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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - February 2017

Gramophone Editor's Choices, February 2017Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado really does seem to have the Midas Touch at the moment: having earned his stripes in baroque repertoire, in the past year alone he's scored great hits with recordings of repertoire including Schumann, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich, and this month he's in the spotlight for his account of Tchaikovsky's First Symphony Winter Dreams with the Orchestra Of St. Luke's.

Also mentioned in despatches are two of our recent interviewees, American mezzo Jamie Barton (for her stunning solo debut disc of Sibelius, Dvorak and Mahler) and British cellist Natalie Clein (whose new recording of twentieth-century works for unaccompanied cello was released last week) - if you missed it before Christmas, you can read Katherine's exclusive interview with Jamie here, whilst David's chat with Natalie earlier this week can be found here.

Incidentally, you can pre-order the forthcoming Brahms disc from this month's cover-star Christian Gerhaher (due for release on Sony on 7th April) here.

Recording of the Month

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 1 'Winter Dreams' & The Tempest

Orchestra Of St. Luke's, Pablo Heras-Casado

'The work he does has its place and time...Heras-Casado has me wondering about a new wave of Tchaikovsky performance: shunning hysteria and crocodile tears, painting pictures, telling stories.'

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

Editor's Choices

Schubert: String Quartets Nos. 12 & 15

Doric String Quartet

'Even in a work as well known as the Quartettsatz they lend character through elasticity of phrasing, which nicely counterbalances the piece’s inherent energy. But the main event is the G major Quartet...And very impressive it is too, spacious without ever sounding ponderous.'

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

Encores after Beethoven

András Schiff (piano)

'I’ve enjoyed this enormously...If you think of encores as lightweight, think again. These composers wrote many characteristic pieces that are less ambitious than full-dress sonatas but are not to be dismissed as miniatures. Shorter compositions, yes, but with long thoughts behind them.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

All Who Wander

Jamie Barton (mezzo), Brian Zeger (piano)

'The voice is rich, generous and vibrant, big but beautifully controlled, impeccably smooth throughout its range. It’s the sort of instrument you could listen to all day, in any sort of repertoire...The disc’s highlight, though, is the Sibelius, in which the mezzo pours her heart into grand, soaring accounts of some of the composer’s most seductive songs.'

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

Schumann: Dichterliebe & Selected Songs

Mauro Peter (tenor), Helmut Deutsch (piano)

'Mauro Peter has the kind of Dichterliebe voice I hear in my mind’s ear: fresh, youthful, evenly produced, with mellifluousness balanced by a touch of metal...In symbiotic accord with Helmut Deutsch, Peter phrases with unforced eloquence, pointing salient words within a liquid legato.'

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

Bloch, Ligeti & Dallapiccola: Suites for solo cello

Natalie Clein (cello)

'Clein plays intimately, as if for herself alone. But there is nothing hermetic about her approach. Gently, insistently, quietly, she draws the listener into Bloch’s music and the results are thoroughly absorbing...her performance of the Adagio theme in the Ligeti is four minutes of pure, concentrated beauty.'

Available Format: CD

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies, S244 Nos. 1-19

Vincenzo Maltempo (piano)

'One of the more striking aspects of Maltempo’s approach to these works is his inerrant sense of timing. There’s no rush to arrival: every scintillating detail is savoured at leisure, without a trace of decadent indulgence.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Christopher Simpson: The Seasons

Sirius Viols

'One of the more striking aspects of Maltempo’s approach to these works is his inerrant sense of timing. There’s no rush to arrival: every scintillating detail is savoured at leisure, without a trace of decadent indulgence.'

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

Bach2 The Future Vol. 2

Fenella Humphreys (violin)

'It’s not often that you can say that a commission, or set of commissions, fills a genuine hole in the repertoire. However, that’s precisely what Fenella Humphreys has bestowed upon the musical world with ‘Bach 2 the Future’...the new works themselves deserve long wider performance lives beyond this beautiful beginning.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Mascagni: Guglielmo Ratcliff

Angelo Villari, Mariangela Sicilia, David Stout, Annunziata Vestri, Gianluca Buratto; Wexford Festival Opera, Francesco Cilluffo

'The opera stands or falls by its title-role…and Guglielmo Ratcliff is a killer...Angelo Villari’s clarion tenor and tireless singing make this exciting listening, while Francesco Cilluffo draws a terrific orchestral performance, especially in the peach of an intermezzo ‘Il sogno di Ratcliff’ .'

Available Format: CD

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

Elgar: Cello Concerto, and works by Ligeti, Stravinsky & Wagner (DVD)

Sol Gabetta (cello), Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

'Rattle’s presence can be heard, and felt, in virtually every bar of the score: the way he moulds phrases, nudges details to the fore, bends the line, holds tight to a salient accompanying detail (especially along the lower end of the spectrum) or responds to Gabetta’s characterful solo playing, now rather more stylised than it was before.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Elgar: Cello Concerto, and works by Ligeti, Stravinsky & Wagner (Blu-ray)

Sol Gabetta (cello), Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Simon Rattle

'Rattle’s presence can be heard, and felt, in virtually every bar of the score: the way he moulds phrases, nudges details to the fore, bends the line, holds tight to a salient accompanying detail (especially along the lower end of the spectrum) or responds to Gabetta’s characterful solo playing, now rather more stylised than it was before.'

Available Format: Blu-ray