September 2019 CD Reviews

October 2019 CD Reviews
Iberia y Francia – Imogen Cooper plays Albéniz, Debussy, Falla, Mompou & Ravel [Chandos]
September, 2019 |  Outwardly sweet-toothed, inwardly thoughtful, a take on music's enduring Gallic-Iberian love affair. For Roger Nichols in his booklet essay a case historically of reciprocal “French control and Spanish abandon.” For Imogen Cooper a mosaic of connections “more felt than proven, more fanciful than serious... 
Andrey Gugnin plays Shostakovich – Piano Sonatas & Preludes [Hyperion]
September, 2019 |  Winner of the 2014 Gina Bachauer and 2016 Sydney International Piano Competitions, Andrey Gugnin is a Moscow/Como-trained pianist of platinum technique with a wealth of imagination and fantasy. Aspects of this Shostakovich album remind me of the young Demidenko in his glory years – a Hyperion signing from earlier days. There's the same sense of urgent rhythmic spring, the ability to pulverise and poeticise, the icy attention to textural clarity and chordal voicing... 
Leonard Slatkin conducts Ravel’s Orchestral Works with Orchestre National de Lyon – 6 – the two Piano Concertos with François Dumont & Jennifer Gilbert plays Tzigane [Naxos]
September, 2019 |  Leonard Slatkin in Lyon continues his Ravel survey for Naxos – this is the sixième issue – and happily couples the two Piano Concertos, different beasts though they are, and another concertante piece, one full of gypsy passions. 
Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared – Nicky Spence & Julius Drake [Hyperion]
September, 2019 |  This is an important release. Janáček’s Diary song-cycle has seen a resurgence of interest of late; even so it should be even better known still. Nicky Spence’s searing yet beautiful account with admirable support from Julius Drake makes for compelling listening. 
This is Rattle – Sir Simon conducts the LSO on 14 September 2017 in music by Helen Grime, Thomas Adès, Oliver Knussen & Edward Elgar – Christian Tetzlaff plays Harrison Birtwistle’s Violin Concerto [LSO Live; DVD]
September, 2019 |  Sir Simon Rattle launched his LSO tenure with this audacious mix-and-match concert of native repertoire, setting the template for subsequent season openers. As a declaration of intent, the event was a success, delighting the audience... 
Airat Ichmouratov – Letter from an Unknown Woman [Chandos]
September, 2019 |  The biographically sparse notes to this Chandos recording tell us little about the Russian-Canadian composer, clarinettist and conductor Airat Ichmouratov other than he was born in Soviet Tatarstan in 1973, and settled in Montreal in 1998 together with his violist wife, the extravagantly gifted Elvira Misbakhova. His website is more informative. 
Claudio Abbado conducts Anton Bruckner – Symphonies 1 & 9 – Lucerne Festival Orchestra [Accentus]
September, 2019 |  How often are we told that Bruckner wrote Nine Symphonies... ... Here are those numerical bookends, in outstanding performances led by Claudio Abbado... 
Edward Gardner conducts Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle – John Relyea & Michelle DeYoung – Bergen Philharmonic [Chandos]
September, 2019 |  This Chandos release is essential for lovers of Bartók’s early and only opera, for the magnificent performance from the John Relyea. ... and Michelle DeYoung, with her rich middle register and thrilling high notes, matches him in searching out every facet of the drama. ... Edward Gardner delivers the doom-laden castle music impeccably, with the orchestra stealing in beneath Pál Mácsai’s spoken fairy-tale introduction deeply unsettling. 
Gabriela Montero plays her Latin Concerto and Ravel’s G-major with Orchestra of the Americas & Carlos Miguel Prieto [Orchid Classics]
September, 2019 |  Opening slowly and reflectively, a little sadly, Gabriela Montero’s ‘Latin’ Concerto is soon out of the traps bursting with notes for the piano – hip-swinging and foot-tapping – as the sun shines on this ‘Mambo’, the orchestra joining in the festivities... ... The Orchestra of the Americas and Carlos Miguel Prieto also give unstinting accompaniment in pit/jazz-band style for Ravel in G, for which Montero is shapely and sophisticated... 
Quatuor Ébène plays Beethoven – Razumovsky String Quartets I & II [Erato]
September, 2019 |  A deep intake of breath cues the first of Beethoven’s (three) Razumovsky String Quartets, written in 1806, commissioned by Count Andreas Razumovsky, the Russian ambassador in Vienna, Quatuor Ébène setting off at quite a pace, albeit without a suspicion of rushing. Indeed the opening movement of Opus 59/1 proves to be an engaging marriage of the lyrically intense (the cello sings its earworm) and the rhythmically chiselled... 
Sir Thomas Beecham – Chabrier to Strauss [ICA Classics]
September, 2019 |  Here is Sir Thomas Beecham in his later years as heard by London audiences in the 1950s. Mainly the orchestra is the Royal Philharmonic which he founded in 1946 and with whom he is mostly associated, but he formed and conducted several orchestras during his career, starting at the age of twenty with the short-lived St Helens Musical Society. At that time Queen Victoria was on the throne. 
Amadio Freddi’s Vespers of 1616 – The Gonzaga Band directed by Jamie Savan [Resonus]
September, 2019 |  The Gonzaga Band winningly demonstrates here that early-seventeenth-century north Italian Vesper settings are not restricted to a certain set by Monteverdi that has become indelibly associated with Venice. Amadio Freddi (c.1580-1643) worked, successively, in the nearby cities of Padua, Treviso and Vicenza on the mainland, and his collection “Messa, vespro et compieta” (from which the present Vespers are drawn) was published in 1616 in Treviso. 
