Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

February 2004

Editor's Choice

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Bliss: Piano Concerto

Bliss: Piano Concerto


Bliss:

Piano Concerto in B flat major

Piano Sonata

Concerto for Two Pianos


“Concerto for Two pianos is the most lively, attractive work on the disc, full of quick, spiky wit and delight on colour, all well brought out by Donohoe and Roscoe” BBC Music Magazine

“In recent times Bliss's swaggering Piano Concerto (written in 1938-9 for Solomon) has found a champion in Peter Donohoe, and it's good that he's been able to set down his powerful interpretation as part of Naxos's British Piano Concertos series. As those thunderous octaves at the outset demonstrate, Bliss's bravura writing holds no terrors for Donohoe and he generates a satisfying rapport with David Lloyd-Jones and the RSNO. Theirs is a beautifully prepared and attentive reading which grips from start to finish.
The bittersweet central Adagietto casts an especially potent spell, while both outer movements harness blistering virtuosity to supple affection. All told, a worthy modern counterpart to the thrilling historic displays from Solomon and Mewton-Wood.
No less compelling is the buoyant account of the Concerto for Two Pianos: an infectiously enjoyable, single-movement work that began life in 1921 as a Concerto for Piano, Tenor and Strings (that same year, Bliss embarked on his Colour Symphony, of which there are fleeting echoes here). The present revision dates from 1950; 18 years later, Bliss overhauled the piece one last time for the three-hand partnership of Phyllis Sellick and Cyril Smith. As in the Piano Concerto, the recording's a touch bright and clangorous, but the ear soon adjusts.
No such technical qualms surround Donohoe's intelligent and accomplished performance of the Sonata composed in 1952 for Noel Mewton- Wood. With his commanding presence and rich tonal palette, Donohoe again exhibits a remarkable empathy with Bliss's red-blooded inspiration. This rewarding Naxos disc deserves every success.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2004

Naxos British Piano Concertos - 8557146

(CD)

$9.00

(also available to download from $7.00)

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American Classics - Leonard Bernstein

American Classics - Leonard Bernstein


Bernstein:

Symphony No. 1 'Jeremiah'

Concerto for Orchestra 'Jubilee Games' (1986-1989)


New Zealand Sympony Orchestra, James Judd

“In life, Leonard Bernstein ran into criticism for programming his own concert music. Now he's gone, it seems we can't get enough of it – and in a variety of performance styles. Latterday champions such as Michael Tilson Thomas and Marin Alsop still go for the idiomatic jugular.
Less extrovert interpreters – David Zinman and Kent Nagano spring to mind – downplay the bravado to discover a fresher transparency. On this disc James Judd, British-born but for many years Florida-based, seems closer to the second camp while remaining remarkably faithful to the composer's own overall timings in both pieces.
Keeping a stiff upper lip isn't an option in the Concerto for Orchestra, one of Bernstein's most exploratory and frankly uneven scores.
Some of its music is very beautiful, though it isn't easy to see what it has to do with the rest.
Judd sometimes trumps the composer's own wilder performance with his paler, more neutral tone.
Competition is fiercer in the coupling. The scherzo of the Jeremiah, rowdy, raw and rhetorical in the composer's New York recording, is brought that much closer to the symphonic mainstream here, the New Zealand winds relatively polite and in tune. The portentous, hieratic tendencies of the last movement may even be less apparent when the singer is an Australasian crossover artist rather than the customary grande dame. The sonorities are lighter and the voltage a little lower than you might be used to. A genuine bargain even so, with recorded sound way ahead of the super-budget norm. There are full if not always felicitously expressed notes. Newcomers needn't hesitate.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2004

Naxos American Classics - 8559100

(CD)

$9.00

(also available to download from $7.00)

Usually despatched in 2 - 3 working days. (Available now to download.)

Chausson / Ravel / Duparc - Felicity Lott

Chausson / Ravel / Duparc - Felicity Lott


Chausson:

Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19

Duparc:

L'Invitation au voyage

Chanson triste

Phidylé

Ravel:

Shéhérazade


“Her impeccable command of Gallic language and style makes her ideally suited to this repertoire, more so, even, than Janet Baker…She is also blessed with one of the most magnificent of orchestral accompaniments, the Suisse Romande Orchestra recalling its glory days under Ansermet in the range and depth of its playing under Armin Jordan.” BBC Music Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2004

A Musical Picture - up to 40% off

Aeon - AECD0314

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Special: $12.12

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