Presto News - 7th August 2015

Alexander Melnikov performs Schumann's Piano Concerto

The second instalment in Harmonia Mundi’s period Schumann triptych sees Isabelle Faust pass the baton to Alexander Melnikov for the Piano Concerto. Where the Violin Concerto was hampered by an unwarrantedly poor reputation for decades after its premiere, the Piano Concerto’s difficulties occurred before it ever saw the light of day – Schumann, although a consummate and passionate pianist and composer for the piano, wrestled with the concerto form for some time, producing various half-formed sketches along the way to his reconception of the format. In his mind he refashioned the very nature of the relationship between soloist and orchestra to be more equal, while at the same time moving towards freeing the music from the conventions of sonata form.

Alexander Melnikov
Alexander Melnikov

The initial standalone composition that became the first movement of the Concerto shows this thought-process in action, taking the form of a largely free fantasy in which motifs interweave as Schumann sees fit. Only at his wife Clara’s insistence did he eventually complete the work by adding the Intermezzo and the swaggering finale – and it was indeed Clara who gave the premiere in 1846, nearly twenty years after Robert had first sat down to try and write a concerto for the instrument!

Just as in the Violin Concerto (and indeed as in other of Heras-Casado’s recordings of Romantic orchestral repertoire), the forces used in this performance are period ones – gut strings and, crucially, a fortepiano of the kind that Schumann would have had in mind when writing. The difference the instrumentation made to the Violin Concerto, while unmistakeable, was subtle; here it is anything but. The unique timbre of the fortepiano completely changes the feel of the piece, particularly the louder and lower passages, and in fact takes a bit of getting used to if, like me, you’re familiar with the sound of a modern concert grand. It’s true that the bottom octaves of a modern instrument can yield a glorious roar at climactic moments, but that’s not the equipment this work is written for; the lighter, almost spikier sound of the period instrument gives it a less boisterously extrovert feel.

Schumann’s Concerto is often paired with Grieg’s on disc – the similarities between them are considerable, and it’s known that the former strongly influenced the latter – but I think perhaps Schumann’s can sometimes suffer from trying to compete with Grieg’s altogether more forceful work. Melnikov’s decision to use the fortepiano allows him to take the work out of Grieg’s shadow, letting it emerge as Schumann originally conceived it. That’s not to say that his performance lacks power – far from it, for instance in the stirring, ripplingly arpeggiated cycle-of-fifths passage that recurs from time to time in the third movement – but it’s power wielded within historically-accurate boundaries, and it doesn’t upset the balance that is key to Schumann’s newly-reinvented vision of the concerto.

In each of the three parts of this Schumann trilogy, a concerto is paired with one of his three Piano Trios – a pleasingly perfect symmetry, since there is one concerto for each instrument of the trio! Here Melnikov is again joined by Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras for the Trio No. 2 in F major – inspired by Clara’s completion of her own in G minor, and a thoroughly optimistic work right from the beginning. The first movement in particular is filled with exuberant exchanges between the three players in which Schumann’s contrapuntal writing is bounced from instrument to instrument like a ball. Indeed, the two works on this disc generally show a less turbulent side to Schumann than the Violin Concerto and Trio No. 3 that constituted the first volume of the series – coming from a little earlier in his life, and certainly well before his tragic final decline into mental illness. Both works were written with Clara in mind, and regardless of the accuracy of various claims made by musicologists of Clara-related mottos and quotations here and there, I think it’s possible to hear the affection between this uniquely musical couple in the music.

Heras-Casado’s Schumann project (though in truth it is as much Faust’s, Melnikov’s and Queyras’ initiative) goes from strength to strength – this second volume is just as gripping as the first, and there’s every reason to expect similarly great things of the final instalment in Spring 2016, when the cello steps up for its turn in the spotlight!

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Schumann: Piano Concerto & Piano Trio No. 2

Alexander Melnikov (fortepiano), Freiburger Barockorchester, Pablo Heras-Casado, Isabelle Faust (violin) & Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello)

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In the Studio – Igor Levit records Beethoven, Bach and Rzewski

Fast-rising pianist Igor Levit has already established himself as one to watch with a pair of core-repertoire discs - Bach's partitas and Beethoven's late piano sonatas. Although not yet thirty, he is being hailed as one of the foremost Beethoven interpreters of his generation.

