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ERIC LU

WINNER OF THE 2018


LEEDS INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION

“sparkling
and supremely
+++++
confident
THE TIMES
performance”
GUARDIAN
+++++
+++++ “Chopin sonata
“Beethoven took our breath
fourth concerto away with its
held the measured
audience grandeur”
spellbound” INDEPENDENT
i

+++++
“Artistry of that kind is rare in pianists of any age;
to find it in a 20-year old is simply astounding” 
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

THE LIVE ALBUM OF HIS SENSATIONAL WIN


OUT NOW – CD | DOWNLOAD | STREAM
THE WORLD’S BEST CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS Est 1923 . DECEMBER 2018

gramophone.co.uk

THE GREAT OPERATIC GENIUS

Our critics’
favourite releases
of 2018
This year’s
Christmas albums
reviewed

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The Great Live Recordings The Remastered Edition

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A special eight-page section focusing on recent recordings from the US and Canada
JS Bach
Cantatas – No 76, Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre
talks to ...
Gottes; No 79, Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild;
No 80 – Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
Hélène Brunet sop Michael Taylor counterten
Rory Cowal
Philippe Gagné ten Jesse Blumberg bar The pianist, equally at home
Montreal Baroque / Eric Milnes
ATMA Classique F ACD2 2407 (70’ • DDD • T/t) in classical music and jazz, talks
Recorded live at the Église Saint-Augustin, about his latest album, ‘Clusters’
Mirabel, QC, June 2016
What inspired this programme?
In 2013 Amy Beal invited me to perform
some of Johanna Beyer’s solo piano works
Recorded live during at the University of California, Santa Cruz
the 2016 Montreal (UCSC). Beal, a music historian, was shedding
Baroque Festival, new light on this once-obscure composer that includes a variety of composers bringing
these colourful and I was very excited to participate. A few diferent experiences and perspectives.
performances of three Reformation years later, Amy invited me to perform at
cantatas capture the characteristic blend UCSC again, this time in a celebration of Do some works particularly stand out for
of joy and sophistication that makes music Daniel Goode’s music. We realised that their originality?
in Montreal so special. From the opening I had a number of really great pieces in I see originality as a common thread running
trumpet and oboe calls, varied in tone and my repertoire that had never been right through the album. Each piece is its
texture from refined to rough, everything is recorded, and we expanded this to own musical inquiry, written with a sense of
focused on the authentic emotional content a CD-length programme. openness and discovery. As a performer and
that lies beyond mere dazzling virtuosity. a listener, I am drawn to this sort of music.
Equally impressive, and quite a virtuoso Can one discern an American style?
feat in itself, is how versatile the four The album includes many diferent styles What’s next?
soloists are, that they can sing their and flavours. Often, an attempt to specify Two of the composers on this album – Muhal
recitatives and arias with such refinement an ‘American’ style involves drawing a line Richard Abrams and Kris Davis – are also
of sound and intimacy of phrase and yet connecting certain composers and excluding master improvisers and draw from an
also form a choral force of not only poetry others. Instead of a line, I think American avant-garde jazz tradition. I am assembling
but weight, which works surprisingly well music is better represented as a wide field a programme of music by such composers.
throughout, even in the massive opening
chorus of Cantata No 79.
Although the countertenor Michael
Taylor dominates the proceedings to some of space that has long characterised the
extent by the sheer seductive beauty of his work of ATMA, whether it is this eighth
approach, each of the quartet contributes volume in their projected complete cycle
strong, expressive singing and works hand- of Bach’s sacred cantatas or Yannick Nézet- ‘I’m not an
in-glove with the instrumental forces. Séguin’s Bruckner cycle with his hometown academically trained
Bach’s exquisite ensembles of different Orchestre Métropolitain. Laurence Vittes composer/musician’,
configurations, especially those with writes Mark John
solo oboe d’amore, viola d’amore and McEncroe McEncroe in this new Navona two-disc
viola da gamba, are led by Eric Milnes ‘My Symphonic Poems – Orchestral Images’ set (the fourth devoted to his music), and
so that balance and flow seem to regulate A Celebration of the Natural World. An Early ‘as such it’s never been my aim to further
themselves. The concluding chorale of the Autumn Morning. Deep in the Wilderness. the theoretical, intellectual or technical
first part of No 76, which is unforgettably Echoes from a Haunted Past. Mid Autumn’s Deep boundaries of music.’ That much is certain
magical, is just one of many moments of Colours. Movements in the Night. A Pageant at from even the most casual acquaintance
illumination, and, as always, supported by the Country Fair. The Passing. Summer’s Last with the 10 orchestral works – five per
highly imaginative continuo work. Hurrah. That Old Indian Summer (all orch Saliba) disc – collected here, all played with
The recordings in the Église Saint- Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra / commendable enthusiasm by the Janá∂ek
Augustin in Mirabel near the city’s former Anthony Armore Philharmonic Orchestra under Anthony
international airport have the natural sense Navona F b NV6189 (107’ • DDD) Armore. Born in Australia, McEncroe

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 I


PHOTO CREDIT: STEVE J. SHERMAN

BERNSTEIN
Mambo from West Side Story
Slava! A Political Overture
CBS Music • Times Square Ballet
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A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet

Säo Paulo Symphony Orchestra


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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Stellar soloist: Tamar Mikeladze is the pianist on an appealing disc of chamber music by George Oakley

has had a varied career, including label if describing an actual event, must have with its darting figures full of jazz
manager (for EMI) and professional chef, been excruciatingly dull) or Echoes from character, and the closing Sonata-Fantasia
but composition appears to be his main a Haunted Past. Not a collection I shall (2010), a generous score that brings
occupation now. return to. Guy Rickards together all sorts of fierce and ruminative
‘My Symphonic Poems – Orchestral ideas. Inga Kashakashvili in the former
Images’ is the album’s title and the latter Oakley and Tamar Mikeladze in the latter are
part best describes what their composer ‘Wanderer: Chamber Works’ stellar soloists.
himself calls ‘musical paintings’. There is Cello Sonataa. Four Songs on Shakespeare Another bountiful work is the Sonata
little genuinely symphonic development Sonnetsb. Remembrancec. Sonata-Fantasiad. for cello and piano (2013), whose three
in any of them; they are tone poems Toccatae movements give both players – here the
(none the worse for that), symphonic b
Naomi Louisa O’Connell mez cAnton Rist cl superb cellist Lizi Ramishvili with
only in the American sense of being written a
Lizi Ramishvili vc abeInga Kashakashvili, Kashakashvili – many opportunities to
for a symphony orchestra. (So far as I can c
Angelina Gadeliya, dTamar Mikeladze pfs head in poetic and vivacious directions.
determine, all the orchestrations are by Naxos American Classics M 8 559856 Oakley’s versatility in tapping into
the Australian-born, Croatian-resident (72’ • DDD • T) expressive possibilities is also evident in
Mark J Saliba.) The most effective is Remembrance, a one-movement piece in
That Old Indian Summer, whose three sections (‘Daydream’ – ‘Dream’ –
charming, brief musical discourse ‘Awakening’) of luminous conversations
matches the quirky title. The Georgian- for clarinet and piano; the vibrant
Sadly, this is the exception. Too American composer musicians are Anton Rist, clarinet,
often, unsupported melodic lines with George Oakley and Angelina Gadeliya, piano.
rudimentary harmonisation amble aimlessly writes in an appealing That Oakley is thoroughly versed in
with little sense of musical progression. and colourful style that blends elements of styles of many eras, as well as pianistic
Havergal Brian’s works are sometimes his Georgian folk heritage with European means, can be heard in Four Songs
castigated as being rhythmically turgid – and American traditions. Wisps of on Shakespeare Sonnets (2011), which
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R I A N N A P R J E VA L S K AYA

this isn’t true, but in comparison to Prokofiev can be discerned in several of simulates Renaissance music through
McEncroe’s they are the height of the chamber works on this new disc, but the prism of contemporary sensibility.
pulsating syncopation! This is especially so can ardent and propulsive music that The piano part at times is so alive that
acute in the longer pieces – A Celebration sounds like the product of an original and Shakespeare’s words often fade into the
of the Natural World and An Early Autumn fertile mind. background; but the songs, as performed
Morning, which wend their enervating way The writing for piano in all of these by mezzo-soprano Naomi Louisa
for 17 and 21 minutes respectively – but is pieces sends signals about the composer’s O’Connell and Kashakashvili, are
also apparent in the shorter pieces, such as own award-winning keyboard abilities, affecting bursts of emotion.
A Pageant at the Country Fair (which, especially in the opening Toccata (2008), Donald Rosenberg

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SOUNDS OF AMERICA

‘Clusters’ is moving without ever spilling over into tunes by General Juan Almeida Bosque,
‘American Piano Explorations’ mawkishness. The spaces in between the a one-time Cuban freedom fighter and
Abrams Études, Op 1 No 1 Beyer Clusters K Davis arpeggiated phrases of ‘Be Still’ are as confidant of Castro. Idiomatic as the
Eight Pieces for the Vernal Equinox Goode Piano telling as the phrases themselves. The arrangements are, their musical qualities
Sonata No 1 D Mahler ‘a song that will linger’. jagged unison bass-register runs of ‘Ghost are far from revolutionary.
Martin Bartlett at the Claremont Hotel Peterson Soliliquy’ emit and save energy at the same The arrangement of Gershwin’s
Reflection Tenney Variations in A (on a Theme time, while the final movement’s tone ‘Summertime’ (Frolov also wrote a
by my Father) clusters are wonderfully resonant yet Concert Fantasy on Themes from Porgy and
Rory Cowal pf discreetly deployed and never muddy. Bess) is taken a touch too slowly here for
New World F 80800-2 (56’ • DDD) Mahler’s ‘a song that will linger’ is a loose my taste. (Indeed, Koornhof and van
transcription of Stephen Foster’s song Schalkwyk are expansive in many of their
‘Hard Times’, where the piano-writing tempo choices, even in the Piece in Blues
grows more dissonant and asymmetrical as Style, although it works fine there.) The
Rory Cowal opens the music progresses, yet always maintains transcriptions of songs by Jorge
this recital with palpable tension and release. Cowal makes Anckermann and Rodrigo Prats are
Johanna Beyer’s a compelling case for everything he plays, pleasing enough, based on Cuban songs;
multi-movement although I suspect I’ll mainly return to the Serge Gais’s Swedish Farewell Waltz was
Clusters, a riveting and attention-grabbing Beyer, Goode and Mahler selections. based on a whimsical improvisation by
work that ought to be a repertoire staple. Jed Distler Frolov himself. Guy Rickards
Beyer (1888-1944) may have been inspired
by her friend and mentor Henry Cowell ‘Frolov & Friends’ ‘Grand Russian’
to compose with tone clusters, yet she Frolov Amiran Waltz. Caprice. Dansa latina. Rachmaninov Piano Sonata No 1, Op 28
uses them with a purposeful rigour, Impromptu Waltz. Piece in Blues Style. Tchaikovsky Grande Sonate, Op 37
textural refinement and terse expressive Romance. Scherzo Anckermann Cuban Piece Albert Tiu pf
agenda that differs from Cowell’s Bosque Six Melodies Gais Swedish Farewell Centaur F CRC3661 (71’ • DDD)
decorative exuberance. Waltz Gershwin Summertime Prats Maria’s Place
Given the late Muhal Richard (all arr Frolov)
Abrams’s freewheeling and complex Piet Koornhof vn Albie van Schalkwyk pf
piano improvisations, The Op 1 No 1 Delos F DE3557 (63’ • DDD) The best performances
Études sounds surprisingly academic and of Tchaikovsky’s
rhythmically unadventurous, despite sometimes rambling
Cowal’s vividly detailed performance. and pianistically
Hundreds of American composers in the Igor Frolov (b1937, unwieldy G major Sonata project the
mid-20th century wrote piano pieces not to be confused music in symphonic terms, with
that amounted to little more than with the Moscow- straightforward tempos that make
faux Schoenberg, such as Thomas based cyclist of the interpretative points through phrasing,
Peterson’s Reflection. same name, b1990!) enjoyed an colour and nuance. Albert Tiu gets extra
The component parts of Kris Davis’s international concert career (he was a mileage out of the first movement’s
fluently structured Eight Pieces for the pupil of Oistrakh, among others) and, primarily chordal textures by making
Vernal Equinox are easy for the ear to grasp having won prizes in several competitions, subtle variations in balance and emphasis
and yield pleasant results, if no surprises. served on the juries of several others, when material is reiterated. That said,
James Tenney’s early Variations might be including the Tchaikovsky. Although not his forthright and honest performance
described as Roy Harris meets Stefan trained in composition, he took to writing doesn’t match the more fluid and
Wolpe, and offers tangible proof that he small pieces and arranging others to play transparent mastery of the old Sviatoslav
had real talent before he threw it all away in his recitals, often as encores. As Piet Richter and Grigory Ginzburg recordings:
and became an experimental idol who Koornhof’s booklet note points out, the an unfair observation, perhaps, but the
specialised in interminable slow-moving irony of Frolov’s compositions – comparisons speak for themselves.
soundscapes. But Daniel Goode’s early particularly those written during his trips Although Tiu’s sensitive and
Piano Sonata No 1 makes a fresh and to Cuba, or inspired by them – is their concientious rendition of the second
original impression. It unfolds in unison dalliances with jazz and other popular movement lacks Vassily Primakov’s
lines that never resolve where you expect musical forms that were, at the time, dynamic scope and harmonic tension, he
them to and are subject to effective yet banned in his homeland. still imparts character and variety to the
unpredictable embellishment. While the A fine example of his use of popular music’s varying moods, with an extra kick
music is admittedly disjunctive, it forms is the Piece in Blues Style, quite the to the obsessive, Schumann-like dotted
nevertheless holds interest, even the finest and most individual work on this rhythms. By contrast, Tiu’s lackadaisical
extended ending that looks to Hindemith disc. Its quiet and relaxed character Scherzo barely suggests a true giocoso, and
and Copland for mild assistance. catches the feel of the idiom beautifully. pales next to Joseph Moog’s faster and
Finally, David Mahler’s six-movement Dansa latina is almost as appealing, a vivid suppler traversal. He imparts plenty of
suite dedicated to the late composer and lively dance in marked contrast to the energy and momentum throughout the
Martin Bartlett is a model of how to convey rather bland and schmaltzy sequence of finale, with little help from the sustain
intensity and reserve in judicial doses. For romances, waltzes and caprices. The Six pedal, yet one misses Freddy Kempf’s
example, the aching simplicity of ‘Beloved’ Melodies are a suite of arrangements of precipitous and balletic audacity.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 V


NEW
RELEASE
SOUNDS OF AMERICA

Stunning precision and emotional intensity: the Lorelei Ensemble present an imaginative programme spanning Dufay to Takemitsu

Tiu’s sonority and sense of line Rachmaninov – selected comparison: histories’ – from a 12th-century songbook
considerably open up for the Rachmaninov Fiorentino (6/12) (PIAN) PCLM0033 used by pilgrims travelling along the Camino
First Sonata’s mammoth of a first Tchaikovsky – selected comparisons: de Santiago in northern Spain, via Peter
movement. You notice this about a minute Moog (A/14) (ONYX) ONYX4126 Gilbert’s eight short exquisite movements,
and a half into the opening section’s first Kempf (3/16) (BIS) BIS2140 to Japanese poems celebrating the full
climax, where the right hand’s big chords Primakov (BRID) BRIDGE9283 moon, and in audiophile sound no less.
and swirling left-hand figurations press Guillaume Dufay dominates an
ahead, yet still make room for the inner ‘Impermanence’ imaginative programme. Working from
voices to soar. Moreover, the pianist Anonymous Par grant soif clere fontainne/Dame Alejandro Planchart’s new Opera omnia
confidently grasps the composer’s de tout pris (Turin Codex). Portum in ultimo edition at the University of Oxford, artistic
dauntingly full-bodied keyboard- (Codex Calixtinus). Pour ce que point fu de la director Beth Willer and Lorelei respond
writing without the slightest vagary of amere espine/A toi vierge me represente (Turin to four motets with the radiance of
accommodation. He may not pin you Codex). Qui patris atris honoris/Paraclite liberated joy, like unlocking the secrets
to the wall with Alexis Weissenberg’s spiritus (Turin Codex). Sanctus in eternis to ancient charms: the strange ecstasy of
pulverisingly demonic authority, but who regnans/Sanctus et ingenitus pater atque O proles Hispanie or their appropriately
can? In the gorgeous Lento, though, Tiu carens (Turin Codex) Dufay Apostolo glorioso. glorious Apostolo glorioso.
works too hard emphasising local details Flos florum. O proles Hispaniae/O sidus Then there is the hypnotic intricacy
and accents, which often throws the music’s Hispaniae. Rite maiorem Jacobum canamus/ of excerpts from the 15th-century Turin
carefully crafted melody/accompaniment Arcibus summis miseri recluse P Gilbert Tsukimi Codex, with a curiously sing-song Sanctus
perspective askew, together with his never – excs Takemitsu Windhorse – Vocalises I & II in eternis regnans and a warmth of humanity
really establishing a steady pulse at the Lorelei Ensemble / Beth Willer in Pour ce que point. There is an emotional
outset. In this regard, I much prefer the Sono Luminus F (CD + Y) DSL92226 (48’ • DDD, intensity to everything Lorelei sing;
shapelier simplicity and directness of DTS-HD MA5.1, 9.1 Auro-3D & 9.1 Dolby Atmos • T/t) even the two meandering Vocalises from
Santiago Rodriguez’s recording (Élan). Takemitsu’s Windhorse – depicting Tibetan
Despite his alluring moulding of lyrical nomads and otherwise incongruously
passages, Tiu’s heavy and rhythmically inconsequential – tug at the heart with
square handling of the finale’s relentlessly This first recording tender folk-song memories.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A L L A N A TA R A N T O

churning triplet figurations grows tiresome by the Boston-based The sound has wonderful spatial
over time, without the orchestral sweep and Lorelei Ensemble for dimensions and an airy quality. Beth
tonal richness that send me time and again Sono Luminus displays Willer’s invaluable booklet notes are
to Sergio Fiorentino’s stunning recording. a stunning precision of harmony and academically focused yet absorbing all
While Tiu unquestionably has the capacity intonation, and often spectacular virtuosity the same for the context they set and
for big piano-playing, he faces steep in music that has accompanied and reflected the philosophical depths they suggest.
catalogue competition. Jed Distler ‘our changing cultures, beliefs, and Laurence Vittes

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 VII


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Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone as
‘an organ of candid opinion for the numerous possessors of gramophones’

Looking back over a fine year in music


W
hat defined your 2018 in music? Most that this series fascinated most: last month’s
years, the classical community coalesces recordings of Debussy’s Late Works drew our
around one particular anniversary, and attention movingly to Debussy’s touchingly reflective
for 2018 that felt very much like final pieces, mirroring his anguish as his life and the
Leonard Bernstein’s centenary. I’ve written before world around him fell apart. Another highlight – and
how the art of anniversaries is to make people think another Editor’s Choice – was the beautiful collection
differently about their subject. In Bernstein’s case, of songs by Sophie Karthäuser and Stéphane Dugout,
I suspect it was less that perceptions of this remarkable ‘Harmonie du Soir’, which took us back to when
man were changed, but that awareness of the Debussy’s art was awash more with poetry than
multifaceted nature of his extraordinary life was greatly poignancy. Showing such trust and open-minded
enhanced, or certainly reinforced. Among other support of artists is perhaps where record companies
things, the year gave rise to a particularly impressive today really excel. As ease of access to music offers us
set of his symphonies from Warner Classics under the more choice than ever before, such an approach may
masterful command of Sir Antonio Pappano. yet yield the most distinctive albums of future years.
Oddly perhaps, Rossini – who died 150 years Finally, in a neat coincidence, Gramophone’s year is
ago – didn’t quite get the attention we might have bookended by two thrilling releases from one of today’s
expected. Perhaps advocacy of those composers most hotly debated maestros, Teodor Currentzis.
whose masterpieces lie in opera or large choral music His exceptionally vivid recording of Tchaikovsky’s
is simply tougher to achieve logistically. In any case, Pathétique was Recording of the Month in January,
we felt dedicating our final issue of the year to Rossini and this month sees an equally up-close and compelling
was a worthwhile thing to do, and the renowned recording of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. Yes, he divides
Rossinian Richard Osborne helps us get closer to opinion – but given that one of art’s aims is to make us
his music and his legacy. think deeply and differently, I would say that’s no
Another major anniversary was the centenary bad thing. Personally, I was completely gripped from
of Debussy’s death, and perhaps one of the most the first notes of both albums. Not surprisingly,
inspired series of 2018 came from our Label of the Currentzis cropped up twice in our annual Critics’
Year, Harmonia Mundi, which invited its formidable Choice feature, in which our reviewers name their
family of artists to present their personal visions of highlights of 2018. I hope you’ll sample some of their
the composer. The series’s ninth and final release sees recommendations over the coming festive weeks.
François-Xavier Roth – an Award-winner this year for Whatever you listen to, may I wish you all a very
his Ravel – offer an exquisitely performed recording of happy – and music-filled – Christmas.
Jeux and Nocturnes. But it was often in the unexpected martin.cullingford@markallengroup.com

THIS MONTH’S CONTRIBUTORS Gramophone, which has


RICHARD ‘It was fascinating ‘Blue Heron’s
been serving the classical
OSBORNE was to watch François- Gramophone
music world since 1923, is
delighted to Xavier Roth Award-winning
first and foremost a monthly
write about conduct “Music from
review magazine, delivered
Rossini for both Debussy’s the Peterhouse
today in both print and digital
our cover feature Nocturnes twice, Partbooks, Vol 5”
formats. It boasts an eminent and
and Collection: just days apart, in disc was the
knowledgeable panel of experts,
‘I have worked on the composer London and Paris with such discovery of my reviewing year
which reviews the full range of
for over 40 years,’ he says. The different orchestras,’ recalls for 2017,’ says FABRICE FITCH ,
classical music recordings.
2007 edition of his Master MARK PULLINGER , who interviews author of our feature on the
Its reviews are completely
Musicians Rossini is widely the conductor this issue. ‘It was ensemble, ‘so getting the chance
independent. In addition to
C O V E R P H O T O G R A P H : T H E T U L LY P O T T E R C O L L E C T I O N

acknowledged to be the standard revealing to delve into his approach to know them better has been a
work on the composer. to music-making.’ real treat.’ reviews, its interviews and
features help readers to explore
THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • David Allen • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Michelle Assay in greater depth the recordings
Richard Bratby • Edward Breen • Liam Cagney • Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) that the magazine covers, as well
Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler • Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows as offer insight into the work of
David Fanning • Andrew Farach-Colton • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch • Jonathan Freeman-Attwood composers and performers.
Charlotte Gardner • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp • Philip Kennicott • Richard Lawrence It is the magazine for the classical
Andrew Mellor • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil • Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol record collector, as well as
Geoffrey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger • Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards
for the enthusiast starting a
Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley • Pwyll ap Siôn
Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher • David Vickers • John Warrack • Richard Whitehouse voyage of discovery.
Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 3


CONTENTS
Volume 96 Number 1169
EDITORIAL
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EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Martin Cullingford
DEPUTY EDITOR Sarah Kirkup / 020 7501 6365
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ONLINE CONTENT EDITOR James McCarthy / EDITOR’S CHOICE 7
020 7501 6366
SUB-EDITOR David Threasher / 020 7501 6370 The 12 most highly recommended recordings
SUB-EDITOR Marija urić Speare
ART DIRECTOR Dinah Lone / 020 7501 6689 reviewed in this issue
PICTURE EDITOR Sunita Sharma-Gibson
AUDIO EDITOR Andrew Everard
EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATOR Libby McPhee
THANKS TO Charlotte Gardner, Edward Christian-
RECORDING OF THE MONTH 54
Hare, Sam Poppleton and Emma Baker Handel’s Italian cantatas have rarely sounded so
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF James Jolly
exquisite as they do in this delicious recording FOR THE RECORD 8
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CRITICS’ CHOICE 40
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MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE 74
The December 2018 issue of Gramophone is on sale from
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REISSUES 128 Philippe Jordan on Beethoven’s Symphony No 7
the accuracy of statements in this magazine but we cannot
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The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the GRAMOPHONE COLLECTION 140 NEW RELEASES 158
editor or Gramophone. Advertisements in the journal do not
imply endorsement of the products or services advertised. Richard Osborne explores Rossini’s La Cenerentola
MY MUSIC 162
REVIEWS INDEX 160 Choreographer Matthew Bourne on his Swan Lake

4 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


*11'!*-,!#0212&'1#!#+ #0

Tuesday 11 December 2018 7.30pm


La Nuova Musica; David Bates "'0#!2-0K Lucy Crowe soprano
Vivaldi, Corelli and Handel

Friday 21 December 2018 7.30pm


Alice Coote+#88-L1-.0,-KChristian Blackshaw piano
Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Brahms and Mahler

Saturday 22 December 2018 7.30pm


Avi Avital mandolin; Venice Baroque Orchestra
Geminiani, Vivaldi and Paisiello

-6ɒ!#JB:B?A;=:9<9
www.wigmore-hall.org.uk
If you enjoy riding
with the Valkyries.

© Gettyimages

A H qobuz
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Our obsession: high sound quality - CD & Studio.
Selections, digital booklets, exclusive articles.

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Martin

RECORDING OF THE MONTH


Cullingford’s
HANDEL
This Handel recording
pick of the finest
recordings from ‘Italian Cantatas’ offers some incredibly
stylish singing, with
this month’s Sabine Devieilhe sop
reviews Lea Desandre mez
Le Concert d’Astrée / music-making that, under
Emmanuelle Haïm
Erato Emmanuelle Haïm’s
RICHARD
WIGMORE’S
excellent direction,
REVIEW IS ON has throughout a
PAGE 54
compelling theatricality.

DEBUSSY MAHLER DVOŘÁK


Orchestral Works Symphony No 6 Piano Trios Nos 3 & 4
Les Siècles / MusicAeterna / Christian Tetzlaff vn Tanja
François-Xavier Roth Teodor Currentzis Tetzlaff vc Lars Vogt pf
Harmonia Mundi Sony Classical Ondine
A superb addition to Few conductors of An exquisite and
Harmonia Mundi’s fascinating Debussy late have generated such debate as Teodor entrancing chamber music disc, and an
survey, François-Xavier Roth and his Currentzis – his extraordinarily vivid impressive example of the intimacy and
period instrument players capturing the approach to recording is just as thrilling interplay that the genre can embody at its
music’s beauty and mystery. here as in his recent Pathétique. most heightened.
REVIEW ON PAGE 61 REVIEW ON PAGE 64 REVIEW ON PAGE 79

MESSIAEN ‘BACH INSPIRATIONS’ ‘THE BERLIN RECITAL’


La Nativité du Seigneur Thibaut Garcia gtr Yuja Wang pf
Richard Gowers org Erato DG
King’s College, Cambridge Guitarist Thibaut Yuja Wang is one of
From the work’s quiet Garcia’s instinctive- the most impressive
beginnings through to sounding command of pianists of her
the magnificent and magisterial final part, colour and his graceful virtuosity offer an generation – extraordinary technique
this is deeply impressive organ-playing, album at times moving and reflective, at allied with imaginative musicality, she
with Kings College’s atmospheric sound others dramatic, all played with admirable makes her second appearance on this
expertly captured. skill and delicacy. page in as many months.
REVIEW ON PAGE 91 REVIEW ON PAGE 94 REVIEW ON PAGE 94

ELGAR ‘PATER PECCAVI’ SAINT-SAËNS Ascanio


The Music Makers. The Marian Consort / Sols; Orchestra
The Spirit of England Rory McCleery of the Geneva
BBC Symphony Orchestra Delphian University of Music /
/ Sir Andrew Davis Profiled by us earlier Guilaume Tourniaire
Chandos in the year, The B Records
With artists, and a record label in Marian Consort under Rory McCleery There’s a real sense of delight in discovery
Chandos, all so steeped in repertoire such bring the exquisite skill and elegance for as these musicians – players, chorus and
as this, it’s no surprise that this album which they’ve already become known to soloists all excellent throughout – bring us
should be so powerful and so moving. the music of late-Renaissance Portugal. this Saint-Saëns rarity.
REVIEW ON PAGE 101 REVIEW ON PAGE 112 REVIEW ON PAGE 120

In association with
DVD/BLU-RAY REISSUE/ARCHIVE
PUCCINI Madama Butterfly WILHELM BACKHAUS
Sols; Royal Opera / Sir Antonio Pappano HMW Recordings 1925-1937
Opus Arte Wilhelm Backhaus pf www.qobuz.com
Mark Pullinger was deeply moved by this APR
production, both in the opera house and now on A chance to revel in the Listen to many of
screen, featuring the excellent Ermonela Jaho in the title role virtuosity of the young Wilhelm Backhaus, the Editor’s Choice
and one of today’s leading Puccini conductors in the pit. including the first complete Chopin Études. recordings online at
REVIEW ON PAGE 119 REVIEW ON PAGE 89 qobuz.com

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 7


FOR THE RECORD
DG celebrates 120 years with a lavish box-set
D
eutsche Grammophon is Lorin Maazel and the BPO) and the first
marking its 120th birthday mass-produced Compact Disc (1982 –
with a box-set comprising – Karajan’s Berlin Eine Alpensinfonie).
appropriately – 120 CDs. Tracing From DG’s early days, many major
the history of the company, it sheds names in 20th-century music appear
a chronological light on a developing including recordings by Nikisch, Hertz,
industry. Founded in June 1898 in Erich Kleiber, Klemperer, Richard
Hanover, its directors were Emile Strauss, Pfitzner, de Sabata, Furtwängler
Berliner – inventor of both the disc and Horenstein. The galaxy of later
and the player – and his brother Joseph. star players is well conveyed in the set,
Soon Berliner’s disc had replaced too – among the 17 discs of piano music
Edison’s cylinder as the industry are recordings by Kempff, Michelangeli,
standard. (By the time of Joseph Pollini, Barenboim, Argerich,
Berliner’s death in 1928 and Emile’s the Pogorelich, Horowitz, Lang Lang,
following year, DG’s annual production Trifonov, Perahia and Sokolov.
has reached nearly 10 million records, Called ‘120 Years of Deutsche
with the Hanover factory employing Grammophon’, the set weighs in at
some 600 people.) 5.4kg and costs about £260, including a 200-page book divided
DG’s history has many milestones, including the introduction into 16 chapters which look at different aspects of the DG story,
in 1950 of the variable groove 78rpm disc (which allowed past, present and future (a bonus CD gives a taster of releases to
up to nine minutes of music per side), the first LP (1951), come), as well as the various genres recorded. Also included is
the introduction of the famous yellow cartouche (1957), a Blu-ray Audio disc of Karajan’s recording of Wagner’s The Ring.
the first stereo recording (1962 – Karajan’s epoch-making The set is available to download by volume as well as to stream,
Beethoven symphony cycle), the first digital recording (1979 – and there is also a related ‘DG 120’ playlist of 120 tracks to
Gidon Kremer playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with stream on Spotify and Apple Music.

its choir of men and boy choristers (drawn year – takes several Glyndebourne operas to
from a residential choir school), is felt to be cities throughout the UK, often showcasing
very much in the Anglican choral tradition. young talent. Glassberg will conduct one per
Filsell is currently Director of Music at the year for the next three years.
Episcopal Church of St Alban in Washington ‘I’m incredibly excited to be continuing
DC, an artist-in-residence at Washington my relationship with Glyndebourne,’ said
National Cathedral, and professor of organ at Glassberg. ‘My first professional work as an
the Peabody Conservatory. His discography assistant was at Glyndebourne, and it’s where
includes the premiere recordings of Marcel many memorable and joyous moments in my
Dupré’s complete organ works, described career so far have taken place.’
by Gramophone as ‘one of the greatest
achievements in organ recording’.
Said Filsell: ‘I am delighted and humbled
Sarah Mohr-Pietsch
to be asked to take up the musical reins at named Dartington’s
Saint Thomas and to follow in the footsteps
of some remarkable recent musicians.’
new Artistic Director
New Music Director at Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the Radio 3 broadcaster

St Thomas New York Ben Glassberg takes who presented the Breakfast Show for several

Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York, Glyndebourne on tour years, has been named Artistic Director of
Dartington Summer School and Festival. She
has named its new Music Director as Jeremy Glyndebourne On Tour has appointed takes over from pianist Joanna MacGregor, who
Filsell. In October he will succeed Daniel Hyde, Ben Glassberg as its Principal Conductor. curates her fifth and final festival next year.
who in turn succeeded the equally illustrious The post’s previous occupants suggest it’s Recalling her own time as a student at
John Scott following the latter’s death in 2015, an appointment that can lead to great things: Dartington, Mohr-Pietsch said: ‘The warmth
and who returns to the UK to take over as Glassberg follows on from Edward Gardner, and creativity I encountered … had a powerful
Music Director at King’s College Chapel. Jakub Hrůša and Robin Ticciati (Ticciati having efect on me, and I am excited about creating
That the three most recent incumbents are been subsequently appointed Music Director transformative musical experiences for
English organists is perhaps not coincidental of the main festival itself). Glyndebourne On everyone, as well as deepening connections
– Saint Thomas, an Episcopalian church with Tour – which marks its 50th anniversary next with the local community.’

8 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

Pappano to stay on at Covent Garden


L
ondon’s Royal Opera
House has confirmed
that Sir Antonio
Pappano will remain
as Music Director until
at least the end of the The magazine is just the beginning.
2022/23 season. Visit gramophone.co.uk for …
Pappano took up the post
in 2002, and since then Podcasts
his leadership of the house Gramophone’s podcast series continues with
has been widely acclaimed, three engrossing new episodes. The first
both live and through is dedicated to the great Swedish soprano
subsequent releases – Birgit Nilsson. In Stockholm, James Jolly
Gramophone Awards were meets with the President of the Birgit Nilsson
given to DVDs of Mozart’s Foundation, Rutbert Reisch, and talks to him
Le nozze di Figaro (2008), about the singer and her extraordinary career
Verdi’s Don Carlo (2011) as documented on her live recordings.
and Puccini’s Il trittico
(2013). By the end of this Sir Antonio Pappano: staying on at Covent Garden until at least 2023
season, he will have passed
the milestone of Covent Garden’s continuing my collaboration with the
longest-serving Music Director. finest orchestra and chorus in the world.’
‘This place feels like my home’, said He also announced plans for a sabbatical
Pappano, ‘and I am so excited to continue year in the 2020/21 season, during which
my artistic journey here, conducting the he will conduct at the Metropolitan Opera
repertory that [Director of Opera] Oliver in New York, La Scala in Milan and the
Mears and I have developed together while Staatsoper in Berlin.

ONE TO WATCH
Elsa Dreisig Soprano
The enormous potential of Franco-Danish
soprano Elsa Dreisig was confirmed when she
won Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition
in 2016. Dreisig was a member of the opera
studio of Berlin Staatsoper from 2015, under
the artistic direction of Daniel Barenboim, and
following her Operalia success she became
a company member, undertaking leading Talking Mozart, Weber and jazz: clarinettist Julian Bliss
roles including Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D AV I D B E B B E R / R O H , M I R O I R / P A R L O P H O N E R E C O R D S LT D , B E N W R I G H T

Violetta (La traviata) to widespread acclaim. In the second episode, Julian Bliss
Dreisig has now signed exclusively to Erato. (pictured) talks to Martin Cullingford about
Her debut album, reviewed in this issue (see his new recording on Signum Classics of the
page 125), presents mirror images of the same Mozart and Weber Clarinet Quintets with the
operatic heroines, as revealed by diferent Carducci String Quartet. He also discusses
composers, and displays her versatility from his love of jazz, and about the enjoyment of
light coloratura to Straussian heft. It also helping design a new clarinet.
suggests an exploratory zeal that should find In a further episode, James Jolly talks to
a natural home at Erato: the two Roméo et violinist Nikolaj Znaider about Mozart and
Juliette settings are first recordings (one from (see review on page 94). Dreisig was keen to the Carl Nielsen International Competition.
Steibelt’s opera, the other from the original highlight the advantages of working with Make sure you subscribe to our free
version by Gounod). Our impressed critic such a supportive label, and for being given Gramophone podcasts via your favourite
Mark Pullinger describes the overall album the ‘freedom to explore, experiment and take podcast platform. We now have an archive of
as a debut ‘full of promise’. risks’. With Erato’s record of developing more than 160 episodes to explore and enjoy.
In addition, Dreisig also appears on two young talent over the long term, Dreisig
tracks of the Bach-inspired guitar album is surely in safe hands. We look forward to Facebook & Twitter
of her fellow Erato artist Thibaut Garcia further results of this collaboration. Follow us to hear about the latest
classical music news and anniversaries.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 9


FOR THE RECORD

ARTISTS & their INSTRUMENTS


Christian Tetzlaff on his Peter Greiner violin
so natural selection over hundreds of years
means that, compared to a modern
instrument, there’s a much higher chance of
an old instrument being good. But – and now
comes the big but – in any blind test between
old and modern instruments, where the test is
done in a really good way – spraying the
instruments so you cannot smell which is old
and new, blindfolding players and audiences,
etc – the results are totally arbitrary.
Peter Greiner is a player, and he does what
he says Stradivarius also did – he plays the
fiddles when they are white, when you can
still sandpaper everywhere and change things.
Then, once he thinks the basic set-up of the
fiddle gives best credit to what the wood can
do, he varnishes – because one’s methods of
influence diminish once everything is varnished.
I’ve used several of Peter’s instruments.
One I played for 12 years, and the one I play
now I’ve played for six or seven years. I just
grabbed it after someone else had tried it out
and hadn’t liked it. I played a few notes on it,
and then I think I played a concert on it the
next day! I knew right away that this violin
was something unusual, even among Peter’s
instruments. I’m still discovering things about
it and am continuing to work a bit on diferent
I met the German violin-maker Peter Greiner I don’t know whether or not I could have tried strings – I’m still intrigued enough by it to
about 27 years ago. At the time, I had just been more with the Stradivarius to make it an continue playing it.
given a nice Stradivarius to play by a private instrument that suited me, but I think I was If someone gave me a Stradivarius that
supporter, who said I could play it for as long just drawn to this idea that, nowadays, there’s sounded better than my Peter Greiner I would
as I wanted. Peter made a copy of it and, being no reason why a genius maker cannot build of course immediately play it, because I need
a bit young and cheeky, when I had both those a beautiful fiddle. Stradivarius was famous the best possible sound. What I’m trying to say
instruments I started playing on Peter’s right away, he didn’t have to wait 200 years. is that I’m not playing a modern instrument
instead of the Stradivarius. You might have I think that what you find as weaknesses in because I want to promote the cause of
expected this person who had so generously modern violins, you find interesting in old modern instruments – I just want to choose
let me play his Stradivarius to have been furious ones – the same sound you would criticise in the most rewarding instrument.
and say ‘OK, give me back my instrument’, a modern fiddle would amaze you in an old Christian Tetzlaf’s recording of Dvořák’s
but instead this generous man asked Peter to fiddle. There is also the Darwinian aspect, Piano Trios Nos 3 and 4 with Tanja Tetzlaf
build him a whole string quartet! In retrospect, that the really bad old fiddles are not played, and Lars Vogt is reviewed on page 79

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10 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

GRAMOPHONE GUIDE TO …

Sinfonia concertante
David Threasher traces another form that reached its pinnacle with Mozart

T
he terms ‘symphony’ and ‘concerto’ have histories Haydn’s sole example was the result of a 1792 querelle that
almost as long as Western art music itself and mean the London press confected between him and his erstwhile pupil
different things depending on the time and place of their Ignaz Pleyel. Haydn responded effortlessly to the challenge of the
application. ‘Sinfonia concertante’, on the other hand, refers to younger man’s concertanti in a work of the most delightful charm
a particular type of piece, composed in a specific period – and, for violin, cello, oboe and bassoon.
as so often, the usual suspects provided the works that represent The rise of the double and triple concerto led to the demise
the form at its finest. of the concertante, although works such as Saint-Saëns’s Organ
At its most basic, it’s a concerto for multiple instruments, Symphony or Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole nevertheless display
which not only function as soloists but also to a greater or lesser many of its traits. More recently, a similar compositional style
extent embed themselves, symphonically, into the wider musical pops up in works such as Szymanowski’s Fourth Symphony,
texture. The concerto grosso came closest to this description with its prominent piano part, Litolff’s Concertos symphoniques
during the Baroque; with the rise of the Romantics, the terms and Prokofiev’s cello Symphony-Concerto. But these are
‘double concerto’ and ‘triple concerto’ became more common. works of their own time, a far cry from the origins of the
The sinfonia concertante, then, enjoyed its vogue in the second form in 18th-century Europe.
half of the 18th century. It was popular in Paris where, as Listen to our Sinfonia concertante playlist on Qobuz
symphonie concertante, examples by the likes of Davaux, Devienne,
Gossec and Pleyel were enjoyed by the soloists of the Concerts
Spirituels. JC Bach composed a string of such works in London,
for the virtuosos of the orchestra he convened for the Bach-Abel
concerts. Mozart would have heard JCB’s music as a child in the
English capital, as well as further such works in Mannheim.
Mozart becomes one of those usual suspects for perhaps the
finest work in the genre, his Sinfonia concertante for violin, viola
and orchestra. Having emerged imperceptibly from the orchestra,
the two soloists subsequently share material, intertwining with
suavity in the opening Allegro maestoso, more light-heartedly in
the final Presto and with utmost seriousness in the central slow
movement. Set in grave C minor, this is a masterpiece of dazzling
maturity from the 23-year-old, stepping confidently outside the
accepted emotional bounds of the concerto of the 1770s. Vilde Frang and Lawrence Power perform Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante

IN THE STUDIO
O Having amassed a substantial (and often Gramophone Award- O Jean-Eflam Bavouzet continues his Mozart piano concerto cycle
winning) catalogue on Harmonia Mundi, the conductor René Jacobs with the Manchester Camerata and Gábor Takács-Nágy for Chandos.
is embarking on a complete Schubert symphony cycle on the Volume 4 comprises Nos 20 and 21 (K466 and 467), coupled with the
Pentatone label, with the Belgian period ensemble B’Rock. It’s the Overture to Don Giovanni. Expect a summer 2019 release.
first time he’s ever recorded music by the composer. Symphonies
Nos 1 and 6 have just been released (and will be reviewed next month) O In time for the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death next
and the cycle is due to be completed in 2021. year, Sir Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra – whose
Interim Artistic Director he is until Gustavo Gimeno’s arrival at the start
O Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques have completed their of the 2020 season – have recorded Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique
trilogy of operas by Antonio Salieri with Tarare (previous releases and Lélio, his fantasy on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The Chandos
sessions took place in September, the recording is due out mid-2019.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B R I D G E M A N I M A G E S

include Les Danaïdes and Les Horaces, recorded in 2016 and just
released by Aparté). Recorded during performances at the Opéra Royal
in Versailles, the cast included Cyrille Dubois, Karine Deshayes, O Christian Lindberg – in the triple role of composer, soloist and
Jean-Sébastien Bou and Judith van Wanroij. The opera sets the only conductor – has made a recording for BIS of his own works. Made in
libretto by Beaumarchais (whose Marriage of Figaro was famously Antwerp with city’s Symphony Orchestra the programme includes
adapted by Lorenzo da Ponte and Mozart). The release date has yet Liverpool Lullabies for trombone, percussion and orchestra, with guest
to be decided. soloist Evelyn Glennie.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 11


FOR THE RECORD

ORCHESTRA Insight …
The Hallé
Our monthly series telling the story behind an orchestra
Founded 1858
Home The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Music Director Sir Mark Elder
Founding Music Director Charles Hallé

Note the absence of the word ‘orchestra’. The Hallé is more


than that. It started life as a multifaceted concerts society and
is currently a family comprising four choirs, two symphony
orchestras and thousands of cheerleaders. If plans are approved,
it might soon include a school. Improvement was at the heart of
the institution Charles Hallé founded in hard-working Victorian
Manchester. A century-and-a-half later, it’s hard to think of Sir Mark Elder has been music director of the Hallé since 2000
anything other than football that expresses civic cohesion in
this city quite like the Hallé does. Elder started by ‘cleaning up’ repertoire works, not least
The Hallé’s ‘adult’ symphony orchestra has been associated by the orchestra’s beloved Elgar. By 2002 he was conducting
with 20th-century boom-and-bust, but its significance in British chunks of Wagner operas and the next year launched the
music life is hard to overstate. It introduced the world to Elgar’s orchestra’s in-house record label with the Enigma Variations.
First Symphony, Mahler’s Das klagende Lied and Thomas Adès’s The label, a perfect complement to the orchestra’s legacy
These Premises are Alarmed. It generated one of the greatest recordings with Barbirolli, has given us four complete
orchestra-conductor partnerships in history, when John Barbirolli Wagner operas, world premieres and a wealth of underexposed
inherited a band of 30 players from Hans Richter and created a British repertoire. It has embraced the choirs that were part
delectable orchestra over 27 years. More recently, it kick-started of Charles Hallé’s blueprint. One such release, of the 2014
a pan-European trend that suggests Wagner’s Ring is the ultimate annual Christmas concert, somehow communicates the idea
test for a symphony orchestra as much as for an opera company. of audiences, volunteer singers and professional instrumentalists
The Hallé’s recent history pivots on the year 1996, when staking equal ownership to a priceless tradition.
it moved from Manchester’s dowdy Free Trade Hall to its For all the affection, Manchester expects excellence. Elder
industrial-chic Bridgewater Hall. It wasn’t the honeymoon and a string of associated conductors have honed it. The Hallé’s
it should have been. The orchestra faced bankruptcy and its sound retains a certain serrated edge that might be indigenous
relationship with music director Kent Nagano bordered on the to the north of England. Add to that mellow nobility, operatic
dysfunctional. Rehearsing Elgar as a guest conductor, Mark Elder sensitivity and notable clarity
encountered a bruised ensemble that gave him ‘competence but instilled by a conductor for Find your
not much more.’ He sensed an opportunity, and was appointed whom elegance is all. Andrew Mellor music on
music director from 2000. Listen to our special playlist on Qobuz www.qobuz.com

London choral conductor winner podcasts, and music mixes – those focusing on classical repertoire will
include Classical Focus from BBC Bitesize (‘a carefully curated backdrop
The German conductor Julia Selina Blank of classical music to concentrate to’) and Classical Sunrise from Radio 3
(pictured) received the first prize at the (‘a selection of classical music to ease you into the weekend’).
inaugural London International Choral
Conducting Competition which took place
at London’s Royal Academy of Music in
This month’s music on medici.tv
October and featured two host choirs, Maintaining this month’s Rossini theme, we’ve a sparkling production of
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P E T E R W A R R E N , E L M A R F E U E R B A C H E R

Chantage and Coro, as well as a guest choir, La pietra del paragone conducted by Rossini expert Alberto Zedda from
cc Freia from Helsinki. Earlier this year Blank founded DAME to perform Madrid and a concert with Cecilia Bartoli from Barcelona’s gorgeous
choral music for female voices on a professional level. She is also the Palau de la Música Catalana. Catch Daniel Barenboim and his West-
conductor of Oslo’s Asker Chamber Choir and Norske Kammersangere. Eastern Divan Orchestra on a recent tour in the US. At Carnegie Hall,
in a concert in memory of Isaac Stern, they play Richard Strauss’s
BBC launches new Sounds app Don Quixote (with the young DG-signed cellist Kian Soltani) and
Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. With Lang Lang back giving concerts
The BBC has launched a new app, which draws together its music, and focusing on the music of Mozart, try a documentary with him and
podcast and radio content, including Radio 3. The app will configure Nikolaus Harnoncourt, ‘Mission Mozart’. And for a masterclass, Michael
itself to each user’s tastes, learning from their listening habits and Tilson Thomas explores Brahms’s Second Symphony with students. For
providing relevant content, including many new and returning these and more visit medici.tv and search ‘Gramophone selects’.

12 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FOR THE RECORD

FROM WHERE I SIT


Why is Porgy and Bess so rarely ONDINE
performed as the Gershwins NEW
intended, asks Edward Seckerson
AND
T
he recent revival of the Gershwins’
Porgy and Bess at English National
Opera has prompted me to look a
RECENT
little deeper into this landmark score and
to reassess its significance in the chronology
of American music theatre. Along with
RELEASES
West Side Story it remains the score that the
great and the good of the genre wish they had NEW
written. There is a stratospheric level of ambition about Porgy
ODE 1316-2
and Bess, an urgent need to push the American musical, opera, ODE 1321-2
call it what you will, to new heights, to reconcile an indigenous
folksiness to high sophistication.
Stephen Sondheim cites the lyric of its opening number – the
bluesily pentatonic ‘Summertime’ (a melody it has been suggested
is redolent, too, of a Ukranian Yiddish lullaby) – as the key to BBC Radio 3
establishing the tone of the entire piece. The first line of that lyric ‘Record Review’
hangs on one word: ‘and’. ‘Summertime and the livin’ is easy’. The Disc of the Week,
obvious (and more boringly literate) choice would be ‘Summertime 20th October 2018
when the livin’ is easy’. But the lyricist’s ‘and’ lends a poetic
immediacy to the song. It adds an air of the colloquial and personal
to Clara’s languid lullaby. In other words, this ‘community’ has its
own special way of expressing the loftiest emotions.
‘Community’ is another key contributor to the evolution
and success of the piece. It is that which makes it so organic. ODE 1308-5 (SACD hybrid)
The great set-pieces – Robbins’ Wake, the Picnic, the Storm
(how astonishing is that six-part improvisatory passage at its
close) – are its emotional climacterics. When he was writing “Hannu Lintu shapes a
the score Gershwin cited Wagner’s Die Meistersinger as one magnificently assured
source of inspiration to him. Clearly it had not eluded him that performance with the
Wagner’s success lay in identifying his ‘community’ individually excellent FRSO …”
and collectively. And that’s exactly what Gershwin does in “[Frank Peter
Porgy and Bess. Plus everything about the piece is symphonically Zimmermann’s] eloquent
unified from a network of Wagner-like leitmotifs. They carry the tone soars through the
orchestral richesse …”
emotional memory of the piece forward, they bind the orchestral
BBC Music Magazine
and vocal elements. The last thing you hear as Porgy sets off December 2018
on his impossible quest to find Bess at the close of the opera
is Porgy’s theme conjoined with ‘Bess, you is my woman now’.
It’s Tristan und Isolde all over again – two souls reunited in death.
So why is Porgy and Bess so rarely staged? It has very particular
demands – of course, it does – but could it also be that its
challenges are not entirely compatible with its hit ‘songs’ in
the public’s imagination. Both Broadway and the West End
attempted to reinvent it as a book-song musical, retaining … a glitteringly
the ‘numbers’ but stripping away much of the through-sung inventive score …”
superstructure and replacing it with dialogue. What a betrayal The Sunday Times
of Gershwin’s achievement. November 2018
But alas, it’s a sign of our times. Never mind the context, give
us the great songs. The conductor of the latest ENO revival was
John Wilson – established champion of Broadway and Hollywood
fare – but I think there is little doubt that the enthusiastic
audiences for his ‘greatest hits’ concerts up and down the land
would always favour the compilation format over complete shows.
We can only hope that in the case of Porgy and Bess diversity will
finally win the day for this enduring masterpiece. and in North America by Naxos of America. www.ondine.net
gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 13
THE CONTINUING RISE OF

ROSSINI
As we commemorate 150 years since the composer’s death, Richard Osborne explores how the
centenary paved the way for an even greater appreciation of Rossini’s operas 50 years on

T
he modern marriage his return to Paris, in 1855 after a long
of commerce and illness, he wrote the 150 exquisitely
commemoration is not crafted small pieces he called his ‘Sins
the only model where of Old Age’. Among these was one last
anniversaries are concerned. Back masterpiece, the Petite Messe solennelle,
in 1784, three loyal Handelians which he completed in 1864, at the age
were so dismayed by the state into of 72, for private performance in Paris.
which the great man’s reputation had
already fallen that they determined A STYLE DEFERRED
to stage a centenary tribute. Using The Petite Messe solennelle breathes the
a monument in Westminster Abbey spirit of courtlier times. And therein
as their Wikipedia, they misinterpreted lay the problem. Rossini had been
the date. But no matter. Twenty-five born into a golden age of beautiful
years on from Handel’s death, the epic singing. It was a phenomenon the
London Handel Festival was precisely castrati had mainly made, both as
the boost the music needed. Handel’s teachers and performers; and it was
reputation never looked back. this to which Rossini was heir. Like
Bach, too, needed a centenary – many great cultural blossomings, the
specifically the launch in 1850 of the age of Italian bel canto, created by
great Bach-Gesellschaft edition of his Rossini and perpetuated and enriched
works – to have the seal put on his by Donizetti and Bellini, was relatively
musical immortality. ‘What a colossus short-lived. By the late 1840s a new
that man is!’ exclaimed Rossini, one breed of powerhouse performers had
of the edition’s earliest subscribers. taken charge: tenors parading their
Since then, it has been rarer to find stentorian high Cs ‘from the chest’,
genius, once acknowledged, falling into Gioachino Rossini, pictured 12 years before his death in 1868 pianists after the death of Chopin
neglect, though the 1960s were witness playing pre-fabricated, copyright-clad
to two unusual happenings. First, the double anniversary of showpieces on ever more powerful instruments.
Gustav Mahler’s birth and death in 1960-61 brought about Rossini’s problem was that for the next 100 years fewer and
a flowering of interest in his music that has yet to abate. Then, fewer singers could cope with his music, or what was left of it,
in 1968, the centenary of Rossini’s death had the happy effect as his 39-strong operatic legacy narrowed to a handful of works:
of both coinciding with and inspiring a revival of interest in his Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina’s role transposed up to become
operas, the scale of which is without precedent in modern times. a showcase for leggiero sopranos), Guillaume Tell (bawled,
foreshortened, and mostly sung in Italian) and Semiramide
A LEGEND DEPARTS (an occasional vehicle for star sopranos such as Patti or Melba).
Four thousand people crammed into Sainte-Trinité, Paris’s
newest and largest church, for Rossini’s funeral in November EARLY RECORDINGS
1868; and as many again lined the route to his temporary Extracts from those operas, and the Stabat mater, occasionally
resting place in Père-Lachaise. He was mourned throughout made their way on to record in the early years of the
Europe. In London, The Times declared: ‘With him has gramophone. Little of this sounds well today, though Fernando
departed one of the most remarkable geniuses and one of de Lucia’s Count Almaviva recordings, bel canto singing in its
the kindliest spirits of the 19th century.’ purest form, have yet to be equalled. And what would we give
It’s easily forgotten that at the time of his death Rossini now for a bass of Pol Plançon’s pedigree and technique?
remained Europe’s most renowned living composer. Nor was An early harbinger of the return of the mezzo-soprano, or
he a spent force creatively. His opera-writing days may have contralto with a soprano extension, for which many of Rossini’s
been long gone but during the Indian Summer which followed leading roles were written, came with the arrival of the Spanish-

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born phenomenon Conchita Supervía.


