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 Gramophone Choices  Gramophone Editor's Choices - January 2018

Two of our own recent Recordings of the Week (also both Gramophone favourites!) feature this month: Teodor Currentzis’s devastating reading of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony on Sony (which James described in October as ‘one of the most tumultuous, breathtaking, and electrifying recordings of this piece that I have heard in quite some time’), and Cecilia Bartoli and Sol Gabetta’s mouth-watering collection of ‘sweet duels’ on Decca, which Katherine found to be ‘a delight from start to finish.’ There’s also a spacious but gripping Salome from Frankfurt, a sensitively staged St. Matthew Passion from Hans-Christian Rademann and his choreographer wife, and ebullient Elgar from Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic.

Recording of the Month

Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6

Musicaeterna, Teodor Currentzis

'This is a symphony of silences; Currentzis has calibrated them with the unsparing precision of a Pinter or a Haneke...Perhaps, in the Pathétique, Currentzis has met his match...It’s early days, but only the most exalted of comparisons suggest themselves...Will this also upset some applecarts? It is an unsettling experience.'

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

Editor's Choices

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3

Wiener Symphoniker, Philippe Jordan

'This new Vienna cycle is clearly the one with which 43-year-old Jordan intends to make his case...In sum, here are old skills married to new inspiration. At this late hour in the history of Beethoven on record, it would be unreasonable to ask for more.'

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

Cecilia & Sol: Dolce Duello

Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo), Sol Gabetta (cello) Cappella Gabetta, Andres Gabetta

'Bartoli is technically astonishing, rattling off coloratura with drill-like precision but wide-eyed joy and bags of personality. Gabetta’s cello is softer-grained (and occasionally a little backwardly placed), her playing nimble and responsive to Bartoli’s ornaments in a playful game of cat and mouse...Highly calorific Baroque fun.'

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

Elgar: Falstaff, Orchestral Songs; Grania and Diarmid

Roderick Williams (baritone), BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis

'This is Andrew Davis’s third recording of Elgar’s Falstaff. It is, not to beat about the bush, a superbly perceptive traversal, evincing a strength of purpose, emotional candour and meticulous attention to detail that give it the edge over its notable predecessors...All told, a terrific anthology, and absolutely not to missed.'

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

Haydn 2032 Volume 5 - L’Homme De Genie

Kammerorchester Basel, Giovanni Antonini

'The Basel Chamber Orchestra present a sound that is a touch sweeter than Il Giardino Armonico’s, although that familiar period-instrument ‘spit’ is still never absent...That sweetness suits these later works, in which Haydn’s pithy motivic writing is allied to a melodic breadth...This is another winning entry into Antonini’s Haydn discography.'

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

Mahler: Symphony No. 4

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (soprano), Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Adam Fischer

'Its Wunderhorn playfulness offsets a knowing old-world charm where phrases turn on a sixpence and all manner of characterful nuance lifts it out of the commonplace. I love that all the Mahlerian exaggerations and heightened contrasts are in almost wilful defiance of the finesse of the reading...I eagerly anticipate the rest of this Mahler cycle.'

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

Saint-Saëns: Works for Violin and Orchestra

Tianwa Yang (violin), Gabriel Schwabe (cello), Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Marc Soustrot

'I think these two discs are rather good. No. Rephrase that. I think they are exceptional...Schwabe plays with a light heart and produces a light, airy tone to match...[Yang] has such a sweet tone...For pure bravura, listen to the coda of the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, which is dispatched with a speed that almost matches Heifetz.'

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

Schnittke & Kancheli: Light Over Darkness

Erato Alakiozidou (piano), Lutoslawski Quartet

'The sheer intensity of this chamber version [of In Memoriam] is utterly gripping, and the combination of the young Greek pianist Erato Alakiozidou and the Lutosławski Quartet is electrifying. They treat the music with reverence, certainly, but they are also not afraid to mould it, to take it and make its very personal pain their own...This is a recording of extraordinary quality.'

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

A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf: French and German Baroque Music

Jakob Lindberg (lute)

'He is stately and expressive in Reusner’s Padoana while seizing upon the extravagant trills and strums evoked by the Dufault and the elegant deportment of the Mouton. Lindberg similarly relishes the toccata-like textures, bittersweet harmonies and melodic attractiveness of Kellner.'

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

Strauss: Salome

Emily Magee, Wolfgang Koch, Michaela Schuster, Peter Bronder, Benjamin Bruns; Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Andres Orozco-Estrada

'Orozco-Estrada’s approach is unrushed and often expansive...Magee’s Salome spits out her words as part of a characterisation of the Judean princess that’s compellingly real and convincing...an unusually persuasive aural drama and a deeply musical account of the score – a compelling listen featuring a fine cast and expertly conducted. It’s a set that can be warmly recommended.'

Available Formats: 2 SACDs, MP3, CD Quality FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

JS Bach: St Matthew Passion

Benedikt Kristjánsson, Krešimir Stražanac, Gerlinde Sämann, Isabel Jantschek, Benno Schachtner, Paul Schweinester, Peter Harvey; Gaechinger Cantorey, Hans-Christoph Rademann, Friederike Rademann

'In this choreographed Passion there are two discrete but overlapping layers of action...Bach’s elaborated setting of St Matthew is peculiarly suited to such an approach...The vocal soloists are all excellent, fairly extrovert whether in a mode of declamation or confession; Benno Schachtner’s alto and Benedikt Kristjánsson’s Evangelist are most vividly drawn and sung...The gestures are unpretentious...Powerful musical values underpin the enterprise.'

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Reissue/Archive of the Month

The Maryla Jonas Story - Her Complete Piano Recordings

Maryla Jonas

'As Bryce Morrison puts it: ''a blazingly original talent, heard here in brilliantly remastered sound''.'

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