His third disc cements and builds on this glittering reputation with more Bach, more Beethoven and - just to spice things up a little - Frederic Rzewski's set of variations on the Chilean protest song ¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido! (The people united will never be defeated!).

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Presto CD – More ASV titles, and special offer!

ASV has an extensive collection of great recordings from the twentieth century - string quartets from the Lindsays, clarinet repertoire from Emma Johnson, the spellbinding voice of Felicity Lott and more. Our range of ASV Presto CDs now includes over 200 discs - and to celebrate this milestone, we're currently offering 20% off them all!

We’ve listed our top 20 from the latest batch here; you can also browse through the whole label here, or view all our Presto CDs here.

David Smith - david.smith@prestoclassical.co.uk

New Releases

7th August 2015

Brahms: The Piano Concertos

Daniel Barenboim (piano), Staatskapelle Berlin, Gustavo Dudamel

This album of Brahms's two Piano Concertos was recorded live at the Berliner Philharmonie in September 2014. The precise and energetic playing of Barenboim combined with the volcanic temperament make for performances that received high critical acclaim.

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C P E Bach - Solo Keyboard Music Volume 30

Miklós Spányi (clavichord)

Along with more than 150 sonatas, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach composed a large number of single-movement pieces for solo keyboard. Miklós Spányi presents three sets intended primarily for didactic use: the two collections of Kurze und leichte Clavierstücke and the 6 Sonatine nuove.

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Handel in Italy, Volume 1

Sophie Bevan (soprano), Mary Bevan (soprano) & Benjamin Bevan (baritone), London Early Opera, Bridget Cunningham (director)

Early Opera Company begins its series of Handel recordings with Handel in Italy Volume I. In this first recording, Mary, Sophie and Benjamin Bevan join director and harpsichordist Bridget Cunningham in a recording that features arias from Rodrigo, Agrippina and Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno alongside instrumental music and cantatas.

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Insomnia: Aurora Orchestra

Aurora Orchestra, Nicholas Collon

In a typically colourful programme, the Aurora Orchestra and Nicholas Collon explore the night, its thoughts and dreams and the hazy space between waking and sleeping. Britten’s Nocturne – with tenor Allan Clayton – and Brett Dean’s Pastoral Symphony are juxtaposed with music by Couperin, Ligeti, Gurney, The Beatles and R.E.M.

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Liszt: Piano Concertos

Alexandre Kantorow (piano), Tapiola Sinfonietta, Jean-Jacques Kantorow

The two numbered concertos frame the single-movement Malédiction for piano and strings which Liszt composed in 1833 and revised in 1840, but which was never published in his lifetime. Born in 1997, Alexandre Kantorow is here supported by his father Jean-Jacques Kantorow conducting the Tapiola Sinfonietta.

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Compère: Magnificat, motets & chansons

The Orlando Consort

The Orlando Consort’s third recording for Hyperion turns to the music of Loyset Compère, a composer who has in recent years been elevated from also-ran outsider to something of a trailblazer. The wonderfully complex Magnificat, for example, is now thought to predate the masterworks of Josquin by some fifteen years. A gorgeous selection of motets and chansons further charts this period of radical musical experimentation.

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Sibelius: Great Performances (11 CDs)

This 11-CD set presents some of the most legendary Sibelius recordings from the vaults of Decca’s Mono & early Stereo catalogue. Featuring Jensen’s Karelia Suite, the Violin Concerto in D minor with Ricci & Fjeldstad, Eduard van Beinum’s Tapiola and Finlandia, Songs with Birgit Nilsson and Bertil Bokstedt, as well as Anthony Collins's complete Sibelius cycle – one of the first collections of the symphonies performed by one orchestra and conductor.

