ever since the premiere, conducted by Strauss with the Dresden Hofkapelle in Berlin on October 28, 1915, the work seems widely to have been interpreted as straightforwardly pictorial. The composer’s 22 descriptive headings in the score (a day’s trajectory, charting a mountain walk and taking in a variety of Alpine sights) certainly encouraged such a view, and in 1917 the American writer Henry T Finck suggested that ‘The Alpensymphonie [sic], like its predecessors,

138 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

presents no complicated riddles to the interpreter’. But what of the score’s second half, where purely descriptive titles – such as ‘Gewitter und Sturm, Abstieg’ (‘Thunderstorm and Tempest, Descent’) and ‘Sonnenuntergang’ (‘Sunset’) – start to mix with more enigmatic headings: ‘Vision’, ‘Elegie’ and ‘Ausklang’ (the musical term for ‘conclusion’, but also implying more generally the waning, dying away of a sound or sounds)? Finck decided this represented ‘a decided anticlimax. The teutonic mania for length comes into play, and the work is made to last forty-five minutes, when twenty-five would have been better.’ For many Straussians, though, the work’s final sections are anything but an anticlimax: this is where its deeper meaning manifests itself. Research traces Eine Alpensinfonie’s gestation back to the 19th century, taking in Strauss’s personal recollections as well as reactions to the tragic lives (and deaths) of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the painter Karl Stauffer (an obscure figure today). It was the death of Mahler in 1911, however, that finally inspired Strauss to start addressing the work in earnest: ‘I intend to call my Alpine Symphony “Anti-Christ”,’ he wrote in a diary entry that surely offers the key. ‘Since it involves moral purification through one’s own effort, liberation through work and the adoration of eternal, glorious nature.’ SYMPHONY OR TONE POEM? Part of the confusion regarding the work stems from its title: adherents insist on its symphonic stature, doubters dismiss it as a ‘musical Baedeker’ – a mere sonic

Strauss in front of his Alpine villa in Garmisch

guidebook to the Alpine sights. But surely it should be possible for it to be both, and any performance should find a balance that positions the descriptive details within a coherent broader musical argument. In the best performances, moreover, the piece also seems to be a meditation on the history of the tone poem itself. In its earlier stages, we hear what can be achieved technically in the genre (‘At last I have learnt to orchestrate,’ Strauss is reported to have said at the final rehearsal); in the later stages, the composer, delving ever deeper, shows what the genre, at its best, should achieve. gramophone.co.uk


P H O T O G R A P H Y: L E B R E C H T M U S I C & A R T S

THE GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION

The earliest recording comes from as far back as 1925: a businesslike affair from Oskar Fried and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra (Music & Arts). But it’s Richard Strauss’s own recording made with the Bavarian State Orchestra in Munich in 1941 that sets a benchmark for striking the work’s essential balance. This might at first also seem rather businesslike and efficient, a case of Strauss keeping calm and carrying on in what was a disastrous, humiliating year for him. It is one of the fastest in this survey, too, at a little over 45 minutes – never lingering, avoiding the ritardandos gramophone.co.uk

between sections that would later become standard practice. Nevertheless, it has an unmistakable gravitas, and a real sense of the work’s drama as well as easy, natural coherence. Technical matters are a bit rough and ready, admittedly, but the sound is excellent for the time. Eine Alpensinfonie’s history on disc in the 1950s is perhaps defined as much by who didn’t record it as by who did. It was not included in the series recorded by Strauss’s great friend Clemens Krauss with the Vienna Philharmonic for Decca, nor did it feature in the influential Strauss recordings

made by Fritz Reiner in Chicago – one wonders how its early fortunes might have been different if it had. Instead, the decade represents something of a ragbag. Carl Schuricht’s scratchily played, scratchily recorded 1955 account with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (Hännsler Classic), for example, has the speed of Strauss’s own account but little of the tenderness and care. I’d steer clear, too, of Franz Konwitschny’s live 1952 Bavarian State Opera Orchestra account (Nixa/Urania), variously available, which is even more of an ordeal. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 139


THE GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION

or the oboe solo at the summit (‘Auf dem Gipfel’), capturing a moving sense of awestruck vulnerability and humanity. The sound is passable, but the performance remains compelling. There’s another compelling performance, too, from Dimitri Mitropoulos and the same orchestra, recorded in 1956 (Urania – download only). This account has much the same sense of sweep and grandeur – if somewhat unrelentingly, given its swiftness – but is technically a great deal rougher.

Karl Böhm’s two 1950s versions are much better: characteristically clear-sighted, sensible accounts, which immediately push the total time of the work to the now more standard 50-minute mark. The first, from 1952, clocks in at over 54 minutes, but never feels indulgent. And while it might feature a rather ragged RIAS Symphony Orchestra – with an especially wild principal trumpet – it has impressive intensity: listen to the powerful build-up he achieves at the end of the ‘Vision’ section. Böhm’s rather matter-of-fact 1957 Deutsche Grammophon account with the Staatskapelle Dresden feels a tad dutiful in comparison. Perhaps the most remarkable account of the 1950s comes from that other great Strauss orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic. Although currently available only to download (via Presto Classical) and to stream (on various platforms), Hans Knappertsbusch’s recording from 1952 is grand and all-encompassing and looks deep into the relationship of man to nature. Listen to the striving, improvisatory ardour of the violin lines in ‘Sonnenuntergang’,

THE AGE OF THE LP The next recording also follows a grandly symphonic path, but comes from a somewhat unexpected source: Soviet Russia, with Yevgeny Mravinsky conducting the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a brooding, often broad account, as one hears right from the first patient build-up to the ‘Sonnenaufgang’ (‘Sunrise’) – a picture painted in generous sweeping strokes, with some marvellously characterful, tangy playing. It’s not always (as on the glacier – ‘Auf dem Gletscher’) fully under control, but it’s unfailingly exciting.

DIGITAL ERA We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though, for nearly a decade earlier it’s the Berlin Philharmonic, sounding like a completely different orchestra, that ushers in the digital era. The age of the CD sees recordings start arriving at an average rate of at least one a year, a proliferation that is impossible to cover comprehensively in this survey; but Herbert von Karajan’s 1980 Deutsche Grammophon recording still stands as a majestic peak. Though of course fabulously played, if not always totally flawlessly, it’s an account that offers a great deal more than a mere showcase of snazzy new technology – indeed, the sound, toned

THE SHOWCASE

THE ROMANTIC CHOICE

THE ROLLER COASTER

Bavarian RSO / Jansons BR-Klassik F 900148 With its sheer technical splendour, this is an account of breathtaking clarity and virtuosity – taken from live performances – captured in stunning sound. Jansons doesn’t look too far beneath the surface – but what a surface!

Vienna Philharmonic / Thielemann Opus Arte F ◊ OA1069D Helped by the rich, burnished playing of the Vienna Philharmonic, this account from the Salzburg Festival shows Thielemann’s generous, big-hearted and expansive approach to the score to best advantage – and it’s beautifully captured on film.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Kempe Testament F SBT1428 Kempe’s Dresden account is justly famous, but this London recording with the RPO on thrilling, heroic form – terrifically remastered by Testament – is an exciting alternative to the better-behaved performances by central-European bands.

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P H O T O G R A P H Y: P E T E R M E I S E L , S I LV I A L E L L I

Mariss Jansons (left) and Christian Thielemann (right) both make it into the top four recordings

My next recording from the 1960s, though conducted by Dresden-born Rudolf Kempe, also comes from beyond the Straussian heartlands. In the first of his two recordings of the work, he draws fabulously exciting, fearless playing from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; the bold, burly brass are on especially boisterous, outdoorsy form. The whole orchestra gives its all – the strings tire a little, especially in ‘Vision’ – in what is also ultimately a moving account, in sound (originally released by RCA, but now scrubbed up on Testament) that is gloriously fresh and direct. Kempe’s next recording, set down five years later as part of his complete Strauss survey with the Staatskapelle Dresden, is as mellow and urbane as the RPO performance is direct and exciting, supremely musical and with every phrase beautifully turned. By contrast, Sir Georg Solti’s 1979 performance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra sounds unforgivably unloving, brash and rushed (Decca, 9/80). Zubin Mehta’s first account takes us across the Atlantic, with plenty to enjoy from the playing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Decca , 4/76), not least in a luminous rendering of the final pages. But elsewhere here, as well as in his rather rotund 1989 account with the Berlin Philharmonic (Sony, 8/90), there’s a distinct lack of tension and excitement.


P H O T O G R A P H Y: L E B R E C H T M U S I C & A R T S

THE GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION down in subsequent remasterings, was worryingly bright in early incarnations. Karajan brings to the score a compelling symphonic coherence, a broad, generous lyricism and an almost Brucknerian sense of line. He never loses track of its trajectory, even through the early sightseeing (he has his hunting horns, incidentally, playing from the orchestra rather than offstage). But he also manages to create a deep sense of humanity’s relationship to the vast, majestic forces of nature. His account of the final pages – where Strauss at one point asks for the winds to play ‘in sanfte Ekstase’ (in soft ecstasy) – achieves a magnificent golden intensity. It’s a hard act to follow, and the next two recordings, from Sir Andrew Davis and the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Sony, 2/83) and André Previn and the Philadelphia Orchestra (EMI, 12/83), can hardly compete – Sony’s sound for Davis’s dutiful account, in particular, is disappointingly muddy. But Bernard Haitink’s 1985 Philips recording with another of Europe’s great orchestras, the Concertgebouw, offered a serious challenge. Unfailingly musical, played with fabulous warmth, and again with an impressive coherence as well as patience, this release stood for a while as a joint benchmark, but it seems today to lack that last ounce of excitement, of the sense that something greater – beyond the notes on the page – is at stake. Likewise Herbert Blomstedt’s San Francisco Symphony account from 1988: technically superb, and much praised on its release, it nevertheless fails now to reach the heights. Nor do Neeme Järvi’s solid SNO account from 1986 (Chandos, 12/87), Vladimir Ashkenazy’s slightly flabby 1988 performance with the Cleveland Orchestra (Decca, 12/89) and Edo de Waart’s with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1989 (Virgin, 8/90) really compete these days, despite the last’s eloquent way with the all-important final sections of the work. Staying with US recordings, I should add that it’s not a score with which Daniel Barenboim seems at home in his 1993 Chicago Symphony Orchestra account (Teldec, 6/93), a little generalised and with the brass, in particular, seeming reluctant to work as a team. Jump forward 15 years, and Marek Janowski’s with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2008) is notable for a storm of rare precision, but marred by some raw playing from the brass (Pentatone, 11/09). CLOSER TO HOME To return to the heart of Europe is to return to brass playing of a more mellow, gramophone.co.uk

Strauss himself conducted a recording in 1941

blended sort, and certainly that is one of the great pleasures of Horst Stein’s urbane 1988 account with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. There’s a lovely transparency to this recording (originally released on Eurodisc, but now available on DG’s commemorative Bamberg SO box-set), as well as a seductive sheen to the strings, even if Stein’s approach ultimately falls short in intensity. Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra present the score well enough (1992, Philips – nla), but without much sense of exhilaration – special mention should be made of the vividly thundering timps, though. Previn and the Vienna Philharmonic in 1989 (Telarc, 9/90) too often feel pedestrian, and Seiji Ozawa’s 1996 Philips recording with the same orchestra (10/97)

only hits its stride in the second half. In Dresden in 1993 we find Giuseppe Sinopoli pushing the Staatskapelle to extremes, with the brass on warm, majestic if slightly wobbly form. This is an interesting but eccentric account: broad passages are stretched out, the final minutes almost to breaking point, while some of the wind playing is rather undercharacterised. We’re on slightly safer ground back with the Bavarian RSO with another controversial maestro, but one with a fine Straussian record: Lorin Maazel. His vivid 1998 account is extremely well recorded and, on the whole, fabulously well played. There’s a great deal of excitement, including a thrilling storm, but it’s also a performance that drifts in and out of focus a little, and is not without its eccentricities. Two recordings from a little further east, both featuring the Czech Philharmonic, can be skated over: there’s little reason to seek out ZdenΔk Koler’s sluggish Supraphon account, recorded live in 1994 (12/95); and Ashkenazy’s 1999 Ondine remake (A/01) is sensibly musical but still short on tension and, on occasion, accuracy. THE NEW MILLENNIUM Twenty years after Karajan’s recording, Christian Thielemann enters the fray as a new representative of the old-guard approach, with a recording for DG in the tradition of Karajan and Knappertsbusch. Grandly expressive, flexible and Wagnerian in scale and scope, his live Vienna account does, however, occasionally flirt with portentousness. His approach is better heard – as well as seen – in two later DVDs: from Dresden (with the Staatskapelle) in 2014 on C Major and,

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY DATE / ARTISTS

RECORD COMPANY (REVIEW DATE)

1941

Bavarian St Orch / Strauss

1952

RIAS SO, Berlin / Böhm

Preiser F b PR90205 Audite M AUDITE95 611 Urania M b D WS121 197

1952

VPO / Knappertsbusch

1962

Leningrad PO / Mravinsky

Profil M f PH16026 (A/06) Testament F SBT1428 (7/67R)

1966

RPO / Kempe

1971

Staatskapelle Dresden / Kempe

1980

BPO / Karajan

1985

Concertgebouw Orchestra / Haitink

1988

San Francisco SO / Blomstedt

Warner/EMI S i 431780-2 (10/73R,4/76R, 4/14) DG F 439 017-2GHS (12/81R)

1993

Staatskapelle Dresden / Sinopoli

1998

Bavarian RSO / Maazel

Philips B D 416 156-2 (4/86R) Decca S o 478 6787DC15 (6/14) DG F 439 899-2GH (1/95)

RCA S e 88843 01523-2; Sony Classical S g 88883 79863-2; S (30 discs) 88697 93238-2

2000

VPO / Thielemann

2007

WDR SO, Cologne / Bychkov

2008

LSO / Haitink

2011

VPO / Thielemann

2012

Saito Kinen Orch / Harding

2012

São Paulo SO / Shipway

2015

Frankfurt Op & Museum Orch / Weigle

2016

Bavarian RSO / Jansons

DG F 469 519-2GH (6/01); S b 479 1426 Profil F Í PH09065 (3/10) LSO Live S Í LSO0689 (4/10) Opus Arte F ◊ OA1069D; F Y OABD7101D (9/12) Decca F 478 6422DH (9/14) BIS F Í BIS1950 (1/13) Oehms F OC891 (11/16) BR-Klassik F 900148 (4/17)

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 141


appian publications & recordings

NEW AND RECENT RELEASES

MATTHEW WADSWORTH

L AT E NIGHT

WILHELM KEMPFF This set contains the sixteen Beethoven sonatas that Kempff recorded for Grammophon in Germany between 1940 and 1943. Several have never been reissued since their original release on 78rpm discs and none is currently available elsewhere.

NEW RELEASE DXL 1175

APR7403 4 CDs (budget price)

The complete wartime Beethoven sonata recordings

WALTER GIESEKING APR7402 4 CDs (budget price)

Brahms, Schubert & Schumann Walter Gieseking may be primarily associated with the music of Debussy and Ravel but, as these 1950s recordings show, he was every bit as masterly in Romantic AustroGerman repertoire

APR6022 2 CDs (2 for the price of 1)

LEFF POUISHNOFF

Dowland Rosseter Johnson Goss Piccinini Kapsberger

Balakirev, Lyapunov and Liszt L`]Újkl%]n]jj]d]Yk]g^l`] complete 78rpm recordings of this Russian-born, UK-based pianist plus recordings made for Saga shortly before his death. The repertoire ranges from Schubert and Chopin to D]^^Hgmak`fg^^kgofha][]k&

Featuring the premiere recording of

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THE GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION

P H O T O G R A P H Y: U L L S T E I N B I L D / G E T T Y I M A G E S

Karajan, the ultimate choice in this survey, pictured with Strauss in the early 1940s

especially, from Salzburg in 2011, where grandeur, lyrical generosity, intensity and sheer sonic splendour are better balanced within a compelling symphonic framework – and where the Vienna Philharmonic violins excel themselves in particular. In a 2005 recording, Antoni Wit and the Staatskapelle Weimar on Naxos (9/06) present a fine, moving achievement, but must concede on technical terms to some of the competition. David Zinman’s technically unimpeachable 2002 account with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra (Arte Nova, 2/03) ultimately lacks excitement, as does Fabio Luisi’s handsome, burnished 2007 one with the Staatskapelle Dresden (Sony, 4/08). But Semyon Bychkov with the WDR Symphony Orchestra is well worth seeking out as offering one of the most cogently argued ‘symphonic’ accounts, the work presented as a seamless arc, with the final stages supremely expressive. There’s a similar cogency to a reading by Sebastian Weigle – another distinguished Straussian in both orchestral and operatic works. His excellent live 2015 recording with his Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra is a marvel of lyrical expansiveness and generosity, with the conductor exerting a masterful grip over the work’s second half in particular (and listen out for the big-hearted horn solo in ‘Ausklang’). François-Xavier Roth, recorded in 2014 with another German radio orchestra, the SWR Symphony Orchestra, Baden-Baden gramophone.co.uk

and Freiburg (on SWR), offers supreme lucidity and clarity, but he’s trumped by the newest offering from Mariss Jansons, with the Bavarian RSO (far more vivid to my ears than his 2007 Concertgebouw recording on that orchestra’s own label – A/08). Indeed, this is probably the best-played account of all: a real sonic spectacle in which the strands of Strauss’s score are made to sparkle anew. Jansons misses the knottier philosophical dimension, but for Eine Alpensinfonie as orchestral showpiece this account is hard to beat – and it easily supplants Franz Welser-Möst’s somewhat earthbound 2010 BR-Klassik reading with the same orchestra (9/14). FURTHER AFIELD Away from the European heartlands, Kent Nagano’s 2014 account with the Gothenburg Symphony for Farao (A/16) is perfectly respectable but ultimately underwhelming. But there’s a real dark horse from the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under Frank Shipway. I miss an extra touch of warmth in the final pages, but the veteran British conductor brings a firm, coherent vision to the score, and the orchestra, brilliantly recorded, play out of their skins for him – listen to the furious string tremolos as we get to the summit, the sheer excitement of their ‘Vision’, or the accuracy of the semiquavers going into the storm. From the other side of the world, Jakub Hr≤≈a’s generous, sweeping but

rather broad account – very impressively played and recorded (in 2013) – with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Exton) seems to have been available on disc only briefly before moving to download only. Daniel Harding is at the helm of a thrilling performance recorded live with the Saito Kinen Orchestra on Decca – a terrific showcase, if an account that fails quite to capture the mellower end of the score’s spectrum. There are some very respectable offerings from UK orchestras, too. Gerard Schwarz’s 2001 account with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic on Avie (12/05) takes some beating in terms of sheer pictorial vividness (have the bird calls on the meadow ever sounded more alive?); and Andris Nelsons (2010) offers a characteristically lucid and attentive account with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on Orfeo (6/11). That performance never really digs far below the work’s surface, though, while Bernard Haitink’s 2008 recording for LSO Live is impressively symphonic in conception but occasionally rather uninvolving – the first third is somewhat leisurely and the final minutes are short on emotion, even if the work’s central episodes are masterfully controlled. AUSKLANG So, like Eine Alpensinfonie itself, we come full circle, to return to what the piece should and can be in performance. Numerous accounts in what’s largely a very high-quality discography, populated primarily with conductors who clearly really believe in the work, give us a very good idea. But it’s the first of the digital age – conducted by an Austrian who knew both Strauss and the Alps intimately – that remains for me the most persuasive, affecting realisation of the score’s multiple levels. Some subsequent accounts have shown a greater level of technical perfection, but none achieves the thrilling, moving mixture of the visceral and the reflective, or conveys the ever renewing power of nature and man’s (and art’s) relationship to it, quite as Karajan does with his Berliners.

TOP CHOICE Berlin Philharmonic / Karajan DG F 439 017-2GHS Karajan and his mighty Berlin forces introduced Eine Alpensinfonie to the CD era in a recording that makes compelling sense like no other: an exhilarating, moving and supremely satisfying performance defined by glorious lyricism and cohesiveness. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 143


PERFORMANCES & EVENTS Presenting live concert and opera performances from around the world, and reviews of archived music-making available online to stream when you want, where you want

Prinzregententheater & Philharmonie in Geistag, Munich & online ARD International Music Competition Prizewinners’ Concerts, September 13, 14 & 15

Based in Munich, this is Germany’s largest classical music competition, with a starry rosta of high profile previous winners including Jessye Norman, Christoph Eschenbach and Mitsuko Uchida. It’s open to musicians aged between 17 and 29 who are ready to launch an international career, and this year’s categories are piano, violin, oboe and guitar. The 2017 winners have just been announced, and the three prizewinners’ concerts are being streamed live both on the competition website, and via Facebook Live on the BR Klassik Facebook channel. The September 13-14 concerts are in the Prinzregententheater with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, while the September 15 concert is with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the Philharmonie in Geistag. If you miss the live relays, you can watch it all on catch-up, as you can the semi-finals and finals if you want to catch up on all the past month’s excitement. bc.de/ard-musikwettbewerb

David Geffen Hall, New York & online 106 All-Stars: Opening Gala Concert of New York’s Orchestra, September 19

Music Director Designate Jaap van Zweden conducts the deliciously dubbed ‘106 AllStars’ of the New York Philharmonic this year in their season opening gala, featuring Mahler’s Symphony No 5. Furthermore, you don’t have to be in New York to experience either the music or the black-tie glitz of the occasion, because the performance will be streamed for free on Facebook Live, beginning at 7.20pm EST and directed by Habib Azar. The concert will then be available for on-demand viewing on the Philharmonic’s website, YouTube and Facebook. nyphil.org, facebook.com/nyphilharmonic Royal Opera House, Covent Garden & UK cinemas Die Zauberflöte live cinema broadcast, September 20

David McVicar’s enduring staging of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte is back on Covent Garden’s stage this season, this time conducted by Mozart specialist Julia Jones, and with a superb cast that you won’t want to

miss. Roderick Williams sings Papageno, Siobhan Stagg is Pamina and Mauro Peter as Tamino (who, incidentally, features on this year’s Award-winning DVD of Berg’s Wozzeck). Furthermore, rather appropriately given that this is our annual Awards issue, the Queen of the Night is sung by Sabine Devieilhe who this time last year was picking up her Gramophone Award for her ‘Mozart and the Weber Sisters’ recording for Erato with Raphäel Pichon and Pygmalion, on which one of the highlights was the famous “Der Hölle Rache” Queen of the Night aria. The production runs from September 12 to October 14. The live September 20 cinema broadcast will include one interval. roh.org.uk, roh.org.uk/showings/the-magicflute-live-2017 Middleton Hall, Hull & BBC Radio 3 UK premiere of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange set to music, September 30, broadcast October 1

Hull has had an exciting year as the UK City of Culture 2017. One highlight of the BBC’s coverage sees BBC Radio Drama join forces with the BBC Philharmonic to perform the

ONLINE OPERA REVIEW Sylvain Cambreling conducts a significant revival of Edison Denisov’s opera L’écume des jours

Denisov Among the generation of composers which emerged from the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, Edison Denisov (1929-96) remains least known in the UK – possibly because his penchant for French culture (he spent his final years in Paris) gets ‘lost in translation’. Nowhere more so than in L’écume des jours, an opera after Boris Vlan (also the source for the film Mood Indigo) which occupied him throughout the 1970s and had its Paris premiere in 1986. Described by the composer as a ‘lyrical drama’, it veers freely between surreal whimsy and interpersonal violence that illuminates its era despite being defiantly non-realistic in content. This

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2012 production from the Staatsoper Stuttgart, directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, evokes hedonistic despair as its characters lose sight of each other through denying their own sense of self.

Strong, even overwrought contributions by Ed Lyon, Marcel Beekman, Arnaud Richard and Sophie Marilley substantiate the main roles, while Jeanne Seguin and Sébastien Dutrieux are the Cat and Mouse whose ‘Greek Chorus’ amuses and unnerves in like measure. Sylvain Cambreling conducts with a sure sense of where this amorphous yet engrossing opera is headed, and one can only commend The Opera Platform for making it available. Just maybe it will generate sufficient interest to warrant a British staging, though don’t hold your breath! Richard Whitehouse Available to view free of charge (until October 31) at theoperaplatform.eu

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ONLINE MASTERCLASS REVIEW The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s music director puts a handful of conducting youngsters through their paces

Masterclass Rather than commercial-standard performance films, this is what the Royal Concertgebouw should be putting out: nine hours of masterclass footage, featuring four promising conductors, given three sessions each with the world’s finest orchestra (according to Gramophone’s survey of 2008). At their elbow is the orchestra’s music director, Daniele Gatti. Asked in mid-session interviews what they’ve gained from the experience, the students give little away – language could be an issue – but as the orchestra’s leader Vesko Ashkenazy points out, the conductor’s job in rehearsal is to show, not tell. Accordingly, Gatti doesn’t cross-examine Sergey Neller’s late-Klemperer conception of Molto allegro

UK premiere of a special performance of Anthony Burgess’s theatre dramatisation of his 1962 novel, A Clockwork Orange. Published in 1987, this dramatisation also included Burgess’s own songs and music, but this music has never been performed along with the play in the UK. Much as you’re probably anticipating this anyway, we should warn you that the play contains strong language! If you can’t get to Hull then you can hear it on BBC Radio 3’s as Drama on 3 on October 1. hull27.co.uk, bbc.co.uk/radio3 Royal Opera House, Covent Garden & UK cinemas Pappano conducts a new production of Puccini’s La bohème, October 3

Yes, a second Royal Opera House live cinema screening, but we couldn’t not draw your attention to it. This is Richard Jones’s brand new production, staged with spectacular stylised sets by Stewart Laing. What’s more, the youthfulness of the majority of Puccini’s characters is being reflected in Sir Antonio Pappano’s cast, which is one made up of young stars. Rodolfo is sung by the American tenor Michael Fabiano, partnered by the Australian soprano Nicole Car as Mimì. Making her ROH debut in the role of Musetta is the American soprano Nadine Sierra. The Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień sings Marcello. Also in the cast are Florian Sempey, Luca Tittoto, Jeremy White and Wyn Pencarreg. roh.org.uk, roh.org.uk/showings/la-bohemelive-2017 gramophone.co.uk

in Mozart’s Symphony No 40; rather, help is offered to make it work. For him, Valentina Peleggi and Dawid Runtz, the Royal Concertgebouw players are lab-rats of diligence, saints of patience, as the symphony’s first eight bars are pulled apart from every conceivable angle.

Carnegie Hall, New York & WQXR The Philadelphia Orchestra open Carnegie Hall’s 2017/18 season, October 4

It would be hard to out-glitz the line-up for Carnegie Hall’s season opening gala this year. Featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra with their much-in-demand conductor Yannick NézetSéguin, this is an evening of American classics, and indeed works which celebrate New York itself in all its multitude of facets. The concerto is Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Lang Lang, so bound to be pizzazz-tastic. Then book-ending that jazz-age favourite are two Bernstein works: the On the Waterfront Suite to open the concert, and to bring the evening to its climax the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Those in New York can listen live or on catch-up via the WQXR website, which incidentally is worth exploring, given the well presented, user-friendly US perspective it gives on the classical scene. carnegiehall.org, wqxr.org Beethovenfest Bonn & WDR 3 on 28 October Beethoven in 1803, Beethoven in 2017, September 29

With the Beethovenfest Bonn concluding this month we thought we’d draw your attention to one of its final offerings, because it carries both repertoire and performers of interest. The orchestra are Le concert olympique, a 45-piece period-instrument ensemble who you won’t yet have encountered on British soil. Established in 2010 by their conductor, the Beethoven expert Jan Caeyers, they’re drawn from various European orchestras and meet several times a year to perform Beethoven

To my eyes, the most gifted student is the left-handed Ji∑í RoΩe√: Gatti limits his first intervention in the Poco adagio of Mahler’s Fourth to a remark that the music-stand is a bit high. ‘They understand what you want’: high praise. Later, though, cardinal principles are restated from sessions with the others. Reduce the gestures in number and size: make every movement meaningful. Resist exaggeration, conserve energy. Don’t keep making the same points: trust the orchestra to learn. For detailed illustration of how conductors worth following think in six dimensions, it’s compelling viewing. Peter Quantrill Available to view free of charge at concertgebouworkest.nl/en

programmes offering historical context as well as historically informed playing technique. This particular concert is thus typical, being a reconstruction of the programme of a musical ‘academy’ Beethoven mounted at the Theater an der Wien during Holy Week 1803 which premiered the Symphony No 2, Piano Concerto No 3 and the rarely heard oratorio, Christ on the Mountain of Olives. The soloist for the piano concerto is Kristian Bezuidenhout, and the oratorio soloists are soprano Marlis Petersen, tenor Steve Davislim and baritone Dietrich Henschel, with the Arnold Schoenberg Chor. beethovenfest.de, www1.wr.de Metropolitan Opera, New York & cinemas worldwide Met Live in HD David McVicar’s new production of Bellini’s Norma, Live in HD, October 7

You may have noticed that there’s a season opening running theme to the pages this month, and here’s another in the form of Sir David McVicar’s new production for the Met of Bellini’s Norma, and with an all-star cast. Sondra Radvanovsky takes the title-role as the druid priestess Norma, while 2017 Gramophone Recital Award winner Joyce DiDonato sings Norma’s archrival Adalgisa. There are some real bel canto heavyweights among the men too, with the tenor Joseph Calleja as Norma’s unfaithful lover Pollione, while Matthew Rose plays the role of Norma’s father and Chief of the Druids. McVicar’s staging places the action deep in the Druid forest. Carlo Rizzi conducts. metopera.org, metopera.org/Season/InCinemas GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 145


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HIGH FIDELITY T H E T E C H N O LO G Y T H AT M A K E S T H E M O S T O F Y O U R M U S I C

THIS MONTH A very modern amplifier with a retro twist, a bridge between your network and your hi-fi, and is the shape of audio changing forever? Andrew Everard, Audio Editor

From LPs to multiroom audio and AV made easy The vinyl revival shows no signs of slowing down with another well-known name joining the fray here are two schools of thought when it comes to the so-called vinyl revival, which has seen a boom in the availability of record players, record pressing plants being re-started, the price of ‘classic’ turntables soaring on the usual online auction sites, and national papers publishing ‘Do you know how much your old record player is worth?’ articles. Whether you believe the LP is back to stay, as a backlash against the all-digital world, or a passing fad born out of hazy nostalgia, there’s no denying that record-playing equipment is everywhere right now. Even Roberts, one of the grand old names of audio and celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, has just launched its own turntable, joining its line-up of portable ‘wirelesses’ from retro to digital. The Roberts Radio RT100 1 combines a real wood veneer plinth with a clear dustcover and comes fitted with a cartridge and ready for ‘plug and play’ operation. It handles 33 and 45rpm records, and has a built-in preamplifier to allow it to be used straight into any amplifier, as well as analogue-to-digital conversion with a USB output, so records can be ‘ripped’ to MP3, WAV or FLAC files. It sells for £250.

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New from the well-known Goldring brand is a line-up of three E-Series moving magnet cartridges 2 , designed for the medium- to high-mass tonearms found on today’s affordable turntables, and with Magnetic Duplex Technology to lower crosstalk and improve stereo separation. The entry-level E1, at £60, uses a spherical stylus on a carbon-fibre-reinforced ABS cantilever, while the E2 uses the same stylus with an aluminium cantilever for greater stiffness without weight penalties. It sells for £80. The range-topping E3, at £100, has the same cantilever as the E2 but is fitted with a super-elliptical stylus to give ‘superior high frequency groove detail retrieval ability and a reduction of sibilance,

especially in high level vocal recordings’. One for the soprano fans, then! At the other end of the chain, JBL has revived a classic monitor line, the compact three-way 4312SE speaker 3 . Designed and assembled at JBL HQ in Northridge, California, it uses a 30cm woofer, 12.5cm mid-range and a 25mm tweeter, and is supplied in mirror-image pairs for optimal imaging. It sells for £2500/pr. US company McIntosh has launched its biggest integrated amplifier to date, the 300W-per-channel MA9000 4 . Priced at $10,500 in the States, with UK pricing yet to be announced, it adds to that huge output a digital module able to handle files at up to 384kHz and DSD256 (the module being replaceable to accommodate future upgrades), balanced and unbalanced inputs and a moving coil/moving magnet phono stage. Denon has launched the £899 AVRX3400H 5 , described as the most advanced 7.2-channel receiver in its new range. As well as handling both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and all 4K video formats, it also has HEOS multiroom integration built in, allowing it to work with other HEOSenabled products to form a complete wireless whole-house music system.

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 147


AWARDS ISSUE TEST DISCS

A lovely pairing of Beethoven and Schubert by the Oslo String Quartet, recorded with the 2L label’s usual attention to detail and available in a range of formats.

Another one of those glorious recordings from the Resonus label, this complete set of CPE Bach’s works for keyboard and violin is superbly enjoyable.

REVIEW PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

QUAD VA-ONE

Quad VA-One An innovative compact amplifier combining ‘retro’ thinking and the very latest digital audio technology familiar conversation was heard while admiring the concept model of the new Quad electrostatic speaker at this year’s High End Show in Munich: ‘Yes’, said one visitor to his companion, ‘but they’re not real Quads, are they? I mean, they’re designed and made in China.’ That’s been an argument ever since the Quad brand was acquired by IAG, which is still headquartered in Huntingdon, to where the company moved in 1941 after being bombed out of London, but manufactures all the products – alongside the likes of Audiolab, Castle Acoustics, Mission and Wharfedale – at its huge complex in Shenzhen, China. It’s a very old argument, given that the IAG acquisition happened 20 years ago and there’s a case for suggesting that without the input of the Chang brothers, IAG’s owners, Quad might well by now be one of those much-lamented lost brands from British hi-fi history. What has happened instead is that Quad has survived, updating its range with the likes of the 99/909 series and the current Elite and Artera ranges, not to mention new versions of the classic electrostatic speakers; looking back at its past with the QII series (including still-available variations on the classic Quad II power amplifier, now well into its seventh decade) and expanding its

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appeal with new models combining elements of classic designs and new technologies. The slimline Vena amplifier may hark back to the style of the company’s pre-amps of the past but comes packed with digital-to-analogue conversion and even Bluetooth, and now the company has gone even further with its ‘-One’ series, combining valve working with those same up-to-date technologies. It started this series with the PA-One, a headphone amplifier complete with valve amplification and a decidedly traditional look, albeit in a compact, desk-friendly footprint, and any suggestions that this was a slightly cynical exercise in working the corporate heritage with a retro product were soon dispelled when the product was hooked up. Like most current Quad designs, it sounded very good indeed, combining the company’s traditional honest, easily enjoyed sound with the ability to drive even demanding headphone loads. And with both digital and analogue inputs, plus the ability to function as a pre-amp into an external power amp, it soon showed there was a lot packed into its chassis, finished in Lancaster Grey – another ‘new Quad’ innovation with a very classic flavour. The VA-One amplifier we have here looks very similar to the headphone amplifier – same finish, same compact

Type Integrated amplifier Price £1299 Inputs One line stereo, optical/coaxial digital, USB Type B, Bluetooth with aptX Outputs One pair of speakers, headphones on 6.3mm socket Power output 15W per channel (into 6 ohms), 12W/ch into 4/8 ohms Accessories supplied Remote handset Dimensions (WxHxD) 18x17.9x33.cm quad-hifi.co.uk

footprint and even a headphone socket on the front – but justifies the price differential with a rather different functionality. For while the £1199 PA-One has only pre-amp and headphone outputs, at £100 more the VA-One has built-in power amplification and can thus be used straight into a pair of speakers. Yes, the relatively modest 15W per channel output of the VA-One means you’ll need speakers of

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SUGGESTED PARTNERS The Quad amplifier is capable of a beguiling sound. Try it with these speakers …

QUAD S-1 SPEAKERS This may be an obvious pairing, but the Quad S-1 speakers were designed to be used with the VA-One amplifier.

reasonable sensitivity – Quad offers its own ribbon-tweetered S-1 bookshelf model for £495 – but unless you really want to play rock music at realistic festival levels, that output should be more than adequate for use as part of a desktop system or in all but the largest rooms. Remove the protective mesh cage, designed to keep prying fingers away from the hot-running ‘business end’ of the amplifier, and you reveal the VA-One’s array of seven valves. The pre-amp section uses one ECC83 triode, feeding two ECC82s in the driver and phase splitter stage, while two EL84 pentodes per channel provide the ‘push and pull’ of the power-amp stage through the encapsulated transformers behind the valves.

The Quad combines control and involvement with sweetness, plus a bass that’s both warm and rich but never overly bloomy That’s the ‘trad’ bit of the VA-One, though Quad points out the transformers here are designed to allow the warmth and generosity of the ‘valve sound’ without the softness sometimes ascribed to such designs. The modern bit is apparent when you look at the rear of the amplifier, where there are not only analogue inputs (one set) and speaker outputs, on substantial gold-plated terminals, but also digital ins on optical, coaxial and USB-Type B, and a Bluetooth antenna. Yes, the Bluetooth part is a convenience, although it does handle the aptX codec for better sound quality, but of more interest are the hardwired digital inputs, able to handle content at up to 192kHz/24 bit. PERFORMANCE

Setting up the VA-One is simple – both connections and controls are logical, and the only extra thing required is a USB driver if you’re going to use the amp with a Windows computer. This is available for download from the Quad website. I tried the VA-One with both a range of speakers and a number of pairs of headphones and found it more than capable of driving both to good effect, and with that ease gramophone.co.uk

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of listening combined with high levels of detail that’s long been a hallmark of the brand’s products. Having had good results with my desktop Neat Iota speakers driven by the Quad fed from my Mac Mini computer, where the generosity of sound flattered the smallish bass drivers and ribbon-type tweeters – Quad’s own S-series speakers also use a ribbon for the high frequencies – I progressed to the larger Iota Alpha speakers, Neat’s miniature floorstanders. The modest output (at least on paper) of the VA-One proved more than capable of driving the little Alphas to room-filling levels with no signs of limits being reached, even when playing large-scale orchestral music. At the kind of listening levels most of us will require – ie not ‘scaring the neighbours with Mahler’ volume – the Quad combines control and involvement with a sweetness never straying into softness or lack of information, plus a bass that’s both warm and rich but never overly bloomy. Saying the VA-One sounds very Quad might appear to be stating the obvious, but that’s very much the impression this amplifier creates – and all in a good way. With the lovely live Brahms German Requiem under Jan Willem de Vriend (Challenge Classics), the drama and passion of the music are beautifully delivered by the Quad, using Roon on the computer to down-convert the original DSD64 to PCM. Instrumental and vocal timbres are realistic, the choir sounds thrilling, and the glorious flow of the music is unimpeded. And yes, you can crank the volume up to exciting levels, the amplifier still having power in hand for the dynamics of the music without any nasties creeping in: the power delivery remains even-handed and the sound just as mellifluous. With smaller-scale music, from chamber ensemble to accompanied solo instruments, the Quad’s presentation is just as convincing, if not even more so. That relaxed, effortless flow of sound is enticing with Kuniko’s toothsome transcriptions for marimba of Bach solo works (Linn), the resonance and tonality of the instrument and the feeling of the space in which it was recorded being strikingly resolved.

Or you could try … The VA-One is unique in offering its mix of classic valve technology and up-todate connectivity, so you have to look further for alternatives. NAD C 368 The NAD C 368, at around £800, uses its manufacturer’s Hybrid Digital technology to good effect, will drive a wide range of speakers and can accept an optional multiroom module. More details at nadelectronics.com. Quad Vena amplifier Quad’s own range has a less expensive alternative to the VA-One in the form of the Vena amplifier. It’s a solid-state design rather than using valves, has Bluetooth built in and comes in a choice of finishes and wood wraps for a classic Quad look. It sells for £600 in Lancaster Grey, with luxury finishes adding an extra £100. See quad-hifi.co.uk. Arcam A39 amplifier If you want a strippeddown, high-performance analogue-only amplifier, then Arcam’s A39 fits the bill. Using the same Class G technology found in the mighty A49, it delivers 120W per channel and is highly configurable, including an mm/mc phono stage, and costs £1249. See arcam.co.uk for details. Naim Nait 5si amplifier Finally, totally frill-free amplification from Naim in the form of the ultra-slim Nait 5si amplifier. The latest version of the company’s original integrated amp, it sells for £1029 and has four inputs and a 60Wpc power output. Find out more at naimaudio.com.

The VA-One isn’t an amplifier for everyone. Those in huge rooms with large speakers might well hanker after some electronics with more meat on the bones. But it delights more than it disappoints; and when you add in its ‘cute factor’, this is a pretty compelling must-explore alternative to more conventional amplifiers. GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 149


REVIEW dCS NETWORK BRIDGE

Bridging the gulf between music and system Designed to form the link between your network-stored music and a hi-fi system, this dCS unit is part of a new generation of audio components he dCS Network Bridge is a relatively small and plain-looking little box – at least when compared with the British manufacturer’s other products – designed to sit between music stored on a home network and the digital inputs of a hi-fi system, providing a means of accessing and playing a library. It’s principally intended for use with other dCS products, including current and past digital-to-analogue converters, but the way in which the product has been engineered means it has more wide-ranging appeal, especially for those who want to keep their set-ups clean and simple. The £3250 Network Bridge is part of a strong digital line-up from Cambridgeshirebased dCS (Data Conversion Systems). dCS is a strong believer in optimising every part of the digital chain, which is why it makes separate transports, converters and master clock generators for its flagship systems. There’s a marked lack of ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions, too: the company tends to write and programme its own systems. Not only does this allow dCS to design the product to its requirements but it also opens up the possibility of future online firmware updates, bringing both performance upgrades and the chance to add extra functionality. The Network Bridge is some 32cm wide and stands just over 6.5cm tall, the only notable feature when set up being the little stub antenna for wireless connectivity. There’s no display and a marked lack of controls, the units being ‘driven’ over a network connection using a smartphone or tablet app: dCS has its own Network Bridge App for set-up and playback, or the unit can be controlled by any one of a number of UPnP-compatible apps. Networking is via either Wi-Fi or a wired connection; I’d suggest sticking to the latter for the smoothest listening experience, especially with higher-resolution music files. As well as network streaming, for example from a Network Attached Storage device or a computer running suitable UPnP software to make music available on the network, the Network Bridge can also accept data streamed via Apple AirPlay from iOS devices and can be used to access Spotify Connect or Tidal streaming services. It’s also Roon ready and can play music from other devices running Roon; like

PERFORMANCE

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dCS NETWORK BRIDGE Type Network audio renderer/player Price £3250 Inputs Wi-Fi/Ethernet networking, USB, word clock x 2 Digital Outputs AES/EBU x 2, SPDIF, BNC x 2 plus word clock Formats handled FLAC, AIFF & WAV up to 384kHz/24 bit; ALAC up to 192kHz/24 bit; AAC, MP3, WMA & OGG up to 48Kz/24 bit; DSD64/128; Apple AirPlay 44.1/48kHz Finishes Silver or Black Dimensions (WxHxD) 36x6.7x24.5cm dcsltd.co.uk

the Spotify and Tidal integration, this is dependant on the appropriate licence having been purchased. You can also connect USB storage devices – either thumb-drives or hard disks – to the dCS’s rear-panel input and play content directly from them.

There’s power and detail to the sound, making anything played an involving, satisfying listen Output to a suitable DAC is via what looks like a baffling array of connections, but then the Network Bridge is designed for compatibility with a wide range of the company’s DACs. There are two AES/ EBU digital outs, BNC sockets allowing the separate output of left and right channels in digital form, and inputs for an external digital clock, enabling all the devices in a chain to be synchronised to the same master device. For those of us without dCS digital partners, the unit also offers a standard SPDIF digital output, able to output content at up to 192kHz/24 bit and DSD64 (using the DSD over PCM frames, or DoP, standard). The Network Bridge can downsample higher-resolution content to suit the DAC to which it’s connected, this being set up in the Network Bridge App.

The dCS feels reassuringly solid, the casework actually being milled from a billet of aluminium, and has nothing much to show save a power light. In fact, it could easily be hidden away if required, given that there’s nothing the user needs to access directly, everything being done via the app. Even updating is simple: the process is initiated on the app and then one just waits for the LED to stop flashing. While it’s hard to ascribe a sound to a digital component – and indeed some will say a digital device such as this can’t have an effect on the overall presentation – testing it with a range of DACs and amplifiers with digital inputs revealed that the dCS maintained the integrity and fluidity of high-resolution files, even when called on to downsample them to suit the attached device. The most telling comparison was to be had with the Network Bridge connected to one of the digital inputs on the Naim NDS player I use as a reference, where it was possible to draw comparisons between the Naim’s streaming section playing 192kHz/24 bit and DSD64 files, not to mention standard CD-resolution music, and the same files streamed using the dCS. What was striking was that there was really nothing in it, whether playing the tight-focused but atmospheric Oslo Quartet ‘minor major’ recording of Beethoven and Schubert in DSD64 or Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms from the recent ‘American Voices’ disc (Resonus) set in 44.1kHz/24 bit. There’s power and detail to the sound, and above all rock-solid sound staging and a fine sense of ambience, making anything played an involving, satisfying listen. The punch and drive of the orchestra in the opening Bernstein psalm is truly thrilling but the dCS is just as adept when downsampling the DSD64 Oslo Quartet recording, sounding very close indeed to the Naim’s ability when playing the DSD files directly. What’s more, for all its high-end capability, the Network Bridge is a joy to use via the app, and of course set-up is as simple or as complicated as your system configuration makes it. As an alternative to all-in-one network player solutions, this is a fascinating product. gramophone.co.uk


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ESSAY

Should hi-fi be heard and not seen? As music moves away from physical media and into streams and network files, remote control is getting smarter and audio hardware less apparent omething was nagging away in my head when writing the product reviews for this month’s issue, but when the realisation came, it was more of a statement of the obvious than any great insight. What we are seeing increasingly are hi-fi products with no vestige of a display to show what’s being played, relying instead on dedicated apps to control it. Last month KEF’s LS50 Wireless speakers followed this path; this month it’s the dCS Network Bridge. That’s one of the biggest changes in audio for a very long time. It’s the result of a shift in the way many of us listen these days, eschewing physical media such as CDs or even LPs in favour of computer music files, be they downloaded from online stores or ripped from existing discs. No longer do we need to place a storage device in or on a player and press buttons to make it play; instead we just tap or swipe on the screen of a smartphone or tablet to select the music we want to hear – either from our own library stored on a computer or NAS device, or increasingly from a streaming service for which we have a subscription – and then tap again to start it pouring forth from our speakers. All of which has a number of benefits, not least of which is no need to have half of one’s listening environment taken over by shelves of discs. Yes, there’s a certain romanticism about flipping through a collection of LPs or running one’s finger along rows of CD cases, choosing something to play, but all of that assumes a fairly disciplined shelving and sorting regime unless it’s to be a complete pot-luck exercise. I know many will have elaborate cataloguing systems but, having served my time in public libraries many years ago and remembering what a chore the ritual of ‘shelving’ was, these days I’d rather have it done for me. And on the screen of my tablet I can find music instantly, sorted by composer or work or album or genre or … well, you get the idea. If I add music, it’s added to the virtual library indexing, and fully searchable. Using the excellent Roon software, which integrates both my own library and that from the online Tidal service, I am treated to a seamless combination of both kinds of

the room. The displays on CD players and the like are fine if you’re lucky enough to be sitting right next to them but, with a few exceptions, worse than useless when viewed from any distance, whichever pair of glasses I juggle. With my tablet to hand, I not only get instant access to the library, including those search options, but also album artwork, notes and often the whole booklet to read on the screen.

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152 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Freed from the need to be in a format with which you can interact, the modern music player can be any shape

Look and listen: remote tablet control made easy

music. If I want, I can even play one of my own albums and then have Roon carry on playing similar and complementary music from the Tidal database. And that in itself can be a fascinating voyage of discovery! What’s more, I can actually see what I am choosing or playing – to an extent not possible given the limited (and sporadic) availability of CD-Text on silver discs – and, even more to the point, from across

Yes, I lose the exercise of travelling from sofa to CD player every hour or so – and the well-trodden path on the carpet is steadily recovering! – but this new way of consuming music is having a more profound effect on audio equipment. Freed from the need to be in a format with which people can interact – ie with loaders whose size is defined by the diameter of a CD, displays and even buttons of a sensible size for fingers – the modern music player can be almost any shape able to accommodate the circuitry required, which itself is usually highly integrated and thus very compact. So we have seen products such as the little Google Chromecast puck and the Gramofon player on which I have reported in the past, or even the tiny Raspberry Pi/HiFiBerry computer player, which is no bigger than whatever is the currently acceptable alternative to a couple of packets of cigarettes. Even more to the point, the working of the hi-fi no longer needs to be visible. Some will still prefer a rack of matched boxes glowing away in their room, but today’s hi-fi system could just as easily be a device such as the dCS Network Bridge connected to a DAC and amplifier, all hidden away, feeding a pair of speakers. And if those speakers were in-wall or in-ceiling models, you’d have truly invisible music. Or your entire set-up could just be something like the excellent KEF LS50 Wireless reviewed last month – and that model’s idea of a ‘system in a pair of speakers’ could well prove to be somewhat prophetic. gramophone.co.uk


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NOTES & LETTERS Appreciating Ashkenazy • Taking stock of Elgar • Walton’s recording session departure Write to us at Gramophone, Mark Allen Group, St Jude’s Church, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PB or gramophone@markallengroup.com

Elgar was no genius … Much as I enjoyed Andrew FarahColton’s feature ‘Elgar Abroad’ (August, page 11), I must take exception to his use of the word genius to describe the composer. Although generally an over-employed word, there should be some measure of agreement about its meaning. In this context I would suggest it refers to someone who is at the undisputed pinnacle of their field; someone who has changed the way the medium is understood and appreciated; and someone with a body of work beyond compare, both in scale and quality. Elgar is a fine composer who created a small number of memorable and important works. He was also parochial and insular, and this partly explains his lack of appeal elsewhere. Surely great music transcends boundaries? Tony Schendel Salisbury, Wilts

