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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - September 2016

Gramophone Editor's Choices - September 2016Brahms features significantly this month, with Christian Tetzlaff and Lars Vogt leading the pack with their new set of the Violin Sonatas on Ondine, and Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach's Vier ernste Gesänge on Harmonia Mundi (a Presto Disc of the Week in June) also being mentioned in despatches.

Florilegium's lovely 25th anniversary disc of Telemann also makes the cut: you can read David's exclusive interview with their director and founder-member Ashley Solomon here, and until 24th October we're offering up to 30% off all Florilegium's discs.

Katharina Wagner's 2015 Bayreuth production of Tristan und Isolde (conducted by the Festival's music director Christian Thielemann and starring Stephen Gould and Evelyn Herlitzius as the lovers) is top of the DVD/Blu-rays, boding well for the long-term partnership with the Festival which Deutsche Grammophon announced last month.

Recording of the Month

Brahms: The Violin Sonatas

Christian Tetzlaff (violin) & Lars Vogt (piano)

'A breathtaking balance of poise and daring...Tetzlaff and Vogt take obvious pleasure in details without losing sight of the larger picture, whether it’s a phrase, a movement or an entire work. Indeed, they sharply delineate the individual character of each sonata.'

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

Editor's Choices

Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

Matthias Goerne (baritone) & Christoph Eschenbach (piano)

'It’s music that’s very well suited to his voice: grainy and gentle and with that characteristic burnished-mahogany tone...this is supremely seductive Lieder singing, with a natural intelligence and ease with the words, matched by playing from Christoph Eschenbach that coaxes and caresses the piano with loving delicacy.'

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

John Blow: Symphony Anthems

Choir of New College Oxford & St James’ Baroque (on period instruments), Robert Quinney

'An assured synthesis of elegant musicality, judicious ear for contrapuntal detail and informed scholarship...All the works are given splendid performances which not only remind us that there is more to Blow than merely being Purcell’s mentor but also confirm that New College’s famous choir is in very good hands.'

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

Insights: The String Quartets by Arnold Schoenberg

Eva Resch (soprano), Asasello-Quartett

'This is heartening – another group in the first flush of youth...make a powerful case that his music has everything to offer both head and heart...for some tastes Teemu Myöhänen’s cello might be placed too prominently in the mix. But what playing!'

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

Reger: Sonatas (4) for solo violin, Op. 42

Ulf Wallin (violin)

'Wallin oozes a total sense of command throughout this set of wonderful solo music, in both the forceful and fragile moments of pieces that pose considerable technical demands.'

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

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Saint Thomas Choir of Men & Boys, John Scott

'‘Blagoslovi, dushe moya’ [is] daringly slow; Scott knew the capabilities of his singers, however, and it works superbly, with Ory Brown the excellent soloist...It is a magnificent rendition, showing just how this masterpiece has been convincingly absorbed into the wider choral tradition, and I recommend it very highly indeed.'

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

Bruckner: Mass No. 3, Psalm 146 & Organ Works

Philharmonischer Chor Munchen & Philharmonie Festiva, Gerd Schaller

'A superb pendant to his recently completed cycle of the symphonies. The orchestral opening of the Kyrie immediately catches the ear with its depth of expression and seriousness of purpose, and the performance benefits throughout from the commitment and radiance of the choral singing.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Telemann: Concertos & Cantata Ihr Völker Hört

Clare Wilkinson (mezzo soprano) Florilegium

'Wilkinson’s softly convivial and articulate singing communicates the cheerful Epiphany text. Solomon takes centre stage in a flute concerto in D major (TWV51:D2), but my ears were drawn equally to the sympathetic continuo-playing of theorbist David Miller and harpsichordist Terence Charlston.'

Available Format: CD

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7

Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä

'Vänskä’s Sibelius is all about clarity – of rhythm, of texture, of intention. It is zealously unfussy and entirely without exaggeration. But it can stop you in your tracks…The Third and Sixth Symphonies feel even more closely related than usual…One just knows that the ear-pricking clarity throughout these performances is of Vänskä’s and not the balance engineer’s making.'

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

DVD of the Month

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (DVD)

Stephen Gould (Tristan), Evelyn Herlitzius (Isolde); Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Christian Thielemann

'Katharina Wagner gets a novel focus on Tristan und Isolde by stripping the work, its characters and its settings almost entirely of Romantic illusions and pretensions…The concentrated acting performances are closely supported by Christian Thielemann’s approach…This is an important and compelling addition to the number of worthwhile interventionist Bayreuth productions.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (Blu-ray)

Stephen Gould (Tristan), Evelyn Herlitzius (Isolde); Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Christian Thielemann

'Katharina Wagner gets a novel focus on Tristan und Isolde by stripping the work, its characters and its settings almost entirely of Romantic illusions and pretensions…The concentrated acting performances are closely supported by Christian Thielemann’s approach…This is an important and compelling addition to the number of worthwhile interventionist Bayreuth productions.'

Available Format: Blu-ray

Reissue/Archive of the Month

Jose Iturbi: The Victor & HMV Solo Recordings

Jose Iturbi

'What a pleasure to encounter the full extent of Iturbi’s superb piano playing and elegant musicianship…Beethoven’s Andante favori is a model of tenderness and poise. It also prominently displays that inerrant rhythmic undergirding that lends Iturbi’s interpretations, regardless of shifts in interpretative fashion, their perennial freshness.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC