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 Gramophone Choices, Gramophone Editor's Choices - July 2018

Gramophone July 2018 Out in front this month is a formidable feat of scholarship and performance from Ian Page and The Mozartists (as Classical Opera Company are known when not performing complete stage works), who’ve assembled a hugely attractive programme of orchestral and operatic music which the young Mozart is likely to have heard during his year-long stay in the English capital in 1764/5: taken from live concerts in 2015, the 2-CD album features music by Englishmen Thomas Arne, George Rush and William Bates, Italians Davide Perez and Giovanni Battista Pescetti, and Johann Christian Bach (aka ‘The London Bach’) as well as early compositions by the child prodigy himself. (You can read Katherine's April interview with Ian about the project here).

Further instalments of two series which have been impressing us a great deal in the Presto office also feature in the Editor’s Choices: the second volume of Boris Giltburg’s exhilarating Rachmaninov project on Naxos, and the fourth chapter of Ádám Fischer’s Mahler symphonies cycle with the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker on Avi Music, which is shaping up to be every bit as compelling as his brother Iván’s recent traversal on Channel Classics.

Recording of the Month

Mozart in London

The Mozartists, Ian Page

'There are excellent performances of some of the fledgling Mozart’s London pieces interspersed among an abundance of rarely investigated repertory that was researched and edited especially for the occasion...Page’s knack for choosing interesting singers yields contributions from eight highly capable soloists...Nevertheless, the star of the show is the superb orchestra, which never sounds in the least bit perfunctory or formulaic.'

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

Editor's Choices

Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Ádám Fischer

'Ádám Fischer’s kinship with this music seems to grow exponentially with each successive instalment of what is already proving an exceptional Mahler cycle. There’s a stylistic and emotional understanding which goes beyond the precisely annotated scores...Perhaps the most impressive thing about this account of the Fifth Symphony is the ‘in the moment’ feeling it engenders from first to last.'

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

Pettersson: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7

Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Christian Lindberg

'Lindberg gets the pacing absolutely right [in No. 7]...The Norrköping players are once again on superb form, responding to Lindberg’s advocacy just as keenly; but then this music is in their blood. This understanding shows also in their compelling account of the Fifth, a performance of complete authority...what caught my ear as much in both symphonies was the orchestral balance, with so much of the detail coming through as never before. Simply wonderful.'

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

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

Boris Giltburg (piano)

'[Giltburg’s new recording] shatters the encrustation of reputational habit, offering instead a vividly imaginative re creation of a score that lives and breathes with irresistible vitality. Giltburg’s approach is fundamentally lyrical, rhetorically apt and, aided and abetted by Prieto and the Scots, sensitive to every marking in the score…[He] gives us thoughtfully conceived rhetoric, with an unerring focus on Rachmaninov’s shrewd harmonic movement rather than a succession of dazzling figuration.'

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

Dohnányi: String Quartet, Serenade & Sextet

The Nash Ensemble

'The Nash Ensemble dig into Dohnányi’s Serenade (1902) with gusto, relishing the music’s myriad felicities...their performance is rife with character and incident...The Nash’s performance of the Third String Quartet (1926) is more impressive still...If you’ve never taken to Dohnányi’s music before, these performances should win you over. If you’re already a convert, you’ll want this.'

Available Format: CD

Stephen Hough's Dream Album

Stephen Hough (piano)

'A bran tub of bonbons, yes, but much more than that: it is also a portrait of an artist in love with music of all sorts (including, with no apology, the unfashionable and the second-rate if it happens to appeal to him), of a master transcriber and of that rare animal, a concert pianist who is not afraid to mix high jinks with high art...Witty, wistful, extrovert, introspective and cheeky by turn, this is a masterclass in a certain style of piano-playing, and a dream of an album.'

Available Format: CD

The Dufay Spectacle

Gothic Voices

'It looks very much as though Julian Podger is the presiding genius; and he has chosen the repertory very well...[the five motets are] presented in what seem to me the most intelligent and musically transparent performances...To mention all the glorious details here would break the banks of this review but I cannot avoid mentioning the marvellously experienced singing of Catherine King and her duetting with Steven Harrold: that is seriously classy.'

Available Format: CD

Chimère

Sandrine Piau (soprano), Susan Manoff (piano)

'The repertoire is eclectic and, also as before, Susan Manoff offers supremely sensitive and subtle piano-playing to complement singing of intense beauty: beguilingly gentle of timbre, Piau’s is a voice that can bloom sensuously at the top, and which she controls exquisitely...this is one of the most fascinating, satisfying and moving recital discs to have come my way for some time. It’s beautifully recorded too.'

Available Format: CD + Book

A Rose Magnificat

Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh

'The vogue for pairing Renaissance and contemporary choral works is well established but this is a programme that draws the dialogue between the two repertories into fresh animation...McCreesh’s ear for a contemporary classic is unerring, and this is a programme to win new audiences for composers who aren’t (yet) household names. The Park and Lane, along with MacMillan’s Ave maris stella, are easy wins but it’s Martin’s A Rose Magnificat that demands a second and third return to the disc.

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

Siface: L’amor castrato

Filippo Mineccia (countertenor), Nereydas, Javier Ulises Illán

'This is repertory...that for the most part suits his dark, handsome-sounding alto uncommonly well. Long, slowly unfolding lines are sustained with consummate ease and his coloratura has admirable liquidity...The Spanish period ensemble Nereydas play with precision and élan for Javier Ulises Illán, coming into their own in the orchestral extracts that signal shifts in mood as the recital progresses. It’s a fascinating disc. Do listen to it.'

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

DVD/Blu-ray of the Month

Donizetti: Il Borgomastro di Saardam (DVD)

Giorgio Caoduro (Tsar), Juan Francisco Gatell (Pietro Flimann), Irina Dubrovskaya (Marietta), Donizetti Opera, Roberto Rizzi Brignoli

'There are echoes here of Il barbiere di Siviglia, and there is much Rossini in the score, notably the comic ‘ensemble of perplexity’ that concludes the first act. The opera fizzes along under Roberto Rizzi Brignoli, the general frivolity offset by tender music for the lovers. There is one serious aria, ‘Va e la nave’...Giorgio Caoduro sings this magnificently, right down to the embellishments in the second stanza of the cabaletta.'

Available Format: DVD Video

Donizetti: Il Borgomastro di Saardam (Blu-ray)

Giorgio Caoduro (Tsar), Juan Francisco Gatell (Pietro Flimann), Irina Dubrovskaya (Marietta), Donizetti Opera, Roberto Rizzi Brignoli

Video format/ Aspect ratio: NTSC – 16:9

Audio format: PCM STEREO 2.0 / DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio

Available Format: Blu-ray

Donizetti: Il Borgomastro di Saardam (CD)

Giorgio Caoduro (Tsar), Juan Francisco Gatell (Pietro Flimann), Irina Dubrovskaya (Marietta), Donizetti Opera, Roberto Rizzi Brignoli

Also available on as an audio-only recording.

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