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Rossini: Il Signor Bruschino (DVD)

Roberto De Candia (Bruschino Padre), Carlo Lepore (Gaudenzio), Maria Aleida (Sofia) & David Alegret (Florville), Orchestra Sinfonica G. Rossini, Daniele Rustioni (conductor)

Set in "Rossiniland", a 21st-century Disneyland-style theme park, where the 1800s meet the 2000s, and tourists are free to wander and gawp at the scintillating spectacle taking place around them. Mistaken identities and general confusion abound, all exaggerated to a delightful degree by Rossini’s forward-thinking comedic effects. Helped by outlandish costumes, a polished cast serves to bring Rossini’s engaging drama to life.

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14-May-2012 -Handel in England
07-May-2012 -Britten: War Requiem
30-Apr-2012 -Hamilton Harty’s Chamber Music
23-Apr-2012 -Kathleen Ferrier
16-Apr-2012 -Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique from Ticciati and the SCO
09-Apr-2012 -New and forthcoming Opera DVDs
02-Apr-2012 -Claude Debussy
26-Mar-2012 -Wagner - Klaus Florian Vogt and a new Parsifal
19-Mar-2012 -Haydn from Thomas Fey and the Heidelberger Sinfoniker
12-Mar-2012 -Jules Massenet - Werther & Don Quichotte
05-Mar-2012 -Brahms choral discs from Gardiner and Herreweghe
27-Feb-2012 -Vivaldi: Sacred vocal works and concertos
20-Feb-2012 -Aleksandra Kurzak and Renée Fleming
13-Feb-2012 -Schoenberg and Berg
06-Feb-2012 -Alison Balsom
30-Jan-2012 -Britten Violin Concerto
23-Jan-2012 -Beethoven Symphonies from Thielemann and Chailly
16-Jan-2012 -New Year’s Concert from Vienna
09-Jan-2012 -Mariusz Kwiecień
02-Jan-2012 -Fritz Kreisler
26-Dec-2011 -The year ahead and our latest new development
19-Dec-2011 -Two legendary performances
12-Dec-2011 -Maurizio Pollini plays Chopin
05-Dec-2011 -Christmas roundup
28-Nov-2011 -Havergal Brian’s Gothic Symphony
21-Nov-2011 -Duetti da Camera: Philippe Jaroussky & Max Emanuel Cencic
14-Nov-2011 -Bruckner and Mahler from Haitink and Pappano
07-Nov-2011 -Haydn from the Takács Quartet
31-Oct-2011 -Sublime Schubert from Paul Lewis
24-Oct-2011 -Franz Liszt
17-Oct-2011 -The Decca Sound
10-Oct-2011 -Pavel Haas Quartet the big winners at the Gramophone Awards
03-Oct-2011 -Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts from Paul McCreesh
26-Sep-2011 -Handel – Agrippina & Germanico
19-Sep-2011 -Wagner’s Flying Dutchman starts PentaTone’s 10th anniversary celebrations
12-Sep-2011 -Schubert's Schwanengesang from Padmore and Lewis
05-Sep-2011 -Gergiev and the LSO conclude their Mahler cycle
29-Aug-2011 -BIS - Maxim Rysanov, Sibelius and a special offer
22-Aug-2011 -Sublime Ravel from Ibragimova and Tiberghien
15-Aug-2011 -Gustavo Dudamel
08-Aug-2011 -Brahms/Schoenberg from Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker
01-Aug-2011 -Lucia from the Mariinsky
25-Jul-2011 -Bayreuther Festspiele
18-Jul-2011 -Benjamin Grosvenor
11-Jul-2011 -Rossini’s William Tell
04-Jul-2011 -Bach Motets from Herreweghe
27-Jun-2011 -Sublime Vivaldi from Nathalie Stutzmann
20-Jun-2011 -Beethoven’s Fidelio from Abbado and Kaufmann
13-Jun-2011 -Byrd’s Complete Consort Music
06-Jun-2011 -Vaughan Williams’s The Garden of Proserpine
30-May-2011 -Beethoven's Diabelli Variations from Paul Lewis
23-May-2011 -New DVDs from Glyndebourne
