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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
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LISTEN TO SOUNDS OF AMERICA ON

A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada
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 Guitarist Rupert Boyd and cellist Laura Metcalf on
Delos F DE3536 (64’ • DDD)
their unique partnership
How did you come up with such an arranged his Guitar
eclectic programme? Concerto for us, with
Beethoven and Over the past four years playing together as the entire orchestral
Brahms’s clarinet a duo, we’ve performed and arranged works part reduced to
trios make a superb from the Baroque to the modern day. For our one cello!
pair. They share the debut recording we chose pieces that we
same instrumentation, of course, yet also love the most, mixing popular and unduly What makes this
serve as foils for one another. Beethoven’s neglected works, to create an album of combination
is an early work and displays an incisive diverse moods and textures, highlighting special?
brilliance, confident character and sharp the versatility of our instrumentation. The sounds of the
wit aimed to impress Vienna’s musical cello and the guitar
connoisseurs; Brahms’s comes from the end Presumably the repertoire is small? compliment each other really well. The
of his career and veers between ruminative It’s not non-existent, but it is quite limited. guitar is not a loud instrument, but the
and passionate melancholy. Many composers have loved the guitar but plucked nature of its sound, combined with
The performers on this Delos recording then written nothing for it. Hence the need to the bowed notes on the cello, allows for a nice
seem more comfortable in Brahms’s make our own arrangements. It is wonderful timbral separation. It has also really improved
crepuscular world. Pianist Arnon Erez gives for a guitarist to be able to play works by Rupert’s negotiating skills, getting Laura to
the triplet figures in the first movement a composers like Fauré, Bach and Falla, who explore the quietest dynamics of the cello!
nervous urgency that offsets the music’s generally overlooked the instrument. When
expansive lyricism, while he phrases the arranging a work, we look for something that What are your future plans?
dancelike third movement generously. sounds like it could have been originally We plan to commission new works from
Clarinettist Amitai Vardi floats the long written for our instrumentation, and try to composers in New York and beyond, and
melodic lines of the Adagio with a liquid offer a unique but authentic rendition. The look forward to arranging more pieces
legato and digs in reedily to the finale’s Australian composer Ross Edwards also ourselves.
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. Vardis, père et fils, play it with charming represented on this disc of American
In Beethoven’s Trio, however, the panache. Andrew Farach-Colton sonatas for violin and piano but the
musicians sound more dutiful than composers who are – William Bolcom,
stimulated. And this score is so full of Bolcom . Corigliano . Ives John Corigliano, Charles Ives – would
incident – stomping accents, flurries of Bolcom Violin Sonata No 2 Corigliano Violin appear to agree. Corigliano even seconds
sparkling scales, surprise silences – that Sonata Ives Violin Sonata No 2 Thomson in the booklet notes when he
there are myriad opportunities to delight, Ching-Yi Lin vn Zachary Lopes pf states that his sonata ‘is more the result of
as clarinettist Jon Manasse and his MSR Classics F MS1553 (54’ • DDD) an American writing music than writing
colleagues demonstrate in their scintillating “American” music’.
recording (Harmonia Mundi, 12/14). The That said, traits that might be termed
P H O T O G R A P H Y: H A R O L D L E V I N E

Vardis and Erez sound stodgy and subdued American can be discerned in these
in comparison. Virgil Thomson said imaginative and entrancing pieces. Ives
Sandwiched between the Beethoven and it best: ‘The way to doesn’t employ actual folk tunes in his
Brahms we have Jan Radzynski’s Concert write American music Second Sonata but he folds his own folksy
Duos (2004) for clarinet and cello – five is simple. All you have melodies into the three movements, which
brief, playfully melodic movements, to do is be an American and then write any have the descriptive titles ‘Autumn’, ‘In the
including a polonaise and a waltz. The kind of music you wish.’ Thomson isn’t Barn’ and ‘The Revival’. In his Second

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 I


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

Classical downloads,
FOR LIFE ON AN EPIC SCALE streaming and experiences
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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 and regional flavours of the United States. combines tonal beauty, technical agility and
tribute to jazz violinist Joe Venuti in four Grofé channelled his gifts for painting expressive depth. Donald Rosenberg
movements of bluesy and swinging material, musical scenes into the grand sonic entity
including special techniques Venuti made known as the orchestra; Dousa functions Honegger . Ravel . Schulhoff
his own. Corigliano composed his only on a more intimate instrumental scale, as Honegger Sonatina for Violin and Cello, H80
work in the genre soon after graduating can be gleaned from this disc of appealing Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello
from Columbia University, yet his ability music for viola and piano. Schulhoff Duo for Violin and Cello
to devise musical narratives of creative and ‘A Musical Portrait of the American Elaris Duo
alluring substance is already at full steam. Southwest’ comprises three works written MSR Classics F MS1526 (50’ • DDD)
Violinist Ching-Yi Lin and pianist in a distinct Americana style, with open
Zachary Lopes play the sonatas with equal harmonies and melodies by turns folk-like,
degrees of panache and warmth. They are rugged and soaring. Dousa favours a tonal
a well-matched team, savouring their style that seems like a memory of distant Aside from Kodaly’s
individual duties while communicating times but the music’s poetic generosity and Duo for violin and
with one another as if engaged in a series shapely architecture are clear signals the cello, Mozart’s two
of tender, lively and challenging composer knows his craft. duos for violin and
conversations. Donald Rosenberg The programmatic content is suggested viola and the ubiquitous Handel-Halvorsen
in the titles Dousa assigns to the pieces and Passacaglia for either configuration, there is
Dousa various movements. Vistas of New Mexico surprisingly little music of much distinction
‘A Musical Portrait of the American Southwest’ are conjured in Reflections on a Desert for two string instruments. Nevertheless, the
Mountain Song. Reflections on a Desert Winter. Winter, whose five movements range from genre continues to be actively carried on
Viola Sonata, ‘From a Land Wild and Free’ serene lyricism to almost swashbuckling by superstars like Julia Fischer and Daniel
Stephen Nordstrom va Dominic Dousa pf energy. Mountain Song is inspired by the Müller-Schott and by less celebrated
Blue Griffin F BGR423 (74’ • DDD) Rocky Mountains, their immensity and collaborators with similar chops and
beauty distilled into 10 minutes of affecting different charms; in many cases, it seems as
statements. Even Dousa’s Viola Sonata has if the music is being made for more personal
a subtitle, From a Land Wild and Free. Its reasons and the performances accordingly
The American three movements evoke ‘the plains of the embrace a more intimate point of view.
composer Dominic Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico’, In the case of the Elaris Duo, based at
Dousa shares as the composer states. Georgia Southern College 200 miles south-
something with Dousa himself serves as fluent and vital east of Atlanta, it’s definitely the warm
another countryman, Ferde Grofé: both pianist in these performances with viola human touch informed by virtuosity. And
are/were smitten with the great expanses player Stephen Nordstrom, whose playing in doing so, amid their programme of

gramophone.co.uk 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 in the final six years of his life. The First (1985) – last of a series for differing
Schulhoff, Larisa and Steven Elisha make a dates as far back as 1951, a pioneering piece combinations that began with his Op 1
strong case for Arthur Honegger’s Sonatine in the rehabilitation of the instrument in in 1929 – is lighter and breezier in manner.
as the one true gem on the disc. mainstream contemporary music. Cast in Rather clinical sound. Although not
Written in 1932 and dedicated to Albert three concise movements, fast-slow-faster, marked as ‘Volume 1’, I hope a second
Neuburger, the man who would become with never a wasted note in its varied and with the other five sonatas will follow.
his publisher as the head of Salabert, inventive course, it set the template for Guy Rickards
Honegger’s music is wise, witty (including the later works (though not the slow
references to Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre introduction). Nos 3 (1982 – the dates ‘Bonjour and Willkommen’
and Ravel’s own Sonata for violin and given on the disc are, oddly, of publication ‘A Franco-German Debut’
cello) and affectionate. The Andante rather than composition for the later JS Bach Prelude and Fugue, BWV532 Bruhns
middle movement is briefly haunted by works), 5 (1984) and 9 (1985) all followed Praeludium in E minor F Couperin Messe à
prayerful premonitions of darkness and it, only the Eighth (1984) reversing the l’usage ordinaire des Paroisses pour les Festes
the brilliant Allegro third movement, with format to slow-fast-slow, while the Ninth Solemnelles Franck Choral No 3. Prélude, fugue
its two monster cadenzas, rivals Handel- has a more expansive opening Moderato, et variation, Op 18 Hakim Te Deum Liszt
Halvorsen as an encore piece. two-thirds the size of other whole sonatas. Praeludium und Fuge über den Namen BACH,
If the Elarises are not quite up to The recognisably neoclassical S260 Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue, Op 37
the standard set by Josef Suk and André atmosphere of the First, familiar from No 1 Mozart Epistle Sonata, K278
Navarra in their incomparable 1967 Persichetti’s Sixth Symphony (1956), (arr Szathmáry) Pachelbel Christus, der ist mein
recording, they confirm that this is deservedly still a staple of the American Leben Scheidemann Magnificat V toni
music that demands to be heard. wind-band repertoire, is absent from the Schumann Etüden in kanonischer Form, Op 56 –
Laurence Vittes later sonatas, which share the terser, more No 4 Sweelinck Ballo del Granduca Vierne
contrapuntal and tonally ambiguous style Symphonie, Op 28 No 3 – Finale Widor
Persichetti of his later years. This makes them less Symphonie, Op 13 No 4 – Andante cantabile;
Harpsichord Sonatas – No 1, Op 52; No 3, Op 149; diverse a set than the 12 piano sonatas Scherzo
No 5, Op 152; No 8, Op 158; No 9, Op 163. (New World 80677-2), spread more evenly Crista Miller org
Serenade No 15, Op 161 throughout his career. Heard together, the Acis F b APL72306 (153’ • DDD)
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

Christopher D Lewis hpd later harpsichord sonatas have a certain Played on the organ of the Co-Cathedral of the
Naxos American Classics M 8 559843 (65’ • DDD) dryness of musical language, the textures Sacred Heart, Houston
occasionally harsh, but Christopher Lewis,
playing two different instruments, performs
each as an individual masterpiece, bringing
Vincent Persichetti out the many shades of dark and light, The 19th pipe organ
(1915-87) composed frequently subtle colours, and the marches, built by Martin Paso
10 sonatas in all for dances and fantasias that abound in the and Associates and
the harpsichord, nine music. The concluding Serenade No 15 housed in Houston’s

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 V


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relatively new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred ‘Boyd Meets Girl’ ‘Cloud River Mountain’
Heart encompasses a colourful and varied JS Bach Two Part Inventionsa – No 6, BWV777; M Gordon River D Lang Girl With Mountain
tonal scheme that allows for timbrally No 8, BWV779; No 10, BWV781; No 13, BWV784 Lao Luo He Bo. Shan Gui. Tan Te. Yun Zhong Jun
authentic renderings of both French and R Edwards Arafura Arioso Falla Siete Canciones Wolfe Into the Clouds
German repertoire. Certainly the venue’s populares españolasa Fauré Pavanea Gong Linna voc Bang on a Can All-Stars
five-second acoustical decay allows for Gnattali Allegretto comodo M Jackson Cantaloupe F CA21133 (33’ • DDD • T/t)
contrapuntal details to emerge clearly, Human Naturea Pärt Spiegel im Spiegela
while, at the same time, massive tuttis Piazzolla Café 1930a Zenamon Reflexões No 6
never turn muddy or indistinct. More (aarr Boyd Meets Girl)
significantly, Crista Miller’s two separate Laura Metcalf vc Rupert Boyd gtr Quick question: how
French and German programmes covering Sono Luminus F DSL92217 (61’ • DDD) many composers does
a wide stylistic range stand out for the it take to create a
organist’s effortless virtuosity and musical song-cycle? In the
intelligence. Her transparent textures, case of ‘Cloud River Mountain’, the
clean articulation and forward-moving Boyd Meets Girl answer is four: Lao Luo (the German-
tempos enliven Franck’s third Choral, comprises the born Robert Zollitsch) and the co-artistic
which can sound turgid in the wrong Australian guitarist directors of Bang on a Can – Michael
hands. Similar interpretative strengths Rupert Boyd and the Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe.
impressively play out in the same American cellist Laura Metcalf. A self- Their efforts add up to a compelling and
composer’s Prelude, fugue et variation, while labelled ‘happily married couple’, they varied work, judging from the excerpts
her registrations in the finale of Vierne’s play like one, with a harmony of purpose on this new recording, with an emphasis
Third Organ Symphony convey a lighter as sure as their intonation. Boyd is a fine on ‘excerpts’.
and leaner orchestral image than in Jeremy guitarist; if he’s new to these pages, Laura While the full cycle comprises 11 songs
Filsell’s comparatively massive rendition Metcalf is no stranger to them, her ‘suave, running 70 minutes, the disc contains
(Signum, 2/06). experienced bow arm’ having gained Jed only six – as well as a Lao Luo selection,
Her mobile Andante cantabile from Distler’s approval last year (9/16). That Tan Te, which has become an online
Widor’s Fourth Organ Symphony is right arm is the motor for a gloriously phenomenon – for a total of 33 minutes.
followed by the work’s Scherzo, where the warm and rich tone, well suited to the That’s a paltry amount of content for a
chromatic filigree takes gentle wing; a pity repertoire on this superbly engineered compact disc, especially when the songs,
that Miller didn’t have room for the whole debut album for the duo. performed so vividly by Chinese vocalist
symphony. Each movement in Couperin’s The bulk of the programme is made Gong Linna and the Bang on a Can All-
Mass is preceded by its corresponding up of arrangements, all by Boyd and Stars, seize the ears from start to finish.
plainchant, intoned by four male singers, Metcalf themselves, some more intrusive The music heads in many stylistic
while female singers assume the same to the originals – the Falla songs, which directions, embracing Chinese pop,
honours for Scheidemann’s Magnificat. actually brush up rather nicely, and Fauré’s minimalism, folk and other idioms. Set
Miller plays the Bruhns and Sweelinck ubiquitous Pavane – than others. Pärt’s to verses about nature, metaphysics and
works outstandingly well and clearly Spiegel im Spiegel acquires a greater warmth love by the Chinese poet Qu Yuan (c340-
relishes their improvisatory paths and than usual from the duo and the four Bach 278BC), the collection presented here
harmonic surprises. With way too many Inventions work neatly as an impromptu contains three songs in Mandarin and three
performances of the Bach D major suite. Piazzolla’s Café 1930 showcases their in English; the vocal line in Tan Te is built
Prelude and Fugue in the catalogue that virtuosity in a different way, making a fine on syllables.
drag and sag, it’s a pleasure to experience standalone tone poem, the cello’s darker Lao’s songs are suffused with Chinese
Miller’s shapely animation. Her graceful colouring (the original is for flute) more contemporary elements, including popular
Mendelssohn and dramatically fervent Liszt atmospheric and contrasting the better influences, its music both relentless and
are as fine as any, although the Schumann with the guitar. reflective. Wolfe’s Into the Clouds has a
Pedal Piano Canon in A flat admittedly Ross Edward’s Arafura Arioso, the driving intensity, Gordon’s River
sounds better with a piano, or two. composer’s arrangement of the slow glistening sonorities and syncopated
Saving the newest for last, however, the movement of his Guitar Concerto rhythms, and Lang’s Girl With Mountain
Te Deum by the Lebanese-French Arafura Dances (1994-95), is a beautiful otherwordly lines coloured by spare
composer, organist and improviser Naji depiction of Australia’s northern sea. instrumental gestures.
Hakim (born 1955) begins with a snarling Bolivian-born Jaime Mirtenbaum Gong’s voice is at turns silken and
fanfare, followed by a march-like episode Zenamon’s Reflexões No 6 (1988) is penetrating, her ability to ‘scat’ remarkable
peppered with booming clusters (mind unobjectionable, its Vivacissimo finale in Tan Te. The Bang on a Can All-Stars
your loudspeakers and sensitive neighbours unexpectedly dashing along in Villa- animate every fresh, quirky and haunting
here!), a lyrical section where soft dissonant Lobos mode. The one disappointment phrase. Now, could we please have the rest
commentaries flicker on occasion and some is Radamès Gnattali’s Allegro comodo, of the cycle? Donald Rosenberg
busy yet consistently inventive variations not through any fault of the music or
on the opening fanfare. You’ll buy this performance but because it is but the
release for the marvellous instrument and first movement of his Sonata (1969).
for Miller’s superlative artistry but you’ll Boyd and Metcalf feel it is the
come away with the discovery of a best movement and works better alone, Amplify your life with the sounds from
formidable contemporary composer. but I’d like to hear the rest. There was America and around the world at
Jed Distler room. Guy Rickards primephonic.com. For life on an epic scale.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 VII


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Four decades of celebration … and change


T
his year the Gramophone Awards marks What, however, hasn’t changed, is the astonishing
its 40th anniversary. Beginning as a new quality and commitment of those who find themselves
addition to a magazine of substantial before the microphones. The artists themselves, of
vintage, the Awards have now been a crucial course, continue to change, and that so many of our
part of Gramophone for longer than many of you may winners are relatively youthful is a great cause of
have been readers (and, for that matter, longer – just – celebration. Though so too is the fact that someone
than its present day editor has been alive!). Founded at like Murray Perahia – perhaps the only recording
the tail end of the so-called ‘golden era’ of recording winner this year who might conceivably have been
(and I add in the caveat not to bring into question the a contender back when the Awards were launched –
quality of that period’s music-making, but because is still inspiring us with his profound gifts, for
so much from the decades since stands up worthily continuity is a vital part of evolution too.
alongside it), we find ourselves today at a time when the And speaking of change, the eagle-eyed among
very nature of recording, as an art, as an industry, as a you will have spotted some differences in last month’s
way of listening, is undergoing immense change. For the Record section, developments which continue
As our winning and shortlisted recordings show, this month. We wanted to take you behind the scenes
today’s focus remains primarily on album-length of even more music-making, to bring you closer
releases, a format shaped by the capacity of a physical to even more artists. And so we hope you’ll enjoy
product. Yet even for those who access music in an hearing from leading performers about the unique
entirely virtual way, this still – I’d argue – defines how bond with their instruments, or about their thoughts
people generally think of a recording. But for how and feelings when standing in the studio. There’s
long I wonder? Various labels have experimented with more space to report on news, and we’ve revived
‘singles’ or EPs (terms that also have direct roots in our One to Watch feature to champion the most
physical product). Why does a concerto generally need impressive new artists on the scene. Finally, our
one coupling (why not three, why not none)? What’s new columnist Edward Seckerson – already familiar
the difference between a live recording streamed of course as one of our most perceptive critics – will
online, and an archived performance stored in a challenge us to think differently about what, and
digital concert hall? I expect that, as our Awards head who, we’re listening to. I hope you enjoy the new look
onwards towards their half-century, some of these of the section. And most of all, I hope you enjoy
questions – and many more we can’t foresee – will exploring this year’s Award winners: as Editor-in-
find themselves shaping our sense of what we cover, Chief James Jolly puts it in his introduction on
what we celebrate, what the industry makes available, page 15, it’s been a particularly rich year.
and how they do it. And I look forward to it. martin.cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS Gramophone, which has


‘Communicating ‘Summoning ‘I have loved the
been serving the classical
what you up the spirit of contralto voice
music world since 1923, is
know means Victor de Sabata, since I heard
first and foremost a monthly
discovering what one of the 20th Ernestine
review magazine, delivered
you don’t,’ says century’s most Schumann-Heink
today in both print and digital
PAUL GRIFFITHS , extraordinary and Louise
formats. It boasts an eminent and
author of this yet nowadays Homer in my
knowledgeable panel of experts,
month’s Contemporary Composer too little known conductor- early teens,’ writes TULLY POTTER ,
which reviews the full range of
profile. ‘Maybe that, too, can then composers was itself a strangely whose Specialist’s Guide ‘was written
classical music recordings.
be communicated. Having followed beguiling experience,’ writes out of sheer indignation at the
Its reviews are completely
Mark-Anthony Turnage for more RICHARD OSBORNE , who ridiculous attitude often displayed
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

independent. In addition to
than 30 years, I thought I knew it all. explored the musician for this towards contraltos by today’s
But – as usual – no.’ month’s Icons feature. conductors and concert organisers.’ reviews, its interviews and
features help readers to explore
THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Richard Bratby in greater depth the recordings
Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Philip Clark • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) that the magazine covers, as well
Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows as offer insight into the work of
David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood composers and performers.
Charlotte Gardner • Caroline Gill • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott It is the magazine for the classical
Richard Lawrence • Andrew Mellor • Kate Molleson • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil record collector, as well as
Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol • Geoffrey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger
for the enthusiast starting a
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 voyage of discovery.
David Vickers • John Warrack • Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 3


CONTENTS
Volume 95 Number 1153
EDITORIAL
EDITOR’S CHOICE 7
Phone 020 7738 5454 Fax 020 7733 2325 The 12 most highly recommended recordings
email gramophone@markallengroup.com
EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Martin Cullingford of the month
DEPUTY EDITOR Sarah Kirkup / 020 7501 6365
REVIEWS EDITOR Tim Parry / 020 7501 6367
ONLINE CONTENT EDITOR James McCarthy /
020 7501 6366 FOR THE RECORD 8
SUB-EDITOR David Threasher / 020 7501 6370
SUB-EDITOR Marija urić Speare The latest classical music news
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
RECORDING OF THE MONTH 54
email gramophone.ads@markallengroup.com Steven Isserlis’s superb second recording of
COMMERCIAL MANAGER
Esther Zuke / 020 7501 6368 Haydn’s cello concertos, this time for Hyperion INTRODUCTION 15
SALES EXECUTIVE
Simon Davies / 020 7501 6373 and with some inspired couplings, gloriously RECORDING OF THE YEAR 16
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BACK ISSUES justifies the decision to revisit these masterworks
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MARKETING MANAGER Edward Craggs /
Blomstedt; a Chisholm sequel; Isabelle Faust plays
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DEVELOPMENT Matthew Cianfarani
Bychkov’s Czech Manfred
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01722 716997 THE CATEGORY WINNERS 31
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Martin Cullingford Arcangelo’s Buxtehude; Tye from Phantasm
PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Paul Geoghegan
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Ben Allen
CHAIRMAN Mark Allen
INSTRUMENTAL 88 THE MUSICIAN & THE SCORE 72
Janina Fialkowska’s Chopin; Michel Dalberto plays Sir John Eliot Gardiner discusses Mendelssohn’s
Fauré; fearless Godowsky from Emanule Delucchi Lobgesang, his still neglected Symphony No 2

VOCAL 100 ICONS 86


Robin Ticciati’s Debussy and Fauré; Mozart’s Richard Osborne pays tribute to the Italian
Requiem with dancing horses; a Hollywood conductor and composer Victor de Sabata
Verdi Requiem; Baroque cantatas from Gdańsk
www.markallengroup.com
CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS 98
GRAMOPHONE is published by
MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, St Jude’s Church,
REISSUES 114 Paul Griffiths profiles the prolific
Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PB, United Kingdom.
gramophone.co.uk
33 CDs of live recordings by Günter Wand Mark-Anthony Turnage
email gramophone@markallengroup.com or
subscriptions@markallengroup.com
ISSN 0017-310X. OPERA 116 CLASSICS RECONSIDERED 134
The Awards issue of Gramophone is on sale from
September 14; the October issue will be on sale from Thomas Hyde’s The Man Stephen Ward; a Strauss Two critics compare notes on Sir Georg Solti’s
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
rarity; DG’s Lohengrin and Parsifal on DVD 1971 recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony,
arising from clerical or printers’ errors, or an advertiser not
completing his contract. Regarding concert listings, all the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’
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by a stamped addressed envelope. We have made every effort
JAZZ & WORLD MUSIC 127
to secure permission to use copyright material. Where
material has been used inadvertently or we have been unable
Reviews from our sister titles Jazzwise and Songlines THE SPECIALIST’S GUIDE 136
to trace the copyright owner, acknowledgement will be made
in a future issue. Celebrating the unique qualities of the contralto
UK subscription rate £64.
Printed in England by Southernprint. REPLAY 130
North American edition (ISSN 0017-310X):
Gramophone, USPS 881080, is published monthly with Karl Böhm’s early years; Brahms from Bruno PERFORMANCES & EVENTS 144
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
Walter; Otmar Suitner conducts Mozart The best live music on radio and online
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GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION 138 LETTERS & OBITUARIES 156
© MA Music Leisure & Travel Ltd, 2017. All rights reserved.
No part of the Gramophone may be reproduced, stored in a Hugo Shirley surveys the recordings of Eine Ashkenazy’s generosity; Elgar’s genius;
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.
Alpensinfonie and recommends a top version Walton’s hasty retreat
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.
NEW RELEASES 158 MY MUSIC 162
BBC Radio 4’s Today presenter Nick Robinson
REVIEWS INDEX 160 on the importance of music in his life

4 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


Martin

RECORDING OF THE MONTH


Cullingford’s HAYDN. Isserlis’s ever-questing
pick of the finest CPE BACH.
recordings from BOCCHERINI career is one we have all
this month’s Cello Concertos
reviews Deutsche Kammer-
gained much fulfillment
philharmonie from following – and
Bremen /
Steven Isserlis vc in revisiting repertoire,
Hyperion
CHARLOTTE
as here, he offers an
GARDNER’S even greater insight
REVIEW IS ON
PAGE 54 into his journey.

PICKARD SHOSTAKOVICH BARSANTI. HANDEL


Symphony No 5, etc Chamber Symphony, ‘Edinburgh 1742’
BBC National Orchestra of Op 110a R STRAUSS Ensemble Marsyas /
Wales / Martyn Brabbins Metamorphosen Peter Whelan
BIS Baltic CO/ Emmanuel Linn
A composer with Leducq-Barôme Proof, if needed, that
a wonderful grasp of the possibilities Rubicon Baroque music can continue to surprise
for colour from an orchestra, something The Strauss string texture is captured us, as Lindsay Kemp puts it. A rare outing
Brabbins and his colleagues clearly relish compellingly by the mics; the well-chosen for some of this repertoire – but why?
in this fine-sounding recording. coupling is equally as impressive. Perhaps this disc will change that.
REVIEW ON PAGE 62 REVIEW ON PAGE 68 REVIEW ON PAGE 74

MOZART BRAHMS Piano Works SCHUBERT


Violin Sonatas, Vol 4 Nelson Freire pf ‘Der Einsame’
Alina Ibragimova vn Decca Ilker Arcayürek ten
Cédric Tiberghien pf This is music that Simon Lepper pf
Hyperion Freire, one of our Champs Hill
Shaping up to be a age’s most continually Our reviewer reaches
cycle destined to define this music for enriching pianists, has long lived with. for some of the greatest tenors by point
a long time, on disc at least; Ibragimova The result is a Brahms recording that of comparison, and Arcayürek emerges
and Tiberghien again treat later and early leaves critic Harriet Smith in no doubt with head held high as an impressive
works with the same belief and conviction. of its, and Freire’s, brilliance. part of an ongoing tradition.
REVIEW ON PAGE 81 REVIEW ON PAGE 88 REVIEW ON PAGE 105

‘NATURE AND ‘CARNEVALE 1729’ ‘STRAVAGANZA


THE SOUL’ Ann Hallenberg mez D’AMORE!’
Latvian Radio Choir / Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon
Kaspars Putniņš Montanari vn Harmonia Mundi
LMIC/SKANI Pentatone Praise here for a complete
This is a truly Step into Venice in package – performance and
beautiful album of Latvian choral full festive flow as Hallenberg offers arias presentation alike – that offers a thrilling
works performed by singers clearly from seven operas you’d have heard if you and fascinating insight into the early days
completely immersed in its musical were there in 1729: historical research of opera from, appropriately enough, a
and cultural foundations. bears fabulous fruits for the ears! Gramophone Award-winner from last year.
REVIEW ON PAGE 110 REVIEW ON PAGE 124 REVIEW ON PAGE 125

In association with
DVD/BLU-RAY REISSUE/ARCHIVE
RAVEL. DELAGE. DUTILLEUX Orchestral Works MOZART Symphonies
London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle Nos 39 & 40
LSO Live Staatskapelle Dresden / www.qobuz.com
If you can’t make it to the Barbican to watch Otmar Suitner
the new partnership in person, then here’s Berlin Classics Listen to many of
an excellent chance to observe Rattle and his new London Suitner’s fine archive Mozart is, as Rob the Editor’s Choice
colleagues in action. As Mark Pullinger puts it, it augurs well! Cowan writes, well worth investigating. recordings online at
REVIEW ON PAGE 64 REVIEW ON PAGE 131 qobuz.com

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 7


FOR THE RECORD BBC names its New
Major labels sign young stars
Pianist George Li joins Warner Classics and cellist Kian Soltani Generation Artists
signs to Deutsche Grammophon to release debut recital albums
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
oshua Bell has pledged his continued
commitment to the Academy of St Martin

G
eorge Li, American pianist and silver medal winner at 2015’s International in the Fields, renewing his contract as
Tchaikovsky Competition, has signed to Warner Classics. His debut Music Director for a further three years,
album for the label will be taken from a recital recorded live at the until 2020. The famed violinist succeeded the
Mariinsky Theatre last year, featuring Haydn, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Liszt. ensemble’s founder Sir Neville Marriner in
He describes the programme as ‘like a journey down to Hell and back up again’. the post in 2011, since when they’ve recorded
Gramophone’s Editor-in-Chief James Jolly was in Moscow when the 21-year-old a number of discs together for Sony Classical
pianist made such an impact, and remembers him as being highly popular with the including Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 4
audience. He noted that at the gala concert preceeding the competition both Li and 7, and Brahms’s Double Concerto with
and joint silver medal recipient Lukas Geniu≈as ‘were greeted as heroes’. Stephen Isserlis. Both releases, meanwhile,
Other honours to his name include the 2012 Gilmore Young Artist Award, feature in a new box-set being released by Sony
and most recently, in 2016, an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Li joins a prestigious Classical of Bell’s recordings on the label to
line-up of young artists at Warners, including Beatrice Rana and – signed last mark his 50th birthday this December.
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.’ Joshua Bell to remain with the ASMF for three more years

8 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

Shining the spotlight on the future


A
number of competitions this me acutely aware of the relative pollution
month offered up names to of the purity of judgement if the eyes are
keep a close eye on in the years allowed to be involved … My conclusion is
ahead. Firstly, Plácido Domingo’s that, whilst the details might be tweaked, in
prestigious Operalia competition named principle the concept is right: this is a really
Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia and good way to manage a competition.’ The magazine is just the beginning.
south African tenor Levy Sekgapane This month also saw the release by Visit gramophone.co.uk for …
as the First Prize winners. Decca Gold, just two month’s after his
The competition was founded in 1993, victory, of a recital by 2017 Cliburn Podcasts
with soprano Nina Stemme among the Winner Yekwon Sunwoo. The 28-year- James Jolly presents two very special
winners. The list of illustrious alumni old South Korean pianist’s debut disc Gramophone Awards podcasts this month.
over the years bodes well for the new features works by Haydn, Schubert, The first podcast it with this year’s Lifetime
winners, including as it does José Ravel, Grainger and pianist-composer Achievement Award-winner Dame Kiri
Cura, Erwin Schrott, Joyce DiDonato, Marc-André Hamelin. The album had Te Kanawa in which she discusses the
Rolando Villazón, Joseph Calleja, Isabel previously been available digitally. highlights of her long and illustrious career.
Bayrakdarian, Carmen Giannattasio, The second is with last year’s Young Artist
Angel Blue and Pretty Yende. of the Year, Benjamin Appl, in which he talks
Meanwhile, a new conducting about his recording plans for the future.
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 Operalia sucess: Adela Zaharia and Levy Sekgapane

ONE TO WATCH
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
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

inclusion makes anyone worthy of note.


But for Quatuor Arod it’s proving to be a
particular auspicious year, as in April they Last year’s Young Artist of the Year, Benjamin Appl
were signed by major label Erato, home of
some very inspired A&R decisions. A guide to music streaming
Founded in 2013, the Paris-based ensemble Gramophone’s Audio Editor Andrew Everard
comprises violinists Jordan Victoria and has written an exclusive and comprehensive
Alexandre Vu, viola player Corentin Apparailly guide to making the most of music
and cellist Samy Rachid. The ensemble won Caption for image above to fill out line one line only streaming. There is an overview of the pros
First Prize at the 2016 ARD International and cons of various streaming subscription
Music Competition in Munich and is being and with whom they share the distinction services, including Qobuz, Tidal and Apple
mentored by fellow Erato artists the Artemis of having won the redoubtable ARD Music, recommendations for the best ways
Quartet and former Ebène Quartet viola International Music Competition in Munich. to enjoy music streaming on the move or at
player Mathieu Herzog, both points referred With such lineage, it seemed only natural that home, and a beginner’s guide which explains
to by Erato President Alain Lanceron when the Arod Quartet would join the Erato family.’ the best ways to integrate streaming into
announcing their signing: ‘The Arod Quartet Their debut album – set for release on your current hi-fi setup.
are, in a way, descendants of the label’s two September 22 – will include Mendelssohn’s
longstanding, prestigious string quartets, the String Quartets Nos 2 and 4, and will be Facebook & Twitter
Artemis and Ebène, with whom they studied reviewed in our pages shortly. Follow us to hear about the latest
classical music news and anniversaries.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 9


FOR THE RECORD

IN THE STUDIO
Pianist Steven Osborne has recorded Rachmaninov’s Études-tableaux Mozart’s sonatas for violin and fortepiano. Harmonia Mundi will
Opp 33 and 39 for Hyperion. The recording, made in Kentish Town, release the recording in the autumn of 2018 O Mark Bebbington
north London, in August, will be released in the summer of 2018 O has recorded fragments from Grieg’s projected Second Piano Concerto
JoAnn Falletta was at Abbey Road Studios on August 21-22 to conduct with the RPO under Jan Latham-Koenig; the SOMM recording is due for
the world-premiere recording of Glacier, a concerto for electric guitar release in April 2018 OBorletti-Buitoni Trust Award-winning violinist
and orchestra by Kenneth Fuchs. The result, featuring DJ Sparr and the Itamar Zorman is venturing into the studio in December to record
LSO, will be released by Naxos in the spring of 2018 O There’s no rest works by Paul Ben-Haim, described by Zorman as ‘a German Ravel
for Isabelle Faust – the violinist has gone back to the Teldex Studio living in the Middle East’. He will be joined in Cardiff by BBC NOW under
Berlin with regular accompanist Alexander Melnikov to record 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].

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 Perfectionist: with his new Petrushka recording, Peter Donohoe was determined to build on his 1980s version
I would have liked to be. I wanted to do it
again and Somm gave me the opportunity. How does a typical session pan out? How involved are you with the editing?
Then I had to find other music to go with it. I always make a detailed plan of when I do an awful lot of listening afterwards. With
The rest of Stravinsky’s solo piano music isn’t I’m going to do what; it’s important to something like Petrushka, which is technically
as technically virtuosic but I really believe in it. know when to move on. I find that, with such a nightmare, I can get a bit fussy. I’ve
the passages that require the highest quality been finessing it during other sessions this
Why record it at Turner Sims, Southampton? of sound, I need to be as physically relaxed year. Every millisecond is in my blood so I can
I’ve recorded there before – I’m very happy as possible, so we record those first; start from, say, beat 3 of bar 20, quite easily.
with the acoustics and their Steinway is good they don’t all have to be from the same
too. The only issue is the lack of cable conduits piece. And after we’ve done all the short Are you satisfied now?
between the hall and listening room. I did think takes, we’ll then do a complete performance I think I’m done! Compared to the ’80s
of getting out my Black & Decker at one point! of each work. version, this one definitely has more energy.

Argerich & Friends Lugano series ends


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

I
t’s been a continually rewarding protégés, offering an extraordinary
chamber music series, but now the opportunity for young musicians to
‘Martha Argerich & Friends’ releases perform in such acclaimed company, and
from the acclaimed pianist’s festival in for us to hear them. Not least among the
Lugano are to come to an end. The annual attractions, however, was to hear Argerich
recordings, available from Warner Classics, herself so regularly on record. Following
were drawn from the pianist’s Swiss the festival’s closure after 15 years
festival where she hand-picked colleagues (funding came to an end), the 2016 set
Lugano: a ring-side seat to superb music-making from among her illustrious peers and will be the last. It’s released this month.

10 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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 Shostakovich’ Symphony No 15 at
attention to the importance of long- Orchestra Hall, Chicago, and resulted
standing conductor/orchestra in 24 Grammy Awards. The lavish
relationships. But few were as prolific set charts the period with a 180-page
and successful as that of Sir Georg Solti book, retrospectives from colleagues
and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. and observers, photographs and some
To mark 20 years since the facsimiles of Solti’s scores.
conductor’s death, and 125 since the Solti remained a Decca artist
Chicago SO’s founding, Decca is issuing thoughout his career, making 250
a 108-CD box set containing their recordings in total (including 45
complete recorded legacy together. complete operas) over half a century.
The partnership began in March He was awarded a Gramophone Lifetime
1970 with a recording of Mahler’s Achievement Award in 1992. Released
Fifth Symphony at Medinah Temple, on September 15, the box set will sell
and finished 27 years later with for £199. Solti and Chicago: a substantial and rewarding legacy

12 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

FROM WHERE I SIT WORLD-CLASS ARTISTS ON


What’s in a name? New columnist
Edward Seckerson challenges
the conventions of genre titles Dreams & Fancies: English music for solo guitar
Sean Shibe

I
n this age of rampant genre-hopping it’s ‘Can there be more luminous tones and cusp-of-
silence dynamics to be drawn from a guitar than the
actually hard to know what to call Joyce ones Sean Shibe constantly searches out? […] I want
DiDonato’s cracking Gramophone Award to hear his interpretation of Britten’s Nocturnal over
winning confection ‘In War & Peace’. and over. This, for me, is the definitive performance’
— The Arts Desk, September 2015 (concert review)
In performance it was neither a recital
DCD34193 ‘Most of [the works here] were inspired by Julian
(the category in which it scooped its award)
Bream’s superlative artistry … Under Shibe’s fingers,
nor a concert but rather an indefinable they are all mesmerising’
hybrid whose subtly themed narrative of — Gramophone, September 2017, EDITOR’S CHOICE

‘Shibe is another Bream,


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 or something close’
the catch-all phrase. But with those two words comes a dizzying — Sunday Times, July 2017
array of genres from opera and musicals to cabaret and review,
all with their own distinct forms and, more importantly, styles. The Last Island: chamber music
Next February at London’s Barbican DiDonato stars in by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
the inexplicably belated UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Hebrides Ensemble
Dead Man Walking, based on Sister Helen Prejean’s book. As Peter Maxwell Davies’s later music powerfully evokes
contemporary opera goes, Heggie’s musical universe could the isolated majesty of his Orkney home, yet it also
bears witness to his talent for friendship – to his
hardly be further removed from the latest offerings from the associations, both personal and musical, with friends
likes of Thomas Adès, George Benjamin and others on this side and supporters in Scotland and further afield. In its
of the pond to whom the major opera commissions generally go. DCD34178 second Delphian recording, the Hebrides Ensemble
reciprocates Davies’s friendship with definitive
And thereby hangs an interesting anomaly. performances of works from his last decade, including
A year or so ago I held court with DiDonato and Heggie in four works written for the Ensemble or its members
a post-concert event following their performance of Heggie’s and concluding with the single completed movement
of a string quartet left unfinished at his death.
dramatic song-cycle (is that a fair description? do we need one?)
Camille Claudel: Into the Fire. We discussed grateful, singable, ‘haunting … The Hebrides players bring questing
energy to all these works … a rewarding album’
word-setting and, more pertinently, the influence of America’s — The Times, August 2017
rich musical theatre heritage on composers as diverse as Aaron
Copland, Carlisle Floyd, Samuel Barber, Marc Blitzstein, John
Stravinsky / Rachmaninov / Tchaikovsky:
Adams, John Corigliano – the list goes on. And yet there are those Russian works for piano four hands
for whom the ‘Broadway’ legacy is acknowledged with suspicion, Peter Hill & Benjamin Frith
those who regard the predominantly tonal language of Heggie and Sergei Rachmaninov, last of the great Romantic
the international success of Dead Man Walking and, more recently, composers, and Igor Stravinsky, whose early scores
Moby Dick as the result of their being populist and lightweight and for Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes revolutionised the
musical world, had a shared fascination for the
worst of all ‘conservative’. When Broadway composer Stephen traditional music of their homeland. Rachmaninov’s
Schwartz (he of Godspell and Wicked) ventured into the realms DCD34191 early masterpiece, the Six morceaux Op. 11, already
of opera and a more sung-through form with Seance on a Wet exhibits the sweep and grandeur of his maturity, while
Stravinsky’s four-hands arrangement of Petrushka
Afternoon one critic referenced his Broadway credentials as if that reveals this glittering ballet anew in a tour de force of
were a bad thing. That’s like saying that West Side Story is far pianistic virtuosity. Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly exquisite
too good simply to be a musical (look what happened when they transcriptions of Russian folksongs, meanwhile,
include two melodies later used by Stravinsky in
tried to ‘operatise’ it) or that Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd
The Firebird and Petrushka.
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

is operatic in manner and therefore belongs in an opera house.


Peter Hill, whose Bach series for Delphian continues
The tragically short-lived Marc Blitzstein made no distinction to attract superlatives, is here joined for the first time
between his opera Regina and his glorious musical Juno (one on the label by his long-term duo partner Benjamin
of Broadway’s great forgotten scores). Both played Broadway Frith. Together they explore every facet of the art of
the piano duet in performances of truly exceptional
theatres. And why not? So let’s pay less attention to labelling power, delicacy and authority.
and start breaking down unhelpful divisions.
And while we’re about it, let’s stop using the term ‘art song’. Delphian Records Ltd, 34 Wallace Avenue,
Wallyford, East Lothian, EH21 8BZ
What is that supposed to mean? That there is somehow only ‘art’ www.delphianrecords.co.uk
in songs thus labelled? Of course, that was never the intention – Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or
but neither was the suggestion that calling something an opera find out more by joining the Delphian mailing list:
www.delphianrecords.co.uk/join
would somehow elevate its importance.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 13


“ S t e i n w a y a l l o w s m e t o u n f o l d t h e w o r l d o f i m a g i n a t i o n .”

Y U J A WA N G
S T E I N W AY A R T I S T

Ste i n w a y H a l l 4 4 Mary le b o ne L ane L o nd o n W1 U 2 DB

Fo r m o re i n f o r m a t io n o r t o arrange a p rivate ap p o intmen t


a t o u r L o n d o n s h o wro o m s , p le ase call:

0 207 487 3391 o r e m ail info @ s te inway.co .u k


In association with

Our sponsors & partners

Celebrating the best of the best


Editor-in-Chief James Jolly guides you through this year’s Awards

E
very so often a recording streaks ahead of the others both second vote produces the individual Award winners, and these are
in the early rounds and at the Recording of the Year jury all re-evaluated in the pages that follow. To narrow that dozen to
meeting, and this year was no exception (if curiosity has just one Recording of the Year we convene a meeting of 16 critics
overcome you, simply turn the page for all to be revealed). and each juror is sent a complete set of the winning discs. We then
Once again, we’ve reached that time of the year when we take spend a wonderfully lively and informative morning arguing about
stock of the highlights of 12 months’ worth of outstanding the merits of each winner – what they add to the catalogue, how
recordings. The process starts in the spring when we compile they demonstrate a new way with the music, what they reveal
a longlist of all the Editor’s Choice recordings from the 13 issues about the artists and so on. After a couple of hours’ debate we
that run from June 2016 to May 2017. Each critic is allowed take a secret vote from which the Recording of the Year emerges.
to supplement these with particular favourites that weren’t This year, as I said at the start, the Recording of the Year winner
acknowledged in our monthly top 10. This then forms the field for enjoyed a runaway triumph – and a hugely deserving one (and
Round 1. At this point, the list is divided up by genre (similar to proof that our bestowing of a Young Artist Award on the winner
the sections of the magazine though with some more specific sub- many years ago was an auspicious move).
divisions – the Baroque, for example, is divided into Vocal and Of course, there are a handful of other awards that we give out –
Instrumental sections). Critics who then specialise in these areas to a young artist who has been catching our attention, to a great
vote to narrow the list to just six in each of the 12 categories. artist whose lifetime work has earned enormous gratitude from us
Round 2 is open to any of Gramophone’s 50 or so critics and they as well as a huge audience. Also, to someone who has caught your
can opt into as many or as few categories as they like. Recordings imagination, as our Artist of the Year is a public vote. Throw in a
are then sent out so everyone has access to the music and they have Label of the Year and a couple of special prizes to mark the Awards’
a couple of months for the Round 2 listening and judging. This 40th anniversary, and it’s been a particularly rich year.

Once again we’re delighted to be partnering Medici.tv streamed the Awards live,
with one of our Associate Sponsors, Qobuz, a relay sponsored by E Gutzwiller & Cie, Banquiers, and IMG Artists.
who are sponsoring our Recording of the Year. This is a prize which Don’t worry if you missed it and the wonderful live music – including
has honoured many of the most exciting and impressive musicians, performances by the Pan-Armenian SO and Sergey Smabtyan,
and 2017 is no exception – an astounding recording by a former Benjamin Appl and The Tallis Scholars – because you can catch up
Gramophone Young Artist … with it for 90 days at medici.tv as well as at Gramophone’s website.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 15


RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Concerto
WINNER Isabelle Faust’s wonderful way with Mozart
‘A remarkably refreshing collection, the sort that
challenges previously held convictions’

A
different beauty here, a new way of hearing Mozart Violin Concertos Mozart himself) – found the Adagio of the main
these deliciously Italianate masterpieces Nos 1-5. Adagio, K261. work too ‘artificial’.
that doesn’t so much replace what Rondos – K269; K373 Slow movements are given an unusual slant,
we know and love as offer, in musical Isabelle Faust vn occasionally in a way that maybe craves adjustment
terms, a conceptual supplement. To deal with the Il Giardino Armonico / from the listener, especially the listener ‘of a certain
accompaniments first, Giovanni Antonini’s period- Giovanni Antonini age’. The Third Concerto’s Adagio opens to muted
instrument Il Giardino Armonico sport an unusually Harmonia Mundi first violins which in this instance sound more like
wide range of dynamics. Take the Fifth Concerto, M b HMC90 2230/31 period woodwinds, a mellow blend of tones that
its decisive opening chord followed by a shimmering Producer Martin Sauer paves the way for Faust’s gleaming first solo entry.
Allegro aperto, kept tense and quiet aside from some Engineers Tobias Lehmann, Another case in point is the Andante from the
dramatic interjections. The expected lack of vibrato Wolfgang Schiefermann Fourth Concerto where, after the cadenza (here,
and the tweaking of certain note values in tutti 187 votes as elsewhere, the innovative work of the period
passages also arrest attention, such as the opening’s keyboard player Andreas Staier), Mozart writes a
second idea: this is swift, buoyant, trimly tailored heart-stopping little coda: in essence, four repeated
playing, up and running from the off and with not so notes, then an upwards scale that climbs down, dips
much as an ounce of excess weight to hold it back. further and, as traditionally heard, rises back to the
Isabelle Faust’s first entry is spun silver, gently initial note on a heartfelt slide. Faust’s way is not so
conspicuous by its chasteness and yet very much much to drift upwards on ethereal wings as to take
of a piece with her musical surroundings. These a notational elevator, then embellish the line. It’s an
forces score highest in the exotic ‘Turkish’ episode interesting idea but as of the present I still have the
of the Fifth’s finale, Faust as deft as a dancing devil, likes of Ehnes, Mutter, Szeryng, Heifetz, Grumiaux,
P H O T O G R A P H Y: F E L I X B R O E D E

Antonini and his band charging the atmosphere Martzy (especially beautiful) and others tugging at my
with pungent textures and fiery rhythms. It’s good Sponsored by heartstrings, imploring me to stay with their warmer,
that they preceded the Concerto with the Adagio, more direct approach. Still, Faust’s alternative is
K261, composed because Antonio Brunetti – certainly food for thought.
Mozart’s replacement as concertmaster in Salzburg Mention of Staier’s cadenzas prompts me to quote
(and a ‘thoroughly ill-bred fellow’ according to his theories appertaining to the concertos’ ‘proximity

16 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


RU N N E R S - U P of tone to Italian opera’
Sibelius. Tchaikovsky (his own words), and the
Violin Concertos idea of opera recitative,
Lisa Batiashvili vn which means that CYMBELINE
Staatskapelle Berlin / some of the cadenzas SHAKESPEARE
Daniel Barenboim are unusually complex Royal Shakespeare Company
DG and/or long. The Britain is in crisis. Alienated,
159 votes Third Concerto’s first insular and on the brink of
Beach. Chaminade. movement provides a disaster. Can it be saved?
Melly Still directs
Howell Piano Concertos striking place to sample. Shakespeare’s rarely
Danny Driver pf BBC Listen to disc 1, performed romance of
Scottish SO / Rebecca Miller track 8, from 6'49", power, jealousy and a journey
Hyperion a top-gear, Locatelli- of love and reconciliation.
This production cast the role
145 votes style unaccompanied of Cymbeline as a woman,
showpiece, at least played by Gillian Bevan.
initially, then wittily hesitant, and which come 7'59" summons the DVD | BLU-RAY
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 ANASTASIA
TCHAIKOVSKY
late Baroque period. Of special note is the flowing, elegantly voiced Royal Opera House
Adagio, Faust’s entry here among the most beautiful moments in the
Royal Ballet Principal
entire set. The Second Concerto’s first movement is demonstrably Natalia Osipova dances
operatic in style, true concerto buffa, the first movement full of fun, the title role in Kenneth
the Andante a dead ringer for a Mozart or even a Rossini aria, MacMillan’s haunting ballet,
to atmospheric music by
granted a shapely reading by Faust and her skilled accomplices,
Tchaikovsky and Martinů.
delicate and tonally varied. Anastasia tells the story
So a remarkably refreshing collection, the sort that challenges of Anna Anderson who,
previously held convictions, and a good thing that it does too. The following the Russian
Revolution and the murder
recorded balance is excellent, keeping the soloist in focus while of the royal family, claimed
granting the orchestra plenty of presence. Rob Cowan 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 Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
‘If anyone has

‘D experienced success it
ie Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar Steane commented of Te Kanawa’s ‘Dove
Ding’, sings the Marschallin sono’ (Le nozze di Figaro) that ‘the legato is
in Hugo von Hofmannsthal
and Richard Strauss’s
is this possessor of one perfect, the style aristocratic, the tone at its
loveliest’, and drew comparisons with Meta
Der Rosenkavalier – ‘Time is a strange thing’.
Time for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the
of the loveliest voices Seinemeyer (and from JBS that was high
praise indeed).
most admired Marschallins of our age, is not
about looking back. It’s for looking forwards.
of modern times’ It’s exactly 25 years since Gramophone
bestowed its Artist of the Year Award on
‘I get bored talking about the past’, she says, a line Dame Kiri. That year, 1992, had been an
Hofmannsthal might easily have dropped extraordinary one for her when it came to
into one of his librettos. recordings: we’d had Richard Strauss’s Der
Dame Kiri may have stopped singing publicly Rosenkavalier from EMI, conducted by Haitink, a
(‘No, I don’t miss it’), but she certainly doesn’t second recording of the Four Last Songs from Decca,
consider herself retired. She maintains a busy conducted by Solti, Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus
schedule overseeing her Foundation, an organisation from Philips, conducted by André Previn, as well as
to help future generations of singers. ‘Some of my an album of songs by Michel Legrand (to add to a
students say to me, “How can I repay you for what sizeable lighter catalogue that included Gershwin,
Sponsored by
you’ve done for me?” I reply, “Just be successful!”’ Bernstein, Kern and Rodgers and Hammerstein).
And if anyone has experienced success it is this As we celebrate Kiri Te Kanawa’s career with the
possessor of one of the loveliest voices of modern Lifetime Achievement Award, we must be thankful
times. That great connoisseur of the voice (and one that she lived through one of the richest periods
of Gramophone’s best-loved contributors) John for recordings and had the fortune to record for

18 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


companies with great
T H E E S S E N T I A L K I R I T E K A N AWA
Bernstein operatic heritages:
West Side Story Decca, EMI, Philips and
Bernstein CBS/Sony Classical. She
DG (4/85) enjoyed recording
because, she says, ‘I liked
Mozart the idea of getting things
Le nozze di Figaro down while my voice
Solti was still in good shape.
Decca (4/84) I always felt that while it
was still there and still
R Strauss with a sweet quality to it,
Four Last Songs the more we could
VPO / Solti capture the better.
Decca (9/91) Getting it perfect wasn’t
my idea; having long
R Strauss takes was. It had to be a
Der Rosenkavalier performance; not spliced
Haitink together.’ And she got
Warner Classics (8/91) the chance to record
all her major roles
Verdi (sometimes more than
Simon Boccanegra once: especially with
Solti the increased interest
Decca (5/93) in DVD).
‘I always said as I went
Verdi along, throughout my
Otello career, that I never got
Solti it perfect’, she revealed.
Opus Arte ‘I never got it totally as
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
THE COLLECTION
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 Spanning more than two hundred years
unfriendly group, so you have to hope!’ of opera, this magnificent 22-disc collection
Dame Kiri’s voice might have been made for the music of brings together 18 outstanding operas
Mozart and Strauss, and her recordings of operas (and choral in a luxurious box set.
works and songs) by those two composers remain particularly
cherishable: her Capriccio Countess was a glorious characterisation, A special edition book is also included,
as was her Arabella; and in Mozart we have her Pamina, Countess containing new articles about The Royal Opera,
Almaviva, Donna Elvira (particularly fine both under Sir Colin richly illustrated with stunning photographs.
Davis and in the classic Joseph Losey film with Ruggiero Raimondi
as Giovanni) and Fiordiligi, not to mention a glorious C minor The Collection is a dazzling tour of operatic
Mass and some of the concert arias. treasures by Mozart, Verdi, Bizet, Wagner,
Dame Kiri has achieved what few classical singers manage, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Strauss,
to attract a huge international audience with everything from Szymanowski, Britten and George Benjamin.
musical theatre to grand opera, and she approached it all with the
same spirit. She worked hard, she played the game (chat shows,
OUT NOW
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

Morecambe and Wise, constant interviews) and she gave generously


of her time. Now, she has the time to devote to her extensive ON DVD AND BLU-RAY
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 roh.org.uk/shop
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
See also Hugo Shirley’s Kiri Te Kanawa playlist on page 129

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 19


ARTIST OF THE YEAR
WINNER Vasily Petrenko
‘Petrenko is making

S waves, and we’re


till a boyish 41, Vasily Petrenko makes Indeed, the RLPO, on great form, provide a
a return to the Gramophone Classical sumptuous array of textures with an ensemble
Music Awards this year having been
our Young Artist of the Year back in
happy to endorse this that is crisp and incisive. It is so good to hear
every note of the athletic brass counterpoint
2007 (a year when, unusually, our Artist of
the Year, Hilary Hahn, was younger!). His
impressive lead, from in the horns and trumpets and the lithe
filigree of Elgar’s careful doublings between
work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic,
the ensemble he has led first as Principal
over 8000 votes cast’ wind and strings … Petrenko is, for the most
part, spot-on with his tempos.’
Conductor and then as Chief Conductor since RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS Since the start of the 2013/14 season,
2006, continues to impress, and no more so Tchaikovsky Petrenko has been Chief Conductor of the
than in the set of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Symphonies Nos 3, 4 & 6 Oslo Philharmonic (one of those ensembles
Nos 3, 4 and 6, released by Onyx earlier this Royal Liverpool PO that seems to launch meteoric careers – just
year, and which was received with universal Onyx (3/17) look at Mariss Jansons, with whom Petrenko
acclaim, clinching Gramophone’s Recording studied). They’ve already set down an
of the Month in March. Mark Pullinger Prokofiev impressive little discography and this last year
remarked that ‘Petrenko’s fast and furious Romeo and Juliet, Op 64 saw a version of Prokofiev’s complete Romeo
approach once again pays off with invigorating Oslo PO and Juliet ballet. While not totally sold on
performances which dispel Russian gloom. LAWO (12/16) Petrenko’s approach, David Gutman noted
The RLPO play their socks off and must rank (12/16) that ‘In place of Soviet-style weight,
as one of the finest “Russian orchestras” in the Petrenko wields a new broom … Sections
UK today.’ For a St Petersburg-trained conductor, it within numbers are refreshed unpredictably,
must have been with some satisfaction that MP drew sometimes slowed, more often swift, voicings
comparisons (in the Fourth Symphony) with Yevgeny tweaked to expose long-buried lines or surprising
Mravinsky. The Pathétique, a crowning performance points of colour’. And one shouldn’t forget his
here in every respect, is characterised by vivid charismatic work with the European Union Youth
dynamics and a wonderful control of intensity. Orchestra, whose Chief Conductor he also is. His
If Petrenko drew on his Russian roots in the ability to connect with young musicians is impresive
Tchaikovsky, he drew on the orchestra’s in another and the results speak for themselves.
of this year’s recording projects (and another Onyx Gramophone’s Artist of the Year is voted for by
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R K M C N U LT Y

release): a disc of Edward Elgar’s Second Symphony the public – readers of Gramophone and visitors to
and some shorter works. Jeremy Dibble (who our various social media outlets. Vasily Petrenko
reviewed the companion recording of the First is making waves, and we’re happy to endorse this
Symphony two years ago) wrote that ‘I am even impressive lead, from over 8000 votes cast, for an
more impressed by the Russian’s reading of the artist who has clearly made the step up to a new level
Second Symphony, which has a clarity of sound of musicianship and has the ability to take audiences
to match the luxuriance of Elgar’s orchestration. with him on his musical journey. JJ

20 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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

Principal Funders Principal Partners Media Partners

Thanks to the City


of Liverpool for its
¿QDQFLDOVXSSRUW
A Signum recording session with Sarah Connolly and Malcolm Martineau

LABEL OF THE YEAR


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

F
or an avid record collector, opening the It’s always good to mark significant anniversaries
morning’s post at Gramophone remains one in the life of a record company, but when that
of life’s great joys; and opening the post anniversary is supported by a stream of first-rate
when a package arrives from Signum induces recordings, recognition is less dutiful and rather
particular pleasure since it unleashes the spirit of more the result of inspiration. The 2016-17 vintage
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

serendipity. In an age awash with information, the has seen some truly superb releases and many
simple act of opening a parcel without knowing quite Editor’s Choices – Haydn’s The Seasons conducted
what’s inside is an unusual surprise. What you can by Paul McCreesh, a terrific recording of chamber
always be sure of with Signum’s monthly releases and vocal works by Jonathan Dove, Sophie Bevan
is that they will invariably be splendidly recorded Sponsored by and Ian Page’s The Mozartists in scenas and concert
and never predictable. And that recipe has set the arias, further instalments in Malcolm Martineau’s
company in good stead for the first two decades of Fauré song series, JS Bach organ works from David
its existence. Goode, Peter Donohoe’s Shostakovich Preludes and

22 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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 Waley-
Cohen … the list goes on.
It’s been a long journey from the mid-1990s, when Floating BORIS GILTBURG
Earth (Signum’s sister company) would make recordings in an
executive production capacity – which it financed, owned and VASILY PETRENKO
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
SHOSTAKOVICH
MD, recalls, an approach from an artist to record nine discs of “Giltburg’s new accounts… under Vasily Petrenko are
Tallis got things under way. ‘Having pressed the first three albums first class” International Piano
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

8.573666
care of technical and production elements and they put in the
musical and artistic elements. We always like the artists to be Conducted by Vasily Petrenko
Gramophone Artist of the Year 2017
“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. “Giltburg has all the agility, power and expressive intensity
We view each release as a co-production with the artists. We also Shostakovich’s piano concertos demand… And he has found
like each artist to undertake a series of recordings rather than like-minded partners in the RLPO and Petrenko” Gramophone
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 RACHMANINOV
it is visible on all available platforms and on formats from the
SEP 2017
traditional CD to the massively popular stream. JJ

8.573629

“His vision will place him among the truly


memorable Rachmaninov interpreters”
Gramophone on 8.573469 Recording of the month

© Oliver Binns

www.naxosdirect.co.uk
www.naxos.com
The Mozartists’ Ian Page with Sophie Bevan at the ‘Perfido’ sessions for Signum

gramophone.co.uk 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 EDITOR’S CHOICE EDITOR’S CHOICE EDITOR’S CHOICE


MONTH August 2017 July 2017 May 2017 December 2016

WWW.SIGNUMRECORDS.COM
Distributed by [PIAS] in the UK &
Naxos of America in the USA
YOUNG ARTIST OF THE YEAR
WINNER Beatrice Rana
‘Everything about
Beatrice Rana speaks
Y
oung musicians usually impress in to have given us enough to think about
one of two different ways. One is for the time being.
to dazzle with the exuberance of of maturity’ Born to pianist parents, she herself started
youth, the sheer joy of their own on the instrument at the age of three, so that,
talent and personality. It’s a hard thing to RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS as she claims, ‘playing the piano was among
resist, but one would be wise to wonder if it Prokofiev. Tchaikovsky the most natural things I could do’. Watch her
will still be serving them so well a decade or so Piano Concertos play now – a luxury I had for a whole day while
down the line. The other is to show technique, Rana; Santa Cecilia Orch / producing one of her BBC New Generation
yes, but also the poise and wisdom often Pappano Artist studio sessions for Radio 3 – and it is
lazily assumed to be beyond the attainment Warner Classics (12/15) evident that this deep grounding lends her a
of youth, but which, if you’ve got it, will surely Bach calm stillness that betokens perfectly relaxed
never go away. A few minutes with the playing Goldberg Variations technique and allows her to bring out the
of Beatrice Rana leaves you in no doubt which Rana innate intelligence of her musical personality.
category she is in. Warner Classics (4/17) Read Harriet Smith’s review of the Goldbergs
At 24, she has a refreshingly short (4/17) and you will learn of a mouth-watering
competition history, though it includes first succession of original and beautifully realised
prize in the 2011 Montreal and Silver Medal ideas. Better still, listen to the recording itself to
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

at the 2013 Van Cliburn. Her days with such encounter a profound musician who also happens to
things are presumably over now, however, be a pianist through and through.
thanks to a contract from Warner Classics that Indeed, everything about Beatrice Rana speaks
has already yielded the Tchaikovsky First and of maturity, from the playing itself to her modest
Prokofiev Second Concertos (the Prokofiev reflections on it, and from her thoughtful approach
‘shapely, subtle, nuanced, musical in every Supported by to the music (see her Goldberg booklet note for that)
detail’, according to our own Patrick Rucker) to an attitude towards her career that essentially
and, as a first solo disc, an exquisitely drawn says ‘not too much at once’. We must be patient,
Bach Goldberg Variations that scored highly in then; it would surely be both impolite and impolitic
this year’s Instrumental category, only a year to hurry her. There will be plenty more to savour
after Igor Levit’s winning recording of it seemed in years to come. Lindsay Kemp

gramophone.co.uk 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 Classic FM
‘Classic FM plays an

W
hen Classic FM’s Managing of a national radio station but Classic FM
Editor, Sam Jackson,
receives Gramophone’s special
important role in backs up its role as a national broadcaster by
engaging with live music up and down the
Anniversary Award (given to
mark the 40th anniversary of the Gramophone
promoting today’s country. It maintains strong partnerships
with orchestras across the nation and
Classical Music Awards) at the ceremony
on September 13, the station will have just
artists in an regularly promotes concerts, a powerful way
of developing closer ties with its audiences.
marked a special anniversary of its own:
25 years of national broadcasting in the
increasingly It works tirelessly with all of its partners to
make classical music accessible to as broad
UK (as one of only three independent national indifferent world’ an audience as possible.
radio stations). It launched on September 7, Where Classic FM comes closest to ‘our
1992, and has become, in that quarter century, one of the most world’ is in its championing of recordings and its unwavering
significant broadcasters in this country, with a weekly reach of support for the classical record industry (at a time when classical
5.8 million listeners, 1.2 million of whom are under 35. Classic FM music is finding it harder and harder to secure those column
has become the world’s biggest classical music brand on Facebook, inches from arts editors with no interest in the genre). Giving new
with videos there watched by around 17 million people every releases the oxygen of publicity is vital to ensure that recorded
month. Two thirds of those who ‘like’ Classic FM on Facebook are music maintains visibility in an increasingly information-packed
also under 35 and it shares more of its audience with Radio 1 than world. While it would be easy to portray Classic FM and Radio 3
Radio 3, again showing its significant role in developing younger as being separated by a yawning gulf, there are numerous artists
audiences for classical music. Whatever their age, though, more and recordings that fit quite comfortably into the outputs of both
people listen to classical music on Classic FM than via any other networks. Classic FM plays an important role in promoting today’s
broadcast medium. artists in an increasingly indifferent world.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: C L A S S I C F M

It would be foolish to argue that Classic FM and Add in 24 hour-a-day broadcasting, seven days a week, and you
Gramophone are a natural fit – our broadcast ‘mirror image’ have the destination of choice for a substantial number of people.
is clearly BBC Radio 3 – but it would be equally foolish to And the station’s cleverly chosen line-up of presenters has added
underestimate Classic FM’s role in the musical life of this to one of the broadcasting success stories of recent times. We wish
country. Supporting live music-making is not a requirement Classic FM well for its next 25 years.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 27


SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT
WINNER Colin Matthews
‘It is as founder and
C
omposer, arranger, administrator, commemorating the First World War in
mentor and cultural advocate: it can be provocative yet affecting terms.
difficult to decide where the emphasis executive producer of This latter piece emerged out of Matthews’s
lies when considering Colin Matthews decade as Associate Composer with the Hallé –
(b1946), his contribution to British music across NMC Records that most significant of several such posts that have
more than 40 years putting composers, musicians also included the Philharmonia and London
and listeners alike in his debt. Matthews has made Symphony orchestras, and that also gave rise
Matthews’s own music is notable for its to acclaimed orchestrations of the 24 Préludes
diversity of content. Two of his earliest arguably his greatest for piano by Debussy. These transcriptions
acknowledged works, the Fourth and Fifth and arrangements are no less central to his
Sonatas for Orchestra, meet the respective contribution to the work: back in the early 1960s he orchestrated
challenge of American minimalism and Mahlerian
chromaticism head-on, their concern for UK contemporary several Mahler songs in collaboration with his
older brother David (himself a distinguished
evolving and integrating large-scale expressive
contrast pursued in such impressive later pieces
scene’ composer), and he has since arranged song-
cycles by Debussy, Holst and Britten. Matthews
as Cortège, Memorial, Reflected Images and Traces worked as amanuensis to Britten during his last years,
Remain. A productive relationship with the classical and those editorial activities have continued with
heritage is no less evident in his concertos for violin, realisations of several early or unfinished pieces, in the
cello and horn, along with a cycle of string quartets process making new orchestral and chamber works
Sponsored by
(five to date) spanning the greater part of his output. available for performance.
Vocal works include the dramatic cantata The Great Mention should also be made of his involvement
Journey, orchestral song-cycle Continuum and No (alongside David) with Deryck Cooke on the latter’s
Man’s Land, an arresting fusion of cantata and cabaret performing edition of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony,

28 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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
BRAVO & CONGRATULATIONS
been a member of the music panel of the Radcliffe Trust and, since VASILY PETRENKO!
2005, he has served as a council member of the Royal Philharmonic GRAMOPHONE ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD 2017
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 ONYX4150 & ONYX4162 ONYX4145 & ONYX4165
a broad spectrum of British post-war music from senior composers Tchaikovsky: Elgar:
such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Hugh Wood to rising stars such Symphonies 1, 2 & 5* Symphonies 1 & 2
as Mark Simpson and Kate Whitley. Notable ‘firsts’ have included Symphonies 3, 4 & 6 ‘He gets Elgar...absolutely
Anthony Payne’s realisation of the sketches for Elgar’s Third *BBC Music Magazine Awards understands the beating
Symphony, an Archive series which comprises reissues of long- Album of the Year 2017 & heart of it...elegance, weight,
Best Orchestral Recording gravitas...seriously beautiful
unavailable recordings of British music, an Ancora series featuring playing...highest possible quality
reissues from other labels and a Debut series that focuses on ‘The supreme quality of the (recording)...our generation’s
composers from the younger generation. The NMC label has also orchestral playing and the great Elgarian’
vibrancy, cogency and impetus BBC RADIO 3 RECORD REVIEW
been involved with download and online formats with such projects of Petrenko’s interpretations’
as New Music 20x12, for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and New FINANCIAL TIMES ‘I am even more impressed by the
Music Biennial. Nine of its releases have won the Contemporary ‘I commend Petrenko’s as Russian’s reading of the Second
category of the Gramophone Awards over the past quarter-century. the finest modern cycle of Symphony, which has a clarity of
Tchaikovsky’s symphonies sound to match the luxuriance of
Colin Matthews received an honorary doctorate from Elgar’s orchestration.’
Nottingham University in 1998, was given the Royal Philharmonic currently available.’
GRAMOPHONE
GRAMOPHONE
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
See also Richard Whitehouse’s NMC playlist on page 129
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

ONYX4140 ONYX4182
Prokofiev: Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring,
Piano Concertos 1 & 3 Rachmaninov: Spring Cantata,
Diapson d’or winner Debussy: Printemps
‘Third Piano Concerto ...receives a
totally idiomatic and compelling NEW RELEASE October 2017
performance, forcing it to the
front of quite a crowded field’.
***** MAIL ON SUNDAY

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


Bringing contemporary
RECORDINGS classical music to the classroom

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Taking music by composer Kate Whitley Developed in partnership with Works from the NMC
as a starting point, this FREE app Rambert Dance Company, this catalogue are the starting
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Olugbenga Adelekan of Mercury Prize past Rambert Music Fellows (Cheryl and student exercises in
nominees Metronomy. Designed to Frances-Hoad, Mark Bowden, Rhinegold Education’s innovative
meet the KS3/4 curriculum, it provides Quinta, Kate Whitley and Gavin Online Music Classroom. Addressing
software for students to create their Higgins) and selected works from the the composition aspect of the GCSE
own remixes using the same techniques. NMC catalogue suitable for the GCSE syllabus, it contains detailed lesson
Dance choreography component. plans based on NMC composers and
their works.
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best new music from the British Isles, and to encourage audiences to experience the vibrant music of today’s composers through our catalogue.
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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

Imogen Holst Colin Riley John McCabe


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

CD/MP3/FLAC NMC D230


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‘A touching & beautifully presented ‘Riley is that rarest of birds, a Sacconi Quartet · Roderick Williams
tribute to a signiÀcant Àgure in genuine original’ /RQGRQ-D]]%ORJ David Pyatt · John McCabe
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@nmcrecordings www.nmcrec.co.uk/education 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 to disc, a luxury most professional performers can
of joy at the news that Dowland’s Lachrimae ill afford. This approach is precisely what marks out
has won this year’s Early Music Award. The Phantasm’s Dowland recording from many of those
critical reception since its release has been issued from the mid-1980s onwards. Phantasm
universally glowing, and, it should be said, some inevitably stands on the shoulders of its predessors,
of the most perceptive insights came from our own relying on Lynda Sayce and David Pinto’s 2004
Lindsay Kemp, writing in July 2016. Phantasm is no Fretwork edition of the music and Peter Holman’s
stranger to the Gramophone Awards, having been a indispensable 1999 handbook, Dowland: Lachrimae
frequent finalist in both the Early Music and Baroque (1604). Another veteran of a previous Lachrimae
Instrumental categories as well as a previous winner Dowland Lachrimae, or recording, the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny, makes
of both awards for its recordings of Gibbons (2004) Seaven Teares a thoughtfully judged contribution to this disc.
and Purcell (1997). Phantasm with Lindsay Kemp’s assessment is worthy of reprise:
Among Phantasm’s defining strengths are Elizabeth Kenny lute ‘Phantasm’s performances are totally convincing and
the clarity, vision and determination of its leader, Linn F CKD527 absorbing. Drawing richly on their depth, intensity
Laurence Dreyfus. Blessed with a formidable intellect, Producer & Engineer and homogeneity of tone, their acuity to the music’s
acute musical sensibilities, insatiable curiosity and Philip Hobbs ever-active emotional flux leaves them unafraid to
a measure of self-belief, he chose to challenge an 131 votes use forceful gestures of articulation and dynamics
already crowded field of professional viol consorts to make a point.’ Julie Anne Sadie
specialising in the Elizabethan and Jacobean
repertoires by putting together a crack ensemble RU N N E R S - U P

of players after his own heart who could play as one Dufay Les Messes à teneur
and with whom he could develop freshly informed Cut Circle / Jesse Rodin
performances of the highest calibre. Musique en Wallonie
Over the years, Dreyfus’s gifts for teaching and 94 votes
research made him welcome in some of the finest
British and American academic institutions where ‘Music for the 100 Years’ War’
the marriage of musical performance and scholarship The Binchois Consort / Andrew Kirkman
is encouraged. In that environment, musicians like Hyperion
Dreyfus are encouraged to delve deeper, to test and 93 votes
refine their interpretations before committing them

gramophone.co.uk 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

Elizabeth Hainen, Solo Harpist of


the Philadelphia Orchestra, performs
a programme of pieces she enjoys
playing in the intimacy of her own
AV 2378 home, including popular works by
Bach, Debussy and Sting.

VISIT AVIE RECORDS


Distributed in the UK by Proper Note, The New Powerhouse, Gateway www.avierecords.com
Business Centre, Kangley Bridge Road, London SE26 5AN,
Tel: 020 8676 5114, Fax: 020 8676 5169
BAROQUE INSTRUMENTAL
WINNER Italian concertos from La Serenissima
‘There’s a fearless, fun-filled naturalness to the whole’

L
a Serenissima have a glorious and all- Back in my initial review in April I commented that
too-rare ability to make one’s pulse race it felt almost unhelpful to draw readers’ attentions to
afresh with every new project, and ‘The ‘highlights’ when the whole was so wonderful, but
Italian Job’ – a programme of sinfonias and then couldn’t resist pointing out that aforementioned
concertos from four musical cities – contains all their Tartini violin concerto. Now, months on, this is
typical hallmarks: crisply precise articulation, bang-on still the work I’m most regularly pressing the repeat
intonation, elegant blending and zinging sonority, button on: think gently flowing metronomic ticking,
but all this perfection is by no means straight-laced. graceful ensemble playing, and exquisitely voiced and
Instead there’s a fearless, fun-filled naturalness to the ‘The Italian Job’ ornamented solo violin lines from Chandler himself
whole, and always the impression of an ensemble who Albinoni. Caldara. Corelli. which dance and glide along with the fine-toned
believe in every single note they strike or stroke. Tartini. Torelli. Vivaldi warmth, sweetness and delicacy of spun brown sugar.
Looking at the programme itself, it’s a feast of Concertos and sinfonias Bravo La Serenissima! Charlotte Gardner
contrasting textures and colours. Compare the reedy La Serenissima /
bite and bounce of Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerto in C Adrian Chandler vn RU N N E R S - U P

with the lighter, all-strings elegance of Tartini’s Avie F AV2371 Telemann Ihr Völker hört, TWV1:921.
Violin Concerto in E, for instance. Or indeed the Producer & Engineer Concertos
disc’s climactic work, Torelli’s Sinfonia in C, because Simon Fox-Gál Florilegium / Ashley Solomon fl
P H O T O G R A P H Y: E R I C R I C H M O N D

while with recordings I’m usually only focused on the 108 votes Channel Classics
finished package, with this sinfonia’s monster-sized 107 votes
solo line-up of four trumpets, timpani, and two each Vivaldi Concerti per due violini
of oboes, bassoons, violins and cellos, I can’t help but Giuliano Carmignola,
dream of what an extraordinary listening experience Amandine Beyer vns Gli Incogniti
the recording sessions must have been. It’s certainly Harmonia Mundi
come across wonderfully on disc. 107 votes

gramophone.co.uk 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 pure instinct in kaleidoscopic tandem. Witness the
generation should present a disc of Bach’s unsettling imagery in No 170 (‘How those perverted
alto cantatas is no surprise. It’s become hearts grieve me’), where Davies’s communicative
something of a rite of passage since the artistry delivers a particularly insidious idea of Satan’s
hovering delicacies of Alfred Deller’s perfectly formed venom and cursing. As I suggested in the original
vowels from 1953. Each to his taste, the difference review, the implication of incessant irritation here
between Iestyn Davies in the two ubiquitous solo plays just as critical a part in this graphic scena as
cantatas (Nos 54 and 170) and most of the other extreme rhetorical discomfort. This is an important
recordings of this kind is that he searches out meaning recording for its questing thoughtfulness, calculated
on every level, never attempting to beguile you with JS Bach Cantatas – No 54, risk and clarity of vision. Most tellingly, perhaps, it
the ease and allure of his voice alone. Widerstehe doch der Sünde; never drifts towards muddy sentimentality into which
This pays dividends at every turn, not least in the No 82, Ich habe genug; Bach’s alto cantatas can too easily fall. A rare and
exquisite Widerstehe (No 54). For some, the rolling No 170, Vergnügte Ruh’, mesmerising collaboration of a special singer and
acres of seamless phrases might appear on the beliebte Seelenlust; No 52 – seasoned instrumentalists, beautifully recorded at
brisk side, but such is Davies’s refined placement, Sinfonia; No 174 – Sinfonia St Jude’s, Hampstead. Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
alongside the crystalline accompaniment of Jonathan Iestyn Davies counterten
Cohen’s super-alert Arcangelo, that the listener Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen RU N N E R S - U P

feels an organic steadfastness without needing the Hyperion F CDA68111 JS Bach St Matthew Passion
indulgence of obvious props. Cohen and Davies Producer Tim Oldham Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque
adopt the same principle in the celebrated set pieces Engineer David Hinitt Soloists / Sir John Eliot Gardiner
of Ich habe genug. This is a work whose transposition 145 votes SDG
from the baritone original can be perilous but 121 votes
here the voice soars into its adopted place with Monteverdi Madrigals, Vol 3: Venezia
astonishing beauty of concept and execution. Les Arts Florissants / Paul Agnew
Iestyn Davies’s vocal production is deeply satisfying Sponsored by Harmonia Mundi
because it’s always made to fit the expressive 101 votes
environment like a glove, through studied survey and

34 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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
hese are exhilarating times for string assimilating them into a powerfully individual musical
quartet fans, and following last year’s language. There’s intense sadness, but also, more
award for the Heath Quartet’s Tippett, surprisingly, an almost Haydnish sense of humour. As
it’s thrilling to be able to salute an Adrian Thompson puts it in his note, ‘Bacewicz is one
outstanding new recording of a major 20th-century of the few post-war composers who have succeeded in
cycle that, if anything, is in even more urgent need writing music that is authentically playful’.
.
of reappraisal. Grazyna Bacewicz’s quartets aren’t The Silesian Quartet play these works like they’ve
complete strangers to the catalogue, but these known them all their lives, in performances that are
performances by the Silesian Quartet set a new simultaneously fresh and refined, with a lightly worn
standard. You won’t find a more articulate, persuasive Grażyna Bacewicz command of Bacewicz’s brilliant string sonorities. It’s
and stylishly performed introduction to her world. Complete String Quartets this lived-in quality that – taken as a whole – gives the
And Bacewicz’s seven quartets, written between Silesian Quartet Silesians the edge over their rivals on Naxos and make
1938 and 1965, really do create a whole imaginative Chandos B b CHAN10904 this the year’s most essential chamber recording.
universe. Taken individually, they’re fascinating; Producer Paweł Potoroczyn Richard Bratby
music of concentrated invention, life-affirming Engineer Beata Jankowska-
energy and superb technical skill (Bacewicz was a Burzyńska RU N N E R S - U P

virtuoso violinist herself). Listened to as a cycle, they 156 votes Bruch


become a vivid portrait-in-the-round of Bacewicz’s String Octet. String Quintets
life and times. You’ll hear the influences of Polish The Nash Ensemble
folk music, of Szymanowski and Bartók, and the Hyperion
post-war experiments of her younger contemporaries 143 votes
Sponsored by the
Lutosπawski and Penderecki. Adam Mickiewicz Institute Abrahamsen. Adès. Nørgård
You’ll also hear her journey from youthful as part of the Polska Music String Quartets
exuberance to the fully achieved neoclassical mastery programme Danish Quartet
of the Third Quartet, and then onwards – testing ECM New Series
the musical ‘isms’ of the 1950s and 1960s, and 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

36 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


WARNER CLASSICS & ERATO
CONGRATULATES OUR AWARD-WINNING ARTISTS
GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017
ARTIST OF THE YEAR AWARD: RECITAL AWARD: JOYCE DIDONATO
VASILY PETRENKO
PETER AND THE WOLF IN WAR & PEACE – HARMONY
Alexander Armstrong THROUGH MUSIC
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Il Pomo d’Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev
Vasily Petrenko (CD, Double Vinyl LP, Download,
(CD, Download, Stream) Stream)

YOUNG ARTIST AWARD: BEATRICE RANA


BBC RADIO 3 NEW GENERATION ARTIST
BACH: GOLDBERG VARIATIONS PROKOFIEV & TCHAIKOVSKY
(CD, Download, Stream) PIANO CONCERTOS
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 / (4CDs: Italian / Puccini /
Irving Berlin / George Gershwin / German / French)
Karl Jenkins)

www.warnerclassics.com
Marketed and distributed by 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 8-9 November
29 August in London Rachmaninoff / Bartok
Stravinsky / Rachmaninoff / Shostakovich Lukas Vondracek, piano
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
29-30 November
6-7 September Strauss / Berio / De Falla
Stravinsky / Scriabin / Wagner Louisa Tuck, violincello
Kirill Gerstein, piano 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’

‘T
he sort of Haydn-playing you dream Then there’s Riccardo Novaro singing Cimarosa’s
of’ is how I signed off my original delicious scena Il maestro di cappella, in which the
review, back in May, of Vols 3 and 4 players gang up on their hapless conductor.
of Giovanni Antonini’s Haydn cycle. You need discipline to bring off such ill-discipline,
And I mean it. Even the occasional gripe (for and Il Giardino Armonico are an army of generals.
example minuets played fast, even though that’s the That pinpoint string-playing is only part of the
current vogue) doesn’t detract from the superfine ‘Haydn 2032 – No 4, story; Antonini’s woodwind soloists too offer
accuracy of the playing, especially from the strings. Il distratto’ playing that’s full of character and he doesn’t hide
That’s partly because Antonini is not just recording Haydn Symphonies – No 12; his horns under a bushel, letting them off the leash
Haydn’s symphonies; he’s performing them around No 60, ‘Il distratto’; No 70 to bray and rattle to their hearts’ content. I’ve
Europe as well. Most earlier Haydn cycles have Cimarosa Il maestro di said it before and I’ll doubtless say it again: if they
been very much rehearse-record affairs – some capellaa make it to their planned completion date of 2032
evidently with precious little of the former – but a
Riccardo Novaro bar (Haydn’s 300th birthday), this will be the period-
these players’ experience and knowledge of the Il Giardino Armonico / instrument cycle to have. Symphonies Nos 80
music really shines. Giovanni Antonini and 81 are slated for Vol 5 and this Haydnista,
In truth, any one of the first four volumes of this Alpha F ALPHA674; for one, can’t wait.
cycle could have been picked as a winner; that it’s b 6 ALPHA675 David Threasher
Vol 4 is particularly satisfying for the choice of Producer Friedemann
symphonies. The disc takes its name from No 60, Engelbrecht RU N N E R S - U P

Il distratto, a symphony assembled from theatre Engineer Tobias Lehmann Mahler (ed Cooke)
music that itself becomes distracted, forgets where 181 votes Symphony No 10
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

it is, mithers around an unresolved chord until it Seattle SO / Thomas Dausgaard


remembers why it went in there in the first place … Seattle Symphony Media
Sponsored by
a fine example of Haydn’s wit. No 70 traces a light- 168 votes
to-darkness trajectory, culminating in the austere Sibelius
knocking rhyhms of its concluding D minor fugue. Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7
And No 12, from the early Esterházy days, is in lush Minnesota Orch / Osmo Vänskä
E major, a favourite key of the young Haydn’s that BIS
often drew from him music of particular beauty. 159 votes

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 39


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

Baroque Vocal Orchestral

Stéphane Degout, baritone Thomas Dausgaard, conductor Vasily Petrenko, conductor Semyon Bychkov, conductor
Couperin: Ariane consolée Mahler: Symphony No. 10 Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 3, 4 & 6 The Tchaikovsky Project, Vol. 1
par Bacchus (Aparté) (Seattle Symphony Media) (Onyx) (Decca)

Concerto Solo Vocal

Vasily Petrenko; Omer Meir Wellber, Alexander Vedernikov, Benjamin Appl, baritone Gerald Finley, bass-baritone
conductors; Lalo: Symphonie espagnole; conductor; Rachmaninov: Heimat (Sony Classical) Sibelius: In the Stream of Life
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (LPO) Piano Concerto No 2 (Erato) (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’

T
he Instrumental category is always one Gigue in the Second Suite or the playfully bustling
of the most hotly contested, and this Bourrée in the Fifth.
year it was blisteringly fine, not least an This isn’t Bach that compels by extremes of
astonishing Goldbergs from Beatrice Rana, tempo or sheer motoric brilliance; instead, each suite
Liszt from 2016’s Artist of the Year Daniil Trifonov unfolds with an inevitability that comes from long
and the second instalment in Cédric Tiberghien’s acquaintance between music and interpreter. It speaks
Bartók cycle, one that, for me, is up there with of a probing musical intelligence too, though to label
Zoltán Kocsis’s classic recordings. Perahia simply as an ‘intellectual’ pianist would be
When I reviewed Murray Perahia’s first-ever misguided, for this is playing that conveys real joy.
recording of Bach’s French Suites last November JS Bach Six French Suites, All of this would be for nought were the production
I ended: ‘I’ve only had this recording for five days BWV812-817 values less tip-top. So we should thank not only
but I predict a long and happy future in its company’. Murray Perahia pf Perahia himself, but his longtime producer Andreas
And so it has proved: others have come my way since DG M b 479 6565GH2 Neubronner, engineer Martin Nagorni, the
(not least Ashkenazy!) but they have just confirmed Producer Andreas wonderful Steinway, and that whizz among piano
my initial reactions, that this is special indeed. Not a Neubronner whisperers, Ulrich Gerhartz. Harriet Smith
bad start for Perahia’s first recording with DG after Engineer Martin Nagorni
more than four decades with CBS/Sony Classical. 148 votes RU N N E R S - U P
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

What has always characterised Perahia’s Bach is Liszt ‘Transcendental’


a sense that you are encountering Bach the man, Daniil Trifonov pf
rather than Bach the god. It’s as if Perahia is simply DG
acting as conduit between composer and audience, 142 votes
so subsumed is his ego into the music-making itself.
One of the particular delights of this recording is JS Bach
the way everything sounds so inevitable – Perahia’s Goldberg Variations
ornamentation is by no means tame but neither is it Beatrice Rana pf
outlandish; rather, he uses it to underline the mood Warner Classics
of the dance in question, be it the dissonances of the 117 votes

gramophone.co.uk 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’

W
hen Christian Gerhaher came to the Berg Wozzeck like a young Anja Silja. Brandon Jovanovich
title-role in Berg’s masterly setting of Christian Gerhaher bar struts his strong, incisive tenor as the Drum
Büchner’s play the outcome was always Wozzeck Gun-Brit Barkmin Major, Mauro Peter is a sympathetic Andres, and
going to be a major event. Just as sop Marie Brandon Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke and Lars Woldt
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was the definitive Wozzeck Jovanovich ten Drum Major engage in a macabre comic double-act as the Captain
for his generation, so his successor as the outstanding Chorus of Zurich Opera; and the Doctor.
Lieder singer at the start of the 21st century has Philharmonia Zurich / With precise, clear playing from the Philharmonia
assumed his mantle in this role, too. Fabio Luisi Zürich under conductor Fabio Luisi, everything
Scrupulously sung, acted with a gentle honesty, Stage director is in place for the technical team at Accentus
Gerhaher’s Wozzeck is vulnerable, plaintive, Andreas Homoki Music to deliver a DVD of top-notch quality and
in short all-too-touchingly human. It is exactly Video director Michael Beyer seal the recording’s success. They have, and this
what we expect from him that there should be an Accentus F ◊ ACC20363; Wozzeck makes a deserving winner of Gramophone’s
eloquence to his every utterance. Is it right that F Y ACC10363 2017 Opera Award.
Wozzeck should come across as something of a 144 votes Richard Fairman

 
poet? Yes, because the music adds its own poetry,
and Gerhaher draws from it an expressiveness that RU N N E R S - U P

pierces the heart. Sponsored by Britten The Rape of Lucretia


Homing in on the opera’s expressionist style, Sols; London Philharmonic Orchestra /
the director, Andreas Homoki, has set it in a puppet Leo Hussain
theatre, part commedia dell’arte, part Punch and Judy, Opus Arte
a make-believe world of ritual cruelty. This is not 142 votes
the only way to play Berg’s opera, but the geometric
designs are striking, the colours (that sickly yellow!) Goldmark Die Königen von Saba
are gruesomely vivid, and Gerhaher, above all, is Sols; Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra /
placed in a visual frame of extraordinary clarity. Fabrice Bollon
This is a high-class ensemble all round. CPO
Gun-Brit Barkmin is a fascinating Marie, charismatic 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

42 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


PROUD SUPPORTERS OF GRAMOPHONE
CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARD 2017

© MONIKA RITTERSHAUS, OPERNHAUS ZÜRICH

Congratulations to the winner of the Opera category:


Zurich Opera’s production of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, released by Accentus, directed by Andreas Homoki,
conducted by Fabio Luisi with Christian Gerhaher in the title-role.

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CHORAL
WINNER Masaaki Suzuki’s magnificent Mozart C minor Mass
‘Bach Collegium Japan’s interpretation brims with life-affirming messages’

N
obody knows why Mozart abandoned strings). Suzuki’s perspicacity ensures finely drawn
the ‘great’ Mass in C minor that he strings, cultivated woodwinds and braying brass
started by the end of 1782 and seems to are all given the reins to exploit their instruments’
have performed at least in part during a fullest sonorities when the context merits it. There
visit to Salzburg in October 1783. With such a vast is a twinkling sense of fun in the orchestra’s elegant
discography of stylish historically aware versions at theatricality during solo movements, most notably
our fingertips, one might be forgiven for wondering Olivia Vermeulen’s light-footed ‘Laudamus te’ and
what more needs to be said about an incomplete Carolyn Sampson’s gorgeous singing in conversation
work. Of course, the truth is that Mozart’s unfettered with concertante flute, oboe and bassoon in ‘Et
genius emanates from every page, and its unalloyed Mozart Mass in C minor, incarnatus est’. Bach Collegium Japan’s wondrous
musical virtues ensure that every world-class period- K427. Exsultate, jubilate, choral singing has flexibility, precision and eloquence
instrument orchestra and top-notch choir is going to K165 aplenty. Even admirers conversant with these
find fresh twists worth hearing. Carolyn Sampson sop Olivia performers’ distinguished track record might be swept
Masaaki Suzuki uses an edition by Franz Beyer Vermeulen mez Makoto away by this refreshingly open-hearted, spontaneous
that discreetly orchestrates movements that Mozart Sakurada ten Christian and natural Mass in C minor. David Vickers
did not finish but does not attempt to present Immler bar Bach Collegium
movements for which no authentic music survives. Japan / Masaaki Suzuki RU N N E R S - U P

Bach Collegium Japan’s interpretation brims with BIS F Í BIS2171 Haydn The Seasons
life-affirming messages in all the right places. The Producer Hans Kipfer Gabrieli Consort & Players /
consoling ‘Kyrie eleison’, at the slowest end of the Engineer Jens Braun Paul McCreesh
range of plausible tempi, melts the heart with every 147 votes Signum
transparently woven strand in the musical fabric. 132 votes
P H O T O G R A P H Y: K . M I U R A

The proclamatory ‘Gloria’ and buoyant ‘Credo’ Cherubini. Plantade Requiems


hit the right mark unerringly, and there is intensity Le Concert Spirituel /
and tautness in the double-choir ‘Qui tollis’ (choral Sponsored by Hervé Niquet
suspensions exploited gloriously and just the right Alpha
amount of silence exploited in the dotted-rhythm 130 votes

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 45


Find
your
piece
Enjoy 2017’s Gramophone
Award-winning recordings

Classical downloads,
FOR LIFE ON AN EPIC SCALE streaming and experiences
at primephonic.com
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?’

