BBC Music Magazine - September Choices

by Chris O'Reilly. 9th August 2017

A great month for baroque music of all varieties, with Ann Hallenberg's breathtaking album of arias by Albinoni, Giacomelli, Leo, Orlandini, Porpora and Vinci taking pride of place as Recording of the Month, and music by Telemann and Bach occupying the top Concerto and Instrumental slots. One of our office favourites (and best-sellers of the month!) also makes the grade - Bojan Čičić and the Illyria Consort making their recording debut with the long-forgotten Sonate da Camera by Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli (you can read Katherine's in-depth interview with Bojan about the project here).

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Recording of the Month

Carnevale 1729

Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano), Il Pomo d'Oro, Stefano Montanari

'This music is electrifying...In re-inventing Senesino's whispered pathos, or Faustina's heated protests, Hallenberg shows us why Baroque opera stars were idolised...Collective virtuosity is the lifeblood of Baroque music. Hallenberg is dazzling, but as part of a shared project. This performance brings us music never heard before, executed with a rare intensity.'

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Orchestral Choice

Copland: Symphony No. 3 & Three Latin American Sketches

Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin

'Pacing can be tricky in the Molto moderato opening movement, but Slatkin's astutely pitched tempo allows both a coherent sense of forward momentum and adequate elbow room for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings to phrase eloquently. Heavy brass and timpani make their solemn impact...[a] tautly argued, rhythmically bouyant version of Copland's Symphony, one of the most cogent currently on the market.'

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Concerto Choice

Telemann: Concerti per multi stromenti

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

'These felicitous, multi-instrument works show Georg Philipp's endlessly fertile and capricious imagination...The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin has led the vanguard of Baroque performance since 1982. Telemann's music is a perfect showcase for its virtuoso soloists as well as their sensitivity as chamber musicians...A delicate musical tapestry, fit to adorn the finest court banquet.'

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Chamber Choice

Carbonelli: Sonate da Camera Nos. 1-6

Bojan Čičić (violin), The Illyria Consort

'Čičić's distinctive sound - sweet, slightly dry and exquisitely centred - is ideal for the taut beauty of Carbonelli's solo lines. Crucially, Čičić fleshes out the composer's ideas, filling rests and cadences with large dollops of his own making. His band helps him enormously, not least with their additions and sexy realisations. The future of the Illyria Consort is bright.'

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Instrumental Choice

JS Bach: French Suites

Zhu Xiao-Mei (piano)

'Her affinity with [Bach's] idiom is everywhere palpable in this recording...Eschewing flashy showmanship, she focuses instead on drawing a limpid cantabile sound, and on making the rhythms dance...Mei's phrasing is beautifully tapered, lending a natural ebb and flow to the music. In short, these are honest and deeply affectionate performances, set to become a classic.'

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Choral Choice

Szymanowski: Litany to the Virgin Mary, Stabat Mater & Symphony No. 3

Aleksandra Kurzak, Agnieszka Rehlis, Dmitry Korchak; Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Jacek Kaspszyk

'This huge ensemble is captured in brilliant sound - essential for appreciating the composer's luxuriantly detailed soundworld...[in the Stabat Mater] Kaspszyk ensures that everything is balanced between introversion and dramatic impact...[in the Third Symphony] Kaspszyk brings out the dancing flexibility oof the central movement while controlling his forces masterfully.'

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Opera Choice

Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict

Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Paul Appleby; London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus, Antonello Manacorda, Laurent Pelly (director)

'This is Pellyland, a deeply satisfying comic world with its own style conjured up for Glyndebourne by one of the most assured opera directors at work today...The LPO rise magnificently to the challenge of Berlioz's vibrant orchestration and daring harmonies...d'Oustrac is a perfect Béatrice, a comic actress with impeccable timing who relishes every word...Appleby's Bénédict is much more than the bluff soldier.'

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Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict

Stéphanie d’Oustrac, Paul Appleby; London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus, Antonello Manacorda, Laurent Pelly (director)

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