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 Presto Editor's Choices, Presto Editor's Choices - May 2018

April ChartMy personal picks of the month include a patchwork Schubert recital stitched together from three BBC broadcasts given by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten between 1959 and 1964, a terrific trilogy of Roussel orchestral works from Yan Pascal Tortelier (in his seventieth recording for Chandos!) and the BBC Philharmonic, and veteran tenor Christoph Prégardien dipping a toe into baritone territory and coming up trumps in a programme of German baroque cantatas.

Schubert: Lieder Recital

Peter Pears (tenor), Benjamin Britten (piano)

To my mind, these previously unreleased BBC broadcasts from the late 1950s and early ‘60s contain some of Pears’s most alluring singing on record: highlights include an elegant ‘Hark, hark the Lark!’ (sung in English), a superbly dramatic Auflösung, and Pears’s assertive, virile Miller-Lad in a breakneck ‘Mein!’ from Die schöne Müllerin.

Available Format: CD

Roussel: Évocations, Pour une fête de printemps & Suite in F

BBC Philharmonic, CBSO Chorus, Yan Pascal Tortelier

There’s so much Hollywood-style sheen and swagger to these performances that on first hearing I assumed I was listening to the John Wilson Orchestra. The CBSO Chorus are mightily impressive in the long Daphnis et Chloéesque final movement of the exotic Évocations, as are the three soloists – particularly baritone François Le Roux, who brings off some unexpected opera buffa-style patter with élan.

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

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 & Variations on a Theme of Corelli

Boris Giltburg (piano), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Carlos Miguel Prieto

There’s also a distinctly filmic quality to much of the orchestral playing on this second instalment of Boris Giltburg’s Rachmaninov project on Naxos, particularly in the big tuttis of the first movement, which is awash with Matnovani-ish vibrato and portamento; the Russian pianist’s comparatively detached, cleanly articulated phrasing is the perfect foil, and his muscular Corelli Variations are a treat.

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

Sibelius & Rautavaara: Violin Concertos

Tobias Feldmann (violin), Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Jean-Jacques Kantorow

I love the parallels between these two Finnish concertos which Feldman and Kantarow draw out, from the especially ethereal treatment of the opening of the Sibelius (which anticipates the disembodied arctic soundscape at the beginning of the Rautavaara) to the very present timpani in the finale of Sibelius which mirrors the strange scherzo-like passage at the beginning of Rautavaara’s long second movement.

Available Format: CD

Schubert: Octet

Isabelle Faust (violin), Anne Katharina Schreiber (violin), Danusha Waskiewicz (viola), Kristin von der Goltz (cello), Lorenzo Coppola (clarinet), Javier Zafra (bassoon), Teunis van der Zwart (horn), James Munro (double bass)

The energy and imagination from Faust and friends never lets up over the hour-long span of Schubert’s largest-scale chamber work; the ebullient vitality of the Trio has an almost symphonic quality, whilst the fourth-movement variations feel as if they’re being improvised on the spot.

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

Bach & Telemann: Cantatas for Baritone

Christoph Prégardien (baritone), Vox Orchestra, Lorenzo Ghirlanda

In his first recording billed as a baritone, Prégardien sounds in excellent vocal shape, capitalising on the darkness that was always inherent in his instrument rather than manufacturing artificial colours, and treating the text with the same care which makes his Lieder interpretations so special; the relatively rare Telemann cantatas are a particular joy, and the period band are energetic and incisive.

Available Format: CD

A Rose Magnificat

Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh

A peerlessly sung collection of Marian music from the first and second ‘Golden Ages’ of English choral music; the gently glowing settings of Ave maris stella from Owain Park and James MacMillan will surely attract the attention of other top-notch choirs, but the high point of the recording is surely Matthew Martin’s virtuosic Rose Magnificat, the ecstatic climax of which shows off the full-blooded Gabrieli sopranos in all their glory.

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

Mozart in London

The Mozartists, Ian Page

This imaginative survey of the music which the young Mozart is likely to have encountered on his year-long visit to London is a real box of delights. Robert Murray and Rebecca Bottone are particularly engaging in the buffo excerpts from Arnold’s The Maid of the Mill and Arne’s The Guardian Outwitted, and Helen Sherman impresses in the perilous coloratura of ‘Amid a thousand racking woes’ from the latter’s Artaxerxes.

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