C
oncept, content and standard-setting get go; expansive, less busy Purcell allow breathing
performance merge in what becomes room but no let up in emotional intensity.
something far more than a Baroque- The high standard is exemplified by DiDonato’s
aria anthology. Opera seria scenes by fast coloratura in Jommelli’s ‘Par che di giubilo’.
Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel and others are full Gone is the vocal tornado of past Baroque specialists,
of life-and-death matters that Joyce DiDonato replaced by genuine precision that allows the truth
recontextualzes in ways that intimate passions are of the musical content to emerge. Her best singing,
re-appropriated into something more global: nations though, is soft, in near-vibratoless cadenzas where her
rise and fall, with individuals caught in the middle. expressive intent comes into even greater focus before
The holistically conceived package starts with the ‘In War & Peace’ morphing into the perfect trill. I love her Purcell.
booklet, with testimonials from street musicians to ‘Harmony Through Music’ In Dido’s Lament the life ebbs out of her voice, giving
actress Judi Dench discussing how they find inner Handel. Jommelli. Leo. the sense that she’s fading into the horizon. DiDonato
peace in tumultuous times. The opening aria, ‘Scenes Monteverdi. Purcell Arias has no lack of tributes these days, but how often does
of horror, scenes of woe’ from Handel’s Jephtha, Joyce DiDonato mez a singer hit the top of her profession and keep getting
becomes a lens for arias that are studies in turmoil and Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim better? David Patrick Stearns
repose in highly charged performances by DiDonato Emelyanychev hpd
and the extraordinarily agile Il Pomo d’Oro. Erato F 9029 59284-6; RU N N E R S - U P

In contrast to Simon Keenlyside’s 2011 Gramophone b 6 9029 59284-1 ‘Serpent & Fire’
Award-winning ‘Songs of War’ that has music written Producer Daniel Zalay Anna Prohaska sop
about specific wartime conditions, the message in Engineer Hugues Deschaux Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini
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

DiDonato’s album enters through the side door, 114 votes Alpha
since many listeners will know much of this music 113 votes
already in the operas from which it’s drawn. Hearing Mozart Arias
Handel’s ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ and Purcell’s ‘When I Anett Frisch sop Munich Radio
am laid in earth’ as laments to lost political freedom Sponsored by Orchestra / Alessandro De Marchi
greatly intensifies their meaning. Sequencing is Orfeo
masterful. Fast arias are the attention grabbers at the 105 votes

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 47


SOLO VOCAL
WINNER Beguiling Brahms from Goerne and Eschenbach
‘Goerne’s world is one of unrushed reflection’

T
he Solo Vocal category this year saw is one thing, but to be able to create such a sense of
four baritones, one tenor and a mezzo on interiority – of Innigkeit – without seeming indulgent
the shortlist – a mixture of young artists is another matter; that, though, is what Goerne and
(including Gramophone’s own 2016 Young Eschenbach achieve.
Artist, Benjamin Appl) and more established names. Listeners will have their favourite accounts of the
The winner, though, is a recording that stands out in Vier ernste Gesänge, but Goerne communicates their
many ways, presenting a singer in Matthias Goerne dark pensiveness with a rare integrity, the more
who, when it comes to Lieder, ploughs his own gravelly bottom end of the voice melting into hushed
interpretative furrow. phrases of seraphic beauty higher up. He presents an
An intense, almost tortured performer on stage, Brahms Lieder und unusually compelling vision, too, of the Neun Lieder
Goerne seems himself to embody a wanderer seeking Gesänge, Op 32. Vier und Gesänge Op 32, in which Eschenbach draws a rich
answers to questions different from those posed by ernste Gesänge, Op 121. mixture of the poetic and the descriptive from the
many other singers in the repertoire. The familiar Lieder nach Gedichten von piano. The disc’s central diptych of ‘Sonnenabend’
mellow, burnished beauty of the voice has now gained Heinrich Heine and ‘Mondschein’ from Op 85, meanwhile, surely
a new gnarly intensity. The phrases are broad and Matthias Goerne bar represents some of the most beguiling Lieder
generous, sustained by big breaths, great lungfuls Christoph Eschenbach pf performance heard on record in recent years.
snatched as if he’s coming up from the deep; words Harmonia Mundi A worthy, distinctive winner. Hugo Shirley
are communicated naturally. Goerne’s world is one F HMC90 2174
of unrushed reflection. Producer Martin Sauer RU N N E R S - U P

It’s perhaps surprising, then, that this is his first Engineer René Möller Krenek Reisebuch aus den
Brahms recital on record, for in many ways the 115 votes österreichischen Alpen
composer – so often melancholy and autumnal – is Florian Boesch bar Roger Vignoles pf
a perfect fit. Goerne has also found a perfect partner Hyperion
P H O T O G R A P H Y: S I LV I A L E L L I

in Christoph Eschenbach. Though more often 92 votes


seen on the conductor’s podium these days than ‘Heimat’
at the keyboard, Eschenbach provides exceptional Benjamin Appl bar
accompaniment, bringing almost indecently beguiling James Baillieu pf
expansiveness and sensitivity to Brahms’s piano Sony Classical
writing. To bring out so much beauty in this music 83 votes

48 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


PHOTO : © MARCO BORGGREVE

PHOTO: © ELMER DE HAAS


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IL GIARDINO ARMONICO BARBARA HANNIGAN


GIOVANNI ANTONINI
SOPRANO AND CONDUCTOR

LUDWIG ORCHESTRA
Giovanni Antonini continues his recording cycle
of the complete Haydn Symphonies, as part of Whether singing, conducting, dancing or acting,
the Haydn 2032 project. Here he celebrates the the Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is an
theatrical nature of Haydn’s orchestral works, endless source of fascination. Alpha Classics is
with Symphonies Nos. 12, 70 and 60 proud to enter her world and present her very
Il Distratto, alongside a great comic scene by first album as both singer and conductor.
Cimarosa, Il maestro di cappella. BERG LULU SUITE
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György Ligeti
Lontano

Tristan Murail
Le Désenchantement
du Monde

George Benjamin
Palimpsests

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano


Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
 EEHFFjEk
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
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,
 EEJEHgEIjF5k

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)

Convergence Divergence
Music of Laurie Altman Music of Laurie Altman,
Erich Korngold and
Laurie Altman and
Clipper Erickson, piano
Arnold Schönberg
Patrice Michaels, soprano Plattform K+K Vienna
 EEGEIjEk

 FEGNJjEk

Andrew Rathbun, saxophones


Helen Rathbun, flute The composer’s art is one of
personal habitation and felt
The compositions are deeply experience. Rhythmic, warm,
varied: separated by time, place, direct and nuanced, always
emotion, event and ‘glimpse’. An intense and alive. A musical
Antarctic journey yields a spiritual commentary upon cold, emptiness and work lives and grows inside of its creator. Day or night, on a train or tram,
unimaginable beauty, while a trip to a San Francisco Art Museum becomes along wooded pathways and mountainous perches, the work evolves to find,
a bonding of artistic color and vision with my eyes and then into my heart. hopefully, a place vibrantly, in the world.
(Laurie Altman)
CONTEMPORARY
WINNER Three modern masters in terrific performances
‘Authority seeps from every pore of the performance’

U
nlike David Allen, who reviewed stumble into those pitfalls!). Pierre-Laurent Aimard
this recording on its release, I find caresses and shapes the solo piano writing as a kind
Tristan Murail’s 30-minute ‘concerto of constantly self-renewing accompanied cadenza.
symphonique’ Le désenchantement du monde Murail’s fellow Messiaen-alumnus George
to be the main event here – slightly to my surprise, Benjamin directs the 2012 world premiere
I admit, because a number of his previous spectral performance with a sure hand. I also agree with
pieces have always struck me as rather aimless. David Allen that his account of Ligeti’s now-classic
The title here means demystification rather than Lontano is ‘surprisingly visceral’, though I confess to
disenchantment, in the sense coined by sociologist/ a preference for softer edges. With Benjamin’s own
economist Max Weber with some ambivalence to G Benjamin Palimpsests Palimpsests (1998-2002), the rawness is all gain. It’s
denote the upsurge in rationalisation in modern Ligeti Lontano Murail almost as if Benjamin – always a fastidious purveyor
society. Quite how that maps onto the music, Le désenchantement du of textures – has here paid a tribute to Birtwistle, and
however, the composer declines to explain. In fact mondea the perspectives and collisions he fashions are, as with
there’s a good deal of mystery, enchantment even, a
Pierre-Laurent Aimard pf Murail’s, utterly absorbing. Authority seeps from
in the writing. It may not be as purely spectral as Bavarian Radio every pore of the performance, and from what was a
before in its technology, but it gently unfolds the Symphony Orchestra / strong shortlist for this year’s Contemporary award,
sonic possibilities of the material into an engrossing Sir George Benjamin this was a deserved winner. David Fanning
and musical experience. Just occasionally there are Neos F NEOS11422
reminders of Murail’s tutelage under Messiaen, Producer Wolfgang Schreiner RU N N E R S - U P

though the musical processes suggest, to me at least, Engineer Peter Urban Adès Orchestral works
analogies with natural phenomena such as weather 166 votes London Symphony Orchestra /
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

systems or tides, rather than anything spiritual (or Thomas Adès


speculative-intellectual, for that matter). They do LSO Live
so not so much through onomatopoeia as by virtue 130 votes
of their sense of organic progression. Variety of Dusapin. Mantovani. Rihm
Sponsored by
pacing and event is brilliantly sustained, so that Works for violin and orchestra
the invention never goes stale in slow passages and Renaud Capuçon vn Various orchestras
never degenerates into mere fidgeting in faster ones Erato
(so tempting to name recent piano concertos that 130 votes

gramophone.co.uk 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 . The tempos are a case in point. Back


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

54 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING OF THE MONTH

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

Furthermore, Isserlis then provides a some of Haydn’s colleagues. Two of with them. Isserlis’s 1998 recording
beautiful complement with the following these are of the bonbon-proportioned remains classy stuff, but this has superbly
central movement’s cadenza: a small but (and tasting) variety: the Adagio from trumped it.
perfectly formed creation that glides in Boccherini’s G major Concerto, and Selected comparison:
seductively by way of double-stopped Isserlis’s own idiomatic and delightful Isserlis, COE, Norrington (8/98R) (RCA) 88697 70446-2
strokes, and then finishes by gently solo arrangement of Mozart’s aria
mirroring that first-movement rocket- ‘Geme la tortorella’ from La finta KEY TO SYMBOLS
spring with a tender single-octave leap. giardiniera. However, the meatiest and
F £10 and over D Download only
Isserlis’s celebration of the cello’s most revelatory highlight of the three is
M £7.76 to £9.99 3 Reissue
top register truly flowers in the D major CPE Bach’s Cello Concerto in A major;
B £6.25 to £7.75 1 Historic
Concerto, possibly in recognition of the revelatory because we’ve largely been
S £6.24 and below T Text(s) included
fact that Haydn probably wrote this work conditioned to hearing this composer’s
(price per disc) t translation(s)
for the Esterházy orchestra’s high-register- music presented as muscular, angular
b Compact disc included
loving cello virtuoso Antonín Kraft. and wild. Yet, while Isserlis does
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

(number of discs S Synopsis included


Isserlis’s first-movement cadenza in recognise the music’s volatility, his
in set) s subtitles included
particular contains lofty lines of a delivery emphasises a Haydnesque
Í SACD (Super nla no longer available
piercing, ringing sweetness. It’s not all refinement and elegance that throw an
Audio CD) aas all available
sunny sweetness by any means; one of the entirely new perspective on the concerto.
◊ DVD Video separately
recording’s most heart-stopping moments In fact the recording is worth your money
Y Blu-ray oas only available
comes in the first movement where, at for the Bach alone.
6 LP separately
8'27", the cloudless beauty is momentarily Of course, the main selling point is
shattered by a pair of searing-toned, the two Haydn concertos, and this album Editor’s Choice
upwards gasps of pain. is worth acquiring whether you’re yet to Martin Cullingford’s pick of the
For the disc’s additional offerings, Isserlis own a recording of these masterpieces finest recordings reviewed in
has looked to contemporaneous works by or your collection is already bulging this issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 55


Orchestral
Peter Quantrill admires Isabelle Edward Seckerson on Semyon
Faust’s distinctive Mendelssohn: Bychkov’s Tchaikovsky Manfred:
‘Reserving portamento and vibrato for the second ‘The Czech Philharmonic woodwinds are
theme, she brings out the hunted vulnerability super-balletic, engagingly decamping us to
of the concerto’s opening’ REVIEW ON PAGE 61 the world of Nutcracker’ REVIEW ON PAGE 68

Beethoven common-sense qualities that would retrospective categorisations rather fade to


Complete Symphonies render score-reading superfluous for irrelevance – as, in the moment of listening,
Simona Šaturová sop Mihoko Fujimura contr some purchasers. do hankerings after flicks of impudence in
Christian Elsner ten Christian Gerhaher bar In a tantalising interview with Philip Beethoven the young Turk (this is a cycle
MDR Radio Choir; Leipzig Gewandhaus Clark (7/17), the conductor makes clear full of smiles but no belly-laughs). The
Choirs and Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt that, 60 years after Igor Markevitch had Second is occasionally prone to a species
Accentus M e ACC80322 (5h 49’ • DDD) hammered the principle home, the score is of constrained literalism encountered again
Recorded live, May 2014 – March 2017 still his bible. But then any other conductor in a stiff transition from Adagio to Allegro
worth the job-title would say the same, in the Fourth’s opening movement
Beethoven ◊Y and praise of Blomstedt (and a select few (‘conducting by numbers’, as Richard
Triple Concerto, Op 56a. Symphony No 5, Op 67 European colleagues of his generation) Osborne observed in portions of the
Isabelle Faust vn Jean-Guihen Queyras vc over the years – honest, straightforward, conductor’s Bruckner cycle in Leipzig –
Martin Helmchen pf Leipzig Gewandhaus presenting the music as it really is (an Querstand, 11/13), but I relished the
Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt especially pernicious illusion) – has given unusual proximity of expressive intent
Video director Ute Feudel rise to a well-meaning but misguided between the Mozartian finale of the
Accentus F ◊ ACC20411; F Y ACC10411 underestimation of the tens of decisions he Second and the Eroica’s lithe exposition,
(78’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA, and his kind must make, in advance and on which are so often separated by a gulf of
DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0) the spot, when faced with any given phrase imagined history.
Recorded live, January 12 & 13, 2017 of this music. Where possible – for the Fifth,
Such decisions now take into serious Sixth, Seventh and Ninth – these are
Beethoven ◊Y account the wave of period-performance performances to be watched, not least
Symphonies – No 6, ‘Pastoral’, Op 68a; practice. Noticeably swifter than before, for the audio mix, which I find marginally
No 7, Op 92b Blomstedt’s chosen tempos are still more transparent than on the CD
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / 5-10 per cent slower than the composer’s mastering. There is the occasional frown
Herbert Blomstedt metronome marks. It is the proportions and raised eyebrow from Blomstedt as he
Video director Ute Feudel between them that matter. That first cycle comes again to a private understanding
Accentus F ◊ ACC20413; F Y ACC10413 employed the Dresden Staatskapelle at its with the music, not in gestures of
(92’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA, most soft-grained. Now, an hour’s train- censure. More often he is wreathed in
DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0) ride away, he stands in charge of the beatific smiles, and his musicians appear
Recorded live, bMay 7, 2015; aMay 19, 2016 Leipzig Gewandhaus. Always a tighter- uncommonly happy with their lot. The
grained ensemble, the orchestra was driven Pastoral breathes contentment, with a
to further heights of muscular agility by spring in the step of the first movement
Riccardo Chailly in a Decca studio cycle that admits all the necessary space for
(A/11) of restless and often impatient anticipation, excitement and the passing
character. Conducting the symphonies joy of moments such as the chuckling
in concert, Chailly allowed himself clarinet and bassoon figures. The
considerably greater license to roam, timpanist’s Storm intervention makes
When and to the benefit of everyone concerned. hardly less terrible or striking an impact
imported Under Blomstedt, however, the musicians than on the most athletic or idiosyncratic
to the UK sound at ease yet always on their mettle. readings (by, say, Carlos Kleiber or
late in 1981, Twenty seconds, no more, separate the Mikhail Pletnev), yet the symphony is
Herbert finales of the Fourth, but what a difference crowned by a glow of horns in the coda
Blomstedt’s they make. What was gabbled and jittery to rival Furtwängler’s valedictory account
first under Chailly’s direction now leaps and from 1954. In the Andante con moto of a
Beethoven cycle gained further appeal bounds and sings. If it’s Beethoven the particularly cogent Fifth, the pianistic
through the inclusion of miniature scores raging tyro you’re after, look elsewhere. nature of Beethoven’s inspiration comes
for each symphony. Did that make the set a Blomstedt has gauged the weight of each over strongly, with the Leipzig strings
snip at £37.50? It’s near enough a hundred climax in the First – as much as is necessary pressing into the rising-falling theme
pounds in today’s money, and in any case and no more – so that the symphony stands of scale-fragments and murmuring
on its many subsequent reissues, the cycle poised on the threshold between Classical left-hand accompaniment as if into
was welcomed for the kind of plain-spoken, and Romantic expression. Indeed, such the keybed of a Broadwood.

56 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 reference to the traditional carol ‘O Freude minutes and polonaises – that were popular
rehearsed here before (3/17); applause über Freude’. On paper, Irnberger’s case with the Viennese aristocracy in the first
is excised from the CD version as it is is compelling; in performance, I’m not years of the 19th century. He and his
throughout the set. The concert-film convinced. The first movement – played at colleagues David Geringas and Michael
of the Fifth is preceded by a Triple a relatively urgent tempo – conveys bright- Korstick mitigate the music’s tendency
Concerto in which Blomstedt thins out eyed expectation rather than the exultancy towards muscularity with playing that’s
the ensemble to offer lively support to his one associates with the proclamation of elegant and well characterised. I was
soloists; in turn, Isabelle Faust sweetens her Jesus’s birth. Indeed, I can imagine a especially charmed by the hauteur of the
tone in graceful complement to the Leipzig stronger case being made for the movement passage beginning at 5'03" in the finale.
sound. Peter Quantrill as a kind of expansive Pastoral Symphony. Sadly, Irnberger’s prosaic readings of the two
Irnberger imagines the Larghetto Romances are considerably less endearing.
Beethoven as a processional to view the Nativity – James Judd has the orchestra support
Violin Concerto, Op 61. Romances – No 1, Op 40; a musical Adoration of the Magi, perhaps. Irnberger’s ideas with joyful conviction, and
No 2, Op 50. Triple Concerto, Op 56a It moves with a rapt solemnity that’s quite the RPO’s contribution is stellar throughout.
Thomas Albertus Irnberger vn affecting, while the soloist’s rhythmically If only the engineers had not placed us quite
a
David Geringas vc aMichael Korstick pf alert playing prevents the precariously slow so close to the solo instruments. The balance
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / James Judd tempo from sagging. His glistening tone sounds artificial, is not always flattering to
Gramola M b Í 99101 (91’ • DDD/DSD) has a slightly nasal quality (the product the violinist’s tone and sacrifices a good
of a sparing use of vibrato, I believe) deal of orchestral detail. Andrew Farach-Colton
that’s generally pleasing, though I’m less
enamoured of his distracting tendency to Ben-Haim
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

Beethoven’s Violin end phrases abruptly, as if his bow simply Symphony No 2. Concerto grosso
Concerto is a festive stopped moving (listen at 9'25", for NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra / Israel Yinon
work for the example). The finale is more buoyant than CPO F CPO777 677-2 (72’ • DDD)
Christmas season, lyrical, fitting with Irnberger’s vision of it
argues Thomas Albertus Irnberger in an as a festival of shepherds’ celebratory horn
extensive booklet note. As evidence, he calls. Even if none of this really evokes a
cites the work’s premiere on December 23, Christmas spirit, the effect is delightful. Once championed by
1806, its use of trumpets and timpani in D The violinist has a distinct take on the the likes of Stokowski
(echoing the opening chorus of Bach’s Triple Concerto as well, describing it as and Bernstein, Paul
Christmas Oratorio) and a thematic a compendium of dance forms – marches, Ben-Haim’s music is

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 57


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

little heard these days, making this 1910 in Paris, where, as a 13-year-old, he soloist on that earlier disc and proves just
recording a welcome addition to the had enrolled at the Conservatoire (his as stylish and fearlessly secure a proponent
catalogue. Born Paul Frankenburger in classmates included Enescu, to whom the of the 1932 Dance Suite, an exuberantly
Munich in 1897, he initially worked as an work bears a dedication). With a duration inventive and urgently communicative
assistant conductor at the Bavarian State in excess of 50 minutes, it’s a turbulent, 23-minute work for orchestra and piano
Opera from 1920 to 1924 under Walter lusciously opulent outpouring in four in four movements, the second of which
and Knappertsbusch, and then as movements, the last of which culminates (labelled ‘Pìobaireachd’ or ‘pipe music’)
Kapellmeister of the Augsburg Opera from in a grandiloquent epilogue. Stylistic nods comprises a darkly alluring theme and
1924 to 1931, after which he dedicated his come thick and fast – Wagner, Strauss, five variations that takes its cue from the
career to teaching and composition. Mahler, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, form known as ùrlar in the Highland
The growing anti-Semitism of the time Respighi and Pizzetti – and its sprawling bagpipe tradition.
precipitated a relocation to Palestine in design unquestionably cries out for a firm Even more impressive is the 1950 Violin
1933 and he later became an important hand on the structural tiller. Vividly Concerto, which, like the Second Piano
figure in the Israeli classical music scene. captured on the wing at live concerts from Concerto before it, draws upon the
Dating from 1931, the three-movement October 2016, Fabrizio Ventura and his Hindustani raga for its inspiration – in this
Concerto grosso was Ben-Haim’s first hard-working Münster band shine in the instance, the Rag Vasantee and Rag Sohani
large-scale orchestral composition. Despite first two movements; but from the central associated with the coming of spring and
the title and the presence of fugal sections Adagio onwards it’s Gianandrea Noseda the night respectively. (During the war
in the outer movements, this is very much and the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos, years Chisholm served in India and
a piece in the late-Romantic tradition. 8/10) who prove more successful at Singapore, founding a symphony orchestra
Much of the writing has a warmth that keeping tensions on the boil. Chandos’s in the latter. He also formed a strong
evokes American composers of the era such splendiferously realistic sound is the icing friendship with fellow composer/pianist
as Barber and Harris, although the slow on a very rich cake. Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji.) Premiered
second movement is a pensive affair with Noseda’s coupling – a sparkling account by Szymon Goldberg and lasting just
hints of Debussy. The final movement is a of the 1926 divertimento for piano and under half an hour, the concerto is a four-
passacaglia with an apotheosis based on the small orchestra, Scarlattiana, with Martin movement work of cogent sweep, intrepid
opening theme of the first movement. Roscoe on conspicuously deft form – is incident and pungent character that
By the time the Second Symphony was rather more generous than Ventura’s, effortlessly kindles the imagination and
completed in 1945, Ben-Haim had gained namely a miniature orchestral suite from continues to lure me back for further
exposure to the traditional Jewish music Casella’s opera La donna serpente (premiered hearings (lovers of, say, the Szymanowski,
of the Middle East, whose influence can in March 1932 and based on the fable by Bartók, Frankel or Gerhard concertos
be heard in the score, notably the Persian Carlo Gozzi). There’s a third option should definitely investigate).
dance that forms the main theme of the featuring Francesco La Vecchia and the The excellent Matthew Trusler
Scherzo. The trauma of the events of the Rome SO (Naxos, A/10), who pair the makes light of the solo part’s technical
Second World War, including the loss of symphony with the remarkable and hurdles, while Martyn Brabbins and a
Ben-Haim’s sister in the Holocaust, are challenging A notte alta from 1917-21 fired-up BBC Scottish SO give of their
reflected in the anguished opening of the (one of Casella’s most personal utterances). considerable best both here and in the
Andante affettuoso, while elsewhere the Sun Hee You gives a commendable reading 1944 orchestrations of three of that same
music has a rhythmic buoyancy and of the piano part but I would not turn year’s set of 24 piano preludes (to which
litheness reminiscent of Copland. As with to La Vecchia’s performance of the main Chisholm gave the title From the True Edge
the Concerto grosso, the finale reaches an work in preference to either Noseda’s of the Great World); No 1 (‘Ossianic lay’)
apotheosis based on the opening theme or Ventura’s. makes an especially fetching centrepiece,
of the work. Inquisitive souls and SACD aficionados its invention as songfully poignant as it is
The late Israel Yinon leads the alike who enjoy strolling off the beaten hauntingly evocative (listen out for some
NDR Radiophilharmonie in committed track may care to hunt down this wonderfully dusky writing for solo viola).
performances of these intriguing works, enterprising newcomer for themselves. Benefiting from impeccable production
and the CPO recording is clear and well Andrew Achenbach values throughout, this absorbing release
balanced, albeit a little hard-edged in deserves a hearty welcome. Andrew Achenbach
louder passages. Christian Hoskins Chisholm
Violin Concertoa. Dance Suiteb. Haglund
Casella From the True Edge of the Great World Flaminis Auraa. Il regno degli spiritib. Sollievo
a b
Symphony No 2, Op 12. La donna serpente: Matthew Trusler vn Danny Driver pf BBC Scottish (dopo la tempesta)c. Serenata per Diotimad
b
Symphonic Fragments, Op 50 – Suite No 1 Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins Julia Kretz-Larsson vn aErnst Simon Glaser vc
bc
Münster Symphony Orchestra / Fabrizio Ventura Hyperion F CDA68208 (63’ • DDD) ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen; aGothenburg
Ars Produktion F Í ARS38 232 (63’ • DDD/DSD) Symphony Orchestra / David Afkham; dMalmö
Recorded live at Theater Münster, Symphony Orchestra / Joachim Gustafsson
October 25, 26 & 30, 2016 BIS F Í BIS2025 (84’ • DDD/DSD)
Three cheers for this
enterprising successor
to Hyperion’s superb
Alfredo Casella (1883- coupling (6/12) One tangible
1947) composed his devoted to the two piano concertos by observation from the
Second Symphony the Scottish progressive Erik Chisholm booklet note is that
between 1908 and (1904-65). Danny Driver was the dashing Tommie Haglund’s

58 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Flaminis Aura (2001/04) takes its and striking than that of Flaminis, however Precisely when Jones first conceived the
structural inspiration from the Adagio of rich and heartfelt the performance. idea of composing a cycle of 12 symphonies
Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. Truly this Andrew Mellor each based on a different note of the
music sounds like Bruckner from a faraway chromatic scale as tonal centre is unclear,
planet, transitioning constantly back in D Jones but it was probably not during the writing
the direction of its most recent thought Symphonies – No 1a; No 10b of the First (1944-47), originally designated
before moving to new paragraphs that BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra / ‘in E minor’. At 50 minutes long, it is
don’t tread on their predecessors’ toes. Bryden Thomson Jones’s largest symphony, in which the
A Baltic spirituality is keenly felt in this Lyrita F SRCD358 (70’ • ADD) fledgling symphonist revealed his mastery
piece, whose title refers to the moments BBC broadcast performances, aJanuary 12, and understanding of the medium for the
immediately before a religious revelation. b
March 16, 1990 first time. His view of the symphony
Afkham and the Gothenburg Symphony evolved radically, with goal-driven forms
Orchestra manage the subtle and not-so- D Jones and growing concision – neither Nos 10
subtle shifting of the music’s huge tectonic Symphonies – No 2a; No 11, ‘in memoriam (1981-82) nor 11 (1983) exceed 20 minutes.
plates impressively and Ernst Simon George Froom Tyler’b There are few obvious resonances in the
Glaser’s cello incantation drifts powerfully BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra / musical language, though I have always
in and out of discourse with them until Bryden Thomson thought the structures of the First and
both disappear into electronic noises Lyrita F SRCD364 (62’ • ADD) 43-minute-long Second (1950, centred
courtesy of NASA (far more successful BBC broadcast performances, aJanuary 19, around A, neither major nor minor)
than it sounds). b
March 30, 1990 nodded towards Russian models. With
The structures aren’t so well defined its increased use of percussion, No 2 is
or indeed surprising in Serenata per brighter in tone than its predecessor, with
Diotima (2014/15), a string piece with a recurring allusion to Vaughan Williams’s
occasional solo violin which doesn’t strive F minor Symphony in the finale. Both
so hard. This is unmistakably music from the Tenth and Eleventh Symphonies
the north; but here the Baltic accent can follow dramatic-tragic courses, the latter
feel sprinkled like seasoning rather than a memorial to his friend George Froom
deeply felt (as in Flaminis), while to my In a Gramophone interview (‘Exploring Tyler, erstwhile chairman of the
ears the phrase shapes err towards the the Frontiers’, 2/87), Bryden Thomson Swansea Festival.
awkward and contrived. said of Daniel Jones: ‘He knows what he The reception of Jones’s music has
The chamber works that separate wants, he knows what he’s writing, and he usually been respectful rather than
the orchestral pieces can each be knows when it isn’t right. You can’t say enthusiastic, even in these august pages,
chronologically aligned with their bigger that about a lot of composers these days.’ so let me raise the bar somewhat. These
companions. Il regno degli spiriti (2001) is In early 1990 Thomson conducted the are strong and important works that repay
a quartet with the same open-ended feel then BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra familiarity. The performances by the
of Flaminis but the language is altogether (now the BBC National Orchestra BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra and
more Central European – a strained, of Wales) in a studio cycle of Jones’s Thomson are finely realised, alive to their
dense polyphonic search for truth 12 numbered symphonies (the rhythmic intricacies and growing
that is performed by Zilliacus and her unnumbered 1992 Symphony ‘in orchestrational confidence. Lyrita’s
companions with muscle and pain. Sorry memoriam John Fussell’ having not remastering provides depth and clarity
to say that Haglund in 2000s vintage yet been composed) and these four to the studio-bound sound. As with the
impresses rather more than his 2010s recordings derive from that cycle, whereas symphonies of Havergal Brian, a cycle
one. The trio Sollievo (2013) is an evocative Lyrita’s earlier Jones issues – even of of which is also near completion, what is
piece that once more tells of a blue heart Symphonies Nos 8 and 9, conducted by needed next is for these symphonies to be
under northern skies and feels deeply Thomson – are reissues from 1970s LPs taken up in both concert hall and studio.
personal in its miniature outbursts. But by Pye, HMV and the short-lived How about it, Messrs Brabbins, Walker,
the musical language is altogether less bold BBC Artium label. Woods? Guy Rickards

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E XCITING NEW RELEASES VISIT www.EloquenceClassics.com

Decca 482 6266

Decca 482 5650 (2CD)

Decca 482 4759 (2CD)

Decca 482 7353 (3CD)


RACHMANINOV: Preludes CONCERTGEBOUW LOLLIPOPS HANDEL: Arias 2(9,3(5́,93
Moura Lympany Doráti; Haitink; Van Kempen; Van Beinum Greevy; Sutherland; Robinson The Philips Recordings
The first ever recording (1941–42) of Hidden gems from the Concertgebouw Rare Decca recital recordings An erl’s complete Philips recordings,
the complete Rachmaninov Preludes. repertoire recorded in leftover time at sessions. of Handel arias. with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Decca 482 8093

Decca 482 5511

Decca 482 7730 (2CD)

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MELBA’S FAREWELL RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Scheherazade AUBER: Orchestral and Theatre works EVENING AT THE
Dame Nellie Melba BORODIN: Polovtsian Dances Richard Bonynge CHICAGO LYRIC OPERA
Dame Nellie Melba’s famous Eduard van Beinum A collection of Auber orchestral and vocal Sir Georg Solti
Farewell from Covent Garden and First on Decca CD – the Philips recordings chosen by Bonynge himself. The first complete release of this
other rare recordings. Scheherazade and early Decca Borodin. historic 1956 concert.

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Decca 482 7177 (2CD)

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MAHLER: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 KARL MÜNCHINGER FRENCH ARIAS & DUETS TELEMANN: Musique de Table
Sir Georg Solti The Schubert Recordings Irma Kolassi • Raoul Jobim August Wenzinger
Solti’s first recordings of these Münchinger’s Schubert symphonies, Irma Kolassi and Raoul Jobim in a selection The historic DG recording (1964–65),
symphonies – with the LSO Rosamunde and several shorter of scenes from La damnation de Faust, newly remastered and with extensive
(also available: No.9, with pieces recorded for Decca and issued Roméo et Juliette and Werther. booklet notes by scholar Nick Morgan.
the LSO: 482 7163). collectively on CD for the first time. First release on Decca CD. First international release on DG CD.
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DORÁTI IN HOLLAND IRMA KOLASSI The Decca Recitals ALICIA DE LARROCHA BRAHMS: The Symphonies
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on Philips receiving their first official Arie antiche through Chausson and All of Larrocha’s American Decca recordings, Kubelík’s early Decca stereo recordings
CD release, with some appearing Massenet, to Spanish and Greek folk beautifully remastered for this release and of the Brahms Symphonies with the
in stereo for the first time. songs. On Decca CD for the first time. issued collectively for the first time. Vienna Philharmonic.

/AustralianEloquence www.EloquenceClassics.com www.ProperMusic.com


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

G Lloyd Mahler ◊Y somewhat variable. Peter Mattei’s Pater


Symphonies – No 6a; No 7, ‘Proserpine’b Symphony No 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Ecstaticus, a little flat on arrival, quickly
BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra / Ricarda Merbeth, Juliane Banse, Anna Lucia finds his very best form. Samuel Youn’s
Edward Downes Richter sops Sara Mingardo, Mihoko Fujimura Pater Profundus is passionate but the voice
Lyrita Itter Broadcast Collection F REAM1135 contrs Andreas Schager ten Peter Mattei bass occasionally misfires. Tenor Andreas
(73’ • ADD). BBC broadcast performances, Samuel Youn bass Bavarian Radio Chorus; Schager is indubitably ardent as Doctor
b
September 5, 1979; aDecember 31, 1980 Latvian Radio Choir; Orfeón Donostiarra; Tölz Marianus; sadly the volume is unvaryingly
Children’s Choir; Lucerne Festival Orchestra / loud and the effect ultimately wearing,
Riccardo Chailly however impressive the decibels. While
Accentus F ◊ ACC20390; F Y ACC10390 coping admirably with the high tessitura,
Lyrita released the (93’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1, Ricarda Merbeth (Magna Peccatrix) crosses
first discs of George DD5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) the line between vibrancy and wobble.
Lloyd’s symphonies on Recorded live at the Concert Hall of KKL Luzern, Sara Mingardo (Mulier Samaritana), her
disc back in the early August 12 & 13, 2016 contralto a size smaller, is blessedly focused.
1980s, with LPs of the Fourth, Fifth and There’s nothing controversial or tricksy
Eighth (reissued on CD in 2007). The about the filming (unless you object to a
conductor, Edward Downes, undertook harpist’s sheet music being glimpsed through
their first performances as well as those of There are several the strings of the instrument when the Mater
the Sixth, Seventh and Tenth Symphonies, distinguished accounts of Gloriosa floats into view). Members of
and this latest disc couples the former two this symphony in audio- chorus and orchestra are caught smiling on
of these in their broadcast premieres. visual format to which camera, although there’s a telltale grimace
Resident near Sherborne in the 1950s Riccardo Chailly now in the final build up when the hushed
and ’60s, Lloyd wrote on a part-time basis adds another, a souvenir of a great occasion choral entry is managed with a spellbinding
but managed to complete several major in a fine but not overlarge venue. While Abbado-esque hush, only for the soloists to
works. The present two symphonies make there’s been no great interpretative change fall short of the same standard. The human
for a pointed contrast in all respects. The of direction since his previously and technical frailties of Klaus Tennstedt’s
Sixth (1956) is the shortest of the cycle, immortalised Leipzig concerts of 2011, live relay cannot disguise the more startling
its outer movements being deft takes the subtler treatment of certain passages emotive force of his music-making. But
on sonata and rondo designs so their can perhaps be construed as a ‘tribute to then those who attended the Royal Festival
immediacy of ideas is thrown into relief Claudio’. In August 2016 Abbado’s final, Hall in 1991 and can still remember Julia
by their formal sophistication, while the unfinished Mahler cycle was, in effect, Varady’s gown should perhaps recuse
central Adagio focuses on a cor anglais completed by this performance (captured themselves from critical comment! Chailly
melody of winsome poise. over two nights), simultaneously takes immense care to get details right. Few
Inspired by the Greek legend of inaugurating a new era as Chailly conductors have lived so long with this
Proserpine, the much larger Seventh succeeded his friend and colleague as music music and none has proved more adept
Symphony (1959) could hardly be more director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. at coordinating its disparate forces.
different. It proceeds from an initial Clarity is achieved at the expense of This Accentus DVD comes elegantly
movement of a restraint belied by quirky sheer numbers. This is no ‘symphony of packaged and annotated, the list of
ostinato rhythms and speculative harmony a thousand’ – the ensemble reportedly orchestral personnel confirming the arrival
that takes on increasing volatility towards totalled 358, a fairly typical complement of a few more Milanese names. I missed
the close, through a central Largo whose these days. The expert, multi-sourced the feline elegance of Abbado’s podium
eloquent melodic contours and ethereal choral contingent is positioned in six rows presence. Still, at least one of his traditions
orchestration make it Lloyd’s most affecting across the width of Lucerne’s modern hall endures: audience members wait patiently
symphonic movement, to a finale that with the Tölzer Knabenchor squeezed in at the end until their new hero is ready to
pursues an agitated course to a powerful along the sides. take the applause. David Gutman
climax then an epilogue whose anguish is In the first movement, where some Selected comparisons:
more telling for its enfolding inwardness. conductors plainly intend the opening blast Tennstedt (11/92R) (EMI) ◊ 367743-9
The work gave rise to much soul- to pin listeners to their seats, Chailly avoids Bernstein (2/06) (DG) ◊ 073 4088GH9
searching but ultimately earned praise too much shock and awe. Not that he is Tennstedt (6/11) (LPO) LPO0052
from those otherwise unreceptive to content to smooth away all the disruptive Chailly (1/12) (ACCE) ◊ ACC20222; Y ACC10222
this composer. Downes endows it with elements of Mahler’s invention. Orchestral
unstinting drama, and is no less inside detail has a brighter physicality than Mendelssohn
its diverting predecessor. Lloyd’s own Abbado might have encouraged and the Violin Concerto, Op 64a. Symphony No 5,
recordings on Albany are well played with soloists’ operatic vibrato may well strike ‘Reformation’, Op 107. The Hebrides, Op 26
more spacious sound but the extra panache you as excessive. Deferring until the a
Isabelle Faust vn
here is unarguable. Maybe Downes’s very last moment the traditional Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado
broadcasts of the Ninth and Tenth though unmarked ritardando into the Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2325 (62’ • DDD)
Symphonies will emerge; even that of recapitulation of the ‘Veni, Creator
the Eighth, which began the Lloyd revival Spiritus’, Chailly is plainly anxious to
40 years ago. Richard Whitehouse keep something in reserve.
Symphony No 6 – selected comparison: The longer second part has all the What kind of
BBC PO, Lloyd (8/89) (ALBA) TROY015-2 operatic vividness you might expect from a violinist was
Symphony No 7 – selected comparison: this source with speeds generally a little Ferdinand David,
BBC PO, Lloyd (6/87) (ALBA) TROY057-2 slower than in Leipzig. The soloists are for (and with) whom

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 61


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Mendelssohn composed his Violin aria, while drawing from the LSO strings Recorded in the early 1990s, all five
Concerto? At a time when the late a tenderness that eludes the Freiburg concertos appeared on a twofer (Ultima,
quartets of Beethoven were hardly known ensemble. And for all the incidental 1/00 – nla) with the Turku Philharmonic
outside Vienna, he introduced them to beauties of their solo winds, I would have Orchestra under Jacques Mercier and four
enthusiastic audiences across Germany. welcomed the fitting majesty that Gardiner pianists sharing duties, Juhani Lagerspetz
At the same time, brilliance was the quality brings to the symphony’s climactic in No 4 and Raija Kerppo in No 5. Both
requested by David in the solo writing assertion of ‘Ein feste Burg’. The disc are marginally brisker than the newcomer
of his friend’s concerto; having already will rightly attract attention for Faust; but really there is very little to choose
composed one himself, he knew how it but anyone collecting Heras-Casado’s cycle between them, though the Ultima discs
could be achieved without recourse to of Mendelssohn will snap this up and wait were better filled with Palmgren’s Piano
virtuoso tropes and clichés. eagerly for the final instalment. Sonata No 1 and various other rarities.
Isabelle Faust is a musician in David’s Peter Quantrill However, Alba offers as an extra the
line. Reserving portamento and vibrato Violin Concerto – selected comparison: orchestral suite A Pastorale in Three Scenes
for the lovely second theme, she brings out Tetzlaff, Frankfurt RSO, P Järvi (1918), the second of these being ‘Elegie’.
the anxious, hunted vulnerability of the (2/12) (ONDI) ODE1195-2 This alone is quite beautiful enough to
concerto’s opening (a mode of expression Symphony No 5 – selected comparison: merit a warm recommendation.
Mendelssohn returned to all his life, LSO, Gardiner (7/15) (LSOL) LSO0075 Jeremy Nicholas
until the F minor String Quartet). Its
E minor-ness registers the more strongly Palmgren Pickard
at period pitch, a semitone down, and is Piano Concertosa – No 4, ‘April’, Op 85; No 5, Monteverdi Orfeo – Toccata (transcr Pickard)
stressed by Pablo Heras-Casado from the Op 99. Exotic March. A Pastorale in Three Pickard Symphony No 5. Concertante
outset, bringing out the clarinet’s third Scenes, Op 50 Variationsa. Sixteen Sunrises
which is the weakest, most unstable a
Janne Mertanen pf a
Matthew Featherstone fl aGeoffrey Cox ob
element of the opening chord. Pori Sinfonietta / Jan Söderblom a
Nicholas Cox cl aJarosław Augustyniak bn
Like Christian Tetzlaff, Faust drives Alba F Í ABCD400 (63’ • DDD) a
Ian Fisher hn BBC National Orchestra of Wales /
through the neo-Bachian arpeggios of the Martyn Brabbins
cadenza, as marked; her playing throughout BIS F Í BIS2261 (63’ • DDD/DSD)
is remarkable not only for the expected
attributes of fidelity and accuracy but for Selim Palmgren
the tough, wild and impassioned qualities (1878-1951) appeared
she restores to a piece which easily falls in these pages far more The chief work on
prone to white-dress, sugar-and-spice frequently in days of BIS’s fourth CD
performances. Without tearing up the yore than he does now. His star has faded, devoted to the music
rulebook, she has thought afresh about unfairly I think, so this release is thrice of John Pickard
some phrase shapes in the closing stages welcome – repertoire (there is currently (b1963) is his Fifth and most recent
of the first movement. Some listeners may little of any of his music available on any Symphony, composed in an intense burst
find unsettling her pure tone in the Andante’s label), and performance and recording of creativity in the early months of 2014.
opening theme when coupled with sliding quality, both of which are first class. (Its predecessor, the Gaia Symphony for
between each note. It’s of a piece with the Last year David Fanning gave a cautious brass band – 11/14 – took 13 years to
fierce intrusion of trumpet and drums welcome to the first three (of Palmgren’s achieve its final form!) Pickard’s five
before very long; like the F minor Quartet, five) piano concertos with the same symphonies cover his entire career to
this performance of the concerto never sits orchestra and conductor (Henri Sigfridsson date, the still-unperformed First written
back. Even the finale’s high spirits are was the soloist), reminding us that the best in 1983-84; like it and the eruptive Second
tempered – or further raised – by a spirit of of the quintet is No 2, The River, and of (1985-87), No 5 is in one continuous
challenge and gamesmanship (beyond mere Palmgren’s episodic approach to the form. movement lasting around half an hour.
playfulness) between soloist and orchestra: This is true of both concertos on this The music fair kidnaps the listener’s
like the relationship between Theseus second volume, where one is aware of a attention at the outset and does not ransom
and Hippolyta, it could go very wrong profusion of more or less interesting and it until the gripping, wholly satisfying close.
very quickly. arresting ideas which float pass the window The structure alternates fast and slow
Such audacity courses through both never to be seen again. While the music is episodes, shortening or lengthening like
overture and symphony. The battleground in a genial, late-Romantic idiom (though some vast process of respiration, pivoting
of the Reformation’s opening Allegro is No 4 veers heavily towards Impressionism), around the main central slow section, the
staked out by Heras-Casado with fire, as it is hard to get a handle on where it is tempos phasing and overlapping as the
Mendelssohn demands, but also fury, in going. The single-movement (18'20") movement progresses. Those knowing
some aggressively clipped tutti chords. Fourth Concerto was written mainly in McCabe’s Of Time and the River will
At an almost identical tempo, he is more Rochester in 1924 when Palmgren was recognise a kindred spirit here, even if
restrained than Mitropoulos (4/56, (perhaps surprisingly) professor of the result is quite different.
downloadable from Urania) or Toscanini composition at the Eastman School of The performance by the BBC National
in the application of rubato, but otherwise Music, and completed in his native Finland Orchestra of Wales is stunning in its
their fiercely rhetorical conceptions of the three years later. The Fifth Concerto virtuosity (especially the three timpanists)
Andante bear close comparison down the (1940-41) was composed, he said, ‘to the and Brabbins shapes the whole edifice
decades. As Mitropoulos did, John Eliot accompaniment of bombs exploding’. It grippingly, as in the couplings. The tone
Gardiner hastens on in the movement’s is the only one of the five that has the poem Sixteen Sunrises (2013) – premiered
central section, as if conducting a cantata customary three distinct movements. by Brabbins in Nagoya, Japan, and

62 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


KIRKER MUSIC FESTIVALS
F O R D I S C E R N I N G T R A V E L L E R S
Kirker Holidays offers an extensive range of independent and escorted opera holidays.
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A THREE NIGHT HOLIDAY |20 NOVEMBER 2017 A FOUR NIGHT HOLIDAY | 26 NOVEMBER 2017
Alfriston is fast becoming a favourite destination with our clients and in The inaugural Kirker Music Festival in Venice will combine a series of
2017 we will be presenting our seventh consecutive season of chamber exclusive recitals in magnificent venues, with visits to some of the city’s
music concerts. finest galleries and palazzos.
This year concerts will be given by the Navarra String Quartet, each The Doric String Quartet will be joined by classical guitarist Sean
preceded by one of a series of open workshops hosted by Simon Shibe for three concerts which will be given in the ornate ballroom
Rowland-Jones. We stay at Deans Place Hotel in the heart of this on the piano nobile at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal and in the
historic and picturesque Sussex village. There are superb views of frescoed Sala della Musica at the 15th century Ca’ Sagredo. There
the South Downs and you can enjoy will be an optional opera performance at the Palazzo Barbarigo
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century Clergy House. Frari church and the Ca’ Rezzonico.
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THE KIRKER MUSIC FESTIVAL THE KIRKER SPRING MUSIC FESTIVAL


IN TENERIFE AT THE HOTEL TRESANTON, ST. MAWES
A SEVEN NIGHT HOLIDAY | 20 JANUARY 2018 A THREE NIGHT HOLIDAY | 12 MARCH 2018
For our third exclusive music festival on of Tenerife, we will present Our annual visit to Olga Polizzi’s fabled Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes
six concerts featuring the Navarra String Quartet, guitarist Morgan combines a relaxing spring escape in Cornwall, with a series of world-class
Szymanski, soprano Amaia Azcona and violist Simon Rowland-Jones. chamber music recitals.
Staying at the 5* Hotel Botanico, surrounded by lush tropical gardens in Performances in 2018 will be given by the Carducci String Quartet in
an unspoilt part of this volcanic island, we shall also enjoy a programme the Old Methodist Hall, and include works by Mendelssohn, Brahms,
of fascinating excursions. Highlights include the Sitio Litro Orchid Haydn and Beethoven. There will also be a series of musical talks and a
Garden, a cable car journey to the peak of Mount Teide and a visit to the visit to the private garden at Lamorran, inspired by Lady Walton’s garden
primeval cloud forest of the Anaga Mountains. We will also visit historic on the island of Ischia. Dinner is included each evening at the excellent
and picturesque villages along the spectacular north coast, including Tresanton restaurant which overlooks the sea and is
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Price from £2,549 per person for seven nights Price from £1,190 per person for three nights
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with breakfast, six dinners, six concerts, all and dinner, three concerts each preceded
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services of the Kirker Tour Leader. Lamorran Gardens and the services of the
Kirker Tour Leader and a Tour Escort.

