BBC Music Magazine - October Choices

by Chris O'Reilly. 7th September 2017

A second volume of Haydn from the Chiaroscuro Quartet (led by Alina Ibragimova) on BIS takes pride of place this month. Other featured discs include the final instalment of Roger Vignoles's Strauss Lieder series on Hyperion (one of our own recent Recordings of the Week), featuring soprano Rebecca Evans and tenor Nicky Spence, and the young guitarist Sean Shibe's stunning debut disc of English guitar music on Delphian (you can read David's in-depth interview with Sean about the recording here).

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Recording of the Month

Haydn: ‘Sun’ Quartets Op.20, Nos. 4-6 (Vol. 2)

Chiaroscuro Quartet

'It was the interpretation of No. 5 that blind-sided me on a first listening...This is a deeply absorbing reading, and can make other interpretations seem almost trite. It’s partly the sheer timbral and dynamic range on offer: each note is given its resonance, keening dissonances fully realised, high lines lent a fine spun, fragile beauty.'

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Orchestral Choice

Ravel, Dutilleux & Delage

Julia Bullock (soprano), Leonidas Kavakos (violin); London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

'In seeing as well as hearing this concert, what comes over is Rattle's love for the music and the orchestra's wholehearted response: it all looks so terribly easy, though of course it's anything but. Which is not to say that drama and tension are downplayed. Even in Le tombeau de Couperin...Rattle explores its mysterious corners with the softest, most ethereal sounds from the string section.'

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Concerto Choice

Elliott Carter: Late Works

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oliver Knussen

'Aimard brings fluent delicacy to the concertos and the orchestral soundings. He is matched in filigree precision by co-protagonists, percussionist Colin Currie, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under conductor Oliver Knussen. Carter’s very last, centenarian works...prove concise, poetic and delightfully mischievous as ever.'

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Opera Choice

Stravaganza d'Amore! The Birth of Opera at the Medici Court

Ensemble Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon

'Harmonia Mundi's production has all the sumptuousness of the original Medici spectacle. The performances are highly polished, chorus and ensemble, producing a glossy and liberally embellished sound while the dozen soloists give fine and well-balanced contributions. Pichon's approach is certainly creative and, though ultimately it's something of a hodge-podge of genres and periods, it's all very stylishly done.'

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Choral & Song Choice

Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs 8

Rebecca Evans (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano)

'Evans weaves a special magic in the dying falls, with magnificent breath control at the end of 'September'. Gold, though, goes to Nicky Spence and Roger Vignoles, making a remarkable statement of intent in the raptuorous 'Cacilie', with a special care with text and phrase and an ardour verging on the heroic...There’s both sensitivity and fearlessness in Spence’s upper register; three cheers to Hyperion.'

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Chamber Choice

Buxtehude: Trio Sonatas Op. 1

Sophie Gent (violin), Jonathan Manson (cello) & Thomas Dunford (lute), Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen

'This exquisitely balanced recording instantly captures the sense of conversation between the instrumental parts, highlighting the egalitarian approach of Buxtehude's melodic writing. What's more, the content of these conversations allows us to gloimpse the composer's esteemed artistic stature in miniature...Let's hope a sequel is due.'

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Instrumental Choice

Dreams & Fancies

Sean Shibe (guitar)

'Shibe performs with superb artistry some of the now classics that Bream inspired...Prime in any such catalogue is Britten's 1963 Nocturnal after John Dowland, and Shibe gathers the listener into its unsettling, fantastical soundworld with an intensity that combines gracefulness and threat with rapier skill...[Shibe] movingly navigates that peculiarly English fine line between whimsy and melancholic vision.'

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Jazz Choice

Small Town

Bill Frisell (electric guitar), Thomas Morgan (double bass)

'Frisell is back with another masterclass in intimate extemporisation, accompanied by the reserved but responsive bass of Thomas Morgan... The music itself, with the guitarist's resonating notes and old time Americana references, has an eerie quality...It's exquisite.'

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