During the 1934-35 Covent Garden
season, staged by Sir Thomas Beecham
in uneasy cohabitation with Francis Toye,
author of the best-selling but wildly
unreliable Rossini: A Study in Tragi-Comedy
(London, 1934), Supervía’s Cenerentola
mesmerised such patrons as were prepared
to listen.

A NEW DAWN
Scholarly interest in Rossini’s life
and work began to gather pace in the
interwar years. Between 1927 and
1929 the composer and musicologist
Giuseppe Radiciotti published
(largely at his own expense) a handsomely
designed, limited-edition, three-volume
‘life, documents and works’. At much
the same time, Vittorio Gui and
Tullio Serafin, old-school polymaths
who not only conducted and taught but
composed, edited and researched, were
making important advances of their own.
Italy’s entry into the Second World War
sabotaged many of the plans for the 1942
sesquicentenary of Rossini’s birth, though
Gui’s much-needed new performing
edition of Il barbiere duly appeared.
As the dust settled after the war, a new
phenomenon emerged in the form of
the 24-year-old Maria Callas, whose
playing of Bellini’s Norma in Florence
in 1948 set the musical world by its ears.
What personality was here, and what
technique! It was as if the role’s creator,
Giuditta Pasta, had been reborn.
Rossini had to wait for his big Callas
moment. This came when she sang the
title-role in Armida at the 1952 Maggio
Musicale in Florence. The festival –
the 1942 retrospective delayed by a
decade – revived three neglected comedies
(La scala di seta, La pietra del paragone
and Le Comte Ory) and three serious
operas (Tancredi, Armida and Guillaume
Tell). Vestiges of that Maggio Musicale Maria Callas’s Rosina at La Scala in 1956 was disliked, but a year later her EMI Barbiere became the best on record
Armida exist in a technically execrable
live recording currently available from Warner Classics, but L’inganno felice and La pietra del paragone (memorably recorded
Callas’s Armida is better sampled in a 1954 RAI recital where in 1971 with John Reardon in the title-role, Vanguard 12/92, nla)
she sings the great Act 2 aria ‘D’amore al dolce impero’. to Mosè in Egitto and beyond.
Callas had already astonished her admirers with her Meanwhile, the true opera seria tenor was virtually extinct.
portrayal of the vixenish Fiorilla in Il turco in Italia in Rome The problem dated back to Rossini’s time at the Teatro di
in 1950. The text was flawed, lacking Fiorilla’s all-important San Carlo in Naples (1815-22) when he wrote competing and
final aria, and remained so when she recorded the role for complementary roles for the quasi-baritonal Andrea Nozzari
EMI in 1954. But the work itself had been resurrected. Her (creator of such parts as Otello and Pirro in Ermione) and the
Rosina, seen on stage in Milan in 1956, was widely disliked. high coloratura Giovanni David (player of emotional neurotics
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B R I D G E M A N I M A G E S

‘Excitable, nervous, overpowering,’ said Opera. Yet the 1957 such as Rodrigo and Oreste). It was a problem that kept many
EMI recording, with much the same cast, though with Galliera of the Neapolitan opere serie off the stage until the arrival,
replacing Giulini as conductor, would quickly establish itself as more than 150 years on, of singers such as Chris Merritt
the best (certainly the most characterful) Il barbiere on record. and Rockwell Blake, Bruce Ford and William Matteuzzi.
Finding coloratura Rossini basses was a near impossibility They in turn were helped by the emergence of a number
in the 1950s; a serious drawback given the many important of high-quality coloratura mezzos, prime among whom was
bass roles Rossini wrote, ranging from the comic leads in Marilyn Horne. For some years, Horne forged a memorable

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 15


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partnership with soprano unforgettable Le Comte Ory.


Katia Ricciarelli, not least in However, when the Wexford
Tancredi, that vocally exquisite Festival decided to revive the
dramatic idyll for which very revivable La gazza ladra
Philip Gossett, greatest of in 1959, the only parts Ricordi
Rossini scholars, had recently was able to provide came from
unearthed Rossini’s alternative an eccentrically revised and
tragic ending. reorchestrated version by the
I vividly recall a 1986 composer (and director of
concert staging of the then the Rossini Conservatoire in
barely known Bianca e Falliero. Pesaro) Riccardo Zandonai.
Inspired by the age-old theme Yet the opera triumphed, not
of young love blighted by least because of the Pippo of
parental hate, this is just a young ingénue by the name
about the most ferocious of Janet Baker.
piece, vocally and dramatically, Where an autograph
Rossini wrote. Ricciarelli was manuscript was readily to
past her best but Horne was in hand, an edition would be
sensational form as the young made, as happened with
general Falliero. the 1962 La Scala, Milan
revival of Semiramide and
SEARCHING OUT TEXT its sequel recorded for
Not the least of the problems Decca in 1965, conducted
facing the post-war Rossini by Richard Bonynge with
revival was finding reliable Montserrat Caballé and Marilyn Horne in Semiramide at San Francisco Opera, 1981 Joan Sutherland and Marilyn
performing editions; Horne. Comparable initiatives
a situation that had been complicated by the destruction during followed during the 1970s and ’80s, with Claudio Scimone
the war of much of the archive of printed music belonging to making a series of important recordings of hitherto forgotten
Italy’s principal music publisher Ricordi. Glyndebourne was opere serie such as Maometto Secondo, Ermione and Zelmira.
fortunate to have Vittorio Gui as its music director when it The last gasp of the bad old days came in 1975 with an
staged and recorded La Cenerentola in 1952, followed by an EMI recording whose English-language title The Siege of

The revival of Il viaggio a Reims under Claudio Abbado at the 1984 Pesaro Festival remains ‘a red-letter event in the annals of Rossini scholarship and performance’

16 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


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Corinth disguised the fact that this was a badly edited Italian
translation of a revision for the French stage of the Neapolitan
epic Maometto Secondo. Not that the star of the show Beverly
Sills was much concerned. ‘I sometimes think that musicologists
are like men who talk about sex but never have any.’ Happily,
there has been a long tradition of fruitful collaboration between
DECCA CLASSICS
editors and performers where Rossini is concerned.

THE 1968 CENTENARY


The principal fruits of the 1968 centenary were Herbert
GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC
Weinstock’s exhaustively documented Rossini: A Biography
(Oxford, 1968) and a single LP of rare beauty and worth:
Montserrat Caballé’s ‘Rossini Rarities’, a scrupulously
researched anthology of arias (and the ornaments with
which some leading singers of the time had graced them)
from Tancredi, Otello, Armida, Le siège de Corinthe and the
Stabat mater (RCA, 12/68, nla).
RCA was horrified. The costs of transcribing the music and
hiring the orchestral parts was likely to be exorbitant; the sales,
they feared, negligible. But Caballé, 34 and the new singing
sensation of the age, insisted. She would go on to make further
distinctive contributions to the Rossini discography, notably the
still unsurpassed 1972 HMV recording of Guillaume Tell and
the 1975 Philips recording of Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra.

The move towards a critical edition was


propelled into life by a ferocious spat
between Casa Ricordi and Alberto Zedda
The centenary’s greatest legacy, however, would be the
inauguration of the idea of a critical edition of Rossini’s entire
musical output. Two things had helped make this possible.
The first was Rossini’s decision to bequeath the bulk of his
estate to the founding of a music academy in his birthplace
Pesaro. Established in 1869, it was subdivided in 1940 into
a school and a research foundation. The second was the survival
of the autograph manuscripts of all but three of Rossini’s 39 operas.
An additional – somewhat opera buffa – aspect of the initiative was
its being propelled into life by a ferocious and well-publicised
P H O T O G R A P H Y: R O B E R T C A H E N / S A N F R A N C I S C O O P E R A A R C H I V E S , S T U D I O A M B R O S I N I D I R O B E R T O A N G E L O T T I

spat between Casa Ricordi (Rossini’s preferred publisher since


1814) and a young Italian conductor, Alberto Zedda.
Zedda had studied philosophy at university before wheedling
his way as a mature student into the Milan Conservatory where
his organ teacher was the multi-tasking Alceo Galliera. When
Galliera recorded Il barbiere with Callas and Tito Gobbi in
London in 1957 he knew what parts to use and what to avoid.
Not so the young Zedda. Charged with conducting a production
of the opera at a famous teaching school in Milan, he found
himself facing complaints from the orchestra that the Ricordi
parts contained mistakes and misattributions (piccolo parts
allocated to the oboes and the like) that made them unplayable.
AVAILABLE TO ORDER NOW
Much embarrassed, Zedda decided to consult the autograph
manuscript in Bologna. This was a hazardous business.
(As Philip Gossett has said, an autograph manuscript is the
source of all truth and the root of all uncertainty.) Zedda
knew enough, however, to write a mass of corrections into the
hire parts. Ricordi’s response was to fine him for vandalising
their property. Nothing daunted, Zedda successfully filed
a counterclaim against Ricordi for supplying shoddy material. www.deccaclassics.com
Clearly there were no hard feelings, since it was Ricordi who
published Zedda’s new critical edition of Il barbiere – the first ever
critical edition of an Italian opera – in 1969. Two years later,

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 17


ROSSINI: 150

over an 1857 vocal score


of Ermione in the British
Library, it struck me that
this Racine-derived azione
tragica – Rossini’s only
‘failure’ in Naples but a piece
of which he was inordinately
proud – was, indeed, a small
masterpiece. ‘Really?’ the
cry went up, half doubtful,
half excited, when the
Master Musicians volume
eventually appeared in 1986.
By then a critical edition
of Ermione was sufficiently
advanced for the work to
be staged – always the acid
test – at the 1987 Rossini
Opera Festival in Pesaro.
The opera itself blazed forth,
with Marilyn Horne, Chris
Merritt, Rockwell Blake and
others all making distinctive
contributions. Unfortunately,
Caballé, now in her fifties
and a controversial choice for
Ermione, seemed as uncertain
of the work as her conductor
Gustav Kuhn. The gallery
in the lovely small Teatro
Rossini was not amused.
Still, Ermione was back,
as Mark Elder proved with
a blazing concert performance
in London in 1992 with
Anna Caterina Antonacci
as Ermione. The directors
of opera houses from
five continents were in the
Queen Elizabeth Hall that
evening, as a result of which
several new productions were
commissioned, including
one by Glyndebourne, also
featuring Antonacci, which
Warner Vision filmed in 1995
(7/96, nla).

RETURN JOURNEY
The rediscovery which
perhaps ranks highest
in the list of those made
since Rossini’s death in
1868 is that of Il viaggio
Garsington’s 2002 La gazza ladra (top) was recorded by Chandos; the festival also premiered a new edition of La Gazzetta in 2001 a Reims (‘The Journey
to Reims’), the lavish,
the edition was recorded by Claudio Abbado, at much the same highly sophisticated entertainment which Rossini created in
time as he recorded Zedda’s new edition of La Cenerentola. honour of Charles X’s coronation in France in 1825. It was
However, Rome wasn’t built in a day. When New Grove while on sabbatical from the University of Chicago in Rome
editor Stanley Sadie, late of this parish, made the bold decision in 1977 that Philip Gossett was presented with a pile of
to commission a Rossini volume in the venerable Master manuscript pages by the librarian of the Rome Conservatory.
Musicians series, one of my earliest tasks was to work out how Signed by Rossini, they were marked ‘Several Pieces from
to deal adequately with the mass of operas that had neither the Cantata Il Viaggio a Reims’. In fact, it was the entire
been staged nor reprinted since Rossini’s lifetime. Poring work, less the pages Rossini had later reused for his opera

18 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ROSSINI: 150

Le Comte Ory. The work’s revival (and recording) under the Soirées and Matinées. And is there a more life-enhancing record
direction of Claudio Abbado at the 1984 Pesaro Festival than ‘Black Dyke Plays Rossini’, first issued by Chandos in 1983?
remains a red-letter event in the annals of Rossini scholarship The bottom line is that, whatever the immensity of Rossini’s
and performance. larger achievement as a composer – and we’re talking here
of the principal architect of 19th-century Italian opera, and
MISSION (MOSTLY) ACCOMPLISHED a good deal of French and German opera too – his true legacy
By the turn of the century, all Rossini’s 39 operas had is that he has helped put a very large smile on the world’s face.
been made available in some form or another. There had And, goodness, has it needed it!
been a number of important players in this. Erik Smith Richard Osborne is widely respected for his extensive research and
commissioned and produced for Philips several pioneering writings on Rossini; his translation of Ferdinand Hiller’s revelatory
recordings, including an Otello with José Carreras and ‘Conversations with Rossini’ was published in October by Pallas Athene.
Frederica von Stade and a Mosè in Egitto with Ruggero Richard Osborne reviews two major Rossini box-sets in Reissues on page 130
Raimondi. Patric Schmid and Don White, founders of the
Opera Rara label, set in train an even more valuable sequence
of recordings of mainly opera seria rarities. And then there was ESSENTIAL ROSSINI LISTENING GUIDE
the patronage of the Naxos record company. After making Six benchmark recordings, from opera to late piano music
an extraordinarily vivid recording of Il barbiere in Budapest
in 1993, they went on to form a close association with the Il barbiere Guillaume Tell
enterprising Rossini in Wildbad festival in southern Germany. di Siviglia Montserrat
Maria Callas sop Caballé sop
Genuinely successful recordings of the Luigi Alva ten
Tito Gobbi bar
Nicolai Gedda ten
Gabriel Bacquier bar
Stabat mater and Petite Messe solennelle Philharmonia / Alceo Galliera RPO / Lamberto Gardelli
Warner Classics D (2/58) Warner Classics (11/73)
can be counted on the fingers of one hand A classic recording of what has It took private money and
become Rossini’s most popular a stellar cast to restore Rossini’s
In England, the late Leonard Ingrams made the Garsington opera, featuring Maria Callas, much revived but much abused
Opera Festival an important place of pilgrimage for Rossinians, the singer who revived for the last opera to its pristine state,
not least in 2001 when the Fondazione Rossini allowed its modern age the sound and style uncut and in the original French.
new edition of Rossini’s Neapolitan romp La Gazzetta to be of the true Rossini soprano. Chief among the set’s wonders
staged in Garsington two months before its Italian prima. Il barbiere is Montserrat Caballé’s peerless
Alas, the record companies showed little interest. Chandos di Siviglia account of the role of the peace-
took the 2002 production of La gazza ladra into the studio but Teresa Berganza making Austrian princess Matilde.
(anathema to Leonard) insisted on its being sung in English. sop Luigi Alva ten Stabat mater
By now the studio recording of opera, the jewel in the crown Hermann Prey bar Soloists, Santa
of the gramophone in the post-78 era, was going into freefall, La Scala Orch, Milan Cecilia Orch, Rome /
as media organisations switched to marketing cost-effective / Claudio Abbado Antonio Pappano
spin-offs of live stage productions on DVD. Some worked, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle director EMI (1/11)
many proved unwatchable. DG ◊ (3/02) A believing Catholic, though at
Rossini was first and foremost times a troubled one, Rossini
SACRED AND INSTRUMENTAL a theatre composer, albeit one used none of the forms familiar
It is not only Rossini’s operas that have tested performers. who, like his hero Mozart, used from his operas when creating
Genuinely successful recordings of the Stabat mater and the classical forms to drive the this sacred masterwork of the
Petite Messe solennelle can be counted on the fingers of just action and create the comedy. bel canto age, a point that appears
one hand. By far the best account of the Messe, a perfectly No director has understood this to have been well comprehended
judged 1972 Baumburg monastery performance directed from better, or realised it with greater in this most beautifully prepared
the keyboard by Wolfgang Sawallisch, vanished years ago wit and ingenuity, than Ponnelle of all recordings of the work.
(RCA, 10/73, nla). whose masterpiece this surely is. ‘Sins of Old Age,
As for the delicious salon music, the Soirées Musicales, and the Il viaggio a Reims Vol.7’
150 items of late piano music and songs, the Péchés de vieillesse Soloists; COE / Soloists;
(‘Sins of Old Age’) , they have suffered the double indignity Claudio Abbado Alessandro
of deletions – notable recordings of the late piano music by DG (1/86) Marangoni pf
Dino Ciani, Aldo Ciccolini and Bruno Mezzina – and an The rediscovery Ars Cantica / Marco Berrini
almost complete lack of critical notice afforded to such things and revival of this fantastical Naxos
as Naxos’s ongoing project (2008-) of recording the complete entertainment devised by Rossini For a taste of Rossini’s wonderfully
P H O T O G R A P H Y: K E I T H S A U N D E R S /A R E N A P A L

Péchés de vieillesse. The fine anthology ‘Rossini Songs’ (Opera for the coronation of France’s diverse array of late piano music
Rara, 12/09) is also currently unavailable. Charles X in 1825 is one of the and songs, this compilation CD,
crown jewels of modern Rossini Volume 7 from Naxos’s long-
THE SHOW GOES ON scholarship. This celebrated 1984 running exploration of his ‘Sins of
It was Falstaff who said that he was not only witty in himself Pesaro Festival recording features Old Age’, provides as good a cue
but the inspirer of wit in others. And so it has been with leading Rossini singers of the day as any for further exploration of
Rossini, such is the tunefulness and vitality of the best of his under Abbado’s inspired direction. these much-neglected works.
music. I imagine I am not alone in being exceptionally fond of
Respighi’s La boutique fantasque or Britten’s Rossini-inspired

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 19


Making waves in
FRENCH MUSIC
Following scintillating recordings
of La mer and Daphnis et Chloé
with his experimental Les Siècles,
conductor François-Xavier Roth
now releases an all-Debussy disc
featuring seminal works which,
as he tells Mark Pullinger,
marked a new era in music

20 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH

P
icture the scene. It’s May 2017, and in Cologne’s Roth decided not to return after the merger because he’d
Philharmonie the Gürzenich Orchestra has just been so against the decision. ‘I had to stop my work with
closed a programme of music inspired by the sea. them much too early. It’s a sadness, but that’s life.’
Conductor François-Xavier Roth takes Roth’s new German orchestra, the Gürzenich, has
a microphone and saunters across to a piano … a totally different heritage and culture. ‘Cologne is a very
and proceeds to sing Charles Trenet’s La mer as an encore, musical city. It’s not so German – in the sense that you
in a cheeky arrangement by Philipp Matthias Kaufmann are close to Holland, to France, to Belgium. It’s an old
which throws in splashes of Debussy’s orchestral seascape. musical institution with a great history. Berlioz, Brahms
Roth’s timing was – unsurprisingly for this dapper and Mahler all came here.’ Indeed, Mahler premiered his
Frenchman – impeccable. Two days earlier, Emmanuel Fifth Symphony with the Gürzenich in 1904, and Roth
Macron had fought off the far-right challenge from chose that work for their first disc together, an account
Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections, David Gutman praised in these pages (3/18) for the
and, as the conductor admits, it was with a huge sense freshness of its Scherzo and the ‘hushed, virginal quality’ of
of relief that he wanted to send out ‘a nice, positive signal’ the Adagietto, taken almost as slowly as Leonard Bernstein’s
to celebrate. ‘In Cologne, they love French culture – famous DG account with the Vienna Philharmonic.
food, songs – so it was my gift to them.’ Cologne was also an important destination for the
Just two months later, Roth was created a chevalier of the avant-garde, such as Stockhausen and Zimmermann.
Légion d’honneur in Macron’s first Bastille Day honours list. ‘It’s the orchestra of the city, so Gürzenich is a famous
It was conferred upon him this January by Françoise Nyssen name, a family name, in Cologne. What I like very much is
of the French Ministry of Culture at Paris’s space-age that I can experiment there because I have such a great trust
concert hall, the Philharmonie. The presentation followed in the orchestra and in the audience. I can explore different
a concert by his beloved orchestra, Les Siècles. I caught up repertoires, different combinations, and propose something
with Roth during rehearsals for that concert to reflect upon really ambitious which I think suits the mood of the city.
his career and his probing approach to music-making. We must be experimental there.’
Yet the orchestra with which Roth has dared to be
most experimental is Les Siècles, the ensemble he formed
‘How can it be possible to propose back in 2003. Together they’ve made a huge impact on the
a new perspective – for the listener classical music world. What were his founding principles
for the orchestra’s creation? ‘At the beginning,’ Roth
to experience music they know already, explains, ‘it was more to do with the repertoire – it was
about having an orchestra that could change its shape,
but from different angles?’ its style, and confront repertoire from different periods.
But I also had in mind that I wanted to achieve the
Roth is now principal guest conductor of the London period-instrument aspect very quickly, so we started
Symphony Orchestra, but his relationship with them buying gut strings to test them out and then, progressively,
goes right back to 2000 when he won the Donatella Flick moved on to woodwind and brass.’
LSO Conducting Competition – a crucial breakthrough. And what colours Les Siècles paint! Their oriental-
‘This was very important for me because it was the themed programme was my highlight from the 2017
beginning, not just because it was the first time I met BBC Proms, a delicious travelogue from Saint-Saëns’s
the LSO and had an opportunity to conduct them, but Egyptian Piano Concerto No 5 to ballet music from
because it was the first time I had even travelled to London! Delibes’s Lakmé and Lalo’s Namouna, all performed with
Can you imagine? I was a young musician arriving at Gallic panache. The programme was Roth’s chapeau to
Barbican tube station … it took me hours to find the hall! Brits such as Sir Thomas Beecham who championed this
‘The competition was very important because suddenly sort of repertoire when it was being neglected in France.
I had confirmation that maybe I could really become Lemon-drop piquancy to the oboe, nutty woodwind
a conductor. The management was very supportive in quite flavours, cinnamon-infused exotic percussion: it was a feast
an old-fashioned way in not giving me too much, too soon. for the musical gourmet, capped off with a pulsating,
I didn’t have 10 or 20 concerts, but instead I had the orgiastic Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila.
chance to keep learning, to be an assistant conductor, Roth’s programming with Les Siècles is highly inventive.
to observe, to shadow Sir Colin Davis and all the Who can forget their 2013 Prom which took the audience
guest conductors like Pierre Boulez and Mariss Jansons. through the history of French dance, from Lully – Roth
It was a great opportunity.’ beating time with a staff (thankfully not sharing Lully’s
Roth’s burgeoning career took him to the BBC National fate of striking himself on the foot, cause of the gangrene
Orchestra of Wales (as associate guest conductor), the which killed the composer) – through to Stravinsky and an
Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (music director) and unforgettable account of Le sacre du printemps? In Paris in
the SWR Symphony Orchestra Baden-Baden and Freiburg January, he imaginatively paired Debussy with Boulez’s
as the orchestra’s final principal conductor before it was Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna, the programme
P H O T O G R A P H Y: H A R T M U T N A E G E L E

controversially merged with the Stuttgart RSO to form the preceded by a full gamelan introduction. How important
SWR Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart. ‘It was a fight,’ is it for him to have that mix of ‘ancient and modern’?
Roth admits, ‘and I wouldn’t accept the decision. I was ‘When I started to conduct, I was a little frustrated –
totally against it. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but I had as a music lover, as a student and as a concert-goer – that
some wonderful years with them – we made great music I would hear the avant-garde, or the early Baroque, but
together.’ The partnership yielded a distinguished five-disc only on very rare occasions could you experience these very
set of Strauss tone poems on Hänssler/SWR Music, but different kinds of music in the same concert. Here at the

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 21


FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH

Cité de la Musique, before


the Philharmonie was built,
I heard the Ensemble
Intercontemporain with
Boulez sharing a programme
with Les Arts Florissants and
Bill Christie. Still, it was not
the same players playing
everything – it was two very
different specialist groups!
The perspectives it gave me
were fantastic, though. Why
should it be forbidden to have
in the same concert musics
which may be far apart
chronologically, but which
perhaps say the same things or
try to reach the same goals?’
It is this philosophy that
guides Roth. ‘We spend appointed principal guest
a lot of time as musicians conductor) which garnered
performing music which is critical plaudits. I saw the
already known by audiences; middle concert of the three,
so how is it possible to propose containing Prélude à L’après-
a new perspective – for the midi d’un faune, Jeux and
listener to experience music Nocturnes, the first two of
they know already from which were being set down for
different angles? I’m passionate a 2023 release on LSO Live.
about programming and And here we both were again,
it’s what is at the heart of three days later in Paris,
Les Siècles. When we do where Roth was preparing to
a programme like the Boulez– Recording Roth’s forthcoming Berlioz disc, with Stéphane Degout and Les Siècles perform Nocturnes once more,
Debussy, I imagine it says a lot this time with Les Siècles,
about how I see Debussy and how I see Boulez. It would have destined for release on Harmonia Mundi, where it will be
been totally different if we had performed Nocturnes and La mer programmed with … Jeux and Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune!
with a more conservative 20th-century composer. So a certain Roth’s face creases into a smile and he giggles at the coincidence.
perspective is given to the audience.’ In concert, the biggest difference in Nocturnes came in
Roth and Les Siècles have already produced a superb ‘Sirènes’, the third movement. At the Barbican, Roth had the
recording of La mer, and they plan to continue their recorded 60 ladies of the London Symphony Chorus, whose massed
Ravel survey from which the first release – a scintillating ululations, I’m afraid, lacked allure. At the Philharmonie he
Daphnis et Chloé – won the employed only 16 voices from
Orchestral category at this
year’s Gramophone Awards.
‘Considering what came before and after, the excellent Les Cris de
Paris, split up and scattered
Roth also has plans to mark the Faune is not that provocative a piece – but among the orchestra, creating
150th anniversary of the death a mesmerising effect.
of Berlioz, not least regarding it takes people by the hand to a new era’ Faune has been an
the location of the composer’s important work for Roth,
resting place. ‘Berlioz is still buried in Montmartre and a former flautist, since his student days. ‘When I started to
I would love it if for this anniversary he could be moved to study it properly, I was at the Abbaye de Royaumont, close to
the Panthéon. I’m going to start a lobbying campaign!’ And Paris, where there is a big Debussy archive. There are so many
in terms of repertoire, Roth and Les Siècles have just recorded different versions! As a performer, it’s a nightmare to know
Les nuits d’été (with baritone Stéphane Degout) and Harold en what Debussy wanted. Faune was a big success at its premiere
Italie (with viola player Tabea Zimmermann), due for release but he was never happy with the final corrections in the score
in January next year. But still he is impatient to explore new – he started to change things, to set precise tempi – so it’s
territories with this orchestra; his plans include extending the difficult to decide what to do, how to conduct. Do you take
Beethoven in their repertoire and performing works such as the his first gestures or his final views as an older composer?
original, five-movement version of Mahler’s First Symphony. ‘When you play Faune, you have the feeling that suddenly
Schumann, Mendelssohn and Brahms also beckon, along with the space changes in the room – there are no limits any more
the Second Viennese School: ‘With the culture of this in the architecture of the venue itself because of the harmonies
orchestra, I think this will be something very very special.’ and the sounds Debussy chooses. It is the beginning of
At the start of this year, Roth’s focus returned to Debussy modern music – the use of harmony where tonality is not fixed
in the months leading up to the centenary of the composer’s any more. It’s a prelude, but it’s nothing at all virtuoso or loud
death. At the Barbican, he conducted a three-concert series to open a concert. It’s subtle, an evocation, suggestive’ – without
with the London Symphony Orchestra (in his role as newly Mallarmé’s words being prescriptive, I add. ‘Exactly. When you

22 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH

‘I’m passionate about programming’: Roth is impatient to explore new territories

consider what came before or immediately after Faune,


it’s not that provocative a piece, but it takes people by the
hand to a new era.’
Roth is willing to stretch the silences between phrases by
some distance, but his Faune is not unduly languorous. He has
conducted three Nijinsky ballets – Faune, Jeux and Le sacre du
printemps – with reconstructions of Nijinsky’s choreography,

745408 [DVD] ˜ 745504 [Blu-ray]


and recognises the tempo traps. ‘Because Faune is such
gorgeous music, it has come to be performed slower and slower.
Debussy’s indications are that he didn’t want it to be so slow
and so heavy – this is not heavy music.’
Jeux received its premiere just a couple of weeks before
Le sacre. It’s a ballet that doesn’t get danced much today and
a score that doesn’t get played too often in concert either.
‘Selling it’ isn’t easy, admits Roth, who suggests its length is
problematic for programmers: ‘Jeux is too long for a prelude to
a concert, but too short for a main work. And it’s not music that
provokes a big roar at the end – actually, quite the opposite. But “A rare gift.”
when you get into the score, it is one of the most complicated to “Her many fans will relish this honest, imaginatively
perform. So put all that together and it doesn’t encourage you!’ photographed and well-crafted road movie.”
Debussy sets a tough challenge for the conductor of Jeux,
Gramophone Editor’s Choice, November 2018
owing to the work’s myriad tempo changes. ‘There are so many
things to digest as performers, such as understanding how the
tempo flows and how the rubato is precisely written into the
score. Boulez used to say that there is a “fragility” in the tempo
NEW RELEASES
of Jeux – which is a very good word, because it is something
747608 [DVD] ˜ 747704 [Blu-ray]

801208 [DVD] ˜ 801304 [Blu-ray]


that is never fixed. Even if it’s a scherzo, the tempo moves a lot.’
However challenging the piece may be, Roth’s
performance with Les Siècles at the Royal Festival Hall,
London, in November 2016 was miraculous. As I wrote
in a review at the time, I was immediately struck by the
‘diaphanous strings and perfumed woodwinds’ which ‘wove
in and out the bosky shadows of Debussy’s erotically charged
score’. The final string sigh – played as a tennis ball was
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J E A N - M A R C B E R N S , P H I L I P P E S T I R N W E I S S

tossed limply to the stage causing the startled trio to disperse –


was also deliciously done.
Roth suggests that, in terms of how the form of music
could change, Jeux – even more than Prélude à L’après-midi
d’un faune – was the big stone to cause ripples in the
20th-century pond. ‘When you talk about Sacre, its Available First time on DVD
form is very old. It’s tableaux,’ he says. ‘With Jeux, it’s 30 November 2018 and Blu-ray
a process of transformation which is totally new. Debussy
isn’t looking back, this is music that’s constantly evolving.
Jeux was an amazing statement of how the possibilities Marketed and distributed in the UK by
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T: +44 (0)1737 645 600 ˜ E: orders@selectmusic.co.uk
To read Gramophone’s review of the Les Siècles Debussy disc, turn to page 61

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 23


BLUE HERON

Out of the blue


The devotion of Gramophone Award-winning US vocal ensemble Blue Heron to the restoration
of the Peterhouse Partbooks and other ‘new’ early music is setting them apart, finds Fabrice Fitch
ntil a mere few months ago, relatively few in love with it, and the audience really felt its power – Aston

U listeners this side of the pond would have heard


of the American vocal ensemble Blue Heron.
The announcement of the shortlist for the
2018 Gramophone Awards changed all that,
and in September it became the first ever
non-European group to top the voting in the Early Music
category. That it did so with a recording whose centrepiece
is a mass by an unknown composer is surely another first.
Its Award-winning disc is the fifth of a set devoted to the
speaks with such a distinct, emotional voice. Well, I’d read
in the edition that the tenor part had been restored because
the partbook containing it had been lost, and that there were
about seventy other pieces in the collection, including entire
masses, and I thought: “We should do more.” Not long
afterwards, I wrote to the editor, Nick Sandon, who confirmed
my impression that nobody else was performing this music,
let alone recording it, and I saw an opportunity.’
As anyone who has heard Blue Heron’s recordings will know,
Peterhouse Partbooks, a repertory that until recently could the Peterhouse Partbooks are indeed a treasure trove. Their
not even be performed – a seemingly inauspicious start to current location in one of the University of Cambridge’s smaller
a triumphant collaboration between a performing ensemble and colleges gives the impression of a relatively peripheral source, but
Nick Sandon, a prominent scholar of English Renaissance music. Sandon believes that they were compiled for use at Canterbury
I asked the ensemble’s director, Scott Metcalfe (pictured above, Cathedral, no less, through the agency of a lay clerk who brought
far right), how it all came about. ‘It goes back to the lead-up to the music with him from Magdalen College, Oxford. If Sandon’s
our very first concert in 1999; we wanted to perform English hypothesis is correct (his reasoning is lucidly and engagingly set
Renaissance polyphony, but before Byrd and Tallis. I was out in his annotations to the recordings), then the partbooks are
leafing through music in my local music shop and found this anything but peripheral. In fact, the cross-section of music they
score of Hugh Aston’s Ave Maria dive matris Anne. I’d vaguely contain is hugely significant, bearing witness to the late flowering
heard of Aston, so I took the piece home and read through it, of Catholic liturgical music in the last years of Henry VIII, a keen
and it made a very strong impression. We performed it, we fell musician and a religious conservative for all the revolution he had

24 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


BLUE HERON

unleashed. Like the Eton Choirbook a couple of generations Given his importance to the project, it’s fitting that Sandon
before, they contain music by the elder statesmen of the time was on hand when Metcalfe received the Gramophone Award in
(Fayrfax was dead, and the careers of Taverner and Ludford had London in September, for the result is a series equal in scope and
run their courses) alongside works by obscure composers such as ambition to the five-disc set devoted to the Eton Choirbook by
Hugh Sturmy; but unlike Eton, they also contain anonymous Christ Church Cathedral Choir. (Intriguingly, the emphasis on
works, for example the unnamed Mass recorded on Blue Heron’s previously unrecorded pieces from Eton is another connection
Award-winning disc. There is no problem performing the music between the projects, as is the overall timescale of the releases.)
that the partbooks share with other sources; but because of that But the Eton Choirbook is a known quantity in early music
missing tenor book in particular, the 50 or so pieces that exist circles, as is the choir that Stephen Darlington led for many
only there couldn’t be performed – including Masses by Ludford, years; Blue Heron, by contrast, is a self-publishing ensemble,
two of which feature in Blue Heron’s set. Hence the significance relying as much as anything on the support of donors and patrons.
of the collaboration between Sandon and the ensemble, which I asked Metcalfe about Blue Heron’s championing of Renaissance
makes available for the first time a repertory that is both polyphony stateside. ‘It’s a harder sell with concert promoters than
historically important and on a very high level artistically. it is with audiences; when people actually come into contact with
Following its first concert, Blue Heron established itself in Renaissance polyphony they’re won over. But there is a flowering
the Boston area, eventually making its first recording (songs and of professional vocal ensembles in the US at the moment, all
motets of Du Fay) in 2006. Meanwhile, the Peterhouse project contributing to create a culture in which vocal chamber music
bubbled away in the background. Metcalfe kept in touch with is rightfully regarded as the equal of the standard instrumental
Sandon, and Blue Heron carried on performing from his editions. repertoire. What sets Blue Heron apart, I think, is that we focus
The first recording of the series was issued in 2010, with the later on chamber music more than on “choral” music (although the
volumes appearing every couple of years. For Sandon, who had Peterhouse project may give the opposite impression) and that,
been working on reconstructing the Peterhouse repertory on his more like a new-music ensemble than a traditional early music
own for many years, the contact ensemble, we mostly present
with Blue Heron, and with
Metcalfe, was transformative.
‘More like a new-music ensemble, Blue repertoire that hasn’t been
performed much, if at all;
‘Previously, my evaluation of Heron presents repertoire that hasn’t been and the Peterhouse set
the music was based on what does accurately represent
I could hear in my head, my performed much, if at all’ – Scott Metcalfe, director our commitment to
own amateur performances “new” early music.’
and a few single performances of variable quality by professional Dovetailing with the Peterhouse project is an ambitious
ensembles. For the first time, somebody showed sustained undertaking to perform all of Ockeghem’s music in a series
interest, asked penetrating questions and made perceptive of 13 concerts, alongside music from his contemporaries
suggestions, which I found enormously reassuring. Hearing the that inspired it or complement it significantly. At the time of
superlative performances by Blue Heron has convinced me that our interview, Blue Heron was preparing to record all the
this music is as good as – sometimes even better than – I always composer’s songs (of which this writer has in fact edited
thought it was, and that the best of my restorations really are as a couple); discs of highlights from his sacred music will follow.
idiomatic as I tried to make them. The prospect of performance But for all the group’s emphasis on historically informed
and recording and the existence of deadlines are also great performance, Metcalfe’s approach is anything but dogmatic,
incentives towards publication and revision. I’m glad that as the videos occasionally released on YouTube demonstrate.
Blue Heron’s interest in particular pieces has given me an ‘For the sacred music, there’s little doubt that all-vocal
excuse to revisit some of the restorations that I published performance works best, but when it comes to the songs,
fairly early in the series, because with several decades’ further there are some that we’ve tried several ways: with instruments,
experience I have been able to improve them significantly.’ or with just voices, the voices all singing text, or with the text
I asked Sandon how he reimagines those missing voices. ‘Well, sung in only one voice and the others vocalised. It’s not always
stylish restoration requires one to observe and react on several possible to say which is the most likely or appropriate; you go
levels at once: how the composer is shaping and pacing the with what seems to fit the music best. Our ideal is to adapt our
overall musical discourse; what the extant voices imply about the collective sound as much as possible to the music we’re singing,
original scoring and the position of the missing voices within the and specifically to be guided by the language. The way words
texture. One also has to imagine as accurately as possible in one’s are spoken affects how the music sits in the voice, and although
head the sound of what remains of the original vocal complex, we can’t transform ourselves into native French, Spanish or
and predict how various ways of completing the texture will Italian speakers, getting as close as we can really helps us
change how it sounds. The best substitute for a well-trained with musical articulation, direction and pacing.’ When I press
aural imagination is a competent group of singers: playing Metcalfe to define the group’s approach more precisely, he uses
alternatives through at the keyboard will give a very misleading words that one no longer hears that often from the mouths
idea of how they will sound on voices, and mechanical playback of performers. ‘At the end of the day we’re really hardcore
through a lifeless synthesised vocal ensemble may obscure performance practice people. Not because it’s “authentic”
gestures and details that would be very telling in a performance or because we’re trying to “recreate” anything, but because
by intelligent singers. Scott and Blue Heron have often finding out as much as we can about past ways of making music
astonished me by finding even more in my restorations than can open up for us new ways of hearing things, new ways of
P H O T O G R A P H Y: L I Z L I N D E R

I knew to be present.’ So is it genuinely a two-way process, then? singing and new means of expression.’
Metcalfe agrees: ‘Nick’s constantly revising; tiny changes that ‘The Lost Music of Canterbury: Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks’,
appear insignificant in the context of a bar somehow end up a five-disc set of all the music released on individual discs between
affecting the entire piece. So he’s always changing things, every 2010 and 2017, including the Gramophone Award-winning CD,
time he reprints the music – trying to make things work better.’ is out now on the Blue Heron label, containing a new, unified booklet

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 25


MUSIC COMPETITIONS GUIDE
It’s not only first-class musicians who can participate in international music competitions
these days – with an increasing number being live-streamed, just about anyone can watch.
Our international guide includes information on how to enter, and how to be in the audience

Dame Felicity Lott applauds the Second Prize-winner, baritone John Brancy, at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition in September 2017

UK GUIDE
BBC Cardif Singer of the World College of Music & Drama is January 1, 2020, this biennial young European Union-based
Next competition: June 15-22, 2019 home to the Song Prize rounds, competition celebrated its 40th conductors who make it
Application deadline: now closed while St David’s Hall is the venue year in 2018 when it was won through to the finals of this
The 2019 edition of this major for the main prize rounds and by 16-year-old pianist Lauren biennial competition run by the
biennial competition sees the both finals. Needless to say, Zhang. It has a habit of making LSO because the winner is
return of its two resident however, if you can’t make it to stars of its winners, as proved by named as the LSO’s assistant
orchestras, the BBC National Cardif the BBC airwaves will be its distinguished laureates and conductor; previous winners
Orchestra of Wales and the awash with the competition and the success of its recent winners include LSO Principal Guest
Welsh National Opera Orchestra, you can catch it on radio, TV such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Conductor François-Xavier Roth.
and also its two accompanists, and online across the week. bbc.co.uk/programmes/ lso.co.uk/lso-discovery/donatella-
Lly^r Williams and Simon Lepper. bbc.co.uk/cardiffsinger b00bb3wt flick-lso-conducting-competition
It’s worth making the trip to
Cardif too, because the city also BBC Young Musician of the Year Donatella Flick/LSO Early Music Young Ensemble
plays host to a good list of Next competition: 2020 Conducting Competition Competition
surrounding fringe events such Applications deadline: see website Next competition: Next competition: Autumn 2020
as films, recitals, masterclasses Open to string, percussion, November 2020 Applications deadline: see website
and talks. As for the actual woodwind, brass and keyboard Applications deadline: see website Launched in November 2018,
competition, the Royal Welsh players aged 18 or under on The stakes are high for the three this biennial competition is part

26 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


MUSIC COMPETITIONS UK GUIDE 2018

of the Early Music Shop’s 50th RPO plus other engagements St Albans International Organ wigmore-hall.org.uk/song-
anniversary celebrations. It’s in the UK and USA. Competition competition
open to ensembles of all hastingsconcertocompetition. Next competition: July 8-20, 2019
nationalities of two or more co.uk Applications deadline: March 22, Windsor Festival International
players whose average age is 2019 String Competition
under 30. Repertoire needs to Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Open to organists of all Next competition:
be pre-1800, but musicians Scholarship Fund Competition nationalities born after July 20, March 23-29, 2019
need to show potential for Next competition: 1986, this competition is part of Applications deadline:
playing a contemporary piece April 24 & 26, 2019 the St Albans International December 1, 2018
written for period instruments. Applications deadline: Organ Festival. Highlights for This biennial competition
The 2018 competition took February 1, 2019 2019 include a new commission hosted by Windsor Castle,
place in Blackheath; judges Held every year, this competition from UK composer Matthew launched in 2008 as a tribute to
Emma Kirkby, James Johnstone is open to singers of any Martin, and beyond the main Yehudi Menuhin, counts among
and Tom Beets awarded a first nationality who have completed rankings the Tournemire Prize its previous winners the
prize of £1500 and a recital at at least one year of continuous for improvisation. There’s also violinists Nathan Meltzer, Jiyoon
the London Exhibition of higher-level study in the UK or the opportunity for competitors Lee and Benjamin Baker. The
Early Music 2019. Republic of Ireland at a to take some particularly nice first prize for the 2019
earlymusicshop.com/pages/ recognised conservatoire or organs for a spin because competition includes a concert
early-music-young-ensemble- music school and are currently beyond the finals on the Harris date for the winner to return to
competition resident in that territory. It’s a & Harris organ of St Alban’s Windsor to play a concerto with
high-profile list of former Cathedral, the semifinal takes the competition’s associate
Handel Singing Competition prize-winners too, including place in Christ Church orchestra, the Philharmonia.
Next competition: Karen Cargill, Ben Johnson, Spitalfields on its restored 1735 Also on ofer is a solo recording
first round February 6-8, semi- Robin Tritschler and pianist Richard Bridge organ. Another opportunity with Champs Hill
final March 5, final April 6, 2019 James Baillieu. Following draw for ambitious organists will Records, and a fine
Applications deadline: see website auditions in March, the semi- be the fact that the final rounds contemporary bow. The
Established in 2002, this vocal finals and finals take place before consist not simply of solo semi-finals will be live-streamed,
competition for singers aged a public audience at Wigmore interpretation and improvisation and the final will either be
between 23 and 34 attracts Hall. First prize is £12,500, finals, but also a concerto final live-streamed or available to
some 150 international second is £6000, plus there’s with St James’s Baroque watch soon afterwards.
competitors. Past finalists the Ferrier Loveday Song Prize directed by James O’Donnell. windsorfestival.com/
include Iestyn Davies, Ruby of £5000 and an accompanist’s organfestival.com/St_ international-string-competition
Hughes and Lucy Crowe. Its prize of £5000, awarded Albans_International_Organ_
final at St George’s Hanover through Help Musicians UK. Festival/2019-competitions.html York Early Music International
Square, where finalists are ferrierawards.org.uk Young Artists Competition
accompanied by the London Wigmore Hall/Independent Next competition: July 11-13, 2019
Handel Orchestra under RNCM James Mottram Opera International Song Applications deadline:
Laurence Cummings, is open to International Piano Competition January 18, 2019
the public as part of the annual Competition Next competition: Based at York’s National Centre
London Handel Festival. First Next competition: September 7-11, 2019 for Early Music, this biennial
prize is £5000; second is £2000. November 2020 Applications deadline: period-performance
london-handel-festival.com/page/ Applications deadline: see website March 15, 2019 competition takes place as part
competition/24/ This major biennial event ofers This biennial competition is of York’s Early Music Festival
an all-round learning experience open to singers and pianists and invites applications from
Hastings International Piano for pianists under the age of 30 from around the world, aged 33 instrumental and vocal
Competition from all over the world, mixing or under, who are keen to ensembles comprising two or
Next competition: opportunities to perform on embark on significant recital more musicians whose average
February 21 – March 2, 2019 the concert platform with a careers. Among the cash prizes age is 32 or under. First prize is a
Applications deadline: see website series of masterclasses given for singers are first, second and CD recording with Linn Records,
Entrants attend auditions in by a distinguished international third prizes of £10,000, £5000 £1000 cash and a paid concert
China, Japan, Italy, UK and USA, jury. The competition final and £2500 respectively. There’s at the 2020 York Early Music
or submit video applications, for in the RNCM Concert Hall is also a pianist’s prize of £5000. Festival. The judging panel is
the chance to compete in two accompanied by a full orchestra, Furthermore, the competition one young artists will want to be
concerto stages and a solo which for 2018 was the Royal has a seriously high-profile set heard by too, given that it’s
recital before an international Liverpool Philharmonic of jury members, including John Elizabeth Kenny, Bart Demuyt of
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B E N J A M I N E A L O V E G A

jury, helmed by artistic director Orchestra under Robert Spano, Mark Ainsley, Ian Burnside, the Alamire Foundation/AMUZ
Frank Wibaut. Six pianists will with the event recorded for Bernarda Fink, John Gilhooly, (Antwerp), Barbara Willi
be chosen to play with the broadcast on Classic FM. There’s Graham Johnson, Felicity Lott, (harpsichordist/teacher at the
RPO across a two-night final also a first prize of £10,000, and Thomas Quasthof and Ailish Hague & in Brno), Göttingen
in the White Rock Theatre the chance to gain a scholarship Tynan. If you can’t be there in Handel Festival director Tobias
beginning on March 1. First prize to the Royal Northern College person, Wigmore Hall will be Wolf, and Philip Hobbs from
is £15,000 and the opportunity of Music. streaming the semi-finals and Linn Records.
to give two concerts with the rncm.ac.uk/jmipc-info/ finals on its website. yorkcomp.ncem.co.uk

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 27


MUSIC COMPETITIONS GUIDE 2018

Winning is just the beginning


The Leeds International Piano Competition has been revamped and now boasts live streaming
plus label and management deals for the winner. Simon Broughton reports from the event
international pianists; the
introduction of chamber music
performance in the third round;
a CD release of Leeds
performances on Warner; and
a management contract with
Askonas Holt to help longer-
term career development.
Co-artistic director and
pianist Paul Lewis was one
of the first artists selected by
Gatehouse (in 1999) for the
BBC’s Young Generation
Artists. ‘It might seem rather
perverse of me, but I was never
a fan of competitions,’ he says.
‘So when the suggestion was
made for me to get involved,
I thought, why not make it into
something that goes beyond the
Clear winner: 20-year-old Eric Lu, whose performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto showed ‘clarity and maturity’ competition, so that it’s about
partnerships, collaboration and

‘W
hen I was a kid, I really believed in competitions. connecting with people? The idea is that it can be more than
Perhaps this is something to do with the a competition and be of relevance and benefit to the community.’
Asian mentality – I want to be number one,’ The partnerships that Gatehouse and Lewis have put in place
says Lang Lang ,with a twinkle in his eye. ‘But over the years, will bring follow-up concerts to BBC Radio 3 and Wigmore
we grow up, and we know that competitions are not just about Hall, and performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
competing. It’s more about learning from each other, Orchestra and the Hallé, as well as concert dates in Europe
exchanging musical ideas and having a platform for you to and South Korea organised by Steinway.
shine!’ Lang Lang is talking in Leeds where he’s presenting ‘The combination of the local and international was
the prizes at the Leeds International Piano Competition. a perfect balance for Warner,’ says Patrick Lemanski, Head
Of course, competitions can be controversial. Is the pressure of Classics at Warner UK. ‘At Warner we love the piano,
good for artists? How do you rank one pianist against another? we have fantastic artists on the roster and we like to find
Do they produce the right winners? and nurture new talent. We’ve noticed that the most successful
The Leeds competition, which takes place every three years, sub-genre in streaming classical music is piano – so of course
was started in 1963 by piano teacher Fanny Waterman who is we’re interested in new artists [on that instrument].’
still very much a presence, aged 98. But although the occasion In the small print, Warner and Askonas Holt have a clause so
launched many of today’s big names in the early years – that they don’t necessarily have to go with the first prizewinner
Murray Perahia, Mitsuko Uchida and András Schiff among but can choose one of the others if they wish. ‘That’s totally
many others – there was a feeling that its strike rate had understandable,’ says Lewis. ‘The chemistry has to be right.
become less successful. So, for the 19th edition last September, What comes out of the jury vote will come out – there are nine
there was a bit of a revamp, following the appointment of new different opinions and angles. If Askonas and Warner feel suited
artistic co-directors Adam Gatehouse and Paul Lewis in 2016. better to one of the other prizewinners, that’s fine. It’s important
‘We took a long hard look at it and felt we needed to make it they choose who they want to work with and promote.’
fit for purpose in the 21st century,’ says Gatehouse, who The nine Leeds judges are mainly pianists, although violinist
for 14 years led the New Generation Artists scheme at Henning Kraggerud is there ‘to listen to the musicality and not
BBC Radio 3. ‘One of the first things we agreed was that be distracted by technique’ and Gillian Moore CBE is Head of
we had to have it streamed globally, and our partnership with Classical Music at London’s Southbank Centre, where the
medici.tv is absolutely central to that. Already, we’ve had winner will give a solo recital in 2020.
over half a million people watching in 130 or 140 countries. Pianist and jury member Lars Vogt, a Leeds prizewinner in
Already, this has made a significant impact.’ 1990, is also ambivalent about the traditional competition
Other innovations include the first rounds being held in model because opinions are subjective and ‘making music is not
Berlin, Singapore and New York to strengthen the selection of a sport’. Another pianist on the jury, meanwhile – Sa Chen,

28 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


MUSIC COMPETITIONS GUIDE 2018

who won prizes at the Leeds, Chopin and Van Cliburn – feels surprise he also won the Yaltah Menuhin Award for the
that one of the benefits of Leeds is the sheer quantity of music chamber music performance.
you are obliged to learn. ‘You can gain a lot of new repertoire First prizewinner was Eric Lu, 20 – the youngest of all the 68
and get tremendous experience on the concert platform,’ she competitors selected to take part in the competition. He played
says. ‘A competition opens many doors for more people to hear Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto with an astonishing clarity and
you and to understand you as an artist; it allows you to test maturity, conjuring a rapt stillness in the hall. The competition
yourself to see if you’re ready for a career.’ won’t reveal how the jury voted, but suggestions are that Lu
The range of music you have to learn is also something that’s was the clear winner. It just goes to show that it’s not age or
mentioned by one of the competitors, Aljo≈a Jurinić from experience that counts, but some special artistry alongside
Croatia. ‘Even if you don’t win a prize, all this repertoire is a formidable technique. Askonas Holt and Warner confirmed
worth having,’ he says. And all the finalists mention the relaxed that they were delighted to work with Lu, also a prizewinner
and friendly nature of the competition. Over 10 days in Leeds, at the Chopin International Competition in 2015.
they are all staying at the university and certainly appreciate the Just six days after the final, Warner put out a single from
supportive atmosphere. Lu’s full Leeds album (which itself was released November 2),
The grand interior of Leeds Town Hall, where the finals which includes that prizewinning performance of the
took place, has a lively, sympathetic acoustic. The organ is an Beethoven Fourth plus Chopin’s Ballade No 4 and Piano
extravagant backdrop with trumpeting angels and a white rose Sonata No 2 recorded from earlier rounds. It was the first in a
of Yorkshire between the organ pipes. Draped either side were series of competition releases Warner has planned.
the flags of 16 nations, from America to China, from the UK to Surprisingly, Eric Lu admitted to me afterwards that this
Russia, representing the countries from which the pianists have was only the second time he’d played the concerto. He did it
come. Some of the moralistic slogans on the wall – ‘Honesty is for the first time in a competition in China in March.
the best Policy’, ‘Trial by Jury’ – seemed particularly Talking about his prizewinning performance in Leeds, he said:
appropriate as the judges sat in the first row of the balcony to ‘I actually felt not too nervous when I started the Beethoven.
hear the pianists go through their paces in concertos by I fell in love with the music. That’s what I was thinking to
Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Prokofiev, each of them myself as I was playing it.’
playing a different work, all backed by the Hallé Orchestra Adam Gatehouse and Paul Lewis certainly seem happy with
conducted by Edward Gardner. the choice. ‘It’s not all about him. There’s no ego,’ says Lewis.
Second prize went to Mario Häring, 28, from Germany. ‘It’s all about the music and that’s why he won the Leeds
His performance of Beethoven’s First Concerto was beautifully International Piano Competition.’ Whether he’ll become
shaped, but most striking for the way he engaged with and another star in the piano firmament only time will tell, but
listened to the orchestra when he wasn’t playing. It’s no the buzz seems good.

