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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - July 2017

Gramophone Editor's Choices, July 2017Robert Hollingworth's fanciful and inspired reconstruction of a typical vespers at St. Mark’s Venice during Monteverdi's time there is first among equals this month - those of you with keen memories may recall my colleague David waxing lyrical about the 'impeccable musicianship' and 'simultaneously solemn yet joyful spirit' on show here a couple of months back, and we've been enjoying the recording again this week in anticipation of the group's all-Monteverdi programme in the first of this year's Proms Chamber Music concerts on 17th July.

Great to see an Editor's Choice for our own flavour of the month (well, Recording of the Week), Véronique Gens' Visions; there's also a lovely insightful interview with Véronique in the magazine, in which she discusses the little-known Romantic French repertoire on the disc.

Voting for the Artist of the Year in the 2017 Gramophone Classical Music Awards is now open, with nominees including harpischordist Mahan Esfahani, violinists Isabelle Faust and Lisa Batiashvili, and pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Lars Vogt and Imogen Cooper. Browse the full shortlist and place your vote here - you have until 31st July to make your choice, with the winner to be announced at the ceremony in London on Wednesday 13th September.

Disc of the Month

Monteverdi: The Other Vespers

I Fagiolini, Robert Hollingworth

'There is plenty of warmth and animation in the superb music-making. I Fagiolini’s consort and solo singing are exemplary...In such sure hands (and throats) as these, Monteverdi’s psalm-settings reach their fullest capacity to enchant and astonish.'

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

Editor's Choices

Brahms: Violin Concerto & Violin Sonata No. 1

Vadim Gluzman (violin), Angela Yoffe (piano), Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, James Gaffigan

'Spend just a few minutes in the company of Gluzman’s Brahms Concerto and, to call on an obvious cliché, you ‘know where he’s coming from’...Gluzman’s mellow tone, sensitively judged chords, unforced passagework, neat trills and athletic leaps hit their target each time.'

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

Handel: Water Music

Festspielorchester Göttingen, Laurence Cummings

'What Laurence Cummings produces each year with this band of period specialists...is something quite unique and wonderful. It’s a sound of zing, spring, heat and finesse; light-textured yet intense; multicoloured and with bristling timbres leaping so vividly into the air that you feel you actually could reach out and touch them.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Jean-Marie Leclair: Violin Concertos

Fabio Biondi (solo violin & direction), Europa Galante

'It feels as though Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante have hit the nail on the head with these readings...Brightness and delicacy reign...Biondi himself equally brings a Leclair-worthy combination of tenderness and precision to his solo lines...All in all, Leclair couldn’t have been displayed in a more warmly faithful light.'

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

Alberto Reyes plays Bach-Busoni, Chopin, Franck & Schumann

Alberto Reyes (piano)

'Unlike certain pianists who view the Bach-Busoni Chaconne as a virtuoso display piece in and of itself, Reyes’s patiently expansive rendition adds up to a masterclass in how to build assiduous climaxes, how to intelligently scale one’s dynamics and how to balance the massive textures in sonorously judicious proportions.'

Available Format: CD

Fauré: The Complete Songs, Vol. 2

Janis Kelly, Lorna Anderson (sopranos), Sarah Connolly, Ann Murray (mezzos), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Thomas Oliemans, John Chest (baritones), Malcolm Martineau (piano)

'The second instalment of Malcolm Martineau’s survey of Fauré’s songs is exceptionally beautiful, both in choice of material and quality of performance...Martineau’s understanding of Fauré’s piano-writing, in which less means more and virtuosity is avoided in favour of nuance, remains impeccable.'

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

Machaut: Sovereign Beauty

The Orlando Consort

'Machaut at his most engaging and varied...this really is one bullseye after another...Rarely since the Gothic Voices has the vocalisation of the lower lines appeared so self-evidently the right approach...if I hear a finer recording of 14th-century music this year I’ll be very surprised.'

Available Format: CD

Charles Villiers Stanford: Choral Music

Trinity College Choir Cambridge, Stephen Layton

'If a disc of sacred Victoriana conjures images of kid gloves and more-tea-vicar, then this is the recording to banish them once and for all. Tea cups are shattered along with prim liturgical proprieties in a recording that reclaims this repertoire as the full-blooded Christian battle cry that it is.'

Available Format: CD

Lully: Armide

Marie-Adeline Henry, Marie-Claude Chappuis, Cyril Auvity, Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset

'Les Talens Lyriques play with consummate mastery of elegantly swaying inégales, fizzy brilliance or suave dancelike gestures as each moment in Lully’s score demands; the assorted dances and divertissements are moulded exquisitely under Rousset’s sagacious direction from the harpsichord.'

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

Visions

Véronique Gens, Munich Radio Orchestra, Hervé Niquet

'It’s provocative stuff, its emotional – at times emotive – impact immeasurably heightened by very careful programming...Gens and Niquet throw themselves into all this with an engrossing mix of abandon and restraint. Gens’s trademark combination of purity of utterance and smoky tone speaks volumes.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC

Rachmaninov: The Edison Recordings, April 1919

Sergey Rachmaninov (piano)

'Rachmaninov’s pianism is utterly and undeniably compelling. One for the pianophile for sure, but also for the non-specialist to sample the unique gifts and earliest recordings of one of the greatest pianists who has ever lived...What treasures – and what a service Naxos has performed in making them available in this form.'

Available Format: CD

Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Plácido Domingo, Piero Cappuccilli, Katia Ricciarelli, Elizabeth Bainbridge, Reri Grist; Claudio Abbado, Otto Schenk (dir.)

'What Schenk achieves...is no mean feat: a show in which the main characters meaningfully interact, have credibility and generate sympathy...[Domingo] is enjoying himself as a devil-may-care ruler with a twinkle in both eye and voice...[Cappuccilli] offers a masterclass in what we really mean by ‘Verdi baritone’.'

Available Format: DVD Video