Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice

August 2007

Editor's Choice

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Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto & Cello Concerto


Finzi:

Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31

John Denman (clarinet)

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Cello Concerto, Op. 40

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


“The Cello Concerto was in many ways the composer's swansong… The beautifully slow movement is deeply searching and draws on an Elgarian quality, a poignant nobility. Yo-Yo Ma's wistfully introspective approach - this was his debut recording - captures its gentle intensity and Vernon Handley proves an inspired partner, particularly in the central movement with its exquisite opening and close. There are many recordings of the gorgeous Clarinet Concerto... but John Denman's account is as seductive as any; again Handley is a superbly understanding partner.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“[Ma's] is not a big performance but a greatly inspired one, and many will like his lightness of touch in the finale...John Denman's performance is entirely seductive. And in both works Vernon Handley's sensitive accompaniment brings first-rate playing” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - August 2007

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Lyrita - SRCD236

(CD)

$15.50

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Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006

Bach, J S: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006


“At some point… every great violinist must square up to the Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas. Tetzlaff has finally bitten the bullet - magnificently. Among other modern instrumental versions Julia Fischer's 2004 recording… sets much store in maintaining an even beauty of tone. Tetzlaff is edgier. He takes more risks, probes deeper, shows greater stylistic awareness and is refreshingly rooted in the rhetoric of the dance movements which lend a French accent to the Partitas...” BBC Music Magazine, September 2007 ****

“Christian Tetzlaff, always one of the most thoughtful, imaginative violinists, has obviously found Bach's solo works a stimulating and rewarding challenge. Technically, he's most impressive: using a modern bow, he can achieve, with each phrase, the kind of subtle give and take that's normally the preserve of the best Baroque violinists. His chord playing, too, shows wonderful control; in the more densely polyphonic pieces – the Chaconne and the fugues in the three sonatas – it seems there's often little choice between aggressive accentuation and rhythmic distortion caused by spreading the chords. Tetzlaff, however, manages to avoid both pitfalls, with varied arpeggiation that never fails to take account of the music's rhythmic requirements.
The performances have a remarkable air of spontaneity, the result of a pervasive rubato, especially notable in the ornamented opening movements of the first two sonatas, and in the freer sections of the Chaconne. There's a sense of line and balance that ensures that each departure from metronomic regularity sounds entirely natural, unlocking the music's expressive potential. This is even felt when, in a few movements in the partitas, the dance character suggests a more regular, metrical pulse. Apart from this, it's notable how Tetzlaff realises the virtuosity of Bach's violin writing – the moto perpetuo finales of the sonatas sound truly thrilling, full of temperament and fire. Do investigate this outstanding set.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Christian Tetzlaff, always one of the most thoughtful, imaginative violinists, has obviously found Bach's solo works a stimulating and rewarding challenge. Technically, he's most impressive: using a modern bow, he can achieve, with each phrase, the kind of subtle give and take that's normally the preserve of the best Baroque violinists. The performances have a remarkable air of spontaneity, the result of a pervasive rubato, especially notable in the ornamental opening movements of the first two sonatas, and in the freer sections of the Chaconne. ...it's notable how Tetzlaff realises the virtuosity of Bach's violin writing - the moto perpetuo finales of the sonatas sound truly thrilling, full of temperament and fire.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

Hänssler - HAEN98250

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Elgar: Symphony No. 1 & Organ Sonata

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 & Organ Sonata


Elgar:

Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55

Organ Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 28

(transcribed by Gordon Jacob)


“Hickox… offers an attractive, enterprising coupling… and his account of the Symphony, caught in state-of-the-art sonics, is good, in places excellent.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2007 ****

“The SACD recording for this impressive Elgar First is spectacular; you really appreciate the sharpness of articulation of the Cardiff players.
Hickox's interpretation is comparably impressive, particularly so in the first movement where he has a cunning way of presenting the great Elgarian melodies simply. In the tricky transition from two in a bar to three Hickox broadens the tempo where others follow the composer's example in keeping the minim beat steady; nonetheless he makes that moment a magnificent climax.
Hickox's control of such climaxes is masterly.
In the Scherzo the articulation of the violins and the sharpness of attack is thrilling. In the great melodies of the slow movement Hickox tenderly brings out a songlike quality, making others seem a little studied. The delicate pianissimo as the third theme enters is breathtaking. The two great 'gulp' moments in the finale come at the climax of the passage where the theme of the slow introduction comes in augmentation; there Hickox comes near to matching Elgar himself in impact. Finally, he secures a superbly satisfying crescendo on the brass on the final chord.
The generous coupling adds to the attractions of the disc, an orchestration of a work which should be far better known. The qualities which make Hickox's reading of the Symphony so impressive come out here too.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“The SACD recording is spectacular; you really appreciate the sharpness of articulation of the Cardiff players. Hickox's control… climaxes is masterly. In the Scherzo the articulation of the violins and the sharpness of attack is thrilling. In the great melodies of the slow movement Hickox tenderly brings out a songlike quality, making others seem a little studied. The delicate pianissimo as the third theme enters... is breathtaking.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