LSO FUTURES
Scriabin’s ‘The Poem of Ecstasy’
and music by Philippe Manoury,
FRANÇOIS-XAVIER Donghoon Shin & David Lang
Sunday 24 March, Barbican

PANUFNIK COMPOSERS WORKSHOP


Monday 25 March, LSO St Luke’s

RAVEL TRIPLE BILL


Rhapsodie espagnole,
Boléro, L’Heure espagnole
Thursday 25 April, Barbican
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A L L A N M C K E N Z I E / S W P I X . C O M

lso.co.uk/201819season

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 29


MUSIC COMPETITIONS EUROPE GUIDE 2018

EUROPE GUIDE International Chamber Music


Competition ‘Franz Schubert
and Modern Music’
Next competition:
February 6-15, 2021
Applications deadline: see website
Established by the University of
Music and Performing Arts Graz
in 1989, this triennial competition
invites young ensembles from
all over the world to compete
within a multi-day festival of
chamber music which has
around €100,000 of prize
money on ofer.
schubert.kug.ac.at/competition

Carl Nielsen International


Competition
Next competition:
March 21-31, 2019
Applications deadline: now closed
Jiyoon Lee, winner of the 2016 Carl Nielsen Competition; along with fellow winner Liya Petrova, she has featured as a One to Watch The 2016 joint winners of this
Odense-based competition –
ARD International Music Bartók World Competition Romantic, 20th-century and violinists Jiyoon Lee and Liya
Competition and Festival contemporary, plus oratorio Petrova – have both been Ones
Next competition: Next competition: and opera. It’s open to aspiring to Watch in our pages in recent
September 2-20, 2019 September 7-15, 2019 professional conductors under months with their recent
Applications deadline: Applications deadline: see website 35, whatever their training or recordings, so this is certainly
March 31, 2019 This new Hungarian experience so far; no previous a competition whose winners
Based in Munich, this is competition, run by The Liszt diploma is required. In 2017 are worth keeping an eye on.
Germany’s largest classical Academy, was launched in 2017 it was won by a Brit, Ben It’s all change this year too,
music competition, with a starry to mark the 135th anniversary of Glassberg. After preliminaries because while traditionally this
roster of high-profile previous Bartók’s death. It is structured in held in Beijing, Montreal, Berlin competition has rotated its
winners that include Jessye a six-year cycle around the most and Besançon, 20 candidates disciplines annually, in 2019
Norman, Christoph Eschenbach characteristic strands of Bartók’s are selected for the orchestral it will for the first time run its
and Mitsuko Uchida. It’s open to oeuvre – piano, violin, chamber rounds in Besançon in violin, clarinet and flute
musicians aged between 17 and music and composition – with September, competing for competitions concurrently.
29 who are ready to launch an the instrumental competitions a grand prize of €12,000 The judges are a seriously
international career. Disciplines taking place biennially, and advice and coaching high-profile group too:
rotate from year to year, but punctuated by composer from Aimée Paret. Nikolaj Znaider is competition
for 2019 the focus is on competitions that relate to the festival-besancon.com president, alongside artistic
cello, bassoon, clarinet and forthcoming instrumental advisors Martin Fröst and
percussion. The judges are category. For 2019, piano year, Bradshaw & Buono Emmanuel Pahud. First prize is
a high-profile bunch too, the repertoire list includes the International Competition €12,000 cash and a recording
including Milan Turkovic and winning piece from the 2018 Winners announced: May 7, 2019 deal with Orchid Classics
Rachel Gough (bassoon), Li Biao composition competition, Applications deadline: worth €13,000, plus concert
and Gert Mortensen (percussion), written in the spirit of Bartók. April 8, 2019 appearances with up to
Shirley Brill and Eric Hoeprich bartokworldcompetition.hu In an unusual format, this 10 orchestras and festivals,
(clarinet), and Ophélie Gaillard international competition, which including the Odense
and Pieter Wispelwey (cello). Besançon International is open to pianists and singers, Symphony Orchestra,
P H O T O G R A P H Y: C A R L N I E L S E N C O M P E T I T I O N

Each category’s list of cash Competition for Young has no live rounds. Instead it’s all Gothenburg Symphony
awards is topped by a €10,000 Conductors done by video selection. Orchestra and the Oslo
first prize, and you can watch it Next competition: However, the first prize is one Philharmonic. Those
even if you’re not in Germany, September 2019 well worth having: the winning who can’t attend the
as the semi-finals, finals and Applications deadline: see website pianist or singer will be ofered competition in person can
prizewinners’ concerts are This French biennial conducting a solo recital debut at none other catch it on medici.tv and
streamed live on the competition puts its applicants than Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. also on the competition’s
competition’s website. through their paces, with alexanderbuono.com/piano- own website.
ard-musikwettbewerb.de a repertoire spanning Classical, competition carlnielsencompetition.com

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 31


MUSIC COMPETITIONS EUROPE GUIDE 2018

Clara Haskil Piano Competition Open to pianists born between Geneva International Applications deadline:
Next competition: 1989 and 2004, this biennial Music Competition January 31, 2019
August 24-30, 2019 French competition awards Next competition: Held annually since 1971, this
Applications deadline: cash prizes, including, for first November 7-21, 2019 Belgrade competition hosted by
April 10, 2019 place, €7000 along with Applications deadline: the Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac
Open to pianists born after concert engagements at May 2, 2019 Foundation rotates disciplines
December 31, 1991, this festivals such as Concerts Founded in 1939, this between flute, guitar, piano and
competition is hosted in the Classiques d’Epinal and competition’s disciplines rotate cello. It’s the turn of pianists in
Swiss town of Vevey, where Rencontres Internationales annually, and its list of 2019, inviting musicians aged
pianist Clara Haskil lived from de Musique de Mirecourt. distinguished laureates includes less than 35 at the competition’s
1942 until her death. The jury is concours-international-piano- Martha Argerich, Emmanuel beginning to compete for some
an impressive one, presided epinal.org Pahud and Georg Solti. The 2019 major cash prizes.
over by Christian Zacharias, competition is for percussionists muzicka-omladina.org
with Aleksandar Madžar Enescu Competition and composers. Members of
also among their number. Next competition: 2020 the percussion jury, presided International Joseph Joachim
The competition makes one Applications deadline: see website over by Philippe Spiesser, Chamber Music Competition
main award, a cash prize of Open to violinists, pianists, include Daniel Druckman and Next competition:
CHF 25,000 and various cellists and composers born Fritz Hauser, and finalists have a March 31 –April 7, 2019
concert engagements. on or after August 1, 1985, this chance to perform with the Applications deadline:
The other finalists receive biennial competition is part of Orchestre de la Suisse Romande January 12, 2019
CHF 5,000 each. Other awards the George Enescu International under Julien Leroy. Composers Hosted by Weimar’s Liszt
include an audience prize and Festival, the largest international meanwhile must write a work University, in 2019 this triennial
one for best interpretation of cultural event organised in for oboe and ensemble, and competition is open to string
the competition commission, Romania, and ofers cash prizes they will be judged by a jury trios and string quartets, and
which for 2019 is by Thierry totalling €115,000. presided over by Kaija Saariaho piano trios and piano quartets,
Eschaich, who consequently festivalenescu.ro/en/ and including Julian Anderson. whose members were born
also sits on the jury. The finals, competition-2018 The winning composition after April 1, 1979. Even the
with orchestra, are broadcast carries a CHF 15,000 cash prize competition’s most recent
by Radio Télévision Suisse Ferrucio Busoni International and will be performed at the laureates have enjoyed steadily
on Espace 2. Piano Competition 2020 oboe competition. Radio rising careers; 2016’s winners,
clara-haskil.ch Next competition: Télévision Suisse will broadcast the Aris Quartet, the Amatis
August 27 – September 6, 2021 both finals live on Espace 2. Piano Trio and Quartet Berlin-
Concours International de Applications deadline: There are also plans to stream Tokyo, are a case in point. This
Piano May 1, 2020, for the 2021 the finals and possibly other year the jury, which is presided
Next competition: June 8-15, 2019 competition preselections percussion events. over by the university’s
Applications deadline: Part of the South Tyrolean concoursgeneve.ch professor of violin Anne-Kathrin
April 20, 2019 Bolzano Festival Bozen, this Lindig, will be awarding various
The Salle Malesherbes, set competition, which is open to ‘Giorgos Thymis’ International prizes including a top award of
amid the splendour of Maisons pianists aged under 30, includes Piano Competition €10,000. The second and final
Lafitte, just outside Paris, is Martha Argerich and Alfred Next competition: rounds will be live streamed on
the atmospheric venue for this Brendel among its previous January 10-18, 2019 the website.
international piano competition laureates. It operates in two-year Applications deadline: hfm-weimar.de/joachim
whose honorary president is cycles, the first featuring the December 15, 2018
Anne Quefélec. Unusually, the pre-selections for 100 pianists, Open to pianists of any nation International Vocal
competition has a category and the second for which 27 born on or after January 10, Competition 's-Hertogenbosch
for amateur pianists with pianists have been shortlisted. 1986, this Thessaloniki Next Competition:
a minimum age of 25, as well as It’s a finalists’ year in 2019, which competition ofers a top prize November 18-24, 2019
for professional concert artists will culminate in a grand final for of €5000 along with a concerto Applications open January 2019
aged 32 or under. The jury the last three candidates. They engagement with the Founded in 1954, this is the
includes Isabelle Lafitte, and will perform concertos with the Thessaloniki State Symphony Netherlands’ only classical vocal
the prizes on ofer are generous, Haydn Orchestra in the Civic Orchestra and solo recitals in competition. It encompasses
with €7600 in cash, 11 recitals Theatre (Teatro Comunale), the Thessaloniki Concert Hall oratorio and art song as well as
including one with an orchestra competing for generous and one other Greek city, plus opera, with an additional focus
in Hungary, one masterclass cash prizes including a first of another European country. on contemporary music. For the
and one musical training award. €22,000. The finals will be live- Among the judging panel 2019 competition, Lieder also
concoursdepiano.com streamed on the competition’s are Cyprien Katsaris and comes to the forefront.
website, Facebook page and Georgios Konstantinidis. ivc.nu
Epinal International dedicated YouTube channel. thymiscompetition.gr
Piano Competition concorsobusoni.it; Khachaturian International
Next competition: facebook.com/Busoni.Piano. International Jeunesses Competition
March 22-31, 2019 Competition; Musicales Competition Belgrade Next competition: June 6-14, 2019
Applications deadline: youtube.com/user/ Next competition: Applications deadline:
February 15, 2019 BusoniInternational/ March 21-30, 2019 April 25, 2019

32 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


István Várdai
1st prize 2014

deadline:
Application

March 31, 2019


September 2 to 20, 2019

Violoncello
Bassoon 2nd prize 2013
Sophie Dartigalongue
68th ARD International

Piano Trio
Voice
Music Competition Munich

Wind Quintet
Clarinet Oboe
Trumpet
Piano
Percussion
Viola
Clarinet
Flute

2nd prize 2012


Violoncello
Percussion Bassoon
Trombone

Annelien van Wauwe


Harp
French Horn
1st prize 2014

Piano Duo
Simone Rubino

String Quartet
Violin
Double Bass
Organ
www.ard-musikwettbewerb.de Guitar
MUSIC COMPETITIONS EUROPE GUIDE 2018

This is an annual Yerevan-based


competition whose disciplines
rotate annually between piano,
violin, cello, voice and
conducting. Pianists aged
between 16 and 32 and of all
nationalities are the focus for
2019 competition. The top cash
award, in local currency, is the
equivalent of US$15,000, plus
concert opportunities. Second is
the equivalent of US$10,000,
and third US$5,000.
khachaturian-competition.com

Liszt Competition
Next competition:
March 16-28, 2020
Applications deadline: 1 May 2019
The next edition of this
Utrecht-based piano
competition-festival at
TivoliVrendenburg is for the first The winner of the 2016 Mahler Competition, Kahchun Wong; previous winners include Gustavo Dudamel and Lahav Shani
time centred around a theme:
‘Beethoven seen through the streamed by DueErre takes place triennially, it has just The semi-final (held on
eyes of Liszt’. The three finalists Produzioni Multimediali been put back a further year to October 24) and the final
will be accompanied by the livornopianocompetition.com 2020. So keep checking the concert (on October 26) will
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic website address for updates. both be live-streamed on the
Orchestra and judged by an Lyons International Chamber bamberger-symphoniker.de/ competition website.
international panel that includes Music Competition en.html neue-stimmen.de
Idil Biret and Leslie Howard. Next competition: April 23-27, 2019
International selection rounds Applications deadline: Michele Pittaluga International International Paderewski
take place in September 2019 in January 15, 2019 Guitar Competition Piano Competition
New York, Moscow, Tbilisi, Established in 2004, this Next competition: September 2019 Next competition:
Beijing, Hong Kong and Utrecht. chamber music competition Applications deadline: see website November 10-24, 2019
liszt.nl focuses on a diferent This important classical guitar Applications deadline:
instrumental grouping each year. competition, which takes place April 20, 2019
Livorno Piano Competition It’s the turn of voice and piano annually in Alessandria, Open to pianists born between
January 21-26, 2019 in 2019; artists aged 33 and Piedmont, marks its 52nd 1987 and 2003, this Polish
Applications deadline: under can enter, to compete for edition in 2019. The first prize is competition was first launched
December 10, 2019 €26,000 of cash prizes plus €10,000, a concert tour and a to commemorate the pianist,
This, the third edition of the recital engagements and a recording contract with Naxos. composer and politician
competition, is divided into two residency with concerts as part pittaluga.org Ignancy Jan Paderewski.
strands. First, there’s the Young of the Belle Saison programme. It is under the joint organisation
Livorno Piano Competition, There are big names on the jury, Neue Stimmen of the Paderewski Music
which has six age categories. including baritone Andreas Next competition: Association, the Feliks
The ‘Premio Enrico Galletta’ prize Schmidt, soprano Felicity Lott October 19-27, 2019 Nowowiejski Music Academy
is for pianists born after January and pianist Charles Spencer. Applications deadline: and Bydgoszcz’s IJ Paderewski
1, 1997, for which there is a top The final is broadcast on France March 15, 2019 Philharmonic. Preliminary
award of €500. The adult Musique, while the rounds are Held biennially with a jury auditions take place in May
Livorno Piano Competition, live-streamed on NoMadMusic. chaired by Vienna State Opera 2019, in Vienna, New York,
meanwhile, is open to pianists cimcl.fr director Dominique Meyer, Moscow, Warsaw, Brescia,
born after January 1, 1986, this Gütersloh-based singing Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul.
and the prizes on ofer include Mahler Competition competition is open to all The jury, chaired by the
a first of €3000 plus concerts, Next competition: 2020 female singers aged 28 and competition’s artistic director
a second and third prize of Applications deadline: see website younger, and all male singers Piotr Paleczny, includes Lilian
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M I C H A E L T R I P P E L

€1500 and €1000 respectively, When previous winners of the aged 30 and under. Both Barretto and Michel Berof.
plus special prizes. Chairing the Bamberg Symphony’s categories carry first prizes of Crowning what is a long list of
jury is Daniel Rivera, and he’s conducting competition include €15,000, plus opportunities for cash awards is a first prize of
joined by Peter Grote, Wojchiek Gustavo Dudamel and Lahav concerts, coaching and career €30,000. The competition
Świtala, Mariangela Vacatello Shani, it’s definitely one worth contacts. Second prizes are will also be streamed via
and artistic director Carlo taking notice of. However while €10,000 and third €5000. its website.
Palese. The final will be this major competition usually There’s also an audience award. paderewskicompetition.pl

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 35


MUSIC COMPETITIONS EUROPE GUIDE 2018

do know is that it’s going to be


bigger than ever. Unlike other
competitions that rotate
disciplines, the Tchaikovsky
is more like a classical Olympic
Games, encompassing all the
major musical categories.
Traditionally that’s been piano,
voice, violin and cello, but for
2019 winds are being added to
proceedings for the very first
time. Plus – perhaps inspired
by the football World Cup – the
competition in 2019 will see new
towns and venues added to the
traditional Moscow and
St Petersburg. Valery Gergiev
will preside over the main jury,
and you’ll be able to watch it all
on medici.tv.
tchaikovskycompetition.com

The South Korean tenor Seung Ju Bahg wins the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Norway in August 2017 Tibor Varga International
Violin Competition Sion Valais,
Premio Paolo Borciani Queen Elisabeth Competition One of the world’s leading Switzerland
Next competition: June 2020 Next competition: voice competitions, this takes Next competition:
Applications deadline: see website April 29 – May 25, 2019 place biennially and is open to August 18-24, 2019
Taking place triennially at Applications deadline: singers born after January 1, Applications deadline:
Teatro Municipale Valli in December 5, 2018 1987. Recent winners include April 15, 2019
Reggio Emilia, this international Disciplines of this annual soprano Lise Davidsen (2015), This biennial competition ofers
string quartet competition competition rotate between who is newly signed to Decca finalists a chance to perform
has a starry roster of previous pianists, violinists, singers and and who of course was with the Chamber Orchestra of
winners including the Keller cellists. The 2019 competition Gramophone’s 2018 Young Lausanne. The jury, chaired by
Quartet (1990), Artemis Quartet (the first under one of two new Artist of the Year. The grand final Georges Starobinski, includes
(2007), and Pavel Haas Quartet jury chairmen, Gilles Ledure) is takes place at the Norwegian among its number Pavel
(2005). The first prize is a real for violinists, and those who National Opera Orchestra, Vernikov and Qian Zhou.
launching pad for a quartet’s make it to the final will be with the singers accompanied sion-concours.ch/
career, as it comprises a long performing in the Palais des by its orchestra. The judging
tour encompassing Europe, Beaux-Arts with the Belgian panel chaired by Stockholm Top of the World Piano
the United States and Japan. National Orchestra under Royal Opera CEO and artistic Competition
Another interesting feature of Hugh Wolf. There is a long list director Birgitta Svendén Next competition:
this competition is that each of awards: six oficial prized includes the future (2022) June 15-21, 2019
year its set repertoire includes rankings including the top opera director at Theater an Applications deadline:
a new work, either especially Queen Mathilde International der Wien Stefan Herheim, and February 15, 2019
commissioned or recently Grand Prize of €25,000, and the list of prizes includes a cash Open to pianists of all
written, from one of the world’s also cash prizes for the six first prize of €50,000. Those nationalities aged between 17
most esteemed and valued unranked laureates. There are not able to get to Norway can and 35, this competition takes
living composers, for example, remote viewing options too: at watch the preliminary rounds, place in Norway’s midnight sun
Thomas Adès in 2014 and the time of going to press there semi-final and masterclasses city, Tromsø. It’s biennial, but the
Luciano Berio in 1997. are plans to live-stream the on the competition’s YouTube of-years are by no means quiet,
www.iteatri.re.it semi-final and final on demand channel, and the final concert because the competition
on the competition website, will be broadcast by the organises a youth masterclass
Princess Astrid thanks to Proximus. Keep Norwegian Broadcasting with the previous year’s
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R I U S N Y H E I M K R I S T O F F E R S E N

International Competition checking the website for Corporation (NRK). competition winner, to which
Next competition: 2020 complete streaming and qsimc.no the Barent region’s great piano
Applications deadline: see website broadcasting information. talents aged between 12-17 are
Established in 1952, this biennial quimc.be Tchaikovsky Competition invited. The prizes ofered this
competition hosted by Next competition: June 2019 year include a first of €30,000.
Trondheim Symphony The Queen Sonja International Applications deadline: see website cash. Among the jury are
Orchestra rotates between violin Music Competition, Norway As we go to press, the details Achille Gallo, Diane Anderson,
and conducting, with the violin Next competition: of this major quadrennial Einer Steen-Nøkleberg
being the focus for 2020. August 13-23, 2019 competition are yet to be and Janina Fialkowska.
tso.no Applications deadline: April 1, 2019 announced. However what we topoftheworld.no

36 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


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MUSIC COMPETITIONS US & REST OF WORLD GUIDE 2018

US & REST OF WORLD GUIDE (ICAC), open to guitarists aged Orleans Concours
18 or over by June 1, 2020. International
The next edition will have all Next competition: 2020
its rounds live-streamed. The Applications deadline: see website
top prize includes US$10,000, This piano competition
a Naxos recording, and alternates annually between the
a GFA-sponsored concert tour main edition in even-numbered
including approximately years, and the ‘Brin d’herbe’
50 concerts throughout competition for pianists aged six
the US, Canada and Mexico to 18, next held in April 2019.
guitarfoundation.org oci-piano.com

Menuhin Competition Osaka Chamber Music


Next competition: Competition
May 14-24, 2020 Next competition: 2020
Applications deadline: see website Applications deadline: see website
Bokyung Byun won second prize in the 2018 Guitar Foundation of America ICAC Previous winners of this biennial An international chamber
violin competition include Ray competition open to string
Banf International String The Cliburn Chen (2008) and Stephen quartets and wind ensembles,
Quartet Competition Next competition: 2021 Waarts (2014). It’s open to this triennial event was first held
Next competition: Applications deadline: see website violinists of all nationalities in 1993 and carries cash prizes
August 26 – September 1, 2019 Held every four years in Fort under the age of 22 (senior amounting to millions of yen.
Applications deadline: Worth, Texas, the competition’s section) and 16 years old (junior Check the competition website
March 1, 2019 recent laureates include Beatrice section) as of April 22, 2018, and in the spring for more details
This triennial competition Rana, who took silver in 2013. is held in a diferent city each (including application deadline).
is open to quartets of all cliburn.org time. For 2020, the destination jcmf.or.jp
nationalities whose members is Richmond, Virginia.
are under the age of 35 at the Cooper International menuhincompetition.org The Alice and Eleonore
time of the competition; Competition 2019 Schoenfeld International
previous winners include the Next competition: July 18-26, 2019 Concours Musical String Competition
Dover Quartet. The 10 quartets Applications deadline: May 7, 2019 International de Montréal Next competition: see website
that make it through are battling The 2019 edition welcomes Next competition: Applications deadline: see website
it out for over C$150,000 in applicants aged between 13 May 26 – June 6, 2019 Held in Harbin, China, this
cash and prizes for the top and 18 to compete for the Applications deadline: international competition has
three; and the seven runners-up Violin Prize. Awards of up to November 15, 2018 three categories: violin, cello,
also receive a career $20,000 are on ofer, as well as Piano: May 4-14, 2020 and chamber groups divided
development grant. Check the a full four-year scholarship to Held annually since 2002, the into piano trio, piano quartet
website for updates on the Oberlin Conservatory. Tickets 2019 edition is open to violinists. and string quartet. Violinists and
live-streaming of each round. are available for the final with The jury, presided over by cellists compete for a top prize
banffcentre.ca the Cleveland Orchestra at Zarin Mehta, includes Mihaela of US$30,000, while chamber
Severance Hall; alternatively, Martin, Pierre Amoyal and groups stand to win US$20,000.
Cleveland International WCLV 104.9 FM is broadcasting Kim Kashkashian. Prizes schoenfeldcompetition.com
Piano Competition and streaming the competition. include a first of C$30,000,
Next competition: spring 2020 oberlin.edu/cooper/ a C$50,000 career Unisa 14th International
Applications deadline: see website development grant, a C$20,000 Piano Competition
The biennial CIPC has a main Guitar Foundation of America instrument crafted by Quebec Next competition:
category for artists aged 18-30, International Convention and makers, and a C$2500 artist January 20 – February 1, 2020
and a junior category for those Competitions residency at Canada’s Banf Applications deadline:
aged 12-17. The main category Next competition: Centre for Arts and Creativity. August 2, 2019
prize includes a cash award of June 17-22, 2019 The Orchestre Symphonique de This Pretoria-based international
US$75,000, a Carnegie Hall Applications deadline: May 1, 2019 Montréal will accompany the piano competition rotates
recital debut, a recording on the The Guitar Foundation of final rounds, under the baton – between piano, voice, strings
Steinway & Sons label, and the America’s annual international for the first time – of Alexander and wind, and is unusual for
launch of a US concert career. convention features three Shelley, music director of the having categories for both
Plus, there’s a festival built competitions each year: the GFA National Arts Center Orchestra. classical and jazz styles. It also
around the competition, with International Youth Competition, All rounds of the competition covers the costs for all invited
performances and symposia the GFA International Ensemble will be streamed live and then candidates, from travel and
at the Cleveland Museum of Art Competition and the largest of made available on demand. accommodation through to
and Severance Hall. the three, the International concoursmontreal.ca/en/the- means and practice facilities.
clevelandpiano.org Concert Artist Competition competitions/violin/ unisa.ac.za

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 39


Critics’ Choice 2018
Our critics each choose a favourite recording from the past 12 months.
If you’re after the perfect gift guide for Christmas, look no further!
Mike Ashman
‘Destination
Rachmaninov –
Departure’
Daniil Trifonov pf The
Philadelphia Orchestra /
Yannick Nézet-Séguin
DG F 483 5335GH (11/18)
Rachmaninov in
Philadelphia. It could
have been Pristine’s ideal
remastering of the ‘originals’
of the composer playing his
Second Piano Concerto
there but Daniil Trifonov and
Yannick Nézet-Séguin in
the Second and Fourth
Concertos newly evoke
memories of those iconic
recordings under Stokowski.

Andrew Achenbach Tim Ashley Michelle Assay


Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony ‘Siface’ ‘L’amor castrato’ ‘Norma Fisher at the BBC, Vol 1’
Soloists; BBC Symphony Chorus Filippo Mineccia counterten Norma Fisher pf
and Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins Nereydas / Javier Ulises Illán Sonetto Classics F SONCLA003 (7/18)
Hyperion F CDA68245 (10/18) Glossa F GCD923514 (7/18) Easily the highlight
Martyn Brabbins No disc has given of my first year as a
presides over me more pleasure Gramophone reviewer
a glorious account this year than was Norma Fisher’s
of A Sea Symphony, Filippo Mineccia’s BBC recordings of
consistently exceptional recital Brahms and Scriabin,
nourishing in of music associated not only for their
P H O T O G R A P H Y: D A R I O A C O S TA / D G

its strength of with the 17th-century historic performance


purpose and castrato Siface, but also for their dignity, integrity and clarity
selfless musicality. Magnificent work from a carefully crafted programme that embraces which shine through the transfers (some
the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, both the sacred and the profane, sung with from private reel-to-reel recordings), auguring
fresh-sounding vocal soloists and superlative often breathtaking poise and sensuality. It’s very well for promised
production-values boost the strong claims of an astonishingly beautiful recording and future instalments.
a release that is sure to give lasting pleasure. quite wonderfully done.

40 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018


CRITICS’ CHOICE

Alexandra Coghlan
‘Venezia Millenaria’
Hespèrion XXI;
Le Concert des Nations / Jordi Savall
Alia Vox F b AVSA9925 (4/18)
For sheer opulence, generosity
and breadth of repertoire,
Jordi Savall’s ‘Venezia Millenaria’ blows
the competition away this year. This
journey through 1000 years of Venetian
history takes in everything from popular
songs and ancient chants to dances
and sacred polyphony – a world in
magnificent
musical
microcosm.

Richard Bratby Edward Breen Rob Cowan


Heuberger Der Opernball Josquin Missa Gaudeamus. Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, etc
Soloists; Chorus of Opera Graz; Missa L’ami Baudichon Sergey Rachmaninov pf
Graz Philharmonic Orchestra / Marius Burkert The Tallis Scholars / Peter Phillips Marston mono F c 53022-2 (10/18)
CPO F b 555 070-2 (6/18) Gimell F CDGIM050 (11/18) Old recordings rarely
I had to double-check, I am a long-time make the headlines
but yes, this really is admirer of The Tallis but, by allowing us
the first complete Scholars, and their to eavesdrop on
modern recording of clean, purposeful Rachmaninov
Richard Heuberger’s sound is often demonstrating his
delicious (and my touchstone Symphonic Dances
influential) 1898 for Renaissance to Eugene Ormandy,
operetta: the polyphony. With this Ward Marston has done just that. This three-CD
‘missing link’ between Johann Strauss and latest release in their grand survey of Josquin’s Rachmaninov set also includes magnificent
Lehár. With an engaging ensemble cast and masses they sing with elegant poise while first-release orchestral performances under
lightly-worn Viennese style from Marius Burkert, responding to the extraordinary intricacy Mitropoulos and Ormandy. No historical release
it’s three acts of quite irresistible charm. and expressivity of Josquin’s textures. in the last 20 years can compare with it.

Jed Distler Adrian Edwards Richard Fairman


George Szell – The Complete Columbia H Goodall Invictus: A Passion Brahms Four Symphonies
Album Collection Kirsty Hopkins sop Mark Dobell ten Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Robin Ticciati
Sony Classical S (106 discs) Christ Church Cathedral Choir; Linn F b CKD601 (4/18)
88985 47185-2 (11/18) Lanyer Ensemble / Stephen Darlington Some recordings
Beyond question, Coro Connections F COR16165 (10/18) intoxicate the senses,
George Szell was Howard Goodall simply because they
the greatest brings an interesting have so much to
20th-century contemporary slant ofer. The way in
conductor, and in his choice of texts, which every detail
nearly all of old and new, to of this music has
his Cleveland illuminate the familiar been honed and
recordings are reference versions that represent story of Christ’s perfected by Ticciati’s trusted players in
a masterclass in orchestral transparency, Passion. Kirsty the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and
utter clarity, stylish intelligence, chamber-like Hopkins and Mark Dobell are his star soloists. then absorbed into a lyrical, afectionate
interaction between sections, unerring taste, whole, is endlessly fascinating. This has to be,
and, yes, heart. Sony’s long-awaited complete as far as I’m concerned, the most beguiling
Szell edition belongs in every serious collection. small-orchestra Brahms yet.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 41


CRITICS’ CHOICE

David Fallows David Fanning Fabrice Fitch


Dufay ‘The Dufay Spectacle’ Debussy Préludes, Book 2. La mer Dufay ‘The Dufay Spectacle’
Gothic Voices Alexander Melnikov pf Gothic Voices
Linn F CKD568 (7/18) Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2302 (8/18) Linn F CKD568 (7/18)
My treat of the year The revelation of Dufay and the Gothic
was definitely the my year has been Voices? Thirty years
return of Gothic Debussy from ago this would have
Voices with a new Alexander Melnikov: been a dream ticket,
recording of songs Préludes, Book 2, so it’s a pleasure to
and motets by Dufay. and La mer with hear them roll back
Not just beautifully Olga Pashchenko – the years with this –
presented and on an 1855 Érard. particularly since
assembled with originality and intelligence, I’m not a fully paid-up early-instrument fan, new opportunities to hear 15th-century songs
this recording features performances that but I found the range of attacks and colours are so thin on the ground these days.
throw new light on this music. conjured here idiomatic and breathtaking. A welcome renaissance indeed.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Charlotte Gardner David Gutman


Bach Cantatas Debussy ‘Les trois sonates – The Late Works’ Myaskovsky. Nechaev. Shebalin
Sols; Ricercar Consort / Philippe Pierlot Various soloists Violin Sonatas
Mirare F MIR332 (6/18) Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2303 (11/18) Sasha Rozhdestvensky vn Viktoria
The Ricercars deliver Of all the new Postnikova pf First Hand F FHR57 (A/18)
a special trio of treasures Debussy The death of
cantatas of Year brought to the Rozhdestvensky last
remarkable thematic recordings world, June turned this
beauty and cohesion, this programme from sympathetic
each ofering a rich an international collection of Soviet
autobiographical complement of violin sonatas into an
strain – known and some of HM’s most unintended memorial
unknown. These irresistible performances thoughtful stars was, to my ears, ‘the one’. Each to the great conductor
remind us how a top-drawer and intensely of the three late sonatas feels like a benchmark and the era of cultural contradiction he
communicative ensemble can delve as deeply reading, and the piano solos between pull it negotiated with such skill and insight. The
as ever into Bach’s most exquisite conceits of all seamlessly together. Profound, intelligent, protagonists are his wife and son and the music
death and consolation. moving – I wouldn’t be without it. quietly eloquent, without magniloquence.

Andrew Farach-Colton Christian Hoskins


Prokofiev Violin Sonatas Nos 1 and 2 and pianist Michail Lifits’s boldly evocative and ‘Copland Conducts Copland’
Alexandra Conunova vn Michail Lifits pf intensely felt interpretations of the Prokofiev Benny Goodman cl Los Angeles Master
Aparté F AP171 (8/18) violin sonatas made Chorale; Los Angeles Philharmonic
It’s an especial pleasure when a superb me fall in love with Orchestra / Aaron Copland
recording seems to come out of nowhere. I’d this marvellous Video director Kirk Browning
never heard of Alexandra Conunova, but her music all over again. Naxos F ◊ 2 110397 F Y NBD0068V
(5/18)
Watching the 75-year-old
Copland conducting his
own music with such
obvious enjoyment is
a pleasure in itself, but what
makes this video special is
the performance of the
unjustly neglected Suite
from The Tender Land, music of entrancing
radiance, warmth and humanity.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 43


CRITICS’ CHOICE

Lindsay Kemp Richard Lawrence Ivan Moody


Buxtehude ‘Abendmusiken’ Halévy La reine de Chypre Górecki String Quartet No 3
Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier Sols; Flemish Radio Choir; Dafô Quartet
Alpha F ALPHA287 (9/18) Paris Chamber Orchestra / Hervé Niquet Dux F DUX1302 (7/18)
This year I was once Ediciones Singulares F b ES1032 (9/18) In a year full of
again beguiled by It’s been a good year outstanding releases,
Vox Luminis, now for unfamiliar the Dafô Quartet’s
bringing their deep French opera: terrific reading of Górecki’s
and focused recordings of Third String Quartet
expressiveness to Godard’s Dante (1/18), shines brightly. They
motets by Buxtehude, Lully’s Alceste (2/18), understand the way
an apogee of all Rameau’s Naïs (8/18). this challenging work
the beauty, dignity and ingenuity of German But I’m plumping for relates not only to the composer’s famous
17th-century church music. With eloquent this grand opéra from 1841, superbly performed ‘simplified’ style, but also to his much earlier
string sonatas added by Ensemble Masques, by Niquet and his forces, with magnificent singing music. Their performance is both vibrant and
it does Bach’s great predecessor proud. from Véronique Gens and Cyrille Dubois. subtle, and beautifully recorded.

Andrew Mellor Jeremy Nicholas


Alfred Janson The Wind Blows – Choral Works Grete Pedersen’s Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances, etc
Norwegian Soloist’s Choir / Grete Pedersen Norwegian Sergey Rachmaninov pf
BIS F BIS2341 (10/18) Soloist’s Choir, the Marston mono F c 53022-2 (10/18)
I was taken aback by the skill, imagination and superlative quality of In any other year,
power of this music by an elder Norwegian whose singing here ‘The Complete
composer who has never really had his is a fitting redress to Studio Recordings
due. Alfred Janson has worked closely with his music’s neglect. of Eileen Joyce’
(Decca) would
have been my
first choice, but
the discovery
of previously unknown recordings of
Rachmaninov demonstrating on the
piano how he wished his newly composed
Symphonic Dances to be played was, in the
end, by far the most exciting and intriguing
release of 2018.

Peter Quantrill
Watkins Symphony, etc
Hallé / R Wigglesworth
NMC F NMCD224 (11/18)
Here is that rare
creature – a new
symphony that’s
Christopher Nickol Richard Osborne worthy of the name.
‘Romantic Organ Music’ Beethoven Piano Sonatas – No 14, ‘Moonlight’, Quickly establishing
Simon Preston org Op 27 No 2 and No 29, ‘Hammerklavier’, Op 106 the ‘large-scale
Decca Eloquence B b ELQ482 4941 (3/18) Murray Perahia pf integration of
At last! CD reissues of DG F 479 8353 (3/18) contrasts’ demanded
these classic LP It is rare nowadays of the genre’s examples by Hans Keller, and
recordings have to find a record of by means of an orchestra that Nielsen would
finally appeared. Beethoven piano recognise, Huw Watkins fills a two-movement
Former Gramophone sonatas to set structure with urgent channels of argument
reviewer Stanley alongside classic and even more necessary pools of reflection.
Webb described recordings by pianists The first movement reaches a crisis
Simon Preston as such as Solomon, as seemingly inevitable as its climactic
a ‘fastidious perfectionist’, and it was this Serkin, Kempf, and recapitulation, promising resolution, but
approach that resulted in such virtuoso Arrau, but Murray Perahia’s spiritually luminous that would spoil the surprise. Piece,
performances. A personal highlight is his and technically superb accounts of the performance, recording: all equally satisfying.
account of Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm; Moonlight and Hammerklavier sonatas
released in 1964, it still sounds magnificent! could be judged exceptional in any era.

44 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CRITICS’ CHOICE

Mark Pullinger
Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6
MusicAeterna / Teodor Currentzis
Sony F 88985 40435-2 (1/18)
Two controversial
Tchaikovsky recordings
compete for my vote.
Stefan Herheim’s
enthralling Pique
Dame (3/18) comes
to London soon, the
composer central to
the action. But Teodor
Currentzis’s devastating Pathétique
with MusicAeterna wins – as bleak,
as nihilistic and as embittered
as I’ve ever heard. And I adore it.

Guy Rickards Malcolm Riley Marc Rochester


Ruehr String Quartets Nos 1-6 R Williams ‘Sacred Choral Works’ Messiaen
Stephen Salters bar Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban La Nativité du Seigneur
Borromeo Quartet; Cypress Quartet Chapel Choir / Ralph Allwood with Richard Gowers org
Avie M b AV2379 (5/18) Jonathan Eyre pf/cond King’s College, Cambridge F KGS0025
Rarely nowadays Signum F SIGCD517 (2/18) (12/18)
does one encounter As a ‘singer who also By a most fortuitous
a new, living master composes’, Roderick happenchance, my
of the quartet Williams has always recording of the year
medium, but been well placed to is Christmas music
Elena Ruehr is bring those special, from King’s College
just that. Her six, extra dimensions Chapel, Cambridge.
fluently written to his own music, ie But there’s not a carol
quartets are exquisitely performed on this, what works best from in sight. No feel-good
Avie’s third release of Ruehr’s music, by the both a technical as well as an interpretative Rutter. No spine-tingling Willcocks descant.
Cypress and (in No 2) Borromeo Quartets, and standpoint. This vivid choral anthology has Instead the muscular, perceptive, authoritative
the sound is beautifully clear. The recording just given continued pleasure throughout the year, playing of Richard Gowers, who has devoted his
edges ahead of Kenneth Hesketh’s marvellous filled as it is with an astonishing versatility of debut solo disc on the College’s own label to
orchestral disc, ‘In ictu oculi’ (12/18). moods and styles. Messiaen’s visionary La Nativité du Seigneur.

Patrick Rucker Edward Seckerson Hugo Shirley


Rachmaninov Complete Études-tableaux Bernstein Symphonies Nos 1-3; Mahler Kindertotenlieder
Steven Osborne pf Prelude, Fugue and Rifs R Strauss Tod und Verklärung
Hyperion F CDA68188 (9/18) Sols; Orchestra & Chorus of the Brigitte Fassbaender mez
Some of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Munich Philharmonic / Sergiu Celibidache
most beautiful Sir Antonio Pappano Münchner Philharmoniker F MPHIL0006
piano-playing I’ve Warner Classics M b 9029 56615-8 (9/18) (3/18)
heard this year, live It had to be Bernstein No Christmas cheer
or recorded, has been in his centenary year here, I’m afraid,
Steven Osborne’s and it had to be rather a magnificent
stunning traversal Pappano’s rendition live recording from
of Rachmaninov’s of the three 1983, released in
Études-tableaux. Osborne’s refreshingly original symphonies with the a new remastering,
take on the music, emotional breadth and orchestra which once which captures
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A N T O N Z AVJ YA L O V

sheer pianistic finesse keep me coming back boasted Lenny as the remarkable
for more. Surely Rachmaninov would President. Casting young Italian pianist Beatrice Brigitte Fassbaender at her most intensely
have been proud. Rana as the protagonist of the masterful moving in some of the most powerful songs
Second, The Age of Anxiety, was a deft touch, in the repertoire. Sergiu Celibidache and
but the really inspired piece of casting was the Munich Philharmonic accompany her in
that of Josephine Barstow as Speaker in the the Mahler superbly, and ofer a fascinating
Kaddish. For once, the spoken text really ignites. Strauss coupling too.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 47


CRITICS’ CHOICE

Pwyll ap Siôn Harriet Smith David Patrick Stearns


Various Cpsrs Standard Time Chopin Cello Sonata, etc Franchomme Wagner Tristan und Isolde
Trio HLK Nocturne Schubert Arpeggione Sonata Sols; Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus
Ubuntu Music F UBU0006 (7/18) Steven Isserlis vc Dénes Várjon pf and Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein
There’s nothing Hyperion F CDA68227 (10/18) Video director Karlheinz Hundorf
standard about the The perfect C Major Entertainment F c ◊ 46208;
shaping of musical partnership, in F Y 746304 (9/18)
time on Trio HLK’s which the 1851 Érard Bernstein liked to stop time.
excellent debut deserves equal billing Whether he succeeded in
release. Also featuring with the players. key moments of his 1981
Evelyn Glennie on Isserlis and Várjon Tristan is debated anew in
several tracks, illuminate Chopin’s this first US release of the
Nancarrow-style polymetres collide and Introduction and video made during the live
fuse with complex harmonies in radical Polonaise brillante and Franchomme’s C minor Philips recording. Staging
reinterpretations of jazz standards. Their Nocturne with as much care as the musical elements are minimal, but
live performances are also scintillating, as jewels on the disc: the sonatas by Schubert Peter Hofmann and Hildegard Behrens are
witnessed at this year’s Machynlleth Festival. and Chopin. The result is pure gold. more entrancing when seen as well as heard.

David Threasher David Vickers Richard Whitehouse


Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6 Buxtehude ‘Abendmusiken’ Ferneyhough La terre est un homme
MusicAeterna / Teodor Currentzis Vox Luminis / Lionel Meunier BBC Symphony Orchestra / Martyn Brabbins
Sony F 88985 40435-2 (1/18) Alpha F ALPHA287 (9/18) NMC F NMCD231 (5/18)
A good year for Little is known Brian Ferneyhough’s
Haydn, whether solo about what 75th birthday couldn’t
(Paul Lewis), chamber Buxtehude have been more
(Trio Wanderer, presented in his impressively marked
Doric Quartet) or annual series of than with NMC’s
symphonic (many). Sunday concerts release featuring
But Teodor during Advent. two major orchestral
Currentzis’s Vox Luminis and works, the intricate
Tchaikovsky became the true ear-opener of the Ensemble Masques collaborate intelligently Plötzlichkeit and intense La terre est un homme,
year – not merely a recording of a symphony on this free-flowing mixture of chamber both being accorded virtuoso renderings
but a recording event in itself, mining this sonatas and sacred pieces in performances by the BBC Symphony with Martyn Brabbins.
miraculous work’s details as rarely before. of sensitivity and harmonic finesse. A standout release in any year.

Richard Wigmore William Yeoman


Handel ‘Finest Arias for Base Voice, Vol 2’ Nocturnal Lute music from
Christopher Purves bar Arcangelo / Dowland to Britten
Jonathan Cohen Jakob Lindberg lute
Hyperion F CDA68152 (8/18) BIS F BIS2082 (A/18)
Another winner of Let’s call it the lutenist’s revenge, this
a programme remarkable recording of Britten’s
showcasing the classical guitar masterpiece,
dramatic variety Nocturnal, after John Dowland,
of Handel’s music performed on the lute. After all, how
for bass, from the often do we hear lute music on
swaggering Saracen guitar? That pieces by Dowland,
King Argante in Holborne, Bacheler et al swarm
Rinaldo to the grieving father Gobrias in about the Britten like astonished
Belshazzar. Ranging from baleful basso ghosts is a bonus.
profundo to mellifluous high baritone,
Christopher Purves – two voices for the price of
one – brings each of these disparate characters
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G I O VA N N A O R B E L L I

thrillingly alive. Arcangelo match him all the


way in drama and colour.

48 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


Internationally acclaimed cellist, James Kreger, has created a Christmas album with a difference. In his own words:
“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the thrill of engaging the most profound and challenging cello
masterpieces does not inhibit my deep affection for these Christmas melodies or my desire to ‘sing’ them, as so many
people around the world love to do. My aim is to present them from my own perspective, in fashions that maximize
their beauty and bring out their unexpected qualities.”
The result is an album of Christmas music skilfully arranged with the cello taking the vocal line.

Includes: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ~ O Holy Night! ~ Away in a Manger ~ We Three Kings/What Child
Is This? ~ Go Tell It on the Mountain ~ It Came Upon a Midnight Clear ~ I Don’t Know How to Love Him ~ First Noel
~ Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire ~ God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ~ Angels We Have Heard on High ~ Little
Drummer Boy ~ Silent Night

James Kreger, cello, with: Bill Mays and Alex Rybeck, piano; Andrew Sterman, woodwinds; Sean Harkness, guitars;
Melanie Feld, oboe & English horn; William Galison, harmonica; Lynette Wardle, harp; Patrick Milando, French Horn;
Bill Hayes, percussion; Ned Paul Ginsburg, synthesizers & arrangements.
GMCD 7812
“This is a lovely collection of heartwarming, superb arrangements that is also a beautiful and unexpected way
to channel the talent of James Kreger.” Fanfare Magazine
www.jameskreger.com

www.guildmusic.com
over 50 years of excellence
GUILD MUSIC LIMITED, 36 Central Avenue, West Molesey, Surrey KT8 2QZ
CHRISTMAS RELEASES

Festive disc of the year: Apollo’s Fire bring a huge variation of mood, geography and style to Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain

It’s the most musical


time of the year
Andrew Mellor settles down to long winter evenings with a mixed bag of this year’s
Christmas albums, from the ultra-traditional to the exotically folksy

A
nother year, another lesson in how difficult it is to of innocent freshness and folkloric darkness will be playing on
make a Christmas record that satisfies a particular your mind until March. There’s your precociously clever niece
market and offers a warm seasonal embrace at the back from her studies at the Sorbonne, an endless source of
same time. Still, as this is the season of goodwill, knowledge but with a lot to learn about how to kick back during
I sincerely hope you’ll consider allowing one or more of these the holidays. There’s the visitor from Japan, full of expertise
Yuletide waifs and strays into your home this holiday season. and admiration for Western culture but with something lost in
You have plenty of choice. There’s the elbow-patched translation. And among the many more are those old regulars
academic who’ll lull you into a satisfied sleep after Christmas who might set your eyes rolling when you see them coming, but
lunch with tales of discrepancies in the surviving manuscripts when all’s said and done, help make Christmas Christmas.
of a well-known carol. There’s the local organist who genuinely One such guest is King’s College Choir, whose Festival of
believes he metamorphoses into the most risqué of entertainers Nine Lessons and Carols was first presented a century ago in
the moment he dons a paper hat. There’s the American 1918. The choir’s 100 Years of Nine Lessons & Carols
hippie-fiddler who’ll infuriate you on Christmas Eve but be takes previously unpublished broadcast material dating back
your new best friend by Boxing Day. There’s the Swede with to the David Willcocks regime and sets it alongside new
flowers in her hair and an affecting voice whose combination studio recordings on a separate disc. Given the centenary,

50 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHRISTMAS RELEASES

it would have been nice to hear some performances from and the ugly in Christmas with Sonoro. Some pieces here do
earlier than 1958, perhaps some under Boris Ord (as it is, we what carols should: Rutter (of course) and his Wexford Carol,
get just 70 years of carols and no lessons) but it’s interesting Spicer and his In a field as I lay, Beamish and her In the stillness
to chart the choir’s loosening-up under Philip Ledger and and all the arrangements by the disc’s organist Michael Higgins,
Stephen Cleobury. who tends to give us a well-known tune straight, subtly re-
In the latter’s time, text has come to play second fiddle to contextualised but with transformative results (but a black mark
musical phrase in notable contrast to the choir’s neighbours at for the myriad suspensions ladled on to Silent night). For all
St John’s; sometimes the choir’s tone curdles on a forte (Rütti’s those gems, efficiently sung, I wound up frustrated by the cheap
I wonder as I wander) and sometimes Cleobury’s tempos can be display, naff jazz-hands and faux harmonic depth infesting
ponderous (Gardner’s Tomorrow shall be my dancing day). Still, works by Malcolm Archer, Gareth Treseder, Stuart Nicholson
CD 1 contains some of Cleobury’s most inspired new and Becky McGlade while Warlock’s Bethlehem Down and
commissions (he initiated the annual practice) and includes big Howells’s A Spotless Rose seem like apologetic fillers (while doing
hymn-carols sung live with the communal heft and embrace of a those others no favours).
full congregation. No extraneous emotive buttons are pushed on A Vaughan
That is what big-hitters like O come all ye faithful need, but Williams Christmas, an earnest exploration of ‘Christmas as he
as observed in years past, we tend to get sterile recordings [RVW] saw and heard it’ which aims also to draw attention to
of overly perfect choirs singing the composer’s belief
such hymn-carols alone in April.
Which is precisely what comes
There’s the organist who genuinely believes that amateur
performance was the
our way from the adult choir he metamorphoses into the most risqué of bedrock of Christmas
of Gonville & Caius College, music-making. So it’s
Cambridge. It has assembled an entertainers the moment he dons a paper hat frustrating that we
academically and stylistically fertile again hear a clipped,
album in Cantique de Noël, which according to director clean professional choir alone in a empty church (even in
Geoffrey Webber ‘aims to capture some reflection of … French O Little Town) which is, apparently, precisely not what the
romantic fervour, highlighting an aspect of Christmas that is composer would have wanted to hear.
sometimes lost amidst the Anglo-Saxon tradition of Christmas All in all, it’s very sober fare for Christmas – dry even – but
trees and domestic bliss’. Mission accomplished, and I wish it is impossible to dismiss given its content (12 first recordings,
more high-end university choirs took such an academic though you’ll hear why the works aren’t in the repertoire), its
approach to their recording activities. neat performances from the Royal Hospital Chapel Choir and
But be warned: musicology does not a joyous festive album its thorough academic contextualisation. The austerity of Nine
make, and I felt frozen out in what might have been the rousing Carols for Male Voices can stop you in your tracks; it’s difficult to
finale, Adeste fideles (no danger of Anglo-Saxon bliss encroaching hear the Mummers’ Carol without considering the British troops
on Gounod’s austere and joyless arrangement). All in all, the for whom it was written, stationed in windswept Iceland during
disc lacks meat. Some of the repertoire sounds like French G&S the Second World War.
(not a compliment), some is frustratingly dry, but Saint-Saëns’s ‘A Vaughan Williams Christmas’ is a disc about Christmas,
Domine, ego credidi is worth hearing with Robert Humphries’s not for Christmas. The same might be said of The Sixteen’s
appropriately nasal tenor – a sign of how well the ensemble has A Renaissance Christmas, the weakest of the choir’s three
absorbed the Gallic style (the reedy organ of Exeter College, most recent seasonal offerings when judged as a festive product.
Oxford, helps). Notwithstanding Kirbye’s awesome Vox in Rama, it’s a long
The elephantine void in the room – the lack of wait through the brown rice of plainsong and austere polyphony
a congregation – is bypassed by the
girl choristers of Ely Cathedral,
who stick to anthem carols by
living composers and offer bright,
firm, well-supported but honest
singing that is frequently joyous
and only occasionally a little
strained. But if the singing
on An Ely Christmas isn’t affected,
the repertoire is – with plenty of
enforced jollity from choir (nobody
should have to hear Anglican
lay-clerks doo-wopping) and
organ and countless examples
of composers using both to
out-decorate and obscure
cherished tunes.
Which brings us once more to
the thorny issue of how to write
contemporary Christmas music,
with thanks to Sonoro for giving us
a smorgasbord of the good, the bad Style and individuality: the Juice Vocal Ensemble ofer a unique Christmas album

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 51


NEW RELEASE
ICA CLASSICS
presents

CELEBRATING THE YEAR IN NONESUCH MUSIC

JOHN ADAMS JOHN ADAMS


DOCTOR ATOMIC VIOLIN CONCERTO

LAURIE ANDERSON & THOMAS BARTLETT


KRONOS QUARTET & NICO MUHLY
LANDFALL PETER PEARS: BALINESE
CEREMONIAL MUSIC

JONNY GREENWOOD TIGRAN HAMASYAN


PHANTOM THREAD (ORIGINAL FOR GYUMRI
MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
ICAD 5155 (DVD)

PAUL TORTELIER AT THE BBC


In March 2014, the BBC drew from their archives a selection
of films to mark the centenary of Paul Tortelier, offering a
portrait of one of the truly great cellists. Tortelier was an artist
of the utmost probity, integrity and sincerity who lived through
BRAD MEHLDAU BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO
and witnessed almost an entire musical century. AFTER BACH SEYMOUR READS THE
CONSTITUTION!
Paul Tortelier at the BBC is here presented on DVD for the
first time. The accompanying booklet features a moving
tribute from Yan Pascal Tortelier to his father along with
photographs drawn from the family archives.

