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 BBC Music Magazine Choices  BBC Music Magazine - Christmas 2017 Choices

BBC Music Magazine - Christmas 2017 ChoicesIt’s lovely to see three of our recent interviewees mentioned in dispatches in the Christmas issue – soprano Carolyn Sampson, countertenor Iestyn Davies and pianist Joseph Middleton, for their utterly delightful album of duets by Purcell/Britten, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Quilter, which came out on BIS in September. (You can read Katherine's in-depth interview with Carolyn, Iestyn and Joseph here).

Martha Argerich’s Lugano Festival series concludes in a blaze of glory, with her incandescent Ravel taking the Concerto spot. There’s also an impressive debut disc of Mendelssohn from the young French string quartet Quatuor Arod (with a luminous cameo from a compatriot and fellow Erato artist, mezzo Marianne Crebassa), and the penultimate instalment of Jaap Van Zweden’s ‘Hong Kong Ring Cycle' on Naxos, with New Zealand heldentenor Simon O’Neill turning in an appropriately fearless performance as the eponymous hero.

Christmas Choice

In Dulci Jubilo: Music for the Christmas season by Buxtehude and Friends

Theatre of Voices, Paul Hillier

'Taking Bach’s predecessor Buxtehude as its focal point, Hillier’s programme steers a chronological passage through the events of Christ’s nativity, illustrating them with music by Buxtehude himself, and by those in his orbit…The eight Theatre of Voices singers deliver unfailingly sensitive performances under Hillier’s deft direction, and the recorded sound is excellent.'

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

Orchestral Choice

Vaughan Williams: Scott of the Antarctic – complete score

Ilona Domnich (soprano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates

'Yates conducts with appropriate majesty, his slow tempos very close to Ernest Irvin’s in the film. The RSNO and chorus are in powerful form, and Ilona Domnich contributes a strikingly eerie soprano vocalise...An immensely important addition to the Vaughan Williams oeuvre.'

Available Format: SACD

Concerto Choice

Martha Argerich & Friends: Live from Lugano 2016

Martha Argerich (piano), Renaud Capuçon (violin), Sergey Babayan (piano) et al

'This is the last of Warner’s annual gleanings from the Lugano Festival at which Martha Argerich presides - and definitely the most exciting. She may be 76, but her playing has lost none of its phenomenal precision and brilliance…In Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit Argerich is like a cat, velvet pawed until the moment for a predatory pounce. I have never heard ‘Ondine’ delivered with such delicate poetry, nor ‘Le gibet’ with such musing languor.'

Available Formats: 3 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Opera Choice

Wagner: Siegfried (CD)

Simon O’Neill (Siegfried), Matthias Goerne (The Wanderer), David Cangelosi (Mime), Werner Van Mechelen (Alberich), Heidi Melton (Brünnhilde); Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden

'[Van Zweden] evokes both its youthful energy and darker undercurrents, with excellent playing from the augmented Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra…But every ‘Siegfried’ hangs on the title role, and Simon O’Neill’s steely, bright-toned heldentenor encompasses this killer part with deceptive ease…he also manages to suggest youthful ardour without thuggishness. I’ve heard none finer in recent years.'

Available Formats: 4 CDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Wagner: Siegfried (Blu-ray Audio)

Simon O’Neill (Siegfried), Matthias Goerne (The Wanderer), David Cangelosi (Mime), Werner Van Mechelen (Alberich), Heidi Melton (Brünnhilde); Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden

'[Van Zweden] evokes both its youthful energy and darker undercurrents, with excellent playing from the augmented Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra…But every ‘Siegfried’ hangs on the title role, and Simon O’Neill’s steely, bright-toned heldentenor encompasses this killer part with deceptive ease…he also manages to suggest youthful ardour without thuggishness. I’ve heard none finer in recent years'

Available Format: Blu-ray Audio

Choral & Song Choice

Lost Is My Quiet: Duets and Solo Songs

Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), Joseph Middleton (piano)

'The art of vocal duetting is exemplified at its best in this recital by two of today’s finest British singers, working with an accompanist of equal merit…each singer has solo items…Yet the most memorable tracks are inevitably the duets, with Joseph Middleton’s striking playing reminding us how essential pianism is to such enterprises.'

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

Chamber Choice

Mendelssohn: String Quartets Nos. 2 & 4

Quatuor Arod, with Marianne Crebassa (mezzo)

'They deliver what must surely be one of the most intense, detailed and passionate accounts of [the A minor Quartet] ever recorded…The first movement Allegro kicks off at a frantic pace one imagines cannot help degenerating into a scramble – but which never does, such is these players’ hair-trigger clarity of articulation and volatility of expression.'

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

Instrumental Choice

CPE Bach: Tangere

Alexei Lubimov (tangent piano)

'If CPE’s music represents a synthesis of old and new, the piano exhibits similar qualities with a palette that can resemble a fortepiano squaring up to a clavichord with attitude…Lubimov owns every exquisitely calibrated nuance…A bouquet, too to the engineers who capture everything with such vibrant immediacy. Nothing short of a revelation.'

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