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Elgar’s Interpreters on Record - Volume 5

Elgar’s Interpreters on Record - Volume 5

Broadcasts from the Leech Collection at the British Library (1935-1950)


Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38 (excerpts)

Boult & Sargent

Caractacus, Op. 35 (excerpts)

Hull

And King Olaf heard the Cry!

Nash

With Proud Thanksgiving

McNair

Carillon, Op. 75

McNair

The Shepherd's Song

Widdop

Sea Pictures, Op. 37 (excerpts)

Jarred

The Spirit of England, Op. 80

Boult


This 3CD set is compiled from 'off-air’ recordings of Elgar's works from BBC broadcasts made by engineer Kenneth Leech in the 1930s.

The archive is an important document and worthy of presenting on CD. These recordings draw back a veil on musical history and some invaluable music-making, and furthermore document the performance style of the day. Unfortunately, not many of the performances are complete given the limitations of recording on disc, and having to change sides, but they have been carefully restored and re-mastered.

“This is one of the most exciting archival releases in recent years. Everything here has its interest and value, but at the centre are two performances of The ream of Gerontius: from 1935 under Sargent and 1936 under Boult. Both have Heddle Nash as Gerontius. ...Nash's singing is heard throughout with perfect clarity. And it is glorious! Sargent conducts admirably but (and this is the other dazzling glory of what we hear) Boult brings such a charge to his performance we see how his orchestra at just this time became one fit for Toscanini.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“This is one of the most exciting archival releases in recent years. The source is a collection of privately made recordings of BBC broadcasts between 1935 and 1950. Kenneth Leech was a remarkable man, an engineer employed originally on the railways, designing a searchlight for the Navy in wartime, composing and conducting works for orchestra, and living to be over 100. Putting his technical skills to the task of recording from the radio, he used aluminium discs running at 64rpm and applying 3-in-1 oil to reduce surface noise. The collection, which is now in the British Library, is particularly rich in Elgar, and it was on Gramophone critic Alan Blyth's urging that this compilation was issued to mark the 150th anniversary of Elgar's birth.
Everything here has its interest and value, but at the centre are two performances of The Dreamof Gerontius: from 1935 under Sargent and 1936 under Boult. Both have Heddle Nash as Gerontius.
Of the first, just over 70 minutes is preserved, with slightly over half an hour of the second, in separate excerpts but allowing all three soloists to be heard. Andrew Neill, in his introductory notes, does well to warn listeners about the fragmentary nature of the recordings, though much comes through with startling brightness; in particular, Nash's singing is heard throughout with perfect clarity. And it is glorious! Sargent conducts admirably but (and this is the other dazzling glory of what we hear) Boult brings such a charge to his performance we see how his orchestra at just this time became one fit for Toscanini.
There are several performers who in these broadcasts come to life as they never did in the studio; or rather, we come much nearer to the experience of hearing them in reality. Elsie Suddaby emerges as a valiant soprano, strong in spirit and sure in the thrust of her voice. Mary Jarred takes to the Sea Pictures like a Valkyrie.
Astra Desmond has something of her heroine Clara Butt about her. Keith Falkner brings an unexpected operatic thrill to his 'Proficiscere'.
And there is a new Widdop, from 1935, when they had stopped recording him; and what a mistake that was! These are precious retrievals: blessings on Kenneth Leech and all concerned.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

Elgar Society - EECD003005

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Moonstruck - Songs of F G Scott

Moonstruck - Songs of F G Scott


Scott, F:

Milkwort and Bog-Cotton

Crowdieknowe

Moonstruck

The Eemis Stane

The Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch Hauch

Ay Waukin, O!