RELEASED
NOVEMBER 2018 JOSHUA REDMAN STEVE REICH
STILL DREAMING (FEAT. RON MILES, PULSE / QUARTET
SCOTT COLLEY & BRIAN BLADE)
www.prestoclassical.co.uk NONESUCH.COM
www.icaclassics.com
CHRISTMAS RELEASES

to the festive ‘Noels’ that cap Philips’s THE CHRISTMAS LIST Darkest Midnight from single-voice
O beatum et sacrosanctum diem (track 17 Your guide to the festive season’s recordings vocal ensemble Papagena returns to
of 19). Would I have been so roots, too, but here the feeling is of a
uninterested in the tender singing of 100 Years of Nine Lessons and Carols new age Christmas circa 1998 rather
The Sixteen in Tallis, Byrd, Eccard Choir of King’s College, Cambridge / Various than 1838 (yes, Gaudete! is included).
and Lassus if I hadn’t been waiting for King’s College, Cambridge Papagena pride themselves on lack
the ringing of jingle bells? Perhaps King’s College, Cambridge B b KGS0033 of amplification but the arid sound
not, but there’s a slight sense of some Cantique de Noël production on their recording is
works here rattled through, Guerrero’s Choir of Gonville & Caius College, anything but warm and embracing.
Pastores loquebantur among them. Cambridge / Geoffrey Webber There are some beautiful moments,
Perhaps they were: this is the only disc Delphian F DCD34197 Taverner’s A Nativity and the
of the batch actually recorded at An Ely Christmas traditional Es ist ein Ros among them,
Christmas. Girls and Lay Clerks of Ely Cathedral / but a lack of focus – Balulalow into Joni
Another top-drawer ensemble Sarah MacDonald Mitchell’s The River into Jingle
gifting us a Christmas let-down is the Regent M REGCD527 Bells – ultimately proves as frustrating
Bach Collegium Japan. A Christmas Christmas with Sonoro as that sterile studio sound.
Greeting starts out as a touching Sonoro / Neil Ferris Snow Queens, from another
meeting of Lutheran decency with Resonus F RES10226 female vocal ensemble, provides
Japanese order but quickly devolves copious lessons in how distillation
into something more syrupy and odd. A Vaughan Williams Christmas and discipline can be effective even in
Nobody told the performers, however, Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea / communal seasonal music. There is a
who approach the schmaltzy key Wiliam Vann real power to this Yuletide Winterreise
changes sprinkled through a series of Albion F ALBCD035 through bespoke new commissions
carol medleys as if they’re still singing A Renaissance Christmas and homespun arrangements, all from
Bach. The highlight is Masaaki The Sixteen / Harry Christophers musicians interested in progressing
Suzuki’s beautiful performance, at the Coro F COR16167 the language of Christmas music
organ, of numbers from Louis-Claude by unravelling its DNA rather than
Daquin’s Livre des Noëls pour l’orgue et A Christmas Greeting slathering it with dad-dancing rhythms
le clavecin. Scattered throughout a Bach Collegium Japan / Masaaki Suzuki and added-note harmonies. The
disorderly sequence, they quickly BIS F Í BIS2291 rhetoric of A Coventry Carol is turned
become islands of nourishment. on its head in Anna Snow’s questing,
There are other ways to reveal Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain cyclic arrangement; there is nothing
fresh musical truths in the context Apollo’s Fire contrived or predictable here and
of Christmas, and the determination Avie F AV2396 the results make for an unsettling,
of another early music group to do so beautiful, consistent and cleansing
has produced my vote for festive disc Darkest Midnight album sung with style and individuality
of the year. Christmas on Sugarloaf Papagena by Juice.
Mountain from Apollo’s Fire charts Somm Céleste F SOMM0189 Individuality is one word you
the passage of Scottish and Irish could append to the Swede Gunnar
immigrants to the Appalachian Snow Queens Idenstam, whose organ improvisations
Mountains in the 1830s. The Baroque Juice Vocal Ensemble occupy their own universe – part hard
music group gives us sounds we don’t Resonus F RES10224 apocalyptic rock, part elfin folklore,
often associate with Bethlehem but are part nave-shaking French symphony.
probably far closer to what was heard Folkjul II Folkjul II is a follow-up to 2007’s
there: zingy harps, reedy winds and Gunnar Idenstam ‘Folkjul’ (‘Folk Christmas’) but if you
plenteous modality. BIS F Í BIS2334 haven’t come across Idenstam’s exotic
At first it sounds like a try-hard art before, I’d heartily recommend his
jamboree. You quickly realise it is ‘Songs for Jukkasjärvi’ (BIS).
far more, built of extreme focus yet ‘Folkjul II’ trades that album’s
huge variation in mood, geography herding yoiks for chorales and carols,
and style – from Medieval to Soul, Somerset to Kentucky. It is similarly embedded in the Idenstam sound of folk flutes and
sung and played with an expertise that doesn’t trespass on fiddles, electronics and voices, all of which are egged on to
enjoyment and it draws you deeper and deeper in across its six spine-tingling climaxes by Idenstam’s capering, roaring organ
chapters. Jeannette Sorrell’s arrangements get to the point: (an acquired taste, I can hear some saying). Sandra Marteleur’s
I wonder as I wander is urgent in its whimsy; her Yorkshire Carol fiddle ariosos have a strange wonder, Ulrika Bodén’s vocal solos
has a tasteful brand of musical humour not often heard in are mesmeric, Idenstam’s touch on the organ is as funky as it is
seasonal music. For all the breathless rollicking and earnest majestic, Gary Graden’s St Jacobs Chamber Choir sounds
exploration, there are tears under the surface that highlight a full-bodied and bright. There are special moments and ground-
vital part of the Christmas story, enforced emigration and all. moving modulations around every corner. But it doesn’t dilute
The southern folk hymns Bright Morning Stars and the quiet the experience, nor the deep sense of mystery, that you often
finale The Parting Glass remind us that, sometimes, two know from the start of many a piece – as in the pregnant organ
beautiful voices entwined together and imbued with feeling are rumblings that open Frän himlens höjd – that an almighty climax
powerful enough. is in the pipeline. It is the journey to Christmas encapsulated.

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 53


RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Richard Wigmore is bowled over by Sabine Devieilhe and Lea Desandre, alongside
Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astrée, in an exquisite recording of Handel cantatas

Handel Fillide’s blissful final ‘Non si può dar un


‘Italian Cantatas’ cor’ morphed into a pastoral aria in the
Aminta e Fillide, HWV83a. Armida abbandonata, Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne.
HWV105b. La Lucrezia, HWV145c. Trio Sonata, Handel composed Aminta e Fillide for
Op 2 No 1 HWV386b two sopranos, one of whom was the young
ab
Sabine Devieilhe sop bcLea Desandre mez Margherita Durastanti, Ruspoli’s house
Le Concert d’Astrée / Emmanuelle Haïm hpd/org singer whose association with Handel
Erato F (two discs for the price of one) endured for over a quarter of a century –
9029 56336-2 (96’ • DDD • T/t) easily a record. Previous recordings of this
delectable work have likewise used a pair
The Arcadia evoked in Handel’s Italian of sopranos, notably Gillian Fisher and
cantatas can be a pretty cruel and cynical Patrizia Kwella in the recording directed
place, especially if you’re an amorous ‘They interact vividly by Denys Darlow (Hyperion, 12/84), and
swain. Time and again the assorted Tirsis, Nuria Rial and Grazia Schiavo with La
Filenos and Dalisos pine in vain for their in recitative, and in Risonanza (Glossa, 12/08). Even allowing
heartless Amarillis and Cloris. Aminta e for the inevitable lure of novelty, neither
Fillide – an unstaged miniature opera
their arias strike an of those versions quite matches the vocal
for two voices – is a rare case where the ideal balance between lustre and theatrical flair of this Erato
man gets lucky. Having determinedly recording, cast with a soprano and mezzo.
set herself against Cupid’s wiles, refinement and intensity’ Both singers have unblemished voices of
the shepherdess Fillide is
finally won over by the shepherd
Aminta’s sheer constancy. Here,
for once, Arcadia lives up to its
billing.
Heard here in the expanded
version Handel prepared for
performance in the Marquis
Ruspoli’s sumptuous gardens in
July 1708, Aminta e Fillide is one
of the most enticing, melodically
piquant works from his Italian
years. As with so many of his
Italian cantatas, Handel lovers
coming to Aminta e Fillide for
the first time are likely to have a
pleasurable sense of déjà entendu.
Never one to waste a good idea,
he was quick to recycle many
of the cantata’s arias, first
in his Venice opera Agrippina,
then in his early London works.
Aminta’s lament ‘Se vago rio’,
hovering hauntingly between
major and minor, became the
Sirens’ Song in Rinaldo, while Free-soaring: Sabine Devieilhe with Emmanuelle Haïm

54 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Left to right: Sabine Devieilhe, Lea Desandre and Emmanuelle Haïm

beautiful quality: Sabine Devieilhe, as with which they second Aminta’s avowal vibrato she movingly conveys a sense of
Aminta, pellucid and free-soaring, Lea of eternal fidelity in ‘A dispetto di sorte Lucretia’s ebbing life in the arioso ‘Già
Desandre with a dark flare in her high crudel’. Playing words as well as tones, nel seno’, before rousing herself for a
mezzo. They contrast more sharply than the crucial cello continuo is always acutely final savage denunciation of Tarquinius.
their counterparts on the rival recordings, alive to singers and text. Reviewers are paid partly to look for
yet blend exquisitely in the final duet in Moving from pastoral to tragedy, each trouble. There simply isn’t any, in a disc
praise of compassion and fidelity. singer gets her own, searing solo cantata, that even amid fierce competition is a
From Aminta’s increasingly desperate plea separated by a light-footed performance of Handelian winner. Richard Wigmore
to the fleeing Fillide, ‘Fermati, non fuggir’, Handel’s B minor Trio Sonata that stresses
Devieilhe and Desandre trace a riveting the vocal nature of its inspiration. With
emotional journey, capturing every nuance her limpid timbre and grace of line and KEY TO SYMBOLS
in music and poetry without exaggeration or ornament, Sabine Devieilhe touchingly
F £10 and over D Download only
gratuitous ‘effects’. They interact vividly in embodies the abandoned Armida’s
M £7.76 to £9.99 3 Reissue
recitative, and in their arias strike an ideal vulnerability and pathos. Her sublime
B £6.25 to £7.75 1 Historic
balance between refinement and dramatic final siciliano emerges as a true catharsis,
S £6.24 and below T Text(s) included
intensity. A shift of sentiment in the with solo violin as an agent of consolation.
(price per disc) t translation(s)
‘B’ section of an aria is always a cue for a Less predictably, perhaps, Devieilhe
b Compact disc included
new vocal colour, while in the da capos both summons the Furies with vehement attack
(number of discs S Synopsis included
singers use ornamentation to heighten the and a cutting edge to her tone, abetted by
in set) s subtitles included
expression rather than merely for display. seething, scything strings.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R I A N N E R O S E N S T I E H L

Í SACD (Super nla no longer available


Outstanding in a succession of vocal With a comparably brilliant coloratura
Audio CD) aas all available
highlights are Desandre’s capricious ‘Fu technique, Lea Desandre is just as thrilling
◊ DVD Video separately
scherzo, fu gioco’ as she blithely denounces in Handel’s more flamboyant invocation
Y Blu-ray oas only available
Cupid, and Devieilhe’s unearthly floated to the Furies in the continuo-accompanied
6 LP separately
line in ‘Se vago rio’. La Lucrezia, most violent and dissonant
All the while the players of Le Concert of all his Italian cantatas. In symbiotic Editor’s Choice
d’Astrée, under Emmanuelle Haïm’s partnership with Atsushi Sakaï’s cello, she Martin Cullingford’s pick of the
animating direction, are far more than spins a pure and eloquent line in her two finest recordings reviewed in
mere accompanists, not least in the gusto grieving arias; and with subtle control of this issue

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 55


Orchestral
Edward Seckerson hears Gergiev’s David Fanning gets to grips with
take on Stravinsky’s Petrushka: a pair of new Weinberg discs:
‘Gergiev is so mindful of the music’s folksy ‘The symphony is so abrasive, so unremittingly
roots that the whole has an immediacy that dark and so uncompromising that austere barely
is highly distinctive’ REVIEW ON PAGE 67 begins to describe it’ REVIEW ON PAGE 69

Beethoven the music as a conversation with the Trio as a high-minded dirge. (‘An old
Piano Concertos – No 4, Op 58; orchestra, rather than an endless flowing pilgrims’ hymn’, as the sleeve notes of
No 5, ‘Emperor’, Op 73 melody. There’s some wonderfully yesteryear used to inform us.) Toscanini
Nicholas Angelich pf characterful horn-playing too. And the put that right in the still unsurpassed
Insula Orchestra / Laurence Equilbey piano again shows its flexibility: the slow- recording he made with the New York
Erato F 9029 56341-7 (74’ • DDD) movement trills possess clarity without Philharmonic-Symphony only weeks after
harshness, while the concerto’s more Weingartner’s own sessions in Vienna in
overtly dramatic moments, such as the March 1936.
opening of the first and last movements, Still, with a slightly smaller orchestra
This new account of never sound underpowered. In the first, than Weingartner’s 1930s Vienna
Beethoven’s last two I like the way Equilbey keeps things lean Philharmonic, and an even more exacting
piano concertos finds and flowing, underpinned by characterful delineation of rhythm, accent and phrase-
Nicholas Angelich in timpani. Only at times in the finale did shape, Jordan’s reading marries forward
the company of Laurence Equilbey’s I want something more overtly joyous motion and unforced articulacy in similar
period-instrument Insula Orchestra. After from Angelich, though again Equilbey measure. The principal strength of his
my recent disappointing encounter with coaxes plenty of energy from the orchestra, reading is the skill with which the
the Fourth Concerto in the hands of Leeds achieving a real one-in-a-bar feel. symphony’s metric jigsaws are clarified
winner Eric Lu, it was a relief to be in the Harriet Smith and purveyed by an orchestra whose
company of altogether more compelling Selected comparison – coupled as above: sound has been sharpened, much as an
music-making. Levin, ORR, Gardiner old scythe might be sharpened after being
From the off, the benefits of the piano – (12/96R) (ARCH) D 459 622-2AH4 newly put to the whetstone. All of which
an 1892 Pleyel – are apparent: it has the makes for an essentially ‘classical’ reading
softness to blend naturally with the Beethoven of the symphony, not least in the finale,
ensemble but the projection to make an Symphonies – No 2, Op 36; No 7, Op 92 which neither seeks nor wins a Wagner-
impact in Beethoven’s more extrovert Vienna Symphony Orchestra / Philippe Jordan style apotheosis.
writing. Levin’s fortepianos for his Solo Musica Wiener Symphoniker F WS015 It could be argued that so classical a
groundbreaking 1990s cycle with (72’ • DDD) reading neglects to register the gathering
Gardiner are altogether different in effect, Recorded live at the Goldener Saal, Musikverein, scale of the work. Both Weingartner and
the Paul McNulty copy of a Walter & Vienna, April 21 & 23, 2017 Toscanini eschew slowness in the Allegretto.
Sohn instrument sounding almost overly Their pulse is swift, yet not so swift as to
timid in the Fourth. hurry by the emotional peaks to which this
In the Fourth’s opening Allegro moderato, imposing ghost of a funeral march
Equilbey’s tuttis are every bit as beguiling I’m not entirely occasionally rises.
as the passages with soloist and Angelich sure why the name Equally, some may find the orchestral
imbues the more filigree writing with a of the great early sound rather too lean in moments such
lovely elegance (from 3'50" or 9'37"). If he 20th-century as the tumultuous approach to the first
doesn’t quite attain the sublime heights of, Beethoven conductor Felix Weingartner movement’s close, where the dissonant
say, Gilels and Andsnes, it’s nevertheless an came to mind as I listened to Philippe bass line rather lacks weight; or in the
account full of character, and finely paced. Jordan’s new recording of Beethoven’s swording of the first and second violins
The drama of the slow movement is vividly Seventh Symphony. Perhaps it was the in the symphony’s closing pages. (Excellent
drawn, the piano initially sounding admirably no-nonsense shaping of the as the Musikverein recording is, might not
positively beseeching against a no-nonsense symphony, with its steadily presented the strings benefit from a touch more
orchestra. In the finale, though, I could first movement and a gradual increase in ‘presence’ when the Pastoral and Eighth
have done with a degree more glee from locomotive power thereafter. Or perhaps Symphonies are recorded next spring?)
Angelich, though the interplay between it was that here – in the late Peter Stadlen’s The booklet essay quotes Jordan as
piano and orchestra has an effective phrase about Weingartner – is Beethoven seeing the more melodious Second
inevitability about it. that has about it the quality of ‘good Symphony as being complementary to
The pared-down vibrato-light strings lean beef’. the Seventh. I would tend to see it more as
of the Insula are a particular asset in the There are differences, of course, a forebear than a complement. Whatever
opening bars of the Fifth’s slow movement, principally the modern conductor’s the case, Jordan gives a superb account of
and Angelich responds in kind – phrasing disinclination to play the third-movement the piece: rhythmically vital yet showing

56 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Innate sense of drama: Teodor Currentzis and Musica Aeterna bring hair-raising conviction to Mahler’s Sixth Symphony – see review on page 64

sufficient regard for the old cantabile style soprano and orchestra. The scenario of a Recommended for the Rihm, among
to allow the music to sweep by with a woman entering the cage (the enclosure the most impressive of his recent works.
flower in its buttonhole. Richard Osborne of the title) of a golden eagle at a Berlin Both sound and notes leave little to be
Symphony No 7 – selected comparisons: zoo, there attempting intimacy with it desired, but might Capriccio put an
VPO, Weingartner (5/36R) (NAXO) 8 110862 before humiliating and dismembering it, is English translation on its website?
NYPO, Toscanini (12/36R) (NAXO) 8 110840 intended as a provocation in the aftermath Richard Whitehouse
of German reunification. Rihm responded
Beintus . Rihm with this 36-minute monodrama whose Berio . Boulez . Ravel
Beintus Le petit prince – Concert Suitea exacting soprano part, against an intricate Berio Sinfoniaa Boulez Notations I-IVb
Rihm Das Gehegeb and stylistically wide-ranging orchestral Ravel La valsec
b
Rayanne Dupuis sop aEva-Christina contribution, has parallels with a
Roomful of Teeth; Seattle Symphony
Schönweiss vn aKirsten Ecke hp Deutsches Schoenberg’s Erwartung of almost a Orchestra / Ludovic Morlot
Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Kent Nagano century before. If the later work lacks such Seattle Symphony Media F SSM1018 (58’ • DDD)
Capriccio F C5337 (54’ • DDD • T) mesmeric intensity, its emotive power is Recorded live at Benaroya Hall, Seattle,
Recorded 2011 scarcely in doubt, not least when Rayanne b
November 7 & 9, 2013; cFebruary 5, 7 & 8, 2015;
Dupuis projects the vocal line with a
February 4 & 6, 2016
unfailing commitment.
A pity that a more fitting coupling was
Kent Nagano’s not provided. Encouraged by Nagano while
absence from the UK a double-bassist at the Lyon Opéra, Jean- In the documentary
for two decades has Pascal Beintus has since enjoyed success
P H O T O G R A P H Y: A L E X A N D R A M U R AV I O VA

Voyage to Cythera,
been to others’ on both sides of the Atlantic mainly with Berio makes it clear
benefit – not least the Bavarian State his film scores. Taken from a production that the many musical
Opera, where he began his tenure with of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le petit references in the third movement of
a commission from Wolfgang Rihm. prince, this concert suite depicts incidents Sinfonia are meant in ‘a very light, ironical
Premiered as the first half of a double-bill from the story over 10 brief movements way’. And that’s how they come across in
with Strauss’s Salome, Das Gehege (2005) whose technical finesse cannot disguise the composer’s own recording of the
turns the final scene of Botho Strauss’s their stylistic derivativeness or paucity original four-movement version, made a
play Schlusschor into a ‘nocturnal scene’ for of invention. few days after the New York premiere in

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 57


S I M O N R AT T LE ’ S FA R E W E LL
W I T H M A H LE R ’ S S I XT H
The end of an era and a musical highlight: Simon Rattle’s farewell as chief conductor of the
Berliner Philharmoniker with Gustav Mahler’s stunning Sixth Symphony was rewarded by
the audience with a standing ovation. In this lavishly produced edition, you can relive this
special moment in sound and images. It also includes a recording of Sir Simon’s 1987 debut
with the Philharmoniker with the same work, a documentary about his 16-year tenure, and a
comprehensive accompanying book.

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Financial Times

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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

1968. No subsequent account has matched Bernstein (from Luciano Berio to William Schuman
its darkly humorous, Beckett-like bite – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – Suite via Leon Kirchner, Jacob Druckman, Lukas
including the performance Berio conducted (arr Harmon). CBS Music. On the Town – Times Foss, John Corigliano, John Williams and
at the Concertgebouw in 1997 (included in Square Ballet. Slava! A Political Overture. West Tōru Takemitsu) pay disparate tribute to
Vol 6 of the RCO’s massive Anthology – Side Story – Mambo. A Bernstein Birthday their colleague on the occasion of his 70th
RCO Live, 11/11). Bouquet (eight variations on ‘New York, New birthday. There’s more to the set than
There’s not much lightness or York’ from On the Town by Berio, Corigliano, mere quotation-spotting.
humour in Ludovic Morlot’s performance Druckman, Foss, Kirchner, Schuman, Takemitsu The second disc kicks off with a frisky
of the third movement, either, but it is and Williams) account of the Candide Overture. Given
wondrously psychedelic, the orchestral São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop without ‘Big Stuff’, its introductory
colours oversaturated and almost glaringly Naxos American Classics M 8 559813 (54’ • DDD) vocal number, Fancy Free is at times less
bright. He’s aided in this by the closely rhythmically insistent than usual but comes
miked recording, which puts the teeming Bernstein off wonderfully well on its own terms.
score right in your face. Note the groovy Anniversaries. Candide – Overture. What might the composer have made of
electric harpsichord popping out of Fancy Free. Wonderful Town – Overture Garth Edwin Sunderland’s orchestrations
the texture, and, in general, how this São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop of a selection of his intimate Anniversaries?
enhanced level of detail reveals Sinfonia’s Naxos American Classics M 8 559814 (52’ • DDD) Sunderland avoids obvious overlaps –
craftsmanship. You can really hear how Bernstein’s piano miniatures tended to
ingeniously Berio weaves the Sacre pop up again within bigger, more public
quotation into the fabric, for example scores – at least until his gentle Haydn-
(starting at 3'05"). I also like the ardent, aping farewell. The tune is shared with
youthful idealism tenor Eric Dudley the hummed finale of Bernstein’s Arias
brings to his spoken part, as it’s so and Barcarolles of which there are already
evocative of the late ’60s. Throughout multiple editions. The playing is good,
Sinfonia, in fact, the vocal ensemble Those disinclined to acquire Marin Alsop’s notwithstanding some strain in the high-
Roomful of Teeth are superb: pure-toned, Bernstein edition in boxed form, handsome lying writing of the previous number.
rhythmically vital and right at home in the though it is, will welcome the release of We end with a fleshed-out revamp of the
music’s inherent theatricality. these hitherto unavailable component discs. preamble to Wonderful Town. Alsop swings
To be clear, the lucidity in this The orchestra is the São Paulo Symphony, gently, perhaps doubtful that a raucous
performance is not simply due to where Alsop remains at the helm for workout would enhance the charm of her
the miking; Morlot is, as always, a another year. Touching photographic iconoclastic idol’s most conformist piece
punctilious conductor. Listen, say, to the reminders of her association with the of music theatre. David Gutman
jittery precision with which the brass and ageing composer-conductor adorn each
piano volley starting at 1'05" in the fifth collection. Neither CD is especially well Copland
movement. And, in fact, in Morlot’s filled but both contain a high quota of ‘Orchestral Works, Vol 4’
hands, the entire finale becomes a study rarities. Where comparisons exist, Alsop Symphony No 3. Connotations.
in texture, the cumulative effect subtly is neater than the man himself. She Down a Country Lane. Letter from Home
shifting the work’s centre of gravity knows how to swing but never over- BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / John Wilson
away from the third movement to eggs the pudding. Chandos F Í CHSA5222 (66’ • DDD/DSD)
provide a riveting and immensely On the first disc, West Side Story’s
satisfying conclusion. ‘Mambo’ and a shard from On the Town
Boulez’s Notations are similarly acquire unfamiliar concluding flourishes.
articulate, and presented here in sound Bernstein’s problematic ‘political’ musical, Whether or not
that’s far more naturally balanced. The 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is sampled in a Copland’s Third is
third of the set is as atmospherically and lopsided suite by Charlie Harmon which ‘The Great American
creepily nocturnal as it should be, for includes ‘Take Care of This [White] Symphony’, it’s
instance, yet so finely grained it’s as if House’ (more resonant than ever these definitely a tough nut to crack. Even
we’re hearing with the aural equivalent days) yet excludes ‘Seena’, the show’s other Leonard Slatkin, whose RCA account
of night vision goggles. I wish the second lyrical highlight. Slava!, Bernstein’s own provided a persuasively lyrical alternative
(played last here) had more of the stridency offcut, is here. Dedicated to Mstislav to the tough resilience of Bernstein’s
Boulez asks for – Abbado with the Vienna Rostropovich, this ‘political’ overture of benchmark recordings, couldn’t maintain
Philharmonic (DG, 4/90) gets it exactly 1977 reflects the cellist turned conductor’s a consistent grip in his lumbering remake
(and thrillingly) right – but it’s extremely involvement with domestic rather than for Naxos. John Wilson isn’t anywhere
well played nonetheless. Soviet politics as incoming director of near as leisurely as Slatkin but his
I have no cavils at all with Morlot’s the National Symphony Orchestra of performance is similarly lacking in urgency
dark vision of La valse, however. That Washington DC. Alsop retains the and grit. In fact, Wilson’s tempos tend to
there’s very little Viennese schmaltz electric guitar which introduces the be faster than Bernstein’s, hewing closer to
is refreshing, his rubato is generally second theme, doubling sax, and includes Copland’s own in his 1958 LSO recording
reined-in yet flexible, and he holds the its taped element of cliché-ridden political for Everest.
brass in check until 10'45", when he wrangling. If this is not really top-drawer Sonically, the Chandos recording
finally lets loose to powerful effect – Bernstein, CBS Music is one for the has enormous impact. The bass drum
an explosive end to an action-packed diehards, generic background stuff for packs a wallop and the atmospheric
and rewarding programme. TV. Of more interest is A Bernstein clarity in delicate passages is dazzling –
Andrew Farach-Colton Birthday Bouquet. Eight composers listen at 5'20" in the central part of the

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 59


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

scherzo-like second movement. But the admitted he found the choreography The Grenada Jeux is more relaxed than
interpretation itself is too soft-grained and ‘grotesque’, but refrained from public its Parisian counterpart, and the playing
often oddly tentative. Why are the music’s comment as negotiations with Diaghilev is, if anything, even more subtly refined.
seams so audibly exposed in the opening for Jeux were already under way. He Nocturnes, in contrast, has greater urgency,
of that second movement, for example, and apparently considered the ambivalent particularly in ‘Sirènes’, which is altogether
where’s the molto espressivo in the violins’ ménage à trois scenario for the latter ‘idiotic darker and more turbulent in mood on
aching line at 6'38" in the first? The violins and unmusical’, and only agreed to begin DVD than on disc. It’s a wonderful issue
don’t sound secure in the high-lying composition when Diaghilev doubled his and another outstanding addition to
passage that opens the third movement, fee. Once again he objected to Nijinsky’s Harmonia Mundi’s excellent series.
either, nor do they attack the vigoroso choreography, deeming it ‘hideous’, Tim Ashley
passage at 6'02" with sufficient verve. though the score, composed at breakneck
Wilson and the orchestra are far more speed in the summer of 1912, ranks among Debussy . Ligeti . R Strauss
successful in Connotations, one of Copland’s his greatest. Debussy Jeux Ligeti Melodien
gnarliest works, composed for the opening Both works are essentially about desire, R Strauss Schlagobers – Suite, Op 70a
of Philharmonic (now David Geffen) Hall and their sensuality is heightened here not Suisse Romande Orchestra / Jonathan Nott
at New York’s Lincoln Center in 1962. only by their juxtaposition but by the dark Pentatone F Í PTC5186 721 (73’ • DDD/DSD)
Here, there’s urgency and rhythmic vitality warmth of Les Siècles’ period-instrument
in abundance, yet the interpretation as sound and the restrained intensity of
a whole is more refined and varied than Roth’s interpretations. Played by Marion
Bernstein’s (available to download – Sony, Ralincourt on a 1900 Lot flute, the opening In 1941 Richard
8/73). I find deep sadness in the searching of Faune sounds very sultry, even husky, Strauss devised
passage at 3'11", dewy idealism at 11'10" and the performance becomes really five suggested
and even a hint of real tragedy at 15'50". suggestive later on as the flutes sigh and ‘Programmes of
Some parts do still seem to meander, moan over the principal string melody, my works’. Among them was a ‘light
but I believe that’s the composer’s fault, before dying languidly away. So much has programme’ that included the Schlagobers
and Wilson’s performance is the most been written about the complex modernity Suite alongside such works as the
compelling and imaginative we’ve had yet. of Jeux, meanwhile, that we tend to Schweigsame Frau Potpourri and Till
The two miniatures arranged for forget how closely Debussy adhered to Eulenspiegel. One wonders what he’d
chamber orchestra – Letter from Home Diaghilev’s request that the score should have made, then, of this programme
(1944), originally composed for Paul be in essence a scherzo-cum-waltz. dreamt up by Jonathan Nott. The
Whiteman’s band, and Down a Country Roth conducts it with an appealing lilt, booklet note cleverly identities certain
Lane (1962), originally for piano – are immaculately judging its ebb and flow ‘elective affinities’ between Strauss’s score
attractive in a homespun way, and played while remaining all the while alert to its and the works by Debussy and Ligeti, but
here with poise and affection. constant changes in tempo. The sudden it’s a shame we don’t get to hear the
Andrew Farach-Colton jolts out of triple time, suggesting the girls’ conductor’s own reasoning.
Symphony No 3 – selected comparisons: jealous rivalry for the boy, are barbed and Either way, one can only welcome a
New York PO, Bernstein (11/86) (DG) D 419 170-2GH witty, and there’s a real surge of passion at new recording of the Suite from what must
St Louis SO, Slatkin (2/91) (RCA) D RD60149 the climactic three-way embrace, marked be Strauss’s most maligned major work –
Detroit SO, Slatkin (8/17) (NAXO) 8 559844 ‘violent’ in the score. a misguided 1924 ballet about frivolity and
New York PO, Bernstein (SONY) D SMK63155 It’s a wonderfully persuasive excess that a Vienna brought to its knees by
LSO, Copland (EVER) EVERCD002 performance, as is Roth’s account of hyperinflation found difficult to stomach.
Nocturnes that follows it. ‘Nuages’, with its It’s certainly not top-drawer music but
Debussy mournful cor anglais and drifting textures, shows Strauss in fluent, reasonably effective
Jeux. Marche écossaise sur un thème sounds very disconsolate here. ‘Fêtes’, all form. And this new, clear and light-footed
populaire (DVD only). Nocturnesa. garish brilliance and light, is played with recording helps to hide its excesses, with
Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune terrific agility. ‘Sirènes’, meanwhile, is Nott (and Pentatone’s engineers)
a
Les Cris de Paris; Les Siècles / exceptionally beautiful, even serene, in its preventing the work’s arteries from
François-Xavier Roth warmth and depth, and the women’s voices clogging up. There’s outstanding solo
Harmonia Mundi F (CD + ◊) HMM90 5291 from Les Cris de Paris are exquisitely work, not least from the flute in the ‘Dance
(51’ • DDD) integrated into the textures rather than of the Tea Leaves’, and Nott’s players
seeming detached, as is sometimes the case. make light work of the not inconsiderable
The recording, made in the Philharmonie challenges of the ‘Leaping Dance’ that
de Paris in January, is finely engineered, follows the ‘Dance of the Small Pralines’ –
Released as part of though the close miking of Ralincourt in such movement titles give an idea of the
Harmonia Mundi’s Faune captures some in-breaths and slightness of Strauss’s own scenario.
Debussy centenary occasional key clatter. In general it’s better played and recorded
series, this superb disc The disc comes with a tremendous bonus than Neeme Järvi’s Detroit recording
from François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles DVD, co-produced by France Télévisions (Chandos, 9/98), and more refined, if
also to some extent continues Roth’s and Radio Nacional de España, of Roth perhaps less theatrical, than Karl Anton
exploration of music associated with and Les Siècles in concert during this year’s Rickenbacher’s account with the Bamberg
Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Nijinsky’s International Festival of Music and Dance Symphony (Koch Schwann, 12/01; Järvi
notorious L’après-midi d’un faune (‘Prélude’ in Grenada. The programme is much the includes an ‘Introduction’, incidentally,
is omitted from the ballet’s title) was first same, though Faune has been replaced by that is missing from both other recordings).
seen in May 1912. Debussy privately the Marche écossaise sur un thème populaire. This new account also has the advantage –

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 61


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

to me, anyway – of placing the work within there’s an enjoyable tingle to the way composed for wind band, this full-
an unexpected context, which forces one to Hemsing points the finale’s furiant orchestral expansion – made for this
hear the music a little differently. And the rhythms. A polished and confident recording – is one of the composer’s most
couplings are also beautifully performed. performance. But now consider that vivid creations. With terrific sound and
The Debussy – a work set to a scenario Christian Tetzlaff has recently recorded performances (expertly directed by
every bit as frivolous as Strauss’s – is this same basic coupling and … well, you Christoph-Mathias Mueller), this is very
beautifully unrushed and clear. The see the problem. Richard Bratby strongly recommended. Guy Rickards
Ligeti is expert, authoritative and properly Dvo∑ák – selected comparison:
disquieting – as one would expect from a Tetzlaff, Helsinki PO, Storgårds Ireland
conductor with a track record like Nott’s. (3/16) (ONDI) ODE1279-5 A Downland Suite. Julius Caesar.
A fascinating, surprising and revealing The Overlanders
programme. Hugo Shirley Hesketh Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Martin Yates
In ictu oculi. Knotted Tongues. Dutton Epoch F Í CDLX7353 (80’ • DDD/DSD)
Dvořák . Suk Of Time and Disillusionment
Dvořák Violin Concerto, Op 53 B96 Suk Fantasy, BBC National Orchestra of Wales /
Op 24. Liebeslied, Op 7 No 1 (arr Koncz) Christoph-Mathias Mueller
Eldbjørg Hemsing vn Antwerp Symphony Paladino F PMR0092 (55’ • DDD) Written as a test
Orchestra / Alan Buribayev piece for the 1932
BIS F Í BIS2246 (63’ • DDD/DSD) National Brass Band
Championships of
Kenneth Hesketh Great Britain, John Ireland’s A Downland
(b1968) is one of Suite remains one of his most delightfully
Try this disc in reverse Britain’s finest melodious and big-hearted creations,
order. Stephan Koncz composers and (at the boasting a particularly glorious slow
has arranged Josef Royal College of Music) teachers. His 50th movement (Elegy) whose memorable main
Suk’s Liebeslied for birthday was not exactly celebrated to the theme returns in stirring fashion towards
violin and orchestra, and it’s a seductive rafters but this beautifully played and the work’s close. Nine years later, Ireland
introduction to the disc’s strengths: produced collection of three of his most adapted the Elegy and third-movement
spotlighting the gleaming, high-calorie recent orchestral works from the Minuet for string orchestra; and, in 1978,
tone and expressive phrasing of the young BBC National Orchestra of Wales goes the composer’s pupil, Geoffrey Bush,
Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing some way in making amends. Together, completed his arrangement of all four
against swathes of deep orchestral velvet they give a very cogent view of Hesketh’s movements. Now Martin Yates is the first
from the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra stature as a composer, his current to transcribe the work for full symphony
under Alan Buribayev. This is Hemsing’s expressive concerns and the sheer vivacity orchestra. A decent job he’s made of it,
second CD; and while David Gutman, of his orchestral writing. too, though the dollops of side drum and
reviewing the first (5/18), didn’t feel that The works are presented in cymbal in the Prelude and Rondo finale
her sound was quite right for Shostakovich, chronological sequence, opening with (following the example of Ireland’s original
he conceded that it was ‘ideally suited to Knotted Tongues (2012, rev 2014), originally instrumentation) may strike some (myself
big-hearted Romantic fare’. written for Gramophone’s Orchestra of the included) as a bit too much of a good thing.
Well, here it is, and if that Liebeslied Year, the Seattle Symphony. A tight-knit, In September 1942 Ireland was given just
doesn’t go straight on to Classic FM’s fast-moving fantasia, its title derives from 10 days to come up with some incidental
late-night rotation, I don’t know what Benson Bobrick’s book on the history of music for a BBC radio production of
will. Next, try Suk’s splendid G minor stammering, and sufferers’ fear of ‘the Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, a task he found
Fantasy, a single-movement concerto by anticipation of the glottal catastrophe’. far from congenial. Graham Parlett has
any other name. Buribayev launches it The music’s vigorous, hard-hitting gone back to the fragments housed in the
in swashbuckling style amid a spray of momentum also relates to the composer’s British Library but – despite the skill with
cymbals and triangle. Hemsing matches longstanding fascination with the notion which Ireland deploys his limited forces as
him with a big, exuberant, heart-on-sleeve of the ‘unreliable machine’ and the well as some occasional flashes of sparky
performance in which the fact that the implications of malfunction – a invention in, say, the Overture, ‘Lupercalia
recording places her unavoidably front mechanical stammer, perhaps. Music’ and concluding ‘Funeral Music’ –
and centre – and the slight muzziness Not that Hesketh’s music stammers or not even his formidable editorial skills
of the orchestral sound that comes as breaks down, however. The innate fluency can make it seem anything other than a
a consequence of that – is offset by that all his scores feature is showcased frustratingly bitty sequence.
the ebullience and tautness of the particularly strongly in the five-movement Happily, The Overlanders is an entirely
overall reading. chamber-orchestral suite Of Time and different proposition. Parlett’s magnificent
So that’s basically what you’re getting Disillusionment (2016). For those unfamiliar restoration of Ireland’s 1946 film score in
here: big, upfront readings with undeniably with Hesketh’s music, this unusually its entirety excitingly complements Charles
attractive solo playing supported by compelling musical fabric may be the place Mackerras’s five-movement concert suite
extrovert conducting and an orchestra to start, at its heart an enchanting evocation and Geoffrey Bush’s effective reworking of
which, while responsive, is very much a of a petite sonnerie. The concern with time material published as Two Symphonic Studies
secondary part of the sonic picture. Now and its passing recurs in In ictu oculi (‘In the (both were recorded by Boult and the LPO
apply that over the 32 minutes of Dvo∑ák’s blink of an eye’; 2017), a set of three for Lyrita, 5/07 and 6/07). Aficionados will
Concerto. It sounds fine; the spirit of meditations (separated by two brief enjoy spotting various thematic and stylistic
everyone present is certainly willing, and interludes, entitled ‘Stele’). Originally fingerprints: the plaintive cor anglais tune

62 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFTS

SWAN LAKE
State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia
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Vladimir Jurowski

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Scenes from Norma, Il Pirata,Anna Bolena,


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This album combines Marina Rebeka’s thrilling singing,


dramatic Bel Canto music based on original manuscripts,
and Jader Bignamini’s nuanced conducting of the Teatro
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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

in ‘Departure of Ship’ – the sole cue in usually associated with importing the between them in matters of pacing –
the composer’s own hand – harks back to French style into German-speaking lands, always fleeter and tauter in Munich than
the haunting 1930 Legend for piano and the 1682 publication from which Kusser’s Amsterdam – if ultimately insignificant
orchestra; and the gorgeous ‘Love Theme’ suites ‘suivant la méthode françoise’ come ones, Jansons not being the sort of
emerges as a close cousin to the lyrical precedes Muffat’s Florilegium collection conductor susceptible to 90-degree
second subject in the Prelude of by 13 years. swerves in approach.
A Downland Suite. Elsewhere there’s Here, then, are six suites, each with Conditioned perhaps as much by the
plenty of satisfyingly gritty and muscular an overture and around eight to ten notoriously unfavourable Gasteig acoustic
inspiration, not to mention a pleasing sense movements, and sounding as French as as by the collective character of the
of spectacle, in ‘Mountain Crossing’ and French can be. The dances range from the ensemble, this is a vividly miked Mahler
‘Water Stampede’ (superbly roistering courantes, sarabandes, gavottes, bourrées, Second, immaculately stage-managed and
horns). It’s fascinating, too, to read in chaconnes, menuets and gigues you might meticulously filled with local colour, also
Parlett’s copious annotation that both expect to some older styles such as the one that doesn’t come close to painting the
‘Catching the Brumbies’ and ‘Breaking the branle and galliard, and are delightful. symphony’s bigger picture. The numb but
Brumbies’ were in fact orchestrated by Alan The performances, by a partnership of not impassive conclusion to the first
Rawsthorne, and that Roy Douglas assisted Musica Aeterna Bratislava from Slovakia movement’s funeral rites, the Andante
Ernest Irving (conductor of the original and Les Menus Plaisirs from France, are infused with a warm and Haydnesque spirit
soundtrack with the Philharmonia) in elegant and stylish, and they know how of affection, even the wild outbursts that
the scoring of ‘Night Stampede’. to dance. If they do not pound with the precede the flautist’s ‘Bird of Death’ solo
Enthusiastic performances from energy that Baroque orchestras like to in the finale: these are moments where
the RSNO under Martin Yates’s baton, today, they are none the worse for it. you can almost hear Jansons throw some
vividly captured in turn by the Dutton Thanks, Christophorus, for rescuing caution to the winds.
microphones. Fans of the composer and them. Lindsay Kemp Cracked into action by sharply tuned
film-music buffs alike needn’t hold back. timpani, the opening of the Scherzo
Andrew Achenbach Mahler promises a reading of satirical bite and
Symphony No 2, ‘Resurrection’ louring phantasmagoria that never fully
Kusser 3 Anja Harteros sop Bernarda Fink contr materialises despite a nicely pointed turn
Six French Overtures Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony from the first oboe, some Semitically
Musica Aeterna Bratislava; Les Menus Plaisirs / Orchestra / Mariss Jansons swung trumpet solos and a clarinet solo
Peter Zajicek BR-Klassik F 900167 (81’ • DDD) poised halfway between village inn and
Christophorus F CHR77429 (78’ • DDD) Recorded live at the Philharmonie im Gasteig, concert hall. Grotesque isn’t a word in
Recorded 1993, from K617 K617032 Munich, May 13-15, 2011 Jansons’s expressive vocabulary. Among
modern Mahlerians there’s much more at
stake in live recordings masterminded by
Vladimir Jurowski (LPO Live, 8/11) and
Lovers of obscure Invited to Copenhagen David Zinman (in the Zurich Tonhalle’s
but worthwhile to receive the annual anniversary box – Sony, 8/18). Anja
Baroque music roll Léonie Sonning Music Harteros is both glorious and gloriously
up! That is, unless Prize in March 2018, secure at the long-awaited or at least
you bought this disc when it first came Mariss Jansons gave a celebration concert intended point of spiritual uplift. Whether
out on the K617 label 25 years ago. of the Resurrection Symphony with the sung or played, the words are all there.
Gramophone didn’t review it that time Royal Danish Orchestra (the last conductor But the accent, if there is one at all, is
round, so it’s good to get this chance to so honoured was Simon Rattle in 2013, and not Mahler’s. Peter Quantrill
welcome it back. Born in Pressburg he chose the Inextinguishable of Nielsen).
(today’s Bratislava) in 1660, Johann It’s a work evidently dear to his heart, as it Mahler
Sigismund Kusser moved with his family to might be to anyone who has come as close Symphony No 6
Stuttgart in his teens, and may have spent to death as Jansons did in 1996, though the MusicAeterna / Teodor Currentzis
some time in Paris (there’s no actual proof) first of his three recordings was made in Sony Classical F 19075 82295-2 (84’ • DDD)
before working in Brunswick, Hamburg, 1989 (Chandos, 8/90), right in the middle
Nuremberg, Augsburg, Stuttgart again of his Oslo tenure, and even back then
and finally Dublin, where he died in 1721. Edward Seckerson found cause to complain
The Paris connection is important, as is of a calculated restraint that has continued Anyone who
the number of places he worked, for by far to mark his performances of Mahler and thrilled (as I did) to
the majority of references to Kusser in the much else ever since. Teodor Currentzis’s
history books have him as one of the first Barely 18 months after giving the Tchaikovsky Pathétique
German composers to write suites in the symphony with the Concertgebouw in will find distinct parallels here. The
French style (or, as they are also called, concert performances that duly ended up impulse, the imperative, of this Mahler
‘ouverture-suites’). Even if he had only on the orchestra’s own label (4/11), Jansons Sixth is extraordinary – a headlong ride to
claimed to have worked with Lully in did it again with his ‘other’ orchestra in the abyss with every rhythm and counter-
Paris, one can well imagine that he was Munich. In 2013 Arthaus released the film rhythm fiercely articulated, every accent,
considered a useful expert in the growing of which the present release is, effectively, every slicing sforzando grimly incisive. Inner
number of German courts that were the soundtrack. Bernarda Fink bestows a parts pull focus as they have rarely done
desperate to acquire the fashionable French grave dignity upon both accounts. There so before surprising even those of us for
manner. And although it is Muffat who is are otherwise noticeable differences whom the piece is frighteningly familiar.

64 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

I expect you can sense that there is a ‘but’ thus making the point more emphatically and all my instincts are screaming it –
coming – and for a seasoned Mahlerian like than I’ve ever heard it made before that the is that unmistakable but indefinable
myself that ‘but’ was signalled right from Scherzo is effectively the distorted mirror- Mahlerian ballast, the epic depth and
the very opening. The soon to be image of the first movement. The plunge breadth of it all. The oppressiveness of this
inexorable march rhythm is for me too back to the minor key is truly a volte-face. final movement doesn’t really assert itself
light on its feet. There is trenchancy for This Scherzo’s grotesque Ländler, with here until the final threnody of trombones,
sure – I would not contest that – but there its yelping horns and growling tuba and still the most tragic sound in early
is too much that is upbeat about its tone basses, is something of a Halloween hop, 20th-century music.
given what is soon to come. Then again the exaggerations writ large, the tone But, like every Currentzis recording to
the quiet transition into the second spooky and then some. Then the Andante’s date, this one will divide opinions. I thrilled
subject – ‘Alma’s theme’ – is really telling remote beauty makes sense as something to it but I wasn’t driven to despair by it.
and the theme itself possessed of a vaulting more than just a soft-option contrast to Edward Seckerson
but clearly misplaced optimism. I love, the first movement. There’s a real ache
too, Currentzis’s instinctive way with the to Currentzis’s reading of it – deeply Mozart
rubato, the way he lovingly opens out the melancholic in the Tchaikovskian sense – ‘Piano Concertos, Vol 3’
reprise with its descanting horns. The with all the plangent wind solos making Piano Concertos – No 15, K450; No 16, K451.
departure to higher regions at the heart of their mark. Quintet for Piano and Winds, K452
the movement is magical, too, cowbells and The playing of Currentzis’s heavily Jean-Efflam Bavouzet pf
celesta and the conductor’s expansive nose augmented MusicAeterna is pretty hair- Manchester Camerata / Gábor Takács-Nagy
for atmosphere making the whole episode raising throughout and that fantastical Chandos F CHAN20035 (71’ • DDD)
as eerie as it is beautiful. opening to the cosmic finale is weirdly
We know now, of course, of Currentzis’s transparent – a kind of no man’s land
innate sense of drama in all things – and between Mahler and the jaws of hell. In
the way he hurtles with such inevitability this, his most personal crisis, Currentzis’s The third volume
towards that mighty appoggiatura in the headlong approach is unforgiving and of Jean-Efflam
coda is absolutely thrilling. But better yet is feverishly exciting (just listen to those Bavouzet’s survey
his decision to adhere to Mahler’s original galloping horns in the final assault); but, of the piano concertos
order of movements, placing the Scherzo returning to my big caveat at the start of completes his recordings of the six
second (pace the revisionists, say I) and this review, there is a very real danger of concertos composed for Mozart’s concerts
furthermore underlining his conviction the rhythmic excitement, the thrills and during 1784. And, as if such protean
by barely pausing for breath following the spills of this reading, spilling over into creativity weren’t suitably demonstrated
major-key assertion of the first-movement something that is more exhilarating than by this magnificent sequence, we also hear
coda. The Scherzo follows virtually attacca, it is threatening. What is missing here – the work Mozart himself claimed as his

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 65


Debussy
1862-1919

Photos D.R.

Jeux / Nocturnes
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
1 CD + 1 DVD bonus HMM 905291

Etudes
MESSIAEN
Fauvettes de l’Hérault
HMM 905304

Preludes (1)
Estampes
HMM 902301

harmoniamundi.com
ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

favourite, the wonderful Quintet for piano (based on Horowitz) to pruning the Corelli in the interim (including a fine Arabella –
and wind instruments from the same year. Variations (as the composer routinely did) 2/16), he shows himself to have mellowed.
The chamber piece is rightly popular but and cutting a short transitional passage in He and his orchestra offer an instinctively
the two concertos don’t visit the concert the finale of the Third Concerto (a good effective Heldenleben and, joined by the
hall as often as they might, perhaps because deal less than the composer did), Korstick coolly virtuoso Denis Kozhukhin, a
they are overshadowed not only by the takes a legitimately creative approach to sprightly and persuasive performance
others from the same year but also by the musical architecture. There is a super- of the early Burleske.
heftier works of 1785-86. It’s always a treat abundance of technical bravura too, and It’s a fascinating coupling, too: the
to be reminded of these works, though. volcanic temperament. But if it’s finesse, early work offering a parody of Brahmsian
K450 in B flat is all playfulness in its outer playfulness and magic you are after, then keyboard heroics (though not, pace
movements, while the central Andante listen to Horowitz in the sonata (several Pentatone’s poor booklet, his ‘Second
forms its still centre, played here perhaps versions, equally wonderful) and hear, for Piano Concerto in D minor’), the later
a touch slower than in other recordings instance, how his second movement grows one a wry commentary, in some ways, on
but with a sustained, hymnlike intensity. like a flower: constantly producing leaves Beethovenian heroism. In the wrong hands
K451 in D plays off its galant fanfare-like and buds, while keeping its firm stem. the Burleske can seem overly skittish and
opening against tumbling contrapuntal Korstick’s high-voltage, even fanatical intractable, Heldenleben overblown and
string lines and concludes with a finale energy might make for a great concert indulgent. But here Kozhukhin, making
that gives its nursery-simple theme the experience but as a recording for repeated light of the awkwardness and difficulty of
full motivic workout. listening it is ultimately more exhausting Strauss’s writing, proves a brilliantly fleet
Needless to say, as in the previous two than inspiring. and mercurial soloist: there’s no shortage
volumes (11/16, 10/17), Bavouzet and the His Third Concerto also makes of heroics but his playing is meltingly
Mancunians under Takács-Nagy find an headlines, but not necessarily for the right seductive in the work’s many gorgeous
ideal balance between the light-hearted reasons. The piano’s dominance on the lyrical moments. It’s a fine performance,
and the serious in these wide-ranging sound stage, combined with the somewhat and Albrecht and his orchestra back him
pieces, which were clearly composed to pale orchestral sound, virtually turns this up well.
give Mozart a chance to show off his into a concerto without orchestra, a kind Their Heldenleben is an impressive
virtuosity as both performer and composer. of music-minus-one version in reverse. For achievement too. There’s plenty of vivid
The chamber interplay between Bavouzet anyone wanting to hear every single note characterisation, though perhaps, in
and the four winds in K452 carries over of the piano part, this could be a useful Pentatone’s smooth engineering, a slight
into the concertos, their all-important reference. The trouble is that the dialogue lack of bite in the overall orchestral sound.
inner lines brought out without a hint between the soloist and the orchestra is Vadim Tsibulevsky portrays a ‘Hero’s
of self-consciousness. The conjunction almost entirely absent and the main lines Companion’ who is perhaps gentler
of soloist, band and Chandos’s of the melodic structure are frequently than many, but there’s no harm in that –
characteristically fine engineering continue obscured. As with the sonata and the although he’s can’t quite find the necessary
as they set out two years ago and conspires variations, if your taste is for tempestuous steadiness of tone to crown his final phrase.
in a fascinating portent of what these pounding, it will be fully gratified; but be The recording really scores points in its
players might do in due course with prepared for all Korstick’s overwhelming coherence, though, with Albrecht
the later, larger, deeper concertos. to become merely overbearing. For just as controlling the grand battle and triumph
David Threasher much fieriness and comparably kamikaze expertly, not scrimping on drama while
tempos, but all to far greater dramatic keeping all its disparate elements together.
Rachmaninov effect, stick with Martha Argerich’s live There’s a real warmth to the ‘Hero’s
Piano Concerto No 3, Op 30a. Piano Sonata account with Chailly. Michelle Assay Works of Peace’, too, and plenty to wallow
No 2, Op 36. Variations on a Theme of Corelli Piano Concerto No 3 – selected comparison: in in the final section, not least some
a
Michael Korstick pf Janáček Philharmonic Argerich, Berlin RSO, Chailly exquisite horn-playing. Recommended.
Orchestra, Ostrava / Dmitry Liss (8/95) (PHIL) 446 673-2DH Hugo Shirley
Oehms F OC1896 (77’ • DDD)
R Strauss Stravinsky
a
Burleske . Ein Heldenleben, Op 40 Jeu de cartes. Petrushka (1911 version)
a
Denis Kozhukhin pf Netherlands Mariinsky Orchestra / Valery Gergiev
There is enough Philharmonic Orchestra / Marc Albrecht Mariinsky F Í MAR0594 (58’ • DDD/DSD)
explosive playing on Pentatone F Í PTC5186 617 (65’ • DDD/DSD)
this disc to trigger
a red-level threat
warning. Is it riveting? Intermittently, Bold local colours are
yes. Does it border on excess? Surely. It’s been a decade pretty much a given
With more than 50 discs to his name and since Marc Albrecht for Petrushka with
a repertoire embracing Ginastera, Koechlin last released a disc this orchestra and
and Kabalevsky, Michael Korstick is of Strauss orchestral this conductor in this location. But the
certainly a more adventurous artist than music on Pentatone. That was an often vividness and ‘authenticity’ (not a word
the Beethoven-focused image the German thrilling but uneven affair recorded with I generally use) of the characterisation took
media in particular have thrust upon him. his then orchestra, the Strasbourg even me a little by surprise. Frankly it’s
Nor is there any doubt as to his respect and Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, with the been a while since a Gergiev performance
passion for Rachmaninov. From creating Netherlands Philharmonic, and with a captured my imagination. Barring the very
his own version of the Second Sonata couple of opera recordings under his belt opening pages, where a careless and slightly

