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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - August 2016

Gramophone Editor's Choices - August 2016Topping of the list this month is the Polish Silesian Quartet, making their debut on Chandos with the complete string quartets of their compatriot Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-69).

Also mentioned in despatches are James MacMillan's new oratorio 'Since it was the Day of Preparation...' on Delphian, the first instalment of Vasily Petrenko's Tchaikovsky cycle with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on Onyx, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Missa solemnis (his final recording) on Sony, all of which were Presto Discs of the Week last month.

Recording of the Month

Bacewicz: Complete String Quartets

Silesian Quartet

'These seven works, composed between 1938 and 1965, add up to a compelling portrait of a powerfully original creative spirit...the whole group seem to understand this life-affirming music from the inside.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Editor's Choices

Hugo Wolf: Kennst du das Land

Sophie Karthäuser (soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)

'Karthäuser here proves herself a natural in Lieder...With her fresh, limpid soprano and sharp feeling for character and nuance, she gives unfailing delight in the these settings...[Asti] is a model partner, commentator and animator.'

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

Ēriks Ešenvalds: St Luke Passion & Sacred Works

Latvian Radio Choir & Sinfonietta Riga, Sigvards Kļava

'It’s an unusual and highly effective beginning, and I can say that it is unlike any other setting of the Passion with which I am familiar...One could hardly ask for better performers in this repertoire...A superb release.'

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

Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow: Symphonies Nos. 5, 8 & 9

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons

'Nelsons is spry and precisioned and his insistence on super-keen rhythm pays off big-time...The Fifth Symphony is quite marvellous...and like the Tenth should dominate the catalogue for a long time to come...To say that it brings the house down is something of an understatement.'

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

Dowland: Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares

Elizabeth Kenny (lute), Phantasm

'Phantasm’s performances are totally convincing and absorbing. Drawing richly on their depth, intensity and homogeneity of tone, their acuity to the music’s ever-active emotional flux leaves them unafraid to use forceful gestures of articulation and dynamics to make a point.'

Available Format: SACD

MacMillan: Since it was the day of preparation…

Brindley Sherratt (bass), Hebrides Ensemble, Synergy Vocals

'Here we have the latest in a stream of major works which express [MacMillan’s] deeply held Catholicism, and for my money it is by far and away the most effective...The Hebrides Ensemble provide eloquent testimony to the sustained impact of MacMillan’s writing.'

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

Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 & 5

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko

'It was worth the wait: this release of Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5 makes the best possible start to the projected cycle...If future releases match these impetuous, glorious performances, Petrenko’s should be a cycle to be reckoned with.'

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

Four Four Three: Music of Terry Riley

Ragazze Quartet, Slagwerk Den Haag & Kapok

'The pulse is discreetly shunted towards the background, utterly charming the senses with an often delicate mechanism of light pizzicato strings and mallet percussion...This performance deals up moments of sheer magic.'

Available Format: CD

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Concentus Musicus Wien & Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

'This is a remarkable account of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and, in one important respect, an unusual one. For though it is in no sense lacking in drama, it is in essence a deeply devotional reading...Harnoncourt’s performance has an atmosphere you might more normally expect to encounter when listening to a piece such as the Fauré Requiem.'

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

Reissue of the Month

Martha Argerich: Early Recordings

Martha Argerich (piano)

'The difficulty in writing about the piano playing of Martha Argerich is that it is now, and always has been, so relentlessly good...Her Mozart bubbles with the freshness and effervescence of a Bernini fountain in the midday sun...Argerich’s command of Prokofiev is quite unlike anyone else’s, his compatriots included.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC