January can be something of a slumber, but there was an entrancing pick-me-up of a release from Hyperion, chamber music by Johann Peter Pixis, maybe a little-known composer of the nineteenth-century yet a purveyor of very enjoyable music that Antony Hodgson was enthusiastic about, and rightly so – and what a lovely cover the disc sports too. Also top-drawer is Sony Classical’s issue of Brahms’s Piano Trios from Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos & Yo-Yo Ma, which for Tully Potter goes "straight to the top of the list”.
As for the reviews that I wrote, I wasn’t expecting anything to supplant Michael Tippett’s first two Symphonies conducted by Martyn Brabbins (roll on the next three such works in this series, yes three). Well, of equal distinction is Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony from Semyon Bychkov. It’s these two releases that receive my joint-first ‘record of the month’ accolade: great music, great performances.
The Classical Source
***As a postscript, just to clarify how Classical Source uses stars for its reviews. Since April 2016 a star-rating is mandatory for anything generally available (a recording, a book...) and when there is a run of performances (an opera, a ballet...). Stars are not required for a concert unless a reviewer is of the opinion that something is exceptional (five stars) or quite the opposite (one); either is rare ... ultimately it is the words that matter.***