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 67


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

inexplicable rhythmic sluggishness intrudes Tchaikovsky


(exacerbated by the thicker, more elaborate The Nutcracker, Op 71
scoring of this original 1911 version), there Los Angeles Children’s Chorus; Los Angeles
isn’t a detail that doesn’t pop spontaneously Kirill Gerstein was Philharmonic Orchestra / Gustavo Dudamel
(or so it seems) from the page. Gergiev as the first to record DG F (two discs for the price of one) 483 6274
puppeteer is so mindful of the music’s the Tchaikovsky (90’ • DDD)
folksy roots that the whole has a coarse-cut B flat minor using a Recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall,
immediacy that is highly distinctive. You new critical edition of the score (Myrios, Los Angeles, December 2013
just have to get past the opening pages. 2/15). This was based on the recently
The ‘backstage’ tableaux are especially discovered copy used by the composer
affecting in their intimacy, something himself, a revised (second) version of the
Gergiev signals quite magically from original score and with numerous minor ’Tis the season to
the moment the showman’s wistful differences from the later (third) version roast your Nutcrackers
flute first introduces us to his puppets. An made without permission, probably by the fire. A year on
atmosphere of enchantment descends from by Siloti, with which the whole world from my mammoth
that point onwards. The Blackamoor’s is familiar. survey of available recordings (12/17),
clumsy attempts to woo the Ballerina – Yet strangely, though marketed as new recordings of Tchaikovsky’s seasonal
not least his lopsided attempts to partner the ‘original version’, Xiayin Wang’s confection are ready to tumble in, the first
her in a waltz – would be charming if they performance does not register some of which comes from Gustavo Dudamel
weren’t so sinister. The forlorn Petrushka’s of the most noticeable discrepancies – and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
anguish (those frantic trumpet fanfares) the arpeggiated chords for the piano’s Orchestra. Actually, it’s taken an ice age
feels very real. famous first entry, for instance, and to arrive: this recording was made way back
And then we’re back among the the unsanctioned molto rit before the in 2013 in the Walt Disney Concert Hall,
thronging crowds (and it really feels that return of the last movement’s big tune. so why is it only being released now? The
way) of St Petersburg’s Shrovetide Fair, the Oundjian, however, in the slow cynic in me suspects it’s to tie in with the
1911 orchestration humming in a way that movement opts for the original (and, release of Disney’s new film The Nutcracker
the sharper 1947 revision can’t quite in my opinion, plainly wrong) F natural and the Four Realms, for which Dudamel –
match. The dances here have a red-blooded quaver in the first bar of the famous with the Philharmonia this time – has
rusticity about them, not least Gergiev’s flute solo. recorded the (original) soundtrack.
terrifically exuberant way with the Which is all a bit of a nit-pick – and Dudamel’s track record with
Coachmen’s Dance – and the lumbering quite at odds with the actual performance Tchaikovsky on disc is mixed. Edward
bass-heavy episode with the dancing bear of this much-recorded work. ‘Original Seckerson loved his ‘sinewy, uninhibited’
is vivid as can be, heavily redolent of version’ or not, this is one of the freshest Fifth Symphony with the Simón Bolívar
Mussorgsky’s Ox Cart in Pictures. As I say, and most enjoyable accounts I have heard (4/09 – the finale is devastating), but
broad strokes, but touchingly human, too, for a long time. In Xiayin Wang’s hands Andrew Achenbach found his later disc
in the moment when the Showman vainly and supported superbly by the impressive of Shakespeare-inspired tone poems
tries to convince his crowd – and us – that Scottish players and their conductor, the ‘worryingly superficial’ (6/11). So how
Petrushka is ‘only a puppet’. concerto takes on the narrative of a tone does his Nutcracker fare? Well, the playing
Switching to the neoclassical world of poem in an account of commendable brio of the LAPO – and how welcome to see
Jeu de cartes (recorded a few years earlier and clarity. the players listed in the booklet – is
in 2009) should, I think, convey more of The same is true of the one-movement fabulous, the strings as fine as spun sugar
a ‘shock of the new’ after Petrushka and Third Concerto (up there with the best – and the brass crisp in the Spanish Dance.
I have to say that I was conscious Hough, Graffman, Werner Haas, The character dances are well drilled, the
throughout of the angular nature of this Pletnev inter alios) but it is Scriabin’s Arabian Dance seductively paced (much
music requiring cleaner, sharper lines in Piano Concerto, providing a welcome slower than my top picks last Yuletide,
performance. But Gergiev attends to it and unusual coupling, that elevates the Valery Gergiev and Neeme Järvi). The
much as he does Petrushka, slightly over- disc into the outstanding category. This percussion are prominent, especially the
egging the characterisation and, to my is among the most deeply felt and warm- celesta – Orrin Howard’s lovely booklet
mind, applying too much in the way of hearted accounts you will hear, virtues it note quotes Tchaikovsky’s letter to his
nuance and rubato than is appropriate in shares with Yevgeny Sudbin’s (superbly publisher instructing him to keep quiet
this piece. Stravinsky’s dispassionate recorded in 2015), whose beautiful about his new discovery lest Rimsky-
stylisation and straight-faced use of self- handling of the slow movement’s Korsakov or Glazunov should pinch it
quotation (to say nothing of Rossini’s opening section eclipses even the before the premiere!
Barber) should have a bracing air of newcomer. Heinrich Neuhaus (in 1946 The complete ballet comes in at
detachment about it. with the All Union Radio Orchestra), 90 minutes, which is par for the course.
Thoroughly engaging Petrushka, though. despite some suspect tuning and But apart from a helter-skelter battle
Edward Seckerson ensemble, plays the work (and especially scene from Dudamel, there’s a feeling
the glorious second subject of the finale) that everyone is on their best behaviour:
Tchaikovsky . Scriabin with unequalled ardency, but Xiayin the Waltz of the Flowers has a lovely
Scriabin Piano Concerto, Op 20 Tchaikovsky Wang is the more accomplished pianist, sense of lilt without ever threatening to
Piano Concertos – No 1, Op 23; No 3, Op 75 Oundjian provides more coherent and spiral out of control; the Christmas tree
Xiayin Wang pf Royal Scottish National detailed accompaniment and both grows at an urgent pace, yet is devoid of
Orchestra / Peter Oundjian benefit, of course, from Chandos’s sparkle; the Los Angeles Children’s
Chandos F Í CHSA5216 (75’ • DDD/DSD) opulent sound. Jeremy Nicholas Chorus sing with purity in the Snowflakes

68 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

Sweeping lyricism: Renaud Capuçon and the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra bring luxury style and warmth to a range of film music – see review on page 70

but sound recessed and pale. This is a The Thirteenth’s long wait from the the composer’s sister, who perished in
dutiful Nutcracker, but where is the time of its composition (1976) until now the camps – the wandering balefuleness,
magic? Mark Pullinger is not exactly hard to explain. So abrasive lightened only by writhing agony, splintery
Selected comparisons: is its musical language, so unremittingly protest, starts to fall into place.
Kirov Orch, Gergiev (1/99) (PHIL) 462 114-2PH dark its moods and so uncompromising its As if to sweeten the pill, Lande offers
Bergen PO, N Järvi (12/14) (CHAN) CHSA5144 technical demands throughout its single the easy-going Serenade of 1952 as a
35-minute movement that austere barely coupling. This was actually one of the first
Weinberg begins to describe it. For comparison I can of Weinberg’s works to be released in the
Symphony No 13, Op 115. Serenade, Op 47 No 4 only suggest the 13th (coincidentally) of West (on a 1956 Westminster LP). Anyone
Siberian State Symphony Orchestra, Myaskovsky or the later symphonies of who encountered that frankly rather feeble
Krasnoyarsk / Vladimir Lande Schnittke (Nos 6-8). Kudos to Vladimir performance and its dreadful recording
Naxos M 8 573879 (53’ • DDD) Lande and his Krasnoyarsk musicians, who would have been pardoned for relegating
square up to every challenge except for one Weinberg to the ranks of third-division
Weinberg chronically exposed passage for first violins, Soviet tunesmiths, forgivable only because
Concertino, Op 43a. Solo Cello Preludes, Op 100 which they understandably depute to the the Serenade was labouring under the late-
Marina Tarasova vc aMusica Viva leader solo. The future may bring more Stalin-era yoke of more or less compulsory
Chamber Orchestra / Alexander Rudel polished and richly coloured accounts but accessibility. However, Lande and his
Northern Flowers F NFPMA99131 (64’ • DDD) it will be a brave orchestra that ventures players manage to find considerable charm
to compete. and energy in the piece. Admittedly its
If all this sounds terribly off-putting, genial opening comes as a shock after the
there is a way into the piece, at least catatonic ending of the symphony, but
for those familiar with The Passenger. no one could begrudge the orchestra
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P A R L O P H O N E R E C O R D S LT D

Weinberg self-quotes from three this relaxation.


passages in his Auschwitz-based opera Composed in the summer of 1948, the
that accompany appalling events such as Cello Concertino is another product of the
The premiere recording of the the hauling off of female inmates to their fall-out from the anti-formalism campaign;
Thirteenth Symphony is a major event deaths or the title-character’s reflections: its four movements are as modest in scale
for Weinbergians. After this there ‘Will people ever remember us? Will they as those of the Serenade and as full of the
are only three symphonies – Nos 9, remember our lives? Our torture, our spirit of song and dance. There the
11 and 15 – that still await their suffering?’ Knowing this – and bearing similarity ends, however, because the
recorded debuts. in mind the symphony’s dedication to Concertino is as individual, dark and

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 69


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

specifically Jewish in its intonations as that had he not died before the age and some operatic scene-setting in the
the Serenade is anonymous, instantly of 40, ‘we would now undoubtedly inner Largo. Soloist Joseph Crouch is both
gratifying and generically folkloric. acknowledge him as one of the great agile and expressive, though one might
For reasons that are easy to guess but Classical composers’. wish for sweeter tone.
impossible to document, Weinberg put Perhaps, perhaps. There is certainly Alessandro Marcello’s Oboe Concerto
the score aside until 1956, when he an air of experimentation in these three is the best-known work here (it is the one
recomposed and expanded it to twice works, as identified by Ehrhardt. The Bach transcribed for keyboard) and is given
its length, rebranding it as a concerto E minor instantly invites comparisons a mellifluous and atmospheric performance
(premiered and championed by with Haydn; and there is a distinct tinge with Katharina Spreckelsen as the warm
Rostropovich). The original score of Sturm und Drang terseness, along with soloist. The way the achingly lyrical slow
remained in the collection of a friend a canonic minuet of the sort enjoyed by the movement creeps in from near inaudibility
and was only premiered in 2017. older composer. The B flat gives a starring is particularly effective and I rather liked
Marina Tarasova is alive to the klezmer role to its woodwind section, and the the oboe’s cheeky ‘spread chord’ at the
intonations that surface most obviously C minor, known in some sources as very end. Next comes a typically tricky
in the Scherzo third movement, and in Lamentatione, makes great play of a gobbet but composed and poetic violin concerto
general this first recording makes a far of plainchant – again, shades of Haydn – by Tartini; Nadja Zwiener’s violin is quite
stronger case for the work than its played on, of all instruments, a trombone, foregrounded here but does not suffer
Moscow concert premiere with different 30 or so years before Beethoven thereby, as the singing quality and
artists. Perhaps it is the freshness of early incorporated the instrument into nonchalant virtuosity of her playing (very
encounters, but for the moment I’m his symphonies. assured in the frequent double-stopping)
actually inclined to favour this first, more L’Arte del Mondo give the music mean that it remains easy on the ear. To
concise version of the piece, and I would suitable advocacy, playing with admirable end, there is Telemann’s Viola Concerto,
not be at all surprised to see cellists and confidence and accuracy. It’s a jolly good perhaps a little halting in the first
string orchestras latch on to it with thing that musicians such as Ehrhardt and movement where it could have moved
grateful enthusiasm. labels such as DHM continue to explore more smoothly, but nevertheless played
In the 24 Preludes – one of Weinberg’s and enhance our understanding of the with bold assurance by Alfonso Leal del
more stylistically adventurous opuses, from more marginal figures of the early Classical Ojo; the finale certainly rounds things off
1969 – Tarasova has strong competition in period. David Threasher with a flourish. Harry Bicket directs the
the shape of Yosef Feigelson. But her range orchestra with precision, clarity and plenty
of colour and attack are equal to his, as is The English Concert of useful ideas. A nice way to spend
her ease in the most hair-raising passages, Dall’Abaco Concerto a più instrumenti, Op 5 70 minutes of your time. Lindsay Kemp
of which there are quite a few. Another No 6a A Marcello Oboe Concerto, SD935b
unmissable disc, then, for Weinberg Porpora Cello Concertoc Tartini Violin Concerto, ‘Cinema’
followers. David Fanning D125d Telemann Viola Concerto, TWV51:G9e J Barry Out of Africa – I had a farm in Africa
b ad
Preludes – comparative version: Katharina Spreckelsen ob Nadja Zwiener, Cosma The Seventh Target – Le Concerto de
a
Feigelson (NAXO) 8 572280 Tuomo Suni vns eAlfonso Leal del Ojo va acJoseph Berlin. The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe
Crouch vc The English Concert / Harry Bicket hpd Delerue Contempt – Camille Desplat The
A Zimmermann Signum F SIGCD549 (69’ • DDD) Twilight Saga – New Moon Horner Legends of
Symphonies – B flat major; C minor; E minor the Fall M Jarre Dead Poets Society – Carpe
L’Arte del Mondo / Werner Ehrhardt diem Korngold The Adventures of Robin Hood –
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi F 19075 85163-2 Romance Legrand Summer of ’42. Yentl – Papa,
(60’ • DDD) This disc is designed can you hear me? Mancini Breakfast at Tiffany’s
as a concerto showcase – Moon River Morricone Cinema paradiso. The
for four of The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe Piovani Life is Beautiful
English Concert’s Rombi Merry Christmas – Aria Rota The
Silesian-born regular members, and does a very good Godfather – Love Theme Telson Bagdad Café –
Anton Zimmermann job of it while also introducing us to Calling youa Tiersen Amélie – Suite J Williams
(1741-81) spent some unfamiliar but deserving music. Schindler’s List
much of his short The name of Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco Renaud Capuçon vn aNolwenn Leroy sngr Brussels
life as director of the court orchestra in doesn’t crop up too often but his Concerto Philharmonic Orchestra / Stéphane Denève
Pressburg (now Bratislava). Maintained a più instrumenti is full of life, mixing Erato F 9029 56339-3 (76’ • DDD)
by the prince-primate of Hungary, this Corellian concerto grosso style with
band was reputed to be among the finest a French-sounding aria and chaconne,
in Europe and Zimmermann’s 40 or so and a rumpty-tumpty finale. Perhaps
symphonies for it were performed it rambles a bit, but the playing here is Theodor Adorno once
across the continent. so delightful, especially in the cleanly said that ‘every visit to
Like so many of the works of the period delineated duetting of the two solo the cinema leaves me,
that don’t bear the names of Mozart or violins, the sharp dynamic contrasts and against all my
Haydn, Zimmermann’s are now all but the tellingly pointed inner-part details, vigilance, stupider and worse’. Despite
forgotten. Werner Ehrhardt points out that you won’t mind. Porpora’s Cello Adorno’s misgivings, films and their
that he was most active during the 1770s, Concerto is alas not so interesting, soundtracks have remained ever popular
when music in the Habsburg Empire especially in quick movements that display with audiences. This present collection –
was undergoing the major upheaval that a fair amount of empty passagework, but arranged for solo violin and orchestra, and
resulted in the High Classical Style, and there is a suaveness to the opening Amoroso superbly played by Renaud Capuçon and

70 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


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ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

sometimes sounds tired and the


Collector orchestral accompaniments are a mite
heavy-handed. I’d leave K271a until last.
MORE GEMS FROM ICA Though fitfully lovely, from a soloistic
point of view it’s pretty rough overall.
Rob Cowan listens to a bumper crop of 1950s radio recordings issued Turn then to Zino Francescatti
for the first time by ICA Classics, featuring some renowned artists in Brahms’s Violin and Double
Concertos (the latter with cellist Pierre
Fournier) with the Royal Philharmonic
under Pierre Monteux and you witness
playing in a completely different league,
elegant, vibrant and positively
Kreislerian in its luminosity and
warmth. The teamwork with Fournier is
already well known from a fine
commercial Columbia Symphony
Orchestra stereo recording where
the conductor is Bruno Walter (Sony
Classical, 2/61) but with Monteux at the
helm the bracing effect rather resembles
Toscanini or Boult, both of them
distinguished Brahmsians. The Double
Concerto’s slow movement is glorious
(sample its closing moments), while in
the first movement of the Violin
Concerto Francescatti plays Fritz
Kreisler’s richly textured cadenza. These
fine performances come as part of a
four-CD set devoted mostly to Monteux
performances, the sole exception being a
very Beethovenian Haydn Symphony
No 102 with the Boston Symphony
under Charles Munch. Monteux is also
in Boston for Brahms’s Third, a work he
never recorded commercially and which
opens powerfully, though the first-
Memorable: Robert Casadesus is compelling in Beethoven piano concertos movement repeat isn’t played. Other
highlights include d’Indy’s Symphonie
or those not yet in the know, peacefully, prayerfully and with poetic cévenole with the excellent Valerie

F Lyrita’s founding radio whizz


Richard Itter supplemented his
cache of English music
broadcasts with radio recordings of
the great and the good performing
eloquence. Elsewhere his playing is
precise and finely tooled, even at
speed. He plays his own cadenzas.
Sargent also takes the reins for a
performance of Mozart’s First Violin
Tryon, Casadesus again in Franck’s
Symphonic Variations (Boston), an
extremely dramatic account of
Chausson’s Symphony, Debussy’s
Images – just as characterful as the
international repertoire. Happily the Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, the LSO recordings, if less refined – and
great proliferate here, and ICA’s latest orchestra again the BBC Symphony, Part 3 of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette
batch dating from the 1950s contains Menuhin’s playing typically warm- with the bass André Vessières, which,
some gems. Top dollar for me is a hearted though occasionally straining although in mono, is actually rather
Robert Casadesus coupling of under pressure. This particular package better balanced than the stereo
Beethoven’s Fourth and Fifth Piano offers us the first four concertos and the Westminster recording with the
Concertos, the former with Thomas Concerto K271a, a work of doubtful LSO from some years later. Vessières
Beecham conducting the Royal authenticity. The other conductors is superb.
Philharmonic, the latter with the involved are Leo Blech (with the All this confirms what we already
BBC Symphony Orchestra under London Mozart Players) and Alfred know about Monteux, his directness
Malcolm Sargent. Aside from cleanly Wallenstein (BBC SO), while Menuhin and musical integrity; but, in the case of
articulated, pellucid playing and offers us his own rather frenetic a Bruno Walter double-pack
impeccable taste, Casadesus’s Fourth cadenzas in Concertos Nos 1, 2 and 4. (all featuring the BBC SO), one
features one of the most memorable Sincerity is everywhere in evidence performance in particular reveals an
accounts of the central Andante con moto here (especially in No 4) but for me element in Walter’s conducting that
that I’ve heaver heard, Beecham cueing Menuhin’s occasional evasion of the doesn’t often emerge on disc, namely
weighty, godlike declamations from note’s centre can be distracting, his his demonic side. The work in question
the orchestra, Casadesus responding tone – though aimed with a passion – is Wagner’s A Faust Overture, Walter’s

72 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ORCHESTRAL REVIEWS

the Brussels Philharmonic – will surely roses just starting to blossom.’


performance in marked contrast with persuade even diehard anti-Romanticists Tchaikovsky’s words to his benefactor,
the pin-sharp readings of, say, that there is much to admire about this Nadezhda von Meck, accompanying
Toscanini and Szell, stormier, important musical genre. his Three Pieces, Op 42, could stand
elemental even, a perfect portrayal Capuçon works to his strengths here, as a motto for the whole of Daniel
of Faust’s character. You can sense favouring lyrical melodies that combine Müller-Schott’s disc, which in repertoire
that the man at the helm knows sweeping lyricism with expressive power terms is something of a treasure chest
his Goethe as well as he knows his and emotional depth. Andrea and Ennio for cellophiles.
Wagner. The remainder of the set Morricone’s title music from Cinema The title Souvenir d’un lieu cher only
includes one of many Mahler Firsts paradiso, Nino Rota’s love theme from The appeared in editions after Tchaikovsky’s
that we now have from Walter, Godfather and ‘Moon River’ are just a few death; he himself merely dedicated the
this one fairly typical in shape examples that display Capuçon’s masterly pieces to Brailov (a town in Ukraine).
and expression (though the finale control over shape, line, weight, balance Originally composed for violin and
is more dynamic than most), a and gesture. piano, and conceived during the
gorgeous account of Mahler’s ‘Wo die The violinist holds back from pulling composer’s work on his Violin
schönen Trompeten blasen’ with too much at the emotional heartstrings, Concerto, these pieces became better
Irmgard Seefried, a spirited Haydn however, allowing the melodies to speak known in Glazunov’s arrangement for
Miracle and another Walter speciality, for themselves. Saccharine moments are violin and orchestra. Müller-Schott
Brahms’s Song of Destiny, beautifully applied by Capuçon in soupçons rather plays the violin part here – for the first
performed by the BBC Chorus. than ladlefuls. The orchestra – deftly time, he claims – on the cello. The
As to Brahms’s greatest choral work, directed by Stéphane Denève – remains melancholic outer movements are
A German Requiem, ICA has issued a largely restrained throughout, providing perfectly served by the instrument and
compelling version by the same forces a cloak around which Capuçon’s violin by Müller-Schott’s warm tone. The
under Otto Klemperer, with soloists circles and soars. And soar it does in brisk Scherzo, however, is not entirely
Elfride Trötschel and Hans Wilbrink. John Williams’s theme from Schindler’s convincing in its new, heavier garb.
As Richard Osborne suggests in his List and at the end of ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ Tchaikovsky and Glazunov alternate
note, Klemperer was no slouch in this from The Mission. in the rest of the disc, their dialogue
work and the overriding impressions Yet it is those subtle moments that broken only by Rimsky-Korsakov’s
are of urgency and contrasting remain in the mind – the hesitant charming and unpretentious Sérénade.
moments of repose. It’s an intense rocking figure in Schindler’s List, which Müller-Schott is sympathetic and
performance, intensely honest too, and immediately captures the film’s mood perfectly satisfying in his own way, until
leaves you in no doubt regarding and dark message, or the ethereal, you hear, say, Glazunov’s elegiac Chant
Brahms’s humanist message. The otherworldly ending to Michael du ménestrel from Rostropovich, who
remaining two works are both minor- Legrand’s ‘Papa, can you hear me?’. goes beyond Romantic plaintiveness
key symphonies: Mozart’s No 25, its Capuçon’s violin charms and beguiles in into an epic statement of sorrow and
opening Allegro con brio as swift as such a way that singer Nolwenn Leroy’s pain. Having studied Tchaikovsky’s
Bruno Walter’s (in Vienna or New distinctive voice sounds almost intrusive Rococo Variations not only with
York), their tempos being identical; in ‘Calling you’ from Bagdad Café. More Rostropovich but also before that
while Beethoven’s Fifth opens like dramatic moments appear in the brace of with Walter Nothas and Steven Isserlis,
Klemperer and closes like Toscanini, themes by Vladimir Cosma (‘Le Concerto Müller-Schott says he had to find his
an astonishing transformation. The de Berlin’ and ‘The Tall Blond Man with own ‘personal approach’. That approach
excellent transfers were effected by One Black Shoe’), but this is definitely a proves perfectly tasteful and solid
Paul Baily. recording wherein the listener is invited but it is still not remotely a match
to luxuriate in the warmth of the film’s for Rostropovich and Karajan’s magic
THE RECORDINGS soundtrack – stupider, and worse, or not. (like them he goes for the Fitzenhagen
Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 4 & 5 Pwyll ap Siôn ordering, though in concert he
Robert Casadesus apparently favours the original). If
ICA Classics F ICAC5154 ‘Trip to Russia’ there is anything like hygge in music,
Glazunov Chant du ménestrel, Op 71. Two the Berlin Philharmonic’s rendition of
Mozart Violin Concertos
Pieces, Op 20 Rimsky-Korsakov Sérénade, the opening bars of the Rococo Variations
Yehudi Menuhin
Op 37 Tchaikovsky Andante cantabile, Op 11. would surely be it. Aziz Shokhakimov
ICA Classics M b ICAC5153
Nocturne, Op 19. Pezzo capriccioso, Op 62. fails to elicit anything like a comparable
Various Cpsrs Orch Wks Souvenir d’un lieu cher, Op 42. Variations on a range of velvety colours, and the
Pierre Monteux Rococo Theme, Op 33 unduly cello-focused balance
ICA Classics B d ICAC5150 Daniel Müller-Schott vc Deutsches Symphonie- throughout the disc relegates the
orchestra even further to a subordinate
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B R I D G E M A N I M A G E S

Orchester Berlin / Aziz Shokhakimov


Various Cpsrs Orch Wks Orfeo F C933 181A (75’ • DDD) role. Michelle Assay
BBC SO / Bruno Walter Rococo Variations – selected comparison:
ICA Classics M b ICAC5151 Rostropovich, BPO, Karajan (10/69R) (DG) 447 413-2GOR
Brahms German Requiem, etc
BBC SO / Otto Klemperer ‘I saw the lilacs Find your
ICA Classics M b ICAC5152 still in full bloom, music on
the grass still
www.qobuz.com
long, and the

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 73


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE

Beethoven’s Symphony No 7
Conductor Philippe Jordan tells Richard Bratby about revealing the human Beethoven

P
hilippe Jordan has never been to
the Barbican before. My surprise
must be obvious, because he
explains that before last night’s
programme of Tchaikovsky and
Mussorgsky he’d not worked with the
London Symphony Orchestra either.
Double surprise – though, of course,
it shouldn’t be. As Music Director
since 2009 of the Opéra National de
Paris, Chief Conductor of the Vienna
Symphony since 2014 and Music
Director Designate of the Vienna
State Opera, how would he find time?
He has been described as ‘general
music director of Europe’, Karajan’s
old (half-joking) soubriquet.
We’re here to talk about
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony,
though, and he dives straight in at the
first Vivace – that Olympian sonata
structure built on a single dotted
rhythm. Or – as he corrects me – not.
‘There are three rhythms,’ he explains,
pointing out the flute’s basic version,
at bar 63; then the moment at bar 69
where Beethoven articulates the final
two notes with marcato wedges, and ‘Monumental Beethoven is not interesting
then bar 86, when the violins finally for our time – it’s more interesting to find the
seize control and a semiquaver gap human Beethoven,’ says Jordan. In practice,
opens up in the middle of the group. that means a compact string section and an
‘You have these three distinct awareness of historically informed performance.
rhythms playing with each other, ‘We all grew up with Harnoncourt. Interestingly
and playing against each other, and enough, in the Vienna Symphony we have a lot
the most fantastic part is in the of musicians who’ve played in the Concentus
development’ – he turns hurriedly to Musicus Wien.’ It means observing all repeats
bar 236 – ‘where the woodwind are and taking Beethoven’s once-contentious
playing one thing, the strings are metronome marks seriously. And it means
playing another; it’s actually a fight thinking anew about Beethoven’s place in the
between the two rhythms. There are Philippe Jordan with the Vienna Symphony 21st-century repertoire.
only two moments where the rhythms ‘We prepared ourselves for Beethoven with
unify across the whole orchestra: the most dramatic part’ – a Schubert cycle, to find a Viennese perspective: the phrasing,
he points to letter H (bar 254) – ‘and then once more at the melody, the melancholy. And then we played a lot of
the end, where they’re united. They find each other’ Bartók. I think there are lots of similarities between
(bar 423 onwards). Beethoven and Bartók, especially in their orchestration,
In Jordan’s Vienna recording, that attention to rhythmic their radicality; in their use of folk music.’ But we’ve already
clarity is unmissable. It’s not what you might automatically vaulted far ahead – and not even glanced at the Poco sostenuto
think of as Viennese style. And yet, he insists, it is. ‘The introduction: ‘The biggest introduction of all his symphonies!’
Vienna players have a very typical Viennese sound: the vibrato, exclaims Jordan.
the sweetness, the portamenti (which you shouldn’t do Grabbing the score, he shows how Beethoven uses that
too much of ). But they’re the opposite of the Vienna huge A major musical space to establish the potential of
Philharmonic, which is a more muscular orchestra. The C major (letter A, bar 23) and F major (bar 42): tonalities
Vienna Symphony don’t feel they have to defend a certain directly related to the A minor second movement and the
historic sound. They don’t have that burden, somehow. F major third. ‘He’s trying to set out continents of tonality:

74 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


THE MUSICIAN AND THE SCORE
the symphony will be moving around, but it’s all laid out in
the introduction. And then we go into dancelike movements
for the rest of the symphony. I know it’s a cliché – Wagner’s
comment about the Seventh Symphony being the apotheosis
of the dance; but unfortunately he’s right. It’s really about
dance on the highest symphonic level.’
Jordan should know. He’s worked at Bayreuth; in fact, he’s
one of few modern conductors to have followed the traditional
career path of Mahler, Walter and Karajan – learning his craft
as an operatic repetiteur (most notably with Daniel Barenboim
in Berlin) before graduating to the concert platform. He’s not
ashamed to call himself a Kapellmeister, and he’s adamant that
his opera house work is the bedrock of his symphonic vision.
‘You have to think in bigger forms, and not get lost in
too many details. That’s important in every movement of
a Beethoven symphony. The more I do Wagner and
Beethoven, I’m just stunned to see the similarities.’

‘I sometimes wonder just how deaf


Beethoven was. That melody is totally
Rossini – third act of Barber of Seville’
In the Seventh Symphony, Jordan advocates the shortest
of breaks – almost an attacca – between the first and second
movements: ‘It’s about surprise, that A minor chord. It’s such
a Schubertian A minor, and that rhythm is such a Schubertian
rhythm.’ He hums the opening of Schubert’s Impromptu
in B flat. ‘Of course, we know it’s a rhythmic symphony so
it’s always based on repetitive rhythms. But we have to take
advantage of every possibility of articulation.’ The A major
interlude beginning at letter D (bar 102) is, he says, ‘very
Schubertian again. It goes to paradise.’
In the third movement, Jordan takes the central Assai
meno presto at a positively startling lick. ‘It was very hard to
get the orchestra in this tempo. But you have to, really: with
all the repeats, it just doesn’t make sense otherwise. I see it
as a sort of folk melody. And the metronome, it’s very fast,
I think 84 or something like that.’ He turns to the relevant
page. ‘Yes, 84. Meno presto is still presto.’ You can probably
imagine by now how Jordan takes the finale – though he notes
how the long, seismic bass ostinato (starting after bar 367)
that prepares the symphony’s final blaze is prefigured by the
low, repeated second-horn figure after bar 441 of the third
movement, as well as the relentless bass swell that starts
at letter N (bar 401) of the first movement. Long-range
thinking underpins everything Jordan does.
And yet, still, he can’t resist the music’s sheer humanity –
and, above all, its humour. ‘I sometimes wonder just how deaf
Beethoven was. That melody’ – he singles out the springy
theme that begins at letter B (bar 74) – ‘is totally Rossini.
Third act of Barber of Seville.’ And then there’s that astonishing
coda, as Beethoven at bar 427 hits an unprecedented fff dynamic:
‘I think it’s the first one in all Beethoven, possibly in all
P H OTO G R A P H Y: J O H A N N E S I F KOV I T S

symphonic music. It’s very hard to get this out of an orchestra


because they think they’re already there, and then I ask for
more.’ Well, Beethoven does say sempre più forte (bar 393).
‘And more, and more, and more’, says Jordan. ‘It’s like delirium,
like it’s making you really drunk. You almost get dizzy. But
there’s something about this symphony that you just can’t deny.
It’s incredible. It’s the most joyous symphony that I conduct.’
For our review of Jordan’s Beethoven No 7 with the Vienna Symphony see page 56

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 75


Chamber
Andrew Farach-Colton admires Tim Ashley hears The Soldier’s
the Van Kuijk Quartet’s Schubert: Tale as told by Roger Waters:
‘Their tonal blend and intonation are close to ‘Waters’s lived-in, gravelly voice makes
flawless, and they play with a fearlessness that him a worldly-wise, wryly ironic
is quite audacious’ REVIEW ON PAGE 81 Narrator’ REVIEW ON PAGE 82

JS Bach . Beethoven . readily as they attract. But they’re of Op 59 No 3, where leader Sara Bitlloch
Shostakovich thought-provoking, and often startlingly makes no attempt to soften or prettify
‘Prism I’ beautiful. And anyway, perhaps one the high-lying figure at 2'12" and simply
JS Bach Fugue, BWV876 shouldn’t draw too close to this music. strides through with gritty assurance
Beethoven String Quartet No 12, Op 127 Didn’t Beethoven say ‘I’m speaking to (and spot-on intonation). At every turn,
Shostakovich String Quartet No 15, Op 144 my God’? Richard Bratby it seems, the Elias put projecting the
Danish Quartet music’s character above all else. In the
ECM New Series F 781 7267 (78’ • DDD) Beethoven slow movement of that same quartet,
‘The Complete String Quartets, Vol 5’ for example, they home in on its obsessive
String Quartets – No 5, Op 18 No 5; tone, not by being rigid or metronomic
No 9, Op 59 No 3; No 14, Op 131 but instead through ruminative
Air from another Elias Quartet suppleness. The finale of Op 131 moves
planet: when the Wigmore Hall Live F (two discs for the at a relatively measured pace, yet how
Danish String Quartet price of one) WHLIVE0092 (108’ • DDD) desperately they claw its jagged lines.
first encountered late Recorded live, January 10, 2015 It’s a terrifying reading, a more dogged
Beethoven it felt to them (as they explain journey than the usual wild ride –
in the booklet) ‘as if it had fallen down Beethoven although this grim determination throws
from outer space onto our music stands’. ‘The Complete String Quartets, Vol 6’ the consolatory lyrical passages into
This new release is an attempt to recapture String Quartets – No 6, Op 18 No 6; especially sharp relief.
that sense of strangeness, the idea being to No 8, Op 59 No 2; No 16, Op 135 The Elias are riveting, too, in the
use Beethoven as a ‘prism’ through which Elias Quartet tumultuous Allegro of Op 59 No 2,
to revisit earlier and later music. Here, the Wigmore Hall Live F (two discs for the seizing upon the score’s many silences
Quartet Op 127 refracts a Bach fugue and price of one) WHLIVE0093 (102’ • DDD) as avidly as the notes themselves, so that
Shostakovich’s Quartet No 15, with the Recorded live, March 7, 2015 all the surprises are, in fact, surprising.
tonality of E flat as the common element. Listen at 1'42", where Beethoven
The effect, on listening straight suddenly makes the pulse unclear; it’s
through, is unexpected. The Bach serves clearly meant to be momentarily
as a brief prelude, and the Shostakovich disorienting, and that’s exactly how the
follows with very little break. The DSQ’s Elias play it. They’re rather less
pure, transparent playing immediately convincing in the first movement of
lifts the sense of static, oppressive fatality Op 135, however. On the page, at least,
that can (some might say, should) hang I’ve been trying to put my finger on this music also moves in fits and starts,
over this work. It’s certainly not that the what it is about the Elias Quartet’s but in this case the various pieces need
group’s playing lacks commitment: the interpretative style that’s so powerfully to be fitted together rather than chopped
strange, almost savage snarls that end affecting, and I think I’ve distilled the apart. It’s the only disappointment in
their crescendos at the start of the second- answer to a single quality: fearlessness. these two volumes, and the Elias redeem
movement Serenade are deeply unsettling. Virtuoso daring is perhaps the most themselves with a reading of the slow
But there’s definitely a sense of movement, obvious manifestation. The finales of movement that rivals the sublimity of
indeed song, in even the slowest music. Op 18 No 5 and Op 59 No 3 are the Busch Quartet’s reference recording
The ending isn’t so much a fade into absolutely brilliant – the former bubbling (Warner Classics, 2/16). Sara Bitlloch
extinction as a question left hanging – with joy and the latter suggesting the applies portamento strategically (and
to be answered by the opening chords giddiness of an opera buffa overture – memorably) throughout these
of the Beethoven: jagged, assertive with the adrenalised energy sustained from performances, but the way she slides
and destabilising. first notes to last. Or turn to the Scherzo through the opening phrases here is
It feels like a controlled discharge of of Op 18 No 6, where they negotiate the especially exquisite.
accumulated emotional energy, and while accents and syncopations so deftly, and Indeed, all of the slow movements
the playing is exquisitely refined (listen to at such a clip, that the effect is akin to are extraordinary. Note, for example,
the sudden, luminous change in texture at arrhythmia in a racing heart. the fluttering accompaniment in the
5'00" in the finale), this performance never I also admire the unflinching way the third variation of Op 18 No 5’s Andante
loses its sense of rhythmic danger. These players tackle even the most difficult, cantabile, so gorgeously delicate it almost
aren’t warm interpretations; they repel as exposed passages, as in the first movement upstages the melody (listen at 4'37").

76 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Magnificent sweep: Christian Tetzlaf, Tanja Tetzlaf and Lars Vogt play Dvořák with tenderness and great generosity of spirit – see review on page 79

The Adagios of Op 18 No 6 and Op 59 Michael Berkeley’s style and expression Barron represents the lone voice in the
No 2 are both broadly paced yet flow so remain attuned to the more intimate song-cycle Winter Fragments, while the
naturally; there’s not even a hint of beat nuances of chamber music. Perhaps this is idea is distilled further in Berkeley’s
or bar line. And the expansive fourth because the chamber context provides such restrained setting of Rilke’s ‘Sonnet
movement of Op 131 is wondrously an effective vehicle for one of his music’s for Orpheus’, where the muse this
elastic – the Adagio passage (beginning most distinctive features – the often time inhabits the creative individual
at 8'53") throbs with such gentle dichotomous interplay between the in a strange, almost catatonic state.
tenderness, I had the sense I was feeling individual and the group. Not every outcome is bleak or
the beating of Beethoven’s own heart. Spanning over 30 years, all the works unsettling, however. Catch Me If You Can
There’s no question this is a contained here explore this theme in pits the individual against the group in a
Beethoven quartet cycle of remarkable various ways. The isolated individual is more playful, mischievous manner, with
daring and individuality. As with the present from the very beginning of the the outer movements foregrounding rapid
previous volumes, the sound is vivid Clarinet Quintet, with its yearning, flourishes which occasionally coalesce into
and immediate, and includes applause. searching solo melody. The music strident unison melodies or climax in
Andrew Farach-Colton eventually gathers pace and is caterwauling shrieks. In the central slow
transformed in the middle section into movement an elegiac line is passed around
M Berkeley a strident dancelike theme, taken up by the ensemble, suggesting a melody without
P H O T O G R A P H Y: R O B E R T T O R R E S / C E L E B R I T Y S E R I E S O F B O S T O N

Winter Fragments. Catch Me If You Can. the string quartet in dotted rhythms. a home. But maybe the point is that –
Clarinet Quintet. Seven. Three Rilke Sonnets – Echoes of the klezmer tradition hint at despite one’s isolation – music is that
Sonnet for Orpheus an autobiographical subtext before the home. The Berkeley Ensemble, directed
Fleur Barron mez music finally returns to the solipsistic by Dominic Grier, are excellent
Berkeley Ensemble / Dominic Grier tone of the opening. throughout – entirely at one with the
Resonus F RES10223 (59’ • DDD • T/t) More subtle intensification of the music of their namesake composer.
‘subject versus the group’ is heard in Pwyll ap Siôn
Seven, where a slowly repeating four-
note figure appearing mainly in the Dodgson
Even when working harp shifts this way and that, between String Trios – No 1; No 2. Sonatina for Solo Violin.
with large-scale forces comforting consonance and uneasy Caprice after Puck. Partita for Solo Cello
such as opera and dissonance, before finally resting on Karolos
music theatre, an E major triad. Mezzo-soprano Fleur Naxos M 8 573856 (79’ • DDD)

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 77


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CHAMBER REVIEWS

Dodgson Both discs are an absolute joy, the Gade


Capriccio and Finale. Echoes of Autumn. performances little short of ideal, perfect in ‘Chamber Works, Vol 4’
Pastoral Sonata. Septet Variations. Solway Suite. intonation and ensemble, lively and delicate String Quartet in F minor. String Quintet
Sonata for Three as required. The booklet cover illustrations in F minor. Novelettes, Op 29
Karolos are by Dodgson’s father (note that the Ensemble MidtVest
Naxos M 8 573857 (82’ • DDD) caption for the booklet’s ensemble photo CPO F CPO555 198-2 (54’ • DDD)
misidentifies violinists Harriet Mackenzie
and Philippa Mo). Recommended.
Guy Rickards
Each issue of
Dvořák Ensemble MidtVest’s
Piano Trios – No 3, Op 65 B130; Gade series adds to
No 4, ‘Dumky’, Op 90 B166 the stylistic and
Karolos are a dynamic, virtuoso chamber Christian Tetzlaff vn Tanja Tetzlaff vc Lars Vogt pf taxonomical riddles surrounding the
collective of first-rate players. These two Ondine F ODE1316-2 (73’ • DDD) composer. While previous instalments
discs – issued separately but together have given us a mixture of complete
comprising over two and a half hours and incomplete works, Gade’s Quintet
of Stephen Dodgson’s strongly crafted in F minor of 1837 is neither. We don’t
music, beautifully played – spotlight their With some discs, the know if the single movement was meant
strengths superbly. The first features the very first notes tell you to be the first of a number or to stand on
string trios, punctuated by solo pieces for to expect something its own. The easiest course of action is to
each instrumentalist; the second uses eight special. Christian and nod along with annotator Finn Engeland
players in varying combinations, the largest Tanja Tetzlaff sing softly together in the Hansen’s conclusion that it’s surely a
being Septet Variations (1975) – for the quietness at the start of Dvo∑ák’s noble self-contained piece: a glimpse of Gade
same ensemble as Ravel’s Introduction and F minor Piano Trio (No 3) – cello and the radical.
Allegro – with only guitarist Craig Ogden violin in equipoise, and proving with the Formally, it might derive from the
‘on the bench’. very first dotted rhythm that they think Mendelssohnian dramatic overture
The BBC’s broadcast of the First String and feel together too. Enter Lars Vogt (Gade’s own overture Echoes from Ossian
Trio (1951) – with one Neville Marriner as on piano, and in that first surge he was his breakthrough work) and presents
violinist – was regarded by Dodgson as his supports and carries his colleagues a picture of rhapsody as it devolves from
‘first real success’. It is easy to hear why, the upwards: establishing, in barely eight bars forward argument into moments of idyll.
music beautifully laid out for the players, of music, both the intimacy and assurance It is beautifully played by Ensemble
the melodic invention fresh and appealing. of these players’ partnership, and the MidtVest’s strings. Once more, however,
The Second Trio (1964) comprises three magnificent sweep and expressive scope Gade’s most distinctive feature is his
movements of increasing weight, the Allegro of what is to come. tendency to lathe themes that are more
finale a compound form of three distinct I’m no fan of ‘all star’ chamber music functional than inspired; they allow
sections. The Sonatina (1963) was written projects but the virtuosity here is entirely him to get the argument boiling but,
with Bach’s First Violin Partita in mind at the service of the music, capturing the paradoxically, can’t sustain the heights
but Dodgson’s own Partita, for cello full symphonic grandeur of Dvo∑ák’s of passion that result.
(1985), is freer and more modern in design, vision without ever sounding like anyone F minor was obviously a favourite key
brilliantly interweaving eight sections, each is playing for effect. It’s always chamber as Gade’s only finished quartet (1851)
developing material from the Prologue. music, and it’s helped by Ondine’s lifelike uses it too. He all but disowned the score
Caprice after Puck for viola (1978) is a terrific acoustic, against which the focus and and therein might lie another narrative
variation-fantasy full of shade and light. refinement of the Tetzlaffs’ palette is this cycle has thrown up: that Gade didn’t
The six works on the second disc flesh never at any risk from Vogt’s expressive recognise when he was at his best from
out the picture of this genial, often generosity (in the booklet note, he fear of falling foul of the Leipzig
incalculable composer, combining compares the Trio of the second rulebook. This free-form work doesn’t
intelligent composition, harmonic acuity movement to Rachmaninov – and satisfy the analytical eye as much as the
(always within a tonal framework) and he certainly delivers). musical ear but that counts in its favour.
beguilingly euphonious scoring. Dodgson Grandiose when they need to be, the trio Expression wins (marginally) over Gade’s
liked to set himself (and his listeners) find moment after treasurable moment of occasional thematic pedantry. The lack of
challenges, whether structural, subtly shaded tone colour (even Christian’s a real slow movement shows how much
harmonic or – as in Septet Variations – pizzicatos sound tender) – and you can he prioritised keeping his music moving,
instrumentational, combining flute, clarinet imagine how that translates into the Mendelssohn-style.
and harp with the quartet. Echoes of Autumn kaleidoscopic folk-fantasy of the Dumky. The disc opens with the Novelettes for
(1998) merely partners guitar with viola but Staccato piano chimes its way over fading piano trio (1853 but revised later) and
the Pastoral Sonata (1953-54, later revised) cello drones; melting violin lines float they are among Gade’s most charming
and Sonata for Three (1982) satisfyingly over translucent keyboard textures; the works. The free-flowing Larghetto is a
place the guitar in a true chamber context. transitions are delicious; and of course, beauty but, this being Gade, all is not
The latter is possibly the first work for the when the dances really start to fly, these as it seems: he wrote and then discarded
not-quite-Debussian combination of flute, players commit absolutely, without any loss a sixth movement. Ensemble MidtVest
viola and guitar; the lovely Solway Suite of finesse. This disc sounds, and feels, like include it here, if only to prove that Gade
(1974, dedicated to Panufnik) restores a recording born of love, and I urge you to was right. The fifth closes the piece off
the harp. listen. Richard Bratby thematically and with an unassuming

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 79


CHAMBER REVIEWS

ending that leaves an altogether sweeter misgivings about the pungent vibrato- initial two movements, animated then
taste in the mouth. Andrew Mellor free portamentos and you might wish affecting in a Schumannesque manner, are
that the group had let the exquisite slow followed by an organ interlude of measured
Haydn movements of Nos 4, 5 and 6 unfurl solemnity; itself joined by full orchestra for
Six String Quartets, Op 64 a little more songfully. a finale whose ceremonial grandeur is
The London Haydn Quartet But this is domestic music, after summarily denied during those viscous
Hyperion F (two discs for the price of one) all, and perhaps a certain amount of closing bars.
CDA68221 (145’ • DDD) understatement actually enhances Not that this fazes Per Salo or the
the boldness of Haydn’s invention. Danish National SO, with Gunvor Sihm
Hyperion’s recorded sound captures and Berit Johansen Tange as attuned to
that small-room acoustic persuasively this music as to that on the earlier volume.
‘He has taste, and while still letting Jonathan Manson’s Sound and annotations leave nothing to
the most profound cello glow, and you do get the sense be desired, making this disc a welcome
knowledge of (more vital to Op 64 than the quartets continuation of another Langgaard project.
composition.’ It’s that succeeded it) of this music being Richard Whitehouse
supremely fitting that Haydn paid his something understood between friends.
great tribute to Mozart at a quartet party, There are bolder, funnier, more wildly Schmelzer . Kerll
and there can’t be many chamber music imaginative accounts of this music out ‘The Emperor’s Fiddler’
lovers who haven’t tried to imagine what there but you never doubt the LHQ’s Kerll Passacaglia in D minor
sort of playing Haydn actually heard that sincerity, or the validity of their approach. Schmelzer Sonatae unarum fidium
night in Vienna – and what that ‘taste’ Once again, it’s a matter of taste. David Irving vn Laura Vaughan va da gamba/lirone
represented. The question comes up Richard Bratby Hannah Lane triple hp Tommie Andersson theorbo
again with the latest release in the John O’Donnell hpd/org
London Haydn Quartet’s Haydn cycle Langgaard Obsidian F CD718 (55’ • DDD)
for Hyperion. Reviewing the LHQ’s ‘Complete Works for Violin and Piano, Vol 2’
Op 50 set in 2016 I found their Violin Sonata No 1, ‘Viole’. Andante religioso.
performances ‘civilised, carefully Sondagssonate (Sunday Sonata)a
prepared and spacious to a T’, and Gunvor Sihm vn Berit Johansen Tange pf If Heinrich Ignaz
nothing here makes me revise that. a
Per Salo org aDanish National Symphony Franz von Biber’s
These are period-instrument Orchestra / Thomas Søndergård name comes first
performances, played from an early Dacapo F 8 226131 (59’ • DDD) to mind when
London edition. Development section contemplating brilliant 17th-century
repeats are observed, and tempos are Austrian violinists, consider also that
on the broad side. of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, who
The impact of these choices is most Dacapo’s traversal predated Biber by a generation. The
marked in the B minor Quartet (No 2). of Rued Langgaard’s Australian violinist and musicologist
The LHQ’s first movement is reflective vast and unruly output David Irving made a careful study of
and questioning, though I don’t think continues with this Schmelzer’s 1664 Sonatae unarum fidium
anyone could describe it (as Haydn does) second volume of his music for violin and before committing them to CD but he
as spiritoso. The Adagio goes to some piano – featuring, as did its predecessor, isn’t the first; Andrew Manze recorded
genuinely deep places and the Minuet, a viable overview of this composer in his the six sonatas with Romanesca (Nigel
taken at low speed, becomes a lilting, recklessness and increasing urge towards North and John Toll) as long ago as 1995.
bittersweet pastorale. Well, Haydn self-destruction. Each of these recordings includes a
contains multitudes, and while the group’s Youthful ambition fairly permeates further item: here the organist John
habit of stretching the top of a phrase the 40-minute First Violin Sonata (1915), O’Donnell offers us an impressive
gives the opening movement of No 4 a evident from the intense rhetoric of its Passacaglia by Johann Caspar Kerll,
slightly seasick quality, it gives the brisker opening movement or the Brahmsian Schmelzer’s colleague at the imperial
finales a genuinely improvisatory feeling. energy and wistfulness of its Scherzo. The court of Leopold I.
The finale of No 5 (the Lark) is often slow movement’s emotional flights of fancy To best reflect the regal setting for
dispatched as a flashy moto perpetuo; here anticipate a finale whose overt fervency the earliest performances of these works,
it breathes, and in doing so becomes a does not prevent its coda from decisively Irving has gathered together a rich
sort of gypsy dance. clinching the overall design. Incidentally continuo ensemble of four musicians
Elsewhere, finales are crisply the (mistranslated) subtitle, added in 1945, and the resulting array of ever-changing
articulated with plenty of dancelike indicates this work could also be played on accompaniments is evidence of their close
bounce – the final Prestos of Nos 1 and 6 viola – a technical unfeasibility itself collaboration. The exotic resonance of
being wonderfully buoyant cases in pointing to Langgaard’s later impatience the triple harp and lirone (an instrument
point. So there’s plenty of character here over practical matters. Leopold evidently played) add particular
(the performance of the undervalued Of the other pieces, Andante religioso lustre to some of the musical textures.
No 3 in B flat is particularly coherent (1950) is a miniature as deft formally as Indeed, as the sonatas are composed
and engaging) as well as many qualities it is poised expressively, while the slightly of sections rather than movements,
which, again, will come down to taste. earlier Sunday Sonata typifies Langgaard the musicians have only the slightest
You might prefer a sweeter violin tone at his most wilful. By this time he saw no of pauses between them to regroup.
than Catherine Manson’s in the opening problem in combining movements from The clarity and warmth of the recorded
melody of the Lark; you might share my disparate projects, with the result that its sound is a pleasure to experience.

80 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

Irving plays with a certain seriousness semiquavers. It’s a breakneck pace D810, to the point that it becomes
and polished technical perfection that compared with, say, the Mosaïques’ a distracting affectation.
many discerning listeners will find Gemütlichkeit, but then the Van Kuijk There’s no doubt in my mind that
admirable. If, however, you seek a freer, relax into the second theme at 0'52" the Quatuor Van Kuijk are a brilliant
more improvisatory, rhetorical and leader Nicolas Van Kuijk gives the young ensemble of enormous promise
interpretation of this music, Manze’s melody such a charming hauteur that but I can’t recommend their account
intimately conceived performances still I was completely won over. of D87 over the Mosaïques – not
have the power to enthral. Julie Anne Sadie The slow movement of Death and the to mention the Calvet, whose 1937
Schmelzer – selected comparison: Maiden is more impressive still. There’s recording (Telefunken Legacy)
Manze, Romanesca (10/96) (HARM) HMU90 7143 the evocatively wheezy organ-like tone remains unsurpassed – and if one wants
at the start, François Robin’s affectionate a comparably incisive interpretation of
Schubert shaping of the cello line in the second D810, the Ehnes Quartet are less fussy
String Quartets – No 10, D87; variation (graced by Van Kuijk’s delicate and far more attentive to the composer’s
No 14, ‘Death and the Maiden’, D810 tracery), the suppleness with which they markings. Andrew Farach-Colton
Van Kuijk Quartet all mould the obsessive figuration in the D87 – selected comparison:
Alpha F ALPHA417 (59’ • DDD) third, and the expressive impact of the Mosaïques Qt (10/96R) (NAIV) E8935
tiny ornaments in the fourth when played D810 – selected comparison:
in such a wistful, sing-song manner Ehnes Qt (1/17) (ONYX) ONYX4163
(Van Kuijk, again).
The surface I am troubled by some details, Sterndale Bennett
finish of these however. The most glaring is the Chamber Trio, Op 26a. String
performances by quartet’s occasional disregard for dynamic Quartet, WoO17b. Sextet, Op 8c
the Van Kuijk markings and gradations. This is evident Villiers Quartet (aJames Dickenson, Tamaki
bc

Quartet is astonishing, and particularly right from the beginning of D87, which Higashi vns Carmen Flores va aNick Stringfellow vc)
so given the quartet formed as recently Schubert marks pianissimo but which is with cLeon Bosch db acJeremy Young pf
as 2012. Their unanimity, tonal blend and played closer to mezzo-forte. More Naxos M 8 571379 (78’ • DDD)
intonation are close to flawless, and they damaging is their mitigating the crucial
play with a fearlessness that can sometimes contrast between fortissimo and pianissimo
come across as audacity. Try the finale in the opening of Death and the Maiden.
of D87, from Schubert’s 16th year, They also have a tendency to pounce on William Sterndale
which the Van Kuijk take at a tear, the a sudden forte, holding back before they Bennett completed
second violin and viola buzzing giddily leap, as at 1'05" in the first movement his String Quartet in
through reams of accompanimental of D87 and repeatedly throughout 1831; he was 15 and

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gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 81


CHAMBER REVIEWS

halfway through his 10 years of study at Stravinsky Made in Bridgehampton’s Presbyterian


the Royal Academy of Music. It’s rather The Soldier’s Tale Church, the recording is immaculately
like Schubert’s youthful quartets in the Roger Waters narr Bridgehampton balanced, though sound effects have been
way it shows deference to Classical Chamber Music Festival Musicians added: we hear the tramp of the Soldier’s
models while tentatively exploring a Sony Classical F 19075 87273-2 (79’ • DDD • T) feet on gravel; church bells and cawing
broader palette of harmonic colour. rooks greet his return to his village; and
Listen, for example, to the first an ominous electronic rumble presages
movement’s startlingly brief development the final catastrophe. It’s not as good as
section (at 4'05"), where he pushes gently Rock legend Roger Malcolm Sinclair and Roman Simovic’s
at boundaries. I sense increasing Waters, co-founder wonderfully taut LSO Live version (A/18),
confidence as the work progresses of Pink Floyd and but Waters’s presence will doubtless draw
(going on the assumption that he wrote creator of The Wall, many new listeners to the work itself,
the movements in order), with the finale joins forces with players from Long which can only be good news. Tim Ashley
being the most accomplished. There, Island’s Bridgehampton Chamber
Bennett effectively emulates Haydn’s Music Festival for this new version of ‘In the Theatre of Air’
delight in musical surprises, while adding Stravinsky’s cautionary tale, the third Beach Two Pieces, Op 90 Bowler Salutem
his own charming details, like the recording of the work released in as Musgrave Canta, Canta! G Rodgers York
quartet’s collective hoist at 0'30". many months to mark the centenary Minster Tann In the Theater of Air Weir
In 1833 Bennett met Mendelssohn of the premiere. The text, Waters’s own, Several Concertos
in London, beginning a long friendship, is an extended adaptation of the English Marsyas Trio
and his Sextet for string quartet, piano translation by Michael Flanders and Kitty NMC F NMCD248 (61’ • DDD)
and bass in F sharp minor (1835) reflects Black. Largely faithful to its spirit, Waters
the German composer’s influence. keeps its rhythms, rhymes and half-
Despite an odd balance between the rhymes but expands and frequently
flashy piano part and the relatively sober paraphrases both narration and dialogue. The remit of the
string-writing, it’s enormously more The narrative is admirably clear and Marsyas Trio is ‘to
polished and engaging than the quartet. his additions contain some fine verbal inspire a generation
Again, it’s the finale I’m most taken flourishes. His Devil doesn’t just provide of new works’ for
with; its songlike character suggests a the Soldier with Havana cigars to smoke the combination of flute, cello and
turbulently lyrical Romantic ballad. And, in his hideaway but proffers ‘Sobrani piano, while ‘uncovering lesser-known
finally, another leap to the Chamber Black Russian, or perhaps, more exotic repertoire’. Their programme ticks both
Trio in A (1839), with its echoes of by far, / I believe we may still have an boxes in its focus on six works by women
Schumann, whom Bennett had met in Egyptian hookah’. There are striking composers, the oldest of which are Amy
Leipzig in 1837. Here, it’s the delicacy descriptions of the Devil’s appearance Beach’s delightful ‘Pastorale’ and Caprice
of the writing that’s most striking, disguised as an old woman, ‘like a tinker ‘Water Sprites’ (1921). The other five
particularly in the central Serenade, in drag’, and of the royal palace astir at composers are all British and the most
which blends song and chorale prelude, the arrival of the man who will cure the recent item is Georgia Rodgers’s
the strings playing pizzicato over the Princess of her mystery illness. The intriguing if formulaic soundscape York
piano’s unadorned part. downside, however, is that Waters’s Minster (2018), one of several inspired by
I wish I could be more enthusiastic interpolations add a good 20 minutes the ‘harmonic frequencies of resonant
about the performances. The Villiers to the standard running time and spaces’. Cleverly constructed, it sadly does
play with admirable warmth but are make the work seem unduly protracted not give any expressive feeling of that
too tied to beat and bar line, and their and discursive. great building itself. By contrast, Hilary
intonation can be iffy. There’s His laid-back delivery of the text Tann’s 2017 titular suite (though note the
insufficient sparkle and playfulness in itself, meanwhile, doesn’t always help, slight difference in spelling) is an object
the String Quartet, here in its premiere I’m afraid. His lived-in, gravelly voice lesson in musical depiction – in this case,
recording. The Sextet is marginally makes him a worldly-wise, wryly ironic seven different bird species.
more successful but outclassed by Narrator, though his northern-accented Also welcome is Judith Weir’s early,
Ilona Prunyi and her eloquent Soldier, nicely contrasted with the thorny little masterpiece Several Concertos
Hungarian colleagues (Marco Polo, Cockney Ex-Soldier who persuades him (1980), one of her many wry musical
11/94), part of Prunyi’s survey of to woo the Princess, could do with a bit commentaries on the manners of music-
Bennett’s piano music. more anger and frustration as awareness making – in this case as a series of tiny
The Trio fares best here by far. of the Devil’s machinations sinks in. concertos, one for each player (flautist
Cellist Nick Stringfellow applies some Some might find his adoption of a Helen Vidovich takes the piccolo in the
lovely legato con portamento in the first German accent for the Devil himself scintillating finale). The trio are
movement and Jeremy Young questionable, though it’s clear he has thoroughly put through their paces here
maintains a light touch in the finale’s great fun doing it. and in Laura Bowler’s Salutem (2014),
intricate figuration. But if you can Playing without a conductor, the a specially commissioned partner work
ferret out what I believe is a Swiss Bridgehampton musicians are excellent. to George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae, which
Radio broadcast of the work with Ensemble is carefully focused, solos is part of the Trio’s core repertoire.
Anton Kernjak, Hanna Weinmeister beautifully done. Slowish speeds make the The musicians are required to play
and Ana Leuzinger, you’ll find an Pastorale sound wistfully poignant. The each other’s instruments and assorted
even finer performance still. Royal March is very flamboyant and the percussion, to scream and take a selfie
Andrew Farach-Colton Princess’s dances have a sinewy grace. along the way!

