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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - October 2016

Gramophone Editor's Choices - October 2016We're very much on the same wavelength as Gramophone this month: Daniil Trifonov's 2-CD set of Liszt Etudes (our weekly choice last Friday) takes their top spot as Disc of the Month, whilst two of our other recent favourites also feature in despatches: Mahan Esfahani's Goldberg Variations on Deutsche Grammophon, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 with the London Symphony Orchestra. (You can read David's complete review of the Bach here and James's thoughts on the Mendelssohn here).

Honourable mentions, too, for the hotly anticipated first instalment of Semyon Bychkov's Tchaikovsky Project with the Czech Philharmonic on Decca and Alexandre Tharaud's slightly unexpected Rachmaninov disc on Erato - top of the Presto office playlist this week!

Recording of the Month

Transcendental: Daniil Trifonov plays Franz Liszt

Daniil Trifonov (piano)

'Trifonov’s is the best kind of virtuoso playing, where one is hardly aware of the notes being played, allowing one to simply bask in the genius of Liszt’s musical narrative and the transcendant execution of an awesomely gifted pianist.'

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

Editor's Choices

Beethoven: Hammerklavier Sonata and Bagatelles

Nelson Goerner (piano)

'Goerner’s Hammerklavier is about flight, variety of shapes, sounds, ideas and precision of communication...Phrases are imbued with life and meaning but, equally importantly, they are separated by breath, lending them intelligibility...If ever there were an effortless Hammerklavier finale, this is it.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Gardner

'The playing of the Bergen Philharmonic is rich, seductive and sensuous...Gardner’s operatic experience means he’s alive to the lyricism and drama of the piece in equal measure: there’s ardent longing aplenty and a real willingness to explore the sheer gorgeousness of the score.'

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

Shakespeare Songs

Ian Bostridge, Antonio Pappano

'As anniversary tributes go, this is a good one...Bostridge’s sensitivity to text and ability to spin a line right through even the densest of consonant clusters makes for a compelling collection that is strongest in contemporary repertoire.'

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

Tharaud plays Rachmaninov

Alexandre Tharaud (piano), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Vedernikov

'After the famous introductory bars – following the score rather than the composer’s recording – the sweeping first subject enters faster, thankfully, than Richter’s celebrated account but with the same majestic assurance.'

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

Tharaud plays Rachmaninov - Vinyl Edition

Alexandre Tharaud (piano), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Vedernikov

'After the famous introductory bars – following the score rather than the composer’s recording – the sweeping first subject enters faster, thankfully, than Richter’s celebrated account but with the same majestic assurance.'

Available Format: Vinyl

JS Bach: Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)

'The first thing you notice about this remarkable recording is the unusual warmth and tonal vibrancy of the harpsichord...Esfahani obviously revels in its capabilities...His sophisticated virtuosity, stylistic aplomb and strong personal profile give fresh and meaningful voice to this well-travelled score.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 & Romeo & Juliet

Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov

'All the markers for success are there in the first few minutes of the symphony...Bychkov’s Russian roots make him mindful of Tchaikovsky’s classicism, the emotion always ‘contained’ until it can be contained no more...A very fine performance, then, no question, and supplemented by a Romeo and Juliet of similar qualities .

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

Fin de Siecle

Lawrence Power (viola), Simon Crawford-Phillips (piano)

'The players’ enthusiasm is self-evident, and Power tempers his sweet, full-throated tone...with a lovely inwardness in the quieter music. Crawford-Phillips is very much on the same page; the pair phrase naturally together... consistently enjoyable way to discover some unexpectedly rewardAing music.'

Available Format: CD

Mendelssohn - Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4

London Symphony Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner

'Gardiner’s real competition is with himself, and the Vienna Philharmonic. But the strings of the LSO display unrivalled agility...Taken at a true presto, the finale [of the Italian] never quite spins out of control but sounds as though it might at any moment. outstanding.'

Available Formats: SACD + Blu-ray Audio, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

DVD of the Month

Europakonzert 2016 - DVD

Vilde Frang (violin), Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

'[Frang] is predictably fine in the Mendelssohn, technically accomplished and emotionally engaged. And what a joy it must be to play this concerto with the Berliners, whose sensitivity to Mendelssohn’s instrumental imaginings is second to none...the performance [of the Eroica] yields nothing to Rattle’s recent Berlin recording.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Europakonzert 2016 - Blu-ray

Vilde Frang (violin), Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

'[Frang] is predictably fine in the Mendelssohn, technically accomplished and emotionally engaged. And what a joy it must be to play this concerto with the Berliners, whose sensitivity to Mendelssohn’s instrumental imaginings is second to none...the performance [of the Eroica] yields nothing to Rattle’s recent Berlin recording.'

Available Format: Blu-ray