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www.kirkerholidays.com
ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

dedicated to the late composer and author Similarly, neither Trusler nor Koelman from January 2016 is especially welcome
Malcolm MacDonald (1948-2014) – is quite gets the measure of storybook rapture on LSO Live – this time not on the
more relaxed, an essay on light, while the in the third movement, where the freedom usual CD but a double release on
delightful Concertante Variations for wind and eloquence in Oistrakh’s sound are Blu-ray and DVD so you can select
quintet, timpani and strings (2011), with things of wonder. Alternatively, for your viewing medium.
Tippett-like freshness, spotlights Pickard’s polished studio perfection and modern Maurice Ravel bookends the concert.
superb handling of medium-size forces. sound, Vengerov on Teldec is a sure bet. Rattle’s affectionate account of Le tombeau
The music throughout is in this composer’s In the Second Concerto Trusler is the de Couperin features pristine contributions
dynamic, driving, 21st-century tonal idiom, subtler in shaping the opening lyrical from the LSO’s principal woodwind team.
recognisably British but Pickard’s own. phrases, though both players are more or Smiles abound and Rattle seems to offer his
The final track sidesteps expectations a less in the gleeful fantasy that propels the players a great deal of freedom in shaping
touch with a witty reworking of music forwards. However, the tightness in and phrasing. The Second Suite from
Monteverdi for Scelsi-esque ensemble: Trusler’s tone and his ungenerous vibrato Daphnis et Chloé combines clarity – splendid
what would Claudio have made of the when real warmth is called for are flute contributions in the ‘Pantomime’
saxophone? A superb disc, great sound: my drawbacks with the slow movement – section from Adam Walker – with lush
disc of the year so far. Guy Rickards surely one of Prokofiev’s most inspired Mediterranean warmth from the strings.
self-renewing melodies – while the problem Rattle doesn’t whip the orchestra into a
Prokofiev with Koelman here is a certain rhythmic frenzy during the closing ‘Bacchanale’ but
Violin Concertos – No 1, Op 19; No 2, Op 63 rigidity and literalness in the phrasing. precision is paired with controlled power.
Rudolf Koelman vn Both are in their element with the grit and Henri Dutilleux, whose centenary was
Musikkollegium Winterthur / Douglas Boyd grunt of the finale, though I still prefer marked during 2016, cited Ravel as a major
Challenge Classics F CC72736 (50’ • DDD) something more elegant than the somewhat influence on his work. The violin concerto
Recorded live at the Townhouse Winterthur, unrelenting drive both favour. in all but name L’arbre des songes takes its
Switzerland, April 6-9, 2016 Recorded balance is well judged in each inspiration from the forests of Arthurian
version, though I find the Orchid Classics legend, alternating between dreamy reveries
Prokofiev sound marginally more ingratiating, with and energetic outbursts. Leonidas Kavakos,
Violin Concertos – No 1, Op 19; No 2, Op 63 the all-important goading bass drum in the stubbly and serious in what looks like a blue
Matthew Trusler vn Second Concerto more present and the smock, delivers an unfussy, lyrical account
BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Grant Llewellyn violin tone slightly more flattered by the of this chimerical work, dynamics
Orchid F ORC100070 (52’ • DDD) acoustic. All the same, I still prefer the sensitively calibrated. Métaboles is arguably
superior glow and blend on the Vengerov/ more Stravinskian than Ravelian and Rattle
LSO version of the First Concerto. draws a carefully nuanced reading of this
Admirable though the new discs are in ‘concerto for orchestra’ from the LSO.
many ways, my reservations tell me that The gems at the heart of this
I would be reluctant to shell out for either programme, though, are the Quatre Poèmes
one. David Fanning hindous by Maurice Delage, a pupil of
Concerto No 1 – selected comparisons: Ravel’s. This 1914 cycle blends Indian
Two competent and enjoyable but not Oistrakh, Moscow PO, Rozhdestvensky colours into Western art song, with solo
world-beating performances here of two (5/69R) (BRIL) 92609 cello sometimes masquerading as a sitar,
of Prokofiev’s most captivating scores. Vengerov, LSO, Rostropovich bending plucked notes. Julia Bullock
Matthew Trusler and Rudolf Koelman are (2/95) (TELD) 4509 98143-2 delivers the four songs coolly but her
as sure-fingered as one another, and grainy soprano, with smoky vibrato,
everything is well coordinated between Ravel . Delage . Dutilleux suits their mysterious aura. Texts and
them and their respective orchestras. ◊Y translations are included in the booklet
The opening of the First Concerto Delage Quatre Poèmes hindousa Dutilleux but are not available to view on screen.
immediately shows how much care each L’arbre des songesb. Métaboles Ravel Daphnis Rich sound and crystalline picture quality
has lavished on inflection, without ever et Chloé – Suite No 2. Le tombeau de Couperin make this an enjoyable viewing experience.
endangering the required dreamy quality, a
Julia Bullock sop bLeonidas Kavakos vn Throughout, Rattle smiles beatifically
and each is alive to the magic that returns London Symphony Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle at the LSO, which augurs well as his
at the end as the violin swoons into its LSO Live M b (◊ + Y) LSO3038 (96’ • NTSC • directorship proper begins. Mark Pullinger
chains of stratospheric trills (though 16:9 • 1080i • 16-bit 48kHz & PCM stereo • 0 • T/t)
Koelman tends to sit down on the beat Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, Rubbra . C Scott
here, where the music really demands to be January 13, 2016 Rubbra Violin Concerto, Op 103a.
in the air up to the very last note). Sinfonia concertante, Op 38b.
Whether either player displays quite Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of
enough swagger or sense of mischief in Cyril Scott, Op 69c C Scott Consolationc
some of the intervening fantastical moods Since the a
Endré Wolf vn bcEdmund Rubbra pf
I’m not so sure. In the second movement announcement that a
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Rudolf Schwarz;
Koelman has more of the character, Simon Rattle will b
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra /
Trusler more of the technical poise, but take over as Music Hugo Rignold
neither can compete with the daredevilry Director of the Lyrita Itter Broadcast Collection mono
and dash of Oistrakh (especially in his London Symphony Orchestra, his Barbican F REAM1134 (73’ • ADD)
occasionally ice-skatey 1963 live concerts gave garnered some rave reviews. BBC broadcast performances, aFebruary 20, 1960;
performance with Rozhdestvensky). Among them, this French programme b
May 2, cAugust 9, 1967

64 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

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

There’s more buried treasure in the Saint-Saëns . Schumann .


shape of a spirited account of the imposing Tchaikovsky
Sinfonia concertante for piano and orchestra Schumann Cello Concerto, Op 129 Saint-Saëns
What a treat to that Rubbra originally completed in 1936 Cello Concerto No 1, Op 33 Tchaikovsky
encounter Rubbra’s and comprehensively overhauled in the Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op 33
glorious Violin early 1940s. The composer himself Antonio Meneses vc
Concerto played by the participated in the first performance with Royal Northern Sinfonia / Claudio Cruz
work’s Budapest-born dedicatee Endre Wolf Adrian Boult and the BBC SO at an August Avie F AV2373 (60’ • DDD)
(1913-2011). This February 1960 broadcast 1943 Prom and the present BBC broadcast
from Maida Vale under Rudolf Schwarz’s from May 1967 with the CBSO under
baton was only its second performance, the Hugo Rignold serves as a splendid
world premiere having taken place three reminder of his interpretative skills. What Fitzenhagen or
days previously at the Royal Festival Hall. a powerful work it is, too, culminating in a Tchaikovsky
A memorably unforced display it proves, too, deeply felt prelude and fugue inscribed to unadulterated?
plumbing genuine depths of rapt expression the memory of Holst (with whom Rubbra There’s the rub with
particularly in the ravishing central ‘Poema’, had studied at Reading University and the the Rococo Variations. The noted German
which evinces such a striking kinship with Royal College of Music). It’s followed here cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen premiered the
the sublime ‘Canto’ slow movement of the by another Prelude and Fugue, this time work (with Nikolay Rubinstein conducting)
Sixth Symphony from 1954. There’s the for solo piano and based on a theme from and his extensive cuts and emendations
odd tiny slip and some occasional the First Piano Sonata by Rubbra’s were for years the performing norm, until
background swish to contend with but it boyhood teacher, Cyril Scott (1879-1970). the Russian cellist Victor Kubatsky started
remains a cherishable document and must Rubbra affords it affectingly serene the ‘refresher’ ball rolling with some
be deemed an essential supplement to the treatment, as he does Scott’s searching thorough research so that the preferable
concerto’s three commercial recordings Consolation (1918). Both these items come original version could also be performed.
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

from Krysia Osostowicz (Naxos, 11/05), from a recital transmitted by the BBC in As to collectors, it’s not unlike the situation
Carl Pini (Unicorn-Kanchana, 1/87 – nla) August 1967. with Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole: if you’re
and Tasmin Little (Conifer, 10/94 – nla) – Transfers from Richard Itter’s off-air after interpretations by such violin
the last-named’s marvellously lucid alliance mono tapes have been most judiciously luminaries as Francescatti, Heifetz or
with Vernon Handley and the RPO being managed and Paul Conway’s copious notes Huberman, you have to make do with the
especially praiseworthy (any chance of a are a real boon. All in all, an issue to four-movement version. If you need the
reissue, I wonder?). savour. Andrew Achenbach fifth-movement Intermezzo you have to go

gramophone.co.uk 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

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 by work, you can probably do better The coupling gives a clue to Blunier’s
want Fournier, Gendron, Gerhardt, elsewhere. Good sound with especially approach, which is more forthright and bold
Gutman, Ma, Rose, Rostropovich, clear timpani. Rob Cowan than Bychkov’s – impulsive and fiery, with
Shafran, Starker, Tortelier or indeed Tchaikovsky – selected comparison: a real sense of symphonic sweep. If Bychkov
Antonio Meneses it has be Fitzenhagen. Moser, Suisse Romande Orch, Manze and his players communicate affection,
Knushevitzky, Isserlis, Perényi, Julian (5/17) (PENT) PTC5186 570 Blunier and his (who already set down the
Lloyd Webber, Raphael Wallfisch and Fourth for MDG at the beginning of the
Jamie Walton are among the exponents Schmidt . R Strauss decade) offer something more like
of the original. (There’s a fuller A/B list Schmidt Symphony No 2 passionate engagement with the piece.
on en.tchaikovsky-research.net.) R Strauss Festliches Praeludium, Op 61 The result, though not always subtle, is
Meneses’s performance is flexible and Beethoven Orchestra, Bonn / Stefan Blunier undoubtedly exciting, and difficult to resist.
trimly played, with plenty of warm tone MDG F Í MDG937 2006-6 (63’ • DDD/DSD) The opening movement is properly Lebhaft
and an alert accompaniment under Claudio Recorded live at the Beethoven Hall, Bonn, (and listen the warmth in the violins’
Cruz, but Johannes Moser’s reading of the May 13 & 14, 2016 yearning melody at 11'53"). There’s a
original would still be my first digital port real sense of Schwung in the remarkable,
of call. The Schumann Concerto is given dizzying last couple of minutes of the
a svelte, seamless reading, where the finale and a fine sense of flow in the tricky
musical line is skilfully spun and the This is the second Allegretto con variazioni.
accompaniment notably alert. The Saint- recording of Schmidt’s But while this performance, captured
Saëns First Concerto is also well played, Second Symphony live, is persuasive as a big picture, a closer
though here Claudio Cruz and his Royal to come my way this listen reveals a little roughness around the
Northern aren’t always precisely on the year after Semyon Bychkov’s luxuriously edges. There’s a slight lack of security in all
ball. At around 1'30" into the first upholstered account with the Vienna the weaving filigree that is such a feature of
movement a wind chord is marginally Philharmonic on Sony. Both releases the first movement, compared at least to
delayed (maybe even on purpose) while choose to couple the work with Strauss. the Vienna Philharmonic’s polish, and some
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

elsewhere the lens isn’t always entirely For Bychkov it was the gentle Gemütlichkeit raggedness elsewhere – in Variation 7 in the
clear, though much of the performance of the ‘Träumerei am Kamin’ interlude second movement, for example. Higher-
is vital enough. In short, this is good from Intermezzo. For Stefan Blunier lying lines in general have something of
programme showcasing an extremely and his Beethoven Orchester Bonn it’s the tightrope walk about them.
fine cellist which works well as a sequence – the full-blown pomp of the Festliches That will bother some more than
the finale of the Schumann and the first Praeludium (stirringly performed), others in what’s nevertheless a thoroughly
movement of the Saint-Saëns are virtually premiered in October 1913, a matter enjoyable performance, situated somewhere
of a piece, tempo-wise – but, taken work of weeks before the Schmidt. between Bychkov’s mellow refinement and

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 67


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

the brassy thrills of Neeme Järvi’s Chicago his players make it work as well as virtually with horns in glorious counterpoint carries
account; it feels closest, in fact, to Vassily anyone else on disc does. such sweeping authenticity.
Sinaisky’s Malmö recording on Naxos. This is the sort of CD that might But maybe in this of all the symphonies
The engineering, I should add, is rich profitably convert those who see concert there are elements of spectacle – and I’m
and seductive. Hugo Shirley music as ‘irrelevant’: it addresses the world thinking now specifically of the last
Schmidt – selected comparisons: as is; and if ultimately it can’t spell positive movement – that require a degree or two
Chicago SO, N Järvi (3/90R) (CHAN) CHAN9568 closure (as, say, Beethoven’s Fifth can), it more heat. The whirling bacchanal doesn’t
Malmö SO, Sinaisky (11/09) (NAXO) 8 570589 does at least offer some grounds for quite excite as it might, due in part to the
VPO, Bychkov (7/17) (SONY) 88985 35552-2 compassion. Rob Cowan reticence (in the balance) of the percussion
and the all-important tambourine. But
Shostakovich . R Strauss Tchaikovsky Bychkov makes much of the return of
Shostakovich Chamber Symphony (String ‘The Tchaikovsky Project, Vol 2’ earlier material where Tchaikovsky
Quartet No 8), Op 110a (arr Barshai) Manfred, Op 58 fabricates a very real sense of déjà vu in
R Strauss Metamorphosen Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Semyon Bychkov Manfred’s journey and I applaud the use of
Baltic Chamber Orchestra / Decca F 483 2320DH (59’ • DDD) chamber organ as opposed to a full-blown
Emmanuel Leducq-Barôme Phantom of the Opera job (a temptation,
Rubicon F RCD1009 (53’ • DDD) granted) where one should feel it is not so
much dominating but subtly buttressing
There is much here the winds at the start of the apotheosis.
to build upon the No question, then, that whatever my
Rarely have I been promise of Bychkov’s minor reservations in this instance, the
as moved by Strauss’s Pathétique - the prospect of what is to come from this series
‘Study for 23 solo exceptional performance which launched can be keenly anticipated. Edward Seckerson
strings’, his in this ongoing ‘Tchaikovsky Project’ (10/16).
memoriam to a severely bruised culture There is, of course, the abiding warmth Tsontakis
and to bombed Munich in particular, as and humanity of the Czech Philharmonic Anasaa. True Colorsb. Unforgettablec
I was when listening to this rich-textured where expressivity always trumps spectacle, a
David Krakauer cl bEric Berlin tpt
recording by the Baltic Chamber where phrasing relates to sound in ear- c
Luosha Fang, cEunice Kim vns
Orchestra. Although the chosen tempos are catching ways and the reasons the notes Albany Symphony Orchestra / David Alan Miller
comparatively broad, Emmanuel Leducq- are there in the first place rightfully take Naxos American Classics M 8 559826 (63’ • DDD)
Barôme keeps you on the edge of your seat, precedence over their cosmetic effect.
principally by achieving maximum tension The soulfulness of this Manfred finds
at the crest of each phrase. Of course the concentration in the first movement,
Eroica denouement is obvious right from where Byron’s solitary hero traverses Here are three
the start (though other works are alluded a dark, forbidding orchestral landscape engagingly expressive
to throughout the piece) but when Strauss entirely scored in the lowest registers recent concertos by
finally makes his quotation blatant – on (great kinship with Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta). George Tsontakis
cellos and basses at the end of the work – Bychkov makes something really special (b1951), each with an evocative title.
the hairs on the back of my neck all but of the wistfully lyric episode for strings According to the composer’s notes, True
bristled. I’ve heard versions of at the heart of the movement out of Colors for trumpet and orchestra (2012)
Metamorphosen that are dead in the which emerges the solitude of bass refers in part to the ‘true’ or ‘primary’
water right from the off (the work can, if clarinet against a barely discernible colours of the work’s essential harmonic
clumsily handled, virtually define musical rustle of violins. The defiant coda is motifs – colours that are then blended, like
lugubriousness), but this certainly isn’t always thrilling – a fabulous saturation paint, to create a broader, richer palette.
one of them. of sound – though I think Bychkov A concise Prologue, built upon echoing,
The notion of coupling it with that other might have encouraged more from his chime-like figures, begins optimistically in
great memorial to a shattered German city trumpets as the soul-baring hits the peak a style redolent of Copland and Bernstein
(Dresden), Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet – of its intensity. but soon suggests more disquieted,
here filled out as a C minor ‘Chamber The Czech Philharmonic woodwinds expressionistic imagery. The substantial
Symphony’ by Rudolf Barshai – is in itself a have such a beguiling homespun quality second movement, entitled ‘Magic Act’,
stroke of genius. Again the playing suggests generally but in the shimmering waterfall also starts brightly before veering into
maximum commitment, with a palpable of the second movement they are super- edgier, jazz-inspired territory, the colours
sense of mystery in the opening Largo, balletic, engagingly decamping us to the gradually becoming darker and more
full-on energy and slashing accents in the world of Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. saturated. True Colors was written for Eric
Allegro molto, an uncomfortable feeling of I love the songful phrasing of strings and Berlin, principal trumpet of the Albany
delicacy for the cynical Allegretto and vivid solo clarinet in the lovely second idea – Symphony, and he plays it vividly here.
reportage of the shuddering gunfire that so effortless – and it is this very humane Anasa (2011) is the Greek word for
informs the fourth-movement Largo. Still, response to the lyricism of the piece that is breath, and this clarinet concerto comes to
good though Leducq-Barôme’s carried through to the pastorale of the third life with an audible, animalistic exhalation
performance is, I must voice a definite movement. Bychkov has his finger on the from the solo instrument. It was composed
preference for the original quartet version: pulse of this music in a way I haven’t heard for David Krakauer, best known for his
loudly proclaiming this troubling narrative since the likes of Mravinsky (though he work with the Klezmatics, and Tsontakis
isn’t quite the same as confiding it among never recorded this piece) and Markevitch. weaves elements of klezmer music into the
friends. That aside, Leducq-Barôme and His realisation of the returning main theme score. But, as harmonic colours were

68 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 ‘Siècle’ the fifth movement of his Quatuor pour la
klezmer is blended with traditional music Debussy Cello Sonataa Dutilleux Tout un fin du temps sounding plaintive rather than
from Crete, the composer’s ancestral home. monde lointain …b Messiaen Quatuor pour earth-shattering in this context. Still, we
Whatever the mixture lacks in ethnic la fin du temps – Louange à l’Éternité de shouldn’t obsess about authenticity. The
specificity it makes up for in expressive Jésusa Ravel Pièce en forme de habaneraa music was originally conceived for Fête des
power and breadth. At times, the music Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No 1, Op 33c belles eaux (1937) and the whoop of multiple
carouses raucously, but at its essence Anasa Leonard Elschenbroich vc ondes martenot. What follows is Debussy’s
is contemplative, even lonely. The expansive a
Alexei Grynyuk pf bcBBC Scottish Symphony Cello Sonata, aptly lean rather than
slow movement is full of brooding, aching Orchestra / bJohn Wilson, cStefan Blunier refulgent, with an arrangement for cello
melancholy. In the mournful dance Onyx F ONYX4173 (70’ • DDD) and piano of Ravel’s Pièce en forme de
beginning at 6'43", for example, note how habanera appended. Pianist Alexei Grynyuk
Krakauer’s richly articulate eloquence is ceaselessly imaginative, very much an
makes one expect his clarinet to burst into equal partner.
songlike speech at any moment. Leonard Placed last is Saint-Saëns’s First Cello
In his First Violin Concerto (2002), Elschenbroich’s Concerto, for which Swiss-born Stefan
Tsontakis blatantly – and scornfully – burgeoning Blunier takes over from John Wilson at
quoted popular tunes. Unforgettable, for two discography continues the helm of the BBC Scottish SO – the
violins and orchestra (2013), makes subtle, to defy convention. This time it is not the back inlay could be clearer on this point.
yearningly nostalgic reference to Nat King music itself that is unfamiliar but rather The delightful central Allegretto sounds
Cole’s hit song of that title (listen at 3'40" the way in which the cellist has chosen more melancholy than usual, not that there
in the final movement). The two solo parts, to pull together a disparate programme is undue focus on the composer’s Romantic
originally written for Jennifer and Angela representing a century of French creativity. lineage. Truls Mørk’s recent recording, part
Chun, are intricately and inextricably Comparisons might seem beside the point of a quite different single-composer selection
woven together, as in Bach’s Double given the dearth of comparable projects. under Neeme Järvi (Chandos, 1/16), is
Concerto. But where Bach’s work is like Elschenbroich’s dark, lean sonority more relaxed in feeling, with the soloist
a pas de deux with hands elegantly joined, cuts across other expectations too. The placed under less intense sonic scrutiny.
Tsontakis’s is a sinuous, sorrowful dance of sequence begins with a fiercely immediate Elschenbroich, who has previously
conjoined twins. Luosha Fang and Eunice realisation of the Dutilleux concerto, the contributed his own elucidatory booklet
Kim home in on the music’s sweetly tragic most recent score, here rather sounding notes, offers no commentary on this
tone and the Albany Symphony play with it: rivals tend to inhabit a subtler, more occasion. Recommended nonetheless. Just
finesse and emotional heft for David Alan rarefied (more French?) sound world. Then don’t expect too much in the way of Gallic
Miller. Andrew Farach-Colton a switch to cello and piano for Messiaen, insouciance. David Gutman

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 69


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

From Surrey to Switzerland and back


Label owner Nicholas Dicker talks to Gramophone about how Guild has returned to the UK

I
n November 1967 a half-page from Covent Garden in 1936! Then there is the extensive
advertisement appeared in the and imaginative Light Music catalogue, with its ‘Golden Age
back pages of Gramophone for Guild of Light Music’ series covering original recordings from the
Records, ‘The New Name in Quality 1920s to the 1950s. But it is the main Guild label itself of which
Records’. It advertised the first three I’m probably most proud, with superbly engineered major
releases of 7-inch (vinyl) EPs of choral productions often featuring British orchestras performing
music from Guildford Cathedral and a recital disc played fascinating repertoire.’ The label has world-premiere recordings
on the cathedral organ. The label was instigated by Barry of many Swiss composers, including orchestral and chamber
Rose, who put Guildford Cathedral on the musical map as works by Volkmar Andreae and a new three-CD set of the
the first Organist and Master of the Choristers at the newly orchestral music of Caspar Diethelm for release this autumn.
consecrated cathedral in 1961. ‘I am keen to maintain the Swiss connection’, says Dicker.
LPs followed the EPs and the label acquired a modest ‘There is a wealth of material lying in the vaults of the Zurich
reputation with only five albums. Rose went on to even greater Central Library and it deserves to be better known. It is a
things at St Paul’s Cathedral and then St Alban’s Abbey, but country that has nurtured some extraordinary talents.’
by 1993 the record label had been Not that the 50th
bought by the Swiss businessman
and entrepreneur, Kaikoo Lalkaka.
When I began to study the catalogue, anniversary has allowed Guild
to forget its roots: ‘There will
‘Kaikoo was responsible for I was staggered at the range, quality be plenty of spectacular but
broadening the remit from British contrasting organ recordings,
choral and cathedral music to and sheer quantity of the releases from French Romantic
much more commercial repertoire repertoire with David M
and launched two sub-labels, Guild Light Music and Guild Patrick at Coventry Cathedral to Bach’s Goldberg Variations
Historical Recordings, carefully building the catalogue to its on the organ of St Katharina Church, Horw, Switzerland,
present size of over 600 releases’, says Nicholas Dicker, the played by Martin Heini.’ Along with further releases planned
new CEO of Guild Music. ‘With his Swiss connections, he in its well-respected Historical and Light Music series, Dicker
also brought a raft of new recordings of rarely heard Swiss is adamant to raise the profile of Guild: ‘I want the label to
composers and performers, making the label a pioneer in become one of the leading independent players in the classical
bringing that country’s musical heritage to a larger audience.’ market, promoting niche repertoire and new artists, while at the
Dicker’s acquisition of the label was a result of many years’ same time catering for broad tastes, with something of interest
waiting for the right moment. ‘I had known Kaikoo for several for almost everybody. There is even some jazz and world music
years through a mutual friend and was aware that at some point on our eclectic “ZahZah” label.’
he wanted to retire. That point came in December last year and But what about those inaugural EPs from Guild released
a deal was signed in March, bringing the label back to the UK 50 years ago? ‘Most of the tracks are still in the catalogue!’
in what amounted to its 50th anniversary.’ laughs Dicker. ‘Some we couldn’t use because the tape had
After university, Dicker’s own career started at Saga Records become damaged but what I did discover while going through
in 1980. ‘I was its last label manager, following in the footsteps the archive was an EP of choral music by Vaughan Williams,
of Martin Compton and Ted Perry, and it was still making his motet Valiant for Truth and part-song Silence and Music,
analogue recordings in what was a burgeoning digital age, all with The Proteus Choir of Guildford conducted by Vernon
with a budget of £500 per album! On many occasions I was not Handley. Handley and Ursula Vaughan Williams wrote the
only engineer and producer but graphic designer, production notes and the cover was illustrated by Barbara Handley. It was
guy and marketing man, so Saga certainly was valuable in giving recorded by Nicolas Ware in Guildford Cathedral in January
me a complete grounding in how to run a record company – 1969 and produced by none other than Barry Rose! To my
and indeed how not to.’ When the owners closed Saga in knowledge it has never been reissued but it sounds quite
1989, Dicker went on to work for Start Records, then part of beautiful. It is too short to issue as a CD, so we are going to
Pickwick, which marketed Vanguard Classics and in recent offer it as a download via our website and the usual channels.’
years has masterminded the reissue of much of the EMI archive So how would he sum up the label’s philosophy? Dicker
on the audiophile vinyl label HI-Q. But taking on the Guild points to the first line on the website: ‘Music’s power in uniting
label was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. people, enriching their lives forever, is the moving force behind
‘Like many people, I had always been aware of the Guild each of Guild’s releases.’
label but when I began to study the catalogue, I was staggered
at the range, quality and sheer quantity of the releases’, Dicker Guild Music Limited
enthuses. ‘For instance, I had no idea of the treasures that
lay in the Historical catalogue, with everything from the first Celebrating 50 years
complete recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess from a 1952
German radio broadcast with a young Leontyne Price, to rare email: nicholas@guildmusic.com
recordings by Toscanini, Stokowski, Barbirolli, Kletzki, Munch phone: +44 (0)20 8404 8307
and Cantelli, and Beecham conducting Götterdämmerung guildmusic.com

70 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

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.

Massenet Songs
Two session photos from the forthcoming three-CD set of Caspar Diethelm’s GMCD7393
orchestral works, with (above) Rainer Held conducting the Royal Scottish National
Orchestra. The recordings took place in September 2016 at the Glasgow Royal
Best known for his operas, Massenet composed
Concert Hall. The recording crew included (top, l-r) assistant engineer Phil concert suites, ballet music, oratorios, cantatas
Hardman, Rainer Held (standing), producer Michael Ponder and Esther Diethelm, and over 280 songs.
the composer’s daughter

gramophone.co.uk 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

W
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 Advocate: Gardiner places Lobgesang above all Mendelssohn’s other symphonies
Symphony’. Chronologically, it lies fourth out of the five
numbered symphonies (with only the Scottish to follow). It was with the result. I thought the LSO trombone section and
first performed in 1840, the year after another symphony with my tenors and basses got it just about right.’
voices – Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette – was completed and first Compositional sleights of hand draw our attention
performed. Berlioz becomes an unlikely countersubject in our throughout the score, prompting purrs of delight from
conversation: he kindles in Gardiner a fire of advocacy (in Gardiner – ‘It’s unbelievably good. There isn’t a weak bar
words and performance) perhaps even more fierce than the in this symphony.’ Few are more magical than the sinfonia’s
steady blaze of his work for Bach. second movement, where Mendelssohn weaves a Tchaikovskian
The hybrid nature of the Second Symphony has given rise waltz (40 years before the Serenade for Strings) within
to misunderstanding in its reception, and Gardiner is a chorale harmonisation of the motto theme. As the conductor
characteristically forthright in assigning the blame for this explains, the subsequent Adagio religioso goes further,
category error. ‘It was Wagner who started the cant about the in combining ‘the church-music form which the composer
Lobgesang being a poor cousin to the Ninth Symphony,’ he says. inherited from Bach – the cantata – with a neoclassical sense
‘Idiotic simplicity’ was Wagner’s term, but there are remarkably of symphonic structure written for the concert hall’.
few precedents for this motto-theme symphony. ‘Well, there’s The opening chorus of the cantata is structured with
always the Symphonie fantastique,’ says Gardiner, with a twinkle. terraced tempo markings that start nippily and get gradually
First, that motto theme. ‘If you do that too ponderously and quicker – ‘but then there’s nowhere for the choir to go’, says
pompously at the outset’, cautions Gardiner, ‘you’re committed Gardiner. ‘The LSO is respectful of the Monteverdi Choir, as
throughout the symphony, and it can become sanctimonious, the Choir is of the LSO: there’s mutual admiration and support.
lugubrious, dull. Of course it needs dignity, yet if you do it too ‘The LSO has this capacity, which I cherish so much,
quickly it can sound flippant. It’s got to be rousing, a call to of being able to scale down dynamically without losing energy
arms, a call to all humankind, like a Benedicite: ‘everything and power. That’s very tricky to do with modern instruments.
that hath breath praise the Lord’. Actually I was pretty pleased With period instruments you can encourage them to play at

The historical view


Robert Schumann The Musical Times Eric Werner
Reporting on the premiere, March 1, 1849 Mendelssohn: A New Image
which took place in Leipzig, June 25, 1840 of the Composer and His Age
While Beethoven began, Mendelssohn
(Free Press of Glencoe: 1963)
There broke forth in the audience ended with his full strength … with
a whispering which counts for more in deference, we are compelled to own our His least inspired work … The motto theme
the church than loud applause in the preference for the Lobgesang over the was not and is not organically built into
concert hall. It was like a glimpse into [Ninth Symphony] to which its peculiar the rest of the work … The Lobgesang
heaven of Raphael’s Madonna’s eyes. form is undeniably to be traced. is justly forgotten.

72 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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

‘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 BIS2279 Hybrid SACD
Creation earlier in 1840. That and The Seasons stand as

THE NEW
godparents to Lobgesang.’
The nature of that relationship is most warmly evident after
the chorale, in the soprano-tenor duet ‘Drum sing’ ich mit

ALBUM
meinem Liede’. ‘It’s not as if the night passing is a finite
victory,’ says Gardiner. ‘The duet brings us back to the conflict
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

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 OUT 15 SEPTEMBER
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 Marketed and distributed in the UK by
in terms of artistic substance and quality, if forced to choose, Select Music and Video Distribution Ltd, 3 Wells Place, Redhill RH1 3SL
I would put Lobgesang first. Then the Scottish second, the T: +44 (0)1737 645 600 E: cds@selectmusic.co.uk
Reformation third and the Italian fourth. And I love the Available for download in studio master quality from www.eclassical.com
Italian to bits!’ For international distribution see www.bis.se

Read Gramophone’s review of Gardiner’s Lobgesang in the next issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 73


Chamber
Harriet Smith welcomes piano Rob Cowan listens to Ilya
quartets by Dvořák and Suk: Gringolts playing Stravinsky:
‘The musicians are steeped in the Czech tradition, ‘Gringolts’s playing is pure filigree while
which for the string players means warmth and both he and his pianist combine delicacy
an unfettered ease’ REVIEW ON PAGE 78 with a sense of play’ REVIEW ON PAGE 81

Arban Michele Fontana, on piano, is alert, work, the chortling energy Barsanti
‘Fantasies on Verdi Operas’ crisp and frequently witty, and the conjures in his allegros has an abandon that
Fantasies on Attila, Un ballo in maschera, Don chamber-size acoustic is inoffensive. might just have been a bit too boisterous
Carlos, Ernani, La forza del destino, I Lombardi, Cornet aficionados looking for a for a royal river party.
Luisa Miller, Oberto, Rigoletto, Simon reference set can snap this up with The Handel connection – he and
Boccanegra, La traviata, Il trovatore and confidence. Verdi completists and lovers Barsanti certainly knew each other – is
I vespri siciliani, plus the Miserere from of 19th-century lollipops will enjoy recognised in the great man’s Concerto
Il trovatore dipping into it: honestly, and with the for two horns, HWV331 (an arrangement
Angelo Cavallo cornet Michele Fontana pf best will in the world, I couldn’t of two movements from the Water Music),
Dynamic F b CDS7784 (120’ • DDD) recommend doing much more than a march from Tolomeo and the superb
that. Richard Bratby ‘Sta nell’Ircana pietrosa tana’ from Alcina.
Emilie Renard is the soprano here, and
Barsanti . Handel no less boldly magnificent is she than the
Wagner relates how, ‘Edinburgh 1742’ horns that blow through not only this
during his youthful Barsanti Concerti grossi, Op 3 Nos 1-5. piece but virtually the whole disc like an
stay in Paris, he kept A Collection of Old Scots Tunes invigorating and cleansing wind.
body and soul together Handel Concerto for French Horns, Barsanti the ‘Scotsman’ is also heard in
by arranging operatic melodies for the HWV331a. March from Ptolemy. four Scots Tunes sweetly and idiomatically
cornet à piston. When the results proved Alcina – Sta nell’Ircana pietrosa tanab played by violinist Colin Scobie. Michael
unplayable, he blew half his fee on having b
Emilie Renard mez aAlec Frank-Gemmill, aJoseph Talbot supplies a booklet-note that stokes
them rewritten by a pro. Jean-Baptiste Walters hns Ensemble Marsyas / Peter Whelan fascination with this neglected figure
Arban (1825-89) would have made no such Linn F CKD567 (68’ • DDD • T/t) and, this being a Linn recording, the
mistake. This Paganini of the cornet was a sound is naturally stunning. Once again
hugely influential figure in French brass- Baroque music surprises and delights!
playing during the Second Empire and his Lindsay Kemp
compositions served as showcases for his The music of
own brilliant technique as well as being Francesco Barsanti Beethoven . Mozart
aimed at the sizeable amateur market. (c1690-1775) normally Beethoven Violin Sonata No 1, Op 12 No 1
That these 14 Fantasias are formulaic only makes it on to a Mozart Violin Sonatas – No 18, K301; No 21,
goes without saying; they’re vehicles for recording when it shows its Scottish accent. K304; No 26, K378
melody, garnished with just enough The Lucca-born composer spent eight Ji Young Lim vn Dong Hyek Lim pf
virtuosity to impress a salon audience. years in the service of the Edinburgh Warner Classics F 9029 58395-0 (68’ • DDD)
Thirteen Verdi operas from Oberto to the Musical Society between two lengthy spells
then up-to-the-minute La forza del destino in London, and titbits from his A Collection
provide the melodies: Arban alternates of Old Scots Tunes regularly surface
fast and slow, with at least one variation whenever a disc or concert has Scottish PR blurbs can
in triplets or semiquavers in each case. Baroque as its subject. Rarely, rarely, comes be revealing. The
Nothing here quite develops the whirligig any of his other music, and on the evidence cover states that
brilliance of Arban’s famous variations on of this release one really has to wonder the violinist Ji Young
Carnival of Venice but there’s a reasonable why. His six published opus numbers Lim is ‘accompanied by fellow South
amount of dialogue between instruments include a set of 10 concerti grossi, Op 3, Korean Dong Hyek Lim’. No she isn’t;
and in some of the later pieces – such five of them for trumpet, oboes and strings both Mozart and Beethoven were explicit
as the fantasy on the Miserere from and five for two horns, timpani and strings; that these sonatas were for keyboard
Il trovatore – Arban attempts something and in the expert hands of Ensemble accompanied by violin. But if the idea
a bit more formally ambitious. But Marsyas and their horn players Alec Frank- that either player in a duo sonata has a
not much. Gemmill and Joseph Walters, the latter secondary role harks back to an earlier
Angelo Cavallo plays more or less turn out to be works of enormous joy and generation, so too, you might think,
cleanly, with light vibrato and a pleasant spirit. Their sound world will be familiar do these performances: played with a
tone; but I felt that his performances to many from Handel’s Water Music, and distinctly creative approach to dynamics
could have been a bit more daring, more while the minuet finales sound as if they and a glossy, generous vibrato. Period
characterful – in a word, more operatic. could almost be lost numbers from that style? Not here.

74 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

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 Boccherini 3 Boccherini. These date from 1781, so
performances on their own unashamedly Six String Trios, Op 34 G101-106 gone are the remnants of trio sonata
romantic terms. The minuet finale of K304 La Ritirata texture and in comes a full vocabulary of
becomes a tragic slow movement, complete Glossa F b GCD923105 (123’ • DDD) Classical gestures. Being one of the early
with halting rubato and drooping From Colúmna Musica 1CM0258 & 1CM0275, practitioners of the Sturm und Drang style,
portamentos, and the opening bars of recorded 2010-11 Boccherini explores minor tonalities,
the Andantino of K378 have a delicacy and notably in episodes of the Rondeau finale
fragrance more suited to Chopin: Mozart of Trio No 2 in G and at the opening of
as Dresden figurine. And why not, when No 4 in D. The cello functions as more
it sounds as sincere and spontaneous as The string trio is than just a bass instrument, being offered
this? There’s nothing contrived about usually thought of in singing solos in the closing Rondeau of
this playing. Ji Young Lim has a rather its Classical format, No 3 in E flat, for example.
affecting way of moulding her tone over for one each of violin, The performances – remastered from
a phrase and Dong Hyek Lim’s playing viola and cello. It sprang virtually from originals recorded in March 2010 and May
is bright and lively. They’re both clearly nowhere with its first masterpiece, Mozart’s 2011 but which received little circulation
on the same page; occasionally relentless Divertimento, K563, and was followed by a outside Spain – pay the music full respect.
(the finale of K301 is slightly stiff) but handful of youthful works by Beethoven and We are not told the age or make of any
fresh and urgent in each of Mozart’s two by Schubert. Before that, however, there of the three instruments but they blend
first movements. was a vogue for trios consisting of a pair of together well, strings of thirds in the violins
And when, with a grandiose opening violins with cello – ostensibly the Baroque especially ringing out beautifully. And
chord, they launch themselves at the trio sonata without the keyboard instrument. the music itself is a cut above the usual
Beethoven, it fits like a glove. All right, Haydn wrote a string of such trios during offerings of those composers in the
not stylistically, perhaps, but there’s a his first decade as Esterházy Kapellmeister, ‘second division’ below Mozart and Haydn,
directness and an ardour here that the including one anomalous one for violin, viola with a particular memorability after only a
young Beethoven would surely have and cello; these are not inconsiderable works, couple of listenings that can’t always be
P H O T O G R A P H Y: R O B B I E J O N E S

endorsed. The recorded sound has just even if many of them remain to be recorded. relied on in some of these composers’
the slightest suggestion of having been The trick is, of course, to effect the fullness contemporaries. Good that Glossa has
artificially weighted towards the violin. of sound available to the string quartet but rescued these recordings, and a treat for
But everything about this disc is a little with one of the middle voices absent. those who enjoy discovering what was
bit over the top and, I have to say, La Ritirata here opt for a set of six by going on outside Vienna (and Eisenstadt)
I enjoyed it a lot. Richard Bratby Haydn’s younger contemporary, Luigi in the later 18th century. David Threasher

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 75


2017
REFORMATION
ANNIVERSARY

HMM 902265 HMM 902325 HMM 902323

bach Cantatas bwv 79 & 80 FELIX MENDELSSOHN Johann sebastian bach


Mendelssohn Violin Concerto Cantatas for bass
brahms
vaughan williams Symphony no.5 “Reformation” Concerto for oboe d’amore
The Hebrides
Choir of Clare College Cambridge
Matthias Goerne
Graham Ross Isabelle Faust Katharina Arfken
Freiburger Barockorchester Freiburger Barockorchester
Pablo Heras-Casado Gottfried von der Goltz

harmoniamundi.com
CHAMBER REVIEWS

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

Boismortier All of which is to say that for Le Petit uncomplicated yet beautiful music to let
‘Sonatas & Trios’ Trianon to have genuinely pulled off this roll over you, this recording fits the bill.
Sonatas: Op 37 – No 2; No 5; Op 41 – No 2; all-Boismortier chamber programme is no Charlotte Gardner
No 3; No 4; Op 50 – No 6. La Caverneuse. mean feat, particularly with their
La Décharnée. La Marguillère. La Valetudinaire thoroughly standard line-up of flute, violin, Boyle
Le Petit Trianon bassoon, cello and harpsichord. There’s Four Bagatellesa. Burble. Di Tre Re e iob.
Ricercar F RIC381 (69’ • DDD) some exceptionally elegant playing across Dramatis personaea. Sonatinaa. Tatty’s Dancea
the disc; gentle, light, expertly blended and Fraser Langton cl bRosalind Ventris va
with subtle but effective shading. There’s a
James Willshire pf
also an impressive amount of variety, the Delphian F DCD34172 (60’ • DDD)
Joseph Boismortier six trios drawn from three different opus
(1689-1755) may collections (albeit all composed between
be well represented 1732 and 1736), and punctuated with four
on disc but it’s fair rather sweet character pieces for Music of high
to say that his name rarely sets the pulse harpsichord. There’s even the occasional organisation, clarity
truly racing. In fact, although on the face more distinctive Boismortier moment; a and expressive power
of it he shares a huge amount in common highlight is the genuinely magical opening here from Rory Boyle,
with his German contemporary Georg Affecttuoso of Sonata No 3 from Op 41, born in Ayr in 1951 and currently professor
Philipp Telemann, it’s hard to picture a where hurdy-gurdy-esque drones hang of composition at the Royal Conservatoire
world in which a Boismortier anniversary in the air like meadow perfume as a softly of Scotland. Boyle’s rigour when it comes
would be celebrated with as much pastoral flute lilts and coos above. to form is notable – maybe too notable –
enthusiasm as Telemann’s 250th is The trios aren’t entirely without their in his Sonatina for clarinet and piano of
currently being. The Frenchman’s music vaguely flashy moments either, such as the 1979, dedicated to his sometime teacher
just feels that little bit more obviously fast-flowing passagework of the Vivace of Lennox Berkeley. But while the piece can
commercial and wallpapery; it’s best Sonata No 5 from Op 37; cellist Cyril feel like a rollercoaster cart being yanked
consumed within multi-composer Poulet deserves especial mention here for on to the ‘correct’ tracks of recapitulation
programmes, and ideally through one the delicacy he’s retained across his own and development, etc, it reveals the
of his more off-piste instrumental racing figures, where rougher hands might composer’s gift for clear and almost
combinations so that at least there’s have served up uncouth scrubbing. vernacular-style melodies.
some timbral exoticism to get your This may not be repertoire guaranteed Boyle obviously found ways of disrupting
teeth into. to hold your ears and brains captive; but, as that status quo and that is what I find most

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 77


CHAMBER REVIEWS

thrilling in the music that ensues on this resultant losses in lightness and gains in wonderfully well paced, fully bringing
largely chronological album. For all its richness and depth. out its exuberant boot-stamping rusticities
fluency, his music can sound racked by A factor that has allowed Arcangelo to which contrast so well with the lovingly
neurosis, as in the grippingly contrary be so adaptable is the ever-effective policy moulded slower passages. I find the
piano-writing in No 1 of his Four Bagatelles of employing top-rate musicians; and, Lugano players a little breathless by
(1979, rev. 2014). The niggling, repeated D with violinist Sophie Gent and gambist comparison – it is, after all, marked
in No 2 shows that the composer means Jonathan Manson proving masters of this Allegro, ma non troppo.
business but also that, on occasion, his music’s sometimes virtuoso demands and How enterprising to couple the quartet
ideas are good enough to be pursued and Thomas Dunford among the most sought- not with more Dvo∑ák but with the
pushed a little more. after continuo lutenists of the moment, A minor Piano Quartet of his son-in-law
In Dramatis personae Boyle consciously the standards here are as high as ever. The Josef Suk. Mind you, marriage was some
undermines the watertight structures he shifting moods of the music are realised years off when he wrote the quartet,
has created: ‘Rogue’ suffers an evocative with taste and precision – whether dancing, aged just 17 and a student in Dvo∑ák’s
power-out; ‘Shadow’ sinks into its own indulging in earnest chromatic twisting composition class. What’s striking is
despondency (magnificent quiet playing or yielding to exuberance (Dunford its sheer confidence, and the fact that it
here from Langton); and ‘Fool’ trips over twice ends a sonata with a rather Arabic doesn’t sound like Dvo∑ák. It’s given the
its own patterning. Di Tre Re i io, inspired flourish) – yet each sonata’s composure best possible advocacy by these players –
by Honegger’s Fifth Symphony, is a is successfully preserved. just listen to the individuality of the
lesson in how a homage should drive The gamba being gentler than the violin, textures in the development of the first
the secondary composer to energy and the balance of attention can swing to its movement, a driving Allegro appassionato.
even neurosis but never to sycophancy disadvantage, and it seems to me that the Heart is very much on sleeve in the
or pastiche. Not a groundbreaking or recording could have compensated for that ravishing slow movement, which opens
hugely distinctive voice but an honest, a little more; Manson’s eloquent playing (like Dvo∑ák’s) with a raptly sung cello
interesting and disciplined one that has certainly demands a better hearing, yet on melody. The players relish, too, the
clearly touched the musicians on this occasion drifts even behind the lute. The dancing inner section, and their way
recording. Langton’s technique is sure, lute, by the way, is also more prominent with the close of the movement is poised
his musicianship all-encompassing and than Cohen’s harpsichord, which may or indeed. The leaping finale leaves you
his head balanced with his heart. James may not be deliberate. Fine performances marvelling at Suk’s maturity and the
Willshire is just as uncompromising nonetheless. Lindsay Kemp imaginative way in which he varies the
on keys but, frustratingly, does seem reappearances of the main theme. All is
compromised by an uncouth instrument. Dvořák . Suk given with aplomb, right down to the
Andrew Mellor Dvořák Piano Quartet No 2, Op 87 B162 slightly over-the-top closing bars.
Suk Piano Quartet, Op 1 Harriet Smith
Buxtehude Josef Suk Piano Quartet Dvo∑ák – selected comparison:
Trio Sonatas, Op 1 BuxWV252-258 Supraphon F SU4227-2 (61’ • DDD) Leschenko, Gringolts, Braude, Thedéen
Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen hpd (8/13) (EMI) 721119-2
Alpha F ALPHA367 (59’ • DDD)
Hakim
The Josef Suk Piano Phèdrea. Caprice en rondeaub.
Quartet take their Diptyqueb. Piano Concertoc
In their quickly name from the great a
Rima Tawil sop bMagali Mosnier fl
expanding discography violinist rather than c
Renaud Bary db abNaji Hakim, cClaire Foison pf
Jonathan Cohen’s his composer grandfather, whose Op 1 c
Chapelle Royale Quartet
Arcangelo are showing they perform. Confused? Don’t be. All Signum F SIGCD498 (60’ • DDD)
themselves to be among the most versatile four musicians are steeped in the Czech
ensembles around, as at home in Bach’s tradition, which in terms of the string
B minor Mass as Couperin’s Leçons de players means warmth and an unfettered
Ténèbres, in Mendelssohn concert arias as ease that is very engaging. Climaxes are Composers and
in Monteverdi madrigals. This is their first full-throated but never overstated – just performers alike
release entirely devoted to instrumental listen to the way the first movement of may strive for an
chamber music, for which they have chosen Dvo∑ák’s Second Piano Quartet ebbs improvisatory impulse
the first of Buxtehude’s two published and flows, one moment surging forwards, in their music-making, but that’s rather
books of trio sonatas, his Op 1 of 1694. the next brought down to the quietest of different from allowing improvisatory
Buxtehude’s trios are not so much in the dynamics. In the slow movement the freedom to render standard compositional
planned-out Corellian mould as the freer- cello’s opening melody might not have checks and balances redundant. Naji
formed stylus phantasticus manner of the quite the heightened quality of Torleif Hakim’s status as one of the great
mid-17th century, even breaking into Thedéen in the 2012 ‘Martha Argerich improvising organists has fuelled much
quasi-recitative in places, though there Presents’ (what a crying shame that this of his colourful and original music but
are also solidly crafted moments to wonderful Lugano festival is no more), in the case of the works presented here –
remind us of the composer’s eminence as but how tender the Suk players are in the particularly the more recent ones – it helps
an organist. They differ, too, from most passage from 1'28". The third movement explain why the music feels so unerring,
other trio sonatas in that their upper parts (too relaxed to be called a scherzo) is full sprawling and soulless.
are for violin and viola da gamba rather of colour, not least the piano’s imitation Structurally, the most satisfying piece
than two equal-tessitura instruments, with of a cimbalom at 2'09". The finale is on the disc is Hakim’s 1997 cantata for

78 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

soprano and piano Phèdre, probably Maxwell Davies The work ends with a fragment of
because Racine’s scenes prescribe their The Last Island. A Postcard from Sanday. String plainsong, reminding us that man’s imprint
own floor plan. Still, the piece doesn’t Trio. Two Nocturnes. Lullaby. Oboe Quartet. is never far away in Davies’s music. The
have the harmonic adventure of some A Birthday Card for Jennifer. Violin Sonata. String Trio (2008) also concludes with a
of the composer’s later works and Rima String Quartet Movement quotation, this time of traditional Orkney
Tawil’s mannered singing, complete with Hebrides Ensemble fiddle music. However, a subdued ending
wide vibrato, doesn’t do it many favours. Delphian F DCD34178 (77’ • DDD) is only reached via a dissonant and tortuous
Hakim borrows themes from Rameau journey reflecting the work’s harrowing
and Pergolesi in his Caprice en rondeau subject matter, composed in memory of
(1998) and Diptyque (2014), both for 26-year-old Karen Aim, murdered while
flute and piano. We hear flashes of the A keen sense of time holidaying in New Zealand.
composer at his best, mashing up the and place – and The transient nature of time and place
French organ and fairground music increasingly of man’s is brought into sharper focus in the febrile
traditions in the latter’s ‘Humoresque’. transient existence temporal distortions and dislocations of
The problem is that, despite charismatic within it – forms an important theme in the Two Nocturnes (2010), for piano
performances from Magali Mosnier with Maxwell Davies’s late chamber music. quintet, which sees the composer come
Hakim on the piano, every paragraph Seven of the works contained on this face-to-face with his own mortality. Its
flourishes and frolics as though it wants excellent recording by the Hebrides shadows cut across the shafts of light that
to be the last. Ensemble were written during the illuminate the Violin Sonata, while lurking
Hakim’s Piano Concerto (2015) – cast composer’s final decade and each one beneath the soaring lines of the late Oboe
here for piano and string quintet, though engages with this subject in different ways. Quartet (2012), brilliantly controlled
the skimpy booklet notes don’t tell us The Last Island (2009), for string sextet, is and sustained in Emanuel Abbühl’s
what this ‘version’ derives from – seems one of several works inspired by the unique performance. Even more profoundly,
to throw the formal rigour that Hakim can atmosphere of Orcadian island life, which death’s valedictory cadence punctuates the
exercise out of the window. It is a string Davies experienced for over half his life. closing moments of a movement for string
of improvisatory dances played without Melodic fragments are caught up in the quartet that sadly remains incomplete.
much subtlety (not least from the faltering music’s opening ebb and flow like jetsam The unique character of Davies’s late
quartet) but with plenty of relish. You get and flotsam on the shore, reflecting, in the style is grasped and understood in the
the impression, rather like an outlandish composer’s words, ‘the wonder of ever- Hebrides Ensemble’s highly nuanced
organ improvisation, that it was more fun changing light of sea and sky, yet strangely performances, described by the composer
in the execution than it is in the audition. threatened with menace, even on the as ‘a crew of a ship that comes into harbour
Andrew Mellor brightest of days’. now and again with supplies. And not just

SAT 14 OCT, 7.30pm

SARAH CONNOLL
LY ‘Whaat can there be leftt
joins AURORA OR
RCHESTRA
A to sayy about Saarah
Mozart’s Piano:
Connnolly, whoose
Vienna, City of Dreams perfoormances these
days are prettyy much
Mozart Piano Concerto
No. 11 in F, K413
beyonnd praise?? ’
(version for piano and string quartet) Gram mophone
Mahler Piano Quartet in A minor
Mahler (arr. Farrington)
Das Lied von der Erde

PRE-CONCERT TALK THE LOCK-IN


Sarah Connolly © Peter Warren

Nicholas Collon and Iain Farrington After the concert, embark


discuss Mahler’s epic symphonic on late night Viennese adventures
song cycle – 6.15pm with ZRI – 9.45pm

tickets online from £9.50


90 York Way, London N1 9AG
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Edition

Profil Günter
Hänssler
NEW
Johann Adolf Hasse I
Pietro Metastasio
Attilio Regolo
Opera in three acts
Axel Köhler · Markus Schäfer
Martina Borst · Sibylla Rubens
Carmen Fuggiss · Michael Volle
Randall Wong
Cappella Sagittariana, Dresden
Frieder Bernius
3 CD PH07035
TECCHLER’S CELLO
3 CD FROM CAMBRIDGE TO ROME
GUY JOHNSTON

Anton Bruckner – The Collection


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Works for Piano, String Quartet,
String Quintet, Mass in C major,
Mass in F minor, Mass in E minor,
Te Deum, Latin Motets, Organ
Works, Piano Works, Motets,
Missa solemnis, Psalm 112,
Psalm 146, Psalm 150, Requiem
Fine Arts Quartet · Fritz Wunderlich
TECCHLER’S CELLO
Christiane Oelze · Pamela Coburn
FROM CAMBRIDGE TO ROME
Matthias Goerne · Michael Schade
Andreas Schmidt · Dresdner Kreuzchor
Philharmonischer Chor München
GUY JOHNSTON
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen
23 CD Rundfunks · Deutsches Symphonie-
Orchester Berlin · Staatskapelle Dresden
Gächinger Kantorei · Radio-Sinfonie-
orchester Stuttgart des SWR
Bach-Collegium Stuttgart · Philharmonie
Festiva · Bamberger Symphoniker
Herbert von Karajan · Christian Thielemann
Bernard Haitink · Günter Wand
Klaus Tennstedt · Kurt Sanderling
Helmuth Rilling · Gerd Schaller
23 CD PH16059 CD | DOWNLOAD | STREAM

Sviatoslav Richter plays Schubert


Live in Moscow, 1949 - 1963 Join Guy Johnston as he traces the roots
Special guests:
Benjamin Britten · Nina Dorliac of his 300-year-old cello with the help of
10 CD PH17005 friends from across his musical life.

10 CD also available: Featuring Sheku Kanneh-Mason,


Sviatoslav Richter plays Beethoven
Mstislav Rostropovich Tom Poster, Stephen Cleobury and the
USSR Symphony Orchestra Choir of King’s College, Cambridge,
Moscow Philharmonic
Kurt Sanderling · Kirill Kondrashin with music by Beethoven, Barrière, Respighi
12 CD PH16030 and Gjeilo alongside new works from
12 CD
Charlotte Bray, Mark Simpson
YEVGENY MRAVINSKY Edition and David Matthews.
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Tchaikovsky, Bach, Wagner,
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Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
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6 CD PH17019
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6 CD

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CHAMBER REVIEWS

the bare essentials. There are always come the earlier works and the G minor a worthwhile addition to the discography
surprises, little treats that one isn’t Variations. The whole enterprise is near- of a composer now in his 94th year.
expecting.’ Pwyll ap Siôn impossible to fault. Six sonatas left now Richard Whitehouse
to complete the cycle, a set that will surely
Mozart become the modern reference recording. Stravinsky
‘Violin Sonatas, Vol 4’ David Threasher Rouget de Lisle La Marseillaise (arr Stravinsky)
Violin Sonatas – No 2, K8; No 8, K13; No 11, K26; Stravinsky Duo concertant. Pastorale. The
No 13, K28; No 20, K303; No 25, K377; No 26, Schurmann Firebird – Suite. Mavra – Chanson russe. The
K378; No 30, K403. Variations on ‘Hélas, j’ai ‘Chamber Music, Vol 3’ Nightingale – Airs du rossignol; Marche chinoise.
perdu mon amant’, K360 Piano Quartetsa – No 1; No 2. Petrushka – Danse russe. Pulcinella – Suite
Alina Ibragimova vn Cédric Tiberghien pf Serenadeb. Two Violinsc Ilya Gringolts vn Peter Laul pf
b
Hyperion B b CDA68164 (119’ • DDD) Martin Beaver vn aMikhail Korzhev pf BIS F Í BIS2245 (61’ • DDD/DSD)
Lyris Quartet (acAlyssa Park, cShalini Vijayan vns
a
Luke Maurer va aTimothy Loo vc)
Toccata Classics F TOCC0336 (73’ • DDD)
Scarcely a note of Two gentle miniatures
adverse criticism has programmed here are
attended the three surely among the most
previous issues in this Toccata Classics carefree and seductive
delightful series of accompanied sonatas renews its coverage that Stravinsky ever composed, the ‘Russian
from Cédric Tiberghien and Alina of Gerard Schurmann, Maiden’s Song’ from Mavra and the earlier
Ibragimova (5/16, 10/16, 4/17), and that Javanese-born British vocalise Pastorale, both played by Ilya
situation’s not about to change now. To composer resident in the US. Early Gringolts with a feeling of insouciance
describe these performances as ‘perfect’ established for his film scores, Schurmann that I find delectable. The Firebird
could be considered glib; but there is a only latterly focused on chamber music and sequence opens with a shimmering extract
specific ‘rightness’ to just about everything his two piano quartets are notable additions (the Prélude from ‘Prélude et Ronde des
you hear. The playing – well, that can be to this overlooked genre. princesses’) that you would be unlikely to
taken for granted from these musicians. Starkly contrasted too – the First Piano encounter outside of the complete ballet,
But there’s more to these pieces than just Quartet (1986) emphasising charged whereas Petrushka’s celebrated Russian
getting the notes right. There’s a lot of emotions such that the simmering unease Dance is subject to all manner of fiddling
repetition, especially in the earlier works of ‘Ricercare’ intensifies into the headlong wizardry (rocketing slides, pizzicatos,
and in the various variations (those in the energy of ‘Capriccio’, before ‘Corale’ oscillating double-stops, etc), as is
sonatas as well as the big set on disc 1), affords a measure of calm yet hardly passive La Marseillaise, with its multiple-stopping.
and the temptation could be to go to town resolution. If the Second Piano Quartet In the Suite from Pulcinella, after material
with the ornamentation. Ibragimova and (1998) is outwardly a more equable work, lifted from Stravinsky’s ballet based on
Tiberghien are more subtle than that, shades of expressive ambiguity are rarely early Italian masters, again Gringolts’s
inflecting the reprises ever so slightly beneath the surface of the initial Allegro; playing is pure filigree (immaculate
with a little distension of tempo or flash its successor deftly combining scherzo harmonics in the Serenata) while both he
of vibrato, almost as if playing through and Adagio in the way speculative gestures and pianist Peter Laul combine delicacy
the second time with an eyebrow expand into relatively long-breathed with a sense of play, the latter best
quizzically raised. melodic lines, though the final Allegro demonstrated in the Tarantella.
Then there’s the balance. Reviewers seems a little too short-winded to make It’s fascinating how the two passages
must be fed up rehearsing the fact that for a wholly satisfying conclusion. from the opera The Nightingale as arranged
these are sonatas for piano with violin British composers have added by the violinist Samuel Dushkin sound for
accompaniment; readers too, I’m sure, considerably to the corpus of music for all the world like Szymanowski but it’s the
barely need reminding. But here, solo violin – witness Benjamin Frankel’s Duo concertant, Stravinsky’s only original
performers and engineers alike have sonatas and Roberto Gerhard’s Chaconne; work for violin and piano, that leaves the
made sure that the one instrument doesn’t Schurmann’s Serenade (1969) stands strongest impression, especially the
swamp or outshine the other, and that among these. Its nine short movements can three slow movements, the two ‘eclogues’
neither is unduly spotlit. It all sounds be heard as two animated groups which the in particular, music that years ago was
and feels utterly natural. Pastorale (4) then the Tranquillo (8) counter unexpectedly used – and to superb effect –
Others may question the need to include with increasing repose, before the piece as soundtrack material for a TV play
all the earliest works, juvenilia even by turns full-circle by recalling earlier material starring Denholm Elliott. Back then
Mozart’s prodigious standards. Ibragimova in the final Pesante. Two Violins (2015) Stravinsky’s questioning music held me
and Tiberghien, however, play them with comprises six vignettes, their close-knit in its thrall and I straight away acquired
all the seriousness of purpose that they imitative writing leavened by droll Joseph Szigeti’s classic Sony recording
lavish on the later, greater works. character-types that commence with the of it (with the composer at the piano),
Thereby, nothing seems out of place or resolve of ‘Parading’ then conclude with far more openly demonstrative than this
included simply for spurious reasons of the impetus of ‘Chasing’. leaner but no less effective option by
completeness. Each disc is bookended As with earlier discs in this series, Gringolts and Laul.
with a ‘big’ work (including K403, left the performances are as attentive to this Another interesting point of comparison
unfinished but filled in by Mozart’s musical music’s exacting technical demands as to in this same music is provided by Anthony
executor Maximilian Stadler, and the wild its expressive subtleties. With excellent Marwood with composer-pianist Thomas
two-movement K303); in between sound and detailed booklet notes, this is Adès (part of Hyperion’s two-disc set

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 81


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Anderson, Esa-Pekka Salonen Man Walking and Elgar’s Jolas and Anders Hillborg.
and Leonard Bernstein. The Dream of Gerontius.

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CHAMBER REVIEWS

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

devoted to Stravinsky’s complete music apart. His ear for harmony, his eye for felicities of works whose fixation with
for violin and piano). Marwood, a fine a musical line, seem to have been guided 54 notes of plainchant by John Taverner
player, is marginally warmer in tone than by a different logic to those around him. (taken from the Benedictus of his Missa
Gringolts (though maybe not quite so There’s no doubting his architect’s Gloria tibi Trinitas) has never fully been
ethereal), Adès distinctive in the way he instinct for musical form but his explained. Discovering the unexpected
weighs and colours chords, invariably with architecture is more Frank Gehry than sensuality of the In nomine ‘Round’, the
more character than Laul. In fact it’s his Inigo Jones – wilful, playful, iconoclastic yelping, insistent plaints of the In nomine
presence rather than Marwood’s that and often as baffling as it is beautiful. ‘Cry’ and the provocative dramatics of the
proves the stronger attraction on the This collection of his complete consort In nomine ‘Re la re’, Phantasm are skilled
Hyperion set. You might also try the music throws up surprise after surprise – musical tour guides to Tye’s challenging
Serenata from the Suite, Adès again a revelation of a recording that offers terrain. Alexandra Coghlan
summoning tonal variety that isn’t quite a startling perspective on a familiar
matched by Laul, good though he is. musical landscape. ‘Subito’
Difficult to choose. On balance, I’d say Other recordings of this music do exist – Grieg Violin Sonata No 3, Op 45
Gringolts for fiddle fanciers, Adès for those notably Fretwork’s ‘In nomine’ (Amon Ra, Lutosławski Subito Vaughan Williams The Lark
whose main interest is in Stravinsky’s 3/88) and the rather lovely ‘Crye’ by Ascending Wieniawski Fantaisie brillante sur
harmonic scaffolding. Ideally, go for Concordia Viols (Metronome, 12/97) – des motifs de l’opéra Faust de Gounod, Op 20
both. Rob Cowan often pairing Tye’s works for viol consort Julia Hwang vn Charles Matthews pf
Selected comparison: with those of Taverner, Tallis and Byrd. But Signum F SIGCD486 (62’ • DDD)
Marwood, Adès (3/10) (HYPE) CDA67723 to hear these pieces back to back, one after
another as here, is to really get inside this
Tye extraordinary imagination, to be caught up
Complete Consort Music short by musical blind alleys and hairpin The appeal here,
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

Phantasm bends of a composer who not only invented quite aside from some
Linn F CKD571 (67’ • DDD) the characteristically English genre of the excellent playing, is
In nomine but who also took it further than in the way the
almost any of his later imitators. programme has been planned. My personal
Phantasm’s craggy, deep-dug preference with Vaughan Williams’s Lark
A contemporary of performances follow the composer’s is for the orchestral version; and while Julia
Tallis and Sheppard, instructive titles – ‘Hold fast’, ‘Follow Hwang is a model of expressive purity
Christopher Tye me’, ‘Believe me’ – to the letter, gamely in the solo part and Charles Matthews
was a composer celebrating the oddities as well as the provides her with an appropriately stilled

gramophone.co.uk 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 CD is already in the making. Excellent Järnegard’s PSALM (2013) for contrabass
ascent seems limited to the oak rafters notes by our own Richard Bratby. Rob Cowan flute and soprano voice conjures a
of a spacious barn, beyond which lies an compelling drama through wispy, barely-
imagined sky. Then comes the first surprise: ‘Vale’ there sound traces. Richard Barrett’s Vale
Lutosπawski’s brilliant, short-term Subito Barrett Vale J Croft Deux Méditations d’une (2006-12) for solo flute is the longest and
(‘Suddenly’), like a rifle shot that shockingly furiea Fitch Agricola IXb Järnegard PSALMa most vigorous work on the disc. At times
causes havoc, Hwang’s lark thrown back E Johnson émoi Pauset Eurydice the flute behaves like an electronic oscillator
to earth amid a swirling storm of feathers. Richard Craig fls aCora Schmeiser sop shifting through myriad changing frequency
The juxtaposition all but provides us with b
Distractfold Ensemble bands; Barrett’s favoured image is a leaf
a totally new piece, an aural drama that Métier F MSV28540 (61’ • DDD) floating down a stream. As ever with
stands its ground on its own terms, even Barrett, elegance and organicism emerge
though a mite uncomfortable. through the forbidding surface material.
A good idea too that the lark should have The other works are slightly more
followed on the grass-stained heels of Forget new conventional. In Fabrice Fitch’s Agricola IX
Grieg’s violin sonata masterpiece, the complexity: some of (2013) for flute and string trio, phrases
dramatic C minor – surely the best of three, the music on flautist from Ockeghem are stretched and
extremely well played by a partnership that Richard Craig’s microtonally altered, giving the impression
thrives, the central Allegretto espressivo being second Métier disc might simply be called of gagaku, with the string trio acting as a
especially affecting. And then there’s the post-everything. When there’s no tonality, resonator for the flute. Setting text by Jean
second surprise: following Lutosπawski with no atonality, no melody and few pitches, Tardieu, John Croft’s Deux Méditations
a gifted Pole from an earlier generation, what exactly is left? Quite a lot, as it d’une furie (2011-13) for soprano and bass
Henryk Wieniawski and his 17-minute happens – and therein lies the interest. flute are slow, burnished and meditative
melange of tunes from Gounod’s Faust Such technically complex, ‘post- pieces, wherein the sound of the bass flute
skilfully knitted together and played by this everything’ music paradoxically brings us often melds with that of the singer. Brice
talented duo with a semblance of old-world back to a primal, at times ecstatic state of Pauset’s Eurydice (1998) ends the disc.
wit and warmth. Fauvist force. Beginning in sprightly fashion then
In an appreciative booklet introduction, Evan Johnson’s émoi (2010) for solo bass quietening, it spools outwards like a string
Andrew Nethsingha, director of music at flute is a case in point. Here, the very act of in the wind over an abyss.
St John’s College, Cambridge, lets us in instrumental articulation strips the sounds Craig owns the works here. The warmth
on the fact that the release of this attractive of their articulacy. The flute sounds in of his tone along with a reverberant room
programme coincides with Julia Hwang’s question are frequently beautiful, at times sound, while taking nothing away from the
graduation. I’d say that it augurs well for almost bird-like, as if human might become compositions’ severity, succeeds in making
her future, so here’s hoping that her next animal through the instrument. Esaias them approachable. Liam Cagney

84 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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movement.’ of the composer’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
I ever came across: absolutely
If there is a more complete demonstration was pure magic’.
As the distinguished Italian
overwhelming. His knowledge of an opera conductor’s art and craft musicologist Giorgio Pestelli
of the repertoire, his control, has noted, the orchestral
his command, the thought, than his Tosca, I have yet to discover it 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
explosive Juventus and •1917-18 – Composer and conductor their own. You can hear this
the lambently beautiful His opera Il macigno is commissioned by La Scala, Milan; to advantage in de Sabata’s
meditation Gethsemani he is appointed conductor of the Monte Carlo Opera. 1952 Milan performance
(both conducted by Aldo •1930 – La Scala, Milan of Verdi’s Falstaff (Music &
Ceccato for Hyperion, Succeeds Toscanini as music director of La Scala, Milan, Arts), where the evergreen
7/01) – which musicians such a post he holds until his retirement in 1953. quality of the 64-year-old
as Toscanini and Richard •1939 – Berlin and Bayreuth Mariano Stabile’s Falstaff is
Strauss chose to conduct. Makes a series of memorable recordings with the Berlin complemented by de Sabata’s
In these early orchestral Philharmonic and leads a legendary Tristan in Bayreuth. high-voltage conducting and
works we hear at first hand his relish for every jot and
those magical sound worlds – •1946 – London debut tittle of this famously
luminous, clear, nothing London musicians are astonished by a conductor ‘like no other’. protean score.
smudged or uncertain – that •1953– Illness and retirement De Sabata succeeded
would make de Sabata so Suffers a heart attack shortly after completion of the 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
Wagner, Richard Strauss, a 14-year retirement from public life until his death in 1967. promptly resigned after

86 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


ICONS

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
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

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
the quality of the orchestral playing, Puccini Tosca when less generous-minded
de Sabata’s characterisation of Maria Callas sop colleagues were barring Karajan’s
the fairy-tale narrative, and the Giuseppe di Stefano ten progress in Austro-Germany.
eradication of blatancy. Tito Gobbi bar Franco A closer comparison, however, might
De Sabata made five recordings Calabrese bass Chorus be Carlos Kleiber, another bright
with the LPO for Decca in 1946, and Orchestra of La Scala, star which during its all-too-brief
followed in 1947-48 by 11 recordings Milan / Victor de Sabata proximity to earth burned with
with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Warner Classics (12/53) a rare incandescence.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 87


Instrumental
Patrick Rucker is impressed Jed Distler listens to Martin Jones
by Michel Dalberto’s Fauré: playing transcriptions by Earl Wild:
‘Tortuous emotional despair, often verging ‘The writing mirrors Rachmaninov’s piano
on bitterness, makes these pieces difficult idiom, and Jones evokes a waterfall of
to fully inhabit’ REVIEW ON PAGE 90 sweeping gestures’ REVIEW ON PAGE 95

Bartók by comparing No 16’s ‘Old Hungarian elegant, this is utterly luminous). If the
‘Complete Works for Piano Solo, Vol 4’ Tune’, where Kocsis’s arpeggiated chords dizzy unpredictability of the finale is just
For Children, Sz42 are even more conspicuously ‘old world’ a shade more unhinged in 1967, this newer
Andreas Bach pf than Bach’s, whereas in ‘Soldier’s Song’ one has lost nothing in playfulness. Freire’s
Hänssler Classic F HC17009 (80’ • DDD) (No 18) Kocsis picks up the tempo in a zest for this piece is palpably undimmed
way that Bach doesn’t. It all makes for and what a joy it is.
fascinating to-ing and fro-ing between He follows the sonata with a bouquet
two fine pianists in music that while often of Brahms’s later pieces. From Op 76,
The late Zoltán Kocsis deceptively simple is also full of expressive he relishes the ethereal opening of No 3
was among the first potential. Quite an inspiration for amateur (less free with rubato than the devilishly
pianists to stress the pianists I would have thought. Rob Cowan luxuriant Volodos) and finds a profundity
musical value of to the songful No 4. That’s a quality he
Bartók’s collection For Children over and Brahms reveals in the second of the Op 117 pieces,
above its purely didactic function. As with Piano Sonata No 3, Op 5. Piano Pieces: Op 76 – too, while the presto Capriccio that opens
albums for the young by Schumann and No 3; No 4; Op 116 – No 1; No 4; Op 117 No 2; Op 116 has energy without ever seeming
Tchaikovsky, the work’s contents, which Op 118 – No 2; No 3. Four Piano Pieces, Op 119. rushed, Freire voicing Brahms’s rich
during the course of its 80-minute journey Waltz, Op 39 No 15 textures with an easeful mastery.
become ever more technically and Nelson Freire pf Highlights are many – the regret-filled
harmonically challenging, include pieces Decca F 483 2154DH (73’ • DDD) duet of the middle section of Op 118 No 2
that if sensitively and poetically handled or the way he brings to such a quiet close
would grace any recital programme. the Ballade, Op 118 No 3. He is different
There are many similarities in approach in his approach from Volodos in Op 118
between Kocsis and Andreas Bach but Brahms’s Third but no less compelling. I hope the inclusion
plenty of differences too. To take just Sonata has been of the final works, Op 119, is not an
one tiny sampling for comparison, Nos 26 a calling card for indication that Freire is done with this
and 27 from Book 2, the former marked Nelson Freire since composer: they are touched everywhere
moderato, where Bach toys with the pulse the earliest days – for his farewell recital with an ineluctable beauty without the
and Kocsis is straighter in that respect in Rio de Janeiro aged 14 and for his debut slightest degree of self-consciousness.
but subtly splits chords (also a tendency recital LP for CBS aged 22. And now, No 1 draws you in, unfolding with
in Bartók’s own playing), whereas in the 50 years after that release, he has returned complete naturalness, spinning lines out
following playful Allegremente, Bach’s to the piece. Were Freire your average kind of air, while the chattering No 3 is superbly
tempo is roughly twice that of Kocsis’s. of pianist (ludicrous notion though that is), vivid. Freire gives No 4 not only strength
What I’m referring to here is ‘swings you might anticipate that the 72-year-old and fervency but an almost symphonic
and roundabouts’, a fairly appropriate would display a diminution of technical splendour in its colouring, the inner section
metaphor in the case of For Children, but aplomb but an increase in gravitas and having an easeful quality before being
also musically apt. By contrast, in the two depth. Not a bit of it – what’s interesting quickly banished. By way of an encore,
closing pieces both pianists capture the is how fundamentally similar these readings we get a deliciously poised reading of the
music’s elegiac spirit to perfection. are. Returning to his earlier recording, Waltz, Op 39 No 15. Enough adjectives.
Bach’s approach, which has illuminated you’re struck anew at its maturity, with Go and buy it, and set it on your shelves
Bartók’s bigger-scale piano works in earlier its combination of nobility and an unerring next to Volodos. Harriet Smith
volumes of the same series, is aimed at sense of pacing. The only major difference Sonata No 3 – selected comparison:
countering the perceived notion of Bartók in timings is because in the first movement Freire (12/14) (SONY) 88875 00228-2
as ‘remorselessly harsh’ (his term). Rather he now observes the exposition repeat. Opp 76, 117 & 118 – selected comparison:
than follow the more aggressive trend set Freire’s sound has always been a thing Volodos (6/17) (SONY) 88875 13019-2
by certain of his contemporaries, he takes of wonder: even at full volume and full tilt
a significant prompt from Bartók’s own there’s no hint of percussiveness in his Brahms . Schumann
playing as captured on the numerous tone – just sample the development of Brahms Eight Piano Pieces, Op 76.
recordings that he left us (studio and the first movement; or the way the melody Variations on a Theme by Schumann, Op 9
broadcast). Kocsis, who was also steeped of the intermezzo-like slow movement is Schumann Carnaval, Op 9
in Bartók’s own playing, was similarly plucked almost insouciantly out of the Varvara Tarasova pf
disposed, as you can hear for yourself texture (where the earlier version was Champs Hill F CHRCD126 (75’ • DDD)

88 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

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

However, fragmentation can be a


virtue in the ‘scènes mignonnes’ of
Carnaval. Schumann’s most popular
A native of piano cycle has become so encrusted While the works
St Petersburg, Varvara with the received wisdom of innumerable chosen for this
Tarasova studied at the performances and recordings that Chopin recital are
Moscow Conservatory developing an original point of view programmed to
and, more recently, at London’s Royal poses challenges. Tarasova happily ensure maximum contrast of mood and
College. She took first prize at the 2015 meets them, and with a minimum of emotion, a unified trajectory nevertheless
Sussex International Piano Competition fuss or eccentricity, in a persuasive makes itself felt, possibly through subtle
and this new Champs Hill release of Brahms performance distinguished by bright key relationships from one selection to the
and Schumann is her debut recording. colours, resilient rhythmicality and next. Perhaps this was intentional on Janina
Tarasova’s bona fides as a Brahms player considerable charm. Fialkowska’s part, since her seasoned
are quickly established in her traversal of In a day when colossal technique musicianship and thoughtful virtuosity
Op 76. Her beguiling cantabile is a given is de rigueur for young pianists, it is thoroughly inhabit this music. The
and she foregrounds inner voices in the Tarasova’s imagination that will set Polonaise-fantaisie’s climaxes convey
thickest textures with confidence. If more her apart from the pack. I look forward headlong momentum yet with palpable
robust cross rhythms could enhance the to watching her artistic growth which, tension and release in regard to the timings
interest of the Capriccio (No 5), the from all indications, will be inevitable. of the sweeping scales and big chordal
Intermezzo (No 3) comes off with an Patrick Rucker build-ups. In the B major Nocturne, Op 9
enchanting music-box precision, while the No 3, Fialkowska effects a startling yet
famous Capriccio (No 2) maintains just the Chopin inevitable change of colour at the minor-
right balance of whimsy and melancholy. ‘Recital 3’ key episode, while her well-controlled
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

The strong sense of musical architecture Ballade No 4, Op 52. Nocturnes – No 3, Op 9 right-hand cantilenas are anchored by
evidenced throughout the Klavierstücke No 3; No 5, Op 15 No 2. Impromptu No 3, buoyant, shapely bass lines throughout.
is somewhat less pronounced in the more Op 51. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61. Although she rightly resists gilding the
interpretatively challenging Schumann Preludes, Op 28 – No 14; No 15. decorative lilies, so to speak, in the F sharp
Variations. Here Tarasova’s eagerness Scherzo No 4, Op 54. Waltzes – No 5, Op 42; major Nocturne, Op 15 No 2, she
to imbue each variation with a distinct No 10, Op 69 No 2 habitually lingers on the main theme’s first-
character tends to diminish the narrative Janina Fialkowska pf note up-beat to the point of predictability,
flow of the whole set. ATMA Classique F ACD2 2728 (63’ • DDD) yet such ‘stretching out’ reveals a rare

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 89


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Seasoned musicianship: Janina Fialkowska excels in Chopin on ATMA Classique

wistful (even tragic) side to the B minor Michel Dalberto pf moving from wistful languor to the
Waltz. By contrast, she astutely underlines Aparté F AP150 (74’ • DDD) throes of ecstasy, accompanied finally
the G flat Impromptu’s polyphonic Recorded live at the Paris Conservatoire, by a symphony of birdsong. Riding
interplay, while casting a playful light and January 2017 luxurious waves of sound, Dalberto
more than a few skittish accents upon the never loses a thread of Fauré’s intricate
A flat Waltz, Op 42; indeed, Fialkowska polyphony. The serious C sharp minor
truly makes the latter her own. Theme and Variations, here prefaced
Fialkowska unleashes the E major In a charmingly self- by the somewhat later Nocturne, Op 74,
Scherzo’s vivacious outer sections with effacing booklet note, in the same key, is no less lovingly
impressive suppleness and architectonic Michel Dalberto handled. Fully exploiting the Bechstein’s
determination, akin to the young relates how his plangent sound, Dalberto strikes just
Ashkenazy’s reference recording, but with embrace of Fauré’s piano music, despite the right balance between passion and
just a soupçon of rubato. A grim, driving an early affinity for some of the chamber understated pathos, making this work
E flat minor Prelude leads into a D flat works, was not complete until the Swiss a veritable prism of fleeting emotion.
major ‘Raindrop’ Prelude that’s less about tenor Hugues Cuenód suggested they Of the smaller pieces, Dalberto
the persistent repeated-note pulse than its explore the songs together. One can well is particularly impressive in the three
long melodic arcs. The F minor Ballade imagine how, with such an inspiring guide, late Nocturnes: No 9, with its ominous
receives a direct yet flexible reading, where the full dimension of Fauré’s genius echoes of Liszt’s melodrama Der
Fialkowska makes expressive points by became apparent. traurige Mönch, the desolate No 11
proportioning her dynamics with care and Recorded live at a concert at the old and the anguished cri de coeur
articulating the thickest textures with the Paris Conservatoire this past January, of No 13. Tortuous emotional
utmost clarity. In the coda, for example, her Dalberto plays the largest of the piano bitterness, often verging on despair,
multi-level contouring of the contrapuntal works, the F sharp Ballade and the makes these pieces difficult to fully
lines and intelligently meted-out crescendos Thème et variations, interspersed with inhabit. Dalberto does so with courage
conclude this highly recommended recital an Impromptu and five of the Nocturnes, and conviction.
on a shattering note. Jed Distler spanning the years from 1877 to 1921 and Among the outstanding recordings
presented in roughly chronological order. of Fauré’s piano music in recent
Fauré The distinctive sound of Dalberto’s 1899 years, including Hannes Minnaar’s
Ballade, Op 19. Impromptu No 3, Op 34. Bechstein has been expertly captured by (Challenge Classics, 2/17) and the first
Nocturnes – No 6, Op 63; No 7, Op 74; Little Tribeca. disc in Louis Lortie’s series (Chandos,
No 9, Op 97; No 11, Op 104 No 1; No 13, Op 119. This Ballade could be a page torn 11/16), Dalberto’s disc will take a proud
Thème et variations, Op 73 from the intimate journal of a voluptuary, place. Patrick Rucker

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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Glass Godowsky Liszt . Schubert


Solo Cello Partitas – No 1, ‘Songs & Poems’; No 2. Studies on Chopin’s Op 10 Études Liszt Venezia e Napoli, S159. Zwölf Lieder von
Book of Longing – The Paris Sky. The Secret Emanuele Delucchi pf Franz Schubert, S558 – No 2, Auf dem Wasser zu
Agent Piano Classics F PCL0122 (76’ • DDD) singen, D774; No 3, Du bist die Ruh’, D776; No 9,
Matt Haimovitz vc Ständchen, D889; No 11, Der Wanderer, D489
Orange Mountain F OMM0117 (69’ • DDD) Schubert Impromptus. D899
Mona Asuka pf
Godowsky’s 53 Studies Oehms F OC1871 (72’ • DDD)
on Chopin’s Études
From listening to the (or 54 or 55 depending
Brandenburg Concertos on whether you
in his father’s record include different ossias in numbering In Schubert’s
store as a young boy them) present a formidable challenge to C minor
to strict lessons in fugal counterpoint any pianist, famously described by the late Impromptu, Mona
with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in his mid- Harold C Schonberg, music critic of the Asuka’s evenly
twenties, Bach has never been far away New York Times, as ‘the most impossibly balanced opening G natural octaves and
from Glass’s musical world view. He difficult things ever written for the piano’. plaintive shaping of the single-line phrase
recently paid Bach the ultimate You can see his point. Take Study No 4 are offset by the rigidly voiced chords that
compliment, saying: ‘He articulated the (the second of Godowsky’s two versions follow. The whole interpretation similarly
language of music in the most complete, of Op 10 No 2), which assigns the already alternates between tender moments
rich and complex form that any single challenging material of the original to be and monochrome rigidity. The E flat
person has been able to do.’ played by the left hand, leaving the right Impromptu’s rapid scales are less about
While Bach’s influence may not be hand free to provide a hemiola pearls than shark teeth, although the
immediately apparent in early Glass, it can counterpoint of triplets in (mainly) thirds, central minor-key section has an
be heard in more recent works such as the fourths and sixths. The tempo is allegro. uncommonly understated grace (as
sets of Partitas for solo violin and cello. Why bother? ‘Because’, as mountaineers opposed to Schnabel’s angular lunging
The catalyst was singer-songwriter and say of Mount Everest, ‘it’s there.’ For the ahead). While the slowly paced G flat
poet Leonard Cohen, with whom Glass listener, it’s undoubtedly true that you need Impromptu is texturally well balanced,
worked on the song-cycle Book of Longing to know the Chopin originals to derive the one can predict nearly every one of
in 2006 (from which ‘The Paris Sky’, greatest pleasure from Godowsky’s Asuka’s tiny pauses at cadence points
included here, is taken). Cohen’s pared- arrangements. Occasionally the complex and phrase ends. A lack of expressive
down, epigrammatic and occasionally polyphony is just too clever for its own variety and lightness of touch underlines
bleak poetry provided Glass with a new musical good but the best of these studies the final Impromptu’s arguably
expressive palette, and out poured a series on studies are extraordinarily inventive and repetitious character.
of dark, melancholic works for solo strings ingenious. Only top flight virtuosos need Asuka’s Schubert-Liszt transcription
that – other than the occasional outburst – apply. Emanuele Delucchi is one of them. interpretations are also hit and miss.
inhabit a world suffused with intense He is, I believe, one of only three people Her choppy phrasing of the right-hand
solipsistic introspection. ever to have played Nos 1-22 live in accompanying line in ‘Auf dem Wasser
This new style appears to have arrived concert (Carlo Grante and Francesco zu singen’ pales next to the floating
fully formed, with Glass commenting that Libetta have given the complete set). eloquence of Kissin’s DG version,
he composed the Partitas ‘almost … from In welcoming his earlier Godowsky disc while the colourful registral interplay
memory’. However, there’s a danger of (12/15), I wondered whether his choice of a of ‘Ständchen’ is reduced to black-and-
slipping into automatic-pilot mode. Much 1906 Steinway D was a help or hindrance white literalism, certainly when heard
of what appears in Partita No 2 is modelled to tone production. After further alongside Horowitz’s miraculous late-
on the First, as a brief comparison between restoration work, its palette of warm period recording (comparisons with
the opening section of both final colours remains intact but has gained a Horowitz are unfair, yet still fair game).
movements will show. Certainly the more incisive attack, allowing Delucchi’s Conversely, Asuka’s singing tone reveals
more interesting moments are found in voicing and extraordinary digital facility to itself in ‘Du bist die Ruh’, and her bass-
movements that successfully explore the be heard at their best. Added to this – and register rumbles in ‘Der Wanderer’
cello’s range and colouristic potential, such there is no better example than Study project the kind of shattering intensity
as the fifth in Partita No 1 (with its Für No 1 – his delight and (heaven knows this score requires.
Elise-style D-C sharp-D-C sharp-D figure), how it’s possible) evident enjoyment in While Asuka obtains just the right
and the third in Partita No 2. The first set the execution of these pieces brings to shimmer and delicacy in Liszt’s
(subtitled Songs & Poems) remains the most them the human heart essential to Chopin’s ‘Gondoliera’, her habitual ritards
compelling of the two, however. originals, but which is quite lacking in dissipate the music’s inherent lilt and
Cellist Matt Haimovitz’s controlled some other recorded performances. forward motion, although the ‘Canzone’
performance and deep, resonant sound The mighty Marc-André Hamelin in his grabs your attention via the pianist’s
possess plenty of weight and depth but complete survey remains omnipotent but power and unabashed rhetoric. She
occasionally lack the edgy nervousness Delucchi gives him a run for his money conveys the disparate dramatic qualities
and hollowed-out intensity that belong and, on the type of instrument which of the Tarantella’s contrasting sections,
to Wendy Sutter’s brilliant 2008 recording Godowsky would have known, is in a albeit without the supple ease one hears
of Partita No 1. Pwyll ap Siôn class of his own. Jeremy Nicholas from Hamelin, Lortie and Chamayou.
Partita No 1 – comparative version: Studies – selected comparison: 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 . cantabile of his First String Quartet) and any division of labour: a clear case of
Tchaikovsky the more virtuoso setting of ‘Song of the two right hands knowing exactly what
‘Russian Works for Piano Four Hands’ Volga Boatmen’. the two left ones are doing.
Rachmaninov Six Morceaux, Op 11 Stravinsky The latter would seem to be the Jeremy Nicholas
Petrushka Tchaikovsky Russian Folk Songs (unnamed in the score) ‘Russian Theme’,
Peter Hill, Benjamin Frith pf No 3 of Rachmaninov’s early Six Urspruch
Delphian F DCD34191 (68’ • DDD) Morceaux, Op 11, though it is not the ‘Complete Piano Works’
best of the six. These are No 2, the Fünf Fantasiestücke, Op 2. Deutsche Tänze,
brilliant Scherzo, and No 6, ‘Slava’, Op 7. Variationen, Op 10. Cinq Morceaux, Op 19.
which uses the same liturgical chant that Cavatine & Arabesque, Op 20. Präludium &
This is an altogether Mussorgsky uses in Boris Godunov. Hill Capriccio, Op 22
impressive, and Frith may well make you wonder Ana-Marija Markovina pf
accomplished and why Op 11 is heard so infrequently Hänssler Classic M c HC16015 (172’ • DDD)
rewarding release, compared with Rachmaninov’s other
a delight to listen to from both the music for two pianists.
sound and performance points of view. The cross-pollination continues
The venue is Cardiff’s University Concert with Petrushka, in which the folk song Biographical sketches
Hall. Paul Baxter is the engineer. He is ‘Yesterday evening I was young at the of Anton Urspruch
also the co-producer with Peter Hill. feast’ (track 23) makes an appearance (1850-1907), a
Full marks. as ‘Dance of the Wet-Nurses’. In professor at the
The programme order is Rachmaninov- Stravinsky’s own arrangement of his Hoch and Raff Conservatories in
Tchaikovsky-Stravinsky but I shall begin, revised 1947 version of the ballet, the Frankfurt, make much of his association
as Hill does in his excellent booklet essay, bar of technical difficulty, rhythmic with Liszt. True, Urspruch attended
with the selection of 23 of the 50 Russian complexity and ensemble challenges Liszt’s Weimar masterclass in 1873,
Folk Songs (1869), all lasting less than a is raised to a high level, rarely letting a year after Liszt had arranged for a
minute, the shortest a mere 16 seconds. either player off the hook for its 32'22" performance of the younger composer’s
You’ll recognise ‘Under the green apple duration. Hill and Frith have been piano concerto. However, Urspruch
tree’ from the last movement of playing as a duo since 1986. Such exhibits virtually none of the more
Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, complete blending of tone, touch, progressive tendencies of the ‘New
‘Vanya was sitting’ (from the Andante dynamics and phrasing quite conceals German School’ and his eclectic piano

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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

music is closer to the salon pieces of says much for Jones’s considerable Cécile Licad pf
Joachim Raff, his mentor in Frankfurt, command that his interpretations can Danacord M b DACOCD783/4 (109’ • DDD)
than to Liszt. Ana-Marija Markovina, hold their own in the face of Wild’s
the Croatian-born pianist now based irrepressible keyboard prowess.
in Cologne, has recorded a generous True, he may not unleash comparable
sampling of Urspruch on three discs. galvanic force at the peak of ‘O, cease A diverse grouping
This follows up her 2011 recording of thy singing’, yet his lighter touch in the of first sonatas by
Opp 2, 19, and 20 on Genuin. opening and closing sequences adds American composers
The Five Fantasy Pieces from 1872 more shimmer to the scales. The piano- encompassed
are deeply indebted to the Novelletten writing in ‘Floods of Spring’ deliberately Cecile Licad’s Anthology of American
of Schumann. Schubert is the primary mirrors Rachmaninov’s piano idiom Piano Music, Vol 1 (A/16); Vol 2 is given
model for the 22 German Dances, their and Jones evokes a waterfall of sweeping, over to American nocturnes, or nocturne-
textural density suggesting a nod to grand gestures that differs markedly like works. A brush of the strings opens
Brahms, while Mendelssohn seems the from Wild’s blunter, more angular and the first of two discs with the opening
inspiration for the 24 Variations, Op 10. sparely pedalled performance. The theme of George Crumb’s Eine kleine
If Urspruch’s later pieces are less obviously arpeggio sprays of ‘The Little Island’ Mitternachtmusik, a set of variations
derivative, an unmistakably original voice have a stronger melodic profile in Wild’s based upon Thelonious Monk’s
remained elusive. hands, yet Jones’s more Impressionistic ‘Round Midnight’. Rather than play
Generally speaking, Markovina’s conception holds equal attraction. the Crumb work all together, Licad
performances are weakened by uncertain Regarding Wild’s arguably overwrought intersperses the variations between
phrasing and, contrary to Urspruch’s reworking of the ‘Vocalise’, I prefer other pieces, linking, for example,
relatively abundant expressive indications, Jones’s faster and more fluent Amy Beach’s A Hermit Thrush at
surprisingly bland dynamics. She gives phrasing of the main theme compared Eve and Griffes’s Notturno. Licad’s
scant credence to chord voicing or to Wild’s slower, heavier take; but, as canny programme-building
marked contrasts between melody the inner voices pile up, jockeying for yields other intriguing juxtapositions,
and accompaniment. Finer distinctions position, Wild proves the more effective such as Barber’s classically tinged
of articulation, of legato and staccato, traffic cop. Nocturne, Copland’s craggy though
are often left to the imagination. These The delightful Reminiscences of Snow tender Night Thoughts and the imposing
factors, in combination with obtrusively White is a kind of ‘Liszt does Disney’, pillars demarcating Leo Ornstein’s
destabilised rhythms, tend to deprive and his premiere recording remains the 13-minute Nocturne No 2.
Markovina’s readings of character interpretative last word in harmonic The Chadwick, Farwell, Foote
and, on occasion, coherence. It may pointing and characterful variety. That and Schelling nocturnes are basically
be that a revival of Urspruch’s piano said, I’ve always felt that Wild milked charming European knock-offs, but
music, should one be warranted, must the rubato and echo effects in ‘I’m Mason’s Night Wind, Bloch’s In the
wait a while longer. Wishing’ to a fault, whereas Jones plays Night and the Beach works abound
Patrick Rucker relatively straight. Jones projects more with personality and strong ideas.
floating, melody-oriented readings of Grofé’s Deep Nocturne may not be
Wild the Bach and Fauré transcriptions in truly deep but it’s unpretentiously
‘Virtuoso Arrangements for Piano by Earl Wild – comparison to Wild’s stronger linear tuneful, while Joseph Lamb’s Ragtime
Vol 2: Rachmaninov and Others’ profile. While the Mexican Hat Dance’s Nightingale remains one of the idiom’s
Transcriptions of JS Bach Hommage à Poulenc whirling runs and dashing leaps pose classics, and Marc-André Hamelin’s
Churchill Reminiscences of Snow White no problems for Jones in his late seventies, Little Nocturne is a minor masterpiece
Fauré Après un rêve Rachmaninov Do not he inevitably reckons with the 88-year- of sly humour.
grieve. Dreams. Floods of Spring. In the silent young whippersnapper’s more pugnacious With all of my concentration on
night. The Little Island. Midsummer Nights. energy. While Earl Wild may have the music, I realise that I haven’t
The Muse. O, cease thy singing. On the Death originally tailored his transcriptions mentioned Licad’s performances.
of a Linnet. Sorrow in Springtime. To the for his own use, they’re not necessarily That’s probably because her
Children. Vocalise. Where Beauty Dwells private property, as Martin Jones proves authoritative yet flexible pianism
Rubio Mexican Hat Dance Tchaikovsky time and again. adapts to the various styles with
At the Ball. Dance of the Four Swans Jed Distler idiomatic ease. She understands
Martin Jones pf Crumb’s textural fragility, she
Nimbus F NI5965 (73’ • DDD) ‘American Nocturnes’ confidently sails through Mason’s
Barber Nocturne Beach Dreaming. A Hermit glittering runs, she parses
Thrush at Eve. A Hermit Thrush at Morn Beach’s stunning modulations
Bloch In the Night Chadwick Nocturne with perfect timing, she minimises
Martin Jones’s Copland Night Thoughts Crumb Eine Ornstein’s tendency to ramble and
seemingly insatiable kleine Mitternachtmusik – Nos 1-5, 7 & 9 she brings just the right lift to Lamb’s
appetite for mining Farwell Dawn Foote Nocturne Gottschalk gentle syncopations. In other words,
the piano repertoire La chûte des feuilles, Op 42 Griffes The you hear the music first, the pianism
en masse continues with a second CD Night Winds. Notturno Grofé Deep Nocturne second, and that’s a good sign, not to
devoted to virtuoso transcriptions and Hamelin Little Nocturne Lamb Ragtime mention the excellent engineering
arrangements by Earl Wild. Wild’s Nightingale DG Mason Night Wind and annotations. I look forward to
Rachmaninov song transcriptions Ornstein Nocturne No 2 this series’ further instalments.
dominate the present volume, and it Schelling Nocturne (Ragusa) Jed Distler

gramophone.co.uk 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 are well contrasted. The Sixth Suite is Lewis’s performances. Each suite emerges

