October 2017 CD Reviews

September 2017 CD Reviews
Andrew Davis conducts Vaughan Williams’s Sinfonia Antartica, Concerto for Two Pianos, and Four Last Songs [Mari Eriksmoen; Hélène Mercier & Louis Lortie; Roderick Williams; Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Chandos]
October, 2017 |  It arose from the music Vaughan Williams composed for the outstanding 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic, telling the story of Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to locate the South Pole in 1910-12. ... ...for the result was the Sinfonia Antartica, first performed in January 1953 in Manchester by the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli. ... ...and it is a measure of the excellence of Chandos’s vastly experienced team that this version of the Symphony is the finest recording of the score I have heard. It helps to have the acoustically fine Grieghallen in Bergen, but more than that is required – and is achieved here. ...  
Elgar: The New England Connection – Enigma Variations – and George Chadwick’s Symphonic Sketches [BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Andrew Constantine; Orchid Classics]
October, 2017 |  The premise of this release is to couple music by two contemporaneous composers, the American George Whitefield Chadwick (born 1854 in Massachusetts) and Edward Elgar (arriving in England three years later). ... In his booklet note Andrew Constantine goes into greater detail regarding the two men’s relationship [...] and leads the BBC’s Welsh orchestra in a revealing account of Chadwick’s Symphonic Sketches... ... Enjoyable though the Chadwick is, it is put into the shade by the perennially fresh and imperishable Enigma Variations... 
Beethoven’s Third & Emperor Piano Concertos – Norman Krieger/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta [Decca]
October, 2017 |  My understanding is that this release is currently only available in South Korea and also direct from the Buffalo Philharmonic. No doubt the artists involved hope for an international release and to complete their Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle. ... ...revealing Norman Krieger and JoAnn Falletta as working well and stylishly together and that her Buffalo players are not only well-prepared but very productive confreres... 
LSO Live – Simon Rattle conducts Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande – with Magdalena Kožená, Christian Gerhaher & Gerald Finley
October, 2017 |  This welcome recording of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande was made during Barbican Centre performances, as directed then by Peter Sellars. There is a great deal to admire, although it may not appeal to all lovers of this opera: it rather depends on how you view Simon Rattle’s interpretation. ... Christian Gerhaher shows why having a high baritone’s tint pays dividends to the role of Pelléas. ... Which leaves the Mélisande of Magdalena Kožená. The voice is ample and full of rich colours, which may be the issue for some. 
Vladimir Jurowski conducts Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty [State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia; ICA Classics]
October, 2017 |  A cursory glance at the annotation might suggest that Evgeny Svetlanov is involved in this performance of Tchaikovsky’s music for The Sleeping Beauty... ... This recording then is solely the inspiration of Vladimir Jurowski who leads a superb account of the complete score, every note of it. ... There are other notable versions of Sleeping Beauty (of course) – such as Ansermet, Bonynge, Lanchbery, Pletnev, Previn, Rozhdestvensky, Slatkin and, indeed, Svetlanov – to which distinguished company Jurowski easily joins... 
Hallé – Mark Elder conducts Vaughan Williams’s Symphonies 4 & 6 [Hallé own label]
October, 2017 |  When Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sixth Symphony was first-performed (in London, April 1948) it must have come as a profound shock. ... Convincing solutions I have heard are by Sir Malcolm Sargent, Osmo Vänskä and via this recording Sir Mark Elder. ... On balance I regard Elder’s interpretation on this Hallé release to be the finest and most convincing. 
J. S. Bach – Solo Cantatas for Bass – Michael Volle & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin [Accentus Music]
October, 2017 |  The Bach Cantatas forming the core of this release are staple Baroque fare for bass singers. Michael Volle’s presentation rings the changes by setting them within the context of a wider trajectory, though it is not a straightforward progression from darkness to light, or despair to hope and salvation. 

 

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