***Contains strong(ish) language!***
As we turn into the longer and depressing dark nights of Winter – cheerful bugger aren't I – there is always music to keep us warm (add in a glass or two of ginger beer – damn, my secret is out), I have once again gone beyond my ‘3’ brief, if only by one release this time.
Ergo, dear reader, to borrow Ateş Orga’s final word from his review of Andrey Gugnin’s Shostakovich album for Hyperion, it is indeed “outstanding”. Perhaps on paper a Mozart release conducted by Rimma Sushanskaya, albeit of favourites, may not be queue-former, but it is wholly excellent in every particular, capped by a felicitous account of the K467 Piano Concerto (the one now associated with Elvira Madigan) from John Lenehan. Robert Matthew-Walker outlines the performances’ qualities, and I do so echoing the words of the late Bill Newman (record producer, reviewer, and inveterate collector) who, when something delighted him, would invariably describe it as “bloody marvellous”. As is Claudio Abbado conducting Bruckner’s Symphonies 1 & 9 in Lucerne; wonderful and indispensible: maybe a door opens for non-Brucknerians. I hope so.
My fourth (bonus) choice is Widor’s Complete Organ Works, championed heroically by Joseph Nolan. Not that organ music and me necessarily get on, in general, but what a gift this set is – taking us beyond the Toccata for Widor’s ten ambitious Symphonies captured in floor-vibrating sound. With exemplary and illuminating presentation this is a box-set to reckon with and keep handy for exploring.
The Classical Source
1 October 2019
***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.***