T with good intentions … here we


have some tremendously well-
intentioned discs but the results
are, shall we say, variable. The common
denominator is JS Bach who, more than
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.
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
any other composer in history, can take Moving to the piano, the Australian- Courante has a gentle bounce and is nicely
multifarious approaches and work on a born pianist Daniel Martyn Lewis talks of varied on repeats; after a veiled Sarabande
wide variety of instruments. After all, his early experiences of listening to Bach we get a playfully knowing Gavotte,
performing his music on the piano is in by the sea in south-eastern Australia and an ebullient Air and a pleasingly feisty
effect an act of transcription; indeed, one of how he has been influenced by the hunting-style Gigue. She’s unafraid to
of my favourite performances of his music sound and technique of the harpsichord use the full resources of the piano and
is Art of Fugue played by the New Century in his own playing. That perhaps explains occasionally her pedalling sounds slightly
Saxophone Quartet. why there’s not a legato line in his entire over-generous (for instance in the
Of the discs here, the most obviously second book of The Well-Tempered Clavier Courante of the Second Suite or the
‘authentic’ is Alessandra Artifoni’s account and why devices such as agogic pauses are Allemande of the First), though this could
of the English Suites on harpsichord, a very much the norm. He’s at his best when be the acoustic. A good account, then, if
modern-day copy by Tony Chinnery of there’s a lot to occupy his fingers – for not one on the same level as Perahia’s
a two-manual Mietke from 1702 (a make instance in the toccata-style D minor Award-winner (DG, 11/16).
of which Bach is known to have been Prelude or the effusive G major Prelude. Finally to two Japanese artists, both
fond). It’s a fine, characterful instrument, But elsewhere articulation can be fussy hugely admired exponents of their chosen
recorded with immediacy. The booklet is and he lacks the sense of inevitability instruments. The marimba player Kuniko
lazy – not even listing suite movements, that is found in the best performances. wisely focuses on the Cello Suites and
let alone proffering a performer biography. The searing dissonances of the Prelude Solo Violin Sonatas, works that would
But the playing is certainly not and she in F minor are here diminished by the seem to lend themselves more readily to
relishes the different character of each distracting desynchronisations of the transcription than, say, the more intricate
suite without resorting to extremes. The hands, losing a sense of line. He also tends textures of the keyboard Partitas. She
Second Suite, with which she opens, has to overplay accents, which can make for contributes highly personal notes in the
a lovely conversational Allemande and awkward-sounding fugue subjects – as in booklet about what Bach means to her,
an unfettered Gigue. The E minor Suite the G minor and A flat Fugues. offering a very specific narrative for every
(No 5) opens with a joyously full-sounding Turning to the French Suites of the piece she chooses. Of the Allegro assai from
Prelude; and if her Sarabande is a little Chinese pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, it’s a relief the Third Violin Sonata, for instance, we
ponderous, the two Passepieds that follow to find those sustained lines I missed in get: ‘In a dazzling light, is that an angel or

96 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

‘Espressione …’ Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness


a child with white feathers on his back? ‘From Bolzano to San Marino’ Schubert Impromptu, D935 No 3
Children are gathering and playing. Is this Chopin Barcarolle, Op 60. Nocturne No 20, Traditional Liuyang River (arr Yang)
the sky or heaven? Where is this place?’ Op posth. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61. Waltz No 1, Yang Three Aquarelles
There’s no doubting her sincerity, but Op 18 Haydn Piano Sonata, HobXVI:46 Yuanfan Yang pf
unfortunately she seems to smother this Scriabin Piano Sonata No 2, ‘Sonata Fantasy’, Orchid F ORC100073 (78’ • DDD)
music with love and nothing is allowed to Op 19
speak for itself. Rhythms are bent out of Łukasz Krupiński pf
shape and lose their power, movements Dux F DUX1375 (59’ • DDD)
are slowed down to make an effect (the In the hands of a
gigues of the Cello Suites are particularly master, watercolour
prone to this), certain notes are over- can be a most
accentuated. And the haze of sound that This release, expressive medium,
you get where more than one note is entitled capturing the fragility of a scene or
sounding simultaneously – for instance ‘Espressione … moment like no other. In the hands of
in the Prelude of the First Cello Suite or From Bolzano to a lesser executant, however, the result
the Adagio of the C major Violin Sonata – San Marino’, constitutes a travelogue, or can be insipid or merely splodgy. Its use
is something of an acquired taste. perhaps a ‘competition diary’. In August here, as the title of 19-year-old Yuanfan
Accordionist Mie Miki’s recital of of 2016, Łukasz Krupiński qualified for Yang’s diverse programme, derives from
preludes and fugues from both books of this month’s Busoni Competition in a set of three Aquarelles completed when
the ‘48’ is an entirely different experience. Bolzano with the Chopin Polonaise- he was just 16. If Yang’s name is familiar
Rhythms dance (just sample the fugue of fantaisie on his programme. Then, it may be from his success at the 2012
the C minor, BWV847) and the ability following a junket to Leipzig, he arrived BBC Young Musician competition, at
of her instrument to sound at times like a at the International Competition in San which he won the keyboard section. He
Baroque organ is all to the good, sustaining Marino, where he opened his programme is now a student at the Royal Academy
beautifully the lines of the mournful B flat with the Scriabin Sonata Fantasy and, at a and describes himself as pianist, composer
minor Fugue from Book 2. Rhythms are later stage, played the Haydn sonata and and improviser.
joyfully sprung, too, in the dashing D major Chopin Barcarolle, eventually winning A recital programme as wide-ranging
Prelude, BWV850, which she takes at a first prize. as this, from Schubert to contemporary
daringly fast pace without losing clarity or It’s almost impossible not to feel pieces, needs a persuasive personality
a sense of shape overall, and the F sharp something akin to sympathy for Polish if it’s not to sound bitty. Yang begins
Prelude, BWV880, which is superbly pianists, who are invariably typecast with the third of the Impromptus,
lithe, the trills effortlessly dispatched. The as Chopin specialists, regardless of D935, which is elegant without being
G major Prelude, BWV884, is another temperamental aptitude. A 25-year- particularly distinctive. From this we
instance of outlandish virtuosity, but how old Warsaw native, Krupiński seems move to Chopin: the slow opening
beautifully the figuration is kept under to fulfil the role naturally. The desire of the A minor Étude, Op 25 No 11,
control, never becoming obtrusive within for originality, rather than the physical is lacking in menace, while in the
the texture. This makes fine contrast dictates of dancing, seems to motivate maelstrom that follows Yang seems
with the hushed intimacy in the G minor some of the agogic choices in the E flat to prize beauty over character. The
Prelude and Fugue, BWV861, that follow. Waltz. On the other hand, a beautifully F minor Fantaisie is similarly fey: he
Above all, there’s the sense that Mie Miki is settled and thoughtful interpretation writes in the booklet about the work’s
entirely inside this music and has lived with of the Polonaise-fantaisie is a highlight ‘passionate and virtuosic character’
it for a long time. A real pleasure. of the disc. The C sharp minor yet doesn’t really follow that through
More miscellaneous Bach on page 112 Nocturne is languidly poetic at the keyboard. Liszt’s ‘La campanella’
throughout, though the choice not is again more about polish than
THE RECORDINGS to make more of the brief contrasting personality, while ‘Vallée d’Obermann’
JS Bach English Suites middle section seems a missed is too polite to plumb any real
Alessandra Artifoni opportunity for contrast. emotional depths.
Dynamic F b CDS7793 Krupiński fully inhabits the Sonata From more recent times, Philip
Fantasy in a passionate reading that Cashian’s Landscape and Peter
JS Bach Well-Tempered Clavier II gives Scriabin’s interesting voice- Maxwell Davies’s Farewell to
Daniel Martyn Lewis leading its full due. The Haydn sonata Stromness (the latter dedicated to
Odradek M b ODRCD344 is vividly characterised, though the the composer’s memory) are both
JS Bach French Suites
rubato, both in the first movement’s efficient but little more than that.
Zhu Xiao-Mei
development and the Adagio, press Yang’s Debussy-inspired Aquarelles
Accentus F ACC30404
the stylistic envelope. These quibbles are given with conviction but that
aside, Krupiński’s gifts are undeniable can’t save the disc, which I’d suggest
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 Solo Marimba Works and I will watch their full flowering is primarily one for friends and family.
Kuniko with interest. Patrick Rucker Harriet Smith
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‘Watercolour’ Find your
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BIS F Í BIS2217 www.qobuz.com
Vallée d’Obermann, S160 No 6

gramophone.co.uk 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

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

The output astounds, and any attempt A year later came his first piece for full symphony orchestra,
commissioned by Sir Simon Rattle and the CBSO: Three
to register it risks leaving out of account Screaming Popes (1988-89). The title refers to Francis Bacon’s
disturbing transformations of the Velázquez portrait of Pope
the pieces for smaller forces Innocent X, and Turnage achieves a comparable state of crisis
in his swerving chain of dances. The screams are certainly
He was off to a quick start. Night Dances (1981), there, too, and so are the popes, in churchy music of chant
which he composed when he was 21 and still a student, and bells, placed in its own acoustic by astute orchestration.
was an ambitious place to begin: an orchestral score with For all its riot and menace, though, the piece is firmly formed,
amplified soloists plus an offstage string quintet. The piece is, varying and restoring its principal idea in a context that
however, not only completely assured but also immediately balances jaggedness and speed with strange calm. It proved
characteristic in its urgent solo flights, its jazz band the symphonic potential of Turnage’s edgy style, and was the
intimations and its streetlight colouring. Performed subject of his first commercial recording, a CD single released
under BBC auspices at the beginning of 1982, it got in 1992 (EMI, 9/92).
people talking. Meanwhile, Rattle had taken him on board for a three-year
Another key early event was encountering Hans Werner residency with the CBSO (1990-93), which meant that other
Henze at Tanglewood the following year. If there was outfits had to wait. Among them were the BBC, who
any creative influence, it had probably been absorbed commissioned his first concerto, Your Rockaby (1992-93) for
by now; much more important were the guidance and the soprano saxophone; and Ensemble Modern, for whom he wrote
opportunities Turnage gained from what became a lasting the (ultimately) 90-minute-long suite Blood on the Floor
friendship. At a time when the young composer had only (1993-96), scored for jazz soloists with a large formation
three or four pieces to his name, none of them longer than melding the specifications – and the traditions – of new-music
15 minutes and only one of them vocal, Henze commissioned ensemble and big band. Working for the first time with jazz
a full-length chamber opera for his Munich Biennale. musicians he admired – John Scofield on electric guitar and
The result was Greek (1986-88), whose in-your-face musical Peter Erskine on drum kit – as well as Martin Robertson, for
style, matching Steven Berkoff’s raw rewrite of Sophocles’ whom he wrote Your Rockaby, Turnage produced a score that is
Oedipus story, brought Turnage attention internationally. deliberately open-ended, not only in allowing for improvisation

98 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS
turnage facts Paul Watkins (Cello Concerto, 2010), Erskine (Erskine, 2013),
Born Corringham, Essex, Marc-André Hamelin (Piano Concerto, 2013), Patricia
June 10, 1960 Kopatchinskaja and Sol Gabetta (Dialogue, 2014), Colin Currie
Composition studies RCM, (Martland Memorial, 2014-15), and Daniel Hope and
London, with Oliver Knussen Vadim Repin (Shadow Walker, 2017). Among other orchestral
and John Lambert (1974-83); works have been a sure-fire concert opener for the New York
Tanglewood with Gunther Philharmonic (Scherzoid, 2003-04) and two four-movement
Schuller and Hans Werner symphonies for the LSO: Speranza (2011-12), whose theme of
Henze (1983) hope is expressed as communal fortitude under inhospitable
Major residencies CBSO conditions, and Remembering (2014-15), where fierce and
(1990-93), BBC SO (2000-03), erratic movements are answered by elegies, the finale rising
LPO (2005-10) and from sorrow to rage. Ballet scores, too, have become a regular
Chicago SO (2006-10) feature of his output, including (most recently) Strapless (2015),
Key premieres First public for Christopher Wheeldon, introduced at the Royal Opera
performance (Night Dances – House last year. Although recordings have come pretty much
London, 1982); first opera annually, they have not at all been able to keep up.
(Greek – Munich, 1988); Considering that Turnage also found time for another
first big orchestral work big opera – Anna Nicole (2008-10), on the media star who just
(Three Screaming Popes – a little while before had been sensationalised to death – the
Birmingham, 1989); Blood output astounds, and any attempt to register it risks leaving
on the Floor (short version: out of account the pieces for smaller forces. Many of these
Frankfurt, 1994; final version, are miniatures, gifts to friends, but there have also been
London, 1996); The Silver Tassie regular collaborations with the Nash Ensemble, some
(ENO, 2000); Anna Nicole included on their two Turnage albums, as well as, suddenly
(Royal Opera House, 2011) in the last decade, three string quartets: Twisted Blues with
Publishers Boosey & Hawkes Twisted Ballad (2008), Contusion (2013) and Shroud (2016).
and Schott To view Turnage as essentially an artist of the large-scale,
though, may not be altogether unjust. His liking for the
at certain moments but also in sounds of the big band seems to be a matter not only of
evoking an exterior narrative aesthetic disposition but also of joining in the expression of
of urban alienation and shared grief, shared suffering and shared exhilaration, and of
wasted humanity. doing so in the broadest possible arena. Such a strong creative
Turnage went on to work drive, conveyed by each piece and by the scale of the output as
with melodies by Scofield in a whole, has a moral as well as a musical imperative.
another suite for jazz soloists Explore Turnage’s music via our bespoke playlist; visit gramophone.co.uk
and orchestra, Scorched
(1996-2001), and again in LISTEN TO TURNAGE
Silent Cities (1998) for orchestra, one of his finest impacts of A snapshot – mainly comprising large-scale works
ferociousness and lament. Having by now established a busy
productivity, he was also at work on his second major opera, Drowned Out. Kai. Three Screaming Popes.
The Silver Tassie (1997-99), based on a First World War play Momentum.
by Sean O’Casey. Some of this work’s military atmosphere Ulrich Heinen vc BCMG, CBSO / Simon Rattle
and madness seemed to go on into other compositions, not EMI (9/94)
least Fractured Lines (1999-2000), a double concerto written Here is Turnage in a bunch of works he wrote for
for percussionists from different backgrounds: classical Birmingham, vigorously and vividly realised by Rattle.
(Evelyn Glennie) and jazz (Erskine again). Turnage is expert Another Set To. Silent Cities. Four-Horned
at endings, and here the close is memorable: a procession of Fandango. Fractured Lines
beautiful Stravinskian harmonies that gets stamped on. Christian Lindberg tbn Peter Erskine, Evelyn Glennie perc
Given the loving homage that Turnage pays to jazz in every BBC SO / Leonard Slatkin
bar of his music, and the resulting breezy–nervy Bernsteinian Chandos (3/03)
mix, one might think a US commission would have come Silent Cities is among Turnage’s most evocative pieces, presented
before now, but On Opened Ground (2000-01), a viola concerto here with dynamic concertos for trombone (Another Set To),
for the Cleveland Orchestra with Yuri Bashmet, was his two percussionists (Fractured Lines) and four exuberant horns.
first – and it was mightily successful in giving the solo On Opened Ground. Texan Tenebrae.
instrument the strength and the bend not only to engage with Lullaby for Hans. Riffs and Refrains.
chrome-plated orchestration but also to lead it. Other works of Mambo, Blues and Tarantella
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P H I L I P G AT W A R D

this period came out of an association with the BBC SO that Michael Collins cl Christian Tetzlaff vn Lawrence Power va
ended in 2003 with a retrospective at the Barbican, London. LPO / Marin Alsop, Vladimir Jurowski, Markus Stenz
By this point Turnage was among the most frequently and LPO (2/13)
widely performed of contemporary composers, and certainly Concertos for clarinet (Riffs and Refrains), violin (Mambo, Blues
among the most prolific. His subsequent concertos alone have and Tarantella) and viola (On Opened Ground) exemplify Turnage’s
included works for Michael Collins (Riffs and Refrains, 2003), exacting, impassioned and sometimes humorous writing for soloists.
Håkan Hardenberger (From the Wreckage, 2004; and Håkan,
2014), Christian Tetzlaff (Mambo, Blues and Tarantella, 2007),

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 99


Vocal
Ivan Moody welcomes powerfully Alexandra Coghlan on Clare
original music by Martin Palmeri: College’s Reformation-themed disc:
‘This is something entirely individual, the ‘The Brahms glows with love and care, its
work of a composer as familiar with Bach extended opening movement shaped with
as he is with tango’ REVIEW ON PAGE 104 an eye to sonic drama’ REVIEW ON PAGE 113

Debussy . Fauré has a pristine clarity that impresses in the painter’s death 500 years ago last year.
Debussy Ariettes oubliées (arr Brett Dean)a. itself yet falls short of genuine poetry, There are 18 movements, the standard
La mer Fauré Pelléas et Mélisande, Op 80 and the movement’s climax is reached texts of the Mass Ordinary alternating
(arr Koechlin). Pénélope – Prelude with an air of majestic deliberation. with selections from the medieval
a
Magdalena Kožená sop Deutsches Thereafter, however, he gets more into manuscript collection Carmina Burana,
Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Robin Ticciati his stride. ‘Jeux de vagues’ has a restless each confronting Bosch with one of the
Linn F CKD550 (68’ • DDD • T/t) beauty, and he unleashes real turmoil at seven sins. Glanert describes the result,
the start of ‘Dialogue du vent et de la for four soloists, chorus, semi-chorus,
mer’. The playing is exemplary – the organ and orchestra, as ‘not an opera but
woodwind are particularly outstanding – an oratorio; an inward spectacle, like the
The release of Robin though the orchestral and recorded St Matthew Passion’.
Ticciati’s first disc sound are very bright: this seascape It’s a spectacle, that’s for sure. Glanert
with the DSO Berlin glares a bit, throughout. has wanted to dip his toes in the water
coincides with the Few will have qualms about the of sacred (if not liturgical) music for
start of his tenure as the orchestra’s Fauré, though. The Pénélope Prelude is some years but the result can sound a
music director. It marks his move into a wonderfully controlled in its progression little like he’s over-indulging a tradition
repertory with which we don’t primarily from uneasy calm to agitation and back. he admires, genuflecting a little too
associate him, though he conducted both Ticciati’s Pelléas is darker in tone than obviously in the polyphony of ‘Recordare’
La mer and Fauré’s Pelléas with the LPO many, and beautiful in its discreet and ‘Juste judex’. On the flipside, the
at the Royal Festival Hall two years ago – sensuality: the bittersweet shifts of spectacle comes when vivid texts prompt
a concert that divided opinion at the time – mood in the ‘Sicilienne’ are immaculately Glanert into having that bit too much
and it also includes the first recording of judged. It’s an uneven disc overall, textural fun with the orchestra for us to
Brett Dean’s orchestration of Ariettes though the best of it promises much take the predicament of purgatory and
oubliées, premiered in Sydney in 2015 by from Ticciati’s collaboration with judgement seriously.
Magdalena KoΩená, who sings it here. the DSO, and is very fine indeed. Sure, that’s an old accusation and one
As with John Adams’s version of Le livre Tim Ashley many composers have survived. But next
de Baudelaire, Dean both evokes Debussy’s to some of his other works introduced to
sound world and goes beyond it. ‘Chevaux Glanert us by RCO Live, Glanert’s excitable and
de bois’ owes much to Fêtes, and rustling Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch often wickedly irreverent post-Romantic
woodwind out of Pelléas (Debussy’s, not Aga Mikolaj sop Ursula Hesse von den Steinen mez voice seems caught in the headlights here
Fauré’s) usher in the rain at the start of Gerhard Siegel ten Christof Fischesser bass David in a way it absolutely isn’t when conveying
‘Il pleure dans mon coeur’. When we Wilson-Johnson spkr Leo van Doeselaar org the realist emotions of the opera house or
reach ‘L’ombre des arbres’, however, Netherlands Radio Choir; Royal Concertgebouw symphony stage. When he sets up the
penumbral brass and woodwind slowly Orchestra / Markus Stenz taut musical machines of ‘Avarice’ and
pull us towards something altogether RCO Live F Í RCO17005 (83’ • DDD/DSD • T/t) ‘Wrath’, Glanert can’t break theatrically
more Expressionist and startling. It suits Recorded live, November 5, 2016 out of them as he is wont. While the
Ticciati’s considered way with Debussy textures might excite, the ultimate journeys
uncommonly well. Everything is disappoint (and, in the case of the sins,
beautifully balanced and clear. Shifts in often sound interchangeable).
colour and texture are carefully teased out, Another month, Despite that, drop the needle at almost
and the underlying sense of erotic regret another attempt any point along this 80-minute journey –
is finely sustained. KoΩena declaims much to reconcile the perhaps not the two Mass movements
of the cycle in a suggestive whisper that at musical tradition named above – and unless you’re the
times verges on mannerism, though there of the Latin concert Mass with an age grumpiest of ideologists you’ll be engaged
are also moments of rapturous lyricism hungry for narrative extras or within seconds. Glanert knows how to pull
and exquisite, hovering pianissimos that postmodernist contradictions. at the ears and the performances here are
take one’s breath away. Detlev Glanert has form when it unfailingly vivid, from the bellicose bass
When he turns to La mer, however, comes to giving an established topos a of Christof Fischesser in ‘Gluttony’ to
Ticciati’s attention to detail occasionally contemporary slant. Requiem for Hieronymus the reptilian intertwining of soprano Aga
impedes the music’s organic flow. The Bosch (2016) is imagined as a process of Mikolaj and mezzo Ursula Hesse von den
opening of ‘De l’aube à midi sur la mer’ judgement taking place immediately after Steinen in ‘Sloth’. What appears to be a

100 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 – uncertain midst of the second Jacobite Samson). Likewise, Peter Harvey’s diction,
another anomaly – is beautifully realised, Rebellion, two months before the decisive vocal suavity and persuasive authority
not least by the rippling fingers of organist battle at Culloden. Newburgh Hamilton are all spot-on. Ben Johnson’s perfect
Leo van Doeselaar. stitched the libretto together from Milton’s enunciation, husky timbre and fulsome
It is good to have a recording of a major paraphrases of the Psalms and various projection remind me of Robert Tear.
work from this ever-colourful composer, writings by Spenser; offering neither The Bavarian Radio Chorus always
not least as it’s unlikely the piece will have dramatic plot nor particularly coherent have plenty of discipline and articulacy,
a life outside Bosch’s anniversary year. allegory, it is a patriotic exposition on the with only rare hints of Teutonic vowels.
But the very idea of one artist passing troubled nation’s hopes that God will save They sing with robust muscle in
judgement on another – even in what is them from perilous opposition. bellicose music, although one of their
effectively a work of fiction – is one more This Munich broadcast is only the finest moments is the lovely choral
way in which Glanert’s Requiem can appear second commercial recording of the work. refrain to the gently consoling ‘Be
a strange and occasionally presumptuous Robert King’s polished account employed wise at length’ (the first half is sung
beast. Andrew Mellor five soloists and incorporated variants from beautifully by Doyle and features
Handel’s later performances, whereas rapturous cello obbligato); the chorus
Handel Howard Arman mostly adheres to the first develops animatedly into the sombre
Occasional Oratorio, HWV62 performance version and uses just three message that averse kings will be bruised
Julia Doyle sop Ben Johnson ten Peter Harvey bar soloists (as Handel did in February 1746). by the iron sceptre, and shall perish like
Bavarian Radio Chorus; Akademie für Alte Musik His unerring pacing and astute shaping scattered sheep. Another extraordinary
Berlin / Howard Arman of details are realised impeccably by the set piece is the verse-anthem-style
BR-Klassik F b 900520 (138’ • DDD • T) Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin: trumpets, ‘To God, our strength, sing loud
Recorded live at the Herkulessaal, Munich, horns and timpani drive the splendid and clear’, which starts with Harvey’s
February 9-11, 2017 Overture with a confident swagger eloquent introduction paired with
(Handel reused it three years later in the trumpet and oboe and concludes with
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P E T E R A D A M I K

Fireworks Music). Julia Doyle sings with a radiant choral outburst alluding
quicksilver suppleness, stylistic acumen cheerfully to timbrel, harp and psaltery.
The Occasional and immaculate communication of the text In Part 3 several key numbers from
Oratorio (1746) (‘Fly from the threat’ning vengeance, fly’ Israel in Egypt are transformed from
was first performed at is unfamiliar fantastic music that Handel rejoicing at liberation from Pharaoh’s
Covent Garden in the based on an addition to the 1745 revival of tyranny into an expression of optimism

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 101


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Champs Hill Records

CHRCD133
FRANZ SCHUBERT:
DER EINSAME
ILKER ARCAYÜREK

ELGAR: The debut recording from current BBC New Generation


Artist, the tenor Ilker Arcayürek, with Simon Lepper, piano.
THE NEW ENGLAND “Schubert and the feeling of solitude have been my companions
for many years. We can find ourselves alone as the result of

CONNECTION 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

CHRCD124

CHRCD129
MENDELSSOHN: BRAHMS: COMPLETE
COMPLETE SONGS VOL.3 PIANO TRIOS AND
Fanny Hensel, ‘The Other QUARTETS
Mendelssohn’ Gould Piano Trio
Chadwick - Symphonic Sketches For this third volume in a The Gould Piano Trio, at the
Elgar - Enigma Variations complete survey of
Mendelssohn songs, Malcolm
forefront of the international
chamber music scene for well
Martineau shines the over twenty years, present
spotlight on ‘the other this 6 CD box-set of the
Mendelssohn’, with a complete Piano Trios and
Andrew Constantine complete volume of songs by Quartets by Brahms. Both
his sister Fanny Hensel. versions of the Piano Trio
BBC National Orchestra of Wales Malcolm Martineau has No.1 are included, plus the
assembled, as always, a cast Sextets arranged for trio, all
of wonderful young singers recorded at The Music Room
for this refreshing and at Champs Hill between 2004
Release date: October 2017 important repertoire. and 2016.

Champs Hill Records


available on CD or for download from all good record shops
& online, or direct from:
www.champshillrecords.co.uk
VOCAL REVIEWS

against the Jacobite threat. The oratorio with filmic passages for strings I suggested in my 2008 review that the
ends with an abridged parody of Zadok (Lamentations) and a throbbing great Trinity Choir possibly lacked the ‘warmth
the Priest, which nearly 20 years earlier Ave Maria, sung by Katarzyna Lakowska. of tone such unashamedly expressive
had accompanied George II’s sacred All remains firmly within the familiar music demands’, but hearing these Polish
anointing as the legitimate king during idiom of the contemporary film score, choristers deliver it with such clarity and
his coronation service. There are but Krzysztof Aleksander Janczak’s precision, I am inclined to revise my
inevitably a few infelicitous imperfections orchestrations bring plenty of textural original opinion and suggest that, if
in this unfiltered live recording but the variety and subtlety, most strikingly the anything, Layton’s performances were a
all-round excellent performance use of two solo ney flutes that add their trifle too warm and indulgent. The Polish
confirms that even the rarest of Handel’s grainy, evocative voices to the orchestra Chamber Choir produce some gloriously
works contain unique stimulations. in ‘The Temple’. agile singing in Beatus vir, Sanctus
David Vickers Will The Covenant have a concert life? Adalbertus. Their clarity of texture and
Comparative version: It’s hard to imagine. But as a musical text is impressive, and their studied lack
King’s Consort, King (6/95) (HYPE) CDA66961/2 testament to 200 years of toil and faith of self-indulgence allows us to relish the
it’s a work of scope and stature. detail of Łukaszewski’s writing on its own
Lorenc Alexandra Coghlan terms. I might not find this disc so
The Covenant (orch Janczak) intensely lovely as I did the Hyperion disc
Katarzyna Laskowska sop Cappella Corale Łukaszewski but I do find its direct, unsentimental
Varsaviana Choir; London Symphony Orchestra / Adoramus te, Christe. Adventgebet. Alleluia. approach equally sincere and moving.
Lee Reynolds Ave Maria. Ave maris stella. Beatus vir, Marc Rochester
Warner Classics F 9029 58459-4 (44’ • DDD • T/t) Sanctus Adalbertus. Beatus vir, Sanctus
Martinus. Five Funeral Kurpian Songs. Mozart . Handel ◊Y
Motette. Nunc dimittis. Pater noster. Handel Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline,
Psalmus 120. Psalmus 129. Regina caeli HWV264 – Symphony Mozart Miserere, K85.
It’s not every day you Polish Chamber Choir / Jan Łukaszewski Ave verum corpus, K618. Requiem, K626
encounter a piece that Warner Classics F 9029 58363-9 (62’ • DDD) Genia Kühmeier sop Elisabeth Kulman contr Julien
has been 225 years in Behr ten Charles Dekeyser bass Salzburg Bach
the making. Composer Choir; Les Musiciens du Louvre / Marc Minkowski
Michaπ Lorenc might only have started Stage director Bartabas
work on this large-scale choral cantata in Paweπ Łukaszewski is Video director Andy Sommer
2015 but the work’s origins stretch a composer for whom C Major Entertainment F ◊ 741808;
back significantly further. choral music is not so F Y 741904 (70’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i •
Premiered at the opening ceremony much an expression of DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s)
of Warsaw’s Temple of Divine profound religious faith as a personal act Recorded live at the Felsenreitschule, Salzburg,
Providence, The Covenant was of Christian worship. He first came to my January 29-31, 2017
commissioned from one of Poland’s attention a decade ago in a Hyperion disc
most celebrated film and television sung by the choir of Trinity College,
composers to mark the fulfilment Cambridge, and directed with almost
of a vow made in 1791 – to build a proselytising zeal by Stephen Layton Here is an unexpected
temple as gratitude to a God who (A/08). I welcome this latest opportunity addition to the massive
had ‘delivered Poland from foreign to revisit this magical blend of richly and ever-expanding
aggression and internal chaos’. Wars, expressive harmonies, neatly woven choral Mozart Requiem
invasions and partitions intervened, and textures and intensely effective handling of discography: a
it wasn’t until 2016 that the building the a cappella medium. performance of the work from the
was finally completed. Only two items from the earlier disc Salzburg Felsenreitschule choreographed
Performed here by the London are duplicated here – Ave Maria and for dancing horses. I must admit that
Symphony Orchestra and Warsaw’s Beatus vir, Sanctus Martinus. Almost I know virtually nothing about horses –
Cappella Corale Varsaviana Choir under everything else on this new disc has as my betting history bears testament –
conductor Lee Reynolds, this multi- been composed in the decade since the but the beasts of the Académie équestre
movement work is very much an occasion Hyperion disc was released, and it shows nationale du domaine de Versailles are
piece, offering a sequence of atmospheric that little has changed in Łukaszewski’s undeniably beautiful, and if the
episodes that seem designed to function stylistic idiom. The latest pieces – combination of sacred masterpieces and
as soundtracks to meditation or Adoramus te, Christe, Pater noster, Alleluia dressage is just what you’ve always wanted,
procession. The first, and substantially the and the simply ravishing Regina caeli, all you will be enraptured. For myself,
longest, is a hymn to the Virgin. A single dating from 2014 – possess the same I struggled to match what I was seeing
male voice (Robert Pożarski) chants the luscious and luminous qualities as the with the words and music, and fear that
lulling, repeating litanies to Mary, while earlier ones. A slightly sharper edge to those less well disposed will find it all
in impossibly delicate increments the the focus seems a direct consequence of faintly absurd.
instruments of the LSO and a wordless conductor Jan Łukaszewski’s businesslike The concert opens with an early
chorus fill out the texture beneath the approach, although unquestionably these Miserere, alternating plainchant with old-
hymn. As a musical metaphor for the Polish choristers have a lighter, less style polyphony, and a single black horse
temple’s long construction it’s potent. involved approach to Łukaszewski’s spinning around on the spot, its rider
The shorter subsequent movements sumptuous sound world than their making odd arm gestures. Then comes an
combine this chanted element (Hymn) English counterparts. interlude for the opening Symphony from

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 103


VOCAL REVIEWS

Handel’s Funeral Anthem, before the should this be surprising – the Palmeri
Requiem, danced by a troupe of white composer’s birthplace, Barczewo, Magnificat
horses wearing black masks, some ridden was then a part of Prussia, so this Aleksandra Turalska sop Agata Schmidt mez
by characters in Klan-style pointed cosmopolitanism was there from the Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi bandoneón
headgear. In the later stages, the riders are start. Echoes of the German tradition Martin Palmeri pf Astrolabium Choir;
replaced by winged skeletons, on which writ large may certainly be heard Capella Bydgostiensis Chamber Orchestra /
one can make no further comment. The (Wagner, Liszt, and a talent for Kinga Litowska
whole closes with the Ave verum, before counterpoint that argues a solid Dux F DUX1343 (46’ • DDD)
rapturous applause and repeated calls for acquaintance with Bach), but in
the corps and cast. his booklet note, Borowicz points
The Miserere bodes ill, with ragged out that later in life Nowowiejski
polyphony and fluffed entries, but the moved in the direction of Szymanowski Martin Palmeri is an
Requiem is well done. The documentation and Roussel. Argentinian composer,
doesn’t let on but we hear the 1989 The work is divided into four ‘scenes’, born in 1965. His
completion by HC Robbins Landon, in presenting Sienkiewicz’s story through only trajectory is curious
which the aborted completion of Eybler is three characters (the Apostle Peter, Ligia from a European perspective, but not so
perferred (where it exists) to the traditional and the commander of the Praetorian much from an Argentinian one: he studied
Süssmayr version. This being Marc Guard): the lion’s share is given to the composition, conducting and singing in
Minkowski, it is a more than decent chorus. There is much bombast and fanfare Argentina and the United States, but his
performance, with some starry soloists in the first two scenes, as they describe the chief inspiration is the Tango Nuevo. His
and finely honed orchestral playing. pomp and ceremony of ancient Rome, best-known work is the Misa a Buenos Aires,
The choreographer is Bartabas, one of finishing with the thrilling ‘Christiani ad but I think that this Magnificat will not lag
the world’s leading trainers of horses for leones!’. The third scene describes the far behind. It depends on having a virtuoso
spectacles such as this. It is well filmed, suffering of the Christians under Nero’s bandoneón player, of course, and that is the
with Les Musiciens and the singers framed persecution and Ligia’s imploring them to case here, with Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi
by the arches of the Felsenreitschule stage’s flee from the city. Here the music becomes doing the honours. The composer himself,
backdrop. And the horses are exquisite. more tender, more mystical, the incidentally, is at the piano.
One for equestrians and the curious. orchestration less dominated by brass, and This kind of ‘crossover’ (that’s not really
David Threasher with some fine writing for the bass soloist the right word, because the composer is at
(Peter, sung by the outstanding Wojtek home in both worlds) depends, inevitably,
Nowowiejski Gierlach) and choir. The organ is also on one or more of the performers being
Quo vadis employed, lending Peter’s exhortation to fluent in the vocabulary of the ‘second
Wioletta Chodowicz sop Robert Gierlach bar his fellow Christians an appropriately world’. In this case that is assured by
Wojtek Gierlach bass Sławomir Kamiński org solemn, liturgical atmosphere. But this is Pietrodarchi and Palmeri; what is much
Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Choir; Poznań only one aspect of the drama, as Peter’s less predictable is a corresponding
Philharmonic Orchestra / Łukasz Borowicz steadfastness becomes apparent, and flexibility from the ‘first world’, that is
CPO F b CPO555 089-2 (95’ • DDD) Nowowiejski takes full advantage of his to say, in this case, classical performers.
Recorded live at the Adam Mickiewicz University, huge forces to underline the instability But such concerns have absolutely no
Poznań, June 29, 2016 of the situation. The soprano soloist (Ligia) foundation here: the orchestra and choir,
has a particularly dramatic and impressive under Kinga Litowska, are more than a
aria, ‘O Panie, nasz świe˛ty przewodniku’, match for the rhythmic swing of the music
outstandingly sung by Wioletta and interact with bandoneón and piano as
Feliks Nowowiejski Chodowicz, and which makes memorable to the manner born. Soprano Aleksandra
(1877-1946) is use of a solo violin. Turalska and mezzo-soprano Agata
hardly a household The final scene moves from the Schmidt are stunning – pure, clear voices
name these days but darkness of the ‘deep, deep, dark entirely in tune (in all senses) with this
at the beginning of the 20th century night’, through the brief but pivotally fascinatingly hybrid work. Let me be
he was considered by many to be the transformative ‘Quo vadis’ aria (to which clear: this is not Missa Criolla meets
most significant Polish composer alive. baritone soloist Robert Gierlach gives Piazzolla; it is something entirely
His massively scored Quo vadis, first his all) to the triumphant final chorus individual, the work of a composer as
performed in its final version in 1909 at foreseeing Peter’s martyrdom, familiar with Bach as he is with Tango.
the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, was culminating in a remarkable double fugue Or even with a more relaxed, lounge-like
the work that put him on the map, and and final chorus of praise and ‘Amen’. kind of music. I can’t think of another
it was performed regularly up to the This is grand oratorio, in the sense that setting of ‘Et misericordia eius’ that
Second World War. The text was Gerontius is; it takes the listener on a mixes supplication with the cocktail bar
originally in German, adapted from dramatic journey in an almost cinematic in quite this way. And it’s not kitsch; it’s
the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz of fashion, made utterly convincing by this entirely convincing, and utterly surprising
the same name (yes, it is that Quo vadis), superb recorded performance. It so at the same time – the ending takes your
but the version recorded here is a happens that there is another excellent breath away!
Polish translation. recording of the work, which uses the If I say that I cannot imagine the work
Nowowiejski studied with Bruch and original German libretto. Which to buy? being used liturgically, that is not to say
Taubert in Regensburg and Berlin, and I would suggest both. Ivan Moody that it does not have another role. This
his music is unquestionably Germanic Comparative version: is powerful, original music, outstandingly
rather than Slavic in character. Nor Mazur PO, Suπkowski (DUX) DUX1327/8 performed. Ivan Moody

104 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 repertoire, though he has all of the needed artist competitions and was named among
‘Der Einsame’ interpretative individuality: without the BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists in
An den Mond, D193. An die Laute, D905. vocal rumble of baritones and basses, the 2015. He maintains a small repertoire of
Abendstern, D806. Am Flusse, D160. Der more exposed tenor instrument demands opera roles but, for the time being, the
Einsame, D800. Frühlingsglaube, D686. Drei that he have a deep emotional presence at intimacy of his voice suggests recital
Gesänge des Harfners, D478-480. Der Jüngling every turn. Mostly, he does. repertoire is where he stands to win the
an der Quelle, D300. Die Liebe hat gelogen D751. Using the song ‘Nachtstück’ as a litmus most devoted audience, especially in a
Meeres Stille, D216. Der Musensohn, D764. test, one hears Ian Bostridge (Wigmore programme such as this, ‘Der Einsame’,
Nachtstück, D672. Nacht und Träume, D827. Hall Live, 8/14) haunted to the bone by which is about solitude, of casting off
Rastlose Liebe, D138. Rosamunde, D797 – death, with individual words tinged by attachments to the temporal world and
Romance ‘Der Vollmond Strahlt auf bitterness, whether he is acting as the embracing the ethereal.
Bergeshöh’n’. Schäfers Klagelied, D121. Der song’s narrator in one stanza or, later in Arcayürek’s reading of the album’s title
Schiffer, D536. Schwanengesang, D744. the song, portraying the elderly, dying song isn’t the mildly comic portrait of
Sehnsucht, D879. Über Wildemann, D884. protagonist who sings himself into the middle-class complacence heard from
Wandrers Nachtlied II, D768 hereafter. The more boyish-sounding Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (DG) but
Ilker Arcayürek ten Simon Lepper pf Matthew Polenzani (Wigmore Hall Live) is somebody who is in refuge from the
Champs Hill F CHRCD133 (68’ • DDD • T/t) full of probing apprehension in confronting outside world. The rest of the programme
the great mystery that is death. The more has its share of hearty songs such as ‘Der
baritonal Peter Gijsbertsen (Phaedra Musensohn’ and even ones that overtax his
Classics) projects tentative hope. But with voice a bit, such as ‘Der Schiffer’. ‘An die
The ever-increasing his long-reaching legato line, Arcayürek Laute’ even comes off rather trivial, but
tenor population in creates a more satisfying journey that goes is effectively sequenced just before the
the Schubert song to the verge of rapture, aided by pianist weighty ‘Nacht und Träume’ that begins
discography reaches Simon Lepper creating eloquent rhetorical the more reflective final leg of the recital.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P AT R I C K A L L E N

a peak of sorts with Ilker Arcayürek’s silences with hushed reverence. Though his German is excellent,
intelligently conceived recital, executed Though his recording career dates Acayürek’s approach to the language is
with vocal freshness and an open-hearted back at least seven years to ‘Weihnachten the polar opposite of the hyper-inflected
quality that recalls the young Nicolai mit dem Mozart Knabenchor Wien’ Bostridge. Arcayürek sings
Gedda and Christoph Prégardien. The (Classic Concert Records), the Istanbul- ‘Schwanengesang’, for example, with the
Italianate richness of his timbre makes him born, Vienna-raised tenor has recently kind of fearless clarity that comes with
a particularly mainstream voice in this distinguished himself in various young minimum vibrato, projecting emotional

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 105


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VOCAL REVIEWS

content with understated inference rather Vladar’s playing is perfectly decent – and But the approach to some of the later
than colouring of individual words. That one would expect nothing less – but lacks numbers – understated, almost strangely
approach is perfect for the following immediacy in a recorded balance that tries objective in tone – might also divide
‘Meeres Stille’, in which his voice conveys to offer his colleague a helping hand. opinion. Boesch keeps both ‘Der
the watery surface with expressively Another disappointment, I’m afraid. stürmische Morgen’ and ‘Mut!’ rather
deployed legato at the bottom of his range Hugo Shirley at arm’s length, while ‘Das Wirtshaus’,
and at hushed volume levels. Lepper’s though wonderfully controlled and hushed,
pristine accompaniment – in a fairly radiant Schubert feels a touch abstract. ‘Der Leiermann’, a
recording acoustic – is an essential partner, Winterreise, D911 whole minute quicker than on the earlier
as is the detailed booklet note by Richard Florian Boesch bar Roger Vignoles pf recording, is resolutely undemonstrative.
Stokes. David Patrick Stearns Hyperion F CDA68197 (71’ • DDD • T/t) Those bowled over by more visceral
approaches such as Jonas Kaufmann’s
Schubert might well feel slightly short-changed.
Schwanengesang, D957 There’s something unusually compelling
Bo Skovhus bar Stefan Vladar pf It’s less than six years and hypnotic, however, about a Winterreise
Capriccio F C5292 (63’ • DDD • T/t) since the release of that seems consciously to underplay the
Florian Boesch’s first tragedy, withholding even the consolation
recording of of a final catharsis.
Winterreise, a widely praised Onyx account It’s an approach, moreover, that raises
I had my problems that set quite a benchmark. This new fundamental questions about how this great
with Bo Skovhus’s version from Hyperion is remarkable for cycle should be performed, of where the
recent Schöne Müllerin both its similarities and its differences. The line between objective presentation and
(7/17), and many of main change, of course, comes in the shape dramatic representation should be drawn.
the same issues, alas, blight his new of Roger Vignoles, whose minutely gauged, I’m still mulling that one over. In the
Schwanengesang. Or, rather, the same infinitely subtle piano-playing (beautifully meantime, though, there’s no question that
primary issue: the dry, worn state of the captured by Hyperion’s engineers, and this is Lieder performance, from both
Danish baritone’s voice. These late songs, especially clear in Studio Master download) Boesch and Vignoles, at the very highest
however, are arguably a better fit for his contrasts with Malcolm Martineau’s more level of sophistication and accomplishment,
once-handsome baritone as it now is. robust, assertive contribution on the and a fascinating, thought-provoking listen.
I resist using the word ‘cycle’, and earlier disc. Hugo Shirley
the disc’s cover is in fact misleading. In several ways, Boesch’s own approach Selected comparisons:
‘Die Taubenpost’ is here positioned hasn’t changed that much. There’s the Boesch, Martineau (3/12) (ONYX) ONYX4077
among the five Seidl settings that come same daring dynamic range, whispers Finley, Drake (4/14) (HYPE) CDA68034
first; then come the Heine settings, giving way to bursts of expressionistic Kaufmann, Deutsch (5/14) (SONY) 88883 79565-2
followed by the Rellstab, into which is intensity. The mellow beauty of the
interpolated ‘Der Herbst’. It’s the same voice is largely unchanged, too, Verdi ◊Y
reordering and expansion as Skovhus although there’s a hardness at louder Messa da Requiem
presented on his 1995 Sony account of volumes, and the sort of honeyed tones Juliana Di Giacomo sop Michelle DeYoung mez
the cycle (10/95) and it’s not a bad idea, Gerald Finley produces in his Hyperion Vittorio Grigolo ten Ildebrando D’Arcangelo bass
meaning that we now end, appropriately recording, for example, are not in Los Angeles Master Chorale; Los Angeles
enough, with ‘Abschied’. Boesch’s armoury. What I notice Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Dudamel
There’s a jarring shift in tone, though, as especially on the new disc is Boesch’s way Video director Michael Beyer
we go from the bustling ‘Bei dir allein’ into with the words: there’s a special lightness – C Major Entertainment F ◊ 741208;
‘Der Atlas’, which then in turn segues though never a levity – that helps keep his F Y 741304 (98’ + 18’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i •
almost immediately into ‘Ihr Bild’. The line unencumbered, allowing for an DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s)
latter is one of the more successful songs, astonishing expressive freedom. Recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles,
though, in which Skovhus’s weary tone is More controversial will be the August 13 & 15, 2013
allied to an eloquent intensity of occasional tendency, now a little more Bonuses: Behind the Scenes; Interview and
expression. Likewise, there’s something to pronounced, to sing some notes with rehearsal with Gustavo Dudamel
be said for the sepulchral atmosphere he unpolished, unsingerly honesty
and Vladar achieve in ‘Die Stadt’, and even (particularly in his hushed ‘Der
the gnarly honesty of their ‘Doppelgänger’. Lindenbaum’, for example) or others
The pair bring a nice springiness to ‘Der almost absent-mindedly (as at ‘das heisse If any Requiem is
Abschied’, too. Weh’ at the end of the first verse of going to be suitable
But the desiccated sound of Skovhus’s ‘Wasserflut’ – 0'45"). I remain slightly for performance in the
baritone constantly gets in the way of unconvinced, too, about his halting way 15,000-seat Hollywood
enjoyment – he can occasionally put with parts of ‘Die Wetterfahne’. Bowl, then I suppose it’s
some flesh on the bones in the middle But otherwise it’s difficult not simply Verdi’s – famously operatic, by a composer
of the register, but it peters out at the to marvel at the interpretative skill on famous for having an ambivalent attitude
bottom of the range and thins at the show: listen to the gradual turning of the towards formal religion. And Gustavo
top. Nor has he really come up with a screw in ‘Die Krähe’, for example, the Dudamel has gone for a relatively broad,
compelling interpretative strategy to tangible sense of being weighed down in leisurely approach that one suspects
compensate, beyond an emphatic way ‘Einsamkeit’ or the masterful delineation offered a big enough picture of the piece
with the words. of moods of ‘Frühlingstraum’. for those in the furthest reaches of

gramophone.co.uk 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

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 secure and often moving in the soprano
and cicadas. solos and mezzo Michelle DeYoung makes
A booklet essay talks of his maturation a characteristically impassioned partner for
since tackling the piece four years earlier her. Vittorio Grigolo is in very good voice This enjoyable
in Oslo (this performance was in fact filmed but his delivery is lumpy and overwrought. recording, the first
in 2013) and this manifests itself in a Ildebrando D’Arcangelo does a good job of an intended series
restrained platform manner – a certain underpinning it all, but with a voice – more on music in Baltic
stiffness, nervousness even. There’s Figaro than Filippo – that can’t quite countries, presents a series of Lutheran
patience, too, and a sense of searching out muster the necessarily sepulchral tone. cantatas written in late 17th-century and
the spiritual ahead of the merely dramatic. The Los Angeles Master Chorale make 18th-century Danzig (the German name
The opening Kyrie is steady, the Sanctus an impressive sound and the Los Angeles for Gdańsk) by some of its leading church
deliberate and the ‘Lacrimosa’ actually Philharmonic play with luxurious tone – composers, all of whose names are new to
rather slow. The ‘Dies irae’ is grandly listen out for the fine work from the winds, me: the oldest, JV Meder, died in 1719,
implacable as well as fiery, and there’s the bassoons in particular. Hugo Shirley and the youngest, JBC Freislich and
a genuinely touching tenderness to the Selected comparison: JD Pucklitz, died in 1774. In between
‘Libera me’, although the fugal section Scala, Karajan (1/06) (DG) ◊ 073 4055GH comes JJ du Grain (d1756), represented by
feels a little bit sluggish to me. Those a single cantata, Hertzlich lieb hab ich dich.
used to Toscanini or, more recently, ‘Baroque Cantatas This is perhaps the thinnest offering here
Muti in this score will find Dudamel from Gdańsk’ (its more pathetic accents seem pasted
short on incisiveness and drive. Adjust Freislich Das ist meine Freude. Gott ist die Liebe. on); the others are more accomplished
your expectations, however, and this is Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt Grain Hertzlich and offer more scope for choir, soloists and
in many ways an impressively cohesive lieb hab ich dich o Herr Meder Singet, lobsinget ensemble. Meder’s Singet, lobsinget evokes
and imposing reading. The same booklet mit Hertzen und Zungen Pucklitz Ich will in a festive atmosphere most economically,
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A U G U S TA Q U I R K

note invokes Karajan, and there are some allen Sachen. Kehre wieder and the more extensive selections from
similarities in terms of tempo, if not yet Marie Smolka sop Franziska Gottwald contr Freislich and Pucklitz show a decent
the older conductor’s iron grip. Hermann Oswald ten Markus Flaig bass stylistic range and agreeable invention
Karajan’s famous La Scala film, of Goldberg Vocal Ensemble; Goldberg Baroque (Freislich’s short Das ist meine Freude has
course, features a matchless quartet of Ensemble / Andrzej Szadejko an effective obligato trumpet part and
soloists. Dudamel’s singers are not on that Dabringhaus und Grimm F Í MDG902 1989-6 Pucklitz’s Ich will in allen Sachen a graceful
level, but Julia Di Giacomo is technically (66’ • DDD/DSD • T) one for bassoon).

