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 BBC Music Magazine Choices  BBC Music Magazine - August 2017 Choices

BBC Music Magazine - August ChoicesTwo outstanding baroque divas feature this month, with Carolyn Sampson's luminous accounts of three cantatas from Bach's Weimar period on Harmonia Mundi scooping Recording of the Month, and French-Canadian mezzo Julie Boulianne's gallery of heroes and heroines from Vivaldi and Handel operas also mentioned in despatches. There's also the latest instalment (and, in our collective opinion, a particularly charming one!) in Hyperion's hugely popular Romantic Piano Concerto series, focusing on the music of the British composer Cipriani Potter, and a real labour of love from Fugue State Films in the form of a 6-DVD collection of performances and a documentary celebrating the life and works of Max Reger.

Recording of the Month

JS Bach: Cantatas for Soprano

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Freiburger Barockorchester, Petra Müllejans

'Here are performances...to treasure for a lifetime...Sampson conveys a beguiling innocence, enlivening Bach's vernal masterpiece with affective ornaments, lightly articulated declamation and a carefully controlled vibrato. Tempos are justly chosen and the appropriately resonant importance given to the basso continuo provides icing on this most delicious of cakes.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1

Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Gustavo Gimeno

'The performances throughout by the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg under Gustavo Gimeno are excellent, highly polished yet full of subtle nuance, wit and spirit, beautifully captured in SACD sound...Gimeno and his players reveal all the sharp contrasts of [The People's Will], ranging from eerie Ives-like sustained strings to the quirky concluding waltz.'

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

Concerto Choice

The Romantic Piano Concerto 72 - Cipriani Potter

Howard Shelley (piano & conductor), Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

'[Potter's concertos] are conservative in style, but distinctively coloured through their prominent use of wind instruments, as well as occasional passages for solo violin and cello...The warmth and fluency of Howard Shelley's playing present the music in the strongest possible light...[The Variations] couple glittering virtuosity with wit and inventiveness.'

Available Format: CD

Opera Choice

Alma Oppressa: Vivaldi & Handel Arias

Julie Boulianne (mezzo), Clavecin en Concert, Luc Beauséjour

'Boulianne navigates the stormy seas with terrific bravura and agility. Her androgynous voice - voluptuous in its upper reaches, reedy as a countertenor in its lower register - is perfect for a breeches role like Sesto in Giulio Cesare and, of course, for the various arias here written for castratos...Ensemble playing is slick, and the recording...is luscious and detailed.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

Monteverdi: Night - Stories of Lovers and Warriors

Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini

'These maestros of madrigals recorded much of this repertoire to great acclaim some 20 or more years ago, but the cover of darkness provides an elegant context for fresh interpretations - with striking new takes on ornamentation and dissonance, pace and affect...A listening experience in which you can appreciate the alchemy of Monteverdi's craft and Alessandrini's execution of it.'

Available Format: CD

Chamber Choice

Landscapes

Schumann Quartet

'Here's another enlightened programme from the young German Schumann Quartet...Haydn's Sunrise is freshly radiant in their hands, the Menuett almost swung with an elastic rhythmic bounce, the Finale a rollercoaster of surprises...[In the Bartók] the Moderato's contrapuntal conversation is exquisitely voiced and sung, underpinned by cellist Mark Schumann's deeply refined artistry.'

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

Instrumental Choice

Maximum Reger

Various

'A relatively straightforward yet informative examination of Reger's life and works that is thankfully bereft of gimmicky visual effects. Through a sequence of extended interviews and musical illustrations, the man and his legacy are probed in quietly persuasive terms...all in all, this is a hugely rewarding achievement that should persuade us all to revisit our preconceptions of Max Reger's place in music history.'

Available Format: DVD Video