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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - June 2017

Gramophone Editor's Choices, June 2017This month's first among equals is the Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos in his first solo recording since his astonishing Mompou disc four years ago, which won the Instrumental Category at the 2014 Gramophone Awards and was a finalist at the BBC Music Magazine Awards that same year; his new all-Brahms recital on Sony (June's Disc of the Month) was also a palpable hit in the Presto office, with my colleague Katherine praising its 'thrilling muscularity and introspective lyricism' in her April Choices.

We're also especially pleased to see Howard Skempton's haunting new setting of Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (commissioned by Presto's founder, Maurice Millward) mentioned in despatches - if you missed it first time around, you can read our full review of this recording here.

Disc of the Month

Volodos plays Brahms

Arcadi Volodos (piano)

'This is one of those discs where a word count is a strange thing. For it needs only four: Go Buy This Disc...whatever he does, you can’t imagine the music going any other way, which is perhaps the definition of a great artist....Comparisons become irrelevant in interpretations of such mesmerising honesty. An award-winner if ever I heard one.'

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

Editor's Choices

Antheil: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

BBC Philharmonic, John Storgårds

'Rather than placing these symphonies squarely in the mid-century mainstream...John Storgårds revels in their idiosyncrasies, revealing a wealth of expressive detail I’d never heard before...A brilliant recording all around, and an important one. Bring on the next instalment.'

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

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé

Les Siècles & Ensemble Aedes, François-Xavier Roth

'Les Siècles’ French-built woodwind and brass instruments from the early 20th century...provide greater tonal sweetness, especially the Selmer trumpets...Lean gut strings achieve feathery lightness...With fine choral contributions from the Ensemble Aedes, this new recording is highly recommended.'

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

Brahms: String Sextets Nos. 1 & 2

Renaud Capuçon, Christoph Koncz (violins), Gérard Caussé, Marie Chilemme (violas) & Gautier Capuçon, Clemens Hagen (cellos)

'It’s been some years since we’ve had a disc of Brahms’s sextets as thoroughly satisfying as this one...The Capuçon brothers and their colleagues may be an ad hoc group but they play with the unanimity and blended tone of a veteran ensemble...Best of all, the musicians find a near-ideal balance of urgency and patience – the hallmark of a great Brahms interpretation.'

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

Liszt: A Faust Symphony (arr. C. Tausig for piano)

István Lajkó (piano)

'The virtuoso demands made on the pianist over the course of nearly an hour and a quarter are formidable...These are admirably met in Lajkó’s reverent, imaginative and thoughtful performance. His inerrant sense of pacing charts the narrative thread through the individual movements even as it throws Liszt’s towering architecture into vivid relief.'

Available Format: CD

Howard Skempton: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Roderick Williams (baritone), Christopher Yates (viola); Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Martyn Brabbins

'The vocal line [in Mariner] is necessarily dominant, given the wealth of imagery to be conveyed, though it helps when Roderick Williams has a clarity of enunciation second to none...[in Only the Sound Remains] Yates is naturally attuned to his concertante role, while Martyn Brabbins secures audible finesse from BCMG...this is a valuable addition to Skempton’s expanding discography.'

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

Pergolesi: Stabat Mater

Lucy Crowe (soprano) & Tim Mead (counter-tenor), La Nuova Musica, David Bates

'In Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead the ensemble have both period specialists and singers with enough muscle and tone to temper stylistic precision with human drama. Together they lead a performance that is both meditation...and a vivid sacred drama...Bates and his ensemble take an active part in the drama too... A performance as sophisticated emotionally as it is musically.'

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

Haydn: Piano Sonatas Volume 6

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (piano)

'He has [promoted Haydn] at a level of technical perfection allied to insight, rigorous intellectual curiosity and the probing instincts of a distinguished performer that have never been brought to bear so acutely and consistently on this part of Haydn’s activity...wonderfully clean as his playing is, there is always warmth and a host of qualities that make his fingers sing and speak and entertain the way they do.'

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

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Gerhild Romberger (alto); Budapest Festival Orchestra, Cantemus Children's Choir, Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Iván Fischer

'Here for once is a Mahler symphony release that feels different from the outset...I doubt whether there has ever been a more precisely focused, more sheerly beautiful recording of any Mahler work...Reluctant to parade its roughest edges and disinclined to hurry, Fischer instead elicits a range of pristine, jewel-like colour that leaves its fabric refreshed...This Third is a must-have.'

Available Format: SACD

Szymanowski: Litany to the Virgin Mary, Stabat Mater & Symphony No. 3

Aleksandra Kurzak (soprano), Agnieszka Rehlis (mezzo-soprano), Dmitry Korchak (tenor) & Artur Ruciński (baritone); Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir, Jacek Kaspszyk

'Beautifully sung, with a well-judged sense of immediacy, urgency and humanity. The playing is excellent – affectionately supportive, and decisive and dramatic too.'

Available Format: CD

DVD of the Month

Maximum Reger

Various Artists

'Reger enthusiasts will relish this, but those not so familiar with him should equally explore such compelling advocacy of the composer’s music, life and legacy, told through fascinating documentaries and glorious music-making.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Re-issue of the Month

Beethoven: Complete String Quartets

Takács Quartet

'I attended some of these sessions and can still recall the forensic care and commitment the Takács brought to these works.'

Available Format: 7 CDs + Blu-ray Audio + DVD Video