gramophone.co.uk 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 Locke How doth the city sit solitary speaking, when Lawes does so himself
qualities; ‘workmanlike’ may sound like Tomkins O God, the proud are risen against me. (again, Psalm 22, the most substantial
damning with faint praise but I mean it Sad Pavan for These Distracted Times work recorded here, is a conspicuous
here entirely positively. Perhaps more Wilson My God, my King, incline thine ear success). The choral selections and
might have been made of the menacing The Ebor Singers / Paul Gameson sections fare best; the soloists (mostly
opening section of Pucklitz’s Kehre wieder, Resonus F RES10194 (77’ • DDD • T) drawn from among the lower voices)
which presages (however briefly) a more could be fleeter of voice and surer of
troubling atmosphere. The choir is tone, and there’s a slight mismatch
stretched a bit further in his Ich will in allen between their vocal style and the tone
Sachen, though this is not unduly troubling. William Lawes is of the vocal ensemble. The latter rightly
Each of the soloists, finally, makes at least better known for his throws caution to the wind in the defiant
one telling contribution. instrumental music round See how Cawood’s dragon looks;
The sound recording is worthy of than for vocal music, more such confidence would have
Dabringhaus und Grimm’s usual standard, and his brother Henry’s reputation today served equally well throughout – it’s
though the absence of an English rests principally on his songs. This recital a quality which William Lawes seems
translation of the texts is regrettable. of Carolinian sacred music offers a focused to have possessed in abundance.
Fabrice Fitch look at the pair in a largely unfamiliar Fabrice Fitch
setting, with (this being from The Ebor
‘Music for Troubled Times’ Singers) a significant nod in the direction ‘Nature and the Soul’
Byrd O Lord, make thy servant Charles of the Siege of York in 1644. One might Dārziņš The Broken Pines. Long Ago.
Child O Lord God, the heathen are come not expect to find William at his most Moonbeams Graubiņš Night has entered the
into thine inheritance Hutchinson Behold daring in music of this sort, and in truth forest Melngailis Doomsday. Gently, slowly.
how good and joyful a thing is Jeffreys How not all the music here is top-notch (the Latvian Requiem. Move gently and quietly.
wretched is the state H Lawes A Funeral setting of Psalm 6, for instance). But at its Nature and the Soul. The Sun is Setting Vītols
Anthem W Lawes Music, the master of thy art best there’s much to enjoy: the setting of David Before Saul. The Day is Ending. The
is dead. Psalm 6, ‘Lord, in thy wrath reprove Psalm 22 is more successful, and every Dwarves and the Old Man of the Forest. The
me not’. Psalm 18, ‘O God, my strength and now and then a recognisable gesture will Enchanted Forest. The King and the Mushroom.
fortitude’. Psalm 22, ‘O God, my God’. Psalm 67, leap out at those who know his consort The Moon Lied. The Sun’s Revelry Zālītis The
‘Have mercy on us, Lord’. Psalm 100, music well. Goblet on the Isle of the Dead
‘All people that on earth do dwell’. See These committed and sympathetic Latvian Radio Choir / Kaspars Putniņš
how Cawood’s dragon looks performances take wing, generally LMIC/SKANI F 054 (59’ • DDD • T/t)

110 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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
This album takes us to the first Liepāja Symphony Orchestra,
Marta Sudraba (cello), Atvars Lakstīgala (conductor)
decades of the 20th century
LATVIAN SONGS
when Latvian music, like that Egils Siliņš (bass-baritone), Māris Skuja (piano)
of the other smaller Northern Art Songs by Jāzeps Vītols, Emīls Dārziņš,
Alfrēds Kalniņš, Emilis Melngailis a.o.
European nations, reached its
prime. Latvian romantic choral
BORN IN 1906. DĀRZIŅŠ. IVANOVS
music, enriched by symbolism Volfgangs Dārziņš. Piano Concerto No. 2.
and Art Nouveau ideas, saw Jānis Ivanovs. Symphony No. 20
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra,
its golden era then and the Reinis Zariņš (piano), Andris Poga (conductor)
level attained by Latvia’s choirs
NORTHWIND
today is inconceivable without Latvian Woodwind Quintets
this foundation. 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
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
Deutsche Hofmusik make an accomplished case for reconstructions of lost Bach works horns, driving kicks from the timpani,
fizzing orchestra and intricate choral
ontreal Baroque and Eric Milnes torment awaiting the avaricious, Milnes polyphony; the cantata also includes

M 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
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
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
hypothesis that Bach customarily used Mens presents three cantatas composed to invigorating effect – much more
vocal ‘concertists’ to sing all music for for the Weimar court chapel (the vividly than the boxy organs normally
their voice type (choral and solo). A few Himmelsburg) during the mid-1710s. used in this repertoire. The dramatic
first impressions of the sixth instalment Plaintive solo oboe and strings exploit minor-key fugal chorus that launches
alarmed me: the little five-part string emotive dissonances in the sinfonia to Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
sinfonia that begins Christ lag in Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (No 12). (No 126) petitions God to spare
Todesbanden (Cantata No 4) is packed Four concertists’ arched phrasing righteous Protestants from the dual
with an extraordinary density of carefully manipulates each suspension threats of the Turkish and the Pope;
mannerisms, and there is a jarring in the evocation of weeping, and overall solo trumpet fanfares, pungent oboes,
mistake by one of the violas da gamba the four singers create a real sense of assertive strings and disciplined choir
in the first bar of the Actus tragicus ‘choral’ sustained phrases, broad convey a potent balance of robust
(No 106). It turns out that otherwise sonorities and precise diction – fervour and wily fluency. Rademann
Eric Milnes’s direction from the organ though not every moment has perfect conducts a spry account of the short
is efficaciously poignant. The elaborate intonation in the upper voice parts. Mass in G major (BWV236), although
opening chorus of Es ist das Heil uns Thomas Hobbs’s mellifluous navigation the tenors and basses are slightly
kommen her (No 9), featuring oboe of florid high passages in ‘Sei getreu, anonymous in the Gloria (parodied from
d’amore and flute, neatly juxtaposes alle Pein’ confirms that he has evolved the opening chorus of Cantata No 79
a dancelike pulse, fizzing rhythmical into a Bach tenor of distinction. Olivier but without horns and timpani; it is
complexity and harmonic sophistication. Spilmont directs from the keyboard with fascinating to hear both versions on
Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister (No 181) an affinity for richly layered emotional the same disc). Carus provides an
begins with a dramatic bass aria that rhetoric; he chooses Bach’s additional excellent booklet essay by Henning
dramatically illustrates the folly of recorders from the 1724 Leipzig Bey on Bach as a reformer of Lutheran
frivolous spirits that deny God’s Word revision of Gleichwie der Regen und church music – although I wish the
(sung superbly by Drew Santini); and, Schnee vom Himmel fällt (No 18) – publisher would abandon its usual
during an agitated tenor aria warning a decision that transforms the policy of abridging its notes for the
about the harmful thorns and hellish original scoring for four violas English translation.

112 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

There is also admirable scholarship


from Alexander Grychtolik, whose
specialism is speculative scholarly This is a collection The face of
reconstructions of lost Bach works. of Latvian choral Martin Luther
All that survives of Erwählte Pleissenstadt music selected in stares out from
(Cantata No 216a) is a rough draft of honour of the the cover of this
the words, written out by Bach’s pupil centenary of the independence of Latvia. latest disc from the Choir of Clare
Meissner. Two solo singers play the As conductor Kaspars Putnin, ≈ says in College, Cambridge, but not as we
parts of Apollo (tenor Daniel Johannsen) his introductory note: ‘The majority of know it. Lucas Cranach’s famous portrait
and Mercury (countertenor Franz Latvian conductors have probably grown is distorted, fragmented and intersected
Vitzthum), their panegyric remarks up with these songs whose imagery, into Matthias Koeppel’s neo-Cubist
making explicit the glory and prosperity sound and colour are deeply encoded Luther. The Reformation-themed works
of Leipzig; they sing together and in our consciousness … Working on included here may attempt nothing so
individually with arresting shapeliness this album, I have felt as if I am writing radical but the historical long view that
in praise of how the city on the river a love letter.’ pairs Bach cantatas with not only
Pleisse gleams contentedly above all It sounds that way. One is gripped Mendelssohn and Brahms but also
other great cities of classical antiquity. by the very first track, the atmospheric, Vaughan Williams makes for an equally
The substantial solo soprano cantata insistent prophecy that is ‘Senatne’ interesting shift of perspective.
O angenehme Melodei (No 210a) is an (‘Long Ago’) by Emı̄ls Darzin, ≈ (1875- You only have to look down the names
exposition on the virtues of music that 1910), every nuance of which is captured of the soloists – Mary Bevan, Robin
was designed in homage to Duke by the Latvian Radio Choir. Did they Blaze, Nicholas Mulroy, Neal Davies –
Christian of Saxe-Weissenfels on the weep while recording the second song and the members of Clare Baroque, led
occasion of his visit to Leipzig in 1729. by Darzin, ≈, ‘Mēness staro stı̄go’ by Margaret Faultless and including the
Only a printed libretto and the soprano (‘Moonbeams’)? I did. They sing likes of Katharina Spreckelsen and
part survive but most of the music of the with every fibre of their being. Stephen Farr, to get a sense of the
arias (not recitatives) can be reconstructed There is, in fact, something quality on offer here. The instrumental
from their later parodies in the wedding extraordinary about Latvian choirs: they playing is, well, pretty faultless, whether
cantata O holder Tag, erwünschte Zeit sing as though their very lives depend on in Rachel Chaplin’s introspective oboe
(No 210). Grychtolik conjectures that it, and when they are singing Latvian da caccia in Bach’s Ein feste Burg ist unser
the soloist was none other than Anna music their immediate connection with Gott or the characterful brass-playing in
Magdalena Bach, who before her the language makes this even more Gott der Herr ist Son und Schild.
marriage had been a court singer at apparent. There is both Nordic clarity The choir themselves, conducted by
Weissenfels. Katja Stuber’s pure-toned and Slavic profundity to be heard in the music director Graham Ross, bring all
singing and unaffected delivery of the sound of a Latvian choir, and there is their customary precision and purity to
poetry is creditable throughout all five also what I might call a poetic sense, an the Bach, but it’s once they arrive at the
contrasting arias, most notably a restful instinctive knowledge of how to phrase. later repertoire – Brahms’s Warum ist
description of music as a panacea for All this is beautifully, movingly evident da Licht gegeben?, Mendelssohn’s Wer
all ills (a message supported by lovely on this disc. All five of the composers nur den lieben Gott lässt walten and
concertante violin- and oboe d’amore- recorded here are outstanding but what Vaughan Williams’s Lord, thou hast
playing). The pleasure afforded by stays with me is the music by Darzin, ≈ been our refuge – that they really come
Deutsche Hofmusik’s accomplished and the wonderful, disturbing ‘Bik, eris into their own. Faced with the busy
performances is diminished modestly miron, u salā’ (‘The Goblet on the Isle of counterpoint of movements like the
by the heavily reverberant church the Dead’) by Jānis Zalı̄tis. At all events, opening chorus of Ein feste Burg, these
acoustic swamping the singers. this is a celebration of Latvian choral young voices in comparatively small
More miscellaneous Bach on page 96 music that should not be missed. numbers get a bit diffuse and we lose
As Putnin, ≈ also writes, ‘Many returns the vertical clarity.
of the day, dear Latvia!’ Ivan Moody But the darker-hued Brahms glows
THE RECORDINGS with love and care, its extended opening
‘Reformation 1517-2017’ movement shaped with an eye to sonic
JS Bach Cantatas, Vol 6 JS Bach Cantatas – No 79, Gott der Herr ist drama, and the Vaughan Williams
Montreal Baroque / Milnes Sonn und Schild; No 80, Ein feste Burg ist balances its solo and choral forces to
ATMA Classique F ACD2 2406 unser Gott Brahms Warum ist das Licht striking effect, pacing this slow-burn
JS Bach ‘La Cité Céleste’ gegeben, Op 74 No 1 Croft O God, our help in anthem so that when we arrive at the
Ensemble Alia Mens / Spilmont ages past Cruger Now thank we all our God final iteration of William Croft’s great
Paraty F PARATY916157 Luther Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott. Mit Fried tune with trumpet and organ there’s
und Freud ich fahr dahin Mendelssohn a real sense of ecstasy and release –
P H O T O G R A P H Y: W O L F G A N G F R A N K

JC Bach Cantatas Nos 79 & 126, etc Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten faith finally rewarded.
Gächinger Cantorey / Rademann Neumark Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt Alexandra Coghlan
Carus F CARUS83 311 walten Vaughan Williams Lord, thou hast
JS Bach ‘Angenehme Melodei’ been our refuge Find your
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge;
Deutsche Hofmusik / Grychtolik music on
DHM F 88985 41052-2 Clare Baroque / Graham Ross
www.qobuz.com
Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2265 (73’ • DDD • T/t)

gramophone.co.uk 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

A
ccording to Günter Wand, and, lest it be forgotten, with the same Wand made famously exigent demands
‘The older you get, the clearer NDR Symphony Orchestra that for rehearsal time. No matter how familiar
your vision of perfection’. We Furtwängler conducted in a one-off the orchestra was with him, or with his
might then hope to find some ideal performance of the symphony in October repertoire’s ever-decreasing circle of late-
representations of the music closest to 1951. Memories of that occasion seem Classical and Romantic symphonies, at least
the conductor in this box of live to stir in the orchestra’s collective 15 hours was a contractual minimum. His
recordings made during the last 20 years unconscious, in the piercing wind-band and use of that time focused on minutiae of
of his life. For the last half of his career, full-tilt brass and timpani. There is no attack, timing and articulation. Whatever
Wand was a ‘one-label’ conductor, turning aside to smell the flowers in the the chosen tempo, there isn’t a sluggish or
faithful to RCA, who hung the third movement – even Thielemann (DG, routinely played bar of music in this box.
microphones in the Musikhalle in 11/14) is more graceful here – and you may Interviewed for the documentary, NDR
Hamburg, and then the Philharmonie in find other expected moments of relaxation members recalled how Wand always came
Berlin, at ever-decreasing intervals, keen hard to come by. So, it would appear, did to the first rehearsal with a finished concept
to pass on some further refinement of Wand, unless with cigar or high-end claret of the work in his head. The details would
those visions to his eager public in in hand. Dolce and grazioso were not natural be discussed with the front-desk players
Germany, the UK and (especially) Japan. adornments to Wand’s expressive while the players at the back (in their words)
The wallets being unnumbered, and the vocabulary. The contrasts lie between had a tea party. All the same, rehearsals were
discs inside them arranged in no obvious degrees of tension. hard and nerve-wracking: German
order, the box lacks the kind of guiding orchestras are accustomed to move through
structural hand which would have borne Bruckner finales were a the gears, whereas Wand required that idea
the imprint of its subject. In one sense it become reality there and then.
begins with an outlier, the Chicago SO challenge relished and Seeing him at work in concert, you could
Brahms First from January 1989. The mostly met triumphantly be more certain than with any of his
performance is commonly known as his colleagues that what you heard was all that
US debut, yet I can trace no record of any The set makes no pretence at Wand had in mind. A Bruckner Eighth
subsequent American engagements. ‘Firmly comprehensiveness. How could it, when with the BBC SO in 1992 stands out in the
in the mainstream of interpretation,’ Profil has documented Wand’s latterday memory as a tragedy of epic scale and
remarked Will Crutchfield in his New York work with other ensembles in Berlin, concentration. Its ineluctable tread is
Times concert review, ‘neither novel nor Munich and elsewhere? Nonetheless, recaptured here not by the storied Lübeck
particularly old-fashioned, nor even several omissions and missed opportunities Cathedral NDR Eighth of 1987, nor the
especially assertive, except in its assertion draw attention to themselves. The late 2002 Gramophone Award-winning climax of
that playing the symphony very well symphonies of Mozart and Tchaikovsky, in his late-flowering relationship with the
could be a fruitful and joyous enterprise.’ live RCA recordings from the 1990s, would Berlin Philharmonic, but the plainer, more
Just so, though I also hear recovered a have put flesh on the bones of this portrait angular cast of the 1993 NDR performance
Furtwänglerian model for the symphony, of Wand. So would the film documentary at the Musikhalle.
especially in the memorial-style Andante released by RCA in 2004 – ‘My Life, My All the same, mediated through
turned Adagio, and the dizzying poles of the Music’ – which contains a full account of microphones, mixing desks and speakers,
finale’s alternating tempi, when all Brahms the last interview he gave (to the ever- uncertainty creeps in. Did Wand really
has marked is più animato. By comparison faithful Wolfgang Seifert), originally intend his NDR Bruckner Sixth in 1988 to
with Andris Nelsons, 30 years on and 1000 excerpted in the booklet of the final blare and hector so? Possibly not, for his
miles away in Boston (and reviewed last Schubert Fifth/Bruckner Fourth set. return to the symphony, seven years later
month), Wand gets more. More strings, Anyone expecting a booklet in the present but with the same orchestra in the same
more force, more brass, more Brahms. box will be disappointed. The discs are hall, is a more muted affair – so much so
In 1996, back in Hamburg, Wand enclosed within original-sleeve artwork, that Richard Osborne (10/96) was left at a
remade all four Brahms symphonies. Every unnumbered, and not all bearing technical loss: ‘I am no longer entirely clear how
bar of the later First lives in the moment – data such as producer, venue or even date. Wand views the symphony. The newer

114 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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
Günter Wand’s rehearsal demands were legendary, but extensive preparation gave us some truly great performances Brahms. ‘It was a thing of wonder: All he
did was play the music just like this.’ What
version comes almost as a rebuke to its Bruckner finales were an intellectual and could be seen in Tokyo and London – frail
distinguished predecessor.’ executive challenge relished and mostly met and gaunt of physique, an implacable beat,
Wand was partial to the grand statement. triumphantly by Wand. In its gruff way, a left hand firing off red letters – bore scant
(One little gem from the documentary: even the cut-and-paste 1889 version of the resemblance to what was heard, which on
‘Vain people are so dreadful. Vanity is one Third comes together at this point. He closer examination admitted all manner of
of the most despicable vices.’ This from a never quite came to terms with the more easings and quickenings. Even at that late
man who reputedly stipulated a particular rounded contours of the Seventh – which he stage he introduced a small but telling
brand of English toiletries in his rider.) ‘So conducted less often than any other mature accelerando to the ostinato figure which
und nicht anders’ was another absolutist Bruckner – whereas the quadruple fugue of takes over the Ninth’s Adagio, and wrung
motto he was happy to adopt, and it the Fifth’s finale found Wand in his even more agony out of the dissonant
became the title for Seifert’s biography: element. Both Hamburg (1989) and Berlin wreckage left over from the movement’s
This way and no other. (I did it my way?) (1996) recordings are magnificent, but if I climatic chord.
One lesson to be learnt from the box is chose a single movement from the box to One of the better April Fool’s on the
how much ‘this way’ could evolve. He introduce Wand’s aesthetic to a friend, it internet concerns a spoof set of five
originally used the phrase while defining would be the Fifth’s Adagio from Berlin. Bruckner Ninths released by RCA after the
tempo relationships in Schubert’s Great The pace ideally flowing but sober, the oboe conductor’s death in February 2001 – three
C major Symphony. Whether in Hamburg given acoustic space to pipe his lonely make it into this box – with a putative
(1991) or Berlin (1995), his traditional song – Bruckner at his most Berliozian – the booklet note by a distinguished Gramophone
misreading of the alla breve introduction is close discreet and chaste. contributor. ‘Wand had actually planned to
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

(along with Boult’s) the most nobly For all their executive refinement of make nine Ninth recordings in all, forming
persuasive on record, but in Hamburg the detail (particularly notable in the first six a sort of 9 x 9 palindrome that would have
slow movement’s coda collapsed like a Beethoven symphonies, which easily embodied the nine states of consciousness
wounded boar in the Black Forest, part outclass the earlier studio recordings), the engendered by this great, mystical work.’
Furtwängler Eroica, part Erwartung; the NDR performances are cut from rougher Would that it were so.
trio became a Larghetto; the finale stone. A lumbering Allegro to open
descended at points into a cathartic but Schubert’s Third is followed by an THE RECORDING
coarse stomp. In Berlin, the symphony Allegretto rivalling Carlos Kleiber for fleet Günter Wand Live
more aptly resembles a day in the life of an songfulness. The risks Wand takes in Various orchestras / Günter Wand
Alpine valley, pulsing with benign life at Berlin are of a different order. Out of three RCA Red Seal S (33 discs)
every stage of development. Bruckner Fourths, it’s again the middle 8898 543585-2

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 115


Opera
Hugo Shirley hears a fine account Mike Ashman on Domingo’s latest
of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale: baritone role, Verdi’s Macbeth:
‘The playing is superb, with the ‘The costumes provide the sort of non-specific
twittering singsong of many solo lines medievalism you might have seen in your last
strikingly alive’ REVIEW ON PAGE 121 school production’ REVIEW ON PAGE 123

Bellini palace in disguise to overthrow him and


Bianca e Gernando discovers his unwitting sister, Bianca, is
Silvia Dalla Benetta sop............................................. Bianca about to become Filippo’s bride. Things
Maxim Mironov ten ..............................................Gernando kick off in the usual bel canto fashion until This recording of La
Luca Dall’Amico bass ..................................................... Carlo Carlo is released from his cell and the descente d’Orphée aux
Vittorio Prato bar .......................................................... Filippo tyrant is ousted. Enfers, Charpentier’s
Zong Shi bass.............................................................Clemente The young Bellini had wanted to two-act operatic
Marina Viotti mez .....................................................Viscardo push compositional boundaries but felt fragment dating from the mid-1680s,
Gheorghe Vlad ten ......................................................Uggero he needed to hang on to such elements eloquently brings to life the circumstances
Mar Campo mez .............................................................. Eloisa as crowd-pleasing cabalettas to keep of the first, private performance in the
Camerata Bach Choir, Poznań; audiences happy. The stylish music Paris townhouse of the Duchesse de Guise.
Virtuosi Brunensis / Antonino Fogliani nevertheless turned critical heads, despite Sébastien Daucé has replicated the forces
Naxos M b 8 660417/18 (117’ • DDD) Gilardoni’s lumpen libretto (which you can indicated in the score. The rather more
Recorded live at the Trinkhalle, Bad Wildbad, access in Italian only via Naxos’s website – sumptuous-sounding staged performance
Germany, July 15 & 23, 2016 not good enough, Naxos). Bellini’s score, mounted by the Boston Early Music
Includes synopsis; Italian libretto available from done and dusted in a fraction under two Festival in 2013, issued on CPO the
naxos.com hours, is attractive if hardly memorable, following year, employed only one extra
the highlights being Bianca’s plaintive singer and two oboes, played in turn by
Act 2 Romanza, an extended duet for the recorder players.
brother and sister and a decent prison Both recordings are vocally superb,
Here’s an operatic scene for Carlo. Taken from the autograph though to my ear the singers of the
‘first’ from the Rossini score housed in Catania’s Bellini Museum, Ensemble Correspondances have the edge,
in Wildbad festival the original version has no overture and Caroline Arnaud’s performance in the
which isn’t by the several cabalettas are different from the role of Proserpina tipping the balance.
Swan of Pesaro himself. Bianca e Gernando revised opera. The opera ends with a Charpentier’s vocal ensembles, in
was Bellini’s first professional opera (after trio and chorus rather than the 1828 particular, are enchantingly beautiful and
his student work Adelson e Salvini, recently scena for Bianca. the variety of ways in which he combines
resuscitated by Opera Rara, 5/17). Its 1826 Antonino Fogliani leads an efficient and contrasts them always supports the
premiere was cancelled at the last minute account of the score, not always in brilliant dramatic pacing.
and eventually given a few months later, sound, with intrusive ‘bravo man’ in the Instrumentally, however, the polished
headed by Henriette Méric-Lalande and audience sounding louder than some of the forces of the BEMF deliver a more
Giovanni Battista Rubini in the title-roles. singers. Russian tenor Maxim Mironov is nuanced performance, such that even the
Bellini revised it two years later as Bianca e the pick of the crop as Gernando, a light purist will concede that the occasional use
Fernando (1828) when, after the success at tenor with an attractive ping to his upper of oboes genuinely improves the ensemble
La Scala of Il pirata, he was commissioned notes. Bianca is sung by Silvia Dalla sonority. It may, in fact, be a decision
by Genoa but had little time to write a Benetta, a soprano who has forged an made in the recording studio that allowed
new opera. The revised version has been unremarkable career in provincial Italian Ensemble Correspondances’ recorders to
previously released but this is the premiere houses and a Wildbad regular. Her tone sound quite so shrill. Tempo and phrasing
recording of Bellini’s first thoughts. is a little pallid with a squally top. Vittorio are also at issue. The instrumental
The opera is based on Carlo Roti’s Prato’s sturdy baritone does well as ritournelle in track 6 (reprised at the end of
Bianca e Fernando alla tomba di Carlo IV, Filippo, who gets some jolly music to track 9) is taken at a fantastic lick that is at
duca di Agrigento. Bellini and librettist sing considering he’s the villain, while odds with the dramatic mood it is intended
Domenico Gilardoni had to change the Luca Dall’Amico’s unfocused bass is a to support (quicker, too, than in the BEMF
name to Gernando because Ferdinando disappointment as Carlo. One for Bellini version). Elsewhere, especially in the
was the name of the heir to the throne at completists only, I fear. Mark Pullinger passages for three bass viols associated with
the time and therefore couldn’t be used Orphée’s pleas for the return of Euridice,
on a royal stage. The plot concerns the M-A Charpentier the phrasing is often foursquare; the
dastardly Filippo (a baritone, needless to La descente d’Orphée aux Enfers interpretation of these passages by BEMF’s
say), who has imprisoned Carlo, Duke of Ensemble Correspondances / Sébastien Daucé players offers a masterclass in how to
Agrigento, and usurped the throne. Years Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2279 (55’ • DDD) contour the sound of the ensemble to the
later, Carlo’s son Gernando returns to the Includes libretto and translation mood and quality of the voice of Orpheus.

116 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 an American family given to treating frequent large leaps across consonant
that both recordings are well worth owning the super-sensuous world of ghosts with intervals, tends to the monotonous.
and revisiting for the sheer delight of pragmatic litigiousness, patent medicines The orchestra responds mainly with
Charpentier’s music. Julie Anne Sadie and miracle cleansers and lubricants. expostulation – harpsichord tremolos,
Selected comparison: Gordon Getty’s opera based on the tale a piano glissando and emphatic passages
O’Dette, Stubbs (9/14) (CPO) CPO777 876-2 uses much of Wilde’s text verbatim but with strings in unison or parallel with other
comes across more like the standard instruments. But there are a few more
Getty Gothic drama that Wilde was satirising. elaborately and more effectively composed
The Canterville Ghost The humour is all there on the page, and scenes, including scene 6, in which the
Alexandra Hutton sop.............................................. Virginia perhaps on stage the slapstick indignities happy family strategises about how to deal
Jean Broekhuizen mez ...........................................Mrs Otis directed at Wilde’s hapless ghost register with their unwelcome cohabitant at
Denise Wernly mez..... First Twin/First Boy/First Voice as farce. On recording, however, it feels as breakfast, and scene 19, which reprises
Rachel Marie Hauge mez ........................................................ if the singers are trying to project comedy some of the same material.
..........................Second Twin/Second Boy/Second Voice in the musical spirit of Owen Wingrave or The works builds to a tender and
Timothy Oliver ten .......................................Cecil Cheshire The Turn of the Screw. wistful romantic-comedy conclusion, with
Jonathan Michie bar ...........................................Hiram Otis Getty, now in his eighties, is the pleasing strophic passages and a fine duet
Anooshah Golesorkhi bar ............................... Canterville billionaire son of J Paul Getty but has for two of the cast’s best singers, soprano
Matthew Treviño bass ......................... Ghost (Sir Simon) evolved into a serious composer with a Alexandra Hutton and tenor Timothy
Leipzig Opera; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / particular affinity for opera. The Canterville Oliver. Bass Matthew Treviño is
Matthias Foremny Ghost was premiered in Leipzig in 2015, on also effective as the churlish but not
Pentatone F Í PTC5186 541 (62’ • DDD/DSD) a double bill with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. unsympathetic Sir Simon, who feels
Includes synopsis and libretto The composer crafted his own libretto obliged to haunt Canterville Chase
for the work, adding an opening scene in with professionalism and consummate
which the young couple – the American theatrical integrity.
ingénue Virginia and her eager aristocratic Matthias Foremny conducts the Leipzig
Despite its suitor the Duke of Cheshire – are seen Opera and Gewandhaus forces effectively,
conventionally many decades later, speaking to their great- though one wishes that the musicians had
sentimental grandchildren. The rest of the story is told more to do. Getty has created a lean, fast-
conclusion, most in flashback. moving, vocal-friendly theatre piece, but it
of Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost is Getty’s musical language is conservative could sparkle a lot more than it does.
a laugh-out-loud satire on the foibles of but colourful, but his text-setting, with Philip Kennicott

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 117


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OPERA REVIEWS

Gounod ◊Y page note to discuss the director’s concept, was concerned with the conflict between
Faust reprinted here in EuroArts’ booklet. personal advantage and public duty,
Piotr Beczała ten .............................................................. Faust Therefore, you can learn that the organ then Attilio Regolo was an opera seria
Maria Agresta sop ...............................................Marguerite pipes descending to spear the stage and par excellence. With its grim ending,
Ildar Abdrazakov bass ...........................Méphistophélès entrap Marguerite are, apparently, Metastasio doubted it would be taken up by
Alexey Markov bar....................................................Valentin ‘Almighty God in the form of a pin many others, as his librettos generally were,
Tara Erraught mez .........................................................Siébel cushion’. If directors need nine pages of and indeed only three further versions are
Paolo Rumetz bar .......................................................Wagner programme notes to explain their concept, known. But Hasse became his favourite
Marie-Ange Todorovitch mez .............................. Marthe what hope has the casual viewer of composer and went on to set many more
Vienna Philharmonia Choir; Vienna Philharmonic penetrating their ideas? of his texts.
Orchestra / Alejo Pérez Thankfully, musical standards are The action, such as it is, concerns the
Stage director Reinhard von der Thannen high, the Wiener Philharmoniker playing efforts of the other characters to persuade
Video director Tiziano Mancini urgently for Argentinian conductor Alejo Regolo to change his mind. There is a love
EuroArts F b ◊ 209 7038; F Y 209 7034 Pérez. He has a fine cast at his disposal, interest, of sorts: Attilia, Regolo’s daughter,
(3h’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & headed by Piotr Beczała in pristine voice as is mutually in love with the tribune Licinio;
PCM stereo • 0 • s) Faust, his beautifully smooth tenor perfect Amilcare, the Carthaginian ambassador, is
Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, August 2016 for French repertoire. Ildar Abdrazakov mutually in love with Barce, who is also
Includes synopsis lacks a little of the devilish bass darkness loved by Publio, Regolo’s son. But there
as Méphistophélès but sounds glorious and are no love duets: in fact there are no
free in his upper register; his serenade ‘Vous duets or ensembles at all, the opera
qui fates l’endormie’ is the performance’s consisting entirely of recitatives and arias
‘Death is nothingness’, high point. Maria Agresta sings an affecting until the final Coro. What gets the opera
sings Iago at the end of his Marguerite, aided by crystal pianissimos, into the history books are the accompanied
Credo in Verdi’s Otello. although her Jewel Song lacks – dare one recitatives, where the vocal line is
It could be the motto say it – a little sparkle and vivacity. Alexey punctuated by the strings: these and other
for Reinhard von der Markov’s Slavic vowels don’t make him a aspects of characterisation were the subject
Thannen’s production of Gounod’s Faust, natural Valentin but there’s no denying his of a famous letter from librettist to
premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2016 juicy baritone, while Tara Erraught is a composer (October 20, 1749) that was
and now released on DVD and Blu-ray. spunky Siébel. Mark Pullinger surely intended for publication. The last
Thannen’s is a bleak view of the world, set scene is particularly effective, where Hasse
in clinical white and featuring a gigantic Hasse moves three times from secco recitative to
oval-shaped sculpted ‘eye’ which looms Attilio Regolo accompagnato and back.
over everything. The word ‘Rien!’ (Faust’s Axel Köhler counterten ..............................................Regolo Given the seriousness of the subject, the
first utterance) hangs over the stage at the Markus Schäfer ten ..................................................... Manlio arias are, on the whole, surprisingly jolly.
beginning, returning at the close when the Martina Borst mez ......................................................... Attilia The orchestration is plain: the violins are
lifeless body of Marguerite is left alone, Sibylla Rubens sop ........................................................ Publio sometimes doubled by oboes or flutes, and
abandoned by Faust, Méphistophélès and Carmen Fuggiss sop ......................................................Barce a pair of horns puts in an appearance a
all. Death is nothingness. Michael Volle bar ...........................................................Licinio couple of times. This 20-year-old concert
Thannen’s direction is clearly influenced Randall Wong counterten .................................... Amilcare performance from Dresden doesn’t exactly
by Hans Neuenfels, with whom he has Cappella Sagittariana Dresden / Frieder Bernius set the pulse racing. As Regolo, the part
collaborated with many times as stage Profil Semperoper Edition M c PH07035 originally taken by the amusingly named
designer, especially the notorious, rat- (163’ • DDD) Domenico Annibale, Alex Köhler gives
infested Lohengrin at Bayreuth. After Recorded live at the Semperoper, Dresden, 1997 little hint of the hero’s moral stature.
making their pact, Méphistophélès Includes Italian libretto with German translation Sibylla Rubens is too lightweight as Publio.
becomes Faust’s alter ego, each appearing On the other hand Michael Volle, now well
in identical boulevardier outfits. The known in Wagner and Strauss, is by no
Philharmonia Chor Wien are kitted out means overpowering in the role of Licinio.
in yellowing Pierrot-type bodysuits and Marcus Attilius Martina Borst as Attilia, the part composed
Marguerite is seduced in a white military Regulus (d250 BC) for Hasse’s wife Faustina Bordoni, is fluent
hospital style bed. Méphistophélès and was a Roman in the melismas of her simile aria ‘Mia
Faust wheel around a model church tower general who, parea del porto in seno’; but the most
and town house, and a huge daisy (the initially victorious, became a prisoner in winning performance comes from Carmen
German ‘Margerite’ = daisy) hangs from Carthage. Sent to Rome with a Carthaginian Fuggiss’s fresh-voiced Barce. The Cappella
the flies in Act 4, where an enormous metal embassy, he urged the Senate not to Sagittariana Dresden play springily for
skeleton appears to accompany the soldiers’ negotiate peace terms despite his own life Frieder Bernius.
chorus. Redemption is in short supply for depending on a successful outcome. He There are various cuts. The two booklets
Marguerite as clown-angels roll giant black returned to Carthage where, according to contain contemporary illustrations,
roulette balls slowly around her cell … legend, he was shut into a barrel studded including costume designs, but the layout
it seems her luck (if she ever had any) has with spikes and rolled down a mountain. is confusing and there are many errors (not
run out. The Walpurgis Night scene is cut, Metastasio had written the libretto of just typos). The libretto is given in Italian
so we lose the ballet. Attilio Regolo in 1740 but circumstances and German only. This is a useful stopgap
It’s a staging loaded with symbolism prevented its being set to music at the but sceptics will need something better to
which isn’t always immediately obvious. time; Hasse’s opera was performed in be convinced of Hasse’s genius.
The festival programme included a nine- Dresden in 1750. If the typical opera seria Richard Lawrence

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 119


OPERA REVIEWS

Hyde Thantrey gives a powerhouse performance within riddle and symbolism. Converting
That Man Stephen Ward as Ward, wonderfully sustaining his cut- that into an opera for children is anything
Damian Thantrey bar ................................. Stephen Ward glass pronunciation, and impeccably but child’s play.
Nova Music Opera Ensemble / George Vass shifting voice and accent as he imagines To my semi-adult ears, which are
Resonus F RES10197 (63’ • DDD) conversations with Keeler, Lord Astor, the admittedly unable to draw any solid
Includes synopsis and libretto police, his judges and even Churchill, who parallels between text and music beyond
was one of Ward’s osteopathy patients. the obvious, Levinas’s score is intriguing,
George Vass conducts with committed evocative, original and frequently beautiful.
precision. Playing and recorded sound Its highly coloured recitative style might
Thomas Hyde’s one- are both excellent. It’s a fascinating be compared to Francesco Cavalli’s, and
man chamber opera achievement, beautifully done. Tim Ashley the voices are pitted against vivid writing
about the society for ensemble founded squarely on
osteopath scapegoated Levinas modernist techniques (often atonal, hints
during the Profumo affair dates from 2008, Le petit prince of spectralism, lots of clustering and
when it was first performed at the Jeanne Crousaud sop.................................Le Petit Prince microtonalism, some knowing stylistic
Hampstead and Highgate festival. It owes Vincent Lièvre-Picard ten ..................................L’Aviateur pastiche and some absurdist tendencies).
its reputation, however, to Nova Music Catherine Trottmann mez .....................................La Rose Two keyboardists superimpose the above
Opera’s 2015 Cheltenham production – Rodrigo Ferreira counterten....Le Renard/Le Serpent with overlapping broken chords from a
subsequently seen in Presteigne and at Céline Soudain sop .................................La Rose multiple prescribed harmonic grid. The vocal
LSO St Luke’s – which now forms the Alexandre Diakoff bass-bar ........................................Le Roi writing has clarity at its heart and is
basis of its first recording. In the interim, Benoît Capt bar ................................................... Le Vaniteux exceptionally delivered here, particularly
Ward had once again become the focus of Patrick Lapp spkr ...................................................... Narrator by Jeanne Crousaud in the title-role. But
attention, firstly through Andrew Lloyd Orchestre de Picardie / Arie van Beek an opera for children? In that regard, it’s
Webber’s Stephen Ward The Musical and, Claves F 50-1725 (78’ • DDD) Levinas who could do with coming down
more importantly, through Geoffrey Recorded live at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, to earth. Andrew Mellor
Robertson’s book Stephen Ward is Innocent February 11 & 12, 2015
OK, a forceful demand that the verdict of R Strauss ◊Y
his trial, on a fabricated charge of living Die Liebe der Danae
off immoral earnings, be overturned. Krassimira Stoyanova sop .......................................Danae
Setting a libretto by David Norris, Marks out of ten for Tomasz Konieczny bass-bar....................................Jupiter
That Man Stephen Ward is not so much product management: Norbert Ernst ten ...................................................... Mercury
a polemic as an ironic, if desperately zero. Here we have Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke ten ................... Pollux
sad portrait of the man himself, cast as an audio recording Regine Hangler sop .................................................... Xanthe
a monologue in which he looks back over of an opera sung in French with no libretto Olga Bezsmertna sop ................................................ Europa
his life in the weeks between his arrest (not even on the web) and no synopsis Gerhard Siegel ten .........................................................Midas
and the night of July 30, 1963, when, in the booklet, but instead a sycophantic Mária Celeng sop .........................................................Semele
in anticipation of the guilty verdict the three-page biography of the composer Michaela Selinger mez ......................................... Alkmene
following day, he took a fatal overdose of in laughable English that refers to the Jennifer Johnston mez.................................................. Leda
barbiturates. Ward is seen as a garrulous, aforementioned opera in the future Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic
charming hedonist, catastrophically given tense, ‘to be created in 2015’ (it opened Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst
to vicarious involvement in the sex lives in Lausanne in November 2014). Good Stage director Alvis Hermanis
of others. The score tacitly identifies him start, Claves. Video director Agnes Méth
as a tragic clown: Hyde deploys the same To be frank, reviewing Michaël Levinas’s EuroArts F b ◊ 209 7028; F Y 209 7024
instrumental combination as Pierrot lunaire, Le petit prince with only an 18-year-old (160’ • NTSC • 16:9 • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 &
albeit with the addition of a percussionist; scraped French A level and Wikipedia’s PCM stereo • 0 • s)
and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer is plot summary of the admittedly very Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, August 2016
witheringly quoted, precisely at the point famous book on which it is based posed Includes synopsis
when Ward realises that the establishment quite a headache. It would have been far
he served is now abandoning him. The harder if the principal singers on this live
vocal line glides in and out of Sprechstimme, recording of the opera’s transfer to Paris
broadening into lyricism for a sequence in February 2015 didn’t enunciate with Straussians might
of formal set pieces: cabaret songs; a big such clarity. have high hopes for this
Handelian parody; and a nostalgic aria of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s semi- DVD. It captures the
farewell just before Ward’s suicide. autobiographical novella tells of a pilot homecoming last year
You need, perhaps, to see it (regrettably, crashing to earth, whereupon he meets of Strauss’s penultimate
I haven’t) rather than just listen: Hyde the titular prince. The two share various opera to the site of both its aborted and
specifies that Profumo, Christine Keeler experiences and encounters through actual premieres (the first, in 1944, only
and Eugene Ivanov should be played by which they seek internal peace and some got as far as a dress rehearsal; the second
dancers, and you sometimes miss their understanding of the world. The ultimate took place in 1952). The Salzburg Festival’s
physical presence, both in Ward’s over- message is, apparently, enshrined in the only other staging, in 2002, has never, so
long platonic apostrophe to Keeler and in fox’s observation that ‘one sees clearly far as I can tell, been released in any
the complex imaginary party scene, which only with the heart’. Much of the book’s format. But one can’t help wishing that
gathers all the players in the Profumo affair resonance and reputation comes from its its Danae, Deborah Voigt, might have
together. But singer-actor Damian concealing of complex existential questions featured on Leon Botstein’s important

120 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

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 performance, though very well sung, is Stravinsky
Symphony Orchestra) – she was, after hardly involving as a result – and there’s The Nightingalea.
all, his Helena a few years later. very little done to bring the work’s Pribaoutkib. Two Poems by Paul Verlainec
There’s good news and bad news when dramatic dry patches to life. In other roles a
Mojca Erdmann sop ........................................Nightingale
it comes to the present performance. The Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke stands out, a
Evgeny Akimov ten ...........................................Fisherman
chief glory is probably the playing of the in particular, as Pollux, while Gerhard a
Marina Prudenskaya sop ...........................................Cook
Vienna Philharmonic – warm, burnished Siegel faces up to the unreasonable a
Tuomas Pursio bass......................................Chamberlain
and with all the sparkle Strauss’s score demands of Midas heroically. Thomas a
Vladimir Vaneev bar .............................................Emperor
(presented with a handful of judicious cuts) Konieczny sings robustly as Jupiter, but a
Feodor Kuznetzov bar .............................................. Bonze
calls for. Franz Welser-Möst’s conducting, you very much get the sense of this being a
Mayram Sokolova contr............................................Death
though hardly revelatory, has an admirable a mortal sent to do a god’s job. b
Katrin Wundsam mez
seriousness and keeps the action moving And the work itself? There are surely too c
Hans Christoph Begemann bar
along efficiently and effectively. Krassimira many weaknesses (mainly stemming from WDR Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra,
Stoyanova rises to the challenge of Danae Hans Gregor’s fussy, wordy libretto) for it Cologne / Jukka-Pekka Saraste
tirelessly, singing with luxurious, focused to ever establish itself in the repertoire; Orfeo F C919 171A (52’ • DDD)
tone throughout. but is there a moment more tender and WDR broadcast performances, aMay 8-12, 2012;
The bad news primarily involves Alvis beautiful, in all Strauss, than Danae’s October c30 & b31, 2013
Hermanis’s production, which is a ludicrous reawakening in Act 2? Can we really
riot of exaggerated exoticisms and – in manage without Jupiter’s music in Act 3?
the case of a troupe of gold-clad dancers – This production communicates those
eroticisms. Jupiter first appears wheeled moments well enough but can’t help With a composition
in on a vast white elephant and when he feeling like a missed opportunity; its DVD history that straddles
finally says farewell to Danae, she is made rival from the Deutsche Oper conducted by the period of the
to listen impassively while weaving a Andrew Litton remains more compelling composer’s three
carpet; along with oversize turbans, carpets viewing overall, despite Manuela Uhl’s breakthrough works for Diaghilev’s
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M I C H A E L P O E H N

offer a visual motif throughout, dangled somewhat wayward Danae. For all the Ballets Russes, The Nightingale in many
or projected variously on to the tiled block virtues of Botstein’s set – its very existence ways presents two different Stravinskys:
that forms Hermanis’s own set design. chief among them – we still await a fully pre- and post-Rite. A beguiling and mistily
The director lets down his cast, too, by satisfying modern audio-only account. atmospheric first act gives way to second
offering only the most basic Personenregie. Hugo Shirley and third acts that reflect the composer’s
Stoyanova is reduced to extensive waving Selected comparison: new forcefulness and angularity – but does
of hands and generalised gestures – her Litton (ARTH) ◊ 101 580 or 107 539; Y 108 032 so just when the plot, based on Hans