82 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CHAMBER REVIEWS

From The Wall to The Soldier’s Tale: Roger Waters narrates his own adaptation of the text to Stravinsky’s inventive and evocative work

Thea Musgrave’s brief opening through tone-colour: the numinous aura


Canta, Canta! is calmer but has a complex around the Prelude, BWV857, or the
history, originating as a movement in her twilight colours of Handel’s D minor
1954 Cantata for a Summer’s Day before The Ferio Sarabande: José Banuls (on tenor) and
being arranged in 1997 for clarinet, cello Saxophone Quartet Shevaughan Beere (baritone) shape their
and piano; Vidovich worked with the made their debut attack so sensitively that you could swear
composer in this recent transcription for on Chandos last you’re hearing a string bass and cello.
alto flute. The performances throughout year with ‘Flux’, an imaginatively There’s a similar illusion of trumpet
are excellent and involving, NMC’s programmed disc of Romantic and and organ in the central movement of
recording is a little close but naturally contemporary music written specifically the Brandenburg.
clear and the whole is complemented by for saxophone quartet (9/17). They’re Huw Wiggin (on soprano) and Ellie
a fine booklet note from the clarinettist back now with a collection of Baroque McMurray (alto), meanwhile, are natural
Heather Roche. Guy Rickards lollipops, arranged by Iain Farrington, singers, phrasing supplely and
and it’s hard to avoid a slight feeling of expressively, though Farrington’s
‘Revive’ a let-down. written-in ornamentation can sound a
‘Baroque Arrangements for Saxophone Quartet’ Not because of the playing, which little synthetic. Livelier numbers go with
JS Bach Brandenburg Concerto No 3, BWV1048. remains superb; or the repertoire – only a kick and a swing; in all, it’s an enjoyable
Cantata No 208 – Schafe können sicher weiden. the glummest of historically informed programme. Why the reservations, then?
Fugue, BWV578. Italian Concerto, BWV971. pedants could object to hearing Purcell, Simply because, with a whole barely
Preludes and Fugues – BWV857; BWV885. Byrd or Handel played by a group as known repertoire waiting for advocacy,
Suite No 2, BWV1067 – Badinerie. Suite No 3, good as this. And, at the risk of heresy, a programme like this does feel slightly
BWV1068 – Air Byrd Pavan and Gigue, ‘The there are instances where the music gains like a retreat into sax quartet cliché –
Earl of Salisbury’ Corelli Concerto grosso, from being played by saxes: the outer when the Ferio Saxophone Quartet
‘Christmas’, Op 6 No 8 – Adagio Handel Suite, movements of Bach’s Third Brandenburg prove with every note that they’re
P H O T O G R A P H Y: S E A N E VA N S

HWV437 – Sarabande. Water Music: Suite No 2, Concerto, for example, definitely gain in capable of so much more. Richard Bratby
HWV349 – Alla Hornpipe; Bourrée; Suite No 3, contrapuntal clarity and colour, as do the
HWV350 – Minuet II Purcell Abdelazar, Z570 – different voices of the three Bach fugues Find your
Rondeau included here. music on
Ferio Saxophone Quartet These players also have a remarkable
www.qobuz.com
Chandos F CHAN10999 (67’ • DDD) way of generating an atmosphere

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 83


ICONS

Robert Kajanus
Andrew Mellor outlines the importance of the Finnish conductor and composer – friend,
mentor, champion and rival of Sibelius – who founded the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

I
n Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s 1894 painting Symposion biographer Yrjö Suomalainen, Kajanus ‘was convinced of
(‘The Symposium’), it is Robert Kajanus who occupies Sibelius’s greatness and … [assumed] the role of his faithful
the central position and draws the eye. Jean Sibelius, armour-bearer’.
waning to Kajanus’s left, would go on to change the course In fact, Kajanus’s achievements were more ambitious and
of musical history. But Kajanus was the biggest figure in the far-reaching. He was the first composer to write music explicitly
room and the most important Finnish musician of the decade: based on episodes from Finland’s national poem the Kalevala.
‘the master’, in Gallen- He lured countless musicians
Kallela’s words and in the
composition of his painting.
His Sibelius recordings have priceless from the Nordic region and
beyond to Helsinki. His
By the time of his death things to say about an orchestral language establishment of a respectable,
85 years ago in 1933, professional orchestra
Kajanus would have spent that was new and often unfathomable in Finland changed the
36 years dealing with the more country’s cultural reputation.
bitter fruits of Sibelius’s insecurities. He was the first Finnish conductor with an international
Kajanus must have seemed untouchable in the year profile and became a pioneering recording artist as a result.
of Symposion. His 12-year-old Helsinki Orchestra Sibelius stood to benefit from every one of those
Association – the earliest incarnation of today’s Helsinki achievements. But he tended to think the worst of his friend
Philharmonic Orchestra – had come of age in style. It had after a messy episode in 1897 when both men were
been renamed the Helsinki Philharmonic Society and considered for Helsinki University’s music professorship.
presented 11 performances of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Kajanus’s ambitious streak showed its unpleasant side,
each including 240 musicians. Finland had seen nothing like as he harangued the university into reversing its decision to
this event, presided over by an altitudinous wizard who appoint the cash-strapped Sibelius, landing himself the job
cast a spell over his public. Kajanus was a maestro in every instead. Ultimately, we should be grateful. Sibelius was
sense: ‘proud, stern, and statuesque in appearance’, a lousy teacher and needed to focus on writing.
according to the musicologist Glenda Dawn Goss, who It was in Kajanus’s concert series that so much of Sibelius’s
cites his piercing eyes and ivory baton as tools with which music was road-tested, both in front of an audience (one by
he grew ‘accustomed to being seen – and obeyed’. which the composer set great store) and in the context of
Kajanus was born into established masterpieces
a well-connected family in
defining moments and new ones. Kajanus
Helsinki in 1856; the music •1870s – Burgeoning composer aided Sibelius on matters
critic Karl Flodin was his Composes his first works mid-decade, including a cantata and of orchestration until the
cousin. He set out to be a violin sonata latter’s proto-spectralism
a composer, studying in entered a realm all of its
•1882 – Orchestra founder
Leipzig with Carl Reinecke own. Sibelius hated
Founds the Helsinki Orchestra Association, forerunner of today’s
and Salomon Jadassohn. admitting he took advice
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
At Martin Wegelius’s music from his senior, but when
institute in Helsinki he •1889 – Friend of Sibelius the Helsinki orchestra was
first encountered the musician Meets Jean Sibelius for the first time, establishing a powerhouse threatened with closure he
whose name the institute relationship not without its troubles was among the first to sing
would eventually take: on •1889 – Conducting student Kajanus’s praises in protest.
May 29, 1889, Kajanus met Travels to Berlin to study conducting with Hans von Bülow The two men needed each
Sibelius and heard his A minor •1890 – Conductor of a Kalevala first other, and they knew it.
String Quartet, subsequently Conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in his own Kalevala-derived Although his legacy is more
declaring that he would work, Aino nuanced and fundamental,
no longer compose in the Kajanus is remembered as
face of such talent. Wegelius •1900 – Touring conductor a conductor. Right at the
warned Kajanus, correctly, Conducts the musicians of the Helsinki Orchestra Association end of his life, already ill with
that the urge wouldn’t be on a major European tour, making his name the circulation problems that
banished so easily. Either •1930 – Recording pioneer would kill him (as Symposion
way, according to his Begins pioneering recording of Sibelius’s works in London suggests, one trusty bond

84 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


ICONS

between him and Sibelius was found in liquid form), he was a real Finnish folk tune. Another biographer, Matti Vainio,
in London (in 1930 and 1932) making the first recorded cycle suggests that Kajanus really found his voice as a composer
of Sibelius’s symphonies and some of his tone poems with the with his Sinfonietta (1915) – a score of lithe agility but not
LSO, recordings whose directional impulse and fortitude inconsiderable drama which shows that Kajanus had started
have priceless things to say about an to distil his music much like Sibelius
P H O T O G R A P H Y: C A R L K L E I N /AT E L I E R U N I V E R S A L

orchestral language that was new and the essential recording had before him. Thus he was always
often unfathomable. Three decades aware of new voices and directions
later, recordings were still being Sibelius Tapiola in music, also championing works
made that come nowhere near these LSO / Kajanus by Hindemith, Ravel, Prokofiev,
in understanding. Naxos (1/33; 4/74) Stravinsky and Honegger. He was
True to Wegelius’s advice, Kajanus’s understanding of just the internationally perceptive,
Kajanus did keep composing. His Sibelius’s novel structures domestically energetic musician that
guiding light was Wagner. His most is fully in evidence in Finland needed. Would the country
famous work, Kullervo’s Funeral that most mysterious of have become the musical force it is
March, combines that devotion with scores, Tapiola. today without him?

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 85


Instrumental
Jeremy Nicholas enjoys Tchaikovsky Charlotte Gardner hears a debut
and Mussorgsky from Barry Douglas: album from Elicia Silverstein:
‘I don’t know how long he has had these ‘Her flowing, gossamer-weighted and
works in his repertoire but they sound like old vulnerable-toned reading of Bach’s Chaconne
friends, well played-in’ REVIEW ON PAGE 93 is entirely convincing’ REVIEW ON PAGE 95

Balakirev . Glazunov . weighed down by their Brahmsian French violinist Jacques Thibaud) is
Kosenko intellectuality but his galumphing finale also a work to reckon with, its opening
‘Russian Piano Sonatas, Vol 1’ needs all Maltempo’s sonoric wizardry ‘Obsession’ toying with Bach’s E major
Balakirev Piano Sonata No 2, Op 102 to make its academic routines palatable. Prelude (Solo Partita No 3) while ghosting
Glazunov Piano Sonata No 2, Op 75 The Italian has already won his spurs the ‘Dies irae’ chant, which dominates the
Kosenko Piano Sonata No 2, Op 14 in his Alkan and Lyapunov recordings, and rest of the piece. Again the cut and thrust
Vincenzo Maltempo pf whatever the intrinsic rewards of his chosen of Pietsch’s playing makes a big impression,
Piano Classics F PCL10159 (70’ • DDD) ‘Russian’ repertoire, it could hardly hope while the Bachian axis is nearly as evident
for a more eloquent champion. Michelle Assay in the single-movement Third Sonata,
Balakirev – selected comparison: dedicated to that pre-eminent Bachian
Driver (4/11) (HYPE) CDA67806 Georges Enescu. Here passion takes the
I can already hear Glazunov – selected comparison: upper hand and Pietsch never stints in
the sighs from Kiev Coombs (11/96R) (HYPE) CDH55224 that respect, nor in her masterful handling
at seeing Victor Kosenko – selected comparison: of chords.
Kosenko, born and Shkoda (CENT) CRC3109 Perhaps the lightest work on the
educated in St Petersburg but thereafter programme is Prokofiev’s Solo Sonata
adopted as a true son of Ukrainian music, Bartók . Prokofiev . Ysaÿe which, as Norbert Hornig tells us in his
appearing under the banner of Russia. And Bartók Solo Violin Sonata, Sz117 useful booklet note, was composed in 1947
more sighs still will come my way if I say Prokofiev Solo Violin Sonata, Op 115 as an exercise in unison-playing for violin
that, despite his reputation in Ukraine and Ysaÿe Solo Violin Sonatas, Op 27 – No 2; No 3 students. Of especial note is the folky third
his undoubted service to the advancement Franziska Pietsch vn movement, where Pietsch focuses the spirit
of its music, there is little that distinguishes Audite F AUDITE97 758 (64’ • DDD) to perfection. Audite’s sound quality is
his Second Sonata from any averagely extremely realistic so if the programme
gifted turn-of-the-century pianist- appeals, I wouldn’t hesitate. If it’s just the
composer, other than the fact that the Bartók Sonata in digital sound you’re after
sonata was composed not in 1901 (as a Franziska Pietsch truly then Pietsch is up there with Kelemen
French review suggests, forgetting that takes ownership of (Hungaroton, 5/13) and Ehnes (Chandos,
the composer would have been barely Bartók’s Solo Sonata. 1/13), maybe even marginally more
three at the time) but in 1924. Frustratingly Her interpretation is outspoken than either. Rob Cowan
repetitive and predictable, this is at best prompted by the idea of his ‘explosive
a pastiche of early Scriabin (his Third seriousness’, a notion that fans the flames Beethoven
Sonata), Rachmaninov and Chopin. of her performance, especially in the ‘Tempest – Piano Sonatas, Vol 7’
Despite Maltempo’s valiant efforts, as with opening Chaconne and the Fugue that Three Piano Sonatas, Op 31.
Natalya Shkoda on Centaur, the value of follows, where the voicing has an orchestral Piano Sonata, WoO47 No 3
his recording is perhaps less aesthetic than dynamism about it. The Chaconne leavens Martin Roscoe pf
as an item of library reference. anger with moments of profound repose, Deux-Elles F DXL1167 (84’ • DDD)
Maltempo’s eloquent phrasing and always spinning the illusion that this isn’t
expansive array of colours are of a very high Bartók’s music but Pietsch’s own, that we
order indeed, and they come to the rescue just happened to walk in while she was in
of the other two sonatas on the disc, both the throes of spontaneous creation. That’s Martin Roscoe began
of which leap off the page with unexpected the effect but the truth is rather more his traversal of the
vividness – unexpected, because they are so subtle, a carefully wrought structure that’s Beethoven Piano
indebted to Chopin, Schumann and Liszt never jemmied out of shape. The Melodia Sonatas in 2010, billed
that any individual voice is hard to discern. is beautifully phrased; the closing Presto as the first complete recording of the Barry
Danny Driver and Stephen Coombs are a frenzied will-o’-the-wisp where the Cooper Edition. This volume, the seventh
more than estimable advocates for quarter-tones are an integrated part of the of a projected nine, contains the three
Balakirev and Glazunov, respectively, but narrative. So often they sound accidental sonatas of 1802 that, despite their disparate
Maltempo brings a special charm, flexibility rather than colouristic. character, are roughly contemporaneous
and clarity to bear, and his Glazunov is It’s fair to say that Bartók’s Sonata is with the Heiligenstadt Testament, prefaced
notably better recorded. Glazunov’s first the principal draw here but the second of by the third of the three sonatas composed
two movements are perhaps not unduly Ysaÿe’s Solo Sonatas (dedicated to the great by Beethoven at the age of 12.

86 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

An expansive array of colours: Vincenzo Maltempo lavishes his refined pianism on a volume of Russian piano sonatas

And a charming overture the D major The great E flat Sonata, Op 31 No 3, the late music to disc is obvious from
Sonata, WoO47 No 3, turns out to be in is appropriately kept on the early side of his conversation with Christopher Cook
preparation for weightier matters. Using a that great point-of-no-return, heralded in the booklet. And that care comes
noticeably lighter touch appropriate to the by the Waldstein and Eroica, ushering through in his music-making too. In
less robust pianos available in Bonn during in Beethoven’s ‘heroic’ second period. Op 117, for instance, he finds an apt
the early 1780s, Roscoe takes great pains to Textures are translucent throughout and simplicity to its opening number, while
exhibit the fecund imagination of the young a good bit of charm, in lieu of insistence, the second has a nice gentleness. The
composer. Though not yet harnessed to the sells the message. Despite the fact that third is filled with a tangible sadness, and
harmonic thinking of the mature master, the Scherzo is nothing short of hilarious, is nicely inward – altogether more urgent
the variety and resourcefulness of the it can’t upstage the madcap romp of than Jonathan Plowright, who produces
figurations are fascinating. the Rondo. one of the most touchingly withdrawn
In the outer movements of the G major These are original readings of great readings on record. In Op 116 Owen
Sonata, Op 31 No 1, Roscoe doesn’t let a style, wit and imagination, each individual is particularly telling in the A minor
single joke slip past, even as he delivers sonata emerging with rare emotional and Intermezzo, which has a pleasing
them with subtlety rather than with thigh- intellectual cohesion. I think you’ll enjoy intimacy, contrasting with the turbulence
slapping guffaws. He floats a flawless them. Patrick Rucker of the following number and the
cantabile above the sly accompaniment of sonorously beautiful E major Adagio
immense finesse in the Adagio grazioso in Brahms that forms the set’s centrepiece.
one of the disc’s many highlights. ‘Late Piano Music’ The highlights of Op 118 are to be
Roscoe charts a steady course through Piano Pieces – Op 76; Op 116; Op 117; found in the second piece, which he
the serious and occasionally threatening Op 118; Op 119. Two Rhapsodies, Op 79 turns into a true Lied, with a beautifully
terrain of the Tempest Sonata, Op 31 No 2. Charles Owen pf haloed middle section, and the Ballade,
Some of Beethoven’s more enigmatic Avie M b AV2397 (116’ • DDD) which sets off with a bright-eyed vigour
instructions are scrupulously observed, that avoids any hint of trenchancy thanks
including the pedal indication sustained to his light way with the left-hand
throughout the extended recitative of the chords. In the sixth piece – which, as
first movement, and the muffled drum That Charles Owen Owen mentions in the notes, has been
tattoos undergirding the Adagio. The moto has thought deeply identified by Jonathan Keates as starting
perpetuo of the finale – lean, fraught and about Brahms with the Dies irae chant – the pianist
sparsely pedalled – is alarmingly effective. before committing combines myriad colours with a

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 87


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

profound unease. But in the fourth piece, Beethoven 1 His third Liebestraum is perhaps most
I prefer Angelich’s more fluid tempo, ‘The Complete Pre-War Beethoven Recordings’ remarkable in that nothing is allowed
while in No 5 it is Plowright, with his JS Bach Christmas Oratorio, BWV248 – to obtrude between the listener and
steadier speed, who conveys the piece’s Pastorale (arr Clarence Lucas). Preludes and Freiligrath’s ardent text, which occupies the
processional quality. And of course any Fugues – BWV846; BWV687 Beethoven Piano foreground as though it were declaimed by
new recording of late Brahms is going to Concertos – No 4, Op 58a; No 5, ‘Emperor’, a great actor, without excess or affectation.
come up against Arcadi Volodos, whose Op 73b. Piano Sonatas – No 8, ‘Pathétique’, Op 13; The same could be said of Rückert’s ‘Du
combination of velvet tone and an No 14, ‘Moonlight’, Op 27 No 2; No 26, ‘Les meine Seele’ in this unforced yet eloquent
inimitable ear for voicing and singing adieux’, Op 81a; No 32, Op 111 performance of Liszt’s setting of
a melodic line casts a long shadow. Wilhelm Backhaus pf Schumann’s ‘Widmung’.
I was less convinced by Op 119, in a
London Symphony Orchestra; bRoyal As impressive as some of the smaller
which Owen sounds a touch tentative. Albert Hall Orchestra / Landon Ronald Schumann pieces are, it is the 1937
The opening piece is slightly too APR B b APR6027 (142’ • ADD) C major Fantasie that commands attention.
measured, while the second lacks the Recorded 1927-37 Shot through with poetry and passion, and
vivid characterisation of Lupu and supported by one of the great techniques
Freire. The third could have been of the century, this Fantasie is grippingly
more playful and the light-to-dark beautiful, all the more astonishing when
final Rhapsody doesn’t find the drama you consider that the second movement
that Lupu and Freire so abundantly represents a single unedited take.
demonstrate. On the other hand, The other two-disc set, devoted to
much of Op 76 works well, not least the pre-war Beethoven recordings, seems
the turbulent first piece and the gently Wilhelm Backhaus’s Chopin Études, more consistent with the image we have
playful second, though in the third Opp 10 and 25 from 1928, were the first of Backhaus’s later years. The G major
Plowright dares to dream more, to to be recorded as a complete set and Concerto (No 4) was recorded in
rapturous effect. remain justly famous, retaining even today September 1929 and the following March.
The two Op 79 Rhapsodies are an unassailable position among the finest. The Emperor, on the other hand, was
another highlight of this set, though, They are part of a new APR two-disc set, captured in a single day in January 1927.
Owen conveying the requisite sense of alongside a miscellany of Chopin, Liszt, Landon Ronald was the able collaborator
power, surmounting their difficulties Schumann (including the C major Fantasie) in both. Backhaus has a particularly
with ease and making the much-played and others, comprising Backhaus’s fascinating way with the development of
G minor very much his own. recordings for HMV between 1925 and the G major’s opening Allegro but it must
Harriet Smith 1937. Listeners familiar only with the be said that his decision to use his own
Piano Pieces – selected comparisons: formidable granite surfaces of Backhaus’s elaborate cadenza in the Rondo, in lieu
Volodos (6/17) (SONY) 88875 13019-2 post-war Beethoven or Brahms will find of Beethoven’s, threatens to swamp
Freire (A/07) (DECC) 483 2154DH in this collection a treasure trove of the movement. Jed Distler’s perceptive
Plowright (12/14, 2/16, 4/17) (BIS) BIS2117, 2127, 2137 delightful surprises. booklet notes point out that Backhaus felt
Opp 116-119 – selected comparison: Backhaus’s own transcriptions of the that the Emperor was the recording with
Angelich (4/07) (VIRG/ERAT) 379302-2 Serenade from Don Giovanni and the E flat which he would most like to represent
Opp 79 & 117-119 – selected comparison: Marche militaire of Schubert warrant pride himself to posterity. The sonatas are a bit
Lupu (8/87, 3/06) (DECC) 417 599-2GH, 475 7070DC3 of place. Virtuoso transcriptions they of a mixed bag, some superior to his later
undoubtedly are, but with the peculiar recordings, others not. The Bach pieces
Chopin . Liszt . quirk that one must listen closely to were fillers for the extra sides of the
Schumann 1 discern their difficulty. Technical display, original 78 releases.
‘HMV Recordings 1925-1937’ as it were, is almost hidden, so that the Both of these welcome sets fill out a
Albéniz Iberia, Book 2 – No 3, Triana. Tango, original piece is front and centre, subtly portrait of one of Germany’s important
Op 165 No 2 (arr Godowsky) Chopin embellished with its by no means obvious pianists. Patrick Rucker
Berceuse, Op 57. Études – Op 10; Op 25. virtuoso trappings. Given the fame of
Fantaisie-Impromptu, Op 66. Prelude, Op 28 Backhaus’s Chopin Études, it’s less Liszt
No 1. Waltzes – No 1, Op 18; No 6, Op 64 No 1 surprising that two Waltzes, Op 18 and ‘Complete Piano Music, Vol 51’
Delibes Naïla – Waltz (arr Dohnányi) Op 64 No 1, should be brilliant or the Albumblatt, ‘Première Consolation’, S171b
Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody, S244 No 2. Berceuse charming. Yet Albéniz’s ‘Triana’ (fragment). Après une lecture de Dante, S158b
Liebestraum, S541 No 3. Waldesrauchen, and Godowsky’s transcription of the Tango, (second version). Ballade No 2, S170a (first
S145 No 2. Widmung (Schumann), S566 Op 165 No 1, are likely to leave your version). Consolations, S171a (first version).
Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream – windows steamed. No, really. Sposalizio, S157a (first version). Der Tanz in der
Scherzo (arr Hutcheson) Moszkowski Backhaus was also an extraordinarily Dorfschenke, S514 (revised version)
Caprice espagnole, Op 37 Mozart Don persuasive Liszt player. The sixth Soirée Goran Filipec pf
Giovanni – Serenade (arr Backhaus) de Vienne is savoured as one would the Naxos M 8 573794 (70’ • DDD)
Schubert Marche militaire, D733 No 3 unpretentious pleasure of a light
(arr Backhaus) Schumann Fantasie, Op 17. white Viennese wine. ‘Waldesrauschen’
Fantasiestücke, Op 12 – No 2, Aufschwung; is imbued with the seriousness of purpose
No 7, Traumes Wirren. Nachtstück, Op 23 of a symphonic poem. What the Second The latest instalment
No 4 Smetana Polka No 3 Hungarian Rhapsody lacks in gypsy swagger in Naxos’s series of
Wilhelm Backhaus pf and abandon is more than compensated by Liszt’s piano music
APR B b APR6026 (160’ • ADD) the ease and polish of its sterling pianism. contains early or

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 89


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INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

King’s organ scholar Richard Gowers gives a thrilling account of Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur

otherwise unfamiliar versions of a several Liszt series, are nothing short of superb. thoughts that this famous organ might be
quite well-known pieces. What exactly are A seasoned and perceptive Liszt player, just too English to get its tongue around
the differences? Without space to deal Filipec commands vast technical resources the Gallic accents of Messiaen are
with them in detail, a few suggestions and a shimmering, beautifully expressive conclusively brushed aside with the
must suffice. The second version of the sound. His idiomatic grasp is such that, tremendously focused and intensely
Dante Sonata, called Prolégomènes, a work if we didn’t have the final versions of cerebral playing of Richard Gowers. In
that Liszt is known to have played and these works, Filipec’s take on the earlier his own essay on why he chose to record
continued to refine during his touring drafts would go a long way towards this work, he suggests that ‘it has been
years, contains most of the material of the compensation. With its blend of unusual connected with the Chapel and organ
final version as it appears in the second yet recognisable repertory and first-class at King’s for a long time’, and goes on to
book of Années de pèlerinage, with little of pianism, this is a release you won’t want remind us that its final part, the thrilling
substance that was finally omitted. By and to miss. Patrick Rucker toccata ‘Dieu parmi nous’, has often been
large, the Prolégomènes feels less spacious, used as the postlude to the annual service
with what seem to be truncated and Messiaen of Nine Lessons and Carols.
occasionally abrupt transitions, as well La Nativité du Seigneur But this sentimental connection aside –
as a few elaborations which were well Richard Gowers org and his is a singularly thrilling performance
deleted. The B minor Ballade is King’s College, Cambridge F KGS0025 (68’ • DDD) of that movement – Gowers conveys the
essentially the familiar text, yet with a Played on the organ of King’s College, Cambridge fundamental musicality of the work. There
heroic apotheosis. For all its splendour, is a sense here that he feels the music, that
one has to agree with the composer that he shares much of the Messiaen’s vision
the quiet ending of the final version and that he knows exactly what he wants to
creates the more compelling artwork. And Messiaen’s nine- music to say to the listener, whether or not
in place of the famous third Consolation, movement reflection the organ makes the sort of sound Messiaen
we find an embryonic First Hungarian on the birth of Christ might originally have had in mind.
P H O T O G R A P H Y: B E N J A M I N S H E E N

Rhapsody. All told, these versions offer a has long earned its The recording quality is also very fine,
fascinating glimpse into Liszt’s creative place as one of the great classics for organ, as are the copious booklet notes – the
workshop and the evolution of his so it is no surprise to see King’s College absence of any material about the organ
musical thought. Chapel, Cambridge, adding its voice to the is appropriate since Gowers’s performance
The performances of the Croatian catalogue of fine recordings of the work. is never intended as a showcase of organ
pianist Goran Filipec, who has already This new release on King’s own label is colours – and all told I recommend this disc
contributed two volumes to the Naxos most certainly very fine indeed. Lingering wholeheartedly, even in the light of some

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 91


THE
COMPASSION
PROJECT
EDNA MICHELL, YEHUDI MENUHIN,
+ FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD

At the invitation of Menuhin and Michell, distinguished


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the theme of universal compassion through music.

Two CD, 24 composer tribute including:


Berio, Foss, Glass, Kurtág, Reich, Rihm, Saariaho,
Tavener, Xenakis … special appearances by
Allen Ginsberg and Orson Welles.

“impressive … memorable, very well recorded”


(GZDUG*UHHQÀHOGGramophone*
“strongly calming and spiritual … moving”
John Sunier, Audiophile*
“a lovely set … top shelf work throughout”
Chris Spector, Midwest Record

Available @ innova.mu, Amazon + more


*Review of Disk A in 2001
INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

pretty stiff competition from the likes such as ‘Bydπo’ beginning ff (not with a makes everything speak so much more
of Olivier Latry (DG, 5/02) and one of distant pp), no repeats in ‘Goldenberg and naturally and Carcano doesn’t come close
Gowers’s illustrious predecessors as a Schmuÿle’ and the original ending of two to Anderszewski in terms of personality.
King’s organ scholar, Simon Preston octave B flats. Is he quite feroce enough in In Davidsbündlertänze, there are
(Decca/Eloquence, 3/66, 3/18). ‘Baba-Yaga’? Does he release too much occasional hints of what might have been
Marc Rochester tension in ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’? had Carcano simply allowed the music to
Not enough to spoil a distinguished speak for itself. A number such as ‘Zart
Mussorgsky . Tchaikovsky and beautifully recorded account of und singend’ (track 19) has poise and
‘Tchaikovsky Plus One, Vol 1’ this great score. poetry, while tracks 17 and 21 show that he
Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition Set beside Barry Douglas, I’m afraid has technique aplenty. But ‘Nicht schnell’
Tchaikovsky The Seasons, Op 37b Yuan Sheng’s account of The Seasons is (track 12) drenches Schumann’s creation in
Barry Douglas pf like comparing a pleasant spring walk cheap perfume, while ‘Balladenmässig, sehr
Chandos F CHAN10991 (76’ • DDD) in the Yorkshire Dales with a freezing rasch’ (track 15) is spoilt by an unsubtle left
midwinter trudge through the streets hand. He’s a world away from artists such
Tchaikovsky of Sheng’s native Beijing. Despite the as Uchida, who makes this piece completely
Tchaikovsky The Seasons, Op 37b. fulsome biography in the booklet, I fail her own with a masterful imagination and
Aveu passioné. Dumka, Op 59. to hear much beyond a decent technique the most subtle pianism, or Imogen
Two Pieces, Op 10. Romance, Op 5 and a limited imagination. Five unrelated Cooper, who brings to it a finely
Yuan Sheng pf Tchaikovsky solos beckoned, among them detailed characterisation.
Piano Classics F PCL10157 (74’ • DDD) the popular Humoresque but here without Carcano ends with the late
its requisite impish twinkle. The final Geistervariationen, the theme unfolding
piece is the Dumka, made famous by quite steadily. Here, too, there’s a tendency
Vladimir Horowitz in his 1942 recording. to get lost in the detail: the Canon is
If Sheng has heard it, he must have unsubtly rendered, while the fourth
persuaded himself that his way of playing variation is overly concerned with inner
the piece is more interesting than detail and the last also lacks a sense of line.
Horowitz’s. But it isn’t. Though Yuan How much more Cooper makes of this.
‘Tchaikovsky Plus One’ is the first of a new Sheng’s Bach has been widely acclaimed, Harriet Smith
series in which Barry Douglas pairs some Tchaikovsky, I feel, is not quite his thing. Humoreske – selected comparisons:
of Tchaikovsky’s principal works for solo Jeremy Nicholas Lupu (4/95) (DECC) 440 496-2DH
piano with those of his compatriots. It was, Anderszewski (1/11R) (VIRG/ERAT) 642022-0
of course, in Russia where Douglas made Schumann Youn (11/18) (SONY) 19075 86090-2
his name by winning the 1986 Tchaikovsky Davidsbündlertänze, Op 6. Geistervariationen, Davidsbündlertänze – selected comparison:
Competition. But even before that, as he WoO24. Humoreske, Op 20 Uchida (12/10) (DECC) 478 2280DH2 or 478 2936DH
explains, he ‘felt a deep affinity with Gabriele Carcano pf Davidsbündlertänze, Geistervariationen – selected comparison:
Russian culture’. And it shows. Rubicon F RCD1022 (78’ • DDD) Cooper (10/15) (CHAN) CHAN10874
I don’t know how long he has had these
works in his repertoire but they sound ‘American Landscapes’
like old friends, well played-in. From the ‘Anthology of American Piano Music, Vol 3’
opening bars of the Schumannesque ‘By Anyone on the Cadman From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water
the hearth’ (January from The Seasons), receiving end of Copland Down a Country Lane Farwell From
Douglas draws you in with his self-effacing, a Borletti-Buitoni Mesa and Plain, Op 20 (excs). Sourwood
intimate approach and beguiling tone. fellowship gets my Mountain, Op 78 No 3 Grainger Spoon River
Anyone who has heard his ‘Celtic respect, as it’s generally an indicator of Harris Streets of Laredo Heinrich The Minstrel’s
Reflections’ and ‘Celtic Airs’ albums prodigious musical promise. Yet Gabriele March, or The Road to Kentucky MacDowell
(also Chandos) will know how eloquent Carcano’s new disc of Schumann does not Woodland Sketches, Op 51 Mason Silver Spring,
he can be when presented with a simple, live up to expectations. Problems become Op 6 Ornstein A Morning in the Woods Still
uncluttered melody line. Listen to apparent right from the start: the opening A Deserted Plantation
‘Barcarolle’ (June) and ‘Autumn Song’ movement of Schumann’s Humoreske is so Cecile Licad pf
(October) and you’ll see what I mean. pulled-about, the hands desychronised as Danacord F DACOCD800 (77’ • DDD)
The more extrovert numbers (‘Carnaval’/ a matter of course, that you practically
February, ‘Troïka’/November) are no lose sight of where the bar lines fall. This
less successful. is compounded by a focus on creating a
There have been more viscerally thrilling clarity of texture which leaves the music Like its predecessors,
Pictures than this from Horowitz and feeling disembodied. William Youn, in the third volume of
Richter down, but few with such musical his recent Sony disc, was a far more Cecile Licad’s
and textual integrity. I listened to it with compelling interpreter. The second ‘Anthology of
great pleasure. Nothing to scare the horses, section begins more convincingly but this American Piano Music’ is a model of
nothing exaggerated, no tinkering with the doesn’t last; and, while there are passages imaginative programme-building. Aaron
text, each section deftly characterised and that succeed better, such as the energetic Copland’s wistful Down a Country Lane
using the full tonal and dynamic range of writing in the midst of the third part, it’s raises a gentle curtain upon early
the piano. Douglas uses the original score, very hit-and-miss and ultimately 19th-century composer Anthony Philip
so you hear minor differences from the Carcano’s disinclination to stick to any Heinrich’s energetically naive The
more familiar Rimsky-Korsakov edition particular tempo is frustrating. Lupu Minstrel’s March. This music provides

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 93


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

a brilliant lead-in to the more strikingly says on the back cover. Such hype normally
idiosyncratic keyboard layout of Percy puts my back up. But on this occasion I’ll
Grainger’s Spoon River, where Licad happily endorse it.
manages to make the passages in extreme The 24-year-old To start, as Yuja Wang does, with
registers sound full-bodied. Franco-Spanish one of the most well-flogged warhorses
Licad’s long-proven instinct for classical guitarist in the repertoire, in the shape of the
Romantic breadth and ear-catching Thibaut Garcia’s third Rachmaninov G minor Prelude, would
nuance fully manifests itself throughout recording – his second for Erato – revisits seem to be asking for trouble, and her
William Mason’s scintillating Silver the music of Bach and Latin America. But opening bars do flirt with sensationalism by
Spring and Edward MacDowell’s where the first, ‘Demain dès l’aube’, giving so much so soon. But that would be
Woodland Sketches. She brings just the included Bach’s Sixth Partita, BWV830, to underestimate her exceptional resources
right kind of scurrying, nervous energy and the second, ‘Leyendas’, Piazzolla’s of dynamics, tone and accent. Similarly, her
to the upward unison runs of ‘In Autumn’ Estaciones Porteñas, ‘Bach Inspirations’, rubato in the middle section is strikingly
while breathing fresh, easy-going life into as its title suggests, focuses on Bach’s pliant; yet it never breaks the broad line,
that old chestnut ‘To a Wild Rose’. The influence on subsequent composers, not and the layering of the texture is superbly
rhythmic kick that Licad brings to Arthur just from Latin America but also from orchestral, while the reprise shows her
Farwell’s Sourwood Mountain’s hoedown Poland and the Balkans. ability to give sharp profile to her phrasing
fiddle evocations couldn’t be more In his flowing, pellucid interpretations at either dynamic extreme.
idiomatic, and the same can be said for Garcia himself seems to be inspired by In the first of her two C minor Études-
her straightforward interpretations of Bach’s name, and throughout much of the tableaux she is as tempestuous and
the five pieces encompassing Farwell’s programme there’s a compelling tension temperamental as the music demands:
From Mesa and Plain, a suite based on between the rippling enunciation of lighter some might even say more than it demands.
Native American songs and dances. paragraphs and the precipitous propulsion But she never loses her head, and her
And given Licad’s splendid way with of more dramatic passages. This is most colours are original without being wilful.
Gottschalk, it’s not surprising that she’s obvious in Garcia’s thrilling, magisterial As the slower Étude-tableau demonstrates,
totally comfortable negotiating the performance of Bach’s D minor Chaconne, her ‘boundless imagination’ is equally
syncopated sound world in the outer where he also relishes the ringing campanella evident in her pedalling, and in both the
movements of William Grant Still’s effects while injecting a mesmeric fluidity B minor Prelude and Scriabin’s Sonata
A Deserted Plantation. into the rapid scale and arpeggio passages No 10 she moves smoothly between
Leo Ornstein’s almost Scriabinesque that throw into sharper relief the cleanly feathery, evocative touches and maximum
A Morning in the Woods reveals an etched architecture of the sunlit major eruptive volatility.
introspective side to a composer better section. But it is also there from the The three Ligeti Études are supreme
known for his wilder futuristic style, and beginning, with Barrios’s melancholy La tests of pianistic colouring as well as
again suits Licad’s stylistic proclivities. catedral, and later, in the less often-heard intellectual agility, and here too Wang
But she slightly disappoints in the final Inventions of Alexandre Tansman and offers a tour de force of quasi-orchestral
two selections. The wonderful harmonic Du≈an Bogdanović’s superb Suite brève. detail. I have not carried out a forensic-
ideas in Roy Harris’s Streets of Laredo are An expressive, sweet-toned Elsa Dreisig level comparison with Aimard but the
undermined by Licad’s overly fast and joins Garcia for the Bach/Gounod Ave general impression he gives is certainly
casually phrased performance; I find Maria and the aria from Villa-Lobos’s more strenuous and less streamlined.
that the music’s plain and granitic Bachianas Brasileiras No 5, while the latter’s Prokofiev’s Sonata No 8 demands a
demeanour are better served by the Bachian Prelude No 3 looks past the longer-range grasp of drama, and here too
austere deliberation of Geoffrey Bogdanović to the most sheerly beautiful Wang rises to the challenge. Again her
Burleson’s Naxos recording. Plus her takes on Bach’s ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die weighting of the component parts of every
twitchy rubato in Cadman’s From the Stimme’ and ‘Jesus bleibet meine Freude’ texture is a marvel to behold, and this in
Land of the Sky-Blue Water often makes I’ve heard from any guitarist to date: clear, turn enables the outer movements to fly
it difficult to ascertain the basic pulse. relaxed and full of feeling. William Yeoman rather than merely to bludgeon, as they
However, on the whole, Licad’s caring sometimes do. Occasionally a slight left-
and intelligent performances and the ‘The Berlin Recital’ before-right desynchronisation helps her
savvy programme selection by David Ligeti Études – No 1, Désordre; No 3, Touches along, which I can imagine some finding
Dubal and executive producer Thomas bloquées; No 9, Vertige Prokofiev Piano Sonata a little mannered, especially in the Andante
Nickelsen augur well for future volumes. No 8, Op 84 Rachmaninov Études tableaux – sognando slow movement, where her rubato
Jed Distler Op 33 No 3; Op 39 No 1. Preludes – Op 23 No 5; also arguably detracts more than it adds.
Op 32 No 10 Scriabin Piano Sonata No 10, Op 70 To rival Richter’s classic, though
‘Bach Inspirations’ Yuja Wang pf admittedly more drily recorded and plain-
JS Bach Solo Violin Partita No 2, BWV1004 – DG F 483 6280GH (65’ • DDD) speaking, 1962 account would require some
Chaconne. Cantata No 140 – Wachet auf, ruft Recorded live at the Kammersaal of the reining-in of her instinct to seduce and
uns die Stimme. Cantata No 147 – Jesus bleibet Philharmonie, Berlin, June 1, 2018 dazzle by sonoristic means, and a transfer
meine Freude Barrios La catedral Bogdanović of that energy into more probing for
Suite brève Gounod Ave Mariaa Tansman philosophical depth. On the other hand,
Inventions (Hommage à Bach). Pièce en forme Prokofiev’s innate exhibitionism is
de Passacaille Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras ‘Exceptional artistry, undeniably done full justice, while the
No 5 – Ariaa. Prelude No 3 (Homenagem a Bach) technical perfection finale’s crucial ‘irresolute’ reminiscence of
Thibaut Garcia gtr aElsa Dreisig sop and boundless the first movement also rings emotionally
Erato F 9029 56052-6 (69’ • DDD) imagination’ it true. The uber-exuberant last pages

94 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


INSTRUMENTAL REVIEWS

Inspired by Bach: Thibaut Garcia conveys the influence of Bach on composers from Latin America, Poland and the Balkans

provoke a torrent of applause that is as fully the first line of a Metastasio sonnet which magically Impressionistic, wistfully ethereal
earned as the hype accompanying the disc. describes the internal messiness of the approach she’s brought to both.
Anyone hitherto more put off than artistic process; and while this is because Scholarship has freed her to be different
drawn in by Yuja Wang’s glamorous image for Silverstein this sentiment rings true, too because, while for Biber’s Mystery
may have to do some rethinking in the light what’s ended up on record here is anything Sonata ‘The Crucifixion’ she is joined
of this recital. Fabulous piano sound, too: but messy. Indeed, this is a deeply thought- by theorboist Michelle Pasotti and cellist
to capture large-hall, high-impact playing through, bewitchingly rendered succession Mauro Valli, for Pandolfi Mealli’s Sonata
such as this without compromise or of interpretations that feels emblematic No 2, La Cesta, she’s been able to cite a
distortion is an achievement in itself. of the sorts of creative, genre-bending 17th-century basis for her more unusual
David Fanning Baroque projects which are increasingly decision to opt for cello accompaniment
Prokofiev – selected comparison: being presented by today’s younger alone, with the greater freedom and
Richter (DG ) 449 744-2GOR generation of artists. intimacy that allows for.
The programme itself is a full-blown Then, while Bach’s D minor Chaconne
‘The Dreams & scholarly effort exploring the philosophical, may be an eminently logical successor to
Fables I Fashion’ structural and technical connections Berio’s Sequenza VIII, it’s still a brave
JS Bach Solo Violin Partita No 2, BWV1004 – between the progressive violinistic choice for a young artist’s debut recording
Chaconne Berio Sequenza VIII Biber Mystery composers of the 17th century and the late (although Emmanuel Tjeknavorian was
(Rosary) Sonatas – No 10, ‘The Crucifixion’a; 20th-century Italian avant-garde composers equally brave this year when he opened his
No 16, Passacaglia Pandolfi Mealli Sonata, they in turn influenced: a proposition that own debut album with it – Sony Classical);
‘La Cesta’, Op 3 No 2b Sciarrino Capriccio No 2 on paper has all the air of a thesis title but Silverstein’s flowing, gossamer-weighted
Elicia Silverstein vn which in Silverstein’s musical outworking – and vulnerable-toned reading, though, is
P H O T O G R A P H Y: P A R L O P H O N E R E C O R D S LT D

ab
Mauro Valli vc aMichele Pasotti theorbo performed on pure gut strings – comes off both her own and entirely convincing.
Rubicon F RCD1031 (56’ • DDD) as a highly emotionally intelligent piece of Whatever Silverstein does next, I’m
pure art. This is also one of those rare already looking forward to it.
albums truly conceived as a whole listen Charlotte Gardner
from start to finish; for instance, from the
This debut disc from piano ending of Biber’s Mystery Sonata Find your
the American violinist Passacaglia comes the softly shimmering music on
Elicia Silverstein opening of Sciarrino’s Capriccio No 2,
www.qobuz.com
draws its title from with the two further connected by the

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 95


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS

John Pickard
Master of the string quartet and manipulator
of time – this British composer makes
anything seem possible, says David Bednall

A
powerful gesture, an intriguing sonority, an arresting
motif: the opening of a work by John Pickard captures
and entrances the ear, mind and heart. This is music
with a direct emotional and visceral impact, yet one is always
aware of a keen sense of logic and control; however, it is not
necessary to grasp the intricacies of the foundation to be
drawn fully into the distinct landscape of each work. These
qualities are characteristic of an artistic imagination in total
command of both the large- and the small-scale – an architect
and a decorator.
Pickard, who studied with William Mathias and Louis
Andriessen, has a voice that is distinctive but not tied to any
particular school or ideology. The highly dissonant and
violent rubs shoulders with the serene glow of major chords,
the densest of polyphonies with single-line melody (often
within single movements). Two elements are key to this.
First, a mastery of instrumentation, orchestration and colour,
allowing the realisation in practical sound of the exotically
imagined. Pickard enjoys the challenge of writing for
instruments both ‘in character’ and in ways which expand
their capabilities, but always at the behest of the expressive
demands. A factor which no doubt contributes to this is his
practical experience as a conductor – a rehearsal under his
baton is notable for its efficiency and insight as well as the
experience of playing a familiar score in a new but entirely
convincing way. Secondly, he is never content to repeat
himself or to become formulaic. As he tells me, ‘I like to
surprise myself! I don’t want my development as a composer
to be predictable, or to seek a style in a conscious way as this return. The piece also highlights Pickard’s use of exotic
rules certain things out of your language and potentially limits percussion, and his rich and imaginative orchestration is,
its range.’ This range runs from symphonies to works for as ever, intoxicating. The other side to this is his meditation
children’s choirs, from the deeply serious to the entertaining. on darkness – Tenebrae (2008). Taking its title from the
Maundy Thursday Service at the darkest point of the
It displays once again a fertile ability Christian calendar (although it is not a religious work),
Tenebrae explores the deep, the shadowy, the violent, the
to create an exhilaratingly varied half-seen, and borrows a fragment from Gesualdo’s Tenebrae
Responsories for Holy Saturday. Something of the notoriously
world for an unusual combination dramatic life of this murderous Renaissance composer is also
conveyed. Pickard has always had a fascination with the lower
At the core of this output are the large orchestral works, end of the orchestra, and two contrabassoons and two tubas
and his symphonic technique and imagination place him at the (one being a contrabass) are a couple of the requirements here.
forefront of contemporary exponents. Perhaps the best entry Pickard’s interest in finding inspiration in old forms is seen
point to his music is The Flight of Icarus (1990) – a vibrant and in the symphonies, particularly in his most recent, the Fifth
thrilling tribute to mankind’s spirit of endeavour, even when (2014). This masterful work (running in a single half-hour
such is doomed to failure. The ending is filled with compassion span) is founded on the alternation of fast and slow music.
for the failure of heroism, but also honours humanity’s To begin with, gradually shortening sections of fast music
strength to try again. Pickard’s approach to the tone poem alternate with gradually lengthening ones of slow music; this
is rarely ‘pictorial’ – his works in this genre instead tend to alters over time until at the midpoint the balance is reversed.
represent a mood, a mindset. Sixteen Sunrises (2013) is a good Pickard plays compelling aural tricks throughout, however,
example, the title being the number of sunrises seen from the as the tempos change between sections, and he deliberately
International Space Station in a 24-hour period. He does not writes music which is slow in pulse but fast in effect. The
illustrate 16 dawns, but rather captures the idea of light and work is also remarkable for its use of three sets of timpani –
its rapid emergence from the darkness to which it can then the unique nature of this demand and the particular writing

96 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


CONTEMPORARY COMPOSERS
pickard facts songs by baritone Roderick Williams and soprano Eve Daniell
1963 Born September 11 shows an ear acutely attuned to word-setting. The large-scale
in Burnley, Lancashire Piano Sonata (1987) combines immense instrumental
1981-84 Studies at Bangor virtuosity with strict control and a violence which still shakes
University with William Mathias the listener, while Snowbound (2010) for bass clarinet, cello
1984-85 Studies at the Royal and piano displays once again a fertile ability to create an
Conservatoire, The Hague, exhilaratingly varied world for an unusual combination (the
with Louis Andriessen bass clarinet and cello often display their upper registers).
1989 Symphony No 2 Pickard is rightly regarded as one of the most important
premiered by BBC Philharmonic contemporary masters of the string quartet (he has written
1990 Composes The Flight five in total). He has spoken of this medium as having
of Icarus a particular cachet, and his proud acknowledgement of
1993 Appointed to University belonging to the tradition led to two self-imposed restrictions:
of Bristol Department for no extended techniques, and virtually no pizzicato. This makes
Continuing Education (later, in the ‘Concerti’ movement of the Fourth String Quartet
2009, awarded Personal Chair: (1997-98) all the more remarkable: these ‘rules’ are
Professor of Composition and abandoned for an affectionate portrait of the members of
Applied Musicology) the Sorrel Quartet, for whom it was written. Elsewhere,
1994 String Quartet No 3 an intensity of thought and passionate, lyrical expression is
1997-98 String Quartet No 4 present – the slow movement of the Third (1994) being of
2001-04 Cory Band particular note in this respect. The magisterial String Quartet
composer-in-residence No 5 (2011-12) marked a return to the genre, and is a powerful
2005-16 General editor of the study in conflict and resolution, honouring and revitalising
Elgar Complete Edition this revered form.
2005 Gaia Symphony Mention must also be made of his work as professor of
premiered at the composition and applied musicology at the University of
Cheltenham Music Festival Bristol. I must declare an interest here – I decided to study
2008 Tenebrae – a ‘meditation with him for my PhD after hearing his quartets. The highest
on darkness’ tribute one can pay to a composition teacher is that their
2014 Sixteen Sunrises students sound neither like the teacher or each other,
premiered by Nagoya and this is very much the case with Pickard. Rather, each
Philharmonic Orchestra individual voice is strengthened, supported and stretched
2016 Symphony No 5 into new realms and given a thought process for life.
premiered by BBC NOW Pickard is an inspirational teacher, thankfully devoid of
2018 Rain, Steam and Speed any dogma. The same can be said of his powerful and
premiered in January memorable musical output.
by Cory Band
Pickard on Pickard ‘I believe A PICK OF THE PICKARD CROP
that symphonic thought Works that span his career from 1990 to 2014
he employs requiring matches the reality and
a rethink about how to lay out complexity of our world, Symphony No 5. Concertante Variations.
the score. Melodic lines are in which nothing is fixed and Sixteen Sunrises. Toccata (after Monteverdi)
passed between these sets, and everything is in a constant Wind quintet; BBC NOW / Martyn Brabbins
fierce antiphonal exchanges state of change’ BIS (A/17)
add strong visual drama in The Fifth Symphony is given a virtuoso performance,
live performance. not least by the three timpanists. Joining it are the luminescent
Concepts of time and its manipulation feature in other Sixteen Sunrises, the sparkling Concertante Variations and an
works as well, such as the recent Rain, Steam and Speed (2017) imaginative orchestration of Monteverdi’s Toccata from Orfeo.
for brass band. Here the tempo increases constantly from Eden. Symphony No 4, ‘Gaia Symphony’
crotchet=40 to the highest speed on the metronome, but at Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag / Andreas Hanson
a seamless rate, requiring great skill from the conductor. BIS (11/14)
Incidentally, the rapturous applause that greeted this work These are major works for brass band which both use
at the premiere in Manchester earlier this year is testament the forces to the full. Gaia Symphony also includes
to how immediate this style can be. three short movements (‘Windows’) for percussion. It would be
Pickard’s compositions for brass bands represent a further difficult to imagine greater advocates for this music than those here.
important strand of his output. His writing for this medium The Flight of Icarus. The Spindle of Necessity.
is every bit as rewarding and imaginative as that for symphony Channel Firing
orchestra – try Gaia Symphony (1991-2003) and Eden (2005). Christian Lindberg tbn Norrköping SO / Martyn Brabbins
This is not brass band music in the traditional sense, but rather BIS (6/08)
fully symphonic music written for this most remarkably skilful Here are three works from the 1990s: the evocative
and flexible medium; both works are rightly recognised as two paean to heroism The Flight of Icarus, his trombone concerto and
of the most important contributions to the repertory. the gripping Channel Firing (dedicated to William Mathias.)
His chamber music, songs and instrumental works display
similar variety and imagination. The recent survey of his

