BBC Music Magazine - June Choices

by Chris O'Reilly. 18th May 2017

Great to see that our colleagues at BBC Music Magazine have also fallen hard for the charms of one of the Presto office's most-played discs of the year to date - Paul McCreesh's 'big is beautiful' account of Haydn's The Seasons (complete with ten horns!), which we profiled in depth a little while back, is their June Recording of the Month. (If you missed it first time round, you can read David's interview with Paul McCreesh about the project here).

Also mentioned in despatches are Grigory Sokolov's astonishing live recordings of Mozart and Rachmaninov concertos, released in March on Deutsche Grammophon, which provoked James to 'stand and cheer along with the Albert Hall audience' when he reviewed it a few weeks ago!

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Recording of the Month

Haydn: The Seasons

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Jeremy Ovenden (tenor), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass); Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh

'McCreesh revels in Haydn's masterly skills in writing for orchestra, choir and soloists...The choir's tone is full-bodied yet never heavy...The soloists are expertly chosen...while McCreesh's conducting is responsive to every subtle shade within Haydn's grand spiritual vision.'

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Orchestral Choice

Janacek: The Kreutzer Sonata & Intimate Letters (arr. for string orchestra)

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Terje Tønnesen

'Nervous systems go haywire when confronted with committed performances of Janacek's two quartets. Imagine the impact, then, when both are carefully and selectively arranged for string orchestra...That so much scours the soul here is due partly to the shared vision of these remarkable players...If you already have the quartet versions and love the music, add this beautifully-presented release to your collection.'

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Concerto Choice

Mozart & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos

Grigory Sokolov (piano); Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Trevor Pinnock, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Yan Pascal Tortelier

'Sokolov is now on a don't-touch-me pinnacle...the two concertos here present the zenith of his art. An ideal partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Trevor Pinnock's direction performing Mozart highlights the playful grace of Sokolov's playing in the outer movements, and its rapt intensity in the Adagio. And the Rachmaninov goes like the wind.'

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Opera Choice

Puccini: Turandot (DVD)

Nina Stemme (Turandot), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Calaf), Maria Agresta (Liù), Alexander Tsymbaluk (Timur); Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Riccardo Chailly, Nikolaus Lehnhoff (dir.)

'it is a measure of Lehnhoff's authority that you never question his choices...Chailly digs deep into Puccini's score...And the La Scala orchestra plays as if their life depended on it...Stemme is in the great tradition of Birgit Nilsson's Turandot, though there is a touching uncertainty around her Princess too...Agresta's Liù is one of the most appealing on record.'

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Puccini: Turandot (Blu-ray)

Nina Stemme (Turandot), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Calaf), Maria Agresta (Liù), Alexander Tsymbaluk (Timur); Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Riccardo Chailly, Nikolaus Lehnhoff (dir.)

'it is a measure of Lehnhoff's authority that you never question his choices...Chailly digs deep into Puccini's score...And the La Scala orchestra plays as if their life depended on it...Stemme is in the great tradition of Birgit Nilsson's Turandot, though there is a touching uncertainty around her Princess too...Agresta's Liù is one of the most appealing on record.'

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Choral & Song Choice

Heimat

Benjamin Appl (baritone), James Baillieu (piano)

'Appl is not only a singer of boundless promise, he is already a great artist. This disc shows how versatile he is, with not only great Lieder but interesting rarities too...Appl sounds as if singing is his most natural mode of expression; and since he has an extraordinary beautiful voice, there should be decades of happiness as he continues to expand his repertoire.'

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Chamber Choice

Preghiera - Rachmaninov: Piano Trios

Gidon Kremer (violin), Daniil Trifonov (piano)

'This being Rachmaninov, the main burden in both trios falls to the pianist; such is Trifonov's artistry that even with his dazzling technique, and without ever selling the emotional intensity of the music short, he never overshadows his colleagues, who in turn realise every colour and expressive import of their parts.'

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Instrumental Choice

Point And Line: Debussy & Hosokawa Etudes

Momo Kodama (piano)

'Forget other recordings of Debussy's Etudes. Not that this is better than Gieseking, Pollini, Uchida, Bavouzet and the rest - it's merely that such comparisons are redundant...Kodama brings a wonderful capacity for stillness to Hosokawa's often ascetic language...but this is an inventive exploration of both composers.'

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