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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - June 2018 Choices

BBC Music Magazine June 2018Leader of the pack this month is a thrillingly sung and played programme of French baroque depictions of hell from Raphaël Pichon, Pygmalion and Lyon-born baritone Stéphane Degout, who’s currently starring in George Benjamin’s new opera Lessons in Love and Violence at the Royal Opera House; the album was one of Katherine’s personal picks for March and she’s already lobbying for its inclusion in our Recordings of the Year… (And with Philippe Jaroussky’s Orfeo due out on Friday, it’s quite the month for French singers descending to the underworld!).

Elsewhere, Rachel Podger’s small-but-perfectly-formed Four Seasons with Brecon Baroque (our best-selling album of April, and a recent Presto Recording of the Week) comes out on top in the Concerto category, and Jan Philipp Gloger’s complex new production of Così fan tutte for Covent Garden (conducted by Semyon Bychkov) takes the laurels for opera. Katherine spoke to the Ferrando, German tenor Daniel Behle, during the rehearsals back in September 2016: you can read his thoughts on the production (which was also his Royal Opera House debut) here.

Recording of the Month

Enfers

Stéphane Degout (baritone), Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon

'Degout’s artistry is the project’s true raison d’être…his sonorities are rich, his acting is riveting, and his musicianship is precocious…[He] possesses the rare facility to mix raw muscle with the subtlest caresses…In the infernal symphonies that pepper Enfers, the band attacks the score with an almost fiendish ferocity…Don’t miss this rollercoaster ride through the underworld!'

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

Orchestral Choice

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the BBC Proms (DVD)

Martha Argerich (piano), West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim

'A remarkable and memorable evening’s music-making. [Argerich’s] recording of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto made nearly a half-century ago set new standards…Here her scintillating articulation and beauty of tone are if anything even more mesmerising… The level of performance here is stellar from start to finish. Highlights include a fabulously delivered horn-call in ‘Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’.'

Available Format: DVD Video

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the BBC Proms (Blu-ray)

Martha Argerich (piano), West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim

'A remarkable and memorable evening’s music-making. [Argerich’s] recording of Liszt’s First Piano Concerto made nearly a half-century ago set new standards…Here her scintillating articulation and beauty of tone are if anything even more mesmerising… The level of performance here is stellar from start to finish. Highlights include a fabulously delivered horn-call in ‘Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’.'

Available Format: Blu-ray

Concerto Choice

Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni

Rachel Podger (violin), Brecon Baroque

'Part of the freshness stems from the interaction between Podger and her one-to-a-part ensemble. She’s first among equals and the dynamic couldn’t be further removed from the usual notion of the concerto as a vehicle for the all-conquering soloist…it’s striking just how many soloistic opportunities Vivaldi offers the ensemble…Musical details are incisively etched.'

Available Format: SACD

Instrumental Choice

Amanda & Julius - Works for Piano by Amanda Maier and Julius Röntgen

Bengt Forsberg (piano and organ)

'The short works in this eminently listenable programme are somewhat in the vein of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, the language approachable, the melodic twists gently Nordic…Maier’s language in her Preludes is harmonically more restless than Röntgen’s…Their similarity, though, is strong enough for Forsberg to play a game with us: in the Zweigespräche pieces, with five by Amanda and five by Julius, he does not reveal which is whose.'

Available Format: CD

Chamber Choice

John Jenkins: Consort Music for Four Parts

Fretwork

'The players envelop you in a sound here silky, there velvety. Fluid tempos highlight that lyrical ‘flowing vein’ that Jenkins’s contemporaries so admired, and the balance slightly favours the treble viol (airily played by Asako Morikawa), so enhancing the music’s melodious quality. Contrapuntal lines ebb and flow, allowing the strands of each conversation to rise and fall, and there’s some subtle dynamic shading, too.'

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

Choral & Song Choice

A Rose Magnificat

Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh

'Sweet tuning and subtle dynamic distinctions mark James MacMillan’s Ave maris stella, with gleamingly pure-toned contributions from the soprano…Technically the most difficult piece is probably Matthew Martin’s A Rose Magnificat…It is daily meat and drink to the superlative Gabrieli choir, who give a formidably encompassing performance…another outstanding issue from this outstanding team.'

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

Opera Choice

Mozart: Così fan tutte (DVD)

Corinne Winters, Angela Brower, Daniel Behle, Alessio Arduini, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Sabina Puertolas; Royal Opera House, Semyon Bychkov, Jan Philipp Gloger

'Musically, it is an almost unqualified success…The settings and costumes are wildly miscellaneous…The singers, mainly young and comparatively unfamiliar, are all personable and have attractive voices…These characters take themselves seriously as they should, which makes Così a painfully serious opera…No other performance that I have seen conveys its message more clearly.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Mozart: Così fan tutte (Blu-ray)

Corinne Winters, Angela Brower, Daniel Behle, Alessio Arduini, Johannes Martin Kränzle, Sabina Puertolas; Royal Opera House, Semyon Bychkov, Jan Philipp Gloger

'Musically, it is an almost unqualified success…The settings and costumes are wildly miscellaneous…The singers, mainly young and comparatively unfamiliar, are all personable and have attractive voices…These characters take themselves seriously as they should, which makes Così a painfully serious opera…No other performance that I have seen conveys its message more clearly.'

Available Format: Blu-ray