… or was he? Your feature on ‘Elgar Abroad’ included assessments of the composer from several leading conductors, but I would like to draw attention to one more – Kirill Petrenko, who next year succeeds Rattle at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic. For his second guest appearance with the orchestra in May 2009, Petrenko chose to include Elgar’s Second Symphony. Prior to the concert he was interviewed by horn player Sarah Willis, who expressed both surprise and delight at the choice and asked how it had come about. (Both the interview and the concert itself are on the Digital Concert Hall.) Petrenko said that he hadn’t known the work at all, but had come upon it unexpectedly on a CD he had sought out for its other content. However, he was intrigued enough to listen to the symphony, and was so drawn into the work that he listened to it in its entirety. He said that he quickly fell in love with what he called ‘this deep music, its huge scale and its great contrasts’. He saw these features as a great challenge to which the Berlin players would unquestionably rise. Stephen Elder Bournemouth, Dorset [Kirill Petrenko’s performance has not slipped through Gramophone’s net as Andrew Achenbach, in January 2016’s 156 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

Letter of the Month Affection for Ashkenazy on performing the composer. Ashkenazy alone replied. Here is a flavour of his generous response: ‘The joy of playing and conducting Beethoven’s music is knowing that, like with all great music, you are trying to express the Vladimir Ashkenazy: a musician of enormous generosity inexpressible. It is like trying to identify yourself with Jeremy Nicholas, in his deservedly eternity – and you cannot use words for warm-hearted article on Vladimir this … The difficulties – apart from the Ashkenazy (August, page 22), recounts obvious technical ones – are to try to how Ashkenazy re-autographed the read Beethoven’s mind and therefore autograph he had given on a scrap to be true to his intentions.’ of paper after a Cheltenham recital For many decades, both at the 50 years before: ‘a typical Ashkenazy keyboard and on the podium, gesture’. Ashkenazy has done all that with It reminded me of another ‘typical Beethoven and many other composers. Ashkenazy gesture’ from December We have been the privileged recipients 1989. My older son Matthew, then and with deep gratitude wish him well 11, was doing a school music project on his 80th birthday. on Beethoven. He wrote to several Harold Jones pianists and conductors c/o their Derby, Derbyshire record companies for their views prestoclassical.co.uk is a website that speaks your language, ‘underpinned by an evident love of music and the world of recordings’ (Gramophone). No other site selling classical CDs and DVDs is arranged in such a logical and accessible format, where you can easily find lists of composers’ works, compare different options, view recommendations and read reviews. We believe you will find it one of the most user-friendly classical music sites on the internet. The Letter of the Month receives £50 of Presto Classical gift vouchers. Gramophone reserves the right to edit letters for publication

‘Performances and Events’, reviewed the Berlin Philharmonic performance in the Digital Concert Hall, describing it as ‘nothing short of stunning’, a reaction shared by our correspondent Tony Williams the following month – Ed.]

Klemperer and Barenboim Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C, K503, has been a favourite of mine for over 50 years. Francesco Piemontesi’s excellent article on the concerto (September, page 62) reflects the fact that it has always divided opinion as to the piano part. Brendel apart, it has, however, been championed in fine recordings by Mitsuko Uchida

and Martha Argerich. There is one recording, however, which seems to me to be especially notable and monumental, that by Barenboim and Klemperer in 1967 on EMI, which is now re-available, after many years, in a Warner box set. Their contemporaneous collaboration in the five Beethoven concertos was very well received at the time of its release. There was a palpable chemistry between the two men, despite the great discrepancy in their ages. In his biography of the conductor, Peter Heyworth notes that Klemperer regarded Barenboim as a remarkable pianist, and warmed to him as a man. He particularly liked Barenboim’s gramophone.co.uk


NOTES & LETTERS ability to spar with him intellectually, and Klemperer did not always come off best in these exchanges. On one occasion in 1967, Barenboim was summoned to Klemperer’s London hotel, and they went through many of Klemperer’s songs. When asked his opinion, Barenboim is said to have made it clear that did not like them. After he had left, Klemperer said to his daughter Lotte ‘I like that boy, he is honest. But he is no judge of music’. Klemperer would have relished the eminence that his young associate has since achieved. Keith Pearce Penzance, Cornwall

Dissatisfied Walton In the course of his survey of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast (June, page 106), Andrew Mellor draws attention to EMI’s claim that the Previn/LSO version was recorded in the presence of the composer. This is only partly true. Walton was present for the first part of the first session, and made adjustments to some of the tempos that Previn had adopted for Walton’s 70th Birthday Concert the preceding night. However, the session was on March 29, Walton’s actual birthday, and he could not stay. He had been invited by Edward Heath to No 10 Downing Street for a dinner party with friends, who included the Queen Mother. This was the occasion on which Heath presented Walton with the original score of the music for The Battle of Britain film, rejected by the producers except for ‘The Battle in the Air’ sequence, and rescued by Heath.

No doubt but for Heath’s action it would very likely have been destroyed. Later in the year, when the record of Belshazzar’s Feast was released, in response to a letter from Malcolm Arnold Walton stated that he wished he had been able to be present for more of the sessions to correct more of what he agreed were ‘wrong speeds’. Thus while on the evening Walton expressed himself as being very pleased with the live performance, in time he became less impressed with the record. Robin Moore, via email

I was pleased to read that APR has issued a double CD of Leff Pouishnoff’s recordings (September, page 83). He was the first classical pianist I heard live, on several occasions during my schooldays in the 1950s, when he performed in the Winchester Guildhall (where my mother had heard Paderewski in 1937). He always came with his own piano, a Blüthner with the maker’s name in large gold lettering on the side. Once, in a severe winter, he cancelled as the roads were too icy to risk damage to his precious instrument. When he returned a few months later, he apologised for the earlier cancellation, telling us the reason and assuring us that he had not been unwell. On his last visit, just two months before his death in 1959, he played Schumann’s Carnaval, and I have never forgotten it. Daniel O’Hara, Saltburn, Cleveland, North Yorks

A Gramophone critic and passionate champion of Renaissance music

P H O T O G R A P H Y: D P A P I C T U R E A L L I A N C E /A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O , D A R I O A C O S TA / D G

Musicologist and critic Born March 27, 1930 Died June 30, 2017 Jeremy Noble, a former contributor to Gramophone, has died aged 87. Born in South Africa, he came to the UK to attend school and later read Greats at Oxford, where he developed an interest in early music, first of the English Renaissance and then of the Flemish Renaissance, above all focusing on the music of Josquin Desprez. As well as scholarly work, he would lead a choir that explored the music of his favourite period, and released gramophone.co.uk

OCTOBER 2017

Remembering Pouishnoff

OBITUARIES

JEREMY NOBLE

NEXT MONTH

an LP on Vanguard of Josquin that in many ways paved the way for successive generations of performers. During the 1950s he reviewed for Gramophone, broadcast for the BBC’s Third Programme (Radio 3’s precursor), and in 1960 joined the staff of The Times, contributing criticism alongside two other Gramophone critics, William Mann and Andrew Porter. Academe beckoned and, following a stint of research at the University of Birmingham, in 1966 he was appointed Professor at the University of Buffalo in New York State, where he remained until his retirement in 1995. A man of urbane charm and great erudition, he contributed greatly to Gramophone’s high standing as a respected journal of opinion.

Danill Trifonov Hugo Shirley talks to 2016’s Gramophone Artist of the Year – and one of the most impressive of today’s young pianists – about his next recording for DG, which focuses on the music of Chopin.

Winter festivals Summer may be over, but the festival season is far from finished – we publish our new guide to the most thrilling and unique festivals taking place throughout the world over the coming months.

Machaut’s Mass The earliest surviving Mass setting by a named composer continues to inspire performers six-and-half centuries on. In next month’s Collection, Fabrice Fitch names the recordings to own.

ON SALE OCTOBER 11 DON’T MISS IT! GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 157


NEW RELEASES INDEX The latest releases on CD, SACD, DVD, Blu-ray and download Key: F Full price £10 and over M Medium price £7.76 – £9·99 B Budget price £6.25 – £7·75 S Super-budget price up to £6·24 3 Reissue 1 Historic Í SACD ◊ DVD Y Blu-ray 6 LP

ARCO DIVA

CD & SACD

arcodiva.cz/en/

Fiala. Martinů. Řezníček Chor Wks. Czech Philh Ch, Brno/Fiala.

ELOQUENCE

B b 3 ELQ482 4759

F UP0188 ABC CLASSICS

abc.net.au

Medtner Pf Conc No 1 Rachmaninov Pf Conc No 2. Gillham/ F ABC481 5564 Melbourne SO/Northey.

ACCENT

www

Bach, JS Cantatas for the Cpte Liturgical Year. Petite Bande/ S s 3 ACC25319 Kuijken. Molter Concs for Tpts & Hns. Madeuf/Musica Fiorita/Dolci.

ARUNA

www

F ACC24324

AEON

outhere-music.com/aeon

AUDITE

audite.de

Various Cpsrs Caprices. Arditti.

F 1 ELQ482 6266

F Í AUDITE92 688

AVIE

F AV2373 edel.com

F b 0300929BC

outhere-music.com/alpha

F ALPHA241 Berg. Berio. Gershwin Crazy Girl Crazy. Ens Ludwig/Hannigan.

F (CD + ◊) ALPHA293 F ALPHA288

Mozart Don Giovanni (pp2016). Sols incl Bou, Gleadow & M c ALPHA379 Papatanasiu/Cercle de l’Harmonie/Rhorer. Reicha Chbr Wks. Sols of the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth.

M c ALPHA369 Stradella Lagrima e sospiri. Santon Jeffery/Galilei Consort/ F ALPHA297 Chénier. Various Cpsrs Agitata. Galou/Accademia Bizantina/Dantone.

F ALPHA371 ALTO

altocd.com

S b 95275 S o 95564

Purcell Fairy Queen. Nouveaux Caractères/d’Hérin.

GOD RECORDS

Monteverdi Madrigals, Book 9. Nuove Musiche/Koetsveld.

M 95153 S b 95427

Scheidemann Kybd Wks. Rassam.

Various Cpsrs Joyeux Noël. Aradia Ens/Mallon/Fantasia/

S c 3 95569

Voskuilen/Lambour.

M 95506

Various Cpsrs Rosa mystica. Maletto/Tomadin.

Davis, C Aladdin: The Ballet. Malaysian PO/Davis, C. F CDC029

CARPE DIEM

carpediem-records.de

Traditional Sephardic Songs. Mirković/Godard/Cagwin.

F CD16313 channelclassics.com

F CCS39317 Various Cpsrs Grandissima gravita. Podger/Brecon Baroque.

CYPRES

cypres-records.com

F CYP646

Bartholomée Rhizomes. Musiques Nouvelles.

mdg.de

Lehár Merry Widow (r1953). Sols incl Schwarzkopf/Philh Orch/ S 1 ALC1363 Ackermann.

Field Cpte Nocturnes, Vol 1. Irmer.

F MDG618 1849-2

Puccini Tosca. Sols incl Callas & Gobbi/Scala, Milan/de Sabata.

DELPHIAN

S 1 ALN1962 APARTÉ

apartemusic.com

Rameau Pygmalion. Sols incl Dubois & Chappuis/Talens F AP155 Lyriques/Rousset. Tchaikovsky Stg Qt No 1. Souvenir de Florence. Novus Qt/ F AP154 Gaillard/Berthaud.

ARCANA

F A436

Feo. Gaetano. Manna Lux in tenebris. Frigato/Talenti Vulcanici/ F A437 Cardi. Various Cpsrs Dresden. Zefiro/Bernardini.

158 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

F A438

delphianrecords.co.uk

Rachmaninov. Stravinsky. Tchaikovsky Wks for Pf Four Hands. Hill/Frith.

DIVINE ART Castelnuovo-Tedesco Pf Wks. Soldano.

F DCD34191 divine-art.co.uk

F DDA25152

Various Cpsrs Operatic Pianist, Vol 2. Wright, A. F DDA25153

F 99139 griffinrecords.co.uk

Janáček Chor Wks (r2003). Christ Ch Cath Ch, Oxford/ M 3 GCCD4042 Darlington. Various Cpsrs Debut: the Originals (r1973). Clerkes of Oxenford/ M 3 GCCD4083 Wulstan. Various Cpsrs Org Classics from York Minster (r1978). M 3 GCCD4067 Jackson, F.