16-May-2011 -Martha Argerich
09-May-2011 -Handel's Ariodante
02-May-2011 -Daniel Barenboim plays Chopin and conducts Tchaikovsky
25-Apr-2011 -Fliter and Ibragimova excel in Beethoven
18-Apr-2011 -Julia Lezhneva sings Rossini
11-Apr-2011 -Lully’s Bellérophon
04-Apr-2011 -Mining the archives
28-Mar-2011 -Rachmaninov's Second Symphony
21-Mar-2011 -Suk's Asrael Symphony
14-Mar-2011 -Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
07-Mar-2011 -Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts
28-Feb-2011 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
21-Feb-2011 -Lisa Batiashvili - Echoes of Time
14-Feb-2011 -Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love
07-Feb-2011 -Simon Rattle's new Mahler 2
31-Jan-2011 -Percy Grainger
24-Jan-2011 -Arne: Artaxerxes
17-Jan-2011 -Handel and Strauss from Dessay and Damrau
10-Jan-2011 -Nielsen Symphonies from Colin Davis and the LSO
03-Jan-2011 -The Genius of Mozart
27-Dec-2010 -The year ahead
20-Dec-2010 -Sheet Music now online, and other recent developments
13-Dec-2010 -Robert Schumann
06-Dec-2010 -Vivaldi Operas - Ottone in Villa and Ercole
29-Nov-2010 -Christmas Releases
22-Nov-2010 -Bach Cantatas - the Gardiner pilgrimage
15-Nov-2010 -Henryk Mikolaj Górecki
08-Nov-2010 -Schubert: Piano Duets
01-Nov-2010 -Verdi's Otello from the LSO and Colin Davis
25-Oct-2010 -The Three Baroque Tenors
18-Oct-2010 -Dame Joan Sutherland
11-Oct-2010 -Bach's Violin Concertos from Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque
04-Oct-2010 -Gramophone Awards announced last Friday
27-Sep-2010 -Jonas Kaufmann: Verismo Arias
20-Sep-2010 -Wagner's Parsifal from the Mariinsky and Gergiev
13-Sep-2010 -Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte from René Jacobs
06-Sep-2010 -Puccini's forgotten masterpiece - La Rondine
30-Aug-2010 -Santiago a cappella
23-Aug-2010 -Elīna Garanča goes Spanish
16-Aug-2010 -Rued Langgaard - Music of the Spheres
09-Aug-2010 -Gramophone Awards - The Finalists
02-Aug-2010 -50 Years of the Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg
26-Jul-2010 -Gustav Mahler
19-Jul-2010 -Sir Charles Mackerras
12-Jul-2010 -Beethoven - Paul Lewis and the BBC Proms
05-Jul-2010 -A Russian Sibelius cycle
28-Jun-2010 -Ronald Brautigam's Beethoven
21-Jun-2010 -Carlos Kleiber
14-Jun-2010 -Handel's Berenice
07-Jun-2010 -Channel Classics
31-May-2010 -Alfredo Casella
24-May-2010 -Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues from Melnikov
17-May-2010 -The multi-talented Julia Fischer
10-May-2010 -Nimbus
03-May-2010 -Leonard Bernstein's Omnibus Broadcasts
26-Apr-2010 -Frédéric Chopin
19-Apr-2010 -Wagner Lohengrin - BBC Awards
12-Apr-2010 -Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
05-Apr-2010 -Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia and Joyce DiDonato
29-Mar-2010 -Romantic Piano Concertos
22-Mar-2010 -Robin Ticciati and Brahms' Choral Works
15-Mar-2010 -Mozart Symphonies from Mackerras - Volume 2
08-Mar-2010 -Bernard Coutaz and Harmonia Mundi
01-Mar-2010 -Thomas Adès
22-Feb-2010 -Strauss: Alpine Symphony
15-Feb-2010 -Handel: Giulio Cesare and the Brockes Passion
08-Feb-2010 -Debussy and the Prix de Rome
01-Feb-2010 -Testament
25-Jan-2010 -BBC Music Magazine Awards Shortlist
18-Jan-2010 -Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet
11-Jan-2010 -Bach for Violin and Voice
04-Jan-2010 -A Ring cycle for the 21st Century
28-Dec-2009 -Anniversaries - 2009 and 2010
21-Dec-2009 -Richard Farrell
14-Dec-2009 -Thomas Tallis's Secret Garden
07-Dec-2009 -El Sistema
30-Nov-2009 -Christmas Releases
23-Nov-2009 -Kirsten Flagstad
16-Nov-2009 -Nikolaus Harnoncourt
09-Nov-2009 -Two important Elgar rarities
02-Nov-2009 -Felix Mendelssohn
26-Oct-2009 -Cecilia Bartoli and the world of Castratos
19-Oct-2009 -Winterreise from Padmore and Lewis
12-Oct-2009 -Tchaikovsky's Moscow Cantata
05-Oct-2009 -The Quatuor Ebène and the Gramophone Awards
28-Sep-2009 -Unknown Britten
21-Sep-2009 -Australian Eloquence
14-Sep-2009 -Julia Fischer plays Schubert
07-Sep-2009 -Bach Cantata bargain of the year
31-Aug-2009 -Rattle conducts Brahms
24-Aug-2009 -Bruckner from the Concertgebouw
17-Aug-2009 -Gramophone Awards 2009 - Finalists
10-Aug-2009 -Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle
03-Aug-2009 -The Vivaldi Edition
27-Jul-2009 -Diaghilev and The Ballets Russes
20-Jul-2009 -Sir Edward Downes
13-Jul-2009 -Brilliant Classics
06-Jul-2009 -Tomás Luis de Victoria
29-Jun-2009 -Britten's homage to Purcell
22-Jun-2009 -The Three Tenors
15-Jun-2009 -Penguin Rosettes and Building a Library
08-Jun-2009 -Masterclasses
01-Jun-2009 -Gergiev at the Mariinsky
25-May-2009 -Two recent re-discoveries light up Martinu year
18-May-2009 -Idomeneo from René Jacobs
11-May-2009 -A&R and Kate Royal's Midsummer Night
04-May-2009 -Chandos Records - 30 years young
27-Apr-2009 -Rachmaninov Preludes
20-Apr-2009 -20 Years of NMC
13-Apr-2009 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
06-Apr-2009 -Shostakovich 11 from the RLPO
30-Mar-2009 -BIS and the Sibelius Edition
23-Mar-2009 -Haydn - 'The Father of the Symphony'
16-Mar-2009 -George Frederic Handel
09-Mar-2009 -Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
02-Mar-2009 -Angela Gheorghiu in Puccini's Madama Butterfly
23-Feb-2009 -The world's most celebrated violins
16-Feb-2009 -Copyright to be extended
09-Feb-2009 -A feast of Early Music
02-Feb-2009 -Sarah Connolly gets Purcell year off to a flier
26-Jan-2009 -Monteverdi as you've never heard it before!
19-Jan-2009 -Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin put Platti firmly on the map
12-Jan-2009 -Hamelin proves his real class with Chopin
05-Jan-2009 -Lindsays lead the bargains
29-Dec-2008 -Jerusalem - in search of peace
22-Dec-2008 -Looking ahead - Handel, Haydn and more
15-Dec-2008 -2008 - A great year for DVDs
08-Dec-2008 -Top new Christmas recommendations
01-Dec-2008 -Richard Hickox
24-Nov-2008 -The World's Great Orchestras, and Euros and US Dollars now accepted
17-Nov-2008 -Lost manuscripts continue to be found
10-Nov-2008 -Haydn's String Quartets
03-Nov-2008 -Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony
27-Oct-2008 -Contemporary Music
20-Oct-2008 -Sir Peter Moores
13-Oct-2008 -Vivaldi in a new light
06-Oct-2008 -Americans in Pyongyang
29-Sep-2008 -Paul Lewis and the Gramophone Awards 2008
22-Sep-2008 -Songs her mother taught her
15-Sep-2008 -Vernon Handley
08-Sep-2008 -Zig Zag and the Atrium Quartet
01-Sep-2008 -Gramophone Awards nominations
25-Aug-2008 -Beautiful Messiah and Exquisite Morales
18-Aug-2008 -Great Pianists of the Past
11-Aug-2008 -Classical Television Broadcasts on the Internet