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 121


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OPERA REVIEWS

Christian Andersen, itself starts to Sony Classical F ◊ 88985 40357-9; gleaming tone – and a great top – to
explore the clash between nature F Y 88985 40358-9 (149’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • encompass Verdi’s non-bel canto demands.
and technology. DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) She also acts with careful minimalism, at
Richard Taruskin called the work – just Recorded live, October 13, 2016 least until habitual end-of-scene parade
45 minutes long – a ‘touching little Orphic Includes synopsis ground stares to encourage applause from
allegory’. It is indeed a gem, beautifully the dress circle. James Conlon’s conducting
polished up in this new recording. Jukka- tends to hang back until encouraged to
Pekka Saraste brings out a remarkable accelerate by the soloists. The filming
amount of detail in the score, with each To be undertaking new seems to reflect faithfully an atmosphere
line precisely etched and vividly conveyed. roles in major houses (and which is dark and muddy apart from the
The playing is superb – the twittering in a new Fach) well into follow spots on the Macbeths. This is only
singsong of many solo lines strikingly your seventies – not to really recommendable for Semenchuk and
alive – and the engineering is natural mention conducting, those collecting everything Domingo has
and detailed. including a planned Bayreuth debut in done. Mike Ashman
While the first act is properly beguiling, 2018 – is no small achievement. Yet there
however, it’s as if Saraste is always looking has been something anticlimactic about Wagner ◊Y
forward to the sound world of the final two several of Plácido Domingo’s forays into Lohengrin
acts: there’s a real pungency to the music the baritone repertoire. Piotr Beczała ten ................................................... Lohengrin
accompanying the bickering courtiers, for Recorded in the singer’s ‘own’ house in Anna Netrebko sop............................................................ Elsa
example. He brings brilliant, sparkling Los Angeles last year (where he is General Evelyn Herlitzius sop .................................................. Ortrud
angularity to the Chinese Dance later on, Director), this Macbeth is wanting in both Tomasz Konieczny bass-bar........................... Telramund
and is especially good in capturing the musical and dramatic drive. We never see Georg Zeppenfeld bass ................................... King Henry
impassive objectivity of the Nightingale’s ‘the much vaunted courage’ which Lady Derek Welton bass-bar ............................................... Herald
mechanical rival. Macbeth (in Act 2) hopes her husband will Saxon State Opera Chorus; Staatskapelle
The recording benefits from being soon show again. Ever since the Witches, Dresden / Christian Thielemann
strongly cast, with Evgeny Akimov an in the very first scene, prophesied a royal Stage director Angela Brandt
appealingly tangy-voiced Fisherman, future for Banquo’s children, Domingo has Video director Tiziano Mancini
Marina Prudenskaya a luxurious Cook presented a worried, frail individual. There’s DG F b ◊ 073 5319GH2; F Y 073 5322GH
and Vladimir Vaneev authoritative as the little internal conflict in his usurper: the (3h 35’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0,
Emperor. Mojca Erdmann’s performance final ‘Mal per me’ – predictably added DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s). Also available as 4k
as the Nightingale might be a little more in for this performance of a Paris version Ultra HD Blu-ray: F Y 073 5373GH (2160p •
controversial: she sings the part accurately which even includes some of the ballet – 24-bit/96kHz, DTS-HD MA5.0 & PCM stereo)
but the basic sound, with its earthbound feels like his natural habitat. Only this Recorded live, May 2016
timbre, feels too plummy. There’s a similar aria, and some of the more Shakespearean Includes synopsis
issue with the rather too knowing Natalie texts of his early scenes, sound naturally
Dessay on the main modern rival (with less baritonal from this artist. Much of the
vivid support from James Conlon and the remainder sounds like a tenor reaching low.
Paris Opéra orchestra). I’m not sure, in Serbian stage director Darko Tresnjak German interpreters have
fact, if anyone on record really surpasses has an impressive CV of theatre and musical long dreamt of performing
Reri Grist, Stravinsky’s Nightingale on successes in America. The set has two Wagner with star singers
his own recording. useful levels and the costumes provide the from the supposedly
Somewhat strident accounts of Pribaoutki sort of non-specific medievalism you might ‘opposite’ Italian or French
and Deux Poèmes de Paul Verlaine hardly have seen in your last school production. vocal cultures, Lohengrin being a favourite
represent a generous coupling, and it’s But Tresnjak seems nervous of getting his subject for experiment due to the supposed
really not good enough for Orfeo to hands dirty in this opera with actual bel canto nature of its leading roles. Wieland
include neither synopsis nor text and Personenregie and leaves the soloists and the Wagner wanted Mario del Monaco in
translation. Still, that shouldn’t detract chorus to their own devices. Unfortunately the title-role and Maria Callas as Ortrud;
from a very fine, recommendable account he has picked up one of the least interesting Christian Thielemann (in what may have
of a haunting score. Hugo Shirley tropes of Macbeth staging: having the been a trial for Bayreuth that apparently
Selected comparison: witches acted (or, in this case, danced) won’t happen now) secured Anna Netrebko
Conlon (1/00) (EMI/WARN) 556874-2 or 456500-2 by extras who appear in every scene like and Piotr Beczała to debut as the not-quite
a spoiler soundtrack whenever something lovers for a Dresden run in May 2016.
Verdi ◊Y evil is about to happen. Enough already, we As Thielemann outside Bayreuth appears
Macbeth get the point. They (I think they’re all or to prefer easy-going non-interventionist
Plácido Domingo bar..............................................Macbeth mostly girls) look truly hideous in painted productions from a safe past, this
Ekaterina Semenchuk mez.....................Lady Macbeth body stockings, squashed red insect wings ‘new’ release is really a non-starter as
Ildebrando D’Arcangelo bass-bar ......................Banquo and dark tribal make-up with rodent-like a competitive Lohengrin on DVD (go
Joshua Guerrero ten ................................................Macduff animal tails. The uncredited choreographer rather to the Bayreuth or Munich options).
Joshua Wheeker ten ............................................... Malcolm has also decided they should spend much Christine Mielitz’s 1983 (!) production
Summer Hassan sop ................................Lady-in-Waiting time squatting with backsides towards the has been worked over by a ‘director of
Los Angeles Opera Chorus and Orchestra / public as if relieving themselves. performance’. As filmed here there is
James Conlon There is one outstanding performance: but one exciting moment, when the two
Stage director Darko Tresnjak Ekaterina Semenchuk’s Lady Macbeth, a leading ladies clash in Act 2 Nibelungenlied-
Video director Matthew Diamond mezzo with just the right kind of gritty yet style (as Wagner intended from his

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 123


OPERA REVIEWS

sources) over the crown of Brabant. DG F b ◊ 073 5350GH2; F Y 073 5353GH The cast fit well, with McKinny outstanding
Otherwise we’re watching three acts (4h 7’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 in mood and (like his longtime North
of dutifully efficient naturalistic plodding & PCM stereo • 0 • s). Includes synopsis American predecessors here, George
around in 19th-centuried-up faux medieval Recorded live 2016 London and Thomas Stewart) in the balance
costumes: the not-so-happy couple, going between hysteria and pain. Pankratova
to get married, resemble pictures of King encompasses Kundry’s tricky range in Act 2
Ludwig II in Neuschwanstein. The set with aplomb – it’s just a pity she’s not given
remains a kind of indoor courtyard (plus Whatever else Parsifal is more interesting things to do, although her
big bed for Act 3 scene 1) that looks like it about, we may agree that shell-shocked (de)incarnation in Act 3 is
has strayed in from an Act 1 Meistersinger. its ending represents the memorable. Vogt now sounds more natural
The cast are good to look at on camera opening up of a closed in this role than as Lohengrin. Zeppenfeld
and are no slouches as actors – but the main society. That is one idea contributes another multi-layered reading
interest of the release remains musical. How well caught at the end of this filming of the of an ‘old’ Wagner bass. The Blu-ray
do the imported stars do? Netrebko brings Bayreuth Festival’s 2016 new production – provides exceptional sound and picture
a sensuality and an outraged awareness house lights fully up, scenery and ensemble detail. Well worth seeing even if there is
of how this woman is exploited not that moving to the sides in search of new a shortage of the more memorable visual
common in Elsas, and the role lies well for horizons in cloud-like smoke. It’s a nice moments provided by Audi (Challenge
her vocally at the moment. Confident in the lift at the end where not everything in Uwe Classics, 8/17), Lehnhoff (Opus Arte, 7/05)
more florid writing, she also has the weight Eric Laufenberg’s staging appears yet to and Kupfer (EuroArts). Mike Ashman
to doubt Lohengrin with some power in have come into precise focus – which itself
their Act 3 duet. Beczała also sounds here prompts again the question as to whether ‘Carnevale 1729’
to have an ideal weight of voice and a the premiere of a show that has several Albinoni Filandro – Fior ch’a spuntar si vede; Il tuo
cunning balance between dreamy lyrical years to run is really the best occasion core in dono accetto Giacomelli Gianguir – Mi par
and heroic. Both comfortably maintain a to record it for posterity. sentir la bella; Vanne, si, di al mio diletto Leo Catone
dramatic presence in the rather dull setting. Judging from the costumes and from the in Utica – Ombra cara, ombra adorata; Soffre talor
They are excellently supported (if that Google map video that occupies the first del vento Orlandini Adelaide – Non sempre
doesn’t sound patronising) by Zeppenfeld’s Transformation interlude in Act 1, we are invendicata; O, del mio caro sposo … Quanto bello
King – a master of variety now as Wagner’s in the modern-day Middle East world of agl’occhi miei; Scherza in mar la navicella; Vedrò
authority figures – Herlitzius’s cold Ortrud religious conflict. The Grail community più liete e belle Porpora Semiramide riconosciuta
and the Telramund of Konieczny (especially shares not especially luxurious space with – Bel piacer saria d’un core; Il pastor, se torna
convincing in the denunciations of Act 1) other religions, refugees, tourists and aprile; In braccio a mille furie Vinci L’abbandono di
whom she clearly bullies. Thielemann has soldiers. Its iconography is very Christ- Armida – Nave altera che in mezzo all’onde
not yet rethought his earlier Wagner as he oriented; a large crucifix designates its area Ann Hallenberg mez
has recently his Walküre and Tristan, and and Ryan McKinny’s terrifically in-focus Il Pomo d’Oro / Stefano Montanari vn
still relies on a generalised large orchestral Amfortas appears at the ceremony as Jesus Pentatone F b Í PTC5186 678 (130’ • DDD)
sound without a suggestion of what the en route to Calvary. Later we see that part Includes texts and translations
earlier palettes of Beethoven and Weber of Klingsor’s reaction against the Grail
might bring to these pre-1850 scores. domain has made him build up a fetishistic
Nonetheless, there’s a stylish and collection of crucifixes, one of which
intelligent range of tempos and he does appears, tastelessly, to have been worked Ann Hallenberg’s
not allow his fine orchestra to overdo the into a sex toy. The burkhas which Kundry inquisitive forays
weight of the plentiful brass music. He also and the Flower Maidens wear some of the researched in
gives us a rare chance to hear all the music time in Act 2 suggest a rather half-hearted partnership with her
in Act 2 (and there’s a lot of it!) between attempt to show Klingsor turning towards musicologist husband Holger Schmidt-
the Ortrud/Elsa duet and the entry into Islam, maybe too hot a potato politically. Hallenberg are never merely run-of-the-mill
the Minster. None of these interventionist ideas are made recitals – as has been proved by genuinely
A CD might have served this project much of until Act 3 when, rather movingly, rare ‘Hidden Handel’ (Naïve), portraits of
better but, if you can hear through a little the Flower Maidens return to the Grail different ancient Roman Agrippinas (DHM,
visual frustration, the performance is well domain ‘redeemed’ after Parsifal baptises 7/15) and a live concert recording of mostly
worth attention for conductor and cast. Kundry. And too many of the ideas – like music for Farinelli (Aparté). This new
Mike Ashman the appearance of soldiers smoking during double album is a judicious assortment from
Gurnemanz’s monologue – appear at the seven operas all performed in Venice during
Wagner ◊Y moment like easy alienation effects in the the eight-week carnival period between
Parsifal middle of an otherwise straight and clear December 26, 1728, and February 27, 1729.
Klaus Florian Vogt ten ..............................................Parsifal reading of Wagner’s text. At least some of these productions at
Ryan McKinny bass-bar.........................................Amfortas Hartmut Haenchen’s belated Festival different theatres caught the eye (and ear)
Georg Zeppenfeld bass .................................. Gurnemanz debut fields all his customary research on of Handel, based in La Serenissima while
Elena Pankratova sop ...............................................Kundry the score. He seems immediately master of hunting around Italy for new singers. His
Gerd Grochowski bass-bar ....................................Klingsor pit/stage balance, using to the full the erstwhile diva Faustina and castrato
Karl-Heinz Lehner bass-bar ......................................Titurel acoustics for which the work was created. Senesino played the principal parts in
Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra / (His sampled bells also sound specially Orlandini’s Adelaide, and arias from each
Hartmut Haenchen period.) I haven’t done the comparative role might as well have been tailor-made
Stage director Uwe Eric Laufenberg maths but the performance feels quite fast, for Hallenberg’s pinpoint virtuosity and
Video director Michael Beyer although not to a Boulez or Krauss degree. lyricism, communicative use of language,

124 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

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

idiomatic embellishment, intelligently ‘Stravaganza d’Amore!’ encouraged structured listening across


sculpted phrasing (limpid, gentle or ‘The Birth of Opera at the Medici Court, 1589-1608’ composers and genres of a kind that rarely
turbulent as the music demands) and astute Including music by Allegri, Brunelli, Buonamente, occurs on record; the results are fascinating
theatrical characterisation: time seems to Caccini, Cavalieri, Fantini, Gagliano, Malvezzi, and, at times, revelatory.
stand still in Adelaide’s lament ‘Quanto Marenzio, Orologio, Peri and Striggio This is not to say that all these pieces
bello agl’occhi miei’, sung sublimely over a Pygmalion / Raphaël Pichon are masterpieces. Some, such as Malvezzi’s
sophisticated rolling string accompaniment, Harmonia Mundi F b HMM90 2286/7 (103’ • DDD) Sinfonia, were written simply to disguise the
and the voice’s dialogue with violinist- Hardback book includes texts and translations creaking of the stage machinery as the sets
director Stefano Montanari is shaded were changed. As with so much stage music
elegantly in Ottone’s lyrical alla francese designed to project a message across the
aria ‘Vedrò più liete e belle’. footlights, many of them originally formed
Sweetly tender solo oboe and pizzicato This two-record set takes just one element in a complex experience
strings are judged beautifully in ‘Mi par as its starting point the designed to evoke a sense of ‘wonder’,
sentir la bella’ from Giacommeli’s Gianguir, various strains of dramatic induced by costumes, lighting, scenic effects
and there is zestiness in two quick arias from music that fed into early and the music itself, which was intended to
Albinoni’s Filandro. From Porpora’s Florentine opera, above stupefy the listeners through the virtuosity of
Semiramide riconosciuta there are several fine all the legendary and spectacular intermedi the performers and the unparalleled size of
arias: the gracefully lilting siciliano ‘Il pastor, put together for the 1589 Medici wedding. the forces required. Pichon and Pygmalion
se torna aprile’, the cantabile intimacy of Unprecedented in scale and unified by the rise to this challenge magnificently. Speeds
‘Bel piacer saria d’un core’ (for Farinelli theme of the power of music, this music is are finely judged, the sense of vocal and
making his Venetian debut), and the furious historically important precisely because it is instrumental ensemble is well balanced
‘In braccio a mille furie’ (the only aria constructed out of the elements from which and there is some impressive solo singing,
recorded before – notably by Hallenberg early opera evolved, within a decade, in the including Luciana Mancini’s carefully
herself). Perhaps the eligible 1729 same city. Ten excerpts are presented here, wrought rendition of ‘Lassa, che di spavento’
repertoire might have yielded some greater together with substantial sections from from Caccini’s L’Euridice. Elsewhere there is
variety of instrumentation and dramatic Giulio Caccini’s Il rapimento di Cefalo, some spectacular improvised instrumental
moods, but such reservations evaporate Marco da Gagliano’s La Dafne and both ornamentation (just occasionally a little
at the sheer classiness of Hallenberg Caccini’s and Jacopo Peri’s settings of exaggerated), while the whole is expertly
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D A N I E L K O C H / D G

and Il Pomo d’Oro’s perfectly aligned L’Euridice, together with a selection of underpinned by a rich array of continuo
dulcetness in ‘Ombra cara, ombra adorata’, other works from the period in a variety instruments. The fruits of an ambitious and
sung by the grieving widow of Pompey in of styles and forms by a constellation of carefully researched project, these records
Leo’s Catone in Utica, and the barnstorming composers. By grouping them into six come encased in a beautifully presented
climax of Vinci’s sizzling ‘Nave altera che imaginary intermedi defined by themes illustrated hardback book, with three essays
in mezzo all’onde’, used in the pasticcio (‘La favola d’Apollo’, ‘Le lagrime d’Orfeo’ and the texts of the vocal works translated
L’abbandono di Armida. David Vickers and so on), Raphaël Pichon has ingeniously into English, French, and German. Iain Fenlon

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 125


20 NOMINATED ARTISTS 20 INCREDIBLE TRACKS
“With 20 quality tracks it all adds up to a
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Evening Standard

Discover the very


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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
with Steven Devine
28 October 7.30pm European Union Chamber Orchestra harpsichord

1 November 7.30pm Benjamin Grosvenor piano


3 November 1.10pm Ksenija Sidorova accordion
4 November 2pm Songs About Us family concert

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 for inspiration rather than the classic
Brought to you by

careers in [New York] city and then moved


Michael Kanan modern jazz interpretations. So ‘Dancing out to the Hudson Valley to raise our kids
Golden Earrings in the Dark’ has something of crooner Al and have a home.’ And who can blame them.
Fresh Sound New Talent F FSNT-1007 Bowly as well as Lester Young and cool The group first came together in 2014 to
school-era Lee Konitz. On the Irving Berlin play the Woodstock Jazz Festival, their
You’re far likelier these waltz medley, US pianist Michael Kanan musical paths having criss-crossed at several
days to find saxophonist sounds like he’s been listening to Ray Noble points in the past. The point here is this
Sam Braysher’s version of as well as Lenny Tristano, who is also the band is not a hastily put-together
jazz played in a hotel bar inspiration for the altoist’s version of the ‘supergroup’ for a record session. They
than in a jazz club. Or in a lesser known Bird original ‘Cardboard’. have history together and it shows –
film like La La Land played by a pianist with Selwyn Harris nothing is forced or flashy, they seem to
the word ‘loser’ tattooed on his forehead, be playing more for one another than any
perhaps. But don’t let that put you off. Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, audience. Taking a jazz-rock inspired path,
Conversely, it’s a middle finger salute to the John Medeski & John Scofield they mix original pieces with ‘Lay Lady
current prevailing attitude that says jazz has Hudson Lay’ and ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ by
a responsibility to move ahead and cater for Montéma Music F MTM0228 Bob Dylan, ‘Wait Until Tomorrow’ by
a new generation. Braysher is just doing his Jimi Hendrix, ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ by
thing in any case and this is an enjoyable These four musicians are The Band and ‘Woodstock’ by Joni
recording. In one way at least he has a linked by the proximity of Mitchell. Relaxed yet intense, it might not
refreshing approach: Braysher prefers their postcodes, since, as possess the cutting-edge fervour of their
looking back to the original song source – a John Scofield puts it, ‘All youth, but there’s much distilled musical
Broadway show, film or dance band tune – of us have built our wisdom on offer to savour. Stuart Nicholson

World Music
Stephan Micus Tajikistan and Afghanistan, which he
Brought to you by

clearly demarcated yet endlessly flooding its


Inland Sea says is unlike any other instrument he banks. With his new project, he navigates
ECM F ECM 2569 has ever played. Its partnership with the these waters with the help of a gifted raft of
nyckelharpa, together with Micus’ long- musicians including Suzzy Roche, Gabriel
I was first drawn to the standing love of the Japanese shakuhachi Kahane, Ana Egge, Rachelle Garniez, Rayna
music of Stephan Micus (bamboo flute), as well as his own voice in Gellert, Erik Friedlander, Steve Elson and
by his piece written for a self-created language, combine in music Chaim Tannenbaum. Under another’s
56 flowerpots in the that is reflective and intriguing. direction, such a mix of music and voices
1980s. While travelling Fiona Talkington would seem more of a compilation than a
the world over the years, Micus’ hunter- cohesive album, but here everything is
gatherer instincts have picked up many Too Sad For the Public focused through the lens of a deft, expansive,
different instruments and traditions, American Folk Fantasies Vol 1: supremely musical vision. American folk and
which he has reworked into his own very Oysters Ice Cream Lemonade old-time traditions, even a touch of the jug
distinctive music. His is a key voice on the StorySound Records F 161020 band era, are explored via old songs and
ECM label. Inland Sea explores his latest original compositions that could have been
enthusiasm, the nyckelharpa, (Swedish Dick Connette doesn’t written a century or more ago. They are
keyed fiddle), a European companion to his see music in terms of underpinned by subtle arrangements that
many Asian bowed instruments. The album white and black, urban or echo Randy Newman’s strings and the
plays out their unfolding relationship via rural, folk or funk, blues harmonic intervals of contemporary
plucking, bowing, hitting, stroking and or country. He views classical music. American folk fantasies
strumming. Micus’ other discovery here is America’s vast musical landscape as one indeed: Connette has realised them in
the balanzikom, a lute from the borders of deep river fed by a thousand tributaries, 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 © 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.
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0207 239 9114 Registered charity No. 228089.
MUSICAL CONNECTIONS
Two listening journeys inspired by our Lifetime and Special Achievement Award winners
The best of Dame Kiri Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Colin Matthew Championing the new
both receive Gramophone Awards this
Any Kiri Te Kanawa playlist has to Since its founding by Colin Matthews
year, and both inspire two very different
focus on Mozart and Richard Strauss, in 1988, NMC Recordings has played
playlists that explore their substantial
the two composers for which her a pivotal role in disseminating new
contributions of classical recording
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 as Mozart’s melancholy Countess was clearly a composer of promise. This
that she made her breakthrough, at cross-section takes in that scintillating
the Royal Opera House in 1971, and piece, together with the ominous (and
she recorded the role for Sir Georg prescient) Millennium Scenes and the
Solti’s all-star-cast Le nozze di Figaro deftly evocative Chamber Symphony.
(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.
characteristic silvery voice, always This recording includes pieces written
employed with restraint and taste, for the Hallé and Mark Elder such
is also what makes her Strauss roles as Virga and Near Midnight, together
special (her Marschallin, Capriccio with the Clarinet Concerto (Lynsey
Countess and Arabella are preserved on Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: made for Mozart and Strauss Marsh) and several ensemble works
disc). Few singers have led the famous that amply confirm her prowess when
trio from Der Rosenkavalier with such tenderness as she writing for chamber as well as orchestral forces. Best known
does in Bernard Haitink’s 1990 Dresden set – a recording for his concertos and string quartets, Hugh Wood is also a
that the soprano herself described as one of her finest distinguished writer of songs. The four song-cycles gathered
achievements, and for which she’s joined by Anne Sofie here underline his masterly word-setting across a range of
von Otter and Barbara Hendricks. Te Kanawa’s Puccini was poets in Lawrence Durrell, Robert Graves, DH Lawrence and
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
di Doretta’ from La rondine (a work she recorded in full) is diversity of pieces featured here: whether composing for solo
also memorably employed. The sheer beauty of the voice piano (Oneirei), violin and ensemble (Caught in Treetops) or
can perhaps be best experienced in the intimate context of large orchestra (At the Speed of Stillness), these results confirm
song, and a Decca recital with Roger Vignoles at the piano, her imaginative response to a range of inspirations, together
and released in 1990, finds her on especially beguiling form with the fastidiousness of her ear for sonority and texture.
in Liszt’s tender ‘Oh, quand je dors’. Her rightly famous Never afraid to imagine past genres from an arresting new
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
of ‘Aria from Salammbô’, a fin-de-siècle pastiche composed by concertos for violin and (second) for cello, along with the
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
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

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 Causton The Persistence of Memory, etc BCMG /
R Strauss Der Rosenkavalier Haitink Warner Classics R Wiggleworth NMC
Puccini Arias LPO / Pritchard Sony Classical To explore these playlists via Grime Night Songs, etc Hallé / Elder et al NMC
Liszt Oh, quand je dors Vignoles Decca a streaming service, or to Wood Wild Cyclamen McCaldin; Gilchrist; Williams NMC
Canteloube Songs of the Auvergne ECO / Tate create your own, we suggest Bray At the Speed of Stillness, etc Aldeburgh World
Decca qobuz.com. You can listen to Orch / Elder NMC
Herrmann Citizen Kane – Aria from Salammbô these particular playlists at Birtwistle Angel Fighter London Sinf / Atherton NMC
National PO / Gerhardt RCA Red Seal gramophone.co.uk/playlists C Matthews Concertos BBC SO / Knussen NMC

gramophone.co.uk 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 Nissen as Sachs, Ralf as Walther and Beethoven’s Choral (1941, with a cast
which I am anything but proud. As Teschemacher as Eva. Recordings from of soloists led by the lyrical bass Josef
far as music is concerned, though, 1939-40 of the opera’s Prelude and Sachs’s Herrmann) opens to what sounds like
I have always been honest and sincere.’ Act 2 ‘Flieder’ monologue with Josef someone running a bath, though the
Karl Böhm’s own words as quoted in Rémy Herrmann are also included. surface noise does eventually settle. This is
Louis’s excellent note for this valuable Apart from the Philharmonia Wagner a powerful performance, with some deftly
collection of mostly wartime recordings sessions and a couple of tracks with the pointed detail in the Scherzo, a warmly
just about sum up the conductor’s essence: Berlin Philharmonic (Wagner and Nicolai), felt Adagio, and a thoughtfully judged,
a man of compromise, ‘a sinner’, as he all other performances are either with exceedingly well-sung finale.
called himself, who had truck with the Staatskapelle Dresden (the majority) or the Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (1939)
Nazis – though he never joined the party – with Max Strub, a sensitive player, is
but who prioritised his musical conscience A man of compromise who interesting in that it’s one of the first
above all else. Not for him the heady on disc – if not the first – to feature the
interpretative flights of a Furtwängler or
prioritised his musical cadenza with timpani. Walter Gieseking
the marmoreal musical statements of a conscience above all else is typically fluent in the Fourth Piano
Klemperer, but rather something altogether Concerto (1939), and especially crystalline
more centred, even calmed. True, the Vienna Philharmonic. Böhm went on to in the finale. The Third Concerto falls
opera pit occasionally saw a different side re-record much of this repertoire, to the Ukrainian pianist Lubka Kolessa,
of him, and there are operatic riches galore Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony to a d’Albert pupil who moved to Ottawa in
here, most especially featuring the music magnificent effect with the VPO (for 1940, the year after this elegantly phrased,
of Wagner, and yet Böhm was particularly Decca). The 1936 Dresden version considerately pianistic performance was
celebrated for his interpretations of included here is quite different: generally recorded. Edwin Fischer turns in an
Richard Strauss. Apart from accounts of swifter, interpretatively straightforward and idiomatically forthright (if occasionally
Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan and the Dance a good deal less atmospheric. The Fifth ham-fisted) account of the Emperor (1939
of the Seven Veils’ which opt for the sort dates from the following year and is more again), Böhm opting for an uncommonly
of brisk, no-nonsense approach that Strauss impressive. Again, Böhm doesn’t dawdle, rhythmic approach to the orchestral score,
himself often favoured, there’s music from but seems to have the full measure of the though the Adagio is serenely beautiful.
Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne (especially piece and his performance, muscular and Among the Mozart inclusions is a pure-
lovely) with Esther Rethy, Elisabeth assertive, has genuine stature, for example toned account of the Fifth Concerto with
Höngen, Margarete Teschemacher and in the finale’s imposing double fugue. the Carl Flesch pupil Jan Dahmen (1938)
Torsten Ralf. Böhm’s take on Reger’s Mozart Variations and the Third Horn Concerto with Max
Wagner is handsomely represented, most is most familiar from his post-war Berlin Zimolong (1940). The Minuet and Trio
memorably post-war by the Philharmonia, Philharmonic version for DG, but this from Mozart Symphony No 28 (VPO,
Kirsten Flagstad and Set Svanholm in 1938 Dresden predecessor captures to 1947) is very sluggish, but the VPO Jupiter
music from Die Walküre and Tristan a T the work’s winning combination of from two years later and the Haffner from
und Isolde (with Constance Shacklock as innocence, harmonic sophistication and, in 1942 are commendably well balanced.
Brangäne in the latter) and a superbly the closing fugue, over-the-top exploitation Böhm’s 1942 reading of the ‘Air’ from
sung 1938 Dresden recording of Die of counterpoint. I still think that Böhm Bach’s D major Suite follows Furtwängler
Meistersinger’s Third Act, possibly the set’s in Dresden gives Reger’s most famous in its reverential mood and broad tempo,
highlight overall, with Hans Hermann orchestral work its best shout, by far. likewise a darkly atmospheric Schubert

130 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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
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
Karl Böhm’s recordings from the 1930s and ’40s have been gathered into a new 19-disc set by Warner Classics Innsbruck-born Otmar Suitner who
spent most of his conducting career
Unfinished from 1940, whereas his 1944 in East Germany and made what was
Brahms First Symphony opens to a firm Bruno Walter’s Brahms probably the very first digital Beethoven
bass line then after a rather humdrum … ‘generally acceptable’, maybe, but not symphony cycle for CD (for Denon,
introduction enjoys a vigorous finale. of the standard that Opus Kura achieves with Kegel on Capriccio not too
The high point of the 1939 Brahms for a series of three CDs featuring Bruno far behind).
Fourth comes at 8'13'' into the Andante, Walter’s pre-war recordings with the Suitner’s Mozart recordings fall very
the expansive return of the second subject, Vienna Philharmonic which has a greater happily on the ear, with sound (1974-75
as expressively drawn and richly textured sense of depth and presence. Hearing, in this instance) that is warm yet
as any recorded performance before or say, the coupling of the First (1937) admirably transparent. Listen in
since, while a Vienna reading of the Second and Third (1936) Brahms symphonies particular to the E flat Symphony, K543,
Symphony’s Adagio from three years later, is like listening to decent copies of the the amiably chugging Menuetto and
again taken slowly, breathes autumn in original 78s on a first-rate playback Trio or the unforced gaiety of the finale.
every bar, though the finale visits warmer system. Walter’s way with the Third’s The great G minor K550 (played in the
climes, albeit without rushing. A youthful first movement is full of energy and version with clarinets) opens to a gently
Wolfgang Schneiderhan is the soloist ardour, the sound frame letting in plenty motoric accompaniment, the tempo
for a sweet-toned and energetic account of lower brass, more so in fact than on unhurried and yet once the dynamic
of the Brahms Violin Concerto (1940) many of the earliest post-war recordings increases so the drama increases with it.
and Wilhelm Backhaus offers a massive, of the work. Walter marks the difference The mood is urgent but never exaggerated.
spontaneous-sounding B flat Piano in mood and tone between the middle Also note the palpable change of tone and
Concerto (1939), which like Fischer’s movements, appreciating in particular the colour once we shift to the development
Emperor occasionally sacrifices digital flowing shape of the Poco allegretto third section. The pensive Andante is sweetly
accuracy to excitement and a sense of movement, and drawing some glorious mellifluous (beautiful woodwinds, the
scale. Also included is a compelling 1942 playing from the VPO strings. As presented lead flute in particular), the Menuetto
account of the Schumann Concerto with by Opus Kura, the First Symphony opens furrowed but not aggressive, the finale
Gieseking. Various shorter vocal items and with so much more richness and clarity mirroring the first movement’s urgency,
orchestral works take their place amongst than does the 1944 Böhm recording except that here Suitner doesn’t play
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

this impressive set’s contents (Pfitzner’s on Warner’s set; in fact, it’s difficult to the repeat. A distinctive coupling, well
16-minute Symphony in C is one of them) believe that their provenance hasn’t been worth investigating, as are all Suitner’s
and the transfers are generally acceptable. accidentally reversed. My only gripe is Mozart discs.
a slightly loose shellac side join at 4'37''
THE RECORDING into the first movement, but otherwise THE RECORDING
‘Karl Böhm: The Early Years’ this is a superb production. Mozart Symphonies
Warner Classics S s How many orchestras today could Nos 39 & 40
9029 58867-2 summon such a rich Brahmsian sonority Staatskapelle Dresden /
for the opening of the Andante and Suitner
in the finale, the vividness of those Berlin Classics F 0300881BC

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 131


Books
Mervyn Cooke welcomes new Philip Clark on a wide-ranging
essays on Benjamin Britten: book by Christian Wolff:
‘This book offers a well-rounded ‘Wolff is everything a thoughtful, socially engaged
portrait of Britten as someone who musician ought to be: a free spirit grounded in
belonged, yet did not belong’ compositional and philosophical rigour’

Benjamin Britten Studies dramatic output in which Gloriana and as someone who belonged, yet did not
Essays on an Inexplicit Art Death in Venice, along with two of the belong – whether artistically, culturally,
Aldeburgh Studies in Music, Vol 12 church parables, are the only operas socially or sexually.
Edited by Vicki P Stroeher and Justin Vickers receiving sustained critical consideration. The book’s extended length has
The Boydell Press, HB, 554pp, £60 Discussion of the technicalities of Britten’s accommodated some rather leisurely
ISBN 978-1-783-27195-5 music occupies a relatively small part of the writing in places. There are many
book, too, in spite of its subtitle promising substantial digressions during which
an examination of his ‘inexplicit art’ Britten is scarcely mentioned (after one
(a phrase he himself coined to describe of which even the contributor has to ask
music in general). There is one outstanding ‘What has any of this to do with Britten?’),
Do we need another book analytical contribution, nonetheless: a and no fewer than 53 pages are devoted to
on Benjamin Britten? brilliantly insightful essay on Britten’s a factual listing of all the music performed
Aficionados of the composer manipulation of rhythm and tempo by at the Aldeburgh Festivals held between
will feel the question to be Philip Rupprecht. 1948 and 1957. This could easily have
entirely unnecessary, yet others observing The perceived need to remove the been made available online as a reference
the growth of Britten literature from the ‘protective arm’ concerns the commonly resource, rather than taking up so much
sidelines will continue to be amazed at the held view that, following his death, space in a book which in its printed edition
extraordinary proliferation of writing on Britten’s reputation was ‘carefully curated’ is already priced well outside the reach of
the man and his music in recent years, (as the editors put it) by an old-guard most readers’ pockets. Frustratingly, too,
which peaked around the celebrations coterie of associates whose admiration for some contributors fall prey to the familiar
of his centenary in 2013. Indeed, several him bordered on hagiography. While on academic complaint of footnote-itis,
of the essays in Benjamin Britten the whole this may be true, the book does burying large amounts of interesting and
Studies originated as papers given at two not in fact develop this particular agenda often relevant information in the notes
conferences mounted to mark Britten’s forcefully, being content for the most rather than finding ways to incorporate
100th birthday, one held at the University part to present details of the man and his these often distracting asides into the main
of Nottingham and the other at Illinois milieu in a refreshingly unpartisan way. text in order to provide a more coherent
State University. The book’s editors It’s a pity, though, that a project which is reading experience.
co-organised the latter event and have so heavily indebted to the source materials That said, the volume contains
here deftly assembled a wide-ranging at the archive at Britten’s former home manifold insights which illuminate both
symposium which encourages a resounding (The Red House) does not acknowledge the composer and his music from fresh
‘yes’ in answer to the initial question. the achievements of figures such as the perspectives. This is certainly not – and
What promised to distinguish this book composer’s indefatigable assistant was never intended to be – a study aimed
from its predecessors is its international Rosamund Strode, without whom the at newcomers to its subject, but any readers
flavour, and its remit (as the cover blurb resource might never have blossomed in already possessed of a reasonable working
states) to ‘take off the “protective arm” the way it did. The first wave of Britten knowledge of Britten’s life and work will
around Britten’. Both editors are American, scholars who worked in the archive when find delving into its contributions both
and the book is – rather bizarrely, given Strode was still its guardian will fondly stimulating and rewarding. Mervyn Cooke
that its publisher is based just a few miles remember having their wrists gently but
from Britten’s Suffolk home – written deliberately slapped if they dared to touch Occasional Pieces
throughout in American English. There is a hallowed manuscript in an inappropriate Writings and Interviews, 1952-2013
a notable emphasis on Britten’s American fashion: it was almost an initiation By Christian Wolff
sojourn in 1939-42, the book beginning ceremony, but the legacy of protectionism OUP, PB, 368pp, £22.99
with a section largely devoted to this ‘exile’ and the sub rosa status of some of the ISBN 978-0-19-061470-6
which (unwittingly?) gives the impression archive’s materials in subsequent years
that the composer’s career only really have now completely evaporated. In their
took off as a consequence of his temporary endearingly personal Epilogue, the book’s
emigration. Two of the book’s 16 chapters editors attest to their own experiences of
are devoted to the ill-fated American working at the archive as relative outsiders, Christian Wolff, now 83,
operetta Paul Bunyan (1941; revised their position neatly resonating with the is the last surviving member
in 1976), as part of a disappointingly central thrust of the project as a whole: it of the New York School of
unbalanced coverage of Britten’s musico- offers a well rounded portrait of Britten composers, a loose coalition

132 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 gramophone.co.uk


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 Conferences to mark the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth in 2013 have spawned a new book of essays
engaged musician operating in the late 20th
and early 21st century ought to be: a free (commissioned by Karlheinz Stockhausen) matter’; and it becomes clear that Wolff is
spirit grounded in compositional and sets out many of Wolff’s base motivated to make musicians interact with
philosophical rigour who is prepared to preoccupations. ‘Form in music could his scores at a deeper level than merely
put sound first and worry only later, if at be taken as a length of program time’, he interpreting the notes. His signature
all, whether the work produced conforms begins and later serves up the following piece Burdocks offers musicians a pool of
to anybody else’s idea of what music, killer line: ‘Music is allowed no privileges materials that can be slotted together as
composed or improvised, must be. I’ve over sound.’ they please. But each musician must listen
occasionally seen Wolff about the place and Wolff explains how sound can be to what their colleagues are playing,
he has always struck me as the most genial organised as measures of time rather making conscious decisions about where
of men – and this anthology of his writing than made to follow conventional ideas to place materials using their instincts
and interviews, beginning a year after he of harmony but, it would be reasonable rather than taking their cue from a score.
rocked Cage’s world with the I Ching and enough to counter, why would anybody Breaking down chains of command
ending in 2013, balances his incisive and want to throw out functioning harmony, between composers, conductors and
determined thinking against a lightness of which was good enough for Bach, Mozart performers is an idea that resurfaces
persuasive touch; a more enlightened and and Schoenberg? In a 1969 interview with throughout the history of modern music
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

generous world could be like this Wolff the new music promoter Victor Schonfeld, and, unsurprisingly, tends to leave the
implies, but he has zero interest in telling Wolff says that New York School traditional classical music lover unsettled.
anyone how they should behave. composers wanted to ‘stay clear of styles Chance procedures or free improvisation,
Occasional Pieces includes articles that were not ours to borrow’. In 1976, in or inviting musicians to define the
that probe technical issues – such as conversation with Walter Zimmermann, structural parameters of a score, can lead
form, notation, rhythm and text – and Wolff expands on the openness of his to accusations of hippy free-for-alls, places
perspectives on an extraordinary range music – ‘my music is often just material … where those who can’t really play go to
of musicians with whom Wolff has it’s set up in such a way as to require pretend they can. But Wolff’s life in music
sympathies and/or has worked: Charles anyone who wants to seriously engage with has been about opening minds to other
Ives, Feldman, German composer Dieter it to exert themselves in a particular way’. meanings of virtuosity; a virtuosity of
Schnebel, improvising saxophonist Evan In 2009 Wolff tells the composer James responsive listening. You’ve got your
Parker, pianist David Tudor and AMM’s Saunders that matters of social interaction instrument and you’ve got your ears –
Keith Rowe. A 1960 essay On Form with his materials go ‘to the heart of the now what sounds matter to you? Philip Clark

gramophone.co.uk 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 Creator Spiritus’ tingles here with Decca’s lavishness in selecting a roster of
Symphony No 8 electricity. With superb atmospheric soloists unlikely to be rivalled has paid off.
Sols; Vienna State Op Chor; Wiener Singverein; recording and a sense of space more than There is not a weak link, and though René
Vienna Boys’ Ch; Chicago SO / Sir Georg Solti in rival versions, not to mention playing Kollo in the principal tenor role occasionally
Decca M 475 7521 from the Chicago orchestra that shows up ignores his pianissimos he easily outstrips his
At last Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand all rivals in precision of ensemble, Solti’s rivals, with a big Heldentenor sound used
can be heard on record at something performance sets standards beyond anything intelligently. My one doubt is whether
approaching its full, expansive stature. we have known before. This is as near a such fine singers needed balancing so far
Here is a version from Solti which far more live performance as the dynamic Solti can forward. My preference would have been for
clearly than any previous one conveys the make it. At times the sheer physical impact the choruses to be brought a little more
feeling of a great occasion. Just as a great makes one gasp for breath, and I found forward, the soloists a little farther back, but
performance, live in the concert-hall, takes myself at the thunderous end of the first as it is I prefer the Decca balance to that of
off and soars from the very start, so the movement shouting out in joyous sympathy, rivals, which also favour the soloists for the
impact of the great opening on ‘Veni so overwhelming is the build-up of tension. sake of clarity. Edward Greenfield (10/72)

Peter Quantrill This was welcomed at the experience he had with the Eighth. He does Wagner. Tennstedt was the first on record
time for stimulating the adrenalin rush of say: ‘For the conductor, most of the to offer a more nuanced, more quietly
a live experience (then even rarer than it is problems in this symphony stem from its ecstatic vision of the piece. But Solti’s vivid
now, in our age of Mahler plenitude and massiveness. In a sense, the Eighth is a vast pointing of instrumental colour and his
possibly surfeit). Yet it’s the losses and gains opera whose visual aspect remains in the Chicago band’s virtuoso execution are still
of a studio-manufactured account that make imagination. Opera conductors have rivalled only by two other notable
themselves obvious from the outset: in the a tremendous advantage in conducting this conductors of Moses und Aron: Boulez and
undeniably impressive but crudely bolted-on and other big choral-orchestral works.’ He Michael Gielen. In fact, a high point of the
organ entry (probably more obvious on the certainly co-ordinates his forces with rigour, recording is the long and tense introduction
latest remasterings than on the original much as he must have done at Covent to Part II with its louring wind solos
LPs), the muscular contribution of the Garden! I suppose part of the difficulty is emerging from Goethe’s wilderness which
chorus, with every sinew strained and sonic – when the LPs appeared they did show Mahler still developing an expressionist
separated, and the huge stretch and seem to set new standards. But even ignoring orchestral canvas to rival anything in
relaxation into the soloists’ first entry, more issues with the manipulated recorded sound, Schoenberg and Strauss. For similar reasons
daringly languorous than Bernstein ever there are live recordings from the same era I’m captured by Solti’s way with one of the
attempted or achieved, and flying in the face which project the score in less hectic fashion. score’s most purple passages, on the Mater
of Mahler’s injunction to keep up the pace. Greenfield would not have been able to refer Gloriosa’s entrance: the strings play as if the
I wonder how much experience Solti had of to Jascha Horenstein’s live 1959 London Adagio from the Ninth was in front of them.
conducting the piece in concert when he account, but, thanks to BBC Legends and, I wish there were more such moments. Even
went into the Sofiensaal? And whether such now, Pristine Audio, we can. And when the playing and singing is genuinely
experience matters? Horenstein had 755 performers, whereas quiet, I miss a certain charm and relaxed
modern rivals tend to make do with 300 or intimacy in passages such as the sub-
David Gutman I wondered that too, so. The Solti I assume comes somewhere in Rosenkavalier duets and trio for the ladies.
in that the performance’s strengths are between? The impact is certainly big.
somehow not specifically Mahlerian. DG I’d say Riccardo Chailly in Lucerne has
In his autobiography Solti remarks that he PQ And ‘operatic’ – if by that term we mean some of the same qualities in that he makes
conducted Mahler’s Seventh Symphony less the kind of full-throttle singing and wild textures bright and pungent where he can,
often than the rest without saying how much swings of pace that characterise Solti’s but without such a hard-edged transatlantic

134 GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2017 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 high-
voltage 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.

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
Sir Georg Solti with Lucia Popp (both seated) listen to playbacks during the recording sessions
to compare all the others’. If LPO issues
Vladimir Jurowski’s performance from
sonority. Also like Solti, he doesn’t go for Gretchen: a bewitching but implausibly April this year, they will present the first
that traditional, though unmarked, radiant sinner! Yvonne Minton is really radical but persuasive alternative.
ritardando into the recapitulation of ‘Veni, a highlight, not only as the blink-and-you’ll-
Creator Spiritus’. And both conductors miss-her Samaritan woman but also in the DG I wasn’t at Jurowski’s concert but I was
employ unusually big-voiced tenor soloists. more important (but unnamed) role of the at Tennstedt’s in 1991. The Tennstedt is
EG seemed to have doubts, but I find the angel earlier in the piece: she displays the technically shaggier than Solti would have
young René Kollo very appealing. (Doctor special, reassuring dignity she brought to countenanced – you seem to be implying
Marianus usually sounds less Heldentenorish the comforting of Peter Pears’s Gerontius, that some of that was deliberate? – but the
and more clapped-out, like Herod in in another spiritual crisis turned to musical two are so completely different in mood
Salome!) What do you make of the solo advantage by Elgar a decade earlier. and pacing that it’s sometimes difficult to
singing? It is usually regarded as one of the remember that one is listening to the same
things that keeps Solti’s set in contention. DG Capturing Kollo’s sound probably posed music. As so often with great studio
a particular problem of scale but it throws recordings, Decca’s is very much of its
PQ Ha! The consistency of casting is notable up again the multi-miking issue. In a time, its mythology bound up with the
in a piece that so often suffers from ‘Sounds in Retrospect’ panel review (12/72), particular circumstances in which the
indisposition and last-minute changes. Robert Layton and Jeremy Noble already Chicago SO restored itself to financial
But what were the Decca engineers doing felt that the soloists were not just forwardly health as a big, bullish brand on the world
in Part I, apparently placing Kollo at the balanced but had the feeling of a ‘sentry- stage. Tennstedt, like Horenstein, seems to
other end of the Sofiensaal from his box’ around them, each voice being ‘picked live somewhere else entirely – somewhere
colleagues and the microphones? It’s the by a special microphone’ and so ‘not really more open and innocent. For all his
recording’s one serious technical drawback. part of the overall sound picture’. People strengths, Solti isn’t the guide you should
Once returned to centre stage in Part II hear voices subjectively anyhow. I admire be looking for if you want to be brought to
he’s magnificent: ‘Blicket auf’ catches exactly the clarity of John Shirley-Quirk but I know tears by the hushed arrival of the chorus at
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D E C C A

that odd balance between ardour and younger listeners who find his timbre ‘Alles Vergängliche’. Perhaps it all depends
prayerfulness (sex, God and transcendence, dispiritingly English and somehow bleaty. on whether you see the music as a defining
all the usual Mahlerian obsessions) which is Popp is the most lovable of all singers in my human statement or a brilliant showpiece.
the symphony’s unique signature. Lucia book but, yes, she isn’t right here and one is If it’s the latter, then the Solti could still be
Popp is almost too chaste for the part of conscious of that familiar ‘squeeze’ your indispensable version.

gramophone.co.uk 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

T
he other day in Mahler’s Second Symphony I heard casting a mezzo Mary Magdalene who could hardly sing the lowest
a marvellous young contralto who was billed as a ‘mezzo- notes of this contralto part. Philippe Herreweghe’s supposedly
soprano’. Perhaps she had been advised to avoid her true period Brahms Alto Rhapsody employed a mezzo. It all contributes
designation – a young contralto I know was told at a music college to the slighting and sidelining of the contralto voice, among the
that they ‘did not believe in contraltos’, who were ‘merely lazy noblest in our vocal tradition.
mezzo-sopranos’. Sir Mark Elder took pains to make his The mania for countertenors has produced a situation in which
performances (and live recording) of The Apostles authentic, using a soprano can sing Bach’s cantatas, but not a contralto. Several
a semi-chorus such as Elgar favoured, but ruined the effect by 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