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 97


Vocal
Peter Quantrill hears a large- Hugo Shirley on Barbara Hannigan’s
scale oratorio by Jörg Widmann: tribute to fin-de-siècle Vienna:
‘Well-drilled choral forces cut through ‘I found myself imagining a waif-like
orchestral textures as queasily luscious as protagonist wandering through shadowy,
a mango on the turn’ REVIEW ON PAGE 107 dreamlike landscapes’ REVIEW ON PAGE 113

J Anderson movement, a setting of the Agnus Dei is sometimes heard on the violin but sounds
The Comedy of Change . a
whose final plea for peace on earth perhaps made for the oboe when Löffler runs like
Heaven is Shy of Earthb suggests that, whereas nature is what we liquid over the rippling triplets of the first
b
Susan Bickley mez bBBC Symphony Chorus and know, heaven remains unknowable. As a solo, decks the finale’s downward figure
Orchestra; aLondon Sinfonietta / abOliver Knussen title, The Comedy of Change also has its with tumbling ornaments or reels out
Ondine F ODE1313-2 (62’ • DDD • T/t) enigmatic aspects. But this seven- that gorgeous Largo in a jewel of relaxed,
Recorded live at the aQueen Elizabeth Hall, movement suite for 12 players, originally airborne lyricism. BWV1061 is and
London, March 31, 2010; bBarbican Hall, London, linked to a ballet celebrating Darwin’s always was the C major Concerto for two
November 26, 2010 Origin of Species, revels in the mysteries harpsichords, so the arrangement presented
and miracles of the natural world, with here for oboe, violin, viola da gamba and
the exuberant yet eloquent thrust of music bassoon really is for fun. Does it work?
designed to affirm rather than to bemoan. Absolutely it does, bursting with colour
This excellent CD fills In both The Comedy of Change and Heaven and counterpoint like a lost Brandenburg.
significant gaps in the is Shy of Earth Julian Anderson’s feeling For BWV1055 Löffler switches to oboe
Anderson discography. for the bridges that can be built between d’amore but keeps the texture deliciously
At the same time it music’s timeless acoustic essentials and light and nimble throughout.
reminds us of the huge gap left by the present-day transformational resources The cantatas both feature oboe
death of Oliver Knussen. This pair of is unfailingly distinctive and acute. alongside solo soprano in one way or
live performances radiates the clarity Arnold Whittall another. No 84, exhorting us to be happy
and conviction he brought to the most with what we have from God, allows a
challenging contemporary scores, and JS Bach solo oboe to set the tone of contented
the subtle balances and rich colours of ‘Oboe Concertos & Cantatas’ submission and No 52 – a more dramatic
the music are beautifully caught in these Cantatasa – No 52, Falsche Welt, dir trau ich work telling us that the world is a bad
recordings, eight years old but sounding nicht!; No 84, Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem place but that God will help us – features
as fresh as the day they were made. Glücke. Oboe Concertosb –BWV1055R; three, not least in the first movement of
Heaven is Shy of Earth evolved between BWV1056R; BWV1061 (arr Willis) Brandenburg No 1, reset here as an
2006 and 2010 as a compressed oratorio a
Anna Prohaska sop bXenia Löffler ob/ob d’amore opening Sinfonia, its normally rowdy
or expanded cantata combining collective Collegium 1704 / Václav Luks horns toned down for the occasion.
rituals – the Latin Mass without the Credo, Accent F ACC24347 (68’ • DDD • T/t) Soprano Anna Prohaska is bright and
a Psalm – and statements of belief as feisty but somewhat colder than Löffler,
found in the idiosyncratic verse of Emily and less intimate too, as the top end of
Dickinson. An orchestral introduction sets her voice sometimes flies away in the
the stage for what might have been called Xenia Löffler’s church acoustic.
‘Epithalamium’ or wedding song, built performances The orchestral playing under Václav
round an expansive, ecstatic melody written on a 2014 disc of Luks is delicately supportive, at all times
for the marriage of the couple to whom the assorted Venetian attentive and neatly moulded to the
whole work is dedicated. That joyous spirit concertos (10/14) from the Akademie für soloists’ moves. Löffler’s wondrous
permeates the remarkable equilibrium of Alte Musik Berlin (of which she is a playing deserves nothing less, though.
Anderson’s response to God-centred choral member) were glowing demonstrations I wouldn’t be surprised to see her name
liturgy – as vivid here as in his Bell Mass of technical mastery and musical on the Awards shortlist again. Lindsay Kemp
(also 2010) – as well as to Dickinson’s personality, and rightly turned up on
fervent hymnings (given mainly to the the next Gramophone Awards shortlist. Brian
vibrant mezzo of Susan Bickley), in a Now here she is again with a set of The Vision of Cleopatraa. Two Choral Piecesb.
sequence of more earthbound but arresting Bach concertos and cantatas in which Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhymec.
aphorisms: ‘Nature is Heaven’, ‘Nature is her handsome musicianship is even Overture, ‘For Valour’c
Melody’, ‘Nature is Harmony’, ‘Heaven is more at the centre of things, and even a
Claudia Boyle sop aAngharad Lyddon mez
Shy of Earth’. more admirable. a
Claudia Huckle contr aPeter Auty ten cNicholas
The implications of what the poet might No actual oboe concerto by Bach Ansdell-Evans org abChorus and Orchestra of
actually have meant by that last phrase are survives, of course, and the ones here English National Opera / Martyn Brabbins
not easily resolved. Anderson therefore are speculative reconstructions from Dutton Epoch F Í CDLX7348
ends the work with a Dickinson-free the harpsichord concertos. BWV1056 (74’ • DDD/DSD • T)

98 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

The late Oliver Knussen’s excellent recording of Julian Anderson’s music reafirms that he’ll be enormously missed

Although Cleopatra’s rich harmonic Dowland


language is closer stylistically to Bax or First Booke of Songes or Ayres
Bantock in Oriental mode, the whole is Grace Davidson sop David Miller lute
Havergal Brian’s recognisably Brian. The musical argument Signum F SIGCD553 (73’ • DDD)
cantata The Vision is carried principally by the chorus and
of Cleopatra (1907) is orchestra, which is not to denigrate the
the most ambitious contribution of the four soloists, especially
work of his earliest period, ie before the Claudia Huckle as Cleopatra, whose final ‘Semper Dowland,
composition of his first opera The Tigers soliloquy is exquisite. Chorus and orchestra semper dolens’, John
(1916-29; 4/15) and epic Gothic combine again in the two 1912 settings of Dowland famously
Symphony (1919-27; 2/12). The cantata Robert Herrick, the wistfully intense punned, but the
is not constructed on their scale, taking ‘Requiem for the Rose’ and the more composer’s First Booke of Songes or Ayres
just 39 minutes in this beautifully nightmarish ‘The Hag’. As Pickard couldn’t be further from the fifty-shades-
prepared performance by the Chorus comments in his excellent booklet note, of-black of the Lachrimae. Darkness is
and Orchestra of English National Opera they make a somewhat ‘lopsided’ diptych tempered with more than a chink of light,
under their new music director, Martyn (a third setting may have been written but tragedy with rueful amusement, resignation
Brabbins. (Brabbins is currently Brian’s has not survived). The purely orchestral and even perhaps a certain pleasure in the
highest-profile champion; can we hope Fantastic Variations (1908) and overture courtly game of unrequited love. Soprano
to see one of the operas soon under his For Valour (1904-06) both featured in Grace Davidson has one of the loveliest
baton?) It is given here in John Pickard’s Marco Polo’s pioneering Brian cycle. voices in early music but whether she has
expert 2014 orchestration, which has Brabbins’s meticulously prepared versions the expressive range for this artful
allowed this fascinating, long-neglected are appreciably swifter and more opulently collections of miniatures is less certain.
score, setting a prize-winning poem by recorded, and – avoiding the occasional Fresh, sweet and true, with barely a
Gerald Cumberland, to be resurrected. tentativeness in the Marco Polo accounts – flicker of vibrato, Davidson’s instrument
Brian’s full score and parts were must now be considered definitive. inevitably begs comparison with Emma
P H O T O G R A P H Y: M A R K A L L A N

destroyed in the Blitz in 1941; even Guy Rickards Kirkby. Slightly fuller of tone, her voice
by that time, however, The Vision of Fantastic Variations – comparative version: more evenly weighted through the range,
Cleopatra, highly regarded at the time Ukraine Nat SO, Penny (6/96) (MARC) 8 223731; Davidson comes off well; but with
but very challenging to perform, had (10/11) (NAXO) 8 572641 Dowland lovelier isn’t always better.
languished unperformed for over For Valour – comparative version: The mock-sincere and ‘gather ye
30 years. Ireland Nat SO, Rowe (6/00) (MARC) 8 223588 rosebuds’ songs – ‘Come again, sweet love’,

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 99


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VOCAL REVIEWS

‘Away with these self-loving lads’, BBC forces at their raptly intuitive best, accepted as one of Fauré’s most beautiful
‘Think’st thou then by thy feigning’ – listen from 1'32" on track 8 (‘O men! scores. Bolton, however, makes a case for
are charming, text crisply percussive It must ever be / That we dwell, in our considering Shylock and Caligula very much
against the smooth lines of melody, with dreaming and signing, / A little apart as its equals.
David Miller’s lute offering gently arch from ye’) with its devastatingly poignant Caligula was written for an 1888
accompaniment. ‘Come away, come sweet intertwining of themes from Enigma, the production of Alexandre Dumas’s play,
love’ is all light-footed energy (though its Violin Concerto and The Apostles. Make and refashioned as a concert work for
seductions are perhaps a little on the chaste no mistake, anyone who has ever fallen female chorus and orchestra a year later.
side) while Davidson’s non-interventionist under the spell of the fears, hopes and Much of the music derives from a set of
instincts allow the simple beauty of dreams that stalk this deeply vulnerable, divertissements in the final scene, during
‘Now, oh now I needs must part’ to touchingly autobiographical creation will which Caligula is lulled to sleep before his
flourish to its fullest. derive copious rewards here. assassination, though Fauré also includes
But what feels lacking by the end of the Until now The Spirit of England (settings ceremonial marches and fanfares from the
recital is any glimpse of the private face from 1915-17 of three poems by Laurence Prologue. Intended, one imagines, to offset
of Dowland. The songs where he strips Binyon) has only ever been recorded in its the play’s violence, the score exudes cool,
off the public affectations of grief and the entirety with a soprano soloist. However, Classical refinement. The choral writing
sardonic mask and really shows himself to Elgar also sanctioned the use of a tenor, is reminiscent of the Requiem, while the
us – ‘Burst forth my tears’, ‘Come heavy and Andrew Staples makes an ardent sensuous orchestration strikingly pre-empts
sleep’, ‘Dear, if you change’ – lack that showing in another terrific display under Debussy, his Pelléas in particular.
edge of ugliness, of desperation that seeps Davis’s sympathetic lead. Even more than Shylock, written for an 1889 adaptation
out between the evenly scanned lines. Mark Elder (Hallé, 3/17), Davis drives an of The Merchant of Venice, is less of a rarity,
The latter’s great invocation of nature arrestingly purposeful course through both though it remains infrequently heard.
and beyond – ‘Earth, heaven, fire, air’ – outer movements (‘The Fourth of August’ Fauré avoids direct representation of
should plead and protest, but here just and ‘For the Fallen’), while at the same Shylock himself, focusing instead on
states. These are beautiful, musical time extracting every ounce of quiet the play’s lovers. A deeply touching
performances but not moving as Dowland resolve and dignity from the cantata’s ‘Épithalame’ for Portia and Bassanio,
can and should be. Alexandra Coghlan centrepiece (‘To Women’). It’s an and the exquisite Nocturne for Lorenzo
uncommonly eloquent performance and Jessica are its high points. The actor
Elgar in every respect, though I do retain originally playing the Prince of Aragon
The Music Makers, Op 69a. a particularly soft spot for Alexander was clearly a tenor of some some
The Spirit of Englandb Gibson’s distinguished 1976 version distinction: Fauré provides him with a
a
Dame Sarah Connolly mez bAndrew Staples ten with Teresa Cahill a memorably assured wistfully amorous Madrigal to be sung
BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra / soloist (originally made for RCA, 5/77, under Portia’s window.
Sir Andrew Davis and since reissued on Chandos). Both performances are strong. With
Chandos F Í CHSA5215 (62’ • DDD/DSD • T) Released to coincide with the centenary the Basel Symphony on fine form, Bolton
of Armistice Day, this meaty choral pairing teases out Fauré’s textural and emotional
has already given me a lot of pleasure subtleties with great care, scrupulously
and earns the warmest plaudits. judging both the delicate wit of Shylock
Both soloist and Andrew Achenbach and the altogether loftier mood of Caligula.
conductor have The Balthasar Neumann Choir sound
already given us Fauré good in the latter: the tenor in Shylock
notable versions of ‘The Secret Fauré – Orchestral Songs & Suites’ is Benjamin Bruns, warm-toned and
The Music Makers – for Naxos (12/06) and Après un rêve, Op 7 No 1. Caligula, Op 52. Clair very ardent.
Teldec/Warner (2/95) respectively – but de lune, Op 46 No 2. Pelléas et Mélisande, Op 80. Pelléas, however, is fractionally too
there’s a wholly idiomatic sensibility, Pénélope – Prelude. Les roses d’Ispahan, Op 39 relaxed, lacking the deeper tensions
collaborative zeal and unity of vision that No 4. Shylock, Op 57. Soir, Op 83 No 2 of Robin Ticciati’s recent DSO Berlin
mark out this sumptuously engineered Olga Peretyatko sop Benjamin Bruns ten recording (Linn, A/17), though Bolton
Chandos newcomer as something rather Balthasar Neumann Choir; Basel inserts Mélisande’s Song, in Koechlin’s
special. Certainly, Sarah Connolly’s Symphony Orchestra / Ivor Bolton orchestration, between the sicilienne
delivery of the closing lines (‘Yea, in spite Sony Classical F 19075 81858-2 (74’ • DDD • T/t) and Death Scene, where its effect is
of a dreamer who slumbers / And a singer undeniably chilling. It’s sung, somewhat
who sings no more’) distils an aching cautiously, in English by Olga
intimacy not matched since Janet Baker’s Peretyatko, who also tackles the
sublime contribution on Boult’s recording ‘Rare Fauré’ might be mélodies. Fauré apparently professed
(EMI/Warner, 5/67) – and what reserves a better, if not entirely himself indifferent to orchestral songs
of tender compassion she brings to ‘But accurate title for this but nevertheless arranged ‘Les roses
on one man’s soul it has broken / A light attractive disc, in d’Ispahan’ and ‘Clair de lune’ himself:
that doth not depart’ (track 6, from 1'12"), which Ivor Bolton conducts suites from ‘Après un rêve’ comes in Henri Büsser’s
where the strains of ‘Nimrod’ pay moving three sets of Fauré’s incidental music, version, while ‘Soir’ was orchestrated by
reminiscence to Elgar’s beloved friend along with the Pénélope Prelude and Fauré’s pupil Louis Aubert. Peretyatko
and tireless champion, August Jaeger. orchestral versions of four of his songs. sings them with quiet sincerity but is
Likewise, Andrew Davis’s gloriously pliant Pelléas et Mélisande, written for the 1898 placed very close to the microphones,
conducting evinces total conviction. To London production of Maeterlinck’s play, which capture an occasional pulse in her
hear him and his painstakingly prepared is, of course, both familiar and widely voice. Tim Ashley

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 101


VOCAL REVIEWS

Févin Getty ensemble more nimble than the 70-strong


Missa Ave Maria. Missa Salve sancta parens. Ballet russe. Beauty Come Dancing. La Belle Netherlands Radio Choir, whose blend,
Ascendens Christus in altum. Salve sancta Dame sans merci. Cynara. The Destruction of brightness and focus aren’t all they could
parens. Sancta Trinitas a 4. Sancta Trinitas a 6 Sennacherib. For a Dead Lady. The Old Man in have been. Andrew Mellor
The Brabant Ensemble / Stephen Rice the Morning. The Old Man in the Night.
Hyperion F CDA68265 (79’ • DDD • T/t) Shenandoah. There was a naughty boy. Graupner
Those who love the most ‘Duo Cantatas for Soprano & Alto’
The Netherlands Radio Choir and Philharmonic Demüthiget euch nun, GWV1144/12. Waffne dich,
Orchestra / James Gaffigan mein Geist, zu kämpfen, GWV1148/20. Weg,
Antoine de Févin Pentatone F Í PTC5186 621 (58’ • DDD/DSD • T) verdammtes Sündenleben, GWV1147/20. Wenn
(c1470-1511/12) is not wir in höchsten Nöthen seyn, GWV1143/12.
currently well known, Canon, GWV218. Ouverture, ‘Le desire’, GWV45.
despite his works Sonata, GWV724. Trio Sonata, GWV204 –
having travelled widely in his own day Opera and song are at Affettuoso
and now being preserved for us in several the heart of Gordon Miriam Feuersinger sop Franz Vitzthum
important sources alongside the work of Getty’s work and counterten Capricornus Consort Basel /
more famous contemporaries. As this spring as much from Peter Barczi
recording shows, Févin wrote some really his love for poetry – some of the works Christophorus F CHR77427 (65’ • DDD • T/t)
great music and Stephen Rice introduces here feature his own – as from his
him as a key pioneer ‘in the technique of distinctive melodic-minimalist music.
“parody” or “imitation” Mass settings That music is appealingly direct, shuns
based on polyphonic models’. Indeed, needless harmony and melisma, and makes Poor Christoph
the first work on this disc, Missa Ave Maria, distinctive use of the plain intervals, Graupner. The
is just such a Mass: one based on Josquin’s common chords, whole-tone scales and general consensus
famous motet Ave Maria … virgo serena foundation stones of hymnody and musical about the composer
(available in digital download). Févin’s theatre that have underpinned so much (a pupil of Kuhnau’s and a contemporary of
setting resounds with familiar material American music for more than a century. Telemann and Handel) is that his greatest
from the much-loved model, working As instantly appealing as his aesthetic contribution to musical history was his
and reworking it into a four-voice Mass is, it is also restricted. I found the absence: it was his refusal of the role of
with several lovely extended duets. The experience of reading Getty’s poem Cantor at Leipzig that cleared the way for
Brabant Ensemble sing with an unfussy ‘Beauty Come Dancing’ more moving one JS Bach to take the position.
elegance, keeping textures clear and than that of hearing his setting of it. But the composer really is more than
unhurried; I particularly like the simplicity Across the 11 songs here – all for the a novelty footnote in musical history, as
with which they approach the most unusual combination of large chorus a steadily growing (and now really quite
emotional moments such as the Credo’s (often singing in unison) with orchestra – substantial) discography has proved.
‘Crucifixus etiam pro nobis’ and ‘Et I was struck by a consistent feeling that This latest addition is another attractive
resurrexit tertia die’. Getty’s music springs from a single reminder of a composer whose distinctive
Missa Salve sancta parens is based impulse born of each poem rather than voice combines the languorous harmonic
on plainchant embellished through a the shifting beauty, complexity or inner beauty of Kuhnau with a restraint and sense
‘paraphrase’ technique. The textures are music of their texts. Many of his settings of melodic line that’s much closer to Bach.
more solid and sonorous and the singers gambol through the words in reciting Soprano Miriam Feuersinger and
rise to this setting with a fuller sound; rhythms (for all the clarity, it’s mostly countertenor Franz Vitzthum here join
again, there is some delightful singing impossible to decipher the words being Peter Barczi and the Capricornus Consort
in the extended two-part passages. It’s a sung on this recording) rather Basel for a selection of the composer’s duet
beautiful Mass with gracious proportions than illuminating their own beauty cantatas. Sacred texts keep Graupner’s
but between the Kyrie and Gloria there is and differentiation. The net result, to naturally operatic instincts in check but
a distracting shift in recorded acoustic. my ears, is a loss to both and a certain he still sneaks in plenty of human drama,
Resonance is thankfully restored by feeling that something is missing from delighting in the metaphorical friction of
‘Osanna I’ (track 37), just in time for the middle. male-female duets.
the Agnus Dei, which has some of the The best work is the longest, ‘The Old If the cantata Waffne dich, mein Geist,
most exquisite music. Man in the Night’ (another text by Getty zu kämpfen is gracefully pretty – rarely
The real jewel on this disc is the motet himself), in which the journey is often rippling the musical surface – then the
Ascendens Christus in altum. Fuller and richer patient, nuanced and interesting. Getty has opening Demüthiget euch nun finds an
than one might expect from Févin, a recent plenty of time-honed tools and good ideas altogether richer vein of musical emotion.
discovery has firmed up his attribution. at his disposal, especially when he uses and The aria ‘Bücke dich’ for soprano and
This motet in particular suits The Brabant gently subverts a dance form, as in ‘Ballet Eva Borhi’s balletic solo violin is a rapt
Ensemble extremely well, showcasing their russe’ (setting his beloved John Masefield) meditation, while the duet ‘Ich bin
wonderfully bright sopranos in a ravishing and in ‘Beauty Come Dancing’. When gedruckt’ from Wenn wir in höchsten
trio, ‘Elevatis manibus ferebatur in caelum’ nostalgia gets the better of him, as in Nöthen seyn paints despair in the most
(‘Lifting his hands, he was carried up to ‘Those who love the most’ (to a poem by sensual of colours.
heaven’). These larger motets with Sara Teasdale), there isn’t enough in the The stern, Lutheran beauty of
cascading upper voices are what this score to stop it sinking into something Feuersinger’s soprano is nicely offset by
ensemble does best, and this particular sappy. And I wonder if the music would the breathier humanity of Vitzthum but
one is especially gorgeous. Edward Breen have been better served by a vocal they are, if anything, outdone by the

102 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


2CDLX 7356

CDLX 7348
ARTHUR SULLIVAN The Light of the World Commissioned for and HAVERGAL BRIAN The Vision of Cleopatra 'XWWRQ (SRFK¶V ¿UVW
¿UVW SURGXFHG DW WKH %LUPLQJKDP 0XVLFDO )HVWLYDO RI  The Light of the World is Arthur Sullivan’s recording with the orchestra and chorus of English National Opera surveys the music of Havergal
great oratorio on the life of Christ. Although regularly performed during the composer’s lifetime, Brian. The dramatic and operatic setting of The Vision of Cleopatra (1907), the scores and parts
changing fashions gradually condemned the work to obscurity. Occasional revivals have failed to of which were lost in wartime bombing, has been orchestrated from the vocal score by composer
make the case for it, primarily because it was not understood that The Light of the World is essentially John Pickard. This epic cantata is vividly brought to life by a line-up of brilliant young soloists –
a dramatic work, rather than a purely religious one. When Dutton Epoch and the Sir Arthur Sullivan Claudia Boyle (soprano), Angharad Lyddon (mezzo-soprano), Claudia Huckle (contralto) and Peter
Society came to record the work, this new understanding enabled a completely different approach to Auty (tenor) – while the ENO Orchestra and Chorus are in top form under the authoritative direction
be taken – the result is a vibrant performance by the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Concert of conductor Martyn Brabbins. Brian’s Two Choral Pieces (1912), the tuneful concert overture For
2UFKHVWUD FRQGXFWHG E\ -RKQ $QGUHZV 7KH\ DUH VXSSRUWHG E\ WKH .LQGHU &KLOGUHQ¶V &KRLU DQG D ¿QH Valour (1904 rev. 1906) and the delightful Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme (1907) complete a
team of soloists: Natalya Romaniw and Eleanor Dennis (sopranos), Kitty Whately (contralto), Robert compelling release.
Murray (tenor), Ben McAteer (baritone) and Neal Davies (bass). ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS OF ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA | MARTYN BRABBINS
BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA | BBC SYMPHONY CHORUS | JOHN ANDREWS INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING

CDLX 7353
CDLX 7357

CDLX 7351

HAYDN WOOD RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS JOHN IRELAND


Snapshots of London: Suite etc. The Blue Bird etc. The Overlanders, Julius Caesar etc.
BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA | GAVIN SUTHERLAND ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA | MARTIN YATES ROYAL SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA | MARTIN YATES
INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS INCLUDES WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS

For full release details visit www.duttonvocalion.co.uk | Many titles in the Dutton Epoch series are available on iTunes
Dutton Epoch | PO Box 609 | Watford WD18 7YA | T: 01923 803 001 | info@duttonvocalion.co.uk
The BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Radio 3 logos are trademarks of the BBC and are used under licence.
VOCAL REVIEWS

ravishing beauty of the instrumental clangour’ or the jealous frenzy of ‘Sharp perfection of his musical testament, the
contributions. The opening overture violins’, egged on by splenetically spitting Pater noster/Ave Maria. I’ve sometimes
Le desire is proto-Romantic chamber strings. The 28-strong Anglo-Polish chorus found Josquin easier to admire than to love;
music, while the Grave, GWV218, pairs do not always make as much of Dryden’s but perhaps because contrapuntal wizardry
Borhi with Barczi himself in a delicious delightful text as the choirs in Pinnock’s is toned down in these works, this disc
mesh of solo violin lines over continuo. and King’s recordings but they sing with reminds me how deeply moving his
Shivers-down-the-spine lovely. full, fresh tone and incisive attack. Under music can be.
Alexandra Coghlan Butt’s lively and sympathetic direction Cappella Amsterdam are a mixed choir
(which includes properly shaped bass lines), singing roughly two to a part. Their sound
Handel both framing choruses generate an apt is situated midway between their Flemish
Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, HWV76. Handelian majesty, though I wish he and English counterparts, and their
Concerto grosso, Op 6 No 4 HWV322 had encouraged a hushed, awed choral performance style is on the cool side,
Carolyn Sampson sop Ian Bostridge ten Polish tone at Dryden’s vision of the ‘last and though never forbidding or overly
Radio Choir; Dunedin Consort / John Butt hpd dreadful hour’. objectified. They are at their best when
Linn F CKD578 (61’ • DDD • T) Choice between Butt’s recording and textures are clear and the musical discourse
its two immediate rivals will boil down is most legible, as in Planxit autem David.
to individual taste. My own narrow In busier textures I might wish for more
preference is still for Pinnock, not least positive shaping of individual phrases,
You certainly got for the mingled warmth and grandeur although in Nimphes nappés (perhaps the
your money’s worth, Felicity Lott brings to the soprano solos. densest piece of all) the decision to go
both in quantity and But no Handel lover is likely to be one-to-a-part and without sopranos pays
quality, when Handel disappointed with a disc whose attractions dividends, and Gombert’s motet is a fitting
was around. On St Cecilia’s Day, are enhanced by a vivid performance of epilogue. Whether Josquin wrote Absalon,
November 22, 1739, Lincoln’s Inn Fields the A minor Concerto grosso (its opening fili mi is still disputed but the programme
audiences were treated to a revival of movement truly affettuoso) and Butt’s own plainly justifies its inclusion. Despite its
Alexander’s Feast, assorted concertos, plus superb, wide-ranging booklet essay. focus on only one textual area (the lament),
a newly composed setting of Dryden’s Richard Wigmore this seems to me an admirable introduction
Song for St Cecilia’s Day – a good three Selected comparisons: to the motet repertory as a whole.
hours’ entertainment. For charm and Pinnock (1/87R) (ARCH) 474 549-2ABL Fabrice Fitch
colour few Handel works match the new King (A/04) (HYPE) CDA67463
Ode, as it became known. In a succession Parry . Mendelssohn
of picturesquely scored arias and choruses Josquin Mendelssohn Six Motets, Op 79 Parry Hear my
it hymns the powers of music from the ‘Miserere mei Deus – Funeral words, ye people. Songs of Farewell. There is an
creation of cosmic order to a thrilling Motets & Deplorations’ old belief. Toccata and Fugue, ‘The Wanderer’
evocation of the Last Judgement and Gombert Musae Jovis Josquin Absalon, fili mi. Choir of New College, Oxford / Robert Quinney
the life eternal. Absolve quaesumus, Domine. Déploration sur with Timothy Wakerell org
Outstanding among a clutch of enjoyable la mort d’Ockeghem. De profundis/Requiem Novum F NCR1394 (79’ • DDD • T/t)
recordings are those from Trevor Pinnock aeternam. In principio erat Verbum. Miserere
and Robert King. This new Anglo-Polish mei, Deus. Nimphes, nappés/Circumdederunt
collaboration directed by John Butt is on me. Pater noster/Ave Maria. Planxit autem David
their level, vocally and instrumentally. In Cappella Amsterdam / Daniel Reuss Another stellar
the 15 years since she recorded the Ode Harmonia Mundi F HMM90 2620 (66’ • DDD • T/t) release to mark
with King, Carolyn Sampson’s vernal 100 years since the
soprano has acquired richer shadings. If death of Hubert
her consonants can be over-softened, her Parry – and cannily programmed, too,
poised, invariably graceful contributions Like most of his with the towering Songs of Farewell
are among the disc’s prime pleasures: contemporaries, (1913-15) preceded by Mendelssohn’s
from her radiant sense of wonder in the Josquin’s motet Sechs Sprüche (1849) to demonstrate
sarabande aria ‘What passion cannot music production has been Robert Quinney’s assertion (to Jeremy
raise and quell!’, in dialogue with Jonathan overshadowed by his Masses; in fact the Dibble on page 26 of the June 2018
Manson’s musingly eloquent cello; through last all-motet anthology I can recall is issue) that ‘Parry is a great figure in the
the wistful ‘The soft complaining flute’, La Chapelle Royale’s about 35 years ago. European tradition, a composer who
where Sampson veils her naturally bright Perhaps the most impressive thing about synthesised the neo-Bachian
tone (a word, too, for Katy Bircher’s poetic this new offering is the programming. counterpoint of Mendelssohn and
flute-playing); to the scintillating coloratura Alongside a string of single-movement Brahms with a unique flair for the
of her final hornpipe aria, faster and laments (including the one by Gombert for English language’. Both of these
snappier than in 2003. Josquin himself) sit the monumental Planxit ravishing a cappella offerings are
Poise and grace are hardly the issue in autem David and the Miserere, a complete performed with laudable precision and
the extrovert tenor numbers, fashioned for setting of Psalm 51. This brings the range unfailing perception by the Choir of
that Handelian stalwart John Beard. Ian of Josquin’s invention into focus: the New College, Oxford. The performance
Bostridge, in fine, robust voice, never lets directness of Planxit autem David, the of the former hits radiant heights in ‘At
you forget that something urgent is at sheer ambition and formal control of the the round earth’s imagined corners’ and
stake, whether in the mounting bellicose Miserere, the intricacy of Absolve quaesumus, ‘Lord, let me know mine end’ to crown
excitement of ‘The trumpet’s loud Domine and Nimphes nappés, and the utter a piercingly expressive, deeply humane

104 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Exquisite musicality: Tim Mead and Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien make play with Purcell’s songs and dances with delightful results

display that safely merits a place Purcell singers are prepared to love the line and
alongside a healthy number of ‘Songs & Dances’ words, and players are willing to make a
distinguished rivals, among them Amphitryon, Z572 – Minuet; Hornpipe; Boree; dance dance. Happily, both conditions are
Richard Marlow and the Choir of Scotch Tune. Come ye sons of art, Z323 – Strike met by the performers on this disc, and,
Trinity College, Cambridge (Conifer, the viol, touch the lutea. The Fairy Queen, Z629 – having got that settled, they allow
9/87), Ralph Allwood and the Rodolfus Chaconne; One charming nighta. Fantazia upon themselves to make play with the music in
Choir (Herald, 10/98), Jeremy a Ground, Z731. If ever I more riches did desire, a free-selecting programme driven purely
Backhouse and the Vasari Singers Z544 – Here let my life with as much silence by musical concerns. This is Purcell
(Guild), and Nigel Short and Tenebrae slidea. The Indian Queen, Z630 – We the spirits without much in the way of ‘historical’
(Signum, 12/11). of the air. King Arthur, Z628a – Fairest isle; What context, so that the only thing the listener
Quinney and his exemplary singers also power art thou. Love’s goddess sure was blind, needs to worry about is to sit back and let
let us hear the original version of ‘There is Z331 – May her blest example chase. The this composer’s life-enhancing genius wash
an old belief’ (first given in January 1907), Married Beau, Z603 – March. Ode for St Cecilia’s over them. And with music ranging from
and proceedings are launched with the Day, Z339a – Here the deities approve; ’Tis the high art of ‘O Solitude, my sweetest
substantial 1894 anthem Hear my words, nature’s voice. The Old Bachelor, Z607 – choice’ and ‘’Tis nature’s voice’ to the
ye people. The latter owes a debt to both Hornpipe. O Solitude, my sweetest choice, heart-stopping simple beauty of ‘Fairest
Samuel Wesley and Bach’s church cantatas, Z406a. Pavan, Z752. Timon of Athens, Z632 – Isle’ and foot-tapping dance tunes plucked
and its concluding chorale on ‘O praise ye Curtain Tune. ’Twas within a furlong of Edinboro’ from the Restoration stage, genius there is
the Lord’ (which subsequently became one town, Z605/2a. The Virtuous Wife, Z611 – Aire in plenty.
of the most familiar of hymn tunes) makes a
Tim Mead counterten Les Musiciens The vocal numbers are sung by Tim
for a stirring culmination. Rounding off de Saint-Julien / François Lazarevitch Mead, a top-class English countertenor of
this uncommonly stimulating anthology, Alpha F ALPHA419 (66’ • DDD • T) the kind that could have been made for
organist Timothy Wakerell displays this music, notwithstanding that not
impressive physical stamina and intellectual everything here was written for his voice-
acumen in the nourishing, at times almost type. His singing radiates rich colour,
Regerian Toccata and Fugue that Parry Many of Purcell’s smooth lyricism and exquisite musicality,
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J B M I L L O T

wrote in November 1912. songs and dance and alone would be enough to make this
Beautifully engineered by Adrian Hunter tunes are such disc treasurable. Yet the most striking
and admirably presented, this Novum issue ‘standards’ that aspect of these performances undoubtedly
will surely delight all Parry fans. there really is no need to worry about a lies in the instrumental music as served up
Andrew Achenbach ‘right’ way to perform them, provided that by Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, which is

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 105


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VOCAL REVIEWS

full of life and colour. Given that director Classical Athens from ‘source’ to ‘rule’. In a booklet note, Zender describes
François Lazarevitch is a recorder player, Creation and Flood myths done and Winterreise as a ‘secular Passion’ that
it is perhaps fair to expect that instrument dusted, the postdiluvian half of Arche ‘articulates loneliness for the first time in
to feature more than it might elsewhere contends in complementary fashion that modernity’, and his interpretation surveys
(for instance in the Fantazia upon a all you need is (you’ve guessed it) love. Schubert’s song-cycle in terms of the
Ground), and neither is it surprising that And peace. Cue more hall-of-mirrors 19th- and 20th-century Expressionism, of
the ornamentation often lends the music a Schumann and Schubert. Murder and which it is the perceived starting point.
French accent; but the sheer rhythmic flair apocalypse meanwhile have their say, like Schubert is consequently refracted through
and Celtic-flavoured folksiness with which Alcibiades at the Symposium. Mahler and the Second Viennese School,
they deliver so many of the dances is also German critics were divided at the whose Klangfarbenmelodien colour Zender’s
enhanced in places by the rasp of a premiere. ‘More pomp than soul’; ‘new constantly shifting textures, while the
musette or jangle of a cittern. The music that is so old an audience presence of accordion, guitar and
recording is clear and full-bodied, though immediately appreciates it’. A film would saxophone suggest the influence of Weimar
with an irritatingly abrupt fade-up at the at least let us in on all the theatrics that Republic cabaret.
very start. But never mind, this disc is a gave the audience the giggles. The audio- As the cycle progresses, the songs are
hugely enjoyable Purcellian celebration. only record lacks nothing for flair, energy increasingly pulled in and out of focus by
Lindsay Kemp and commitment to Widmann’s world of means of augmentation and diminution,
convinced irony. Well-drilled choral or by harmonic and rhythmic
Widmann forces cut through orchestral textures as reconfigurations, as the vocal line slips
Arche queasily luscious as a mango on the turn, in and out of Sprechgesang. Some of it is
Marlis Petersen sop Gabriel Böer treb testament not least to the new hall’s disarmingly literal, and we really seem
Thomas E Bauer bar Iveta Apkalna org Jonna exacting acoustic and ECM’s spacious to hear the wind, the cracking ice and
Plathe, Baris Özden children narrs Chorus of engineering. Playing Noah and an the percussive creak of roofs under the
Hamburg State Opera; Audi Youth Chorus incensed Lied-baritone, Thomas E Bauer weight of snow. Some of Zender’s
Academy; Hamburg Alsterspatzen; Hamburg never forsakes the centre of an eloquent interventions, however, can seem
Philharmonic State Orchestra / Kent Nagano baritone that lends distinction to a new too knowing. Mahlerian brass and
ECM New Series F b 481 7007 (101’ • DDD) Christmas Oratorio on Naxos. Marlis woodwind, echoing through space,
Recorded live at the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Petersen would do a marvellous Gepopo turn existential loneliness into cosmic
January 13, 2017 on the strength of her abandoned isolation. The accompaniment to ‘Das
melisma, cooing and coloratura. Is Arche Wirtshaus’ becomes a formal funeral
a new Mask of Time? Or a Petite Macabre? hymn played by a wind band. Whether
Time will tell. Peter Quantrill any of it adds anything to our
With Arche, Jörg understanding of Schubert remains
Widmann has (at the Zender very much a matter for debate.
age of 45) delivered Schuberts Winterreise You can’t fault the performance,
the kind of history-of- Julian Prégardien ten though. Conductor Robert Reimer
everything evening-length oratorio that, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie / Robert Reimer pitches the work somewhere between
in retrospect, seems an inevitable point Alpha F ALPHA425 (84’ • DDD • T/t) Cambreling’s reflectiveness and the more
of arrival for his music, requiring for its Recorded live at the Grosser Sendesaal, Funkhaus abrasive approach of Zender’s own 1995
fulfilment only the particular no-strings- Halberg, Saarbrücken, Germany, January 22, 2016 recording with Hans-Peter Blochwitz and
attached (‘but make it big’) commission the Ensemble Modern. Speeds are swift
attendant upon the consecration of a and urgent, fitting the work on to a single
new concert hall: in this case, the disc where it previously needed two,
Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Mahler Released to though nothing feels rushed. The playing
and Tippett would blush for shame. mark the 25th is exemplary, and the beautifully balanced
In the beginning, pitchless rustles and anniversary of recording allows every textural and
whispers yield at length to clusters, biblical the premiere, colouristic shift to register. Apart from a
pronoucements and then more abruptly to this new recording of Hans Zender’s couple of moments of constriction at the
a bloated send-up of Heine’s exemplary ‘composed interpretation’ of Winterreise top, Prégardien sings with wonderful
anti-Romantic credo Das Fräulein stand am marks Julian Prégardien’s debut on the elegance and unforced sincerity of
Meere – if, that is, irony is any statement of Alpha label, for which he signed earlier expression, which makes his swerves
belief. Fittingly for a student of Wolfgang this year. It derives from a live into Sprechgesang all the more shocking.
Rihm, Widmann gives God the rough side performance by the Deutsche Radio He’s a lighter-voiced, more impulsive
of his tongue. Honed over the years, his Philharmonie, of which Zender himself protagonist than his father, and altogether
application of parody technique is so was chief conductor from 1972 to 1984. more lyrical than Blochwitz, who is
comprehensively inventive, down to the Prégardien is also following in the inclined to be declamatory. You might
final ‘Dona nobis pacem’ done up as a footsteps of his father Christoph, have qualms about the work itself but it’s
Lutheran Christmas hymn, that the entire whose own recording of the work, hard to imagine it more compellingly
history of German music from Bach to, with Klangforum Wien under Sylvain done. Tim Ashley
well, Widmann is experienced as if in a Cambreling, was issued in 2000. The Comparative versions:
seaside chamber of distorting mirrors. score itself, meanwhile, has long divided Blochwitz, Ens Modern, Zender
Rather as fish became frogs, or gods opinion, and like others who have written (9/95) (RCA) 09026 68067-2
became men, the meaning of arche suffered about it in these pages I confess both to C Prégardien, Klangforum Wien, Cambreling
a fascinating etymological shift in early- admiring it and questioning its necessity. (6/00) (KAIR) 0012002KAI

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 107


VOCAL REVIEWS

‘Advent Live’ Nethsingha’s inspired direction, the If Orliński’s marble-cool countertenor


Archer The Linden Tree Carol Bednall Noe, noe choir has retained its renowned clarity, brings the spiritual, then Maxim
Bingham The Clouded Heaven Britten A Hymn flamboyance and readiness to take risks. Emelyanychev and Il Pomo d’Oro offer
of St Columba Bullard Glory to the Christ Child The various organ scholars also give some deliciously secular friction. Nicola
J Burton Tomorrow shall be my dancing day splendid support throughout and the Fago’s solo cantata Confitebor tibi, Domine
Comeau Lux mundi Gibbons This is the record whole production is first-class, enhanced (arguably the best of the eight premiere
of John F Jackson I know a flower Joubert by Martin Ennis’s excellent notes. Despite recordings here) sways and grooves with
There is no rose J Long Vigilate Palestrina Fuit the presence of a live audience I caught rhythmic interest – the ‘Fidelia omnia’
homo missus a Deo I Shaw Adam lay ybounden. only one muffled sneeze, in the final an all-out sacred hoedown – and the
I sing of a maiden Traditional The angel Gabriel ecstatic Noe, noe of David Bednall. roiling, bubbling drama of Hasse’s
from heaven came (arr E Pettman). The Cherry Malcolm Riley ‘Mea tormenta, properate!’ reeks of
Tree Carol (arr S Cleobury). Tomorrow shall be greasepaint and gunpowder.
my dancing day (arr D Willcocks) ‘Anima sacra’ In the studio at least, Orliński rides this
Vaughan Williams The truth sent from above Durante Messa a 5 voci – Domine fili unigenite densely textured accompaniment with ease.
(arr C Robinson) Watts The Birth of Speech Fago Confitebor tibi, Domine. Il Faraone It’s an attractive voice that has something
The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge / sommerso – Alla gente a Dio diletta. Tam non of Jaroussky about it (the unworked purity,
Andrew Nethsingha splendet sol creatus Feo Dies irae – Juste judex the easy legato) but with the greater focus
Signum F SIGCD535 (60’ • DDD • T/t) ultionis Hasse Sanctus Petrus et Sancta Maria and muscularity of a young Scholl, Zazzo
Recorded live 2014-17 Magdalena – Mea tormenta, properate! or Davies. There’s a tendency though to
Heinichen Alma redemptoris mater Sarro overcook it, pushing until tone becomes
Messa a 5 voci – Laudamus te Schiassi Maria forced and fluttery – not the free spin of
vergine al Calvario – L’agnelletta timidetta natural vibrato but something a bit more
In the rush to Terradellas Dixit Dominus – Donec ponam gripped and manic. A little more lean back
grasp the glittering, Zelenka Gesù al Calvario, ZWV62 – Smanie di and a little less endeavour, however, and
commercial excesses dolci affetti … S’una sol lagrima this is a voice with a big future.
of Christmas the Jakub Józef Orliński counterten Alexandra Coghlan
meditative, preparatory season of Advent Il Pomo d’Oro / Maxim Emelyanychev
is frequently overlooked. Therefore, it is Erato F 9029 56337-4 (76’ • DDD) ‘Broadway’
with relief and joy that we can welcome Bock She Loves Me – Dear Friend Guettel The
this hour-long anthology. Drawn from Light in the Piazza – Fable Kander The Visit –
live BBC Radio broadcasts from 2014-17, Love and love alone/Winter Kern Very Warm for
these 19 tracks concentrate on music by Some really May – All the things you are Lloyd Webber Song
living composers, many with a strong link excellent concert and Dance – Tell me on a Sunday Pasek/Paul
to the College, as well as to Cambridge, performances in Dear Evan Hansen – So Big/So Small Porter Red,
sung mostly to English texts. London – both in Hot and Blue – Down in the depths (on the
Britten’s A Hymn to St Columba (1962) recital and opera – have whetted the ninetieth floor) Rodgers The King and I –
makes a strong opener, setting the scene appetite for the Polish countertenor Something wonderful. The Sound of Music –
for James Burton’s powerful and attractive Jakub Józef Orliński’s debut solo The sound of music. South Pacific – Loneliness
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, the first release. ‘Anima sacra’ doesn’t disappoint. of Evening; Wonderful guy; You’ve got to be
of two settings of this text (the other being In fact it over-achieves so hard and so careful tonighta Sondheim Into the Woods –
the better-known one by David Willcocks). determinedly that sometimes you wish Children will listena. A Little Night Music – The
Equally impressive are the brace of carols both Orliński himself and his record label Glamorous Life Sting The Last Ship – August
by Ian Shaw – the second of which, I sing of would just trust their product and relax Winds Tesori Violet – Lay down your head
a maiden, features the superb harp-playing into it a little. M Wilson The Music Man – Till there was you
of Anne Denholm – and Judith Bingham’s It’s hard to get past the album Yeston Nine – Unusual way
The clouded heaven. Of an older generation artwork; numerous images of a bare- Renée Fleming sop aLeslie Odom Jr voc
of composers, John Joubert’s There is no chested Orliński swathed artistically BBC Concert Orchestra / Rob Fisher
rose retains its classic poise and it was a joy in tulle position him firmly as whatever Decca F 483 4215DH (64’ • DDD)
to encounter Francis Jackson’s I know a the countertenor equivalent of a
flower for the first time, with its fresh and barihunk is (countertenor cutie?). It’s
flagrant harmony. distracting and ultimately unnecessary –
For a stronger flavour, James Long’s debasing a performer who, on the basis After her previous
Vigilate (2012) fits the bill; likewise Tim of this recherché collection of works, is forays into jazz and
Watts’s The Birth of Speech, which already a serious artist. Yannis François indie-pop, to say
benefits greatly from the stylish violin- (whose booklet notes have the energy nothing of her recent
playing of Stephanie Childress and Julia of a man actually in the archives making stint on Broadway as Nettie Fowler in
Hwang. Of the two tracks from the discoveries) has worked with Orliński Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, it
Renaissance period, Gibbons’s This is the to put together a thoughtful collection was almost inevitable that a Broadway
record of John is the most satisfying, with of little-known sacred works from the album would be forthcoming from the
an excellent contribution from the second half of the 17th century – world’s most glamorous soprano. Her
countertenor Hugh Cutting. including not just liturgical music but choices are shrewd and wide-ranging,
This new disc is an important snapshot also oratorios and azioni sacre – that embracing the contemporary and the
of the continuing St John’s story, revealing collide the drama of the opera house classic in pretty much equal measure
that in recent years, under Andrew with the contemplation of the church. while demonstrating that style in this

108 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Dramatic impact: the London-based chamber choir Pegasus mark the centenary of the First World War Armistice – see review on page 111

repertoire probably has more to do with It’s interesting that the numbers in very gifted Jeanine Tesori’s Violet –
attitude than technical adjustment. More, which she opts for a jazzy take feel most a gorgeous number. Likewise ‘Unusual
but not all. comfortable. Cole Porter’s ‘Down in the way’ from Maury Yeston’s Nine. And she
Curbing that opulent operatic soprano, depths (on the ninetieth floor)’ sits well for really gets inside the mother’s song, ‘So
pulling back on the head-voice and her and she’s super-happy exploring the Big/So Small’ from my favourite of the
dropping the centre of gravity to a more cabaret sultriness of ‘Love and love alone/ current musicals, Pasek and Paul’s Dear
conversational tone in the middle range Winter’ from Kander and Ebb’s darkly Evan Hansen. The song’s gentle ‘country’
is key, of course. In classic repertoire – in striking The Visit. And while I personally inflection comes naturally to her and she
songs like ‘Dear Friend’ (from Bock and wouldn’t want to jazzify one of the and we quickly warm to the intimacy of it.
Harnick’s She Loves Me), ‘Till there was greatest songs ever written – Kern and There’s a similar folksy twang to
you’ (from Meredith Wilson’s The Music Hammerstein’s ‘All the things you are’ – ‘August Winds’ from Sting’s The Last
Man) and, of course, ‘The sound of music’ – she slips nicely into its embrace. Ship – another cracking score – and
her ‘legit’ soprano may need scaling back There’s only one song that really I personally am so glad she included
but it’s also where those songs live, and doesn’t work and perhaps should have Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s
she’s home free, swooning portamento been left off the album, and that’s ‘Tell me on a Sunday’, one of Lloyd
and all. It’s no accident, of course, that the ‘Wonderful guy’ from South Pacific. This Webber’s most beautiful and elaborate
leading Broadway ladies of today – Audra is where a feisty chest belt is absolutely melodies married to one of Black’s most
McDonald, Kelli O’Hara and Laura de rigueur. The euphoric repetitions of touching lyrics. I did wonder, though, why
Benanti – are all legit sopranos at heart. ‘I’m in love, I’m in love’ feel like they’re Fleming didn’t make more of that glorious
Another ‘operatically inclined’ number vocally in ‘no man’s land’ for Fleming. phrase in the release of the song, ‘Don’t
is ‘Fable’ from Adam Guettel’s glorious The Not so ‘The Glamorous Life’ from leave in silence’. It’s exactly the kind of
Light in the Piazza. If I’m going to be picky Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Desiree moment where I would have expected her
I’d say that while this is the eleven-o’clock is such a good fit – an ‘artiste’ whose operatic instincts and generosity of phrase
moment in the show – a mother letting her very nature is perpetually ‘on stage’, to kick in.
daughter go (something that every mother larger than life in every respect. The song Familiar territory for the BBC Concert
P H O T O G R A P H Y: G R A H A M K I R K

can relate to) – there is a temptation, with works better in context, of course (like Orchestra, of course, and some lovely
Fleming’s pedigree and vocal equipment, everything Sondheim wrote), but it’s arrangements made especially for the
to over-egg it. Its drama is writ a little a good ‘turn’ for Fleming. album. Not everything convinces me but
too large. The final moments, the quiet My favourite tracks? Well, there are two there’s enough here that does – and her
moments, pull it back inwardly and that’s or three she absolutely nails. So glad she love for the repertoire is palpable.
where it’s most effective. included ‘Lay down your head’ from the Edward Seckerson

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 109


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VOCAL REVIEWS

‘For the Fallen’ It is not through choice of music that Jerusalemb. Songs of Farewell – No 4, There is an
Dyson To Music D Guest For the Fallen Gurney Pegasus provide dramatic impact but old belief Stanford Justorum animae, Op 38 No 1
Psalm 23. Since I believe in God the Father through Altham’s fervent direction. I Venables Requiem aetername
Almighty Holst Nunc dimittis Mahler Rückert Making no concessions to the small-scale a
Katy Hill, dLeah Jackson sops adGareth Brynmor
Lieder – Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen nature of the programme, he throws every John bar acJames Orford, abdeHugh Rowlands org
(arr Gottwald) Rachmaninov Vespers (All-Night emotional weapon in his armoury at the b
Chelsea Pensioners’ Choir; Chapel Choir of the
Vigil), Op 37 – Blagoslovi dushe moya gospoda; music, giving us oozing pathos in Douglas Royal Hospital, Chelsea / William Vann
Nyne otpushcheashi Ravel Trois Chansons – Guest’s heartfelt if sentimental setting of Somm Céleste F SOMMCD0187 (81’ • DDD • T/t)
No 2, Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis Reger Laurence Binyon’s iconic text, profound
Nachtlied, Op 138 No 3 Stanford For lo! I raise introspection in Reger’s Nachtlied and
up, Op 145a Traditional The Dying Soldier nerve-shattering explosiveness at the
(arr Wilberg/Short) Walford Davies A Short close of Holst’s Nunc dimittis. In the centenary of the
Requiem C Wood Expectans expectavia His singers respond with alacrity, even end of the First World
Pegasus / Matthew Altham with aMartin Toyer org to the extent of over-stretching themselves War, this recording
Signum F SIGCD825 (67’ • DDD • T/t) vocally. George Dyson’s To Music reveals features a variety of
their beautifully blended tone; but, in vocal works written before, during and after
‘Lest We Forget’ addition to an unnerving hootiness of tone the war, all of which, in some way, bear the
Aston So they gave their bodies Bainton And in Ravel’s ‘Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis’, badge of courage, sacrifice and loss, and
I saw a new heaven Elgar We will remember the top notes of the Mahler have an ugly equally that sense of trauma and catharsis
them Holst Turn back, O man, Op 36a No 2. edge to them, made all the more ugly by which Britain had to bear in the years
I vow to thee, my country Ireland Greater love being juxtaposed above such gorgeous immediately after the conflict. As a chorister
hath no man. Te Deum Howells Rhapsody No 3, choral tone. in the 1960s I can still remember the lines
Op 17a Parry Crossing the Bar. Songs of Farewell If Pegasus are unafraid to go over the of the British Legion who would parade up
– No 4, There is an old belief Scholefield The day top in the cause of the music’s drama, to the village church and the war memorial
thou gavest, Lord, is ended Stanford For lo! Chichester Cathedral Choir are more to hear the names of the dead read out. My
I raise up, Op 145. Organ Sonata No 2, ‘Eroica’ – restrained, keeping emotional heads down memories of those chilly, solemn
Verduna and reserving dramatic assaults for the November Sunday mornings are still vivid.
The Choir of Chichester Cathedral / occasional big moments – as in Ireland’s They were occasions charged with deep
Charles Harrison aorg with Timothy Ravalde org Greater love – where these singers lack for emotion and remembrance which the
Signum F SIGCD562 (65’ • DDD • T) nothing in bravery. As with the Pegasus music of this CD animates only too readily.
disc, not everything on the Chichester disc The sounds of Parry’s Jerusalem (written
belongs to the First World War; but Peter after all for the Fight for Right movement
Aston’s setting of famous lines from in 1916 to counter German propaganda
Pericles’ funeral oration at the time of and to bolster national morale), Charles
the Peloponnesian War fits in well not Harris’s O valiant hearts and Gustav Holst’s
only because of its references to the setting of Cecil Spring Rice’s ‘I vow to thee
Last Post but because of its mood of my country’ are almost unbearably moving.
Marking the centenary of the November prayerful introspection. Directed by William Vann, the Choir of
1918 Armistice, these two discs from Chichester Cathedral Choir are relative the Royal Hospital Chelsea, with its clear,
Signum present two very different strangers to commercial CD, so this disc ringing tone, provides beautifully nuanced
interpretations of choral music from the provides a welcome opportunity for the performances, especially of the a cappella
First World War. The only piece common outside world to hear them in action. items, Stanford’s numinous introit Justorum
to both is Stanford’s For lo! I raise up, And with such understated yet beautifully animae, Parry’s six-part ‘There is an old
delivered with measured control by moulded singing as they give us in Bainton’s belief’ (written during the early part of the
Charles Harrison and his Chichester And I saw a new heaven and Parry’s Crossing war) and Elgar’s elegiac They are at rest.
Cathedral Choir, and with great the Bar one can only hope for more. And no recording of this repertoire would
dramatic flair by Matthew Altham’s The disc includes a couple of organ be complete without reference to Laurence
Pegasus singers. solos played by Harrison himself. Most Binyon’s immutable words ‘For the Fallen’,
High drama is very much to the fore in impressive of these is his flamboyant sung here in a setting by Douglas Guest,
the Pegasus disc, the programme ranging performance of the last movement onetime organist of Westminster Abbey
beyond the deep trenches of the English (appropriately subtitled ‘Verdun’) of and who fought in the Royal Artillery
cathedral repertory into contemporaneous Stanford’s Second Organ Sonata. The during the Second World War. John
works from Reger, Ravel, Rachmaninov explosive combination of virtuoso flares Ireland’s Greater love hath no man is sung
and Mahler. And before anyone points out and shards of the Marseillaise effectively with stirring commitment. Written in
that Mahler had died four years before the counterbalance the disc’s overriding 1912, the anthem soon found itself
First World War, or that this arrangement atmosphere of prayerful restraint. expressing so many public sentiments
of one of his Rückert Lieder was made by Marc Rochester of the war after the horrifying list of
Clytus Gottwald, born 11 years after the casualties was published from day to day;
war ended, let me point them in the ‘In Remembrance’ it received many performances. Holst’s fine
direction of Pegasus chairman, Samir Elgar They are at rest Fauré Requiem, Op 48 Ode to Death, composed in 1919 and here
Savant, who writes that Mahler’s music (arr Farrington)a D Guest For the Fallen performed in an arrangement for choir
mirrors ‘the decadence and self- C Harris O valiant heartsb Holst I vow to thee, and organ by Iain Farrington, is a powerful
absorption of the last years of the my countryb. Ode to Death (arr Farrington)c elegy written in memory of his friend Cecil
Austro-Hungarian empire’. Ireland Greater love hath no mand Parry Coles, who was killed during the German