HARMONIA MUNDI

harmoniamundi.com

Bach, JS Cantatas for Bass. Goerne/Freiburg Baroque Orch/von F HMM90 2323 der Goltz. Charpentier Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. Ens F HMM90 2279 Correspondances/Daucé. Mendelssohn Vn Conc. Sym No 5. Hebrides. Faust/Freiburg F HMM90 2325 Baroque Orch/Heras-Casado. Telemann Companion. AAM Berlin. S g 3 HMX290 8781/7 Various Cpsrs Fancy. Caravansérail/Cuiller.

F HMM90 2296

Various Cpsrs Jardin à l’italienne – Airs, Cantatas & Madrigals. F HAF890 5283 Arts Florissants/Agnew/Christie. Various Cpsrs Reformation 1517-2017. Ch of Clare Coll, F HMM90 2265 Cambridge/Ross.

HUDDERSFIELD CONTEMPORARY RECORDS hud.ac.uk/hcr/

DOCUMENTS

www

Ablinger Verkündigung. Mashayekhi-Beer/Weiss/Kleeb.

Various Cpsrs Cpte Recorded Masterworks. de Vito.

S j 1 600409 Various Cpsrs Milestones of a Legend (r1957-62). Starker.

S j 1 600408

outhere-music.com/en/labels/arcana

Compère Missa Galeazescha. Odhecaton/Da Col.

F 99147

Various Cpsrs Pf Wks. Harison.

GRIFFIN

DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM

Various Cpsrs Irish Ballads (r1916-40). McCormack.

Liszt Pf Son (r1865/71). Badura-Skoda.

Anonymous Chants of the Anglo-Saxon Saints (r1995). M 3 GCCD4004 Magnificat/Cave.

carldaviscollection.com

F Í CCSSA39217

S 1 ALN1964

gramola.at

F 99146

CARL DAVIS COLLECTION

Granados Orch Wks (r2001). Gran Canaria PO/Leaper.

Rodgers Oklahoma!. South Pacific. Orig Broadway Cast.

GRAMOLA

Various Cpsrs Tribute to Ida Presti – Gtr Wks. Milani. M 95528

CHANNEL CLASSICS

S b 1 ALC2030

godrec.com

F 6 GOD44

McCartney, A OEK. McCartney, A.

Chopin Waltzes. Ivanov.

Beethoven Stg Qt No 15 Mendelssohn Stg Qt No 2. Ragazze Qt.

Handel Favourites (r1959/74). LSO/Pro Arte Orch/Szell/ S 1 ALC1340 Mackerras.

M b GCD922702

M 95449

Milhaud Chbr Wks. Bernard/Tortorelli/Meluso.

S 3 ALC1353

S 3 ALC1348

glossamusic.com

Liszt Great Pf Wks. Various artists.

S 3 ALC1352

Bruch Vn Conc No 1. Scottish Fantasy (r1956/62). Oistrakh/LSO/ S 1 ALC1356 Matačić/Horenstein.

GLOSSA

Jolivet Cpte Chbr Wks with Pf. Farinelli, F.

brilliantclassics.com

Beethoven Syms Nos 3 & 8 (r1988-89). LSO/Morris. Brahms Vc Sons (r1989-90). Georgian/Gililov.

gimell.com

Josquin Masses – Pange lingua; La sol fa re mi (r1986). Tallis F 3 CDGIM009 Scholars/Philips.

Handel Silla. Sols incl Prina, Genaux & Invernizzi/Europa M b GCD923408 Galante/Biondi.

BRILLIANT CLASSICS

Chausson. Debussy. Ravel Stg Qts. Van Kuijk Qt. F ALPHA295 Dvořák Pf Qts. Busch Trio/da Silva.

www

Respighi Ancient Airs & Dances. Fountains of Rome. Pines of F EVCD035 Rome (arr Pf Duet). Biddau/Cordisco Respighi.

GIMELL

F 0300928BC

Staatskapelle Halle/Matiakh.

Brahms Frei aber einsam. Kirschnereit/Amaryllis Qt/Neudauer.

Bach, JS Privat. Nigl/Staier/Richter, AL/Müllejans/Dieltiens.

F 1 ELQ482 7518 EVIDENCE

BERLIN CLASSICS

M Í 3 AVSA9923

Various Cpsrs Evening at (pp1956). Chicago Lyric Op/Solti.

avie-records.com

Saint-Saëns. Schumann. Tchaikovsky Wks for Vc & Orch.

Beethoven Pf Conc No 4 Schumann, C Pf Conc. Schirmer/

Alfonso X El Sabio Cantigas de Santa Maria (r1993). Hespèrion XXI/Capella Reial de Catalunya/Savall.

ALPHA

B b 1 ELQ482 5650

F AUDITE97 695

F AECD1757

alia-vox.com

Various Cpsrs Lollipops. Concertgebouw Orch.

Beethoven Cpte Wks for Pf Trio, Vol 4. Swiss Pf Trio.

F AECD1755

ALIA VOX

F 3 ELQ482 7163

Rachmaninov Preludes (r1941-42). Lympany.

Beethoven Cpte Stg Qts, Vol 8. Cremona Qt.

Meneses/Royal Northern Sinf/Cruz.

Nyman No Time in Eternity. Ens Céladon/Bündgen.

B b 3 ELQ482 7177 Mahler Sym No 9 (r1968). LSO/Solti.

F ACC24327 Schmelzer Sons. Concert Brisé/Dongois.

Mahler Syms Nos 1 & 3 (r1964/68). LSO/Solti.

F ARUNACD002

Bigham Staffa. RSNO/Picard, J-C.

www

Handel Arias (r1960s). Sols incl Sutherland & Greevy.

ECM NEW SERIES Bach, CPE Tangere – Pf Wks. Lubimov.

ecmrecords.com

F 476 3652

Josquin. Victoria Secret History. Potter et al.

F 481 1463

Reiner, C Elegie an John Donne. Reiner, C.

F 481 4485

F HCR014CD HYPERION

hyperion-records.co.uk

Blow Ode on the Death of Mr Henry Purcell. Arcangelo/Cohen.

F CDA68149 Debussy Pf Wks. Osborne.

F CDA68161

Dvořák Stg Qt No 14. Stg Qnt No 3. Takács Qt/Power.

F CDA68142 Scarlatti, D Kybd Sons, Vol 2. Hewitt.

F CDA68184

gramophone.co.uk


JSP

jsprecords.com

Prokofiev Pf Conc No 3 Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (r1945-53). Kapell.

F 1 JSP684

KAIROS

kairos-music.com

PENTATONE

F b Í 3 PTC5186 682; F c 6 3 PTC5186 666

F 0015026KAI

F Í 3 PTC5186 248

KING’S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

kings.cam.ac.uk

Russian Nat Orch/Kreizberg.

F Í 3 PTC5186 591

Mahler Totenfeier Strauss, R Also sprach Zarathustra.

F Í PTC5186 597

Berlin RSO/Jurowski.

KLANGLOGO

supraphon.com

Various Cpsrs Prague Recs (r1953-66). Navarra.

S e 1 SU4229-2 SWR MUSIC

swrmusic.com

Various Cpsrs Edn, Vol 6 (r1988-2014). Gielen.

S r (17 CDs + ◊) 3 SWR19042CD

klanglogo.de

Machaut Messe de Nostre Dame. Vienna Voc Consort. F KL1412

F KL1519

Pachelbel Kybd Wks. Barsányi.

LAWO

lawo.no

F LWC1130

Hvoslef Chbr Wks, Vol 4. Various artists.

Sinding Suite im alten Stil Walton Va Conc. Ringstad/Oslo PO/

F LWC1133

Engegård/Weilerstein.

LINN

linnrecords.com

Debussy La mer. Ariettes oubliées Fauré Pelléas et Mélisande.

F CKD550

Kožená/DSO Berlin/Ticciati. Monteverdi Vespers. Dunedin Consort/Butt.

F b CKD569 F CKD571

Tye Cpte Consort Wks. Phantasm.

LPO

lpo.co.uk

Tchaikovsky Cpte Syms (pp2004-16). LPO/Jurowski.

S g 3 LPO0101 MELODIYA

melody.su

Various Cpsrs Serenade. Hampson/Pikulski.

F Í PTC5186 681 PHI

outhere-music.com/phi

Bach, JS Cantatas Nos 101, 103 & 115. Collegium Vocale Gent/

F LPH027

Herreweghe.

Various Cpsrs Operetta Arias (r1954-65). Wunderlich.

B b 1 SWR19038CD TACET

tacet.de

F TACET227

Ravel Pf Wks. Koroliov/Duo Koroliov. Weinberg Wks for Fl. Styczen/Polish PO/Rajski.

PHILHARMONIA

philharmonia-records.com

Martin Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke.

F PHR0108

von der Damerau/Zurich Philh/Luisi. Verdi Ovs. Zurich Philh/Luisi.

F b PHR0109

PIANO CLASSICS

piano-classics.com

F b PCL10126

Bach, JS Cpte Kybd Partitas. Sheng.

F PCL10128

Clementi Sons. Preludes. Kim, I.

PRAGA DIGITALS Horszowski/Levine.

F Í TACET2324 TACTUS

tactus.it

Davide da Bergamo Org Wks. Ruggeri.

B b 3 TB790490

Frescobaldi Kybd Wks. Vartolo.

B b 3 TB580692

Marini Madrigali & Symphonie, Op 2. Musicali Affetti RossoPorpora/Messaggia/Testolin.

F (CD + ◊)TC591304

Tartini Fl Concs. Mercelli/Rogliano/Ens Respighi.

pragadigitals.com

Schubert ‘Trout’ Qt. Stg Qts Nos 12-15 (r1934-62). Budapest Qt/

M b 1 PRD250 386

PROFIL

haensslerprofil.de

Bach, JS Kybd Partitas Nos 4 & 6. Batagov.

B b MELCD100 2500

F 5060192 780758

Broadway Musicals. Clarke/Gould.

SUPRAPHON

F b Í PTC5186 631

M KGS0026

F 5060192 780741

Stratford.

Heggie It’s a Wonderful Life. Sols/Houston Grand Op/Summers.

Various Cpsrs Tecchler’s Cello. Johnston/Kanneh-Mason/ Poster/Ch of King’s Coll, Cambridge/Cleobury.

stonerecords.co.uk

Various Cpsrs Glorious Quest: Hits from the Golden Age of

Glazunov. Khachaturian. Prokofiev Vn Concs. Fischer, J/

Węgłowski Contemporary Jewish Wks. Krakauer.

STONE RECORDS

Stimpson Age of Wonders. Iwabuchi/Poster/Philh Orch/

Beethoven Syms Nos 1 & 4 (r1970s). Israel PO/LSO/Kubelík.

F 0015015KAI

Fuentes Broken Mirrors. Diotima Qt.

pentatonemusic.com

Bach, JS Solo Vn Sons & Partitas (r2005). Fischer, J.

Beethoven Pf Sons. Pf Concs. Vc Sons. Richter/Rostropovich/

B b 3 TB692090 Various Cpsrs 19th-Century Italian Wks for Fl & Hp. Ortensi/ Pasetti.

F TC800005

TADLOW

tadlowmusic.com

Various Cpsrs Blessing – Op Arias. Johnston, C.

USSR SO/Moscow PO/Sanderling/Kondrashin. S l PH16030

F TADCLASS022

Various Cpsrs Anthology of Russian & Soviet Sym Wks, Vol 2. Various artists.

S (55 CDs) MELCD100 2481

Hildegard of Bingen Femina forma Maria. Ens Mediatrix/

F PH17023

Göshchl.

MÉTIER

divine-art.co.uk

Miyachi Transitional Metal – Chbr Wks. Various artists.

Various Cpsrs Himmel Rühmen: Best of Sacred Chorales.

F d 1 PH16071

neos-music.com

Aperghis Accordion Conc. Six Études. Bavarian RSO/Pomárico.

F NEOS11728 Mozart Basset Cl Conc Mueller Piccolo Conc grosso. Octet.

F NEOS21704

Various artists.

B b PH16041

Various Cpsrs Recital (r1960). Dalis.

F 1 PH17044 F PH17002

Various Cpsrs Secret Places. Twiolins.

RED PRIEST

redpriest.zooglelabs.com

Various Cpsrs Baroque Bohemians: Gypsy Fever from Campfire to Court. Red Priest.

F RP014

Rihm Sphären. Schablas/Österreichische Ens für Neue Musik/

NEW WORLD

F NEOS11520 newworldrecords.org

F NW80791-2 nmcrec.co.uk

Holst, I Stg Chbr Wks. Hewitt Jones, S & T/Worswick/Hankey/ Coates/Swain.

NORTHERN FLOWERS

F NMCD236

F NFPMA99122

Mozart Shanghai Mozart Dream. Han. Schubert Schwanengesang. Trekel/Pohl.

Various Cpsrs Hn Wks. Shanghai Hn Ens.

OPERA RARA

Dublin/Nicholson.

