It seems that when I write this column, I nearly always manage to break my self-imposed rule of nominating three standout releases from the previous month.
September did indeed summon three totally outstanding issues (and, rule already broken, not forgetting Steven Osborne’s Rachmaninov), from which I cannot choose a winner, nor do I wish to. So, strictly alphabetical by composer, here goes.
Leonard Bernstein’s Three Symphonies conducted by Tony Pappano report terrific music in all-consuming renditions – Age of Anxiety is a masterpiece, Kaddish a revelation – and leaves in no doubt as to Bernstein’s stature as a creator; and Prelude, Fugue and Riffs will get the tiredest of toes tapping.
Kenneth Hesketh’s music also seizes the attention and won’t let go, “challenging yet arresting” I wrote in my review; return visits to these compelling scores are guaranteed.
Finally, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony conducted by Martyn Brabbins with BBC forces – great music, fabulous performance, stunning recorded sound. No matter how many versions you have of VW’s epic, this one should not be missed.
The above three (okay, four) releases will sustain a lifetime’s listening nourishment.
The Classical Source
1 October 2018
***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.***