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 111


VOCAL REVIEWS

Army’s last major offensive in 1918. and the singers swell to fill the greater similarly impassioned Cardoso performances
It shares serene moments of painful expressive and dramatic space of the work. and as such are a likely influence. The
poignancy with Fauré’s Requiem (again The comparison here is with Les Voix Marian Consort, however, add an intensely
in Farrington’s attractive arrangement), Humaines’ recording – an intimate, almost charged intimacy to the mix.
a work which focuses not on judgement domestic account with single voices that The premiere recording of Lobo’s
but on eternal rest and notions of paradise. works beautifully on its own terms but can’t Missa Veni Domine forms the backbone
The juxtaposition with Ian Venables’s compete with the aural opulence of this to the programme. It is a parody/imitation
contemporary (rather Howellsian) setting spacious, resonant new recording. work drawing on a motet by Palestrina;
of Requiem aeternam (2017) is therefore a Alexandra Coghlan Rory McCleery explains potential
fitting one. Jeremy Dibble Stabat mater – selected comparisons: Sebastianist connections with this text in
Concert Spirituel, Niquet (2/11) (GLOS) GCD921621 his booklet notes (the hoped for return of
‘Les maîtres du motet’ Nuova Musica, Bates (10/16) (HARM) HMU80 7659 King Sebastian lost in a military campaign
Bouteiller Missa pro defunctis Brossard Ave Missa pro defunctis – selected comparison: of 1578). I love this performance, full of
verum corpus. Miserere mei Deus. Stabat mater Voix Humaines (ATMA) ACD2 2259 energy and highly responsive to the text.
Les Arts Florissants / Paul Agnew The Sanctus-Benedictus in particular
Harmonia Mundi F HAF890 5300 (67’ • DDD • T/t) ‘Pater peccavi’ shows the flexibility of this ensemble
‘Music of Lamentation from in responding to different textures. The
Renaissance Portugal’ album highlight for me, however, is
Brito Heu Domine Cardoso Lamentations Circumdederunt me, a setting of a funeral
A collection of for Maundy Thursday A Fernandez text by Aires Fernandez. Here the phrases
French Baroque music Circumdederunt me Lobo Audivi vocem. reach upwards and overlap in great arches,
without so much as a Missa Veni Domine. Pater peccavi Magalhães which the singers perform with a yearning
fan flutter of courtly Commissa mea Morago Commissa mea. De intensity which is just exquisite. Edward Breen
secularity or a mouthful of cake, this new profundis. Emendemus in melius. Oculi mei
release from Paul Agnew and Les Arts semper ad Dominum. Versa est in luctum ‘Sing Levy Dew’
Florissants flings wide the gates of The Marian Consort / Rory McCleery Beamish Seven Songs Britten Friday
Versailles and heads out into the regions – Delphian F DCD34205 (52’ • DDD • T/t) Afternoons, Op 7 Richard Rodney Bennett
to the cathedrals and churches where music The Aviary. The Insect World Dove It sounded
of quite another kind flourished during the as if the Streets were running Skempton Five
reign of Louis XIV. Poems of Mary Webb
Composer Sébastian de Brossard (1655- This exquisite The St Catharine’s Girls’ Choir, Cambridge /
1730) may not be a household name but late-Renaissance Edward Wickham with Frederick Brown pf
it’s thanks to him that many works from Portuguese polyphonic Resonus F RES10221 (66’ • DDD • T)
the early decades of the 18th century repertoire is as richly
survive, collected and preserved in expressive as it is politically poised. Written
manuscripts he presented to the royal under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs
library in 1724. This recording pairs from 1580 to 1640, works by Duarte Lobo In the decade since its
Brossard’s own Miserere mei Deus and (c1565-1646) and Manuel Cardoso (1566- foundation, in 2008,
large-scale Stabat mater with one of the 1650) are frequently drawn towards texts the Girls’ Choir of
gems of his collection, the Missa pro of mourning and lamentation as they long St Catharine’s College,
defunctis of Pierre Bouteiller (c1655-c1717). for an end to foreign rule and yearn for Cambridge, have garnered well-deserved
The harmonised psalm chant of the the restoration of a Portuguese monarchy. plaudits for the conviction, warmth and
Miserere, passed here between a soloist and All this becomes more stylistically vivid immaculate control in their singing under
semi-chorus, inevitably draws comparison when we note both composers outlived their founder, Edward Wickham. All these
with Allegri. Less highly coloured in either Monteverdi, albeit only slightly. qualities are present in abundance on this
harmony or ornamentation, Brossard’s This beautiful new album from The new disc of secular British works for upper
setting is nevertheless an attractive work. Marian Consort is surely one of the best voices. Its 36 tracks constitute a veritable
Neither this nor the Stabat mater, however, one-to-a-part ensemble recordings of this box of delights, full of polished gems.
truly mines their emotive, penitential texts repertoire. Throughout the programme Opening with Jonathan Dove’s three
as we hear Charpentier do in his Leçons de they nurture a warm blend while drawing a cappella Emily Dickinson settings of
Ténèbres, for example. To all intents and out long polyphonic threads to expressive 2006, the 22 singers make light work of
purposes this is pure music, throwing all ends. The disc opens with Cardoso’s six- any contrapuntal challenges, emphasising
focus on vocal tone and inflection. voice Lamentations for Maunday Thursday the dramatic and ecstatic elements of
Les Arts Florissants are in good company from his final published collection; the poetry. Diction and intonation are
here, with recent recordings by Hervé unhurried, expressive and with a pleasing exemplary. Frederick Brown joins the choir
Niquet and an all-male incarnation of core to their sound, the sopranos in for Richard Rodney Bennett’s two unison
Le Concert Spirituel and David Bates’s La particular create a confident, glistening song collections from 40 years earlier, The
Nuova Musica. The Niquet is an austere tone with generous phrasing. Several Insect World and The Aviary, clearly relishing
affair but La Nuova Musica’s account larger ensembles, notably The Sixteen the delicious piano accompaniments. Of
(complete with superb soloists) is all warmth (‘Renaissance Portugal: The Sacred the former, ‘Clock-a-clay’ stands out, as
and drama, eclipsing Les Arts Florissants’ Music of Cardoso and Lôbo’ – Coro, does ‘The Bird’s Lament’ from the latter.
oddly wan and unfocused sopranos by some 8/94) and Westminster Cathedral Howard Skempton’s timeless and tireless
way. It’s a different story in the Bouteiller, Choir (‘Masterpieces of Portuguese Five Poems of Mary Webb are a masterclass
where the group’s blend finds its groove Polyphony’ – Hyperion) have recorded in triadic writing and should be heard by

112 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


VOCAL REVIEWS

Richly expressive: the Marian Consort draw out the long polyphonic threads of their Portuguese Renassance programme with exquisite beauty

every serious student of harmony. The Barbara Hannigan sop Reinbert de Leeuw pf voice is lithe and flexible rather than rich
balance between the three parts is excellent. Alpha F ALPHA393 (78’ • DDD • T/t) and firm; she strokes the vocal line lovingly
The disc’s premiere recording is of rather than grasping it; her German is
Sally Beamish’s unaccompanied Seven Songs languid and unpercussive – often difficult
(1990), and in some ways is the toughest to decipher. You might, like me, find
music both to sing and to assimilate. The After a well-received yourself thinking more of the cabaret
final one of the set, ‘Sunset’, is the most album of Satie for than the concert hall.
striking. Composed for his brother’s school the French At times it’s supremely seductive.
in Prestatyn, Benjamin Britten’s Friday composer’s There’s no denying the erotic charge
Afternoons dates from 1933-35 and polishes anniversary, Barbara Hannigan and she communicates, for example, in
up as fresh as ever. It is good to hear the Reinbert de Leeuw (having transitioned Schoenberg’s Dehmel settings (listen to
oft-sung ‘A New Year Carol’ in its original from Winter & Winter to Alpha) present the final phrase of ‘Schenk mir deinen
context and to marvel, once again, at how a generous programme of fin de siècle goldenen Kamm’, for example). You’ll
Britten squeezes out every last drop of Viennese songs. In a booklet conversation struggle not to be carried away, too, with
compositional technique in ‘Old Abram they describe this as music ‘at the edge her way with the early Zemlinsky songs –
Brown’. As its haunting refrain concludes of tonality, and also at the end of it’. such marvellous pieces in themselves. And
the disc, one hopes that this talented group Though they also admit it’s music rooted her high notes in Berg’s ‘Schilflied’ are
will explore further the riches of the pre- in a near century-long tradition started by difficult to resist.
war English repertory. Malcolm Riley Schubert, there’s very much the sense of But several of Hannigan’s touches
these songs being approached from the strike me, if not as inauthentic (to raise
‘Vienna: fin de siècle’ other side, glancing back knowingly from the question of authenticity is to open a
Berg Sieben Frühe Lieder A Mahler Fünf Lieder – a post-war perspective. can of worms), then at least as overly
No 1, Die stille Stadt; No 3, Laue Sommernacht; Hannigan’s approach, then, is not what affected. High notes regularly float airily
No 5, Ich wandle unter Blumen. Vier Lieder – we’re used to. In many of the songs there’s before being filled out, and there are
No 1, Licht in der Nacht Schoenberg Vier Lieder, the sense that she’s embodying one of her swoops and slides aplenty (listen to
Op 2 Webern Fünf Lieder nach Gedichten von most famous roles, Berg’s Lulu; I found Webern’s ‘Am Ufer’ or ‘Helle Nacht’).
Richard Dehmel Wolf Mignon Lieder Zemlinsky myself imagining a waif-like protagonist Occasionally I longed for something more
Lieder, Op 2, Book 2 – No 1, Frühlingstag; No 6, wandering through shadowy, dreamlike straightforward, objective even, especially
Empfängnis. Gesänge, Op 5 – No 1, Schlaf nur landscapes. The delivery is intimate, in the more ‘traditional’ Wolf numbers
ein; No 6, Tiefe Sehnsucht. Fünf Gesänge, Op 7 – confiding and almost coquettish. that conclude the disc. But, as usual with
No 1, Da waren zwei Kinder; No 2, Entbietung; De Leeuw offers gentle, patient and Hannigan, there’s some compelling,
No 4, Irmelin Rose discreet accompaniment. Hannigan’s fascinating singing here. Hugo Shirley

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 113


WHAT NEXT?
Do you have a favourite piece of music and want to explore further? Our monthly
feature suggests some musical journeys that venture beyond the most familiar works,
with some recommended versions. This month, Andrew Mellor’s point of departure is …

Sibelius’s Symphony No 7 (1924)


1 The beginning of the end
C
arl Stoeckel compared Sibelius’s conducting at Carnegie
Hall, New York, in 1914 to someone ‘reading a mighty Sibelius Tapiola (1926) After the Seventh Symphony, Sibelius took
poem and unfettered by the necessity of giving anything so the process of distillation further with the tone poem Tapiola, which
obvious as a beat’. Perhaps the music (The Oceanides) didn’t need clings resolutely to one key and uses just one motif (it can hardly
a beat. Increasingly, Sibelius was becoming aware that inherent be called a theme). Tapiola is both a culmination and a new dawn in
kinetic energy could take his pieces wherever they needed to Sibelius’s thinking about instrumental colour: how a particular shade
go. His last surviving symphony, of 1924, offers up a superlative of orchestral brown might control pages of musical progress on its
example of the idea. It lives a whole life in its short, single- own. The only place Sibelius could go next was into total silence.
movement span. It was born of abrasion, squalor and addiction, O Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / Leif Segerstam (Ondine, 7/96)
yet is profound, majestic and humbling. It paved the way for
new musical designs from Stockholm to San Francisco. Paavo
Berglund, a great Sibelius champion, has the symphony’s measure 2 Keep the river flowing
in a notable live recording made with the LPO in 2003. Adams Harmonielehre (1985) John Adams’s admiration for Sibelius’s
OLondon Philharmonic Orchestra / Paavo Berglund (LPO, 12/05) Symphony No 7 is a matter of record. The American’s early work was

1 4
Sibelius Salonen
Tapiola Sibelius Helix

Symphony No 7

Thorvaldsdottir
Aeriality
3
2
Bruckner
Adams Symphony No 2
Harmonielehre

Madetoja
Norgård 5
Kullervo
Symphony No 6 Riley
In C

Klami
Pohjola Lemminkäinen’s Adventures
Symphony No 2 on the Island of Sari

114 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


WHAT NEXT?

concerned with the working of cells of material and on developing


through instantaneous repetition – elements present in Sibelius’s
Seventh but heard even more clearly in works such as The Wood
Nymph. In Harmonielehre, a symphony in all but name, we hear how
deeply the American absorbed the Seventh’s suggestion that two
speeds can operate at once.
O City of Birmingham SO / Simon Rattle (EMI/Warner Classics, 6/94)

Nørgård Symphony No 6 (1999) The Danish composer Per


Nørgård remains the most tangible living link with Sibelius and is
fascinated by the way that the Finnish composer’s symphonies flow
with gravitational inevitability. Nørgård’s symphonies (eight so far)
are strikingly different from one another, but the Sixth is among the
purest manifestations of the symphonic principle of no argument, no
victory, just a natural, beautiful process tipped into action and then
brought to rest.
O Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgårds (Dacapo, 7/16)

Pohjola Symphony No 2 (2006) In Seppo Pohjola’s symphonies we


hear a progression of the idea that a tiny motif can be combined with
gentle rhythmic manipulation to induce a kinetic musical journey.
Pohjola’s Symphony No 2 lays that theory out in basic terms, as this
sharp performance under Sakari Oramo shows. Visit YouTube for
a performance, from the same musicians, of Pohjola’s Third (2011),
in which the weave has become more complex but less complicated.
O Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo (Alba, 11/12)

3 Contemporaneous currents
Bruckner Symphony No 2 (1872) Sibelius was only six when Bruckner
completed his Second Symphony, but it’s obvious that Bruckner’s
vocabulary – long pedal notes, figurations that weave to form
tapestries, and cell-like motifs that drive music in constant transition –
had a strong bearing on Sibelius’s whole idea of a symphony from his
first to his last. This score, with its telling use of silence, may well have
formed the perfect tutor. The Finnish landscape was a profound source of inspiration for Sibelius
O Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Herbert Blomstedt (Querstand, 11/13)
with a mobility that is consistent almost until the last moment, while the
Madetoja Kullervo (1913) Sibelius’s language was radical enough for textures change like a twisting Rubik’s Cube. ‘It was with the minimalist
it to be ignored by plenty of talented contemporaries. Leevi Madetoja composers that we got the idea of pulse back,’ Salonen once said.
might not have ignored Sibelius per se, but he admired d’Indy and O Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra / Esa-Pekka Salonen (DG, 3/09)
Wagner at least as much and there’s something of Zemlinsky’s
longing and romantic sweep behind his otherwise tempestuous take Thorvaldsdottir Aeriality (2011) The Icelandic composer Anna
on the Kullervo story from Finland’s national epic The Kalevala. Thorvaldsdottir observed recently that ‘nature tells you brown is
It was written in 1913, two decades after Sibelius’s choral approach never just brown.’ In Thorvaldsdottir’s music, and particularly in the
to the same legend. orchestral monolith Aeriality, a very Nordic distillation of ideas is
O Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra / John Storgårds (Ondine, 4/13) combined with the spectral proposition Sibelius pioneered: that
instrumental timbre and colour are legitimate means with which
Klami Lemminkäinen’s Adventures on the Island of Sari (1933) a composer might let a piece of formally rigorous music unfold.
Uuno Klami took as much inspiration from The Kalevala as Sibelius The piece sounds uncannily Icelandic in this performance.
did, and his musical language was almost as uncompromising. It is O Iceland Symphony Orchestra / Ilan Volkov (DG)
also more bright and primitive, reflecting his admiration for Ravel and
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J A M O F I N E A R T I M A G E S /A L A M Y S T O C K P H O T O

Stravinsky. Klami appears to pay his dues to Sibelius’s Tapiola in the


swaying tree-scape that opens his flamboyant symphonic poem based 5 Back to basics
on the same episode from The Kalevala that Sibelius set with such Riley In C (1968) American minimalism was born of many things but
architectural grandeur. Sibelius’s slow process of distilling his voice to the point of silence was
O Turku Philharmonic Orchestra / Jorma Panula (Naxos) arguably one of them. If Sibelius could have written a symphony that
didn’t shift from a single key, he would have (some might argue that,
in Tapiola, he did precisely that). Terry Riley’s In C – in the same key
4 Nordic nature music as Sibelius’s symphony – cleared the decks for an exploration of what
Salonen Helix (2005) Where Sibelius’s and Thorvaldsdottir’s (below) might be done without modulation.
nature world is fluid, the river shifting in velocity and depth, Esa-Pekka O Ars Nova Copenhagen / Paul Hillier (Marco Polo)
Salonen’s is more studied and scientific. Like a generated image of the
structure of DNA, his work Helix spirals towards its natural end point Available to stream at Qobuz, Apple Music and Spotify

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 115


Opera
Mark Pullinger contrasts a pair of Alexandra Coghlan enjoys
DVDs of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco: some elaborately staged Vivaldi:
‘At La Scala, Netrebko is in magnificent ‘This production is a gorgeous sprawl of
voice – she is becoming one of the great Verdi period sensation and spectacle, high on camp
sopranos of our day’ REVIEW ON PAGE 121 and low on concept’ REVIEW ON PAGE 123

Britten ◊Y undercurrent to the surface. At one Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra /
Death in Venice point Aschenbach imagines himself Constantinos Carydis
John Daszak ten ...................... Gustav von Aschenbach kissing Tadzio and later dancing with Stage director Tilmann Köhler
Leigh Melrose bar......................... Traveller/Elderly Fop/ him naked. This does not leave much to Video director Tiziano Mancini
.................Old Gondolier/Hotel Manager/Hotel Barber/ the imagination and Britten would surely C Major Entertainment F b ◊ 747908;
......................... Leader of the Players/Voice of Dionysus have been horrified by it. F Y 748004 (3h’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS5.1 &
Anthony Roth Costanzo counterten ...Voice of Apollo John Daszak comes to the role of PCM stereo • 0 • s)
Tomasz Borczyk dncr..................................................Tadzio Aschenbach with more voice than most Recorded live, January 2017
Duncan Rock bar...............English Clerk/Venice Guide of his predecessors. He is dignified and
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real, Madrid / unexaggerated in his portrayal, perhaps
Alejo Pérez even a touch over-formal, and he cannot
Stage director Willy Decker equal Peter Pears’s liquid legato in the From Figaro and Così
Video director François Roussillon lyrical passages. Leigh Melrose, given the downwards, comic opera
Naxos F ◊ 2 110577; F Y NBD0076V look of a satyr, offers vivid characterisations stagings today rarely
(152’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD5.0, DTS5.0 & in the nemesis roles, though he has been escape without a
PCM stereo • 0 • s) encouraged to overplay the fop and, disturbing final twist. This
Recorded live, December 17 & 19, 2014 en travesti, the leader of the players. Serse from Frankfurt runs true to type. ‘It
Includes synopsis Anthony Roth Costanzo sings a suitably comes to a happy ending’, proclaims the
ethereal Apollo and Tomasz Borczyk, sketchy booklet note. ‘Arsamene and
sporting a scallywag’s scarecrow haircut, Romilda, as well as Xerxes and Amastre,
is a native Polish Tadzio. find each other again.’ Well, that’s not
It is good to see Death Unfortunately, the musical what we see here. At the hasty denouement,
in Venice making its way performance under conductor Alejo Pérez Amastre, formerly abandoned by Serse,
around Europe after a sometimes holds fire and the Orchestra holds a pistol first to his head, then to her
lengthy period of neglect of the Teatro Real, at least as recorded own, before Serse briefly ‘repents’. As the
following Britten’s death. here, sound rather wan and grey. There curtain falls Amastre looks traumatised,
This production by the German director is also some trimming of the Evangelist- while Serse, having threatened all and
Willy Decker comes live from the Teatro like recitatives. sundry, seems about to shoot himself. All
Real in Madrid, though it had already been There is some strong competition. this goes right against the grain of Handel’s
seen a few years earlier in Barcelona. Either of the DVDs from La Fenice serene, pensive final coro hymning true love.
As his previous productions of Peter or English National Opera is preferable. You might say that this sour ending is
Grimes and Billy Budd had shown, Decker Both offer high levels of visual beauty, with the logical outcome of director Tilmann
sees Britten’s operas in stylised terms. Italian style in the first case and exceptional Köhler’s vision, where the tyrannical, self-
This suits Death in Venice better than lighting in the latter. Throw in Edward regarding Serse is capricious to the point
some of the others, not least thanks to Gardner’s compelling musical grip at ENO of instability, liable to turn vicious at any
the symbolism written into the libretto by and the Opus Arte disc is a clear winner. moment. In his Act 1 aria ‘Di tacere’ he
Myfanwy Piper, from the multiple nemesis Richard Fairman seems on the verge of raping Romilda, the
characters played by the baritone to Selected comparisons: object of his infatuation. In the libretto
Venice itself, alluring in its beauty, Bartoletti (2/11) (DYNA) ◊ 33608; Y 55608 and Handel’s music she is presented as
deadly with the threat of cholera. Gardner (7/14) (OPAR) ◊ OA1130D; the more serious of the two sisters,
The staging is intelligent, spare, rather Y OABD7141D unswervingly devoted to Serse’s brother
dark. A few scenes capture Venice’s fatally Arsamene. Here she is as flighty as her
sweet mystery, notably the lagoon ride in Handel ◊Y sister Atalanta, sexually attracted to Serse,
a gondola like a giant coffin, but for the Serse as the booklet photo makes clear. Things
most part Decker’s imagery is focused Gaëlle Arquez mez..........................................................Serse are further complicated by an unscripted
on probing symbolic figures of death and Elizabeth Sutphen sop............................................Romilda attraction between Atalanta and Arsamene.
sexuality. He suggests that Aschenbach Lawrence Zazzo counterten.............................Arsamene There are cat fights between the sisters;
and his sevenfold nemesis are different Tanja Ariane Baumgartner mez....................... Amastre and at one point we get a freeze frame
sides of one person, which is not a new Louise Alder sop.........................................................Atalanta of the ‘wrong’ pairings that evokes the
idea, but does break new ground in how Thomas Faulkner bass..................................................Elviro partner-swapping of Così fan tutte. It’s
far he is ready to bring the story’s sexual Brandon Cedel bass-bar.........................................Ariodate my guess that Così’s ambivalences and

116 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

John Daszak and Tomasz Borczyk star in an intelligent and spare production of Britten’s Death in Venice from Madrid

problematic ending influenced Köhler’s Cedel sings with sturdy resonance as the singing, the Frankfurt performance
whole conception of Serse. worthy-but-dim general Ariodate, while wins hands down. Richard Wigmore
Yet while the director plays up the Thomas Faulkner’s amusing but unhammed
elements of chaos (epitomised by the set’s Elviro irresistibly suggests a proto-Leporello Massenet
progressively trashed dinner table) and in his backchat with his master Arsamene. La Navarraise
incipient cruelty, his modern-dress staging, As the trigger of the opera’s comic-cruel Aleksandra Kurzak mez .............................................. Anita
complete with video installations, is mayhem, Gaëlle Arquez rightly dominates, Roberto Alagna ten.................................................... Araquil
theatrically compelling and psychologically vocally and dramatically, in the huge role George Andguladze bass....................................... Garrido
convincing. In a uniformly fine, camera- of Serse, written for the castrato-from- Brian Kontes bar.........................................................Remigio
friendly cast, all the singers throw hell Caffarelli. Her warm, flexible mezzo Michael Anthony McGee bar ..................... Bustamente
themselves with gusto into their roles and soars easily above the stave, she phrases Issachah Savage ten .................................................. Ramon
interact vividly. Amid the production’s generously, and brings a mingled fire and New York Choral Ensemble; Opera Orchestra
physicality, Köhler is unafraid of stillness at intense pathos to Serse’s central aria di of New York / Alberto Veronesi
moments of reflection, whether in the arias bravura ‘Se bramate’. Warner Classics F 8029 56057-0 (44’ • DDD)
for the put-upon Arsamene – movingly Constantinos Carydis sets languorous Includes synopsis and French libretto
performed by the deep-toned countertenor tempos in one or two numbers and can
Lawrence Zazzo – Amastre’s tender arbitrarily introduce solo strings where
‘Cagion son io’, or the chastened Atalanta’s Handel prescribes tutti. For reasons I can’t
minuet song ‘Voi mi dite’, sung with poise fathom, Act 2 ends not with Romilda’s ‘As for the work itself’,
and grace by Louise Alder. avowal of enduring love ‘Chi cede al furore’, wrote George Bernard
Earlier in the opera Alder plays the here displaced to Act 3, but with Serse’s Shaw for The World
minx to the life as she sharpens her claws meditative ‘Il core spera’, which is then cut on the occasion of the
P H O T O G R A P H Y: J AV E I R D E L R E A L / T E AT R O R E A L

in pursuit of Arsamene. Her feeling for off in mid-sentence. But on the whole opera’s Covent Garden premiere in June
the Handelian line and sparkling coloratura Carydis’s direction, always responsive to the 1894, ‘there is hardly anything to be said in
are matched by the American soprano singers, meshes well with the production – face of the frankness with which Massenet
Elizabeth Sutphen, whose wilful, though the alert orchestra can suffer in the has modelled it on Cavalleria. He has not
strongly sung Romilda is emphatically not balance. If Köhler’s Serse leaves a slightly composed an opera: he has made up a
a woman to be messed with. Tanja Ariane nasty taste in the mouth, I enjoyed it at least prescription …’
Baumgartner’s powerful mezzo catches as much as Nicholas Hytner’s famous ENO The Girl from Navarre is truly a cloning of
both Amastre’s outrage (not least in production that balances elegant artifice both the style and the content of Mascagni’s
a sulphurous ‘Anima infida’) and her with clever comic gags (Philips, 5/93). pioneering verismo opera. It is also most
vulnerability. Of the two basses, Brandon And for freshness and consistency of economical. In barely three-quarters of an

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 117


40 years with
René Jacobs
WOLFGA ADEUS MOZART

O eras
THE DA PONTE TRILOGY

Le Nozze di Figaro
Don Giovanni
Così fan tutte
9 CDs with complete libretti translations
in English + 200 pages printed booklet

3 MAJOR REISSUES

HANDEL SCARLATTI CALDARA


Giulio Cesare Il Primo Omicidio Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo
3 CDs - HMM 931385.87 2 CDs - HMM 931649.50 2 CDs - HMM 935221.22

harmoniamundi.com
OPERA REVIEWS

hour (alongside Mascagni’s 70-plus) Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House / the ROH Orchestra, superbly detailed in
Massenet manages all of two acts, an Sir Antonio Pappano its commentaries.
orchestral entr’acte intermezzo, choruses Stage directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier Leiser and Caurier’s gimmick-free
of soldiers both at war and play, a love duet Video director Matthew Woodward production is well known, both directors
and a confrontation scene, a father/son/ Opus Arte F ◊ OA1268D; F Y OABD7244D returning for this revival. Some critics find
lover dispute and a mad scene (the finale). (126’ + 12’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, it a bit kitsch, but it works for me. Local
The opera’s fate, following initial success DD5.1 & LPCM stereo • 0 • s) colour is glimpsed through the winding
(sometimes as an early double bill with Cav Extra features: Introduction to Madama Butterfly; paper windows of their spartan set –
before Pagliacci invariably took that place), Ermonela Jaho and Antonio Pappano in rehearsal; candyfloss pink blossoms, Nagasaki
was to fade from the repertoire with one- Cast gallery Harbour – the backdrop falling away
off performances – and, later, recordings – Recorded live, March 30, 2017 dramatically for the furious entrance
occurring roughly every 30 years at the Includes synopsis of the Bonze, denouncing Cio-Cio-San
whim of individual divas or conductors. for abandoning her religion to adopt
Why? A lot of the music is beautifully Christianity. The production’s simplicity
and memorably realised both melodically allows one to focus on the central
and through the orchestra – the French This 2017 revival was performances and, with a Butterfly as
composer was at this stage of his career the first time Antonio heartbreaking as Ermonela Jaho’s, it serves
a more mature man of the theatre than Pappano had conducted its purpose handsomely. Mark Pullinger
Mascagni. Yet this music inhabits and Moshe Leiser and Patrice
illustrates the libretto rather than tranforms Caurier’s Royal Opera Puccini ◊Y
it. For all its directness (detractors call this production of Madama Butterfly since it was Turandot
‘crudity’) Cavalleria rusticana’s characters unveiled in 2003. The reason? Ermonela Rebeka Lokar sop ....................................................Turandot
become true archetypes whereas Jaho. The Albanian soprano is one of the Jorge De León ten ............................................................Calaf
La Navarraise’s remain pasteboard great singing actresses of our time. Her Erika Grimaldi sop................................................................ Liù
functionaries for whom we feel little. We Suor Angelica (in Puccini’s Il trittico) ripped Marco Filippo Romano bar .......................................... Ping
never know who Araquil is, or why, after London audiences – and Jaho herself – to Luca Casalin bar ................................................................Pang
such passionate declarations in Act 1, he shreds. Her portrayal of the tragic Cio- Mikeldi Atxalandabaso ten .........................................Pong
throws away his love for Anita (the girl) Cio-San is no less moving. In-Sung Sim bass .............................................................Timur
with sudden fits of jealousy and moral Watching the performance on Blu-ray, Antonello Ceron bar.............................. Emperor Altoum
outrage. His death seems over-convenient one appreciates her incredibly subtle Roberto Abbondanza bar ..................................Mandarin
in terms of timing and Grand Guignol in acting: the coy, wide-eyed teenager during Joshua Sanders ten .................................. Prince of Persia
terms of effect. Anita has something of her wedding to Marcelo Puente’s feckless Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Regio, Turin /
the obsessiveness in love of bygone Italian Pinkerton; the defiant look of absolute Gianandrea Noseda
opera heroines. But it’s hard to relate to her belief that he will return for her and their Stage director Stefano Poda
mercenary mission to obtain a dowry by son; her very real tears during the Video director Tiziano Mancini
murdering the Carlist general for money, Humming Chorus vigil. Here, one C Major Entertainment F ◊ 748108;
even if we feel sympathy for her not being appreciates that in Act 2 – just three years F Y 748204 (115’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i •
allowed to marry Araquil for lack of funds. later – Butterfly is still a teenager; her DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & PCM stereo • 0 • s)
The present issue is a belated celebration description of how the US judiciary throws Recorded live, January 14, 18 & 20, 2018
of the Opera Orchestra of New York’s out divorce cases is touchingly naive. Her Includes synopsis
intended return to full-time activity in suicide is devastating, flapping her ‘wings’
2010, reuniting many of the principals in her death throes set before a giant
of that concert but now with Aleksandra branch of weeping cherry blossoms, and
Kurzak as the heroine. Veronesi, the then had me in pieces, both in the house and Turandot’s riddles
successor-elect of founding maestro Eve here on screen. Jaho’s vocal performance is are getting no easier
Queler, conducts with much élan and the touching. Hers is not a sumptuous soprano, to decipher in the 21st
cast are in good shape. Alagna is passionate glossing Puccini’s rich lyric lines, but the century. Now it’s not
but never hysterical in tracking the colours she brings to her portrayal are enough to see Puccini’s
extremes of Araquil’s emotions. Kurzak astonishing, scaling ‘Un bel dì’ down to last, unfinished opera as an exotic parable;
lacks only the colour of character that Lucia the merest thread. not with its problematic depiction of a
Popp, no less, brought to the role of Anita Jaho is well supported by Elizabeth barbaric Orient and a frigid but
in an early 1970s recording under Antonio DeShong’s feisty, sympathetic Suzuki. bloodthirsty heroine. Franco Alfano’s
de Almeida now on Sony. If you wanted one Their Flower Duet is quite beautifully tacked-on completion only makes things
Navarraise that should still be your choice, sung. The rest of the cast is mostly very worse, with its happy-ever-after ending
creditable as this new release is. Mike Ashman fine: a reliable, if vocally dry, Sharpless packaging everything up like a shop
Comparative version: from Scott Hendricks; Carlo Bosi’s oily assistant at Hamleys.
de Almeida (6/75R) (SONY) 19075 81126-2 Goro; Yuriy Yurchuk’s towering Yamadori. Here comes another attempt to find
I wish I liked Puente’s Pinkerton more. a new way in. Stefano Poda worked hard
Puccini ◊Y His dashing looks suit the part but his for his production for the Teatro Regio
Madama Butterfly tenor has a distracting wobble under Torino, which had its premiere in January
Ermonela Jaho sop ............................. Madama Butterfly pressure which can sound uncomfortably 2018: he did the direction, the sets, the
Marcelo Puente ten ...............................................Pinkerton strangled in higher passages. Pappano – costumes, choreography and lighting.
Scott Hendricks bar ...............................................Sharpless arguably today’s greatest Puccinian Possibly he did the backstage catering,
Elizabeth DeShong mez............................................ Suzuki conductor – draws ardent playing from too, although the conducting was left to

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 119


OPERA REVIEWS

the former music director Gianandrea Lokar gets so little input into Turandot, Paris sojourn as goldsmith to François I,
Noseda. The result is eye-catching as she attacks those murderous high notes deals with his attempts to rescue Ascanio,
if frustrating. in juicy and vibrant voice. De León blows his favourite pupil, from the clutches of
Ancient Peking is now a glass’n’perspex hot and cold: moments of gutsy Puccini- François’s mistress, the Duchesse
box, peopled by nubile men and women singing alternate with some coarsening d’Étampes, a lethal femme fatale who takes
wearing thongs and nothing else. The of tone and uncertainty of pitch. Marco lovers behind the king’s back then murders
nudity is less about titillation than about Filippo Romano’s Ping is in stronger them to forestall accusations of infidelity.
Poda’s obsession with the body and death. voice than the other two henchmen, while Ascanio and Cellini, however, are also
These are preoccupations in the text, too, In-Sung Sim’s Timur grizzles effectively. rivals for the affections of the virginal if
where even the moon is a ‘severed head’ Neil Fisher far from naive Colombe d’Estourville,
and Turandot’s subjects are reduced to infuriating not only the Duchesse but also
meat for the executioner’s blade. Indeed, Saint-Saëns Cellini’s possessive model Scozzone, who
the dancers, whose muscular choreography Ascanio eventually becomes the tragic casualty of
is rather mesmeric, are marked with red Jean-François Lapointe bar.............Benvenuto Cellini the Duchesse’s scheming.
incisions across their torsos, presumably for Joé Bertili bass-bar........................................................Pagolo The score is magnificent, if uneven. The
ease of carving them up later. Act 2 begins Bernard Richter ten...................................................Ascanio dramaturgy wobbles in places, notably in
with Ping, Pong and Pang bandaging up Ève-Maud Hubeaux mez....................................Scozzone Act 2, where Saint-Saëns’s need to give
corpses as if they had just finished the Jean Teitgen bass ................................................... François I four of his protagonists their principal arias
autopsies. When Jorge de León’s Calaf Karina Gauvin sop......................... Duchesse d’Étampes in succession holds up the action. The big
correctly answers ‘blood’ to Turandot’s Clémence Tilquin sop................Colombe d’Estourville public scenes are comparable in their
second riddle, a flayed, writhing man Mohammed Haidar bar............................................ Beggar grandeur to the finale of the Organ
emerges from behind a screen. Bastien Combe bar ......................................... D’Estourville Symphony and every bit as thrilling.
And Turandot? ‘She doesn’t exist – Maxence Billiemaz ten ........................................... D’Orbec Colombe and Ascanio’s duets are notably
only the void exists’, says Ping, and this Raphaël Hardmeyer bass-bar.................. Charles Quint beautiful, and there’s a marvellous scene
is another way into Poda’s thinking. His Olivia Doutney sop ............................................An Ursuline in Act 3 when François and the Emperor
Turandot is accompanied by women Chorus of the Grand Théâtre, Geneva; Chorus and Charles V, visiting Paris en route to
wearing identical white outfits and blonde Orchestra of the Geneva University of Music / Flanders, vie with each other to be Cellini’s
wigs, who lip-sync to Lokar’s words. She’s Guillaume Tourniaire principal patron. Deeming it Wagnerian,
allowed no personality of her own; but B Records M c LBM013 (3h 10’ • DDD) Saint-Saëns’s contemporaries compared
given that Poda and Noseda have opted to Recorded live at the Grand Théâtre, Geneva, it with Meistersinger, not entirely without
finish the opera where Puccini did – the November 24 & 26, 2017 reason. Debussy, meanwhile, must have
death of Liù – that adds up: Turandot fades Includes synopsis, libretto and translation been familiar with it: the similarities
away, and it’s Calaf and a still-living Liù between Colombe’s unaccompanied ‘Mon
who face an uncertain future. coeur est sous la pierre’ and Mélisande’s
The show forges its own hallucinatory ‘Mes longs cheveux descendent’ are too
logic and looks stylish, but as with so many Like so many works close to be coincidental.
productions where body-beautiful dancers written for the Paris The recording, meanwhile, is tremendous
dominate in revealing costumes under Opéra, where it was in the way it captures the excitement felt
elaborate lighting, it sometimes feels as if first performed in by singers, players and audience in the
the singers themselves are inconvenient 1890, Ascanio never reached the stage in the rediscovery of a significant work by a
bit-parts. That’s especially the case during form its composer intended. Shortly after composer whose output is still in a process
a clunky riddle scene, during which Calaf completing the score in 1888, Saint-Saëns of re-evaluation. Tourniaire conducts with
perches on a chaise longue in a booth on suffered a severe breakdown following terrific élan and commitment, while his
the side of the stage while Turandot and the death of his mother, and eventually orchestra, a formidable student ensemble
her clones twitch around on the other side entrusted preparations for the premiere to from Geneva’s Haute École de Musique,
of a wall. He is the least comfortable his librettist Louis Gallet and the composer play as if their lives depend on it. The
person on stage, sometimes literally Ernest Guiraud. Exactly who decided on choral singing is spine-tinglingly good, the
walking around in circles as the set changes is unclear; but by the time Saint- soloists consistently superb. Jean-François
revolves. In an opera that can seem like a Saëns heard the work late in its opening Lapointe makes a tireless Cellini,
passionless pageant, there is not that much run, the score had been cut to bits, with charismatic, witty and astute, yet tellingly
more humanity here. two crucial scenes drastically telescoped hampered by failures of emotional
Noseda will be missed at Turin, as this into one. This effective abridgement understanding when confronted with
punchy and incisive performance reveals. formed the basis of its subsequent revivals Ève-Maud Hubeaux’s volatile yet adoring
Overall, speeds are brisk but there is plenty and the opera was only heard complete last Scozzone. Bernard Richter’s Ascanio and
of atmospheric detail: the sinister tap of November, when Guillaume Tourniaire Clémence Tilquin’s Colombe sound tender
col legno strings, the jittery woodwind and used Saint-Saëns’s autograph score for and sexy together. Karina Gauvin’s
skittering percussion. Erika Grimaldi’s Liù the series of concert performances in Duchesse dispenses scorn and seduction
is really the true heroine here, given the Geneva that form the basis of this in equal measure, showering Lapointe and
production’s skewed emphasis: her soprano outstanding recording. Richter with invective and twisting Jean
can take on a hard edge but she caps Gallet’s source was Paul Meurice’s 1852 Teitgen’s sensualist François round her
‘Signore, ascolta!’ with a melting pianissimo play Benvenuto Cellini. Saint-Saëns adopted little finger with caressingly beautiful
and her arioso ‘Tanto amore, segreto e the title Ascanio in deference to Berlioz, phrases. I admit to being swept away by the
inconfessato’ is ardently done. Still, it’s though Cellini is very much the central whole thing. It’s a major achievement and
a pity that the Slovenian soprano Rebeka character, and the opera, set during his 1540 highly recommended. Tim Ashley

120 GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 gramophone.co.uk


OPERA REVIEWS

Verdi ◊Y Macbeth, largely due to Temistocle Solera’s and upper-register agility. Verdian
Giovanna d’Arco weak libretto, diluting Schiller’s drama Die spinto greats such as Renata Tebaldi and
Francesco Meli ten................................................... Carlo VII Jungfrau von Orleans down to Giovanna’s Montserrat Caballé tackled it on disc, as
Carlos Álvarez bar................................................... Giacomo love for the Dauphin Carlo and her has Anna Netrebko, who first sang it at the
Anna Netrebko sop................................................ Giovanna denunciation as a witch by her father, Salzburg Festival (DG, 9/14). Here at La
Michele Mauro ten............................................................ Delil Giacomo. As in Schiller, Giovanna isn’t Scala, Netrebko is in magnificent voice,
Dmitry Beloselskiy bass............................................. Talbot burnt at the stake but perishes on the especially her strikingly rich lower register,
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan / battlefield, having saved the king’s life. even if her Act 1 cabaletta is a little squally.
Riccardo Chailly The opera isn’t performed much – I recall She soars in the Act 2 finale, while her
Stage directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier Philip Prowse’s vivid, stylised production preghiera is beautifully shaped. Netrebko is
Video director Patrizia Carmine for the Royal Opera in 1996 – but, almost becoming one of the great Verdi sopranos
Decca F ◊ 074 3967DH; F Y 074 3968DH simultaneously, here come two stagings of our day.
(136’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & from Italy: La Scala, where the opera was As Carlo, Francesco Meli sings a good
LPCM stereo • 0 • s) premiered, and Parma, home to the Verdi deal more sensitively than other recent
Recorded live, December 23, 2015 Festival – two houses whose unforgiving outings (he can be a bit of a can-belter)
Includes synopsis loggionisti guard Verdi’s heritage jealously. and Carlos Álvarez is in terrific voice as
Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Giovanna’s father, Giacomo. Riccardo
Verdi ◊Y production was the 2015-16 season-opener Chailly is alert to the drama in the score,
Giovanna d’Arco at La Scala. They depict the opera as a leading a vivid orchestral performance.
Luciano Ganci ten..................................................... Carlo VII 19th-century girl’s delirious hallucinations, Up against the Scala forces, Parma
Vittorio Vitelli bar .................................................... Giacomo watched over by her concerned father. The struggles but offers a stronger cast than
Vittoria Yeo sop ....................................................... Giovanna chorus appear without, peering into her the opera’s previous DVD incarnation (also
Gabriele Mangione ten................................................... Delil room, while busy videography is displayed from Parma) in C Major’s ‘Tutto Verdi’
Luciano Leoni bass........................................................ Talbot in the panels above including, at one point, bicentenary release in 2013, which suffered
Chorus of the Teatro Regio, Parma; what looks like a weeping Verdi. Carlo VII a shrill soprano, a poor tenor and a gruff
I Virtuosi Italiani / Ramón Tebar enters her dream clad in gold from head to Renato Bruson, sadly well past his sell-by
Stage directors Saskia Boddeke toe, including a gleaming spray-tan giving date as Giacomo. Parma’s new production
and Peter Greenaway him a comic, rather than regal, appearance, from 2016 comes from the husband-and-
Video director Saskia Boddeke like Star Wars’ C-3PO making his operatic wife team of Peter Greenaway and Saskia
C Major Entertainment F ◊ 745608; debut. Giovanna dons the king’s armour and Boddeke, staged in the 17th-century
F Y 745704 (127’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • brandishes his sword as she leads the French Baroque Teatro Farnese. It’s an unusual
DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.0 & PCM stereo • 0 • s) on to the battlefield – plenty of slo-mo action space – U-shaped – with no pit. This leads
Recorded live at the Teatro Farnese, Parma, here – and the cross she hugs is inverted to to a tiny stage for the principals, while the
October 2-20, 2016 become the stake to which she is strapped. chorus is relegated to serried ranks
Includes synopsis The decisive battle takes place in Giovanna’s wrapped around stage and orchestra.
head, Giacomo narrating events. Reims There are some striking background
Cathedral rises magnificently through her images beamed on to the theatre’s
bedroom, as does Carlo (on a golden horse). archways, including iconography of
Video imagery suggests that Giovanna is Renaissance Madonnas and, later, modern-
erotically drawn to Carlo, and when they day refugee mothers carrying their
grapple on her bed, they are engulfed by a children. An animated bloodied crown
swarm of red devils. Winged angels appear hovers over the stage at times. A cartoon
Giovanna d’Arco stems from Verdi’s ‘galley at her death. It’s as camp as a row of tents, of a coyly blinking girl is less effective,
years’. Composed for La Scala in 1845, it’s but visually striking all the same. looking like a Japanese anime, and the
full of great melodies even if it doesn’t hit The title-role was written for Erminia meaning behind a battlefield of scissors
the same dramatic heights as Nabucco or Frezzolini, renowned for her beauty of tone escaped me.

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OPERA REVIEWS

Another drawback is that Vittoria Yeo’s ‘Too little variety’ was my own final Dynamic F b ◊ 37803; F Y 57803
Giovanna is accompanied by a pair of impression of Didone, though there are (161’ • NTSC • 16:9 • 1080i • DTS-HD MA5.1, DD5.1 &
distracting dancer doubles, often relegating musical beauties en route. Vinci was the PCM stereo • 0 • s)
the Korean soprano to the role of observer. pioneer of the new Neapolitan style that Recorded live at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina
I’ve been impressed by Yeo recently in staked all on simplicity, clarity and surface Franca, Italy, 2017
Venice and Florence; she’s a plucky elegance. Counterpoint is virtually non-
Giovanna, if without Netrebko’s vocal existent. Much of Vinci’s – and not only
glamour, a touch sour on occasion. Luciano Vinci’s – invention, however agreeable,
Ganci forces quite a lot as Carlo but it’s seems too mellifluously bland for the If you like your Baroque
often an attractive voice, and solid baritone dramatic situation, as one ambling or opera understated or
Vittorio Vitelli does well as Giacomo, jaunty major-key aria follows another. postmodern (or uncut)
confined to the rear steps for his big aria The minor is an endangered mode. Yet then Fabio Ceresa’s
while Greenaway and Boddeke have at moments music and drama do mesh Orlando furioso is not
Giovanna’s doubles faffing about amid a effectively: in Dido’s aptly regal ‘Son for you. Taking Vivaldi’s opera absolutely
swirl of video butterflies. No competition regina’ (which brought the house down at face value, the director delivers a
for La Scala. Mark Pullinger in the original Rome production) and her production that’s a gorgeous sprawl of
Selected comparison: plangent ‘Se vuoi ch’io mora’, the one period sensation and spectacle, high on
Bartoletti (1/14) (CMAJ) ◊ 721208, 725808 or 721808; number extensively reworked by Handel; camp and low on concept.
Y 721304 or 725904 or in Aeneas’s swaggering ‘A trionfar’, Filmed in summer 2017 at the Festival
imported from a Hasse opera. Finest of della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, this
Vinci/Handel all is the opera’s closing scene, a series of performance (trimmed down to a tidy two
Didone abbandonata fragmentary accompanied recitatives for hours 45 minutes) plays out against the
Robin Johannsen sop................................................ Didone Dido broken by a splenetic outburst from handsome facade of the town’s Palazzo
Olivia Vermeulen mez ................................................... Enea the villainous Iarbas. Ducale – a space that offers plenty of room
Antonio Giovannini counterten ................................Iarba Based on a staged production in for the rampant imaginations of designers
Julia Böhme contr ........................................................ Selene Schwetzingen, this new studio recording Massimo Checchetto and Giuseppe Palella
Namwon Huh ten..........................................................Araspe should satisfy anyone who fancies to expand into. A subsequent run at La
Polina Artsis mez ........................................................ Osmida investigating an offbeat slice of Fenice’s tiny Malibran Theatre reportedly
Lautten Compagney / Wolfgang Katschner 18th-century operatic history. The young confined and corralled the visuals, losing
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi F b 88985 41508-2 cast all have the requisite fluent coloratura the excess that is absolutely the heart of
(157’ • DDD) technique and dramatise as vividly as their this production.
Includes synopsis, libretto and translation music allows. The silvery-toned Robin The striking stage pictures come thick
Johannsen, as a Dido by turns touching and fast, from the opening tableau of
and commanding, contrasts just sufficiently Alcina, framed like Botticelli’s Venus in a
with Olivia Vermeulen’s warmer mezzo as giant gilded scallop shell and surrounded by
‘GF Händel’ Aeneas. Vermeulen’s confident negotiation exotic attendants – all feathered headdresses
proclaims the CD of Hasse’s vertiginous leaps and plunges and strategically placed chiffon – to
cover, appending makes ‘A trionfar’ a highlight of the whole Medoro’s arrival on the enchanted island, a
‘Leonardo Vinci’ in performance. The other singers are all well flurry of silk seas and an evocatively storm-
smaller type below. Shrewd marketing, cast, though Antonio Giovanni’s Iarbas can tossed boat. This, though, is later revealed
perhaps, but a touch disingenuous. In fact sound merely petulant when he should be as just a warm-up for Ruggiero’s entrance
there’s barely a note of Handel on offer. a force to reckon with – a familiar problem astride a giant white eagle. Oversize
What we get is the Italian composer’s with countertenors in extremis. All the shadow puppets create the shades of hell
setting of Metastasio’s Didone abbandonata while Wolfgang Katschner directs his and the Pythonesque giant from which
as performed by Handel in his hectic 1737 Berlin-based Lautten Compagney with Orlando must seize Merlin’s ashes.
Covent Garden season. In Rome in 1726 spirit and affection, ever sensitive to his If the cast don’t quite equal the visuals
Vinci had fielded an all-male cast. Handel, singers. Documentation, too, is first-rate, for sensation, there’s still plenty to enjoy.
who evidently admired the Italian (and was with libretto in Italian, English and Mezzo Lucia Cirillo is a suitably
happy to filch the odd idea from him), German, and several informative, properly bewitching Alcina, all hot eyes and cool
naturally adapted the opera to his London translated essays. Just don’t expect any coloratura, suddenly ferocious in her final
ensemble. Prima donna Anna Strada del Pò Handel here. Richard Wigmore ‘Anderò, chiamerò dal profondo’. Luigi
took the part of Dido, while the role of the Schifano’s Ruggiero is the pick of the
Moorish King Iarbas had to be beefed up Vivaldi ◊Y countertenors – tone focused but never
for the star castrato Domenico Annibali. Orlando furioso (1727 version, RV728) pushed, his ‘Sol da te mio dolce amore’
Using a score lent to him by his friend Sonia Prina contr........................................................ Orlando a dreamy vocal dance with obbligato flute –
and future librettist Charles Jennens, Michela Antenucci sop..........................................Angelica while Konstantin Derri is a tidy, prettily
Handel set to work cutting, tweaking and Lucia Cirillo mez............................................................. Alcina sung Medoro. In this sea of alto voices
transposing, and interpolating nine arias Loriana Castellano mez ................................Bradamante Loriana Castellano’s Bradamante also
by Hasse, Vivaldi, the obscure Geminiano Konstantin Derri counterten.................................Medoro stands out, her delivery crisp, her tone
Giacomelli and Vinci himself. After just Luigi Schifano counterten ...................................Ruggiero pleasantly grainy and full of character.
four performances the resultant pasticcio Riccardo Novaro bar.................................................. Astolfo What to say of Sonia Prina’s Orlando?
disappeared from view. ‘Very heavy’ I Barocchisti / Diego Fasolis Although still a strong stage presence,
was the verdict of Handel’s supporter Stage director Fabio Ceresa Prina’s voice is now a caricature of what
Lord Shaftesbury. Video director Matteo Ricchetti it once was. Her coloratura suffers from

gramophone.co.uk GRAMOPHONE DECEMBER 2018 123


OPERA REVIEWS

extreme vowel modification, a lack of he adds Charles Trenet’s ‘Vous, qui passez should help propel the Mexican tenor to
legato and aspirated consonants (‘Nel sans me voir,’ which was his grandfather’s even greater heights.
profondo cieco mondo’ is a particularly favourite song. The album certainly shares the traits of
extreme example), all of which makes for He has an attractive voice, with a touch Cecilia Bartoli’s discography. Served up in
a wild and over-exaggerated performance. of metal in the sound under pressure, an a beautifully presented hardback book, it
She fares better in the mad scene, where