Amang the Trees

The Discreet Hint

Je descendis dans mon jardin

Florine

Lourd on my hert

The Watergaw

Country Life

Wheesht, Wheest

O, wha my babie-clouts will buy?

My wife's a wanton we thing

The Inumerable Christ

I wha aince in Heavens' Heicht

An Apprentice Angel

Hungry Waters

Te Deil o'Bogie

To a Lady

Cupid and Venus

The Old Fisherman

Im Tiroler Wirsthaus

In Time of Tumult

The Man in the Moon

First Love

Empty Vessel

The Wren's Nest

Love of Alba

The Wee Man


Lisa Milne (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone) & Iain Burnside (piano)

Francis George Scott is a key figure in Scotland's musical history. Often referred to as Scotland's Hugo Wolf, his poetic settings draw on material from such writers as Robert Burns and Hugh McDiarmid to convey an extraordinary range of emotions and themes.

The settings Scott made of MacDiarmid poems in the 1920s and early 1930s are the heart of his work. Their poetic range is extraordinary: the condensed madness in Moonstruck, the tenderness of Milkwort and Bog-cotton; self-mocking, grumpy Scottish agitprop in Lourd on my hert, heart-wrenching simplicity in Empty Vessel.

“The songs here are shared between soprano Lisa Milne and baritone Roderick Williams, who capture perfectly the fragile sensitivity of the best songs” The Guardian

“Signum Classics' enterprising sequence reveals a composer of acute poetic instinct, uncompromising integrity and markedly cosmopolitan sensibility… Scott's native roots are abundantly in evidence, and yet, as the exemplary accompanist Iain Burnside states in his enthusiastic and perceptive introduction: "Never is there a whiff of sentimentality, never a glimpse of the shortbread tin." Suffice to say, both Lisa Milne and Roderick Williams sing with idiomatic eloquence and palpable dedication; sound and presentation, too, leave nothing to be desired.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - June 2007

Signum - SIGCD096

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Lise de la Salle plays Mozart and Prokofiev

Lise de la Salle plays Mozart and Prokofiev


 

‘Lise de la Salle, Majeure!’

Bonus DVD film by Jean-Philippe Perrot

Mozart:

Rondo in A minor, K511

Piano Sonata No. 9 in D major, K311

Variations (12) on ‘Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman' in C major, K265

Prokofiev:

Toccata in D minor, Op. 11

Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28

Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 75 - excerpts

Six pieces


“A talent destined for greatness, Lise de la Salle has the Midas touch. The most complete, thought-provoking young artist to come my way since the days of Pollini, Argerich and Lupu” International Record Review

“…Lise de la Salle's… vividly recorded programme is cleverly chosen so as to present the broadest possible representation of each composer's style. Although there are some exceptionally fine recordings of the Mozart pieces on the market… de la Salle delivers committed performances that take full account of the stylistic conventions of the period but never shirk from presenting an individual view of the music... De la Salle's Prokofiev is even more convincing. She builds up a formidable head of steam in the Toccata... and the contrasting sections of the Third Sonata are just as imaginatively characterised.” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2007 *****

“Young talent does not come more brilliantly or ardently alive than this. De la Salle is tremulously expressive in Mozart's A minor Rondo, making every bar pulse and breathe with a special life and prophecy of romantic things to come. But then she is no less successful in Prokofiev's diablerie, finding time, despite her headlong tempo, for piquant asides in the Toccata, for a loving romantic dalliance in parts of the Third Sonata and for a reminder in her selection from Romeo and Juliet of delicacy and affection beneath Prokofiev's outwardly prickly and intractable nature.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“Young talent does not come more brilliantly or ardently alive than this. Clearly designed to demonstrate this 19-year-old pianist's versatility, Naïve's album showcases her in radically different composers and finds her equally persuasive in both. De la Salle is tremulously expressive in Mozart's A minor Rondo, making every bar pulse and breathe with a special life and prophecy of romantic things to come. She revels in the bustle and ceremony of the D major Sonata, K284. Hear her enviable perle in the last-movement Vars 1 and 3, her change to minor-key contemplation in Var 7, in the florid musings of Var 11 – and in her pinpoint definition and character in the K265 Variations – and here you surely have a young pianist born for Mozart.
But then she is no less successful in Prokofiev's diablerie, finding time, despite her headlong tempo, for piquant asides in the Toccata, for a loving romantic dalliance in parts of the Third Sonata and for a reminder in her selection from Romeo and Juliet of delicacy and affection beneath Prokofiev's outwardly prickly and intractable nature. This superb album concludes with a short DVD showing De la Salle exclaiming over what she clearly sees as her enchanted life (while acknowledging the hard work involved). All things being equal, she is clearly on the threshold of a major career. Her freshness and vitality are already something very special.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