Alan Gilbert & NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester – Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony [Sony Classical]
September, 2019 |  On September 6 Alan Gilbert led his first concert as Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester; it was an ambitious affair (review below) and a couple of months earlier they had recorded this Bruckner 7 for concurrent release, which Sony Classical has wasted no time in bringing to our attention. 
Across the Stars – Anne-Sophie Mutter plays film music by John Williams – Dracula, Harry Potter, Schindler’s List, Star Wars [The Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles; Deutsche Grammophon]
September, 2019 |  Anne-Sophie Mutter isn’t the first violinist to record the film music of John Williams – Itzhak Perlman played two items on his Cinema Paradiso album twenty years ago – but she is the first to persuade Williams to make adaptations for an interesting selection, the pieces re-imagined, often quite drastically. 
LSO Live – John Eliot Gardiner conducts Schumann’s Symphonies 2 & 4 and Genoveva Overture
September, 2019 |  Lean and lithe are two descriptions of John Eliot Gardiner’s approach to Robert Schumann’s music. Add in atmospheric and dramatic for the Overture to Genoveva (an opera), surging forward but with enough room for lyricism and breathing space, the LSO happily at home accommodating the conductor’s ‘authentic’ approach... 
Joseph Tong plays Robert Schumann [Quartz]
September, 2019 |  Swapping one S-composer, Sibelius, for another, Schumann, while staying with Quartz, Joseph Tong opens with a nicely easeful Arabeske... ... What might be termed the second half of the disc begins with a quixotic account of Papillons (“floats like a...”, twelve seamless miniatures), dreams and assertiveness captured in song and dance... 
Joseph Nolan plays Charles-Marie Widor’s Complete Organ Works at La Madeleine Paris & other venues [Signum Classics]
September, 2019 |  Lyon-born Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937; Signum’s annotation mistakenly reports 1834) is consigned to that unhappy band of composers known chiefly for a single piece (“Widor’s Toccata”) and, outside the arcane world of organists, few people probably have much sense of his development as a composer. Yet Widor’s life spanned more than nine decades, from the time of Rossini to the time of Messiaen and, on the evidence of this handsomely-produced set with the indefatigable Joseph Nolan at the pedal-board, there is a veritable treasure trove of startling sounds to be discovered. 
Jürgen Bruns conducts music by Hanns Eisler [Capriccio]
September, 2019 |  Three weeks before he died in East Berlin in September 1962, Hanns Eisler talked to his long-time interlocutor Hans Bunge about his headache of a commission from the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, an assignment then already three years old. “I can’t tell you what hell it is for me, I actually don’t know why I’m writing a symphony…I don’t know who I’m talking to and who to reach.” 
The Single Rose – The Orlando Consort sings Guillaume de Machaut [Hyperion]
September, 2019 |  Part of The Orlando Consort’s projected twelve-disc exploration for Hyperion of the composer-poet Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377), this collection draws on a popular example of medieval French literature, Le Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose), fourteen songs on the theme of love viewed through the symbolism of the rose. 
Rimma Sushanskaya conducts Mozart – Figaro Overture, PC21 K467 (John Lenehan), Exsultate K165 (Grace Davidson), Symphony 40 [Guild]
September, 2019 |  I must declare an interest. I wrote the booklet note for this issue, but did not hear the recordings prior to receiving the finished product. ... Rimma Sushanskaya was the last pupil of David Oistrakh... ... To follow, that sterling artist John Lenehan is the soloist in K467. From the beginning of the exordium the orchestra is flawless, and Lenehan’s contribution is full of sparkling sensitivity whilst letting the music breathe... 
Riccardo Chailly conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in Richard Strauss – Zarathustra, Tod, Till, Salome [Decca]
September, 2019 |  A glorious Sunrise cues Riccardo Chailly’s account of Zarathustra – a perfectly calibrated crescendo from low rumbles via gleaming trumpets and powerful timpani strokes to a demonstrative (and in-tune) organ cap. ... From there Richard Strauss’s Nietzsche-inspired symphonic poem boasts atmosphere, beauty (glowing strings) and thrills... ... The trump card is a rollicking account of Till Eulenspiegel, Chailly relishing its cartoon-strip aspects, investing a nudge and a wink... ... Finally, to complete this generous Strauss programme, Salome strips off, veil by veil... 
Kenneth Woods conducts David Matthews – Symphony 9, Variations, Double Concerto [Nimbus Alliance]
September, 2019 |  David Matthews’s five-movement Ninth Symphony (2016, part of Kenneth Woods’s 21st Century Symphony Project) is a discovery indeed – so impressive in this day and age, when genuine symphonic composition in terms of creativity appears, in the modern fashion, to have been overturned in favour of this week’s composers, who all too soon become last week’s. 
Ivo Pogorelich plays Piano Sonatas by Beethoven and Rachmaninov [Sony Classical]
September, 2019 |  If you want autobiographical pianism, a man in search of himself, looking back, remembering, lingering over a passage here, a note there, digging into the grottoes of the instrument, shaping cadences without end, lovingly, in anguish, stay with this recording, Ivo Pogorelich's first since his 1995 DG Chopin/Mussorgsky/Ravel London sessions. ... With Rachmaninov's Second Sonata, at just under half-an-hour, Pogorelich takes the night train north. In a performance radically broader and more suffering than one he gave in Nüremberg... 


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