BBC Music Magazine March Choices

by Chris O'Reilly. 14th March 2017

A double triumph this month for office favourite Jean Rondeau's Dynastie (a stylish collection of keyboard concertos by members of the Bach family) and Martinu Cantatas from the Prague Philharmonic Choir under Lukas Vasilek - both recordings have been selected as Choices in BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone.

And it's great to see newcomer Rubicon Classics starting with a bang - French pianist Julien Brocal takes the Instrumental palm with his Chopin Preludes and Piano Sonata No. 2, the first disc to be released on the label.

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Recording of the Month

Shostakovich: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Frank Peter Zimmermann (violin), NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Alan Gilbert

'[These recordings] stand out as formidable achievements. They match technical mastery at the highest level with profound insight. No less impressive is the compelling interaction between Zimmermann and the excellent NDR Elbphilharmonie under Alan Gilbert, a crucial component in music that is so symphonic in design.'

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Orchestral Choice

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 in D minor ‘Wagner Symphony'

Staatskapelle Dresden, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

'Nézet-Séguin has got this huge, seemingly sprawling score better than anyone else I’ve heard…somehow lush Wagnerian ardour and a much older kind of mystical austerity don’t just cohabit, they even fuse…[the Dresden Staatskapelle] bring a feeling for the special sound world of this version that beats all rivals.'

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Concerto Choice

Dynastie: Bach Keyboard Concertos

Jean Rondeau (harpsichord), Sophie Gent, Louis Creac'h (violin), Fanny Paccoud (viola), Antoine Touche (cello), Thomas de Pierrefeu (contrabass) & Evolène Kiener (bassoon)

'This spirited and eloquently ornamented playing serves the music of JS Bach and three of his sons uncommonly well.'

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Opera Choice

Farinelli - A Portrait

Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano), Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset

'Hallenberg is a force of nature...Hallenberg’s voice is unmistakably her own, and the crackling tension of live performance fills every phrase. Her swaggering fireworks culminate in a final aria of almost ludicrous velocity. Her lyricism is equally powerful, thanks partly to Rousset. Creating hushed silence or soft tremolos, he subtly makes space for her vocal entries and colours.'

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Choral and Song Choice

Martinů: Cantatas

Members of the Bennewitz Quartet & Prague Philharmonic Choir, Lukas Vasilek

'The top-quality professional Prague Philharmonic Choir master the most harmonically rich cantata of the four, a tale of a girl who doesn’t recognise her long-lost love returning from the wars…valuable messages for our or indeed any time, and superlatively performed. Unmissable.'

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Chamber Choice

Ligeti: Six Bagatelles, Kammerkonzert & Dix pièces pour quintette à vent

Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth

'This new recording is comparable with the best…perhaps its most characteristic movement is the third which shows Ligeti’s fascination with mechanical objects, its out-of-phase repeated notes having the ensemble converging and moving apart. The wind quintet pieces, ideally recorded, are played with superb virtuosity.'

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Instrumental Choice

Chopin: Les états d'Ame

Julien Brocal (piano)

'Even in a very crowded field there are new things to say. Even more to the point is the fact that this young French pianist says them with complete naturalness, for there is nothing contrived or attention-seeking about his approach to such well-known repertoire.'

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