BBC Music Magazine

Instrumental Choice

Naive - V5080

(CD - 2 discs)

$28.75

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Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D944 'The Great'

Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C major, D944 'The Great'


“Nott…works hard to secure a hugely detailed, texturally alert reading… The slow movement's second subject has an almost seraphic Brucknerian sweetness to counterpoint some incisive truculence, and the Finale captures the energy and excitement Schubert must have experienced composing it...” BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2007 ***

“…Nott offers a performance that hews close to the text… yet is replete with the touches of a thoughtfully considered interpretation. What cannot actually be described is Nott's malleable control of rhythm, the subtle distensions and contractions of phrases, and a feel for orchestral colour and balance that is particularly noticeable in the second movement.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“Relatively unfamiliar conductor, very familiar symphony. But don't let the unfamiliarity of Jonathan Nott allow you to believe that this is yet another version of a much-recorded work. It isn't. On the contrary, Nott offers a performance that hews close to the text (all repeats are also observed) yet is replete with the touches of a thoughtfully considered interpretation. And consideration begins at the beginning: the solo horn theme broadly stated, hairpin accents strong, the tempo picking up almost imperceptibly afterwards but no speeding up to the main Allegro manon troppo, no slowing down for the second subject and no dissipation of tension in the coda.
Nott keeps the momentum going to the end.
This literal account may suggest rigidity – which isn't the case. What cannot actually be described is Nott's malleable control of rhythm, the subtle distensions and contractions of phrases, and a feel for orchestral colour and balance that is particularly noticeable in the second movement. The bass here is firmly delineated, wind writing is finely clarified, fortissimos don't degenerate into noise. The texture remains clean. Sound and perspective are natural.
Though SACD playback could offer improvements in audio quality, it couldn't sharpen Nott's subjective immersion in the many facets of the music, one of which is a lilting impulse that he senses in the finale. Yet the line doesn't go slack. Nott, as always, keeps a tight hold on the reins while expressing his convictions with a conviction that is sure to win you over.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

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Tudor Jonathan Nott Complete Schubert Symphonies - TUDOR7144

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Karita Mattila Helsinki Recital

Karita Mattila Helsinki Recital


Duparc:

L'Invitation au voyage

Romance de Mignon

Au pays ou se fait la guerre

Chanson triste

Phidylé

Dvorak:

Gypsy Melodies (7), Op. 55 (B104)

Rachmaninov:

Sing not, O lovely one (Ne poi, krasavitsa, pri mne), Op. 4 No. 4

Twilight, Op.21 No. 3

Fragment from A. Musset, Op. 21 No. 6

The Muse, Op. 34 No. 1

What happiness, Op. 34 No.12

Saariaho:

Quatre Instants

first recording


Karita Mattila (soprano) & Martin Katz (piano)

“A frame of applause and ecstatic ovations greet what is one of Karita Mattila's most exciting discs yet… The repertoire takes Mattila's voice into thrilling new regions; and Martin Katz's piano is the voice's equal at every turn.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2007 *****

“Best of all is the highly expressive Quatre Instants by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, dedicated to Mattila and showing how the singer is prepared to extend her range into new music to quite stunning effect.” Financial Times

“Following the Saariaho, passion is torn to tatters in the Rachmaninov group, with perhaps the strongest advocacy of the two Pushkin settings (Oh, do not sing tome and The Muse) since Söderström. Then, instead of making this the final item, Mattila ops for the gentler, even light-hearted, envoi of the Dvorák songs - superbly done, with a real wit and character. Nothing but praise then for the soprano, with generous, untiring and subtly detailed concentration over a longish time span in heavy repertoire, or for her accompanist (Katz is a real listener to what his singer does).” Gramophone Magazine, August 2007

“The songs push Mattila to her expressive limits as cries of rapture curdle into shrieks of pain and spasms of rage intrude on erotic memories. Its impact on the audience can be gauged from the near hysteria that erupts at the end…Her accompanist, Martin Katz, deals superbly with some of the most fearsomely difficult piano writing in the entire song repertoire.” The Guardian

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2007

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - July 2007

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Ondine - ODE11005

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