RESONUS Joubert Chor Wks. Wells Cath Ch/Owens.

oehmsclassics.de

F OC1805 F OC463 F OC461 F OC1870 opera-rara.com

resonusclassics.com

Popper High School of Vc Playing. Rummel.

PAN CLASSICS

F SIGCD479 Coll, Cambridge/Nethsingha.

Dall’Oglio Vn Sons. Krestinskaya/Krotenko/Tarum. F PC10378

gramophone.co.uk

S c 9029 58316-5 F 9029 58129-4 Various Cpsrs Remastered Recs (pp1949-64). Callas.

S (42 CDs + c Y) 9029 58447-0 WERGO

wergo.de

B b WER7365-2 F WER7346-2

Squillante Wings of Daedalus. Sols incl Luchetti. F WER2073-2

F SIGCD489

Rachmaninov Sym No 1 (pp2016). Philh Orch/Ashkenazy.

F SIGCD484 Various Cpsrs Art of Dancing: 21st-Century Tpt Concs. Desbrulais/English Stg Orch/Woods.

F SIGCD513

SOLO MUSICA

SOMM Tchaikovsky Pf Wks. Meecham.

F SM268 somm-recordings.com

F SOMMCD0173 F SOMMCD0174

SONO LUMINUS Various Cpsrs Beyond. Los Angeles Perc Qt.

DVD & BLU-RAY

www

Various Cpsrs Echoes of Land & Sea – Pf Wks. Marchant.

F PMR0085 www

Various Cpsrs Live in Lugano (pp2016). Argerich et al.

Janáček. Kodály. Poulenc Kyrie – Chor Wks. Ch of St John’s

Various Cpsrs Wks with Hn. Greull.

paladino.at

F 9029 57555-5

Rossi/S Cecilia Orch/Pappano.

Rihm Geste zu Vedova. Minguet Qt/Maintz.

Bach, JS. Cage Chorales. Berger. F SM270; F c 6 SMLP271

orchidclassics.com

warnerclassics.com

signumrecords.com

Handel At Vauxhall, Vol 2. London Early Op/Cunningham.

F ORR251

F ORC100073

WARNER CLASSICS

Saint-Saëns Org Sym. Carnaval des animaux. Argerich/

Pauset Canons. Hodges/Lévy.

F ORR252

ORCHID

urlicht-av.com

F UAV5979

Various Cpsrs Invisible Colours. Cuckson.

F RES10198

Various Cpsrs Espoir. Spyres/Hallé/Rizzi.

Various Cpsrs Watercolour – Pf Wks. Yang, Y.

URLICHT AUDIOVISUAL

F REGCD504

Poldowski Reimagined: Verlaine Songs. Ens 1904. F RES10196

SIGNUM

F TOCC0226

Tovey Chbr Wks, Vol 2. Ormesby Ens.

Various Cpsrs Live at the Mariinsky – Pf Wks (pp2016). Li.

Various Cpsrs Écho. El-Khoury/Hallé/Rizzi.

PALADINO

F TOCC0434

Tartini Sonate piccoli, Vol 4. Sheppard Skærved. F TOCC0363

F REGCD517 Various Cpsrs Year at St Patrick’s. Ch of St Patrick’s Cath,

Zeller Vogelhänder (pp2017). Sols/Mörbisch Fest Ch & Orch/ Priessnitz.

regent-records.co.uk

nflowers.ru

Ustvolskaya Chbr Wks. Waiman/Malov/Karandashova/Stolpner.

OEHMS

REGENT

Stopford In My Father’s House. Truro Cath Ch/BBC NOW/Gray.

Makan Letting Time Circle Through Us. Either/Or.

NMC

Kokkonen Requiem. Cpte Org Wks. Lehtola/Klemetti Inst Chbr Ch/Liimola.

F MSV28563

Huber.

F TOCC0400

Strauss, R Rosenkavalier (r1951). Sols incl Bäumer & Lemnitz/ Staatskapelle Dresden/Kempe.

Mueller/Collins/Zurich CO/ens remixed.

toccataclassics.com

Elcock Orch Wks, Vol 1. RLPO/Mann.

Keeley Twists & Turns – Chbr Wks. Various artists. F MSV28568

NEOS

TOCCATA CLASSICS

HARMONIA MUNDI

harmoniamundi.com

Rossi Orfeo. Sols incl van Wanroij & Aspromonte/Pygmalion/

M b (◊ + Y) HMD985 9058/9

Pichon.

PARNASSUS

parnassusrecords.com

Bach, JS. Haydn. Scriabin Wks for Pf & Orch (pp1972-83).

F ◊ PDVD1205

Richter.

sonoluminus.com

TONY PALMER FILMS

F DSL92214

Britten Nocturne. Palmer.

F ◊ YPDVD198

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 159


REVIEWS INDEX Boismortier

A

Nocturne No 20, Op posth

77 77 77

La Caverneuse

Albinoni

La Décharnée

Filandro – Fior ch’a spuntar si vede; Il tuo core in dono accetto

La Marguillère

Í124

Sonatas: Op 37 – No 2; No 5; Op 41 – No 2;

77 77

No 3; No 4; Op 50 – No 6

Arban 74

Fantasies on Verdi Operas

La Valetudinaire

97

Nocturnes – No 3, Op 9 No 3; No 5, Op 15 No 2

89 Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61 89, 97 Preludes, Op 28 – No 14; No 15 89 Scherzo No 4, Op 54 89 Waltz No 1, Op 18 97

Gott ist die Liebe

Waltzes – No 5, Op 42; No 10, Op 69 No 2

The Canterville Ghost

77 77 77 77 77 77

Burble Di Tre Re e io

Bach, CPE 54

Cello Concerto, Wq172 H439

Dramatis personae Four Bagatelles

Bach, JS

Sonatina

Cantatas – No 79, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild; No 80, Ein 113 feste Burg ist unser Gott

Tatty’s Dance

112 112 97 97

Cantatas – various Mass in G major, BWV236 English Suites French Suites

Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major, 130 ‘Air’

97 Well-Tempered Clavier II 97 Wohltemperierte Akkordeon Í 97 Solo Marimba Works

Bach, JS (transc Wild)

Barber 95

Nocturne

88 88

84

A Collection of Old Scots Tunes Concerti grossi, Op 3 Nos 1-5

74 74

Bartók 88

For Children, Sz 42

O God, our help in ages past

D

Waltz, Op 39 No 15 Warum ist das Licht gegeben, Op 74 No 1

Symphonies – Nos 4 & 5

Now thank we all our God

Eine kleine Mitternachtmusik – Nos 1-5, 7 & 9

Long Ago Moonbeams

130

78

A Hermit Thrush at Eve A Hermit Thrush at Morn

113

95

56

Complete Symphonies

Debussy Cello Sonata La mer

Piano Concertos – No 3; No 4; No 5 – ‘Emperor’ Romances – Nos 1 & 2

130 Í 57

Symphonies – No 5; No 6, Y ◊ 56 ‘Pastoral’; No 7

69 100

130 Triple Concerto, Op 56 Y ◊ 56 Triple Concerto, Op 56 Í 57 Violin Concerto 130 Violin Concerto Í 57 Violin Sonata No 1, Op 12 No 1 74

La donna serpente: Symphonic Fragments, Op 50 – Suite No 1

Í 58 Í 58

Bianca e Gernando

Ben-Haim Concerto grosso Symphony No 2

57 57

In the Night

95

Dawn

Ballade, Op 19

La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers 116

Impromptu No 3, Op 34

Child

Nocturnes – No 6, Op 63; No 7, Op 74;

O Lord God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance 110

From the True Edge of the Great World Violin Concerto

Ballade No 4, Op 52 Barcarolle, Op 60 Etude, Op 25 No 11

54 Six String Trios, Op 34 G101-106 75

Fantaisie, Op 49 Impromptu No 3, Op 51

160 GRAMOPHONE GRAMOPHONE APRIL AWARDS 2017 2017 160

Gottschalk 95

Í 109

Night has entered the forest

110

Violin Sonata No 3, Op 45

58

Pelléas et Mélisande, Op 80 (arr Koechlin) Pénélope – Prelude

58 58

Thème et variations, Op 73

Fauré (transc Wild) Après un rêve

89 97 97 97 89

95

Fitch Agricola IX

84

Foote Nocturne

83

Lawes, W Music, the master of thy art is dead

110 95 95

Psalm 100, ‘All people that on earth do dwell’

Deep Nocturne

95

Psalm 22, ‘O God, my God’

110

Psalm 6, ‘Lord, in thy wrath reprove me not’

110

Gounod Faust

Y ◊ 119

Sollievo (dopo la tempesta)

Caprice en rondeau Diptyque Piano Concerto

Psalm 67, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord’

110 110

Leo Í 58 Í 58 Í 58 Í 58

78 78 78 78

Hamelin Little Nocturne

110

Psalm 18, ‘O God, my strength and 110 fortitude’

See how Cawood’s dragon looks

H

95

Handel

Catone in Utica – Ombra cara, ombra adorata; Soffre talor del vento

Í 124 Levinas 120

Le petit prince

Liszt La campanella, S161 No 3 Vallée d’Obermann, S160 No 6 Venezia e Napoli, S159

97 97 92

Zwölf Lieder von Franz Schubert, S558 – No 2, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774; No 3, Du bist die Ruh’, D776; No 9, Ständchen, D889; No 11, Der Wanderer, D489 92

Alcina – Sta nell’Ircana pietrosa tana Concerto for French Horns, HWV331

74

Lloyd, G

74

Symphonies – No 6; No 7, ‘Proserpine’

Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV264 – Symphony

Locke

Y ◊ 103 74 Occasional Oratorio, HWV62 101

Lorenc

March from Ptolemy

95

110

Griffes

Phèdre

100 100 90

Lawes, H A Funeral Anthem

Hakim

No 9, Op 97; No 11, Op 104 No 1; No 13, Op 119 90

95

Ragtime Nightingale

Serenata per Diotima

90 90

Lamb

Graubiņš

Flaminis Aura

95

84

émoi

L

Il regno degli spiriti

Charpentier, M-A

Dance Suite

Symphonies – No 1; No 2; No 10; No 11, ‘in memoriam George Froom Tyler’ 59

Haglund

Fauré

Boccherini Cello Concerto, G480 – Adagio

78

95

Chopin

Bloch

Piano Quartet No 2

Farwell

Chisholm 116

Dvořák

97

Chadwick

Symphony No 9, ‘Choral’

Bellini

Jones, D

Studies on Chopin’s Op 10 Études 92

Grofé

F

Cashian

Nocturne

Godowsky

L’arbre des songes

Casella

110

How wretched is the state

Johnson, E

Notturno

Y ◊ 64 Métaboles Y ◊ 64 Tout un monde lointain … 69

84

Jeffreys

Solo Cello Partitas – No 1, ‘Songs & 92 Poems’; No 2

The Night Winds Quatre Poèmes hindous Y ◊ 64

Landscape

92 92

Grieg

Delage

Symphony No 2, Op 12

The Secret Agent

Hertzlich lieb hab ich dich o Herr

110 110 110

Järnegard PSALM

Grain

O Lord, make thy servant Charles 110

Beethoven

J

Glanert

Book of Longing – The Paris Sky

113

Byrd

C 95 95 95

Dreaming

120

That Man Stephen Ward

Glass

Dutilleux Beach

Gianguir – Mi par sentir la bella; Vanne, si, di al mio diletto

Í 100

Ariettes oubliées (arr Brett Dean) 100

Trio Sonatas, Op 1 BuxWV252-258

Hyde

84

Dārziņš The Broken Pines

113

Behold how good and joyful a thing is

110

La chûte des feuilles, Op 42

Buxtehude

Barsanti

95

Croft, W

88 131 88

Variations on a Theme by Schumann, Op 9

Hutchinson Í 117

Croft, J

Crumb

Symphonies – Nos 1-4

Getty

Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

131 88 131

Piano Sonata No 3, Op 5

Bruckner

Barrett Vale

Night Thoughts

Cruger

Piano Concerto No 2

Piano Sonata, HobXVI:46

Í 124

Piano Pieces: Op 76 – No 3; No 4; Op 116 – No 1; No 4; Op 117 No 2; Op 118 – No 2; No 3 88

Violin Concerto

95

Hommage à Poulenc

95

Brahms Four Piano Pieces, Op 119

54 97

Cello Concertos – No 1; No 2

G

Copland

Deux Méditations d’une furie Eight Piano Pieces, Op 76

119

Attilio Regolo

Haydn

Giacomelli

Churchill (transc Wild) Reminiscences of Snow White

Hasse Í 109 Í 109

89

Boyle

B

Freislich Das ist meine Freude

How doth the city sit solitary

The Covenant (orch Janczak)

