Skip to main content

 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - May 2016

Gramophone Editor's Choices - May 2016Daniel Barenboim's magisterial Elgar One with the Staatskapelle Berlin takes the laurels this month; these forces have recently gained serious form when it comes to this composer, with their account of the Cello Concerto with Alisa Weilerstein on Decca garnering much praise three years ago and their recording of the Second Symphony gaining a Building a Library First Choice last year.

'Cav and Pag' from last year's Salzburg Easter Festival, featuring Jonas Kaufmann's double debut in the leading tenor roles, takes the DVD/Blu-ray prize (read our detailed review here), and elsewhere there are outstanding Romantic concerto recordings from two highly impressive young pianists, Xiayin Wang and Denis Kozhukhin. Also included is King’s College London's moving and unusual tribute to their late director David Trendell, who died in 2014; stay posted for our interview with the choir's director about the project early next month…

Recording of the Month

Elgar: Symphony No. 1

Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim

'Barenboim’s long association with, and love for, Elgar has effectively made it part of his musical DNA...And because he is a master he has somehow communicated all of that, both in practical and spiritual terms, to an orchestra for whom it is relatively unfamiliar. That is the really startling achievement here and it manifests itself in playing that is as exciting as it is nuanced.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Editor's Choices

Ibert: Orchestral Works

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Neeme Järvi

'Ibert emerges from it all as a fine composer, whose unity lies in his almost impudent diversity, and who is often far from frivolous as some have maintained. And the disc allows Järvi to show off his Swiss orchestra to perfection. Very fine.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Tchaikovsky & Khachaturian: Piano Concertos

Xiayin Wang (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Peter Oundjian

'From the first bar, you know that this brilliant Chinese-American pianist is the business...she leads from the front throughout to exhilarating effect...If you do not have a recording of the Tchaikovsky, then this is up with the very best; likewise the Khachaturian. Paired together, it’s a no-brainer.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Western Wind

Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott

'The Western Wynde Mass nicely contrasts with The Tallis Scholars’ recording, being incisive and brisk where Peter Phillips’s reading is smoother and more leisurely. Parrott is perhaps more persuasive in conveying its pacing...the sound recording successively juggles a wide range of distributions, from harpsichord to choir, with no apparent discontinuity.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC


Christina & Michelle Naughton

'Just about everything comes together in this recording [of Messiaen’s 'Visions de l’Amen']...The Naughton twins don’t take the opening movement’s très lent directive at face value...but they pull you in with their assiduously gradual, painstakingly incremental dynamic build-up.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Biber: Imitatio

Ricercar Consort

'Unsurprisingly, these pieces have been recorded before, but the immediacy of the sound recording and the performers’ infectious zest make these interpretations stand out...Delightful.'

Available Formats: MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

In Memoriam

Choir of King’s College London, Gareth Wilson

'All four [Renaissance] composers represented here ...were loved by David Trendell, and the choir performs this music in full knowledge of that, producing renditions of transparent beauty and exemplary balance. A radiant tribute to a radiant musician.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Schubert: String Quintet & Lieder

Matthias Goerne, Quatuor Ebène

'For a start, the Ebène Quartet quite clearly think deeply about every note, every texture, every gesture – as they have demonstrated in the past...The lower instruments are the engine room of the Quintet, and this performance demonstrates that as finely as any...The detailing, too, is remarkable.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Tchaikovsky & Grieg: Piano Concertos

Denis Kozhukhin, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Vassily Sinaisky

'Out of repertory that has been celebrated, picked over and just about played to death over the course of almost a century and a half, they create magic...His inerrant rhythmic sense is pliant yet taut; his sound unalloyed silver. Listening to Kozhukhin, you’re left with one thing: the music – incontestable, complete.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Mozart: Violin Sonatas

Alina Ibragimova, Cédric Tiberghien

'It would be hard to imagine more persuasive performances than we have here from the ever-rewarding Tiberghien-Ibragimova duo: delicate without feyness, rhythmically buoyant..., and never seeking to gild the lily with an alien sophistication.'

Available Format: CD

Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci

Jonas Kaufmann, Maria Agresta, Liudmyla Monastyrska, Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann

'We have plenty of the thrilling, untrammelled and ringing sound that the tenor is capable of at his best...Happily, Kaufmann’s outstanding central performances are well matched, both musically and scenically...on his own terms, Stölzl creates a drama of real intensity...Thielemann is always aware of the drama and the beauties of the playing are many.'

Available Format: DVD Video