04-Aug-2008 -Chloë Hanslip and the unfamiliar
28-Jul-2008 -Leopold Godowsky and the virtuoso pianist
21-Jul-2008 -Linn Records
14-Jul-2008 -Vaughan Williams
07-Jul-2008 -Olivier Messiaen
30-Jun-2008 -Reginald Goodall's revelatory 'Mastersingers'
23-Jun-2008 -The French Baroque - 200 Years of Versailles
16-Jun-2008 -Bach Fugues from Onyx and the Emersons
09-Jun-2008 -New DVD page and Special Offer
02-Jun-2008 -Time to re-evaluate Miaskovsky
26-May-2008 -Superb Scholl sings Dowland and his circle
19-May-2008 -Fiesta! - Dudamel and the Venezuelans
12-May-2008 -The Guarneri Piano Trio and the label Praga
05-May-2008 -A La Bohème for all
28-Apr-2008 -Beethoven and Period Instruments
21-Apr-2008 -The Jerusalem Quartet
14-Apr-2008 -Nigel Kennedy
07-Apr-2008 -Paul Lewis's Beethoven
31-Mar-2008 -Ingrid Fliter
24-Mar-2008 -Mel Bonis
17-Mar-2008 -Stunning new Haydn Creation from Paul McCreesh
10-Mar-2008 -Hilary Hahn plays Schoenberg and Sibelius
03-Mar-2008 -Rattle and Gergiev on Mahler
25-Feb-2008 -Handel Organ Concertos
18-Feb-2008 -Late Mozart Symphonies
11-Feb-2008 -Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project
04-Feb-2008 -Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel
28-Jan-2008 -Undeservedly neglected music - John Marsh and Juan de Araujo
21-Jan-2008 -New Bach Cantatas page
14-Jan-2008 -Composers' Own Recordings
07-Jan-2008 -Francis Xavier and Jordi Savall
31-Dec-2007 -50 Years of Harmonia Mundi
24-Dec-2007 -Last thoughts on 2007, first on 2008
17-Dec-2007 -Discs of the Year
10-Dec-2007 -Stockhausen
03-Dec-2007 -25 Years of the Compact Disc
26-Nov-2007 -Pacini and the importance of first performances
19-Nov-2007 -Christmas music worth hearing
12-Nov-2007 -The forgotten Maria
05-Nov-2007 -Why composers marked repeats
29-Oct-2007 -Bach B minor Mass from Suzuki
22-Oct-2007 -New Mahler 8 from Pierre Boulez
15-Oct-2007 -Lucerne Festival Orchestra
08-Oct-2007 -Julia Fischer and the Gramophone Awards
01-Oct-2007 -Mozart - Don Giovanni from René Jacobs
24-Sep-2007 -Natalie Clein and the Elgar Cello Concerto
17-Sep-2007 -Joshua Bell
10-Sep-2007 -Luciano Pavarotti
03-Sep-2007 -Kate Royal
27-Aug-2007 -Gramophone Awards - finalists revealed
20-Aug-2007 -Exciting new baroque rediscovery - Conti's David
13-Aug-2007 -Venezuelan Youth Orchestra the envy of the world
06-Aug-2007 -Music's Best-kept Secrets
30-Jul-2007 -Haydn - the most underrated great composer
23-Jul-2007 -Beethoven Piano Sonatas
16-Jul-2007 -BBC Proms 2007
09-Jul-2007 -Elin Manahan Thomas
02-Jul-2007 -Open minds and superb Bernarda Fink
25-Jun-2007 -Excited by another batch of re-issues?
18-Jun-2007 -Composer Works lists now published
11-Jun-2007 -Padmore and Bostridge sing Handel
04-Jun-2007 -Elgar's Enigma Variations
28-May-2007 -Still suffering some seventy years on?
21-May-2007 -Buying Opera on CD or DVD
14-May-2007 -Debussy's new champion
07-May-2007 -Schütz's Legacy
30-Apr-2007 -Mstislav Rostropovich
23-Apr-2007 -Missed Opportunities
16-Apr-2007 -BBC Music Magazine Awards
09-Apr-2007 -The way we listen
02-Apr-2007 -Too much Mozart?
26-Mar-2007 -Harpsichord or Piano?
19-Mar-2007 -Strauss's Four Last Songs
12-Mar-2007 -The importance of government support
05-Mar-2007 -Do today's musicians all sound the same?

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