61

110

103

gramophone.co.uk


REVIEWS INDEX Łukaszewski 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103 103

Adoramus te, Christe Adventgebet Alleluia Ave Maria Ave maris stella Beatus vir Sanctus Adalbertus Beatus vir Sanctus Martinus Five Funeral Kurpian Songs Motette Nunc dimittis Pater noster Psalmus 120 Psalmus 129 Regina caeli

Symphonies – No 35, ‘Haffner’; No 41, ‘Jupiter’ Symphonies – No 39 & 40

Midsummer Nights

130 131

Symphony No 28 – Minuet and Trio

130 Variations on ‘Hélas, j’ai perdu mon amant’, K360 81

130

Violin Concerto No 5

Violin Sonatas – No 18, K301; No 21, K304; No 26, K378 74 Violin Sonatas – No 2, K8; No 8, K13; No 11, K26; No 13, K28; No 20, K303; No 25, K377; No 26, 81 K378; No 30, K403

N

Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin

M Mahler Symphony No 8, ‘Symphony of a Y ◊ 61 Thousand’

Mason, DG

Nowowiejski 104

Adelaide – Non sempre invendicata; O, del mio caro sposo … Quanto bello agl’occhi miei; Scherza in mar la navicella; Vedrò più liete Í 124 e belle

Ornstein 95

79 97 79 79 79 79 79 79 79 79

A Birthday Card for Jennifer Farewell to Stromness Lullaby A Postcard from Sanday Oboe Quartet String Quartet Movement String Trio The Last Island Two Nocturnes Violin Sonata

Palmgren A Pastorale in Three Scenes, Op 50

Í 62 Piano Concertos – No 4, ‘April’; No 5 Í 62

Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of 64 Cyril Scott, Op 69

Duo concertant

64 64

Mexican Hat Dance

95

Meder Singet, lobsinget mit Hertzen Í 109 und Zungen

Pfitzner

Melngailis

Pickard 110 110 110 110 110 110

Doomsday Gently, slowly Latvian Requiem Move gently and quietly Nature and the Soul The Sun is Setting

Mendelssohn The Hebrides, Op 26 Symphony No 5, ‘Reformation’ Violin Concerto, Op 64

61 61 61

Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten

113

Í 62 Í 62 Í 62

Concertante Variations Sixteen Sunrises Symphony No 5

Porpora Semiramide riconosciuta – Bel piacer saria d’un core; Il pastor, se torna aprile; In braccio a mille furie

Í 124 Prokofiev Violin Concertos – Nos 1 & 2

64

Pucklitz Ich will in allen Sachen

Messiaen

131

Symphony in C major

Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt

Quatuor pour la fin du temps – Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus 69

Keh re wieder

Monteverdi Í 62 Mozart

R

Symphony No 2

An den Mond, D193 An die Laute, D905 Abendstern, D806 Der Einsame, D800

Six Morceaux, Op 11

65, 69

Ave verum corpus, K618

Y ◊ 103 La finta giardiniera – Geme la tortorella (arr Isserlis)

Do not grieve

Horn Concerto No 3

Floods of Spring

54 130 Y ◊ 103 Y ◊ 103

gramophone.co.uk

Dreams In the silent night The Little Island

95 95 95 95 95

78

110

The Day is Ending

110

The Dwarves and the Old Man of theForest

110

The Enchanted Forest

110

The King and the Mushroom

110

The Moon Lied

110

The Sun’s Revelry

110

Í 67

Schwanengesang, D957 Symphony No 8, ‘Unfinished’ Über Wildemann, D884

Carnaval, Op 9 Piano Concerto

68 93

Russian Folk Songs

Serenade Two Violins

Parsifal

Y ◊ 124

Tristan und Isolde – excerpts

130

Die Walküre – excerpts

130

Wieniawski Fantaisie brillante sur des motifs de l’opéra Faust de Gounod, Op 20

83

My God, my King, incline thine ear

105 105 105 105 107 105 131 105 105 107

88 65 131

97

Three Aquarelles

65

Z

Tchaikovsky (transc Wild) At the Ball Dance of the Four Swans

95 95

Zālītis The Goblet on the Isle of the Dead

110 110

Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times

110

Collections Ensemble Alia Mens – ‘La Cité

113

Céleste’

Tsontakis

Karl Böhm – ‘Karl Böhm: The

68 68 68

Anasa True Colors Unforgettable

131

Early Years’

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge –

113

‘Reformation 1517-2017’ Deutsche Hofmusik – ‘Angenehme

Tye 83

113

Melodei’

84

Distractfold Ensemble – ‘Vale’

U

The Ebor Singers – ‘Music for

110

Troubled Times’

Urspruch Cavatine & Arabesque, Op 20 Cinq Morceaux, Op 19 Deutsche Tänze, Op 7 Fünf Fantasiestücke, Op 2 Präludium & Capriccio, Op 22 Variationen, Op 10

93 93 93 93 93 93

69

Leonard Elschenbroich – ‘Siècle’ Ann Hallenberg – ‘Carnevale 1729’

Í 124 83

Julia Hwang – ‘Subito’ Łukasz Krupin´ski – ‘Espressione…’

97 Latvian Radio Choir – ‘Nature

110

and the Soul’

V

Cécile Licad – ‘American Nocturnes’

Vaughan Williams

95

The Lark Ascending Lord, thou hast been our refuge

81 81 81

Yang

Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33

Complete Consort Music

Schurmann Piano Quartets – No 1; No 2

Y ◊ 123

Y

Tchaikovsky

O God, the proud are risen against me

Der Schiffer, D536

130

Flieder-monolog; Act III Lohengrin

110

Manfred, Op 58

105 105 105 105 105 105

105 97 Impromptus, D899 92 Der Jüngling an der Quelle, D300 105 Die Liebe hat gelogen D751 105 Meeres Stille, D216 105 Der Musensohn, D764 105 Nachtstück, D672 105 Nacht und Träume, D827 105 Rastlose Liebe, D138 105

Schäfers Klagelied, D121

Wagner

T

Impromptu, D935 No 3

Rosamunde, D797 – Romance ‘Der Vollmond Strahlt auf Bergeshöh’n’

W

95

Tomkins

Cello Concerto

Rachmaninov (transc Wild)

David Before Saul

Wilson

Suk Piano Quartet, Op 1

Schumann 93

Vītols

121

Drei Gesänge des Harfners, D478-480

Winterreise

Rachmaninov

Pulcinella – Suite

Saint-Saëns

Wandrers Nachtlied II, D768

Orfeo – Toccata (transcr Pickard)

Petrushka

The Nightingale

Sehnsucht, D879

Í 109 Í 109

Pastorale

The Nightingale– Airs du rossignol; Í 81 Marche chinoise

Schwanengesang, D744

Í 109

Í 81 Í 81 Í 81 93 Í 81 Í 81 Í 81

Mavra – Chanson russe

The Firebird – Suite

Cello Concerto No 1

Í 124

Die Meistersinger – Prelude; Act II –

S

Frühlingsglaube, D686

84

Eurydice

Daphne – excerpts

Petrushka – Danse russe

Rubio (transc Wild)

Am Flusse, D160

Pauset

Chamber Symphony (String Quartet No 8), Op 110a (arr Barshai) 68

Stravinsky

Schubert Í 62

Exotic March

Shostakovich

Rubbra

130

Schmidt 104

Magnificat

che in mezzo all’onde

Piano Sonata No 2, ‘Sonata Fantasy’, 97 Op 19

La Marseillaise (arr Stravinsky) Í 81

Nocturne (Ragusa)

Palmeri

L’abbandono di Armida – Nave altera

Scriabin

130 Festliches Praeludium, Op 61 Í 67 Don Juan 130 Die Liebe der Danae Y ◊ 120 Metamorphosen 68 Der Rosenkavalier – excerpts 130 Salome – Dance of the Seven Veils130 Till Eulenspiegel 130

Y ◊ 64 Pièce en forme de habanera 69 Le tombeau de Couperin Y ◊ 64

Schelling

P

Vinci 64

Strauss, R

Daphnis et Chloé – Suite No 2

Violin Concerto, Op 103

Orlandini

Scott, C Consolation

Ravel

95

Maxwell Davies

Requiem, K626

Where Beauty Dwells

Sinfonia concertante, Op 38

Nocturne No 2

Night Wind

Miserere, K85

Vocalise

Mozart Variations

O 83

To the Children

Rouget de Lisle

113

Subito

Sorrow in Springtime

Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten

Quo vadis

Lutosławski

On the Death of a Linnet

Neumark

Luther 113

O, cease thy singing

95 95 95 95 95 95 95 95

Reger

113

Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott

The Muse

83 113

Messa da Requiem

125 Marie Smolka – ‘‘Baroque Cantatas

Verdi Macbeth

Pygmalion – ‘Stravaganza d’Amore!’

Y ◊ 123 Y ◊ 107

from Gdan´sk’

Í 109

Yuanfan Yang – ‘Watercolour’

97

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 161


MY MUSIC

Nick Robinson The former BBC political editor and current presenter of the Today programme talks about concerts, playing the piano and his love of opera My father played the piano – the Chopin waltzes and nocturnes were his favourites. His mother could have been a professional concert pianist, she was that good, so there was a lot of music in his house, and subsequently in ours. Even before Classic FM, my dad realised that music could be therapeutic. He’d come back knackered from a high-stress job, open a bottle of wine and put on a record. Those were the days when you listened to music without distractions. I remember visiting my grandparents, who lived abroad, and the main room was full of books on one side and LPs (mainly DG ones) on the other. We’d have lunch and then my grandfather would put on a record, close his eyes and listen.

I’m so excited that my kids are into music in a way I never was. With my generation, there was this idea of ‘dad music’ – your parents would either listen to pop music or classical but not both, so you’d avoid what you knew they liked. My kids have picked up that you can like everything. Spotify has helped in that regard – they all use my account and have told me how it’s introduced them to new things. But mostly I credit Richard Frostick, the music teacher who founded the brilliant, inspiring Islington Music Centre. All three of my kids sang there from the age of six, and it’s given them brilliant opportunities; the choir has performed at No 10 and the Proms. I tend to go to the Proms every year, to at least two or three concerts including, if I’m lucky, a First or Last Night. I used to get annoyed with the fact that my mind raced during concerts – I’d get to the end and realise I’d written three internal documents for work. But now I get really excited about going. The same goes for ballet. I just didn’t used to ‘get it’, and my wife – who loves it – had pretty much given up on taking me. But then, for her 50th birthday, I bought her a charity auction prize which allowed us to sit in the wings for a Royal Ballet performance. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. You get a sense of the sheer physicality of it, you actually get hit by beads of sweat, you 162 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017

THE RECORD I COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT Chopin Nocturne No 15, Op 55 No 1 Maurizio Pollini pf DG (1/06) My father would always play this piece, and hearing it today still transports me back to those times.

see the dancers come off stage and almost physically collapse. So nowadays I’m able to get carried away by the music and simply enjoy the sheer technical skill on display. But it’s with opera that I completely lose myself. I still remember going to see Fidelio at the Royal Opera House with my wife. I didn’t know the opera, I’d never seen it, but when the quartet started, it was one of those ‘wow’ moments. And we recently went to Grange Park to see Jen≤fa – it’s unrelentingly bleak! My sister arranged for us to go and see it because we were both at school with Susan Bullock who was singing Kostelni∂ka. What her generation of singers seems to have cracked is that they can act as well as sing – when she had to murder the illegitimate baby, she was spectacular. But the one performance I’ll remember on my deathbed is ‘Grimes on the Beach’. We’re regulars at The Maltings in Snape but I’d never seen Peter Grimes. When I heard about the 2013 production, I thought it sounded extraordinary – and it was. What makes opera potentially so powerful is that all of human life is there – it brilliantly captures the grim emotions as well as the soaring ones. To see the story of this lonely fisherman played out on the beach where it’s actually set was a real ‘hairs standing up on the back of your neck’ moment. gramophone.co.uk

I L L U S T R AT I O N : P H I L I P B A N N I S T E R

Growing up, we all had piano lessons, but we loathed our teacher who was very traditional and would spank us with a ruler if our wrists dropped. Then we changed to a family friend who was a real giggle – most lessons ended up with fits of laughter over how incredibly bad I was at scales and arpeggios. I got to Grade Five though! But I didn’t play for years until recently; I was unwell for a bit, and started thinking about how to get more balance back into my life. Ed Balls lives pretty close to us and I chatted to him about how he’d taken up the piano quite late and loved it. I asked him if his teacher would take me on and, for a little while, she would go to his house and then walk round the corner to me. I started to learn the pieces my dad played me, and I really did enjoy it. But I have a very unpredictable schedule …


Photo Credit: Patrick Allen / operaomnia.co.uk

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